RSS

Category Archives: Board Games

A game that essentially provide a board to play the game or centralized it;s activity within the functionality of a board.

Dice Manipulation at Its Best

pic3496086Sentient Review
J. Alex Kevern made some pretty good games over the years such as Homesteaders, Gold West and World’s Fair 1893 and his latest game is Sentient. Sentient does share some of the features found in his other games, but there’s one thing or two that Sentient doesn’t share with his other games. That is it’s dice manipulation aspect which is the core mechanic of the game. Sentient comes pretty much with awesome contents in a bit smaller box game. You can find a bunch of components inside like a deck of oversized cards, several wooden markers in player colors, 4 sets of custom dice, investor and VP tokens and several boards.

What is Sentient
The main appeal of the component lies on the custom dice, which they’re vibrant in colors and have custom etching than just regular d6 dice. I mostly attracted to the game because of the dice. Though the game has a small table footprint and presence because it doesn’t have a main board and the components are relatively not many.

So what Sentient is about? In the near future, the world has invented artificial intelligence that is applied to bots to handle most of human activity in diverse sectors such as industry, service, transport, military and information. Controlling these sectors will prove to be crucial to be the best corporate among others. In this game, players will control a mega corporate that race to program the best bots in order to attract the right investors toward their favors.

DSC02082

How to Play
A game of Sentient lasts for 3 rounds, which in each round players will assign agents to different locations to get their desired bots and attract investors. At the start of each round, players will get a set of dice, 4 agents and 5 assistants in their disposal along with a 2-pieces board that will form their corporate’s name. At the start of each round players will roll their set of dice and assign them to each location on their board based on the dice color. Starting from the first player and following the turn order, each player will either place an agent to get a bot card or pass by spending their pass marker (if they’re still have any). Placing an agent can be accompanied with assistants. They can place more than one assistant if it suits them in order to increase their chance to attract investors.

The card that they take, must immediately placed below their board between two of their 5 dice, once placed, this card will modify / adjust the dice on the left and right of that card unless they assign assistant to cover the card effect (they can cover both of the card’s effect using two assistants). They can choose to pass instead of getting a card, if they think it’s not a good time to take a card or maybe they need to reset the board. Passing is placing a pass marker on the next round marker, and then reset all the cards on the display, refill cards from the draw pile if only they still have at least an agent left, if they have none, they just place the pass marker and then end their turn.

DSC02178

Once all players have passed, the round ends and the bot cards are score. Each bot card has requirements in order for the card to score. These requirements are shown on the top center of the card that relate with the dice value beside the card. If the requirements are satisfied, the card scores a number of points shown on the bottom left corner of the card. Once all cards have been checked, the cards are removed and keep in a separate pile for each player to be scored at the end game. And then the investors are resolved based on majority of influence fight over that investor. Each agent and assistant in count as one influence, if there are ties the most agents will break ties, and then followed by turn order if there still ties. Player with most influence will get the investor tile while the second most get one point. Return all the agents and assistants back and reset the card display. And then the next round begins.

Players repeat the above process until three rounds and the final score takes place. All the cards that they have will be scored based on type. Count the number of card from each type and multiply it with number of investor of that type. Players do not score points of a certain type if they do not have either investor or the card of that type.

DSC02180

My Thoughts
I find Sentient to be a very solid game. It has very simple rules and mechanic but yet it’s full of interesting decisions and deep thinking within the game. It’s not a dice rolling game, though the dice are rolled it is not considered to be dice rolling, since players only do it once per round and not taking actions by rolling it. Instead players manipulate those dice to achieve the goals from their cards. Its kinda inappropriate to say players modify their dice as it’s leads reader to assume they do it by choice. Partially players are confined with restrictions of each die to satisfy two cards while the means to modify them are come from the card itself. Such restrictions provide mini puzzle yet complicated to solve on their own. Each card modifies two dice and yet each die is modified twice (exclude two dice on the side) by two different cards. This interconnecting yet unrelated precedent lies something to ponder which makes the game such a clever gem. Not just that, it gets more problematic with how players allocate their assistants. Assistants are used for two things (unrelated to another and yet so essential to each of its own), to contribute in investor majority and to grasp control over dice manipulation. Five assistants are never enough for each player. Sending all five of them to investor majority is ideal, but how good can you modify the dice without the help of your assistants is the question players try to answer by choices of their actions. Not having assistant(s) at the last turn could be problematic since player’s plan might get ruined and soil the two cards scoring potential. Keeping a good deal of assistant for the last push to ensure majority also proof for easier control over majority.

DSC02085

The game has very simple rules, this really helps the game to shine with it’s core mechanic of puzzle dice manipulation and set collection. The investor scoring is very powerful though it’s seemed hidden because scored at the end of game. Don’t ignore it cause I don’t think there is no other way to score big as big as investors can potential bring. Focusing on single type is always the best way, since the nature of multiplication reveals as exact science, higher multiplication provides higher sum. Here lies the interactions, where players must carefully check their opponents’ plans. If one player was running freely to collect what he want, he’s most likely winning the game. With this being said, the player count will make the game different. In a 2-players game its most likely the game to be very tactical, with one opponent to focus on, players can figure out and counter or block their opponent intention, while with 3 or 4 players, there are things that players have to (or forced) to ignore due to which choices is more beneficial to them.

I like the nature of the game, it can be frustrating to some extent, not getting cards that you want or maybe your dice and cards are not perfectly aligned like other players. But for a simple rule game that last for 45-60 minutes, it surely packs a heavy punch. It offers you some extent of puzzle element to figure out the best optimal placement of your agents, assistants, card scoring and the investors. The core idea is to get maximal points from investors and card type while also scoring those cards via dice the best you can. I do not think that players can top that end game scoring with just scoring cards throughout three rounds while abandoning investors, they are the big bucks. It’s not a difficult game, but the restrictions put the players in such tight and dilemmatic position where they need to decide which card, which investor, where the card is placed within a series of actions in a round. This makes the game really shines.

dav

Of course not everything is a plus inside this game. I think it’s considerably expensive for what the components and game weight level, but hey we’re in for the game play right? One nitpick is, it’s too bad that the card illustrations are not one of a kind. They’re the same for each type regardless have different scoring requirement. The wooden pieces could be bigger, especially the turn order and pass markers. Assistant markers are understandably fit to the modifier icons on the card, though agents could be more bigger. And having a play mat or game board to hold all the cards and round markers in one board sounds like a really-really good component improvement to make the game looks more exclusive. It is definitely improves the game presence in the table. I also think the game has so few variabilities, all the cards are used, all investors are used, it could use some randomizer in the game though it will surely affects game balance.

DSC02177

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 2, 2018 in Board Games, Dice Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Not The Fairest of Them All

pic3780045-2Fairy Tile Review
Back in our childhood, fairy tale is a very common thing for us children. It had driven us mad with curiosities, interests and loves. The idea of a brave knight in shining armor goes on a quest to rescue a beautiful and ill-fated princess on some tower held captive by a fiery and evil dragon really embodied in our mind and soul. It’s a true definition of fairy tale if not all. So with children as it’s major market, Iello published a board game with that spirit and called it Fairy Tile (designed by the duo Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert who made their names from Elysium, Pyramids, Prof. Evil and the Citadel of Time, Pioneer Days and many more) okay they made pun out of its title but that’s okay, “tile” because it’s using tiles for playing. So lets go jump into the pages from the fantasy book and know the game more.

First of all, they (Iello) surely know how to attract people with their awesome beautiful-looking artworks and nice-looking components. The illustrations are truly gorgeous (the cards, tiles and even character figures) and it is hard to resist the appeal of it. The first thing which made me want the game is the cover, full of deep rich green and yellow colors. It didn’t sell me right on, but it made me look the game components and behold the cards really destroyed my wall of resistance (of course, it’s Miguel Coimbra’s work of art, who can resist?). Illustrations from the cards are straightly taken from a fairy tale book, lots of beautiful and captivating scenes. And then you also get three nice-looking pre-painted character figures. Well, way less detailed than miniatures from Blood Rage or Mythic Battle Pantheon, but hey it’s good enough for a children game (and to be honest, there are many games that have worse minis than this).

DSC02232

The game comes in a small square box, with nice insert to hold the cards, tokens, tiles and figures in their place. There are wooden tokens for players, naturally colored (unpainted) with an etching of a star painted in gold (nice touch). The cards are nice, though it would really make the illustrations even better with linen finished quality.

So what the game is about? They presented the game in a story book manner where there’s a story that involves a knight, a princess and a dragon. You see that right there? Now the game can be played from 2 up to 4 players and surprise, surprise… a figure is not assigned to a player but can be controlled by anyone. The goal of the game is for a player to finish their story first and win the game. The story is represented by cards, dealt at the start of the game based on number of players. This cards will form a player’s deck and kept in a face down pile. At the start of the game there are 3 starting tiles with figures on them. Each player then draw one card from their deck, this card is their active story to complete. During their turn, each player can choose one of the two actions, Develop Story or Turn a Page.

DSC02246

Develop Story means that players Go on an Adventure by moving a character or adding a land tile. And then check to see if they can recount the adventure. These are done in order to fulfill the objective shown on the cards. Moving a character is different based on which character they move. The knight must exactly moves two spaces away from its location, while the princess must move exactly one space away. Meanwhile, the dragon moves in a direct straight line until the last map tile on its path. Adding a land tile gives player room for figures to explore. This is needed to complete the objective from terrain and location aspects. Recount the adventure is optionally done once a player has taken an action as a chance to complete the objective, they place the completed card aside in a face up file and draw another card from their deck.

Turn a page is done when a player doesn’t want or cannot complete the objective on their card at this moment. They place the card on the bottom of their deck and draw another one. And then they also flip their magic token face up if it’s not in the upside position. This magic token allows player to get an extra action which it is possible for a player to take two actions in a row, which is often very powerful to complete the objective.

DSC02252

The truth to this action-point-movement-system and tile-laying game is that the game is a racing game. The first player to empty their draw pile wins the game. It looks simple, clean rules and very suitable for children. But behind all of that, it hides the true nature of take that and tug of war game where players pulling the characters to complete their objectives. There are only 3 characters and all objectives require one or more characters to be in specific condition or location. This truly problematic since mostly each player can only take one action in his turn (except using a magic token) but need several actions to fulfill an objective conditions. It’s inevitable that players will hinder others in their quest. It could be a tiresome ordeal to fight over these characters and lead to a frustrating end (more players means more conflicts). So though I have not play this game with kids, I am not sure they will always enjoy this kind of game, but it’s definite that I did not enjoy all my plays, though for less serious play it’s still within tolerable level.

DSC02256

Once the game ends, players can sort (in ascending order) their completed cards based on the numbers shown on the bottom of the cards. And they said (the rules) you can recount (read) the flavor texts and those will form a story. I did that and to be honest it’s hard to see how it could be possible and to be honest, it’s just a lame attempt on connecting the story telling aspect of the game with the theme. While you can connect each sentence with another from card to card, there is nothing real in the story that could make you feel that you’re building that story in the game.

Sad to say, this is not a very good game for me. Though you can introduce your younger ones into board games with this and they could enjoy this better than I did. It has cool aspects when it comes to introduce tile laying, action point movement and other in-game rule set application such as when you can apply the magic token and how you complete your objective with several options in front of you and etc.

DSC02320

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 24, 2018 in Board Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Countdown to Panic

pic3895016-2Meeple Circus Review
Right after Flip Ships, I acquired Meeple Circus and its a blast. Meeple Circus just like it’s title is a circus game in the world of meeples. Yes you heard it right, the meeples are doing circus and you need all your best with your hands and the skill of not-knocking-out things.  The game was released on 2017 by Matagot, designed by Cedric Millet (French guy).  What this game is about? Well, players will compete with each other to successfully perform their circus act within 3 rounds. In each round, players will take circus components and acrobats. There are different components throughout the game each with it’s special scoring condition. And also the performance also have special set of scoring cards that players need to fulfill in order to score them.

DSC02497

Game Components
But first, let see the game components.
It has standard square box which I think it’s a bit oversized consider the game components inside. Well it has plastic insert tray to hold the components but honestly it’s not very good and usable. You still need baggies for wooden components if you don’t want all them scattered inside the box. There are stickers for the wooden meeples to add more thematic appeal, and the cards are in nice quality. My biggest disappointment is in the tiles. Surely they could use standard thickness with the tiles, but instead they used thick paper for it and called it tiles (ridiculous).

DSC02502

Artworks
As thing like circus and entertaining performance goes, the nuance of the illustrations are full with bright and contrast colors, mostly red and yellow (or golden colors), filled with overcrowded decoration elements like stars and colorful banners. But one thing that really stand out from the crowd of illustrations are the characters, personified wooden (alive) components like the acrobats and animals. It’s not just cartoony but their shapes are also resemble the wooden components. I found it lovely and cute. Thumbs up from me on this aspect.

Game Play
Okay, lets get down to business. Circus life is no joke, except the clown. So in this game you need to carefully be the fastest player to get everything done and score the best you can. Of course what you need is a pair of fully-functioned hands, speed and necessary components to complete the job. You see, without one of those things, you might lose your job, literally speaking. Each round, players will take turns to get components from the available display. The components can be found by getting act tiles and component tiles. The components can be acrobats and animals (wooden meeples) and also (wooden) objects like barrels, beams and balloons. Players need to take exactly one act tile and one component tile. Once they do that, they can start to perform (the first and second rounds are considered as rehearsal rounds, where the third would be the great performance, but in general all three rounds are the same in game flow).

DSC02508

When all players are ready, they set aside their components beside the circus ring board and one player start the music. It will determine as timer for players to complete the acrobatic challenge that they have to do with the components they have. They stop once the music ends and a scoring takes place. Now before scoring, I would like to mention that beside the scoring board, there are 4 cards face up to determine how players can score points (these are the challenge that they can do, called Public Demands).

Aside from the Public Demand cards, players also scores from several aspects. In order to be scored, components need to be inside the circus ring of a player, and they need to be place on their sides except beams and barrels, and every component on the ground must support at least one other components. Each blue acrobat will generate 1 point as long as its on the ground, while yellow acrobat gains 1 point if it doesn’t touch the ground. Red acrobat is different, they generate points based on how high they are. There’s a long tile that serves as ruler to measure height. The first two players who finishes their performances also get bonuses, 2 and 1 point respectively. So getting it done as soon as possible is a good thing. Public demand cards allow players to score in different ways based on the requirements listed on the cards. These cards involve players to specifically arrange the stacking of specific components in order to be scored.

DSC02503

Once the score of a round takes place, the player with least points will be the first player of next round. The second round is the same as the first with one notable difference, the act tiles (green border) for second round provide players with special one-of-a-kind guests with condition to score it and how many points. Once the game enters the third (final) round, players will perform the great performance one by one from the first player. This is done because some act tiles from round three required them to perform specific action that need to be supervised by other players. The blue act tiles work different from the rest of the act tiles, they introduce new element to the game where players have to meet certain condition (they do not get components from these tiles) and most of these conditions are hilariously funny and hard to complete.

Replay Value
Honestly there are not many, aside that the blue tiles have enough variation so that it won’t be always available in each play. You can play the game several times and find different tiles in play. But aside from that, the game is doomed to forever be the same, its what you can expect for this kind of game, though there’s no harm in that. It’s definitely fun for every age and you can always play the game once in a while to have a blast.

DSC02544

My Thoughts
Oh I love it. I did mention in Flip Ships review that I like / have a knack for dexterity games. So this one fit the bill and to be honest, more than Flip Ships because of one essential reason, this game is competitive unlike Flip Ships. Do you guys agree that competitive is always better than cooperative? In terms of the word ‘fun’ it must be better. I definitely recommend this game to anyone who don’t mind hand coordination, dexterity skill along with time limited challenges. The theme really works well and how it plays out, it is super fun. Definitely not a serious game, so if you overly competitive this might be a let down, because you will ask yourself or anyone that the blue act tiles seemingly unbalance. Yes based on my personal assessment, some blue tiles are more difficult than the others, but maybe that’s because I perceive myself incapable to do those things which might be different with other’s capabilities.  Another thing is that the first player of the next round will get to remove one Public Demand cards out of four, I think this is done out of necessity of runaway leader situation or perhaps last position helper. The removing of one Public Demand card would led to balancing the over powered players with necessary components to score that card. Of course it’s possible that the first player remove that card to let new card in, hoping it would aligned better with his components. But I wonder if removing one card is enough, why not two? I guess you can always house-ruled it with a variant, remove all the Public Demand cards, so each round will have different cards, this might change the round scoring a bit since all players affected by this random change.
I did question Matagot with the act tiles quality, it’s awfully uncommon and really make the game looks cheap.  At least they made the act tiles the same as component tiles, or even use cards instead. The box is oversized, not that the insert really works. But overall, this game is totally my favorite dexterity at this moment.

DSC02539

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 6, 2018 in Board Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Taking Dice Roll to A New Level

pic3477004Dice Forge Review
Dice Forge is a new innovative dice building / dice rolling game from Regis Bonnessee, a French game designer that came up with Seasons and Lords of Xidit. I found Seasons to be amazing, played it several times back in the day and I really love the dice. Though the dice present the game with resource generated drafting mechanic that visually popped up among other components, Seasons is a game of tableau building, there are many card chains and combos within it that players can explore exponentially once they knew the basic. I found the cards have high interaction and pretty much take-that. I am not a fan of the later, Lords of Xidit which focuses more on the programming aspect, I found it to be painful or I must say brain basher to figure out what your next moves are. Dice Forge is kinda bit evolved from Seasons to say the least. The dice are truly the essential components where players will improve their dice throughout the game in order to get points in several ways.

Theme
There’s no strong theme in here, though as French games usually do, they get help from the visual department. You can see it oozes with theme and flavor with their beautiful illustrations. In Dice Forge, players take the role of champions who will compete to be the best among them, to earn glory and rewards by the Gods. They will visit temples to get blessings for their adventures, finishing quests or tasks (cards) by defeating monsters and such from one floating island to another, gaining Glory points from the Gods. Well it is have better theme than games with city name and doing something there to get points (theme wise).

pic3637811

Artworks
There is no doubt, beautiful illustrations are presented in the game throughout the cards by a French artist, Biboun. Oh I know what you think, it’s not Naiad. There are many many great artists from France and their works are peerless among them. I must admit that the box cover is one of the best cover in board games. Thank goodness it’s changed from the original version, which more look like the cover for Loony Quest. The cover is so simple, clean and elegant. Yet in details, it conveys the important element that supports the theme. You can check it out from the reflection on the red ruby (kind of) image in the center of the cover. And let’s get into the cards, there are many many interesting characters decorating the cards. Though most of them lack their backstory, they’re still amazingly illustrated.

pic3477004

Components
Now this is the best among the physical parts of the game. The artworks are good, but the components are better than good (if not great). The first components on the list are the dice. Aside from being big-chunky plastic dice, the dice can be customized. Yes, you can change faces of the die with different faces. The general idea of the game is that players can improve their dice for better roll results. In order to accomplish this, they need dice that can be customized, broken apart its faces and change to another one. They did it pretty well, applying the idea from a previous game called Rattlebones. Unlike Dice Forge, the game has several customized dice as a smaller part of much more bigger mechanic combinations. It is there but not really stand out. Dice Forge changed this and came up with a very interesting way to pop up the dice customization element. At first there were some concerns among the dice performance. Considering the material, would the dice durable enough to stand through time and uses? They turned out okay I guess. Now there are some cases showed difficult process to change the faces and I was quite aware of this. The next part is the game board, which has a pretty much unique shape unlike common traditional square / rectangle boards found in other games. The boards have several die cut shapes to hold the cards around it. Its totally cosmetics, but still add attractive value to the public eyes. The player boards are simple, a single board with die cut holes to hold the cubes, sadly most of them came up bowing / not flatly lie on the table surface, perhaps because of the storage solution. Speaking of storage, the pre-built plastic tray really works well with the game components. They let you organize the components neatly without a fuss of spilling all the bits out of it’s place. A good job from the publisher.

DSC02307

The Game Play
Dice Forge is playable from 2-4 players, within 45-60 minutes. It’s played rather quite fast due the continuous rolls from the players. The game lasts for 9-10 rounds, but each round played very quickly. Roll dice, activate cards, and take an action(s). Players take turns in clockwise order. In a player’s turn, all players roll their dice in Major Blessing phase, and then the active player take his turn to activate their cards, then take one or two actions. Major Blessing is players rolling their 2 dice to generate income in the form of Sun and Moon shards, gold and Glory points. In this phase all players take the Blessings, regardless who’s the active player is, this give players constant interactions even it’s not their turn yet. Then the active player may activate one or more of His cards before taking an action. The active player action is simple, He need to choose one of the two available actions, whether to upgrade their dice or buy a card.
Players upgrade their dice by spending Golds in the Temple. They can buy more than one die face, as long as it’s not the same ones and they have enough Gold to spend. They must immediately forge the newly purchased die face(s) to their dice, placing aside the replaced ones beside their player board.

pic3376303

Cards are acquired by spending Moon and Sun shards based on the card cost. They can only buy one card at most during their turn, but they can have more than one card of the same type. Once bought, they place the cards face down in front of them, resolving any immediate effects of the card. Players also may at most spend 2 Sun shards per turn to get an extra action, in which they can use it either to buy a card or upgrade their dice. This extra action works the same as their regular action. When buying a card, they move their player marker into the related spot, if there’s another player marker in that spot, they got kicked out and return back to its original spot and get to perform Major Blessings (re-roll their two dice and gain the results).
Cards have different effects, immediate one-time effect, once per turn activation and also end game Glory points. The game comes with 2 different sets of cards, basic and advance sets. For first play it’s recommended to use basic set, but don’t let that stop you to use the advance set from the beginning if you and your group are frequent gamers. The basic set cards have more simple and straight-forward game, while the advance offers more fluid and interaction between players. There are some die faces that can be acquired only by purchasing cards. After the game ends, players tally up their Glory points from cards and Glory track. Player with the most points, wins the game.

pic3952201

Replay Value
Being a fast-paced and simple game, it leans to the fact that the replay value might probably goes down the drain after several plays. There are some things you can explore though, there are some strategies on it, what kind of cards you get, upgrade your dice in different focus also make a difference. First, the basic and advance set surely give you different plays, and you can also try to mix the cards between sets to give more different plays. But among all of the above, it’s still a dice rolling game, you cannot mitigate the luck aside from increase your dice probability with better die faces. It’s a 30-45 minutes game, so you can play back to back and explore your strategies. I found the game to be very simple, though luck plays a great role in the end.

 

My Thoughts
It is undoubtedly one of the best medium (of not light) Euro games with dice rolling mechanism that plays very fast and constantly engaging to all players. Not to mention the components are beyond standard and really attract people to look over. The illustrations are great but also offers clean design with its white dominant background. Luck plays a great role but for a 30 minutes game, I wouldn’t mind. Plus, rolling the dice are so fun, even if you roll bad (I found this experience to be particularly different for each person), you always wanting to roll again and again. There are some meat in the game despite the easy and simple game in the surface where the aim is to build your dice as effective as you can and get the right cards to build your engine and grab huge points along the way. It is very suitable for both casual and gamers alike. The only issue I have with the dice is the fact that I found it kinda hard to remove its side with my bare fingers (its a fact that I have injured my fingers trying to remove its faces during play). From my experiences, sometimes it’s hard to change the die faces, you can use your nails but beware, you might hurt yourself. They suggest to use the corner of the die face to remove the die face. Its doable but I found it still difficult to do. Luckily I have a component from custom dice promo from Rattlebones that has the sole purpose to remove the die face, and it works pretty well. Sadly I only have one, so need to pass it on to other players during the game. I recommend this game, it’s fun, it’s great and plays fast!

pic3935154

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 5, 2018 in Board Games, Dice Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Flipping Arcade

pic3489147Flip Ships Review
So, if you guys are around the same age as me, you would probably know video games like Galaga or Space Invaders back in the day where you were still hitting Atari or Nintendo game controllers. Those two games were iconic and we spend a great deal of time and fun with those simple looking game (now we have high demands on lots of things). Space Invaders / Galaga is a game where you control a ship and shoot lining-up enemy’s space ships (Alien ships) with our laser beam (that looks the 4 long square piece from Tetris) and save the day, It’s not easy back in the day, the levels were keep harder and harder every time you beat it, those were simpler days, where keeping us occupied was harder levels than before. Now you can recall those glory and simpler days because Renegade Game Studios publish the analog version of the game and somehow modernize it. Yes, Flipships is one of the newest game from Kane Klenko, the designer of Flatline, Fuse and Covert and really implements the game system of Space Invaders / Galaga into the board game platform, the twist is that He made it with a touch of dexterity element in it’s core. So let’s launch into space and explore the world of Flipships to find out more about the game!

dsc02293.jpg

The Theme
If you are familiar about the video game version, there’s no need to know more about the theme, but in case you are new and unfamiliar with the video game, read on. In this game, players will hand in hand control their ships to defend alien’s invasion against your home planet. They are up right outside the planet’s atmosphere and the enemy lines are starting to close in our planet, we must stop them before our planet sustain enough damages and destroyed. The future of its population rest in your trigger-button fingers. You need to destroy it’s mothership (the boss) and while in the same time take care of those pesky ships storming face on to your planets.

The Artworks
Kwanchai Moriya done the artworks in Flipships and I must admit that He had done a great work. The visuals are breathtaking, I love the gripping and thrilling box cover art with His signature showing contrast colorful with abstract approach to reconstruct the visual in broken style manner, I heard it’s called the Dorito Space Art by some people and I concur. And another interesting thing is that the game title can be read upside down (that’s something). You can find his other works on Coaster Park, Dinosaur Island, Loop Inc., Catacombs, Kodama and many more.

FS_Moriya1_1200FS_EnemyShips_900FS_PlayerShipsv1_800

The Game Components
The game comes in a weird-size square box, smaller than the usual box like Catan. I imagined it as Catan sized. The components are nice, mostly standard (cards, tokens) but one thing pops out, the launching pad made from huge chunk of red-painted wood. This is partially necessary, while players may opt out this when they flick their ships using end of table, there is a ship ability that require this component. The good thing is that when you cannot use end of table, you can use this. The tokens seemed the only components that will worn out first since they’re frequently flips during plays, but it shouldn’t be a problem, putting a sticker of printed ships would do the trick. Having a game mat that covers the entire table so it looks like the outer space is definitely enhanced the game experience (or maybe a dark blue game mat).

The Game Play
Playing Flipships is very simple. All you (and up to your three friends) need to do is just flick your ships (tokens) and hit those baddies, that’s all. But since it uses dexterity, it’s never just that easy. Yes, to flick and hit the target you want is pretty much down to your perfect combination of hand coordination, accuracy and power handling. At the start of the game, your planet has 20 health and you need to avoid getting it down to zero. The mothership generally has 4 hit points (but you can adjust this to modify the challenge). The enemy will start with 2 rows of 5 ship cards drawn from the pile (amount of cards is varied based on number of players) of the opposite end of your planet. There are 4 levels of space o top of your planet atmosphere, once the enemy cards enter the atmosphere area, they start dealing damages to your planet and make a rerun back to their stack (yes, you only get rid of them by destroying them). If you playing with your friend(s), you will take turns to launch your ships. Once all players take their turns, surviving enemy ships advance towards the atmosphere based on their speeds. In players’ turn they will flick their available ship tokens one by one with their fingers (how they flick them is up to them, as long as using their own fingers and the token must do at least one full flip before hitting the target (wow, that sounds difficult and highly sensitive to keep track! Don’t overthink it, just have fun, it’s a cooperative game anyway).

DSC02289

So, the enemy ships (cards) have different stats, they have different speed, some need to be hit double to destroy or there’s a ship with Shield generator to give shield to adjacent ships (you need to destroy this ship first to disable shield of adjacent ships). And The Mothership is made from 4 side boards to form a box with hollow top (and bottom) and players need to flick their ships directly inside it to hit it. Players’ ships also have special variable powers that they can unlocked once they take some hits (when the hit track decreases to certain level, next ship is unlocked from level 1 to 3. The different level of ships are shown by the shape of ships, higher level has bigger size ship drawing. This to differentiate the ability of each ship. If players managed to downsize to 6 enemy cards or less they will trigger final round and have to destroy the mothership in the next round, if not, they will lose because the mothership will advance to the planet and deal 20 damages.

dav

Replay Value
There’s not much replay value on this one, surprisingly the game will always be the same over and over again aside from the difficulty adjustment. You and your friends will flick ships and there is no twist on the game, simple but maybe for some it’s boring after several plays. The one thing that keeps the game fun is the dexterity element, which can cause hilarious moments among friends. Some could be moments to remember and topic discussion, but that’s just it. They also provide another speed variant (competitive) where the mothership is  placed on the center of the table and players take their 7 ships. No other components are needed. I find the game to be really easy to figure out, one play and you already get the bottom of it. It’s a game where you just having fun flicking your ships.

DSC02280

My Thoughts of The Game
I always have soft spot with dexterity games, I love Terror in Meeple City (one of my favorite games), Super Rhino and etc. So this one is not an exception. I was hooked by the  dexterity concept though not entirely, but since my expectation was not particularly high for this kind of games, it’s not a big deal for me. When the first time I tried the game, it was fun, though most of the time my flicks missed the target.  The first thing I had in my mind was “wow, this is hard! How I could successfully hit the target I want with this?” despite the fact the rules give us three chances if the ship fail to go beyond the atmosphere. If you flip the ship behind the mothership, there’s no hope in that, it lost to the void. Well, this difficulty sounds very dismissive but rest assured, after three-fourth of the game play it starting to give me answer that it is possible, as long as you have faith and keep hone your flicks to be the flick master. In my second play, I finally feel pretty good with my aim and turned out the game isn’t that hard like the first time (that’s why you can adjust it’s difficulty level).
I really think there’s a good portion of cooperative element on this game (also a hint of alpha player if the group allows it) because the variable ship powers. Yes, as I mentioned earlier, the ships have different powers based on colors and levels. This allows players to discuss which target they think more suitable to tackle on by each ships. And those powers are fun. There are power who can get a rerun if managed to hit the mothership or power that can destroy another ship of the same level instead of the ship it’s land on and etc. These truly makes the game really interesting as you explore the powers of the ships. This might be one game that I can enjoy as a solitaire game (oops…), yeah mostly because the dexterity element presents actual challenge right in front of you, allows you to immerse on doing something curiously irritating to hit the target, like doing beer pong or throwing paper ship to trash can. But like others, this feeling would eventually washed away after several plays (just guessing here).

dsc02306.jpg

I am thinking that the game can be expanded in many ways, scenarios are good to have, specific requirements that players need to follow to win the game and maybe different game modes, partnership versus and else. Of course you easily can come up with your own scenarios and game modes and share them to others.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 7, 2018 in Board Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 10 Board Games in 2017

I’ve played a few 2017 release games, not many but enough for me to rank up the top 10 games. Though it’s not really justified because of the log plays and other stuffs but it’s my top 10 (from my opinion). Feel free to disagree and discuss. Here are my top 10 list in countdown order

#10. EX LIBRIS
Lets start with Ex Libris, the board game for librarians (or anyone). It is a worker placement game in the setting of arranging books in alphabetical order. The theme is unique (though not that really attractive for gamers and to be honest I also didn’t have this game on my radar at first. But once I realized that the game has different unique workers (with special abilities and unique shapes), I started to find out more. Upon research I found one unique worker that made me just “wow”! It was gelatinous cube (which unlike other wooden meeples, it is a cube made from plastic resin in a transparent green color). That made me want to get the game. I bought it though it was quite expensive for what it’s worth. Played it and turned out it’s a simple game. The goal is to build / arrange your own library of books. In order to do that you need to get the books by assigning three of your assistants to different locations. You need to arrange them based on alphabetical order, the stability of your shelf and your collection of prominent, focus and banner books. I found the game to be somewhat a race to collect books but rather multiple solitaire in form and without tense or climax. I do have some grimes about the game, though those are still acceptable.
25487370_10156127875604873_6248553094304610261_o

#09. DICE FORGE
This game is very innovative. It’s not the first that uses dice customization mechanic, it applies the same concept from older game called Rattlebones, which players can swap sides from the dice to get different effects. The dice in Rattlebones seemed like a side mechanic not the core of the game, but here they made that as the core of the game. Players will constantly roll and modify their dice. It has a very beautiful box cover (oh yes I have to mention it). The game is simple and plays rather quick (30-60 mins). On a player’s turn, all players roll dice and get resources. The active player either buy a card or buy die faces. The game ends after a number of rounds and the final scoring takes place. The dice use innovative system and have great quality materials. There are some strategies to go for in the round, most of the cards are useful and important if you can get them all compatible with your strategy. The game is very suitable for casual players, newbies and gamers alike. It would be better if they gave a small lever to remove the dice’s face, because without it, I sometimes find it difficult or hurting my fingers.
26910134_10156196683224873_4538731467921806905_o

#08. LONDON (2nd Edition)
I haven’t try the first edition but it was already on my wishlist / radar for quite a long time because of the designer alone (Martin Wallace). I like Brass and some of his games, so this one is also interesting to try. Luckily I had not get the first edition when this one was released. In my opinion, the second edition has a very artistic cover artwork, if not the illustrations on the cards are already beautiful. I like the game very much, it’s a tableau building game with a twist. When I tried it for the first time, I felt a classic Euro game within this game and it’s a very good thing. It’s been quite a while to get that classic feeling from Euro games nowadays if you know what I mean. It’s simple, has easy rules and simplified components, but the game offers depth decision making and strategies. Of course the replay values seems low due to the nature of the cards (all of them are used in a single game). I wonder if the game has randomizer system like deck building games, where not all cards are used in a game. This one definitely a keeper.
23736205_10156048857809873_2648516706418314865_o

#07. NEAR AND FAR
After Above and Below, Near and Far was one of my two anticipated games from Red Raven Games (another one is Empires of The Void II). It claims to offer more depth to the strategy and exploration aspects of the game instead the storytelling in Above and Below. I felt intrigued, Above and Below is great, it gives immersion to the game play with the storytelling aspect but that is it, it’s a bit too simple for my gamer’s soul. So having another game with the same spirit but offers more complexities and depths with different variants of game play, my expectation was high. For this game’s sake, I bought the game a bit pricey and to be honest I was a bit disappointed. Don’t take me wrong, the game is good, it’s interesting and I would still enjoy to play it in future to come. But I expected more from this one, the campaign system doesn’t really rewarding from play to play, aside from the story, players in the end just compare / tally points from all maps. Not sure there’s a connecting story from one map to another and character / player progression, though there’s a skill / talent that can be purchased, but I think it’s not that much big of a deal from scenario to another. And there’s a character progress variant, haven’t try this one, but I don’t think it offers enough to significantly increase the game play experience. But of course I like this one better than Above and Below, still offers deeper and more complex game. I like how Ryan considers the adventurers’ compatibility to be played with Above and Below.
24254775_10156070204849873_5287695750633674197_o

