RSS

Category Archives: Reviews

Game Overview based on the plays experience in a structured manner.

Dice Manipulation at Its Best

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

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

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

DSC02082

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

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

DSC02178

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

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

DSC02180

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

DSC02085

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

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

dav

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

DSC02177

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Not The Fairest of Them All

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

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

DSC02232

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

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

DSC02246

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

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

DSC02252

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

DSC02256

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

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

DSC02320

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Countdown to Panic

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

DSC02497

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

DSC02502

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

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

DSC02508

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

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

DSC02503

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

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

DSC02544

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

DSC02539

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Taking Dice Roll to A New Level

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

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

pic3637811

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

pic3477004

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

DSC02307

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

pic3376303

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

pic3952201

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

 

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

pic3935154

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Flipping Arcade

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

dsc02293.jpg

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

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

FS_Moriya1_1200FS_EnemyShips_900FS_PlayerShipsv1_800

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

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

DSC02289

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

dav

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

DSC02280

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

dsc02306.jpg

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

 
Leave a comment

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

 

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

Solving Cases By Following Leads

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

DSC01156

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

DSC01157

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

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

DSC01178

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

DSC01180

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

DSC01177

 

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Magic Lamp of Randomness

Tales of The Arabian NightsTales of The Arabian Nights Review
I just recently took the experience of both playing this game and owning it. I already heard or knew the game for quite a long time. Its quite famous among board gamer’s communities. The very distinct thing in this game is no other that the story-telling element that drives the game. The game was published around 2009 by Z-Man Games. My wife had played it one time before me, which was a bad experience from her testimonial. The persistent main issue she kept saying over and over again is the long play time. It took ages to finish (if you can finish it) and dragging the game long enough makes it pretty much a boring voyage that even Sindbad feels tormented.

But as some of my friends who like the game keep telling me that the game is best playing with 3-players, not more. Though up to 5 players is listed on the box, they all agreed that with 4 and 5-players, its not recommended due to the long downtime and game length. So putting my faith on their testimonials, I jumped into the magic carpet and tried the game with my better experienced friends on the subject. My wife liking the game is essential for my plan for this game, so if I ever get the game, she must like it cause I intend it to be a couple game at least.

dav

So the game comes with a really pretty looking game box (black background with beautiful Arabian decorations and stunning illustrated covers that involves genie and other Arabian tales. Inside, you can find some of the key components in the game which are the Book of Tales, the map board, Reaction Matrixes, player mats, cards and some punch boards for in-game tokens. The map board shows a huge world map with interesting places and the wide networks connecting them all. The center of it is Baghdad, this is where players start the game. But before that, players get a board (more of a reference) some tokens to keep track things like Wealth, Destiny and Story markers as well as Quest, Destination and Origin markers. They also get 3 random skills, drawn one by one (must be different). Then players must decide the amount of Destiny and Story points with the total of 20 (this amount can be adjusted as desired), which they kept it hidden from other players, these are their goals to win the game. The last thing before starting the game, they also draw a quest card. Each player takes turns in clockwise direction from the starting player, move from their current location (they cannot stay unless stated otherwise) based on their Wealth marker. This Wealth gives movement amount limitation in sea or land. Once a player decide to stop their movement, they draw an encounter card and resolve it. To resolve it, the encounter card shows a certain number which will be check in the Encounter book and the active player rolls a die, add the value with the location modifier and destiny modifiers if any. The result will determine the encounter, which then the active player and another player will check the matrix related to it. The active player then decide how they want to interact with that, based on the available actions listed in matrix. Once decide, they roll a destiny die and apply any modifier. The other player then check what paragraph the result is refer to and open that paragraph in the Encounter book (other player can help to do this) and read it aloud to the active player. Usually the reading will show the outcome of the encounter, though some encounters provide options or lead to another paragraph.

dav

So how the paragraphs work? They’re random and the subject of this review title. Once your fellow partner read the paragraph, you just let it flow and move on. You start with 3 skills (drawn at the start of the game) and as the game progresses you might have more. The skills might help you on your encounters, the key word is might. Yes, you enter the encounter blindly and just hope that the skills are useful. The paragraphs have a chance to have skill or treasure related to it, in which somehow may help or do the opposite. Master skills are different, they’re some sort of upgraded skills, but better in such a big time. Why? Because when you have master skills, the paragraph readers will check whether the three available paragraphs have that master skill inside and the player doesn’t need to roll the destiny die. If there is none, then roll the die. So basically master skill helps you get the best outcome from it. So your freewill and composition of your skills quite likely determine the action you will choose, though there’s no restriction at all to go nuts and feeling lucky (if it is luck) and choose whatever the hell you want to do. Once you gain the required amount of Destiny and Story points, you need to go back to Baghdad and complete an encounter there in order to win the game.

dav

Final Take
The game is a random fest, you will not know for sure what happen in your encounters. The randomness is high off the chart in this game, you think you know what to do and what will happen but in the end the game might prove you wrong. The game really focuses on the adventure / storytelling aspect, where the fun is. Your characters will have a crazy fun (or not) encounters that will shape the whole adventure in the game. So if you are okay with strong storytelling element that lead your gaming experience, this might be the game for you. It appeals more to players that really treasure the gaming experience and how the theme blends in with character’s progresses than to those who really take the final outcome as the utmost important thing out of the game.
On a side note, I do think that the components fall into more of a mediocre level, it’s kinda bit on the middle of things, not bad but not good either. Despite the beautiful game box cover, I found that the board is a bit drab (as map should be I guess) and the color tone is a bit heavy to my eyes. The cards, okay the encounter cards have illustrations, but it could have been done better with full illustrations instead of drab looking background. The quest cards is just a card with full of text pasted on it, but I guess that serves it’s purpose. Player standees, well cannot complain though, it’s just okay. In overall, this is a game where the components not really evoking how people see it visually but rather immersive to the story it provides. So if you cannot get pass through that visual boundary, maybe you can close your eyes and rely on your own imagination. In the end, I do like the game, it provides a unique gaming experience despite its huge luck factor.

dav

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: