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Category Archives: Dice Games

A game that emphasize on it’s mechanics and game play which fairly involves the use of dice (resource, management, allocation, etc)

The Life of A Treasure Hunter in the Deep Blue

pic3169827Deep Sea Adventure Review
So you are a group of treasure hunter (either poor or cheapskate) who rent a single submarine for all of you in your quest to dive into the deep blue sea and find sunken treasure. You are playing Deep Sea Adventure, a game from Oink Games (Japan) where taking risk and pushing your luck is the key element to win the game (or not). Continuing the line of small / pocket-sized games from Oink Games, Deep Sea Adventure comes with a very thematic background and an interesting one at that. The game comes with 2 six-sided wooden dice (the pips value ranged from 1-3), submarine board, tokens and wooden diver markers for players within a small box.

The Theme
In this game, 2 to 6 players take the roles of cheapskate / poor (whatever man) treasure hunters that rent a submarine to go dive into the deep blue see to find sunken treasures. Now the thing is, because they’re poor and/or cheapskate, they cannot afford to rent a submarine by themselves, so they rent it together and go diving.

The Game
In this game, players will take turn to go dive deep into the sea in three rounds. Each player (starting from the first player and clockwise) rolls 2 dice and check how many spaces they go down into the sea from the submarine (The movement doesn’t count spaces occupied by other players). When they stop movement, they have to decide whether they want to take the tile where they stop or not. If they take it, place a tile marker below the player marker and take the treasure tile (treasure tiles have 3 different shape that defines the sea depth). The deeper it goes, the higher the treasure will be. At the start of their next turn, each player must check whether they have a treasure tile in front of them or not. For each tile that the player has, they must subtract one from the oxygen track of the submarine for each stack of treasure that player has. And then before they move, they have to decide whether they want to go deeper or back head to the submarine. They can of course drop their treasure once they end their movement during their turn.

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If they reach back to the submarine before the oxygen runs out, they survive and may keep treasure tiles they acquired that round (they may check the value of the tiles). Players who do not reach the submarine when the oxygen runs out are out of the game and their tiles are left on the last space of that players. The next round begins after the spaces are organized (empty spaces are removed and the tiles are gotten shorter). If there are more than one tile in a single space, players can take all of them in a single turn and it still counts as one stack when reducing oxygen. Player with the highest total of treasures win the game.

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My Thought of The Game
I have a mixed feeling with this game. It surely fun and full of hilarious reactions. it shows how greedy you are. The game is truly really simple, on your turn you decide (up or down) and roll dice, that easy. What makes the game hard is, as collective players have to determine what decision each of them should take in order to get into the surface safely (and better if you can snatch a treasure or two). But life is not that easy, the reason why lots of things in the world are not working because of someone else, has his own idea of how things should be. And all (if not) must pay the price. After the first round I can guarantee someone would start cursing on another, it was fun, hilarious and full of crazy moments (stressful not getting anything by the end of the round). In the end, player who is clever enough to get away while other players squabble, would end up winning the game. This is a push your luck game, you try to play safe and get away as soon as possible with the smallest reward, will regret that decision if someones get bigger reward than you even he got up after you. So this mixed dilemmatic feeling will haunt players throughout the game and they will of course not let other players get away with anything. “If I go down, all must go down” is what lies in their mind. Regardless how fun the game is, I must admit, this game has a table life, at some point, playing this game over and over again will tire you out. It would turn the game flat and boring cause it moves in static, every game will feel the same. So I guess the game is good once in a while with the perfect group who don’t mind a bit of take that and luck for their 15-30 minutes.

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

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Posted by on August 13, 2018 in Board Games, Dice Games, Microgames, Reviews

 

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Role Playing Dice

RPEXPRoll Player Review (with Monsters and Minions expansion)
RPG players are no strange with character creations, it has been an integral part of the gaming experience. But for those who are not, character creation is an early phase of role playing game where the players create their characters from scratch based on several attributes and features that will determine their characters stats when playing the game. At a glance it starts out as a necessity before performing the game but in reality and closer look it has deep and special meaning for the players. It offers certain values to the process that players really enjoy doing it before their long gaming journey. Now Keith Matejka (the game designer, if it’s not that obvious) tries to materialize that feeling into something more solid in his game Roll Player. I found the title is kinda catchy and a clever use pun. Role was changed to Roll which also relates to the use of dice in the game.