#06. RAJAS OF THE GANGES
For me Village was good, just good. But it didn’t leave me such impression that I should own the game. So the designers then released Rajas of The Ganges, which also gave similar visual appearance with this one, classic Euro games. At first I wasn’t really hooked on the game, but I decided to give it a try. My biggest concern was the racing mechanic. Yup, of of my most undesired mechanics in a board game, racing game. This game though it looks like the usual Euros, this one hides that racing scoundrel in those two point trackers (fame and money). Though it seems that players collecting points throughout the game, the reality is that these points are just progress. Yes the ugly truth, you try to get your two markers on the tracks meet or overlap each other in order to win. This will trigger the game end, although there’s a possibility for other players to catch up that would lead to tie breaking to determine the winner. But when finished my first play, I was hooked, not very hooked, just ok hooked. I like it, interestingly engaging and feels like Euro engine building, maybe because of the tile laying, dice rolling, worker placement and set collection aspects that overshadowing the racing element, who knows. The important thing is I feel rewarded when playing this the game, that’s what makes me to like the game. This game feels very similarly like The Voyages of Marco Polo, though it’s quite different.
23737933_10156048845364873_8170546454337876690_o

#05. PULSAR 2849
I had to include this into this list and kicked out Flatline to eleventh place. Just managed to play this game in early January and I was very surprised on how good this game is. It has very simple and common mechanic that can be find in other games, but the combination and formula make it a perfect and interesting game. The dice drafting and initiative order are brilliant, with interesting ‘exploration’ aspect in the game where you place stations throughout the the star system and claim pulsars. How the designer balanced the dice selection is so damn amazing. In general you will want high value dice, but to gain them you need to pay with energy / initiative markers. These two aspects are important and giving away loosely for higher value dice would really hurt you in turn order and energy bonus aspects. More of it, deciding which die not to take also affecting players in during action phase because players can copy the leftover die using a bonus die. Played the game back to back and even I was lost to my wife, I was so furious and couldn’t figure out how to win it, I want to play it again and again. Try with different number of players and different strategies. There are so many actions in this game, even how bad your dice are, you can always take actions. Gyrodynes are important, it’s the soul of engine building from the game. Though other things could also help you. The tech tree and goals would determine game’s objectives. The game is played in 8 rounds, with each round players will choose 2 dice per player. This means basically each player gets minimum 16 actions plus potential 8 actions from the bonus die. The implementation of the bonus die is kinda unique, since there’s a limitation that a player can only use at max a single bonus die in each round, but the source to get it and actions to use it are so many. And looking back, this game was designed by Vladimir Suchy, the man behind Shipyard (Last Will if it matters), one of our favorite games (me and my wife). For this we expected at least this could match Shipyard, and turns out, it is way better than Shipyard for me.
27164135_10156234996264873_7552254862961834520_o

#04. THE 7TH CONTINENT
Okay I had a very high hope for this one, backed the Kickstarter project of the first edition instantly. I was hooked with the storytelling concept of the game. The game is likely similar or adapt the same concept like T.I.M.E Stories, where players must figure out the case / or you might call it as scenario / puzzle to be able to finish the game (successfully). There’s an element of surprise in the game which is no longer a surprise once you finally able to experience it. Unlike T.I.M.E Stories, this game lies heavily in cards as main components while T.I.M.E Stories also involves dice roll for success check. Card laying exploration game that form the map and action cards that come into the game with hand management mechanic. There’s a push your luck element too as the success parameters for actions, which is very simple and traditional but looks quite interesting. Though once you finish / complete a curse the replay value just almost gone, the thing is that to complete one curse you need to play it several times. You will figure out where to go and what to do after consecutive plays, this gives you play logs for just one curse. And my biggest admiration to the game is the amount of story related element that was poured into the game itself. It perfectly grabs the feel of the game and how it can feel different in each play because of the ever-changing environment. Of course there are fixed things, like the map. That place will always be there forever, not gonna change from play to play. But the event or situation will be different, maybe yesterday you met a grizzly bear, today you find what’s left of that bear is only it’s corpse. I find this element to be very interesting. You wouldn’t know what lies ahead. Of course it’s not perfect, I found some flaws in the game, but it still a very good game.
21414874_10155854695019873_39352064166166043_o

#03. LISBOA
Here is another Vital Lacerda’s games that worth to be praised. The Gallerist was the first game of this scale that made me want to collect His series, like Vinhos. Now I own three of them. Not a fan of the publisher (Eagle Gryphon Games) with their KS projects, but hey I still admire their production quality and standards and also Vital’s amazing games. Though I struggled to like Vinhos (maybe it’s because of the theme), turns out I like Lisboa. It’s not tied with The Gallerist in my opinion, but of course the number one is still Kanban. Unfortunately it’s not in the same series as Lisboa and the likes. There are so many things going on in this game. I had troubles with my first play, dissecting the rules from that rulebook. I must say that it’s not the best rulebook I ever encountered. But finally it paid my efforts full. Love the synergy of the game, the visual presentation is stunning, though it might be overwhelming to some point. This is by far the most beautiful Lacerda’s games aesthetically in my opinion. But I think it’s not really thematic. In this game, players will try to be the best influential noble who contributes efforts to rebuild the desolate city of Lisboa from the triple disasters back in the day. The game is long as usual, around 3 hours play with 4 players. It’s broken down into 2 ages where players will need to rebuild stores and public building, trade routes, relationship with prominent figures and also the church / cardinal as well as producing goods. Unlike The Gallerist, Lisboa is more focus on card plays, the tableau building by building your portfolio is really essential. There’s no worker placement mechanic as it is found in The Gallerist, though by looking at the game components, there are workers / meeples. Just like most Vital Lacerda’s games (I think all of them) the game consists of simple actions. During your turn, choose to play a card. That card can be played differently, either play the card into your portfolio or to into the Royal court. If you choose to play it into your Portfolio (tableau) you resolve the effect first and then get to choose one of the two available action, trade with the nobles or sell goods. If you choose to play it into the Royal Court, you can visit a noble’s office or sponsor an event. When visiting the noble office, your opponents may follow the action. Each action may provide certain benefits for you to gain prestige points in the bigger picture or longer run instead of short term or immediately. Player interactions are tied in the building site and ships where they will compete or look for opportunity to score and claim the best choice.
The components are definitely top notch as expected from Eagle Gryphon Games, thick card board material as a standard, nice linen finish cards and amazing-working plastic trays that hold the components inside the box, one issue thing usually occurs is that some complaint their player boards are bowed, must have something to do with the dual layer finishing.
25488113_10156127878994873_5189232137833069521_o

#02. ANACHRONY
Oh man, I love everything about this game. I own the Leader Box from KS and it’s huge as well as heavy. It’s definitely a big game, fully loaded with many great components inside. Lets just say that it is a box of delight. I was one of the backers that immediately jumped to back this KS. Mainly because it’s from Mindclash Games. I was very satisfied with their work in Trickerion. After took some research on the game I was immediately on board. I love the theme, it’s deep heavy Euro game with strong theme. Totally epic. There aren’t many games with this theme. It fulls of cool stuff like exosuit miniatures, variable player powers, interesting time travel mechanic, the use of multi-layered workers and etc.
When I unboxed the game, the box was full of good stuffs, after punched the tiles out, the card board wastes didn’t help to loosen up the contents inside the box. It’s still fully packed and heavy. I like how fierce the worker placement can be during the game, fight over resource management while need to execute your plan in timely manner in order to complete super projects and other things. There are several different strategies you can after to get most points. Some modules give more variation and different feels, such you can modify your exosuits and go explore the outer world, while more details and challenge on the timeline and having neutral exosuits that can be bought each round with different abilities. There are so many things.
16830837_10155201239314873_1270521988140449483_n

#01. GLOOMHAVEN
The one and only, Gloomhaven. I was so excited when this game launched in Kickstarter several years back, 2015 if I am not mistaken. The game is epic and full of great things. It’s weighed almost 10 kgs (9.7 kgs precisely). I fell in love with the game instantly. The main reasons are because it’s a very thematic theme, with original contents and a breakthrough of the common RPG background. You won’t find any elves or orcs or trolls here. All the characters are new and made just for this game from the scratch. The designer, Isaac Childress poured his dream, efforts, ambitions and total dedication into this game. He is practically one-man-army behind Cephalofair games. He made a new universe and it also used for another game after this one, Founders of Gloomhaven (a very different game but still within the same universe). I backed this game more like a gamble because though I really love this kind of game at heart, my wife doesn’t. She had a very skeptical opinion on the subject and constantly states her dislike but didn’t deny the opportunity to try. So with half of her feet out of the door, I pessimistically but hopeful, asked her willingness to try the game. When the game arrived (after it was delayed in post office), I was so excited, the box was huuuge, my biggest game in my collection no doubt about it. Sadly it arrived in bad condition (the box had tears all around the edges). I punched the game together with my wife and my arms felt so tired. There are so many components inside the game.
17991079_10155411893734873_6799002951247157392_n

I immediately jumped into the rulebook, learnt the game and played a campaign with my wife. I was blown away with how awesome it is. There are so many brilliant things in the game, how the combats resolved and the cards played are amazing. At first there are only a handful of characters that can be played, but as you progress through the campaign, you would unlock more new characters, not only with different abilities, but also different play styles. Though it has the same genre with other games of the same category, the game is dice-less, meaning it uses no dice in any part of the game, which commonly used by other games in the genre for combat / battle resolutions, skill checks, etc. It uses interesting deck building (sort of) for the modifier cards as the character progresses. There are lots of things going on within the game and you can say the rules are fiddly, which I think any game couldn’t evade this kind of issue while maintaining interesting and engaging game play. When players choose a scenario within a campaign they will embark to the location from the city of Gloomhaven, which there will be Road event (this could be good or bad) that in a way affecting players condition before the scenario, so there’s the element of surprise.
After that, within the scenario, players and monsters will take turns based on the initiative order decided by the cards they play. Players choose 2 cards for the round to use the top part and bottom part and decide which initiative they use to determine their character activation. Despite the game is a cooperative game, there are secret information within players, this is one of the many reasons why the game is interesting. Players cannot reveal the initiative value they choose to another, only just a hint whether it’s high or small to keep decisions more interesting and have impactful consequences. Without the full information, players’ actions are not entirely effective because the situation changes based on the turn order. Monsters also have initiative that shown as part of its Ai system. When revealing initiative, a card will be drawn from specific deck for each type of monster, this will determine the initiative value of that monster and the action that they will do on their turn. I find the monster Ai to be very clever, every type of monster has different deck, this shows how different they are based on each type characteristic. These situations come into the game more like a puzzle that players must face and solve to complete the scenario.
17634558_10155340563949873_6824170179260080300_n.jpg

Battle are amazing, aside from the ability cards that show the base value of the action, players and monster also have a modifier deck specifically designed for that character (monsters use a single modifier deck) which can be modified as the character progressed based on the character sheet. So there’s no way characters have the same deck composition. This is truly amazing because it reflects their behaviors or attack styles. In addition, each character also have personal goal, given from the beginning, that will determine their involvement within the campaign. Once that character complete that goal, that character is retired and unlocks something (events and new characters). Players must stop using that character and choose another character to continue playing. There’s an interesting approach towards the game progression in overall. Players are forced to make changes so that the game is dynamic, not only in term of general campaign but also how each scenario plays out. Characters also advance their levels by spending XP gain from scenarios. Advancing levels does mainly to increase HP and unlocking new ability cards that players can choose to keep. Higher level cards have more powerful abilities but each character has a hand size of ability cards that they can carry on a scenario. So even if they managed to unlock lots of cards, they need to choose which ones work best in a given scenario, which I think it’s very amazing! The hand size also works as timer, since in most scenarios, players will race against time, which are  their hand size. Once their hand runs out of cards, they will be exhausted and out of the scenario. Luckily in this game, you can still complete the scenario even there’s one or more player eliminated (dying or exhausted) as long as one character still remain to complete.
18157750_10155424087984873_3386032558817101954_n

I must admit, there are many amazing things about the game and the easiest way to do that is to sit down with me and let me walk you through all of it by playing the game. But the game also has its own downsides. I own the first edition and though the game is so freaking amazing, I am kinda disappointed by the weaknesses or errors happened during the first edition. The box is too thin to handle the component weigh, but I do plan to get a custom box made for this game, still waiting for possible expansions. Also the actual HP and XP trackers failed to work, so I need to get Dial tracker add-ons for it. You need to commit time and space and gaming partner to finish the whole campaign. The time it takes to set up and tear down the game is equal to play a session of medium Euro game (lol). And to end this, it beats Eclipse as my number one game of all time.

Notable games:
FLATLINE
We start with Flatline from Renegade Games Studio. It’s a real-time cooperative dice rolling game with the same setting of FUSE, the sequel from the same game designer, Kane Klenko. It still involves the same dice rolling mechanic as FUSE, but different implementation. In FUSE, players constantly roll their dice until they found the side they’re looking for, but in Flatline, players only roll their dice one time in each round and then allocate them to different places. At first I wasn’t really interested on the game, mainly due to its cooperative genre. But of course when I checked upon the game components, the first thing that caught my attention were the dice. No doubt the dice looked very attractive, colorful custom dice and they’re plenty. I love it, always a sucker for dice fest (especially customized). So I decided to get it and my first play was a blast (even it’s only a 2-player game). I was pessimist with the tension of the game play regarding players assign dice to many different places within a certain time limit. Before playing the game I thought it’s not a big deal and we can deal with it pretty easily, oh boy I was wrong. Okay player count does matter, with more players the game feels more chaotic because the communication between players just clash into each other. It’s fun, full of tension, lots of shouting, frustrations and totally freeze your brain from thinking straight.
23825962_10156048822379873_348089528668599238_o

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 30, 2018 in Article, Board Games, Insight

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Essen 2017 Highlight Preview Part 7

Okay, it’s 2018 and still there is a long list of Essen 2017 games to be done. Have you acquired some of them? Feel free to share the new collection or discuss them here. Now lets move along to the seventh part of this long preview.

