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Category Archives: Card Games

A game that mainly consist of cards and utilizing the deck building and card drafting mechanic.

Scrabble Reinvented

pic2510971Letter Tycoon Review
As you already know by now, I am a fan of Word games though there are not many good word games out there. Scrabble was fun but I found that the tactical placement on the grid really turned me off back in the day. The fun of word game lies in crafting those letters into words. But apparently, too many rules or restrictions put me not really like it. You know the feeling, when you found great word from your letters but apparently you short of 1 square of space or even it touches the side of another letter that really screw your word, it’s maddening. Now Letter Tycoon from Breaking Games, designed by Brad Brooks, is something else entirely. It shares the same game principle with Scrabble, but omit the use of the game board. Instead it uses cards for the letters and players need to assemble those cards into a word.

The goal of the game is to get the most total points from Stocks, Coins and Patents when the game ends. The game ends when one player managed to get a total sum value of letter patents (varied based on number of players). On player’s turn, they play cards from their hand to form a word and they can also use some or all of the three cards available in the middle of the table. The word created will be score based on the amount of letters used for the word. The longer the word is, the bigger the points are (and more stocks). After that, the player may buy one available letter patent that they use to form the word. These patents have different value and represent cost to buy them and points at the end of the game. Some patents have passive abilities that can be used by the owner, but all of the patents give the owner money from the bank each time they’re used by other players to form words.
Before a player’s turn ends, they decide which card they want to discard from their hand and then refill hand back to 7 cards. The cards in the middle of the table are also refilled back to three.

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Now, it is possible that words the players make is not really correct words and not exist. To solve this problem, players can challenge the active players once he made a word from the cards. If this happened, they check the word through a dictionary (decide which one they should use to settle the conflict) and if the word did exist, the challenger need to pay 1 coin to the bank. But if it turned out that the word did not exist, the active player must take back the played cards (return the factory card back) and then discard one card from his hand. He end his turn and refill back his hand.

I like how the game really works, the flow is smooth and fast-paced, unless you have trouble to form word from those letters. I love the freedom to create words from the cards in your hand and also from the three cards on the table. It always a fun game for me, though luck also plays a great deal on the game. The letter distribution can be a let down, since the cards are discard and won’t be coming back to the deck before it rans out. So if it obvious what letters are all used up, they won’t be on the deck and you won’t get it soon. I also like how interesting the patent abilities, they’re powerful and it can change how you make your words. Players also choose to buy which patent that will be the most useful to them, letters that frequently used (mostly vowels) and higher card count are usually more expensive. Getting them early in the game could prove to be useful for the players because higher chance for other players to use them more often.

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The game can be played with 2 players and up to 5 players, it usually lasts around 30-60 minutes. For me, I can play the game back to back several times. It hits all the sweet spots and turned out it solve the Scrabble issue. Of course one issue left is about the word difficulty. As each letter in scrabble provides value depends on the letter frequency used in words, there are some clever play to use great combination of letters in your words, which making long and hard word really paid off. In Letter Tycoon, there is no such thing, that’s why this game is casual friendly and suitable for family games, children and adults alike. It doesn’t reward players to make difficult words but instead rewards players to play longer words.

The components are nice, simple linen cards though it feels a bit flimsy than average. The coins are wooden and have printed value (nice) with solid color difference between the ‘3’ value (black) and ‘1’ value coins (beige / natural). Stock tiles are made from card board and only used during the final scoring. Basically stocks give you extra point but cannot be used for anything else unlike coins. Players collect stocks when they at least create a 5 letters word or more. There is also a plastic zeppelin marker as the active player marker, though I never used it every time I played the game.

This game is one of five games that won a Mensa Select Award in the year 2015 which also the same year it was released. Mensa Select is an annual award given by American Mensa since 1990 to five board games that are “original, challenging and well designed.”

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All images are taken from BoardGameGeek, full credits to the owners.

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Posted by on August 13, 2018 in Board Games, Card Games, Reviews, Word Games

 

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Inside Trading Goes A Long Way

pic3678411Startups Review
I am a fan of Oink Games (Japan), their game collections are so fun, easy and compact. I came to know their games from Deep Sea Adventure, which a friend brought to a game day and played it several times, in short we had fun. Since then I am collecting their games and most of them redefine micro / pocket games out there. Startups is one of them, it was released on 2017 and reimplements Rights (which is another older title from Oink games, 2015). I also had tried Rights before but in terms of visual appearance, Startups definitely has friendlier atmosphere. The game also comes with the same uniform small pocket-sized box like most of their games and the games artworks are stunning, truly reflects Japanese approach in visual arts, colorful, simple, straight-forward and unique in the same time.

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The Theme
In Startups, players will invest in startup companies and try to win big (profit) from those companies. As like Startups companies do, there’s nothing certain about their business, their business can go boom or not, depend on the market. Invest in the right companies can lead you to big pay out or the opposite. The game comes in 6 different companies shown by color differences and fictional names and logos. You can find unique names and logos such as Octo-Coffee, Giraffe Beer, Flamingo Soft and others.

The Game
Startups can be played from 3 up to 7 Players and lasts roughly 10-15 minutes. The game comes with a deck of cards that consist of 6 sets of colors (companies), with each color has different amount of cards based. For example Hippo Powertech (green) has 9 cards (all of the cards are the same) while Bowwow Games (blue) has 6 cards (the amount is ranged from 5 to 10). Aside from the cards, the game comes with currency markers, let say these are money chips. Each player will get 10 money chips with white side face up (with 1 value) and dealt 3 cards from the deck. Then there are 5 cards removed from the deck (this is done to assure that in each game there’s at least some sort of hidden veil to the card distribution). Starting from the first player (and clockwise), each player must take a card and then play a card from their hand.

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Taking a card can be done in two ways (from the draw pile or from the market). In the first turn, the starting player can only take a card from the draw pile since there’s no card in the market area (the area around the draw pile). What complicate things is, once a player has the most card of a single color (company), that player monopolize that company shares (he is given the anti-monopoly token of that company) as it’s major / main shareholder. As long as that player has this token, he cannot take card of the same color from the market area and doesn’t pay chip to cards of the same color in the market area when he want to draw from the pile. When another player outmatch him with cards of that color, the token will be pass into the new player.

A card can be played from hand into two places, in front of the player as stock or to the market area. Playing a card in front of the player means that player add one card as a share of that color to his possession. While playing a card to the market area means that player release a company share to the market and can be acquired by anyone else without the anti-monopoly token of that color. The thing is once there’s a card in the market area, players have to pay one chip per card in the market area if they want to draw a card from the pile, unless the player has the respective anti-monopoly token.

The game ends right after the player who draw the last card from the pile have played his card. All players add all of their cards from hand to their collection of shares. Evaluate each company anti-monopoly token (if there are more than 1 player who have the most cards of a company, no one gets the token). Players with anti-monopoly tokens get 1 chip for each card of the respective company from other players who also own / invest on that company. That chips are flipped out to the brown side (shows number ‘3’ instead of ‘1’) to show that their investment has come to fruition. If no players have shares of that company, the owner do not get any payout. Total the chip amount they have and player with the highest point wins the game.

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My Thought of The Game
This game is brilliant. It is so simple and complex in the same time. The game plays very fast, the ruleset is very simple but there are several things to consider that seemed unusual for new players to click on right away. This is the kind of game that needs to be played at least once for players to realize how the game flow really works. In short, there are 6 companies in the game, each company have different amount of shares that can be acquired. You can randomly get a share or take a specific one. Once you already have monopoly of a company, you cannot get more from market (the specific way) and can only get more randomly. Investing in a company share is always risky even if you have inside trading (the cards in your hand), but ain’t all of them is a risky business? In order to win big, you need to risk something big. You need pay out, but you have to decide which company will give you the most lucrative one with the least efforts and risks. Getting all out in a company is not always a good thing, cause it would probably scares your possible shareholder away, without opposing shareholder your shares means shit. So sometimes its better to wait or play slow in order to trap potential shareholders. The company have grades, i like how each company has different amount of cards, it offers variety / constant struggle between opportunity and risk. Company with more cards give you flexibility, higher probability to get it, but it also has bigger risk cause it also applies to other players. I found that the game has nice interactions, you will constantly check other players and see what cards they place and place them where, these are so important to decide what you should do. What I like about this game is that the game has a strong theme (although it’s not really a favorite among players) and it has a WOW element that players can quickly pick up right from the first play (the type of game that players need to play it firsthand before they get the big picture). And for me, this kind of game is definitely worth to play and have. Though the problem with any small game, it has low replay value because it feels the same in every game and with repetitive plays the game will turn stale in a short time. But the game also has a multiple round variant, where you can play the ‘long’ game. I have not play that variant yet, so I cannot comment anything about it.

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Note: Images are taken from BoardGameGeek and full credit to its owners.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2018 in Board Games, Card Games, Microgames, Reviews

 

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The Word is Not Enough

pic2582929Codenames Review
I always have a knack for word games. there are actually good and decent titles out there and this one is one of them. Codenames is definitely one of the best party game out there with words as its main element. Designed by Vlaada Chvatil, you wouldn’t believe or realize this is one of his works, cause He is just that random. After came up with Space Alert and Galaxy Trucker, He shocked us with interesting complex game of Dungeon Lords and Dungeon Petz. Then a great game appeared, Mage Knight, out of nowhere and we took a deep breath. It is such a great game along Through The Ages and then He designed Codenames. It’s a bit downhill from expectation but not that it’s a bad thing. We just didn’t see this coming.

pic2887128Codenames is a game about partnership, players play in two teams. One of them from each team will become the Spymaster, who will give clues to their team members what keywords are belong to their team in 5×4 grid word cards spread over the table based on the current key card. The game components are, of course mostly consists of cards. Word cards, Spy Cards and there’s a sand timer to keep the game reasonably on time. The goal is to successfully guess all the team’s codenames while in the same time trying not to mistakenly guess opponent’s codenames or the assassin. Teams take turn to give a shot guessing the clue given by each Spymaster. The clue must consists of a single word and a number of codenames available. Team members must guess the codenames one by one, with each being checked by the Spymaster. Each correct codename is marked with the team tile (color coded) if it’s correctly guessed. If it’s not, the codename is placed with either a bystander tile or the opponent tile. If the team incorrectly guess the codename, their turn is immediately over. If they get all the codenames correct, they have a chance to guess one more (based on the previous clue or maybe they’re feeling lucky to have a shot in the dark). If one side has all their codenames guessed (either by them or accidentally by opponent team), that side wins the game. Or if one team accidentally guess the assassin codename, that team immediately lose.

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I guess the game works well with 3 on 3 or more. Having only one team mate to guess your clue is not really that fun but it still fun. You play in teams and the focus is to guess your friends’ mind. Having more players to guess your clue is more fun and hilarious. There are of course, some lenient house ruling based on your preference about what can and cannot be used as clues, the rules have specific restriction for words that can be used as clues but hey as long as you are having fun, right? The cards are double-sided, so you will get plenty of word variations. Though with the sole purpose as clues, the word cards will definitely get used repeatedly after multiple plays.

I must say that the game is very interesting, definitely a great game for couples, casual friends and gamers alike. There will be long discussion over the play sessions and it’s worth your time. Of course the downside is that players need to know English vocabulary well enough, but that’s easy to solve by giving definitions to each word. The words are placed in two-ways, thus avoid players to read them upside down. In addition some players take a long time to figure out what clue is needed to cover all the codenames as efficient as it should, the game provides a sand timer to avoid this. If you plan to play this game fast, I recommend use the timer. If you have spare time, it’s more enjoyable without time limit so players can take their time to find the best possible clue and words. Despite its simplicity and casual friendly, I can see good enough strategy value disguises inside the game.

The good thing is the game has different versions and variations. Up to now the game has many language adaptations, including Bahasa (Indonesian) and different themes such as Disney, Marvel, and Deep Undercover (adult version). In addition there are also variation like Codenames Pictures (using pictures instead of words) and Codenames Duet (offers mode for 2 players with campaign element to add more interesting way to play) which these two are stand alone games (you do not need to have Codenames base game to play).

Codenames-series

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2018 in Board Games, Card Games, Reviews, Word Games

 

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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So, until next time.

 

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Solving Cases By Following Leads

DeadlineDeadline Review
So you are into detective stories, mystery or crime cases but do not want to get into long paragraph reading like Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detectives? Well Deadline might be the one game for you. Deadline is designed by A.B. West and Dan Schnake, published by Wizkids in 2017. The story setting is New York City in 1938 and players take the roles of Detectives (private ones at that) under Buckminster, New York Detective Agency. Its a cooperative game where players will hand in hand trying to solve the case in front of them. The game has 12 cases to choose from with various difficulties from one case to another. There are also 8 different characters to choose from, and like other cooperative games, these characters have different abilities that they can use once in the game. It also provides the players with a Case Book, Case Question and a Solution Book that hold as integral parts in the game. Each case has a story that can be checked on Case Book and Clue cards for the players to get information. To start the game, players choose which case to play and prepare the clue cards related to it, do not read the back of the cards since it’s crucial and give case related information. Players decide what characters to play and choose the first player, give him the detective badge, he will be the lead detective for the first round. Set aside the three bullet tiles and four matchbook tiles face down. Shuffle lead cards and place it face down to form a draw pile. Each player gets 3 cards from that pile. The lead detective then read the chosen case from the Case book aloud so all players can hear. At the end of the page, take and set aside the starting clues from the deck and place it face down. These clue cards are the clues available for players to check at the start of the game.

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The lead detectives start the round by choosing which clue they want to follow and choose one action from the available three actions, whether to play a lead card, use their detective ability or use hot tips. If they do not want to or cannot take one of those three actions, they must Drop Out.
The active player may play a Lead card from their hand, if they play the first time in a round, they can play any lead card. But if they are following an already placed lead card, they must place their card overlaying one of the existing lead cards on the table by matching the symbols between the two overlaying cards. Blank space is wild, so any symbol can overlay it or it can overlay any symbol. The goal is to play lead cards with matching symbols shown on the chosen clue card.
The active player can choose to play their unused character ability. Each character has a different and powerful ability that can help them completing a clue card. The active player can also use Hot Tips. Hot tips can only be used if there’s more than one light match on it. The four different colors of the matchbook have a light match on the back side. Players flip this tile to the light match side when they play a lead card with a matchbook symbol on the left corner of the Lead card. When they play a card with this symbol, they can flip the corresponding matchbook tile face up (if it’s already face up, ignore it). The effect of the hot tips are different based on the amount of tokens they use. With two hot tips, they can draw a new card from the pile, with three hot tips, they can remove 1 plot twist card in front of any player and with four, they can remove 2 plot twist cards. Once used the matchbook tiles are flipped back face down and can be flipped again in later turns.
If by any means that a player cannot or choose not to take any action, the must Drop out. In order to drop out they check if there are any Plot Twist card in their hand. If there is, they must play the Plot Twist card in front of them, unless they already have two in front of them (the maximum number of Plot Twist a player can have in front of them is two) and then they discard their hands. Dropped out player cannot take any more turn in the round.

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The round ends when all players have already Dropped Out and they fail to follow up the clue. Or when all symbols on the chosen clue card covered up by the symbols shown on played lead cards. If they fail they remove one of the bullet tiles to the box. Once there’s no bullet left, the investigation ends. If they succeed, they discards the played Lead cards and flip the chosen clue card, read the information aloud while take new clue cards listed (if any) and then they keep the completed clue card as reference at the end of the game. Players draw their hands back to three cards and then the next player clockwise will be the next round first player. In the next round, the lead detective may choose which clue card they want to follow, considering their hands of lead cards.

At the end of the investigation, players will review what information they’ve gained from all the clue cards and they will check the case question book to answer the questions related to the case. There are 2 different questions, critical and bonus questions. Critical questions are strongly related to the case that usually involve who is the criminal, what motive and the weapon of choice, etc. While bonus questions are something that players pick up along the way. How well they answer these reflects their performance / rate in the case they check this on the Solution Book where the answers lie. There are 4 different kind of levels, ranging from Master detectives to the lowest level, Gumshoes.

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Final Thoughts
I find the game to be pretty simple. The rules are easy to discern and straightforward. There are 12 cases and by the looks of the game play this gives you 12 time replay value cause once you figure out the case, then you won’t be playing it again. Unless you are in for the mini game. Okay, what mini game? Yes, the game really revolves around you putting up mini game to get information. Why I call it mini game? Because it’s not related to the case itself. Players completing the lead without any context about the case at all, it’s not incorporated with the story or case you are dealing with. Alas if you compare this with Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, I must say that they are both different in many aspects except cooperative game play and criminal mystery case solving theme. SHCD has a very strong theme that blends well with how the players act as detectives, unlike this game where players just handed out the information once they are done with the mini game. SHCD requires them to actually think, to decide where they should follow the lead. SHCD has a very long, tedious but masterpiece writings in its paragraph provides a very compelling story of the famous Sherlock Holmes cases. Deadline in the other hand, provides an easier alternative to the same spirit of crime-solving detective theme. I found the game to be quite similar with The Grizzled where players have their own hand and when taking their turns, need to play the correct card as they see fit, if not they need to pass / drop out. While works slightly different the plot twists in this game almost work the same as the trauma cards in The Grizzled. While dropping out might be a good idea to secure the lead chain for someone else, having a plot twist in hand might not be a good idea to do that since plot twists are mostly bad and give other players hard time to clear the clue card. The detective abilities are quite interesting cause they do a lot better / meaningful than the abilities in The Grizzled.

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I like the game so far, unraveling the mystery of the case always interests me. Though you do not need to be a detective to enjoy the game. Though once I played all of the cases, I think about to let the game go cause there’s nothing much you can do. Unless the mini game is the appealing factor for you. Played the game once and there’s not enough variation in the game that makes you need to play it several times to really get the hang of it. I played the first case, easy difficulty and it’s just that is. The story is interesting if you like the genre. I call this game as a tea time game, where you can spend time with friends, having tea and solve crimes. A time well spent. But of course not the game that you really want to play, that leaves something behind from your last game and pull you closer to play it again. A game that makes you always talk about it, leave that impression that you always remember. A game that makes you eager to play it again though it’s a once a year game.

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Posted by on December 12, 2017 in Card Games, Reviews, Uncategorized

 

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What Would Happened if?

pic1968267_mdCV Review
Have you ever wondered to do something different in your life? To do something else instead what you already did? What kind of life you would have if you change what you did in the past. You cannot turn back time, so it’s impossible to rerun your life from the beginning, but worry not, this game can. Yes, CV, which obviously stands for Curricculum Vitae is a game from the designer Filip Milunski with the vibrant, colorful illustrations from Piotr Socha, published by Granna in 2013, can be played from 2-4 players within 45-60 minutes.

The Theme
It’s very comical, about what will you do in your life. It reflects interesting point of views from different aspects that really matter in life. It stays true to one’s life timeline, starting from the age of childhood, to early adulthood, adult and ends with old age. In this one cycle of life, players will take turns rolling dice (it’s like our efforts and choices in life) and choose whatever set in front of them to take to add those cards to their life. From time to time, players will grow, and can get additional resources to help them in their future turns. It’s quite thematic and the most interesting part of the theme is that the cards have interesting title that are portrayals of life itself in a weird humor serve best with beautiful, cute and colorful illustrations.

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The Artworks
Without a doubt, Piotr Socha had nailed this down. His illustrations are completely stand out with his comical surrealist style and full of peaceful colors. Personally I was first interested on this game solely because of the illustrations. But when I tried the game, it turned out to be good. So if you like Piotr Socha style, stay tuned to know more beyond the illustrations.

The Components
Needless to say, the box is pretty stand out with the cover, colorful and eye candy. It has a square shape and the size is a bit smaller than the usual square boxes. Though I think it could have been smaller with the components being just a board, cards, some tokens and dice.
The game’s main components are dice and cards. The cards are unusual in size, a bit larger than normal and need extra effort to get them sleeved with the correct size. There are seven custom six-sided white dice, these dice are in good quality though the odd amount of dice seems buggering me (I assume it’s about game balance, and for the sake of easier rule reminder, the amount of dice are limited to 7 as it’s the maximum amount a player can roll in their turn), or it’s about cost efficiency.
The tokens are used to help managing your resources during your turns, not really essential, the game can be played without any resource token if all players do not really bothered keeping track of their resources. They also have thin card stock, thinner than the usual card board tokens and also bland white color background with black symbols. Not really interesting I must say, but maybe this contrast combination serves well with the colorful components. The game also provides a score pad and one pencil to keep track during scoring.
It also comes with a plastic insert, to store all the cards, dice and tokens. But… I do not think it really serves that purpose well. You still need to bag the tokens and dice so they will not fall off the trays when carried, and also if you sleeve the cards, those will not fit back into the tray, so you either need to remove the insert or place the cards under it. So not really practical in the end, kinda bit disappointed with this.

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Game Components

The Game Play
Before the game starts, some arrangements need to be made, separate and shuffle each deck (based on different color on the cards’ back), place each deck on the game board on it’s corresponding space. Deal one Goal cards (purple) to each player, place some cards on the game board (depending on the number of players), these cards will reflect as Public Goals. Separate Bicycle card from the Childhood deck and draw a number of Childhood cards based on number of players. Then add the Bicycle card to the drawn cards, shuffle them, place the rest of Childhood cards back to the box, it’s not used in this game.  As I already mentioned above, the game will take players to go through several eras in life, starting from Childhood, Early Adulthood, Adult and Old Age. Childhood is a special era, where players are dealt 3 Childhood cards randomly. Then each player will choose one card to keep and pass the other to their left. This drafting process continues until players choose 2 cards and receive the last card from their right. These three cards form their starting cards on their hand (just say it’s a resource that players receive right after they’re born). Player with the Bicycle card, place it in front of him and receive the Bicycle token, he will be the starting player in this game.
Starting from Early Adulthood, in clockwise order, players take turns to roll dice and buy cards from the available lineup. Starting from Early Adulthood deck onward. By default, each player rolls 4 dice (players can get more dice if they have the responding active cards in their tableau) and use the symbols from the result. They also have the chance to re-roll the result twice at most. If there’s any bad luck symbol among dice rolled, immediately set it aside, that die (dice) is locked and cannot be re-rolled. If a player gain the third bad luck, that player must discard one of his active cards.
But on the other hand, if a player managed to gain three good luck symbols, he can get any one card from the available ones for free. In a single turn, each player can get at most two cards. The cards they get are added to their tableau based on the respective categories (colors) or place it on their hands (if the card is one-time use / grey color).
Slide the available cards to the left and add more cards to the empty spaces. The next player take his turn.
If there’s no card at the current deck to refill the slots, the game is paused for a while. Players check their table and count their cards, if there’s a player who has half or less than the total cards from player with most cards, that players get a social assistance, they can get one card for free from the available ones. This is to make sure the balance or helping out the last position player for future turns.
The game ends after there are a number of cards left in the last deck as many as the number of players in the game. Players then sum the total of their points from their possession cards, public goals, personal goal and also the number of their Health, Relationship and Knowledge cards. Player with most points wins the game.

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Tokens

My Thought About The Game
I like it. It’s pretty simple, light and fun for family or friends that you can play casually over a tea anytime. The rules are pretty straightforward, easy to grasp just rolling dice and getting cards. Players start the game with 4 dice, and if they get the cards, they can roll more dice. Rolling more dice doesn’t really necessary to be good. More dice means more possibility to get bad luck, but of course on the other hand, same chance to get good luck symbols. I like how simple it is, you roll dice and use those dice to get something. And talking about luck, you can re-roll twice at most to get better results. The hard thing is bad luck, yes, once you get a bad luck, that die is locked. Having three bad luck symbols force you to remove one of your active cards, this is a major set back to your tableau. But getting three good luck, gives you any card for free, pretty big deal if there’s a very good card with expensive cost. The downside (which I can ignore most of the time) is that mostly the cards you want revealed after your turn ends, so it’s unlikely still available in your next turn. One of my plays had almost all the Possession cards were ‘filtered’ before me, left me with nothing. But hey, that’s a game of life. Surely nothing goes as planned, no matter how hard you plan or try. Which I said it’s also the interesting part. Just play the game as a nice simulation of life and how life can turns in many ways.
Basically it’s a combination of dice rolling and tableau building, so aside from rolling good results, you need to consider how you want to build your tableau. Possession cards give you huge points at the end, but pretty much useless during the game (most of them). I take the goal cards are not really that powerful, so these might mislead you in your quest. The card collections can generate very big points for you if you can get a lot of cards.

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Available Cards

Replay Value
I don’t think the game has a very high replay value. The game uses the same deck of cards with 4 players. With less than 4, there’s possibility that all cards are not used (Childhood and Goal cards). So with several plays, you probably have already see all the cards. If it has more deck options like Agricola, that would be something. Aside from that, it’s just a simple dice rolling game with a decent tableau building mechanic. Pretty light for casuals and non gamer.

dav

Player’s Tableau – End Game

 
 

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The Lower The Better

Parade Review
I came across this beauty by chance, yes I heard it and saw it before, but never in my mind I would have the game. Okay what is Parade anyway? At first the box looks cool, it has a fascinating illustration of Chessire the cat in Alice in Wonderland universe, you know the purple grinning cat that can disappear at will? If you don’t know, never mind, it’s an abstract anyway. Parade is a card game, small one (you can judge by the size of the box), but contains a very good game.

Once you open the small box, you came across a handful deck of cards with a scoring pad and a manual sheet. Aside from the scoring pad and manual sheet you will only play the game with only cards, sounds simple. The cards are in good linen finish, with manual sheet is printed on not-so-common paper, it has textured surface, so must be fancy paper. The scoring pad is nothing special, never use it anyway.

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Game Contents

Sadly, there’s a little room to implement a strong theme in this kind of game. Its pure abstract, though I must say that even pure abstract could have a good art / theme. This game use Alice in Wonderland theme as its artworks and they’re beautifully illustrated.

About The Game
The cards consist of 6 different colors (characters) with 11 cards for each color (with its value ranging from 0-10). These cards will be shuffled and deal six card as a parade line, with one of its end is placed the draw pile. This end should be consider the back of the line. Then each player will get 5 cards from the pile. On their turn, players must play one card from their hand to the front of the line. The card played will determine the resolution for that player. The number on the played card shows how many cards are ignored behind that card, so if you play a 5, you will count 5 cards after that card to be ignored and only check the cards after it. For any cards with an equal value or lower than the played card in the rest of the line, that player will take and place them on their tableau. And if there’s any card with the same color as the played card in the rest of the line, no matter the value, that player also take it. Then before the player’s turn ends, draw another card back to 5 cards. Players repeat their turns until one condition is met, either one player collects all 6 different colors in their tableau or the draw deck runs out, the game will come to an end.
Players will play one more card which leave their hands down to 4 cards. Then they choose 2 cards to keep and discard the other 2. Then they add the two cards to their tableau and final scoring begins.

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Color Sets

Unique Scoring
To count the scoring, players need to check cards majority based on colors. Check each color majority, the player with a color majority only count the number of the cards they have with that color. If there are multiple players who have majority over a color, they’re not considered majority, hence need to count the total value of that colors.
While other colors that isn’t majority, players count the total value. The sum value will determine the players’ final points. The winner is the player with the least points.

My Thought About The Game
The game is very simple, easy to learn and offers interesting choices while still maintain interaction and luck. The twist is very interesting, you need to keep your points as low as you can, which means try your best not taking many cards or best not taking at all (yes it’s possible, though you still need to place 2 cards in the end). If you have to take cards, try to take the smallest ones or maybe the cards that could lead you to gain majorities.
I found the game to be entertaining, with 4-6 players, more interactions, more players but the game length still the approximately the same. Luck might play a moderate part in the game but you can figure out what cards still out there once the deck runs out. So in the end, getting to know the cards distribution would give you something to ponder on before the game ends. I always think that getting a majority is a good thing, but way leading in a color might prove to be hurtful, so just keep it in check that other players cannot outmatch your majority, but still keep a back up plan in your hands.
The idea of the game is brilliant, trick taking, push your luck, take that and set collection game with simple math. There’s a good decision making in this and to be honest, I call the game to be a risk-management game of numbers and colors.

Replay Value
It has no variation, so the truth is that there’s no new elements in your plays but the interactions give good replay value. The cards are all the same, there are obvious moves, though opponents might make different moves / plans toward specific colors.  It is a good filler, so keeping the game for 15-30 minutes of free time is always a good choice.

dav

Playing the game

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Board Games, Card Games, Reviews

 

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