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The Theme
In Roll Players, players will create their characters as good as they can in order to achieve its objectives and other things that will generate points at the end of the game. It certainly provides interesting take on many elements that seemed as obstinately necessities within the game. The game starts with the preparation of one’s identifications from racial choices, classes, alignments back stories and even gender (male or female, for such thing matters to some people). You can find the regular choices that usually found on fantasy role playing games. Okay, I skipped that part, the game was focusing on fantasy genre role playing game. So you can find races such as Human, Elf, Orc and Halfling in the base game. But there are more irregular choices with the expansion such as Wrathborn (demon), Construct, Dark Elf, Dragonkin and etc. Classes also have the same approach where Wizard, Barbarian, Thief and Bard fall into regular choices and can found more irregular choices from the expansion as well. While race provides certain modifier into one or more attributes, Class provides the attribute goals that players need to achieve and also special ability that its character can do, along with it’s color affiliation (dice color) that will make sense later in the game.

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The Game
Basically in this game players try to fill their character attribute slots with dice (colorful dice) which will be tallied into total for each attribute row and check if it meets the objective or not. There are 18 slots in the game, where based on number of players there will be starting dice to allocate before starting the game. So number of rounds are fixed based on how many dice are needed to fill the empty slots. Each round, players will draft dice from the bag based on number of players plus one. The first player will draw them from the bag in random and roll the dice. Then sort them out in ascending order on the initiative cards. Starting from the first player in clockwise order, each player choose one die along with its initiative card. The die then must be allocated immediately to one of the attributes from left to right direction and may take the corresponding action related to its attribute. After players have done so, based on the initiative order, players take a Market action, whether they buy one card or decide to discard one to get 2 coins. Players may buy one card from the display row by paying the cost listed on the card and add it to the space around their board depends on its type (Skill, Armor, Weapon or Traits). At the end of their turn, they can refresh one Skill card of their choice. Pass the first player marker to the player on the left of the first player and begins a new round until all slots are filled.

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Aside from getting the goals done, there also a pattern for dice allocation where the dice color matters from the back story card. Allocating dice of certain color in certain position will get glory points at the end of the game based on how many dice are matched. In addition, each die of the class color will give that player one additional point at the end of the game. Some Trait and Weapon cards can give players more points from set collection. The true heart of the game on this game is the puzzle element that the dice manipulation presents. In short, players need to get dice, fill them in their attribute slots and make those dice contribute on the attribute goals by manipulate them with actions. Set off from the dice rolling / drafting element, players will usually not getting what they want throughout the game, mostly the pip value, then the dice color and cards they want because of certain things like turn and initiative order. So there are actions provided by attributes to manipulate the dice on attribute slots. With Strength attribute players can flip one die value to its opposite side. This action is very useful to turn big into small pip and vice versa. So getting a small value die is not a bad idea as long as you include it in your plan to flip it if you need big number. But of course it’s possible that what you really need is smaller number. Another action is to swap or exchange the position of 2 dice from the player’s board. This gives players flexibilities in allocating dice and also in order to match the dice color to back story card. Players sometime need certain colors in certain time, this timing restriction can be solved with this action. There are also actions that let players to add or reduce the pip value by one, let players to re-roll one die of their choice, let players to shift their alignment one space and gives a discount token to be spent in the market. Once all the slots are filled with dice, the game ends and players tally up their points based on what I already described above, attribute goals, class color dice, alignment card, backstory, traits and armors. Player with the highest points wins the game.

First of all before I continue this review, one small note; that my review is based on the Kickstarter copy of the game along with the Monster and Minions expansion, so with that in mind, there will be component differences from the retail version.