pic3736981_lgPULSAR 2849
2849 marks the beginning of an interstellar energy boom. Human finally invented new technologies that can harness or utilize the energy of pulsar for many different things. In this new dawn, players as corporations do not want to miss that chance and compete with each other to take part on this historic event by building megastructures in space. Okay, this sold me out, though I tend to avoid space sci-fi theme due to my wife’s disliking of the specific theme. My main interest honestly lies within the designer behind the game, Vladimir Suchy which designed Shipyard in the past, a game of building ships, which my wife really fond of.  So what game is Pulsar 2849? It has a round-shaped board showing a space in the galaxy with a star cluster and many planetary systems. In 8 rounds players will take turns to draft dice and allocate them to different parts of the game. There are so many actions to choose over the turns, players can move their survey ships around, develop pulsars, build energy transmission, patent technologies, and work on special projects. These are major things you do in the game, the truth is there are many other small things under this major actions you need to do. One of the interesting things in the game is the engineering and initiative tracks which run side by side depending how players want to use it. See, while drafting dice, players can choose any die but they need to pay the cost based on the median track of the available dice of that round. They need to pay the cost with their engineering or initiative. The thing is the higher the die value, the better it is. So I guess the game mitigates this issue by making the players to pay the cost, which getting a high value die is more expensive than the lesser ones. When paying the cost they can choose to move out one of their tracks (engineering or initiative) based on what die they take and its current median. Initiative will determine the turn order of next round, while engineering is like an income for energy cubes based on the position of the markers. When the game ends players score points based on their goal tiles, purple patents, claimed pulsars, leftover engineering cubes, and stations. There are so many things spread around the game and with those come so many choices to choose for. It feels like a point salad game, while you gain points based on what you do. I like how the game looks and can’t wait to try it out.
pic3816942_lg

pic3364832_lgPHOTOSYNTHESIS
This game is very interesting, you can see it only by the looks of the game set up on the table. There are card board trees, many card board trees. So the game is about the title itself, photosynthesis which is a process used by plants to convert light energy into chemical energy so that they can grow. In this game, players will be one of 4 different varieties of trees and compete to grow and spread their seeds in the sunlight. In the game players will get a player board with slots for many different size trees of their variety. There are 3 sizes of trees, small, medium and large. And players will start with 2 small trees on the board and can work to grow them and add more trees into the board. In order to grow, players need sunlight to light their trees. But the sun moves around and cast shadows. Shadowed trees cannot grow because the sunlight cannot reach it. That shadow comes from another tree blocking the sunlight, since there are different sizes, larger tree will cover the sunlight from smaller ones, making them cannot grow. In the game, players can buy trees from their player board to their supply by using light points, plant seeds around their existing trees on the game board, grow trees by using light points and collect scoring tokens by ending the life cycle of large trees. The game ends when the sun rotates 3 times and the last sun revolution counter has been drawn. I found the game has a very really simple set of rules but offers very deep tactical choice within the game. Players need to plan and take actions carefully by looking at the board situations and how opponents will act to determine what is the best thing they need to do on their turn. The components are good, it’s very nice to look at, definitely eye candy over the table. And the most important thing is it has a very nice educational value for kids (or adults alike) about how trees grow.
pic3821681_lg

pic3553913UNTOLD – ADVENTURES AWAIT
This interesting storytelling cooperative game is played using a set of Rory’s Story Cubes. For those who don’t know Rory’s Story Cubes, it’s a set of 6-sided dice with different symbols on each side (the symbol is unique one of a kind in a set). In the original game of Rory’s Story Cubes, players will roll dice and set a story from the rolled dice. It’s a loose game of storytelling. Now in this game, they took the cubes usability to a whole another level. With some rules and standard guide they create a structure needed for the dice to be used in a way that players will try to make more compelling and structured good story. Before the game starts, players will set a base story in the episode guide as a starting point and setting for their story to expand. The game also comes with character creation, a quite loose one at that. To create a character, players can use the story cubes (dice) as assistance to shape the character or do it freely and then fill out the questions on their character sheets. A character can also has special abilities along with companion or items than can helm them on the story. As most of good stories, it’s broken down to several scenes (orderly fashion), starting from A Dangerous Dilemma, The Plot Thickens, An Heroic Undertaking, The Truth Revealed and The Final Showdown. Based on these scenes players will reveal scene cards to guide them with their story. The symbols on scene cards will determine how players will use the die of their choice. Since this is a cooperative game, by the nature of this game, there will be an alpha player issue. It requires some sort of creative storytelling and imagination level from the players to create a good and interesting story that will engage them as the game goes by. So if you do not like these kind of stuff, sharing you imagination, give story ideas and like to playful with your stories, this might be not a good fit for you. It relies heavily on that part to determine the fun level of the game. There are some features for players to control (to some extent) on how the story goes, they’re given some tokens to alter the story in one way or another. Players can interrupt other player’s story with idea token (each player has two tokens), go back to the past and try to add more depth or details to the backstory using flashback token, change a die result by using a modify token and a play/pause card to pause the game to set a discussion about the story. This is not a game about winning or losing, it’s about how you build the story together and feel accomplished.
pic3622689_lg

pic3399864VIRAL
Viral is a game about virus (obviously) in a human body. Players take the role of different viruses trying to get viral points by infecting, spreading through different organs on the body. It’s a pretty unique theme, while Cytosis has a positive approach this one has negative approach. The main boars depicts a human internal organ such as brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, intestines and others divided into different zones. The game uses action selection mechanic with cards. In each round players will assign 2 pairs of cards (with each pair consists of 1 zone card and 1 action card) and then resolve the actions in turn order and discard the used cards (those cards couldn’t be used for next single round).  Players will have to spread their markers to different zones and organs to gain majority and zone controls. To control a zone, each player must have at least one marker in every organ in that zone. Some organs will have a crisis tile (depending on the number of viruses (markers) that organ has and number of players. Crisis tiles mark the organs where the body’s immune system will work. Some viruses on that organ will be removed (there also be scoring). There are also cures which based on the research track on each player. Player’s that already move into the top space on the research track will remove all of their viruses (except the ones with shield icon) from the board and reset the track back. The game uses tie breaker mechanism where players will determine which one of them win the tie breakers. So there will be a lot of tie situations on the game. The game uses vibrant color for the organs and it looks very contrast over the white background. It looks colorful and clear. But apparently I consider this overly too simple for this kind of game. I wanted more interlocking mechanics than just placing viruses and control the areas.
pic3848266_lg

pic3711919_lgPIONEER DAYS
This is a very simple dice drafting / allocation game from Tasty Minstrel Games. It is designed by Matthew Dunstan and Chris Marling. The game sets in a wild west frontier where players will set a journey with their wagons through the perilous Oregon trail. Life is hard in the frontier and it takes careful planning, cunning decision and perfectly timed actions to avoid disasters and complete objectives. The game lasts for 4 weeks (5 days in each week, 5 turns). In the game, players try to get points by acquiring Town folks, pairs of cattle, favor tokens, gold nuggets while avoiding take damages to their wagon. In this game players draft dice from the pool to do certain actions (Income, Action or Recruit). There are also Disasters in the game, turns out living in the frontier is not that peaceful, there are Raid, Famine, Disease and Storms. Disasters on the game are triggered based on the color of the leftover die that players didn’t pick up each round. Black die is the most dangerous of all which advance all the disaster tracks up one space while other colors only advance that particular color. I think the game is pretty simple, you pick a die and choose what to do in a turn. The drafting is a bit interesting with the disaster tracks. When choosing a die, you need to consider what will be the last die left. This will determine which disaster track would advance. The Town folks also interesting, aside from providing benefits to the players during the game, some of them also provide points generators.
pic3830118_lg

So, until next time.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: