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Category Archives: Insight

Short descriptions of new games that recently just played or tried in overall.

A Long Write Comeback

2014 is rolling. I know that it’s been months that I haven’t had any post to this blog, and I am sorry for that. Let me make it up to you guys with this one.

It’s already a new year, 2014 is on our path. So I’m gonna write a whole lot of stuff regarding 2013 specifically about Essen 2013’s games. Yes that’s the latest hype and let see if those games live up to the hype in my book.

Essen is always an interesting annual event for me (and also for board gamers of course), the reason is simply because there are lot of new games being launched in this event. Long before it’s even coming, we all already made a list of games that we expecting in Essen. Now for Essen 2013, there are lot of games that were added into my list, some of them of course I managed to purchase. But some I only or need to try them first before making any purchase decision.

I’m gonna write a small review (more like sorts of an impression) about Essen 2013’s games that I have managed to try.

Euphoria : Build a Better Dystopia (Nov 16, 2013)
I don’t know if it’s included as an Essen 2013 game or not but it was first shown (officially) on Essen 2013 if I was not mistaken. Jamey Steigmaier is a great designer and an honorable man. His KS project of Euphoria really really a hit and I was quite disappointed for not backing his project. Anyway, I was a playtester for this game with the prototype and I was surprised that my name and my friends’ names are on the back of the rulebook. Awesome Jamey! Proud that my name was immortalized on his game’s rulebook. So it wasn’t the first for me, but at least it’s the first for the official published version of the game. When I looked at the published game, my impression was over the moon. The game’s components are exceptionally great, those beautiful shapes of wooden components, great looking custom dice sets, awesome cards and don’t forget the two-sided board with alternative color tones. Okay enough with the overkill produced components, let’s jump into the water. I guessed there were no significant game play / rules changes from the playtesting. The game has a unique dice allocation mechanic (which is attached with a nice thematic worker intelligence) along with set collection and the core mechanic of VP racing. That’s the main discussion over here, VP racing mechanic. Personally I do not like a racing game (not thematically) and Euphoria is one of those games. This is the main reason that I did not back the KS project.
In overall, the game’s goal is to be the first player to place 10 stars. Once you do that, you win the game immediately. That’s what I called sucks.
But when playing the game I was enjoying the process, though I still think that the winning condition is irritating. For me this game has a collector value and worth to have.
My score would be 7.5 out of 10. It would be 8.5 if not for the racing game.

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Russian RailRoads (Nov 22, 2013)
This one is one of my favorites of Essen’s 2013 games. Why? Well you need to feel it yourself. But I’ll try to explain it to you the best I can.
At first I was not interested on this one, the title seemed very 18XX-ish if you know what I mean. But a friend mentioned to get this game and that made me look into it. Surprisingly the visual presentation did a very good job intensifying my interest. After reading the rules, I ordered it from amazon with quite a bargain on the shipping. While waiting for my copy to arrive I tried a copy of my friend’s. The rules are simple and easy to understand, just like a simple worker placement game on the main board. But the point generators are what the main attraction on this game. These engines are lies on the player board which is consists of three Trans Siberian tracks (Vladivostok, St. Petersburg and Kiev destination) and an industry track.
During the game player will need to make lot of hard decisions to build their rail tracks and industries. Normally the game last 7 rounds. Each round players will score their progresses. What’s interesting with this game is there are lots of combination of strategies and you need to find out which ones are the best and most efficient to give you maximum points. At first the rules could be quite intimidating (I am talking about the point generators and how they work) but once you play your first game you’ll realized how easy to play this game (just like Castles of Burgundy and I know why this game is very similar). But the essence is how to get the most out of your plays. The engines are not as easy as playing the game. In order to win you need to carefully mix and match your strategies. Whether you play all three tracks, only some or with industry or maybe leave out the industry aspect at all. It’s very interesting and each turn you will have to make a decision where you should placing your worker(s), because next turn that slot wouldn’t still be available.
This game is one of my favorites and it’s easy to get this on the table often. My girlfriend likes this game just as she likes Castles of Burgundy.
My score is 9 out of 10.

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Bruxelles 1893 (Dec 13, 2013)
I planned to buy this game but I changed my mind in the last minute. I changed my purchase to Russian RailRoads instead of this one. The reason would be simple, the situation wouldn’t let me. Well, that time I could only afford one game. While I already set my target on this game, a new game (which is Russian RailRoads by the way) emerged and judging from the situation it’s easier to come by rather than Bruxelles 1893. So there you go, I missed this one. The truth is I did not regret this, it’s a fine decision. But I do not say it’s a bad game, in fact it’s good looking game. Would love to have this on my collection. The visual presentation is stunning, not main stream stunning but in a unique way. The art style followed the theme in which art nouveau is the main attention. The theme is really describing what really is from the title itself. Bruxelles is a city from Belgium which on 1893 was very profound of their art progress and style. Arts are highly regarded as great work and respected among the society. In this game players play as artists who perform arts in various mediums suchs as paintings, sculpts and also models or furnitures. Alexandre Roche was doing the artworks for the game and I must admit that his work on Bruxelles 1893 really drips Troyes style artwork (which I also love).
The game last for 5 rounds where in each, players will get their workers / assistants to help them with their works. So this is a worker placement game, nothing new here but hold that thought because there is a twist in it.
To assign a worker you must also place coins in it (with minimum one coin). You place the worker on available tile slots on the round (yes each round the first player will decide which tiles are used in a given round based on the column and row, ain’t that interesting?). After all players already placed their workers and resolve the actions, the next thing is to resolve the bids based on the total number of coins on each columns. The winner gets the card under that column. These cards can be used for instant benefit or you can place it under your player board for end game scoring upgrades.
Also there is a majority scoring on the tiles. It’s pretty unique and more of it the chart of market price are also one of a kind. You can adjust the selling price of your art in the market by adjusting the chart based on how many types of arts you have. You can choose to get more coins or more points.
It’s pretty interesting and also not very brain burning. My score would be 8 out of 10.

Madeira (Dec 14, 2013)
This game is brilliant. Hail to Nuno Sentieiro and Paulo Soledade for making such a game. It was published by What’s Your Game and I pre-ordered the game as soon as I heard that they opened the preorder on their site. €40 include international shipping was really sold me out. Instantly purchased and I waited for around 1 months to get it shipped, and 2 weeks to receive the game. I love the artwork but there were some component issues. They informed me that the first batch copies have a minor miscutting register and it would need utmost caution punching the tokens. That’s not a big deal. But what I mostly concerned about was the game box. The outer lid has severe torn on one of the edges. The reason is still unknown since the packing was exceptionally good with bubble wraps and sturdy outer box. No dent was ever found. I told them about this and they told me that they will check into this.
The components are in good quality, I love the dice and the board.
Madeira is an island that was officially discovered by Portuguese seafarers.
In this game players will need to cultivate the lands and adapt in the land’s condition. The goal is to be the player with most points. The game lasts for 5 rounds in which each round players will choose a set of dice, activate available characters with their dice and also activate buildings with their action markers. And in the end of each odd round they will score points from Crown’s request tiles they own. It does sound easy doesn’t it? But the fact says otherwise, it is one hell of a brain burning heavy euro games. It has heavy strategic and planning with moderate learning curve. One needs 45-60′ and a huge motivation to explain this game to new players (or vice versa).
Though the learning curve is ain’t as high as Brass but it’s notable to put this under consideration. The first game would totally blow you away. There are lots of elements that get in the way of the game play. So you need to learn the mixture of things while you play.
I love the game, yes it’s hard but rewarding in my opinion. The pirate aspect really adds players interaction. The dice allocation mechanic is unique. Each round players is gonna choose one set of three dice from the available sets. These preliminary phase has already put players into deep and careful planning since what you choose is not only the dice but also turn order, guild’s favor refresh and your scoring possibility as well.
This mechanic alone shows Madeira has a rich game play and challenging experience in each session. During the character phase, players will take turn to use a die (their own or even a pirate die) to activate a character. There are 5 characters available that randomly distributed into 5 fix locations on the board each round. This also gives players new experience each session.
The island is divided into 3 region (region 1 to 3) and these regions restrict the use of dice, in which random dice rolling factor can be mitigated by the use of breads. Using breads let players to break the restriction of placing a die into a region. The dice have 3 values from 1 to 3 (each value has 2 sides) and each value corresponds to the region where it can be allocated. For example you may only place a die with value 1 onto character in region 1 and a die with value 3 into any region. So this is where the bread tiles come into use, if a player want to place his die but restricted because of the value, he can pay 1 bread tile to virtually modify his die one value higher.
Once all players are already passed (they choose to pass or they cannot use any more die) the buildings are resolved in order. Players who have an action marker in a building have to pay the cost (this cost is generated for each building by a specific number minus the sum value of re-rolling all the dice used previously on the character that’s on it). They need to pay regardless they want to activate the building or not, if they do not want or cannot pay, they receive pirates token (1 pirate plus the value of re-rolled pirate die if any).
After all the buildings are resolved, the rest of the round are upkeep and cleanup. Each odd round players will score points based on their Crown’s request tiles. In round 1, they will choose one out of 2 tiles, where in round 3 they will choose 2 out of 3 tiles and in the last round they will score all their tiles (3 tiles). In the final scoring, player with the most pirates gets penalty 16 points, the second most gets penalty 8 points. This aspect really adds tension in the later rounds and also very punishing. I love the game, the components, the quality, the artworks, the strategy and decision making, the interaction and the game play. The downsides are it’s intimidating rules, complexity and duration length. My score for this game is 9 out of 10.

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Asgard’s Chosen (Dec 8, 2013)
Okay, it’s not a hit. But based on the review it has very nice feedbacks and reviews (besides the lousy component qualities). It’s an innovative deck building game with Norse mythology theme by Morgan Dontanville. I came across this game the first time through boardgamegeek.com (what else?!). I always love mythology theme with gods and such and it’s Norse mythology where you can find Thor and Loki in it. I read the game’s designer diary and it totally sold me out. I found it really interesting of what the designer think about the deckbuilding mechanic and how he wants to take it into another different level. This one might be another addition to my list of loved games but not particularly liked by others (along with Wiraqocha and Panic Station, etc). The artworks look fantastic, you can see there’s also David Cochard in the artists line up (in case you geeks did not know, he’s the artist behind Dungeon Petz and Lords artworks). The characters have great detail artworks and they decided to bring distinguished looks in each character’s level which turned out pretty awesome. This game is published by Mayfair games, which is one of the most famous board game publishers. But they delivered this game very disappointing. The components are in bad quality especially on the game box material (bad finish, thin material) and the punchboards. The tokens are easily worn out and the printed surface is easily falling off. This is very bad, big time.
The card quality is OK but not impressive, a little bit thin and flimsy.
And I do wonder why they use different size hero meeples, I can see the different shapes, but the size just didn’t cut it. The female hero meeples is cylindrical in which if the female hero was vanquished you need to place it aside and with that cylindrical shape, it’s easily to roll out.

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Okay let’s talk about the meat of the game. It’s basically a VP racing game (which is I am not personally favor at), players need to appease a number of Gods to trigger the end game and the one with most appeased Gods win the game. Each player will get a set of God cards (10 Gods to be precise) which includes Odin, Thor, Loki, Tyr, Heimdallr, Frigg, Freyja, Sif, Hel and Baldr. Each round, players will have to take turns to move their 2 heroes one by one in a set of modular boards consisting different type of terrains. Their heroes will conquest uncontrolled or controlled terrains. One of the reasons to do this is for deck manipulation / deck building. They need to diversify their controlled terrains to be able to muster new creatures available in the Tisch during muster phase. What is the ‘Tisch’? The ‘Tisch’ is a 2 rows of cards with 4 cards each. It consists of creature, town item and magic item cards. These cards will help players to appease their Gods. Creatures have their terrain affinities as well as magic and town item. In other words, in order to get them you need to control the matching terrain. For example if you want to muster a mountain creatures you need to control at least one mountain terrain. The same thing if you want to muster a town item you need to control a town.
Now let’s get down to the game play. Each round there are sequence of phases, starting from God phase in which players decide which God in their hands that they want to use it’s favor. That God card is placed in front of them and they can use the favor describes on the card. Next the Charm phase, players may use one item card that can be activated during charm phase from their hand. The next one is the Campaign phase. This is the core system of the game. Each player will take turns to move their heroes one by one. The ‘move’ action in this game means players could literally move their heroes inside their controlled territories or conquest other territory that is adjacent to theur controlled territories. So player can conquest an uncontrolled territory or an opponent’s controlled territory. When they try to conquest an uncontrolled ones they will be facing thr game mechanic, otherwise they’ll be facing the game mechanic and also the controller of that territory.
The next phase is Muster phase. This is where all the deckbuilding happens. Players may take turns to muster a card from the Tisch. These recently mustered cards are placed on the discard pile along with the cost.
The last phase is renewal phase in which players discard and draw up to 7 cards and revive their vanquished heroes.
Appeasing Gods. There are some restrictions when it comes to appeasing Gods. At all times, players can only appease one God per phase and may only doing so during their turn. Played God card during God phase cannot be appeased, they may only appease Gods from their hand.
I like the unique appeasing God and the deckbuilding mechanic. It’s very thematic and one can say it’s pretty much fiddly, to cover all those details and elements during the game. The 6 different terrains, the unique and various creatures’ abilities and the restrictions for each action. The learning curve could be quite high judging it’s not a simple deckbuilding game. In this game, to build your deck you need to plan your actions.
My score for this game would be 8 out of 10.

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Lewis & Clark: The Expedition (Dec 26, 2013)
I highly interested on this game but decided to give it a try before making a purchase. It’s my most anticipated game that I want to try so badly. At last I tried the game from a friend’s copy. It has beautiful awsome artworks and more than that, each player card set has different illustrations though they have the same effects, even more there is no duplicate name and illustration on all the cards. Pretty neat huh? The game is about the expedition of Lewis and Clark during the time when United State bought a portion of land from the French and decided to order an expedition to mapping the location led by Lewis and Clark. They mapped the location from the river stream, from one point to the other end. Now this historical theme might led you to think that it’s a racing game, and it was true that this is a racing game. The first player who reach the destination wins the game. This is the only reason why I hold my purchase and decided to try it first. I’ve read the rules and must admit that I was completely interested on the game play and mechanics, despite the fact that it is a racing game. Players goal is to be the first one to bring their camp to the finish line.
In this game each player will get a set of character cards, a player board and also camp & scout tokens. During their turn, players may play a card, place Indian(s) or set up camp. Playing a card must be accompanied by another face down card, Indian meeple(s) or both. The Indian symbol and meeple(s) represent strength or activation time.
With cards they will collect resources, convert resources, move scouts and other things. They can also place their Indian meeples into available spaces of powwow area on the game board. These spaces provide players with resources and upgrade options. They can also set up camp. To do this they will need to resolve left out cards in their hands and also the player board situation. These will determine where the exact space they can set up camp.
Players can also buy new cards from the available row with some cost.
While one of your aims is to collect resources for your expedition, you cannot travelling carrying heavy luggage, this is why players consider on their supply. With heavy luggage they cannot travel as quick and fast as they travel in light. So there is something that they need to consider when planning. And also, the route is getting more difficult by having 2 different kind of terrains (water and mountain). These 2 kind of terrains will slow your progress, since in order to pass through these terrain a different kind of transportation is needed, either with canoes, horses or yaks. It’s pretty much great decision making aspect to get what you after.
I like the beautifully looking components, especially the Indian meeples and also the cute tiny resource hexes (more if attached with resource stickers). Another reason that I wanted to try this first before purchasing was I also want this game to be liked by my girlfriend. I do not really want to get this game and do not get it into the table because my girl doesn’t like to play it. But luckily she said it is good. So can’t wait to get this one in my next purchase.
My score is 8 out of 10.

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Legacy: Testament of Duke de Crecy (Dec 26, 2013)
This game garnered quite a hype amongst my buddies that moment. But I did not agree. Not really interested on it and did not bother to look into it. But a friend asked me and my girlfriend to join for a session and we both liked “Why not? It’s a new game to try”. Apparently the game has similar resemblance theme and play style as Last Will, though they’re completely different in origin. In Legacy, you are the head of a family that needs to protect and preserve your bloodline for three generations (rounds). You will get married, make children of your own and get them continue your bloodline from generation to generation. This is actually a pretty interesting idea for a theme and I found that my first play was really enjoyable and fun. I felt lack of actions (only 2 basic actions in each turn) which hold you down with so many things you really want to do. Arrange marriage, make children, make friends, get a title for your family, buy an estate and such. That’s a lot to do. It’s basically a card game, as you can see mostly the components are cards, with player boards, main boards to place cards and tracking rounds, cubes and action tokens and also coins.
We’re having some difficulties to differentiate the gender of the child. I don’t see why they make the boys have a long hair, which easily create player’s confusion. Anyway it’s an ok game, with quite a lot of luck factor on the friend cards, their nationalities and also the children’s gender. It’s just not my cup of tea, though playing it the first time could be fun and enjoyable.
My score would be 7 out of 10.

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Concordia (Dec 26, 2013).
A new game from Marc Gerdts, that’s not involving rondel. Usually Marc Gerdts designs games with rondel mechanic, such as Antikke Duellum, Hamburgum and Navegador. It’s his signature, and now he’s making a game without it, interesting.
Actually I was never interested on this game at all, aside I have Antike Duellum on my wish list. A friend asked me to join and I was gladly accept it. It’s a pretty straight forward Euro with paste out theme, leaning more onto abstract side. The game uses roles and set collection with the combination of networking and resource collecting. At first each player has the same set of cards, each with a specific role. Each turn players will play a card as an action. The game ends if the last cards on the row is bought. The anatomy of a card has different part, there is the role part which describes what action the card can do, beneath it there are list of recources as cost to acquire this card. In the bottom is the end game scoring reference. In other words, players will have to choose wisely what kind of cards they need to invest in. Either they get cards for its actions or for its final scoring. The main board has a map drawn and depicts several provinces. These provinces consist of different areas and each of it’s own resource. Players also need to cover areas with their ships and colonies to get benefits while harvesting and final scoring. Surprisingly the game is quite good and it’s fun. But sometimes this could let to AP prone situation while deciding which card you want to use, since more and more you’ll get more cards, which your hand will be full of cards. It’s not like a deck building that you have to fill your hand up to some amount. In this game you take back all the cards you have into your hands after you play a specific cards, that makes you hand really really full. And also deciding what areas to get and where to go could lead to AP situation. With lots of access and randomly different recources in each game leads players to a new situation. The resource tokens have cute shapes, and the card design is so classic old roman style.
My score for this game is 8 out of 10.

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Archon: Glory and Machinations (Jan 11, 2014)
This is my new game for 2014. I should have backed this game while it’s on KS but I did not. I pretty much had a tight budget back then and also not really sure if it would be good. So I skipped the KS, but a friend of mine gave me the opportunity to buy his new sealed copy right after it’s arrived. So I did not skip it this time. The main attraction of this game is the artworks. As you know, Antonis Papantoniou did all the illustrations for the game and man he is one of the best illustrators I know. You can see his works in Drum Roll, Among The Stars and Fallen City of Karez. In this game he also uses the contrast color tone approach on his illustrations (which probably his main style). The characters on the cards are really depicting royal and prestigious feel with gears and bolts all over them. This is the thin red line, the strain that connects all of the illhstrations. The board is amazing and huge, just like Fallen City of Karez. That monstrous and gigantic illustrations of locations and places that put together into a one higly detailed big city embodied with gears element.

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In this game players need to collect the most points for 9 rounds. Each 3 rounds there will be an event and scoring. The game is quite simple, players play cards in order to place their workers into slots from locations on the game board. There are mainly 2 kind of cards, courtiers and magisters. Courtiers are basic characters and do not have special effect. While Magisters have different kind of types and effects. At the start of the game each player will have 8 Courtiers and 2 selected Magister cards in their decks. In each odd round players will need to assign 5 cards that they want to use during this round and the next. Cards for the next round are placed face down for future use. This mechanic is unique and gives you more freedom to build your hand, of course this is not a deck building game, despite you refine your deck of cards, the numver of cards are still 10 cards. Once you get a new Magister card you need to replace it with your Courtier. The flexible thing is you can replace it with Courtier card from your hand (so that newly acquired Magister can immediately be played this round) or from your discard or from your next round’s cards. Players get points from advancing their tracks on the guild hall (getting Magisters), placing Elite warrior on the 2 wall spaces that generates 1 point, build structures, collect science and arts and also collect Elite Warrior cards. There are also end game scoring from 4 level 3 structures. Though the game is good and challenging, there is some issues on one of the strategy in the game. The Roy Guard action to place Elite Warrior cards are deemed not worthy the actions and cost to be taken into account. Yes you get the protection from event, 2 points on the wall an majority from Elite Warrior cards but the actions and resources you need to complete that are almost nonsensical.
I’m gonna bring out topics about the game components, the game uses unusual colors for the playing pieces. They are all monochromatic. From white, beige, grey and black. Also the same with the resource cubes. These colors could look the same and some players reported the misidentified colors between white and beige, black and grey. This turned out to be fatal for my first play, which we identify the grey as black on one of the locations symbol. They should use different shape if they persistent with the colors. They said it’s for the color blind issue, and that’s not a bad thing, I just a bit disappointed that they did not consider other aspect as well. And also during the KS project development, they proposed an alternative art for the game board (the darker one) which could help to bring out more distinguishable look of the buildings apart ftom the background illustrations. This would surely stressed out the functionality design on the game board, but the crowd responses were critically discharge. It’s too bad though, I like the darker ones. Anyway it’s a fun game and I do not regret for having this game in my collection.
My score for this game is 8 out of 10.

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The Capitals (Jan 18, 2014)
This is one big and expensive game. The main reason is the game weight, it’s full of building punchboard tiles all over it. The game is very similar in theme with Sunrise City, City Tycoon and Suburbia. It’s about city building. Players will control their own city and try to build it the best way they choose. After the game ends, player with the best city wins the game. There 3 rounds of scoring with 4 turns in each round. During each turn players will determine turn order and buy a building tile. Then they take action(s) activating their buildings based on their power plant level and cultural bonus.
There are different kind of building types which shown in different color background. The building has immediate effect once built and also has active or passive effect. Active effect need to be activated first to get the effect. Activation cost needs power cubes from power plants.
There are several different aspects that players need to manage, they are city fund, population, cultural, industry and public works. There are also the tourism concept that I find it interesting. Tourism lets player with the most advance on the culture track to get benefit from the tourists that came to his city. Those tourists apparently come from other (players’) cities. This is interesting, since having highest culture give the city benefit for being the most wanted place to be visited. While cities with lower cultures really do not favorable place to visit even their citizens prefer to visit another city. The benefit is in the form of a car meeple that can be used as energy cube. The advantage is the car meeple can always moving around each time you want to activate a building. So it’s more flexible and give you easy access to more buildings.
Another unique thing is the population track in correlation between the work force track. These 2 tracks must really balance. At first population has minus points up until some point. So you need to expand the city population up to at least safe level. But beware you must also manage the work force track. Good level of population is not good if the work force is not balance that could lead to potential jobless threat.
The turn order is also interesting. Players will need to pay thebturn order based on their current order. First players must pay a lot of money to maintain his turn order while of course the last player can easily take the first place if there is no one fill the position yet. In other words, first player that maintain his first position will be wasting points since $4 is worth 1 vp.
I like the game, it’s simple and easy to play. Yes it has random factor from the building tiles but it’s still manageable. You also have to be careful with your point condition. Players will start with minus points and you have to make it positive and gain as many as you can before the time is up.
My score to this game is 8.5 out of 10

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Kohle & Kolonie (18 Jan, 2014)
This is one of my favorites games of Essen 2013. A monster game of the same level as Terra Mystica (well at least the box has the same size). I was interested on the theme and the visual presentation. I wanted it but trying first would be a wise decision since this game it’s not cheap and it’s very heavy. So we’re having board gaming session last Saturday and this game is right on top of my list to play, along with Nations.
When I looked inside the box there are lots, I mean lots of components inside. The box is full with boards, tiles and wooden components. Awesome feeling for unboxing I am pretty damn sure. Each player gets their own player boards with double sided ability tiles, cubes, discs and tiles. It looks gorgeous and I love this.
Let’s get into the game play. The game has a mining theme integrated into it. Players will be a mining businessmen who buy mines, run them and take profit from them. The board is spread long to the side, depicting a map with different region separated by lines and colors. There are around 5 or 6 regions on it. Each region also has some areas with mining sites on it. The game last 5 rounds and there is a progress track on top of the board to eadily track the phase progress of each round. A disaster track that also functions as round track on the right bottom of the board. Each round players will have normally 2 actions (more if you take the bonus tile and spend an extra action tile). During these actions players may take one of available actions (they may take the same actions with all of their actions). These actions are buy a mine, deploy and move workers, place a settlement and 2 workers, train an engineer, make a steam engine. Players also has ability boards that can be placed with their workers, steam engines and engineers. These tiles have double sides with the back sides are higher level that will be available after upgraded and are integrated well with their 3 action tiles.
At the start of each round new mines will become available to purchase. These mines also gives income for the owners, and players can place up to 6 mines on their player boards. These mines also give players points based on how many mines are inside the area. Settlements also give points on how many adjacent mines owned by the player. Each round there is disaster phase, which has a unique drawing mechanic. Players who have uninsured mines will put their disc / uninsured mine into the bag along with black discs. Then 3 discs are drawn. If their discs are drawn, they need to pay the penalty and place a worker cube per drawn disc into the disaster phase (minus points for placing cubes here). The first disaster is natural disaster, which is gonna stay until the end of game (it’s effect will triggered when the beige disc are drawn). If black discs are drawn, bank will buy the lowest number of mines and the bank threshold value is added.
After income and scoring mine phase, there is consolidation phase. Each area has different consolidation round, which depicts when the mines on that area will be cobsolidated. This phase is also unique, since if there is more than 1 owner of the mines (other players and the bank itself) they will take part into consolidation bids. The winner will take control of the area and score points from it. The losers will score 2 points for each mines they have on that area.
Players also get benefit if they complete connected networks on the rails with their workers. There are 4 rails spread over the map each with different length. When players take deploy and move 2 workers, they can deploy workers into their built settlements or into available slots on their ability boards and then move the workers (on settlements) into connected stations. If it’s the first worker moved into the station players can get a bonus tile available on the station. Each player may, during his turn, upgrade his ability boards by spending coins and / or neutral workers. Upgrading ability boards mean that he turn the board into the other face side up which gives him points and also better slots. There are 3 ability boards that when upgraded will automatically flip the action tile corresponding to that ability. Action tiles that are flipped are not only the player’s but also other players. The flipped action tile has higher cost than the basic one.
I love the simple and streamline game play that the game has to offer, okay maybe it has a bit conplex on the consolidation phase but that’s it. There is many things you can do with all your 2 actions per round but I guess it’s still ok compared with Legacy. I wonder when can I added this game into my collection. Since it’s quite expensive and I even haven’t get Terra Mystica. I guess my girlfriend likes this one better than Terra Mystica. It’s one level below Terra Mystica on the heavy Euro scale.
My score would be 8.5 out of 10.

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Alright, those above were Essen 2013’s games that I tried and still lot more to come. I still haven’t try Nations, Rokoko, Glass Roads, Caverna, Patchistory, CV, Om Nom Nom, Tash-Kalar, A Study in Emerald, The Witches, Mauna Kea, Coal Baron and Rampage.

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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Article, Board Games, Insight

 

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Quantum Preview

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Essen 2013 is coming, and I’m about to do a preview of one of the Essen’s games listed to be released. So, what is Quantum all about? Hearing the word ‘Quantum’, most of us would think about science and such. First, let me describe the word ‘Quantum’, before getting too deep.

In short, Quantum is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction.
But in long, here is what I got from Wikipedia:

The word “quantum” comes from the Latin “quantus,” for “how much.” “Quanta,” short for “quanta of electricity” (electrons) was used in a 1902 article on the photoelectric effect by Phillip Lennard , who credited Hermann von Helmholtz for using the word in the area of electricity. However, the word quantum in general was well known before 1900.It was often used by physicians, such as in the term quantum satis. Both Helmholtz and Julius von Mayer were physicians as well as physicists. Helmholtz used “quantum” with reference to heat in his article on Mayer’s work, and indeed, the word “quantum” can be found in the formulation of the first law of thermodynamics by Mayer in his letter dated July 24, 1841. Max Planck used “quanta” to mean “quanta of matter and electricity,” gas, and heat. In 1905, in response to Planck’s work and the experimental work of Lenard, who explained his results by using the term “quanta of electricity,” Albert Einstein suggested that radiation existed in spatially localized packets which he called “quanta of light” (“Lightquanta”).[7]

I…don’t understand. Okay, let’s stop make ourselves look more stupid than we are. So, it’s physics and enough of that. But judging by the cover, you can see the game is all about, Sci-fi theme in space? Close or not, you tell me yourself.

The game is published by Funforge, a French board games publisher which also published Antoine Bauza’s Tokaido in previous year. But this time, Quantum is not Bauza’s, it’s designed by Eric Zimmerman. The game can be played from 2 up to 4 players and was listed for 30 minutes of game play. So a quick game with heavy nuance.

Personally I just not interested on the game itself, by many aspects, one being a Sci-fi theme with planets and outer space elements. But, I did read the rules and found that the game has certain feats that provide interesting aspect on the game. So, since it’s quite simple and easy to understand I decided to make a preview for this one.

Box Cover

THE CATCH
In Quantum players compete to be the first player who place all of his Quantum cubes on the board. If one player did that, he immediately wins the game. I can safely conclude that this is a racing game (*sigh, just not my cup of tea). Anyway, let’s look on the them or background of the game. Players command their own fleet from different factions or colonies, though as far as I can see, the different factions provides no other beside the game flavor. During the game, you will take actions that will support your goal to place all of your Quantum cubes in place.

THE MANIFEST
So let’s take a pause from there and look at the components. The artworks are undoubtedly gorgeous, very stunning and perfectly representing high technology, science and space, you can thank that to the artists, Georges Bouchelaghem and Kieran Yanner.

So, what’s in the box?
You can find 24 map tiles that form the game map / board. You only use 9 maps in each game, so there are many various combination for you to try in every game (call that replay value!). Each map tile is broken down into 9 grids with a planet image on the center grid. These planets have different colors and square slots.
There are also 4 Command sheets, one for each player, 28 six-sided dice in 4 different colors acting as ships (yes, their ships are cube-shaped and I understand your confusion and amazement about how ergonomic is that, but I guess the ergo-law is not applicable in space). You will also find 28 small cubes in 4 different color, these are the so-called Quantum cubes. While we all know that the main objective is to place all of your Quantum cubes into the game board, that does not mean you can throw some of the cubes while others not looking (we all know it’s called cheating).
Cards, yes do not forget about the cards. There are 53 cards that contain 2 types of cards, Gambit and Command cards. The last are two combat dice (a simple black and white 6-sided dice).

Map Tiles

SETUPS
Before any game, at least one player must prepare the game setup (often is the owner of the game). First, you need to form the space map, draw 9 out of 24 map tiles based on the number listed on the tile (the color does not matter) and place the tiles face-up on the center of the table in 3×3 layout. You can find several layouts in the rulebook for starting planet locations to be set based on number of players, but no matter how many players you still use 9 tiles in each game.

Each player then can choose a color and take the inventories that matches the color, such as Command sheet, 7 dice and 5 Quantum cubes, remember only 5 cubes not 7 (You don’t need to place yourself in more difficult situation from others, no reward for hardcore gamers). Now let’s prepare the Command sheet, by placing one die on the Research box (with 1 pip facing up) and one die on the Dominance box (also with 1 pip facing up). Place your 5 Quantum cubes in the Quantum box. Next each player determines their starting ships by rolling 3 unused dice (for this purpose you can re-roll the 3 dice once). Player with the lowest total of the 3 dice is the starting player and going clockwise the first player place one of his Quantum cubes on the starting location slot (okay, so now you only have 4 cubes left). After that, in player order each player place the 3 dice / ships on the spaces adjacent next to his starting planet (note that orthogonally adjacent not diagonally).

Game in Progress

THE MEAT
Okay, now let’s play the game. A player’s turn consists of 2 phases, Action and Advance Cards. During actions, players may take 3 available actions and use ship special abilities. There are 5 possible actions that players can take:
1. RECONFIGURE
When taking this action, you can re-roll one of your ships on the map or scrapyard. The good thing about this roll is, you can always re-roll the die if you get the same result roll. Even with this, it’s still a long shot to get what you want. Maybe you need to look at this differently, this action lets you to change your ship type other that what it is now.
2. DEPLOY
This action lets you to place a new ship from your scrapyard (if any) to any orbital positions on a planet that has your Quantum cube in it. Remember that you cannot place your 2 expansion ships in this manner, only in your scrapyard.
3. MOVE / ATTACK
You can move one of your ships on the map. A ship can only move once per turn and the distance is varied based on the ship’s type. You can attack other ship by end the ship movement in the enemy ship’s space. Ship cannot move through an obstacle (ships and planets are obstacle). The movement range is shown on the die value. A die with 1 value can move 1 space, a die with 6 value can move up to 6 spaces and so on.
4. CONSTRUCT
This action lets you to construct a Quantum cube in a planet. You may construct the cube if only you have ships in the orbital position of the planet with a value exactly equal with the planet’s number. For example you need 2 ships with the value 3 and 5 in the orbital positions of the numbered 8 planet. The hard part is the exactly factor, you need precise value of your ships to construct the cube. This is the only action that uses 2 actions out of your possible 3. Place a cube from your Command Sheet into the empty slot on the planet. And note though, you cannot construct more than 1 cube on the same planet. So this force you to go around the map to place other cubes and face conflict with other players.
5. RESEARCH
This action lets you to increase 1 value to your Research die on you command sheet. You cannot increase the die more than 6, once you increased the die value to 6, you have achieved a research breakthrough, which will be resolved during phase 2.

After a player has already taken his 3 actions, he enters the phase 2 of his turn, Advance Cards. In this phase, players get 1 card based on a research breakthrough (if any) and 1 card per quantum cube they placed during this turn. Once the player take the cards from a research breakthrough, reset the research die back into 1. The turn of that player ends and next player begins his turn.

DOMINANCE AND INFAMY
As you play the game, you will encounter combats against other players. Dominance is a measure of your  combat supremacy. When your Dominance die reached 6, you’ll get Infamy and can place a Quantum cube anywhere on the map (without Construct action). Each time you destroy an opponent’s ship, move up your Dominance die by one. Each time your ship is destroyed, move down your Dominance by 1.
After you place a Quantum cube from the Infamy effect, reset the Dominance die back to 1.

ADVANCE CARDS
There are 2 different types of Advance cards, Gambit (black backs) and Command (white backs) cards. The name ‘Gambit’ sounds cool, these type of cards has one time effect, immediately and discarded after use. While Command cards give players permanent abilities and last for the rest of the game. You can have maximum 3 active Command cards at any time. These cards are revealed face up 3 Gambit and 3 Command cards for option. Players can choose to take a card on phase 2 based on these available 6 cards.

Advance Cards

THE SHIPS
Onto the most interesting part of the game, the ships! What about the ships? Well, in this game you are playing with 6 different types of ships. These 6 types have their own advantages and purposes. Each type of the ship is known by the value of a die (from 1 to 6 pip). So, you might think that ships with high value are stronger than the lower ones, well think again. It’s the other way around. Ship with the lowest value is the strongest but moves the slowest, while ship with highest value, is the weakest but moves the fastest. Let’s take a look at the ships.
1. Battlestation, is the most powerful ship ever (in this game of course), but they move 1 space only. Special ability of this ship is STRIKE, this ability gives the ship an additional attack.
2. Flagship, can move up to 2 spaces and have a special ability of TRANSPORT, which can carry ship as it moves. It’s not just that, you can carry as many ships as ships within 1 space surrounding the Flagship. With this ability you can combine strategies with your other ships and get the game more interesting (in a way).
3. Destroyer, can move up to 3 spaces and have the ability to SWAP. Yes, as literal as it is, Destroyer can swap itself with one of your ship anywhere on the map. Ain’t that cool?
4. Frigate, can move up to 4 spaces and have a special ability called MODIFY. This ability lets the ship change into a Destroyer (3) or Interceptor (5).
5. Interceptor, can move up to 5 space and what’s cool about this ship is It can MANEUVER, travel diagonally. Yes, you can move / attack diagonally with this ship.
6. Scout, can move up to 6 spaces and has the ability to free-reconfigure itself.

Command Cards

COMBAT
Okay, once you know all the ship’s types let’s get into the combat system. The combat system is absolutely simple, involving the 2 black and white dice and two ships. Players engage in battle not more than 2 ships in each combat. The attacker rolls the black die and the defender rolls the white die. Each player involved add the result to their ships involved in the combat. The lower sum wins and the attacker breaks any tie. So this is one of the game that you want to roll for the lowest number than for the highest one.
If the attacker’s total is equal or less, the defender’s ship is destroyed. The destroyed ship is re-rolled and place it on the scrapyard. The attacker then has the option to move into the defender’s space or move back into the space from which it attacked. If the defender’s total is lower that the attacker, the attacker’s ship is not destroyed and it only move back from which it attacked. So there is no risk for an attacker if the attack is unsuccessful.

OVERALL
The visual presentation of the game looks solid and I like the artworks on the map tiles, and yes, the game box cover is very stunning. The game looks simple and yes at first, the game system is very similar to Pulsar, the game of space exploration, but way more complex. The interesting parts are the dice and the ships abilities that may affect the game play quite a bit. There are 4 factions on the game, each for each player but it’s too bad though the visual presentation of the factions have a good foundation for unique variable player powers, the truth is it’s not. So, not interested in this one, The racing game factor does turn me off.

Game Box

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Board Games, Dice Games, Euro Games, Insight

 

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Lewis and Clark – The Expedition Preview

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First thing that I need to tell you is: “No, this isn’t a Superman game with Louis Lane and Clark Kent in it!”,

The Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, was the first American expedition to cross what is now the western portion of the United States, departing in May, 1804 from St. Louis on the Mississippi River, making their way westward through the continental divide to the Pacific coast.

The expedition was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, consisting of a select group of U.S. Army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark. The duration of their perilous journey lasted from May 1804 to September 1806. The primary objective was to explore and map the newly acquired territory, find a practical route across the Western half of the continent, and establish an American presence in this territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.

The campaign’s secondary objectives were scientific and economic: to study the area’s plants, animal life, and geography, and establish trade with local Indian tribes. With maps, sketches and journals in hand, the expedition returned to St. Louis to report their findings to Jefferson.

As you can read from the description above from wikipedia, it’s a historical theme game that relive the 2 years mission of Captain Meriwether Lewis and 2nd Liutenant William Clark to explore and map the newly bought territory. And by the looks of it you all might have realize that this is a race game (personally this kind of game is not my cup of tea). The twist to this historical fact is the group is not one but many, which lead to competitive expedition. So each player will lead his / her own group of expedition to journey from St. Louis to Fort Clatsop, and the very first player who finish the expedition wins the game.

This is the first game from Cedrick Chaboussit, published by Ludonaute, which can be played by 1 up to 5 players. The game has very beautiful illustration works by Vincent Dutrait, the artist known by his works behind Augustus, Mundus Novus, Diplomacy, Shitenno, Tikal II, The Phantom Society and many more.

I haven’t play the game yet, nor see the actual copy of the game in real, so I cannot comment on the components’ quality and the real game play experience. I just have read the rulebook.

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Overall Components
The game has 1 main board, which depicts the whole area of the game (Route tracks, Journal of Encounters, Indian Village action spaces, boat and resource spaces), 5 Expedition boards (one for each player that consists of 5 boats with different specifications), 5 Scouts and Camp tokens, 12 boat tiles, 100 resource tokens in 6 types, resource badges for solo play, 9 route change tokens, 18 Indian figures and 84 Character Cards.

Playing The Game
The game plays in several turns until one player reach or beyond the finish line (which is Fort Clatsop), and that player immediately wins. Not something that I favor being a race game and all, based on my experience, race game could prove to be anti-climax based on turns and generally predictable in later turns. At first, the competition aspect could be interesting and freshly challenging but once the game progress, the players position could change the game play experience. If you’re last / left behind, it’s hard to keep up with the first and might just probably end the game right there since the positions won’t matter if you’re not winning.

The Game Board

The Game Board

Before the game starts, each player will receive an Expedition board along with his 6 starting Character cards of his color, 1 Indian figure to be placed on 4th boat of his Expedition board, Each resource token of Fur, Food and Equipment (pink, yellow and white) on the 1st boat of his Expedition board. And each player place one Scout marker and Camp token of his color on the starting place of the Route track (St. Louise).
One player setup the main board to start the game by placing cards from shuffled deck of 54 cards to the 5 spaces on the Journal of Encounter (sort these drawn card based on strength), place a number of Indian figures beside the game board as Stock based on number of players, place the resources on depicting spaces, place the boat tiles in stacks and place 1 Indian figure in the newcomer area. The game is ready to start.

On a player’s turn there are 3 parts that can be taken. One is compulsory and the others are optional:
A. Action (this is the compulsory part).
There are two types of action: Character action and Indian Village action.

  • Character Actions: By playing a character card from player’s hand into the table.
  • Indian Village Actions: There are several places in the center of the board that can be activated by Indian figure(s). These places have 2 types, a circle and semi-circle. A circle space is limited and blocking to 1 Indian figure, while a semi-circle can be activated with 1 to 3 Indian Figures.

These actions cost Strength that need to be paid. Strengths are presented by Indian symbol or figure. For actions purpose, each symbol or figure means activation. One figure can activate a single action of that character’s or village’s. I find the character’s actions interesting, which using the unique mixture of worker placement, hand management, tableau building and card driven mechanics. In order to understand the mechanic of this action, we must look into the card’s anatomy. Each of the card has 2 sides, a character image at front and strength at the back.
In the front side of a card you can find the character’s image and name, along with it’s strength, action and provided resource icon:

  1. Character’s image and name. What I like about the game is there are lot of cards with different images and names, each character is limited to one card each. So you can imagine the various characters with their own names. Pretty much cosmetics but I like it.
  2. Strength and Cost. At the upper left of the card you can find a number that represents 2 functions (recruitment cost in equipment and strength). In order to get the character card, you need to buy it from the Journal of Encounters. You have to pay a number of furs based on the spaces of that card and a number of equipment listed on the card. This value also used to represents the card’s strength. A character has a range of strength from 1 to 3. Strength is used for action’s activation.
  3. Action’s / Character’s benefit. Each card has benefit that can be activated, either by converting resources or producing resource. These symbols describe the character’s benefit.
  4. Provided resource icon. In the upper right of the card, there are an icon that the character represents / produces.

In the back side of a card you can find another use of the card, which is strength for activation purposes.

  1. Character’s strength. The same as the front side’s character strength value but shown in Indian symbol(s). Each Indian symbol counts as 1 strength for activation purpose.
  2. Provided resource icon. Just the same like the front.
  3. Recruitment discount. When buying a character card from Journal of Encounters you can get a discount by discarding a character card from your hand. This icon represents the discounted resource.
  4. Camp time reminder. No significant use.
Character Cards

Character Cards

To play a card from you hand into your playing area, you need to pay the cost in either by playing another character card (with back side showing) or using 1 up to 3 Indian figure(s) or both combination of card back and Indian figure(s). Then the action is performed as many times as the strength that activates it.

Also as mentioned above, the Village action has either a circle or semi-circle. You can only place 1 Indian on a circle and 1,2 or 3 Indian figures on a semi-circle. Like the character actions, the actions are performed as many as Indian figures placed during that turn (you do not count the previously placed Indian on semi-circle for the activation).

B. Encampment (optional)
Player can set up camp before or after taking an action in his turn. Though it’s optional but the restriction is it’s become a compulsory when a player cannot perform any action (Character or Village). When set up camp, player takes back his Indian figures from playing area, back onto his boats. And calculate how much time the player need to spend in the camp. The amount of time is equal to the sum of the required time cost on a player’s Expedition board and the number of cards left in the player’s hand. This also leads to an interesting management of your Exhibition board and cards in your hand. The time cost will move the player’s scout back in the route track and then move your camp up to your scout if the scout is up further ahead, but if it’s behind the camp, the camp do not move back. At the end, the player takes all his cards in his playing area back into his hand. On one side, having many Indian figures are good to activate actions and stockpiling resource is always good, but on the other side, this could be dangerous for your encampment phase. The time cost will get higher and it will drag your scout further back the route.

Expedition Board

Expedition Board

C. Recruitment (optional)
Player may recruit a character card from the Journal of Encounters before or after the compulsory action. To make a recruit, choose 1 available character out of 5 and pay the equipment cost and a number of furs listed on the space. Or players can discard a card to get recruitment discount.

Resource Collecting
Throughout the game, players will have to collect resources for various uses. There are several resource types on the game, these are, Wood (brown), Fur (yellow), Pink (Food), Equipment (grey). These are 4 primary resources that can be collected throughout the game. You can find these resources in badge icon and colored wooden tokens. In this aspect, the game offers interesting resource collecting mechanic. Wood can be produced from Lumberjack characters, furs can be produced from Fur trader characters, Equipment from Blacksmiths while Hunter can produce foods. To produce, player can activate a specific character from his hand to his playing area. Once performed, that player gains a number of depicted resources from the supply based on the amount of the badge icon visible in his and his neighbors playing areas multiplied by the activation strength. Pretty interesting right? It has a bit of 7 Wonders feel in it and also this make the action timing more interesting and important. The resources gained must be stored in resource boats’ free spaces. There’s one fiddly note though: players cannot discard previously stored resources to make space for excess resources produced. But player may return stored resources when the resource boats are full. I don’t get it but I am sure the designer has a good reason for this.

Resource Icons

Resource Icons

Movement
Canoe (blue) and Horse (white) are not primary resources and are essential in advancing your camp in the route track. To get these resources, players must collect pay / convert some of primary resources or with activating some recruited characters. With this we enter the topic of Movement. Scout’s Movement is the key to winning the game. Players need to move in order to reach the finish line. Movements are broken down by 3 types of terrain, which can be differentiate by the symbols listed on the route track. Those 3 terrain types are River (curvy blue lines), Mountain (grey triangle shape) and Mountain-River (combination of both). These terrains represent movement restrictions for players. In order to move, they need to pay the cost affiliated based on the terrain type. River can only be passed by using Canoes and/or Foods, while Mountain can be only be passed by Horses.
By paying 1 Food players can advance 2 river spaces, while with 1 Canoe, players can advance up to 4 river spaces. Paying a Horse let players advance 2 mountain spaces. The mountain-river terrain can be passed with either 3 of these resources.

Terrain Types

Terrain Types

Take IndiansIndians are like workers in this game. You need Indians in order to take actions and to get them you need Interpreter. Interpreter can be recruit at The Journal of Encounters when available. When taking Indians, players gather all Indian figures in the village (including the one on the Newcomer area) into the Powwow location at the center of the village. Players then take as many Indians as they want (players can take all) and place it in boats specifically for Indians. After this action, players discard the most bottom card of the Journal of Encounters and draw another character card from the deck and finally place 1 Indian figure from the stock (if any) to the newcomer area.
Another interesting part of this action is left on the timing of action, which this action resulted in vacant circle spaces on the village. Other players then can use these vacant spaces in later turns. You can feel a bit of Tzolkin or Manhattan Project in a fresh way.

OverallNow you know about how the game played, you can decide yourself how interesting this game for you. Though it’s a turn off for being a race game but I must admit that many other elements of the game did interest me to place the game into consideration. The function of cards, requirement possibilities open up a large number of strategies in the game.
For me (personally) having lots of characters, each with unique faces and names is a plus, also imagining to arrange those resource tokens in the boat’s storage (Oh the OCD in me).

Game in Progress

Game in Progress

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Insight

 

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The Castles of Burgundy : The Common Strategies and The Knowledge Tiles Combination

I like this game and played it quite often recently. I’ve played with 2 and 4 players, with basic player board and advanced. Though base in luck of your dice roll, but there are some strategy inside it along with tactical approach at the game. Here are some of my thoughts.

1. Analyze your board

This early decision is critical for choosing strategy to implement on the game. Base on this you can choose what strategy to play, either focusing in buildings, pastures or knowledge first. The size of each regions are also considerably important which will decide in what approach you will take, which region you need to complete first. And also the synergy of your estate is depends on the balance of your development, you cannot fully focusing in only 1 type of tiles and forget the rest, there must be a balance between the ship and the other tiles.

Estate

2. Initial Castle Placement

If you play with advance boards and rules, the initial castle placement is free, you can decide where to place it. Now, this is important because this will determine you reach in the estate, in the middle of the estate seems the most logical explanation in general cases, but in other specific cases, you can determine the location by adjusting with your priority in the game based on the layout. Try to get the spot with easy access on ships and mines.

Castle Placement

3. Ships

Though this is not really rewarding for your estate, it’s very critical for your game play. It’s a long term investment which would put you as the first player. This means more access to all the available tiles. This one really important during the first round of each phase. You’re not the only player who wants a specific tile available and being the first player really rewards you this privilege. But, don’t forget, if other players constantly racing as the first player, the timing on ship tile placement is quite important to make sure you’ll be the first in the start of next phase. And put in mind, if you are the first player to finish the ship regions, you’ll get the bonus tile but remember this will likely put you as the last player eventually and you cannot do anything about it. It’s a 50/50 decision, tactical based on your game condition. If you don’t want to be the last player, just wait for other players to take it before you. Keep in mind that in some cases not all players would get enough ship tiles to complete their region (4 slots x 5 phases = 20 Ships) and in addition of the black tiles draw if any, so beware.

Turn Order

4. Mines

As you can see, there are only 3 spaces of Mines and it’s very important to complete these in the early game. All or nothing, to maximize your income in each end of phase. Gain 2/3 Silverlings in each end phase really useful in the next round. If you’re the first player, you can buy a black tile first hand before other players take it. The same with ship tiles, there is not enough Mine tiles in the side depots for all players (2 slots x 5 phases = 10 Mines), the rest is luck of the draw of the black tiles.

5. Castles

This tiles are really powerful, most of the spaces in player’s estates are in single tile region, which led to early scoring once you place the tile and it grant you a free action. The good about this free action is it doesn’t need die value to assign. So you can freely add tiles to your storage, place tiles into your estate or even sell goods without even bother the required die value. There are 2 slots x 5 phases = 10 Castles in the side depots, beware.

6. Buildings

The buildings are quite complex engine with chain of combos and effects that add to your benefit. The regions of buildings are mostly contain many spaces and the most spaces in your estate (12 spaces). It’s a great achievement if you can complete the regions in early rounds, which get you high VP boost. Keep in mind that no same building tiles in the same region, which lower your flexibility. But there is a certain knowledge tile that let you ignore this rule.

7. Pastures

Pastures is a bit tricky but powerful. You need to collect animal tiles of the same type in a region to maximized the scoring. And keep in mind to place the big size tiles first, so they’ll be scored several times. Monitor the animal tiles available on each phase, if there is 2 or more tiles in the same type, that’s your cue to grab that as soon as possible. The best calculation is 4 size tile + with 4 size tile from the black tile and 3 size tile. From this only, you’ll get 23 points, exclude points if the region completed. Also keep in mind any knowledge tiles that add points from animal tiles, it’s very powerful if you consider to play all animal varieties.

8. Knowledge

Now, this is the game changer. The thing about knowledge tiles is there are 2 types, end game bonus points or in game effect. Now, in game effect are not visible during the game, it helps you a lot during your turn and could lead you to victory with all the flexibilities. In other hand, the end game bonus points are major boost in the end game scoring and could take on others by surprised. There are several combination tiles that are very powerful, over powered maybe. Like this:

Knowledge Combination 01

Grab these tiles fast. And do the bidding. You can add huge points if you send lots of goods with complete varieties with these tiles. Not that each variety add 3 points (6 varieties means 18 points) but also sold goods count as 1 VP each. A great deal right? And if you complete the animal varieties, you add 4 points for each type (16 points in total). 2 of my games are won by this tiles presence.

Knowledge Combination 02

The left tile gives you flexibility on completing the building regions. And it really help a lot if you have the right tile, this combination lets you to secure any building tiles and place them where ever you like. The bonus points are also packs a punch if you have many specific buildings.

Knowledge Combination 03

These tiles combination really works for in game effect and add flexibility for you during the game. Extra workers are always welcome, this minimize your get worker actions. More actions for anything else. The modifying bonus is also great, which can maximized the use of your workers twice.

Knowledge Combination 04

These tiles combination are very good if you play mines and take workers. You’ll rounding up Silverlings to get black tiles easily. And the workers and silverlings are worth points in end game scoring.

The good tiles are also quite good to sell in many quantity. If you can sell 3-4 tiles in 1 action then it’s worth it. 2 is the least. In 4 players game the points from goods are quite spectacular, 4 points / good sold. Unlike with 2 players just 2 points each. The ship placement timing is important in this case, look around the side depots and the stock in the left rounds. This could determine your ship timing. Although it’s heavily based on the luck of the white die rolls.

Good Tiles (6 Varieties)

Some of the images are courtesy of BGG users

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Article, Board Games, Euro Games, Insight

 

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Comprehensive Components Overview of Twilight Imperium REX: Final Days of An Empire

Comprehensive Components Overview of Twilight Imperium REX: Final Days of An Empire

Unboxing

Fantasy Flight Games had just recently published it’s new game, based on the famous and out of print Frank Herbert’s Dune combined with the Twilight Imperium universe as it’s background story and theme. Still using the same mechanics and game system created by Bill Eberle, Jack Kittredge & Peter Olotka, Corey Conieczka and Christian T. Petersen tweaked the game rules and system to created more simplified, streamlined and balanced new game called Twilight Imperium REX: Final Days of An Empire.

This re-implement 6 players game has 6 different races to choose to, taken from the Twilight Imperium races which were more likely have the closest resemblance with the original Dune’s races / factions. These 6 races are Jol-Nar which represent Atreides, Letnev represent Harkonnen, Lazax represent Emperor, Sol represent Fremen, Hacan represent Guild and Xxcha represent Bene Gesserit. These races also apply one of the special powers the original races possessed.

Rex: Final Days of an Empire, a reimagined version of Dune set in Fantasy Flight’s Twilight Imperium universe, is a board game of negotiation, betrayal, and warfare in which 3-6 players take control of great interstellar civilizations, competing for dominance of the galaxy’s crumbling imperial city. Set 3,000 years before the events of Twilight Imperium, Rex tells the story of the last days of the Lazax empire, while presenting players with compelling asymmetrical racial abilities and exciting opportunities for diplomacy, deception, and tactical mastery.

In Rex: Final Days of an Empire, players vie for control of vital locations across a sprawling map of the continent-sized Mecatol City. Only by securing three key locations (or more, when allied with other factions) can a player assert dominance over the heart of a dying empire.

Unfortunately, mustering troops in the face of an ongoing Sol blockade is difficult at best (unless, of course, you are the Federation of Sol or its faithless ally, the Hacan, who supply the blockading fleet). Savvy leaders must gather support from the local populace, uncover hidden weapon caches, and acquire control over key institutions. Mechanically, this means players must lay claim to areas that provide influence, which is then “spent” to (among other things) smuggle military forces through the orbiting Sol blockade. Those forces will be needed to seize the key areas of the city required to win the game. From the moment the first shot is fired, players must aggressively seek the means by which to turn the conflict to their own advantage.

While the great races struggle for supremacy in the power vacuum of a dead emperor, massive Sol warships execute their devastating bombardments of the city below. Moving systematically, the Federation of Sol’s fleet of warships wreaks havoc on the planet’s surface, targeting great swaths of the game board with their destructive capabilities. Only the Sol’s own ground forces have forewarning of the fleet’s wrath; all others must seek shelter in the few locations with working defensive shields…or be obliterated in the resulting firestorm.

Although open diplomacy and back-door dealmaking can often mitigate the need for bloodshed, direct combat may prove inevitable. When two or more opposing forces occupy the same area, a battle results. Each player’s military strength is based on the sum total of troops he is willing to expend, along with the strength rating of his chosen leader. A faction’s leaders can therefore be vitally important in combat…but beware! One or more of your Leaders may secretly be in the employ of an enemy, and if your forces in combat are commanded by such a traitor, defeat is all but assured. So whether on the field of battle or the floor of the Galactic Council, be careful in whom you place your trust.

This time I am going to do a break down overview of the component of this little baby. Start from the box and to the rules to make an easier description for other gamers who need information for getting this game. By the look of it, I would say Fantasy Flight Games did it again. Not only they created such a great game, but they also produced extraordinary components one could expect from their games.

1. The Box

A simple medium box (Mansion of Madness, Chaos in The Old World size) with great and compelling artwork (yellowish tone colors in all sides), and like their other game boxes, it’s good quality linen finished which is awesome (you can tell by the visible linen texture). It’s quite heavy, 2 kg estimated weight. In the right bottom of the cover you can notice that there is a credit to the original designers of Dune (a good way to show appreciation and also a copyright thing). The lid cover was really fit and tight, it really need effort to uncover it, which has good and bad side. The good is, the game is quite tightly covered and you don’t have to worry that the game might spilled when carried around. The bad is, it’s quite difficult to open it and need extra effort to do so. But I guess, it’s a good thing, since I don’t mind the bad side and really vote the good side of it.

Game Box

Inside the box, you can see the rules on the top with character sheets inside a zip lock bag (perfectly fit) and guess what, a piece of errata, the same one I found in Rune Age. Little bit a let down to have such an imperfect rulebook that you need to perfect it with an errata. But then again, it’s not really minor, only few corrections. Under those thing are the punch boards covered in shrink wrap the board and beneath it there laid the insert tray (thick carton) with miniatures in a baggie and set of cards with 2 sizes. The box dimension is 295x295x70mm.

2. The Punch Boards

Major components on this game are tiles. These tiles were came from the punch boards (4 punch boards with different set of tiles). The punch boards were sealed together with a shrink wrap. Good thing that they thought over this. So the tiles won’t fall apart while being transported or delivered. This [prove quite a bit annoying in some other cases, with you unboxing a game and you find out that some of the tiles were already fall out of the boards. With a shrink wrap, the tiles are safely and perfectly stay on place. The punch boards are thick enough with linen finished, easy to punch with no left over tear on the print papers. The problem with these thick punch boards, once you punch them all, what will be the fate of them? Straight on the trash can or else? Well, this create another problem with component storage. In the first place, these thick punch boards give the box, depth and perfectly fit. Once they are removed from the box, you will find a gap inside the box which lead into displacement of components inside while handled. I suggest you don’t throw away the used punch boards and place it under the insert tray, to fill in the gap.

Punchboards

3. The Board

Huge board (Chaos In The Old World size) with 4×2 folds. Linen finished print out with black linen on the other side. Great quality print and artwork. The map shows the places of interest in Mecatol Rex, 28 key spaces with connectors to other spaces. The arts are stunning, but overall it’s look alike the map of Arkham Horror with circular frames around space illustrations. In the right side of the board you can find Influence Pool, Strategy Deck, Influence Deck and Casualty Pool spaces. Nice decision from Fantasy Flight Games for using a ziplock bag to store the board, so it’s stored neatly and easily and also protected from scratch and friction inside the box.

Game Board

4. Character Sheets

You can find the character sheets inside a clear transparent ziplock baggie which perfectly fit the size of the sheet. Quite neat but you need to carefully take the sheet out of the bag, cause it’s very tight. There are 6 character sheet, each represent one of the 6 races available (Lazax, Hacan. Letnex, Sol, Xxcha and Jol-Nar). The front side of the sheet consist of basic information for each race, advantages and setup. The other side contain a background story of each race, very useful to create thematic experience in the game. Players are suggested to read this first too understand their significant role in the theme and the game itself.

Character Sheets

5. The Miniature

Well, it’s not a miniature game, so you must well aware that there’s only one (kind of) miniature plastic figure on this game. It’s Sol’s Dreadnaught Fleet, which consist of 5 dreadnoughts assembled into one fleet. It’s unpainted (so you need to paint it if you want to get serious into the theme and story). It’s come with  plastic stands to create flying effect while placed on the board. The dreadnoughts were highly detailed sculpted and even though it’s the only miniature, it’s really eye catching. Guaranteed, every eyes will look at your direction just for having this miniature displayed in front of you. Need to spare my time to paint this badass.

Sol's Dreadnought Fleet Miniature

6. Battle Dials

Now, this make the components quite special. The battle dials are rather unique, by using thick card board as dial and at the right side were placed a slot for leader tiles. This is unique and cool but the downside is that the slots are kinda hard to place the tile on. Which need extra effort and pressure to make it fit right into the slots. There also a problem on how to remove it, for you need another extra effort and energy to pull of loose. This will surely wear of the slot and eventually it will loosen up. By that time, it’s gonna be such a waste of components for not working as they’re supposed to. The leader slots are used for units reinforcement during battle and also a means for using the strategy cards. When I assembled these dials, there was difficulty on applying the plastic connectors through the wheels. Since the hole aren’t the same size with the other hole on the back plates, it’s smaller. So need extra caution when apply more power to pushed it fit.

Battle Dials

7. First Player Marker

This large circular shape marker from thick board is used as a first player marker. The artwork is quite the same at the cover of the box and it is kinda over sized. But it’s good nevertheless. Though it’s not necessarily important (you can use any other component as marker) but it is a nice addition to the game.

First Player Marker

8. The Influence Tokens

Influence is the only currency in this game, and it comes in 3 denominations (1, 2 and 4) with unusual geometrical shape. Each denominations are mark by different color lines (green, yellow and blue) quite a thin line but somehow it’s easy to spot on with the color lines and big number on the center of the token and it’s also double sided.

Influence Tokens

9. The Unit Tiles

Each race has unit tiles in different colors and each logo on it (hexagonal shaped). Printed double sided to make the application easier to recognized during the game. These tiles will often come in and out the board during a game, for these unit tiles represent each race military power. While each race logo is shown, the tiles are color coded to each race, which make it easier. Hacan has yellow color tiles, Jol-Nar is purple, Lazax is red, Xxcha is green, Sol is blue and Letnev is white. Special for Lazax, there are 4 bigger unit tiles which are counted as 2 strength unit each (mechanized).

Unit Tiles

10. The Leader Tiles

Each race has 5 leader tiles with different title and strength. These tiles are shaped uniquely so they can be placed on the battle dial slots. Each tiles has it’s own name and different strength. Each race also has different set of strength leaders. This ensure variable player powers element in the game. For example, Xxcha’s leader tiles have the same amount of 5 strength, which are easier to guess but this don’t let others easily use the traitor cards on it.

Leader Tiles

11. Demolished Location Marker Tiles

This huge tiles is used only in special circumstance which is when playing with 4 or fewer players to prevent units from entering Mecatol Power South space of the game board. Very nice looking artwork.

Demolished Location Marker

12. Destroyed Shield Token

This small circular token is placed on the board by a certain strategy card. While on the board, it negates the presence of a shielded icon. The thing is, this token is so small and being the only one token that doesn’t have companion makes it a bit hard to store. You need extra small bag for storage, which still can be lost. Or if you put it with other tokens, you might also lose it during the game. But, I guess it’s still not a big deal.

13. Prediction Tokens

This tokens are used only for Xxcha to predict the game play which also as another means of stealing victory from other race if the prediction was true. There are 13 tokens, with 5 of them show the 5 race logos and the rest of 8 tokens are numbers based on the game round. Xxcha player use this tokens to predict who’s gonna win the game and in what round. When the game ends and it’s won by other race, Xxcha player can steal the victory if he’s prediction is shown to be true. What a unique idea and to be honest though it’s hard to predict anything before the game starts, it sure looks fun!

Prediction Tokens

14. Influence Cards

The size of these cards is 57.5x89mm (I used Chimera sleeves from Mayday Games) which contains 16 cards. Other than to determine where and how many new influence tokens are generated on the board, it also used to mark the game round (8 rounds). These influence cards has different type of cards, Normal Influence, Temporary Ceasefire (time to form new alliance or break alliance and trade influences) and Sol Offensive cards (while this card is played, The Sol’s Dreadnaught Fleet will move to bombard every locations on it’s route). Sol Offensive card doesn’t count as round marker, since after drawn and resolved it’s effect, the card is discarded and another Influence Card is drawn.

Influence Cards

15. Strategy Cards

With the same size of the Influence Cards, these cards (42 cards) are played during the bidding phase. Each player will want to get these, since this will help them during the game a lot (especially during battle). At the bidding phase Strategy cards drawn based on the amount of players, and start from the first player, choose the card he wants (Jol-Nar can look at this card first before the bid start due to it’s race advantage) and start the bid with influence. The winner pays the influence to Lazax (due to it’s race advantage) except Lazax must pay the cost to the influence pool. These cards has 3 types, Offensive, Defensive and also Normal Strategy cards. Offensive and Defensive cards are played during battle with the presence of a leader tile attached to one of the battle slots. The Normal cards are used situational mentioned on the texts of the card.

Defensive & Offensive Strategy Cards

16. Ally Advantage Cards

Also with the same size of the Influence Cards, these cards are used to track which players are in an alliance together and provide special abilities to the allied player. Each race has 2 Ally Advantage Cards (total 12 cards), that can be exchanged during the Temporary Ceasefire to form diplomatic relation and alliance with other races. The front side of the card is the text describing the alliance advantage achieved for being an ally to that race and the back side is the illustration of each character’s race.

Ally Advantage Cards

17. Betrayal Cards

There are 8 Betrayal Cards with the same size of Influence Cards. These cards are used to steal victory away from a player’s allies under specific condition mentioned on the card. This cards also optional during the game, which comes the variant play into the table. So different game modes to choose is always an interesting idea.

Betrayal Cards

18. Reference Cards

Same size as the Influence Cards and each player get one of this to helm them during the game. The 2 sides have different information. The first side has the game round broke down in phases, and there are leader strength list of each race at the bottom. The back side shows the list of which Offensive Strategy Cards and negated by which Defensive Strategy Cards. A very useful during the game, especially the leader strength lists and the Strategy Cards list for new players.

Reference Card

19. Traitor Cards

The traitor cards (30 cards) has the size of a Mini USA cards which is 41x63mm (Should fit with Mini USA Card Sleeves from Mayday Games). These cards are given 4 for each player randomly and they must choose one and discard the rest (except for Letnev, due to his race advantage, he keeps all the four cards). There is a leader image with it’s corresponding name, race logo and leader strength at the front side of the card. This card is used during battle against that specific race. Of course there is a gambling element to guess which leader your opponent is gonna use, but it;s better than nothing. Another innovative idea which I don’t know if this was used in Dune or not.

Traitor Cards and Corresponding Leader Tiles

20. Bombardment Cards

With the same size as the Traitor Cards, these cards (6 cards) are used only by Sol player, to determine the movement spaces of the Dreadnought Fleet during Sol Offensive. Which Sol’s race advantage is to look upon the next bombardment card before the round begins and also, Sol units are not affected by the bombardment. The value of the cards are range from +1 to +6.

Bombardment Cards

21. The Rulebook

Fantasy Flight Games always provide their games with stunning rulebook. Mostly known as Ameritrash games developer, they create comprehensive rulebook (even this mean thick rulebook and heavily barred with texts) to support the game play. And their rulebooks are great visually with stunning thematic artworks and layout designs. This one is no exception, a top notch, 32 full colored pages of rules with 210x280mm dimension, but they screwed up with the existence of the errata.

Rulebook

Overall, I valued the game components. All the components are in great quality, a benchmark for other publishers to give a chrome presentation to their games. I have one word, SATISFIED. Great job guys!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Insight, News, Reviews

 

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Belfort Insight

Monday, 19th Dec 2011

So, Monday night we (Me, Eric and Jeffry) hit Belfort the first time. Belfort is a game of worker placement and area majority from Tasty Minstrel Games, designed by the Duo Canada Designers Sen Foong Lim and Jay Cormier. Basically it’s a hyped game of 2011.

Jeffry and I, had read the rules. So I just needed to explain the overall of the game to Eric. We start the session at 19.00 (including the explain and setup) with 3 players game. It took quite a lot of space with multiple boards and player mats. Based on our first play, the game is different, it felt unlike any other worker placement or resource management games. We played with a lot of mistakes, not ruling but wrong decisions and miscalculations. This game has different feels. The phase order of the rounds is uncommon and could results in different uptakes and miscalculations.

Main Board - 5 Districts Pentagonal Uni-Board

The key point about it is the timing of income and taxes are in the middle of the order, which sometimes, if you’re not common or used to it would potentially lead to miscalculations and wrong decisions. The money is tight, the resource aren’t cheap. We used 5 random guilds from 3 categories. Which led us to display 2 resource guilds, 1 interactive guild and 2 basic guilds. By the looked of it, 2 resource guilds (gain 4 stones; gain 4 wood) are quite essential in the game. The 5 districts formed as a pentagonal uni-board, a very unique and classy approach on the component. Though the artist (Joshua Cappel) really done a great work by putting a fine and high details on the board illustrations, i just thought it’s better if the layout of the buildings aren’t the same for each district. The symmetrical layout seemed bore me down, but i guess it’s done that way to set the balance of the game. The King’s Camp available slot is kinda odd. I think it would be better if a player wants to be the first player, he need to pay for it (for instance 1 gold), and the rest of the planks are free. This could prevent players from swaps crests easily. And more of it, i think it’s better with 4 players rather than with 3. The reason is, with 3 players the competition of swapping crests would happen mostly from the first and last player only. Property cards are important, they really tweak your condition, beside giving you buildings for majority. Property cards give you other benefits such income, hire gnome, elf or dwarf (workers). This workers also essential to the game, which like other worker placement games, having more workers always a good thing. The points also embedded by a simple tax payout, which the higher your points, the bigger the tax is. Players get points from district majority and workers majority.

In Belfort, timing is important. Players must know what to do and when to do it. Quite impressed with the game but I must agree, that this was an over-hyped game in http://www.boardgamegeek.com

The components are in good quality but I noticed that the box was bowed (a common issue for this game). The rest are good, but I’m not really fond of the matte finish (or whatever you call it). I still prefer linen finish, but it’s still good.

3 Players Game

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Board Games, Euro Games, Insight

 

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The Ares Project Insight

Please note that this post is not a review.

Friday, 16th Dec 2011

My friend brought this game to the meetup, he just got the game and wanted to play it, so did i. So we played it with 3 players. First he taught me and my other friend the basic game with 2 players. Since he said it’s best to get around the game and it’s complexity with 2 players game and playing it as Kahoum and Terran, then we played 3 players game with other races.

So, what’s The Ares Project anyway? It’s a new released game from Z-Man Games by Brian and Geoff Engelstein. The game’s background theme is centered on sci-fi theme of strategies. There are 4 races in the galaxy that struggles into each other for domination. The Terran, Xenos, Kahoum and Collosus. These races are similar to the races in the game of Star Craft. These races has their own variable player power and unique distinction from each other. The game itself provided closer feels from the core mechanic toward Real Time Strategy genre. This really embedded to the game play and created new feeling on the game itself. So to speak, my friend told me that this game is best with 2 players and with more players need to be played by experienced players. Cause in 1 on 1 play, the game really concentrate on 2 players conflict, but the multi player version could really distract the pure confrontation among players which can lead to one player being assaulted by others.

The game components are in good quality but one thing about the player screens. There’s no way you can screen all your private inventory with that small screen. You need big ones and also tall enough.

I played 2 games, first was 2 players basic game with Kahoum versus Terran (Terran won). And 3 players normal game with Collosus against Kahoum and Xenos (Collosus won). Great games and looking forward to play it again.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Insight

 

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