I had an eye for this game since the first time they put it on BGG. It was open for Pre-Order directly from the publisher site (Thunderworks Games) but I was hesitate to go on since the shipping cost and pre-ordering straight from publisher isn’t really something I am used to (aside from What’s Your Games?). So I skipped that chance and then the game was hard to find, out of print everywhere. Until they decide to launch its expansion (Monsters and Minions) on the Kickstarter and I immediately jumped into the wagon. I also got metal coins and Frogkin promo board from the add-ons offered from the pledge manager. It was arrived a bit late than what I had expected since the base game (retail) was available way before my Kickstarter copy arrived. But I did not disappointed since the game was not much of a hype in my country at that time (also maybe up to now) compared with Sagrada (why Sagrada? Well, just read on…)

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The Components
When I received the game, it was two boxes, one base and one expansion. Same dimension except the depth. The expansion box depth is halved from the base box. I like how the boxes look, it has black background with strong and vibrant character illustrations. Briefly you can feel the dark yet exclusive box. The base game I got is pretty heavy (of course it’s heavy, the box is fully packed with lots of components and they’re all from card boards and dice). The boards are thick and the card’s quality is very good (though it’s not linen finished). Love the dice, very solid and chunky (thankfully they did not use smaller size dice) though with pointy corners, it’s kinda hard to roll them (as oppose to rounded corner dice) but it’s just a very minor gripe. The tokens are good, and I did add metal coins, which provide two denominations unlike the card board coins. The card illustrations are amazing, full of  vibrant colors which work well with black background or dark tone of the game. It was one of those moment where I just satisfied on how the illustrations really set the mood for the game.

The Expansion
The Monsters and Minions expansion does give significant amount of components to the base game, with as many as race boards as the base, additional set of color dice, boost dice (mist opaque dice) and combat dice, huge first player wooden marker, XP cubes and more cards (oversized Monster card and new minion cards aside from variation of the existing class, alignment and backstory cards) with additional adventure deck for each monster that gives additional layer of objectives during the game.

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So the expansion gives the game another mile walk and a sense of purpose into the base game. As you already know that the game is about creating characters in Role Playing Game, the expansion gives the creation, a purpose to it. The expansion as it title suggests, introduces Monsters and Minions into the game, where players will have to battle the chosen monster (out of many) with their characters at the end of the game. But that’s not just it, the boss monster existence gives players additional goals to get more advantageous position, fighting the monster which players can acquire when fighting Minions. Thematically speaking, by knowing the location, obstacle and attack of the monster, players can gain the upper hand with minor objectives that can give them benefit when fighting the monster (since the monster have special ability that will affecting on how it fights against the players). There are also Minions, it’s like the progress into culminating end against the monster, players will fight Minions before the Monster during the game. Unlike the monster, Minions are fought by choice, players will have to choose this as an action during their turn. So instead going to the market, they can go fight Minions. Fighting Minions are kinda bit unique, they will roll combat dice based on different things based on the Minions, it could be a certain color dice in their board, a number of cards with specific type they own and so on. Of course the combat is resolved in high roll result, so it depends heavily on luck. They can spend XP cubes to re-roll or add more dice though. Personally, I quite like the expansion, sure it makes the game last longer but it’s fun and I think it’s worth it. With the expansion your character creation process seems to have a purpose. But one can argue that this expansion can give players certain distractions to the base game of character creation, since you need to sacrifice market action (acquire more cards) in order to fight Minions.

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My Thought of The Game
If you think that this is a dice rolling game, you got it wrong. It is not a dice rolling game, dice are rolled no doubt but that’s just for round setup purpose. Players do not really roll dice, they just assign one player to roll all the dice for all players to choose. So this is more likely a dice drafting game, since players choose which dice they want during their turn. And presenting the character creation element and the actions that come with the attributes on the characters, players will modify / adjust their dice, so it’s dice manipulation. I like the game, it has a simple set of rules, though most of you might think it’s quite complex and I do agree. The possibility and manipulation will force you to think the complexity is quite moderate if you compare it with the rules of play. The demands that players need to fulfill in order to get the best score will leave players scratch their heads, it’s not an easy task to get them done the way it is supposed to. Players might be forced to do hard decision making in order to get one or more objectives cleared up by sacrificing other objectives. Of course there’s a luck factor to be involved (if it comes to dice). The dice drawing is surely add luck to which dice color are available each round and the roll will determine if it’s good enough for players or not, depends on their turn order. The random card draws will also affecting the combo synergies in overall, but less in luck aspect and more like adapting with the situation. The game could be really competitive and most of the time players will be in a situation with a few points difference from each other. Playing with the expansion could distract you from getting points from Market cards, but in the same time, you can maximize points from beating boss Monster in the end by piling up your combat dice. From my several plays, the Monster is not really posing a threat to players, I never see players fail to beat the monster. And once you have played with the expansion, you will never want to play it only the base game (at least that’s what I felt).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

 

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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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Information Breakdown

pic3407521_mdH.I.D.E Hidden Identity Dice Espionage Review
H.I.D.E caught my attention a while back and when I had the chance to visit South Korea, I picked it up cause it’s quite interesting enough for me. It’s from Korean designer, published by Dive Dice / Korea Board Games. It can be played from 3-5 players. The minimum player count did make me hesitate at first, but since it’s a very quick game, why not? And what the acronym stands for is pretty neat, thematic and fit nicely.

The Theme
In this game, players are spies / secret agents who are trying to gather as many intel as they can. The goal is to have seven ranks to be a legendary agent or have the most rewards at the end of the third round. If you judge from the visual presentation it’s more like a James Bond secret agent kind of thing. You are trying to get intel from different locations and sometimes there are other agents (players) that also want you dead. Eliminate other agents seems give them better ranks. There’s nothing special about the artworks. It’s plain simple, not really that stunning. Fortunately the symbols look clear.

Game Components
Colorful dice, yes… lots of them (there are 4 colors, with 8 dice in each colors). The dice colors are vibrant, yellow, blue, red and purple. It has good material and finish, smooth to touch and has rounded corners, to make it easier to roll. Each player has a thick player board (pretty nice considering that it serves less important role to the game play) and screen (this one is important), and the rest are cards.

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Inside the box

The Game Play
In the game, each player gets a player board and one screen. The game lasts for three rounds where in each round players will get a random gadget card (placed face up in front of them), one rank card on the respective space (right space of their board). The start player then reveal one intel card in each of the four locations (there are helmet, nuclear, submarine and satellite symbols, each symbol represents a different location) on the location board. These intel cards have different value rewards, range from $3000 to $10,000. Starting from the first player (clockwise), each player randomly take a single die from the dice bag (without looking) and secretly hide the drawn die behind their screen, and then decide which side they want to set (this is their identity die). The dice have 6 sides with different symbols (Submarine, Helmet, Satellite, Nuclear and 2 Gun symbols). Players must set their die to any symbol they want except Gun, they cannot set the symbol to Gun for this purpose, cause Gun symbol doesn’t refer to a location. After they set their die, they no longer can change it until the rest of the round.

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Colorful Dice

After all players already set their identity die, the starting player draw a group of dice from the bag randomly (with the total of number of active players plus one) and roll them. Then in clockwise direction, starting from the starting player, each player choose a die from the available. The die then must be placed either in the player board or on top of the screen. To place the die, there are some restrictions to keep in mind. To place it on the player board, the die must not share the same color AND symbol of that player identity die. This action shows that the player’s identity die is surely not of that color and symbol. While in the other hand, to place a die in the top of the screen, the die must share at least the color OR the symbol of the identity die (though it can share both color AND symbol). After placing the die on the top screen, the player then guess an identity die of another active player (still active in the round). They must correctly guess both color and symbol. If the guess is correct, that player takes all the rank cards from the chosen player, place one rank card to their ranks and place the rest face down as a reward on the left side of the player board. The chosen player is eliminated and no longer participate in the given round (this player is not considered active). Then, the turn change to the next player. If the guess is incorrect, the chosen player just say no and the turn change to the next player. After all players take a die, the starting player card change to the player to the left of the starting player and the leftover die(dice) is returned to the bag and the new starting player takes another group of dice from the bag and roll them. Players can also use their gadget card (once in a round) to change one of the available dice to any side (not the dice that already taken by players), ignore the symbol on the card for this purpose, it’s only used during a showdown. This can be done before or after they choose a die, tap the card sideways to show it’s already been used.

This is repeated until all the active players have already taken 4 dice, where the round ends. All active players then reveal their identity die. If a player is alone in a location, that player takes all of the intel cards on that location. But if there’s more than one player in a single location, showdown must take place. In a showdown, the players who participate add their identity die to the top of the screen along with the dice that they already placed during the round, and if their gadget card has the same symbol as their target location, then they add another die to the top of the screen. These dice count as their life during showdown. In a showdown, players roll a single life die, when a gun symbol shows as a result of the roll, that player successfully shoot their opponents (other players in a showdown lose a life die). They do this repeatedly until there’s last man standing, in which that player takes one rank card from the draw pile and add it to the ranks and take all the intel cards on the location. Then the next round begins. If it’s the third round, the game ends and player with the most money from intel cards wins the game.
It is possible that there’s last man standing before the round ends, if this happened, the last man standing can decide to take intel cards from any one location ignoring his identity die’s symbol. Also if during the game a player have seven rank cards, that player immediately becomes a legendary agent and wins the game.

dav

Gadget Cards

My Thought About The Game
Surely the game is a deduction game, from dice. In turns players are trying to guess other players identity dice without revealing their identities, while whatever players do, they involuntarily give information (possibly valuable) to the others. The game is simple if you already get the gist of it, which usually takes half a game to know clearly what you really should do. The game really lies heavily from information gathering, where you need to carefully observe what players do, say or think. It’s essential to guess other players identity. Every thing players do give information to other players, so carefully observe what other players do, say or anything could be very useful in later turns. You need to initiate table talk, in order to lure people talk, this is a great way to spill their beans. But be wary, the same thing goes for you. Basically taking a die gives information, though placing it on top of your screen do gives more information, but of course it depends on the current dice you have that determine the amount of information exposed. Getting the same dice over and over is a great advantage.

If you go deeper, there’s another layer of deduction to keep in mind, which is the set of dice left out after choosing a die are very important to figure out why you choose that die. So be careful on what dice you leave and observe what other players leave. The symbol on the gadget cards also give certain information on player’s tendency to follow the advantage given during a showdown, and the other hand, the amount of intel cards available in the locations also plays a great deal to determine which one is more favorable than others.
The game looks very interesting, and it plays better with 4 or 5 players. Though one minor thing that I think it’s pretty much logic, eventually you will get caught from information bashing from many players. Each incorrect guess leads to more greater possibilities until down to one, your true identity. So it’s a matter of time and what you do before you out of the round is critical. Be aggressive and try to eliminate players before they eliminate you is a good idea and a valid strategy the same as playing it safe.
I can accept the fact that that’s how the game works, if you incorrectly guess one’s identity, the next player has the advantage and that’s how it works. This makes the turn order really matter and players should consider this before their action.
I love the tense the game offers, many hilarious moments in the game, the AHA moments and surprise feelings when you got knocked out or fail to guess correctly in a 50-50 chance.

dav

The location boards and intel cards

Replay Value
Well, the game comes as it is. You play all the contents in the game except some special Intel or Reward cards that can be included in the game or not. So adding them gives more variation to the game, though I do not think it’s not change the game play in a major way. So the replay value is not really high, you should have the same kind of game play over and over again, the only different thing is your group. How players play in your group will determine how the game really works out in the end. Whether they play aggressively from the beginning or play it safe to ensure not getting caught easily.

dav

Game in progress

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2017 in Board Games, Dice Games, Reviews

 

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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.

dav

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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