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

The Lower The Better

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

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

dav

Game Contents

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

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

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Color Sets

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

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

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

dav

Playing the game

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

 

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Shoot Kill Repeat!

pic3476604_mdAdrenaline Review
In video games, there is a game genre called first-person shooter, which basically playing a guy / dude with his point of view and shoot things up. If you are a video gamer, you will easily name some games with this genre, like Doom, Counter Strike, Quake, Call of Duty, Battlefield and such. And there’s a tabletop game that people think, is using the same mode of play. But not directly I guess, cause it’s different in a big way, though somehow it conveys the feeling for a fps game. It is called Adrenaline, one of some new released titles from Czech Games Edition, designed by Filip Neduk. So let’s get down to it and check what it has to offer us.

The Theme and Artworks
There’s nothing special on the backstory, it’s just a death match in a industrial world with characters in different appearance. Sounds simple and boring, but hey they are here to drop some bodies, not tell stories, makes sense to me. The artworks work fine and nicely made, not something spectacular but it’s drawn for purpose inline with the theme. The death match takes place in a locked compound with several rooms, the game board illustrated this map in eagle eye view, shows the different rooms with different colors to make it easier to recognize. In the other hand, the weapons look cool.

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The player figures

The Components
Miniatures, yeah it has minis, just 5 pieces but hey better than none at all. Players have their figures based on color (five colors, you can play up to 5 players in this game) and each figure is different in shape and model. There are a space soldier, a steam punk girl, a robot and two different alien races. The figure’s colors are very stand-out and easy to see, especially on the board, so this is good. The other components are hit point plastic tokens in each player color. These tokens are tear drop shaped, like a drop of blood. Players will pass these tokens when they hit someone with their weapons to mark their point for majority. Aside from the tokens there are plastic semi-transparent cubes for the ammo, ammo tiles, victory point tiles in many denominations and the cards. The cards have 2 types, Weapon cards and Power-Up cards. Weapon cards are unusually over-sized with 61×112 mm in size, while the Power-Up cards are small with 45x68mm in size. The cards quality is good, very smooth though it’s not a linen finish. The game box is unusual, a bit larger than the normal size box like Agricola. So it’s kinda bit hard to keep your shelf neat to store it side by side with another box.

The Game Play
First of all, the goal of the game is to get the most points, nothing else matter. So in this game players running around, grab weapons and shoot others. Before the game starts players get their own player board along with the hit point tokens, figure, ammo cubes and action tile of their color and also 2 random Power-Up cards. The board is set  based on number of players configuration (it’s flexible and you can use any preferable setup despite the recommended setup). Place a random ammo tile on each room space on the board that doesn’t show spawn or weapon slot, set aside the other tiles face down next to the game board. Shuffle the weapon cards, reveal and place the cards on the weapon spaces (there should be 9 weapon cards on the board, 3 for each weapon slot). Place the rest of the weapon cards on the weapon deck slot along with the Power-Up deck. Randomize the first player, and give him/her the first player tile. The game is ready to start.

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Deathmatch in progress

To start, starting from the first player, they need to play one of the two Power-Up cards they have to decide where their figure will spawn. A Power-Up card has a specific effect and cube with specific color. The color can be used during spawn or re-spawn, to determine where the figure will enter the board. The rooms are separated into 3 colors or more, the red blue and yellow color has a spawn point, the same color as the ammo type. During players’ turn they can take 2 actions. The actions are Move, Grab and Shoot. They can take the same action twice. After taking two actions, they reload and end their turn. Then next player clockwise take their turn.

A. Move Action
During the course of the game, players need to move around the board through rooms and spaces. The Move action lets players to move up to three spaces (single square space). They can move orthogonally adjacent from one space to another as long it’s not blocked by a wall. A room can constitutes from a single space or more than one space. A room is separated from another room by a door.
B. Grab Action
There are two things that a player can grab, a weapon card or ammo tile. Players can grab a weapon when they are on the weapon spot. The can choose one weapon from the available 3 (at most, can be less than) weapon cards on its corresponding slots. A weapon may have a cost to acquire and players can pay the cost from their available ammo supply. When they take the weapon card, they keep it on their hand, it is considered loaded and can be used when players take the shoot action. They can only have at most 3 weapons, so if they want to take the fourth weapon, they have drop one of theirs in the respected slot. When players take an ammo tile, they take ammo cubes shown on the tile from the their general supply and place it on their ammo box. A player can only have 3 ammo cubes from each color at any time, so any excess is wasted. If there’s a Power-Up symbol on the tile, players draw a Power-Up card from the deck (they can only have at most 3 cards by the end of their turn).
C. Shoot Action
Players can shoot other players if they have at least one loaded weapon and have a valid target. A target is considered valid based on several factor, the line of sight and weapon effect. Players can only shoot one weapon in a single action, shooting a weapon means place the weapon card from their hand to the table, the weapon is considered unloaded and need to be reloaded in order to take the card back to players hand.
Line of Sight, in general term is the range that a player can see a target. Players can see figures who are on the same room, while if a player figure in a space with a door, that player can see any figures located on the room connected with that door regardless their distance. Imaginatively that figure take a peek from the door into the other room and can see anyone inside that room. Beside the line of sight, valid target also decided based on the weapon’s effects. In this games, the weapons are one-of-a-kind and have various effects. When a player shoot a target, that target receives damage based on the weapon used. To mark this, the shooter give the target their hit point tokens which are placed on the life tracker of the target. For first blood (first damage to a target), the shooter get one point. When the amount of hit point token that a target has in their track equal as their hit points, they’re killed. When killed, the figure is removed from the board and scoring takes place based on damage majority. The killer gets to claim a spot on kill track by placing one hit point token on the track, or two if they overkill the target (by placing one more hit point than it’s necessary to kill a target). After the player already finishes his/her turn, the killed player draw one Power-Up card from the deck (even they already have 3 cards) and choose to discard one to determine where their figure will re-spawn. After get killed, that player place a skull token taken from the kill track on the empty left most point on their board, next time they get killed, the score gets less and less interesting.

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One-of-a-kind Weapons

After players take 2 actions, they end their turn by reloading, they can pay ammo cubes to take one or more weapon cards placed in front of them back into their hand by paying full the cost listed on the card.

The game continues until the last skull token is used and then one final turn takes place. When the game end, players tally up their points, player with most points wins the game.

The Replay Value
I honestly think that the game has little replay value. The variations come from different weapons, different board setup and game modes are not enough to bring the game fresh in each play. Basically you just running around trying to kill others. Even all the weapons are one-of-a-kind, you can find out and feel almost all of them in a single game. The game also comes in several modes to play. The basic one is Deathmatch mode is like free for all mode, where you can running around and kill everyone you encounter to get the most points. Aside from that, there are Domination mode and Turret mode. I have played Domination mode, once but didn’t see the good in it, the game feels too fast than it should in 3-players and found it to be quite quirky. Turret mode should be different, since players can set trap and hit the turret. It shifts the aim of the game and makes it more tactical if I am not mistaken by reading the rules. I think it is ease to expand the game, to add another new contents into the game. New various weapons would provide fresh taste to the old game, so it could be promo weapons or something completely different by offering new set of iconic weapons in games or maybe real life. There also different modes that the game can be implemented, such as tag team, zone, time based, capture the flag and others. These new different mode surely give new taste on the bud. Or maybe introducing character abilities as new element or new map setups would make the game more interesting.

dav

Victory Points

My Thought About The Game
I think the game does work well, it offers you new genre and feel to play. Maybe there are other shooting table top games out there, but none of them are just like this simple, easy to learn and yet so real to simulate the shooting genre. As people been saying that this game is a first person shooting game, well practically it’s different and not right to label it that way. For those who have not try the game yet might not agree with that since there’s nothing at all that describe the first person element. Yes you shoot people around, but not from the shooter perspective like an fps should. You still look it on the bird’s eye view, from top view of the game where you can see all the locations, all the figures and others. This is so oppositely different from a first person shooter. But, maybe in a way, you will feel there’s a slight taste or feel on the game play that reflects that first person element. For me, it is and after all, it doesn’t matter it is true or not, as long as you enjoy it. Personally I think the game does brilliantly convey the mechanic and theme into a very streamline and smooth shooting game while maintains or introduces new strategic factor into it by making the game as Euro game. Yup, I bet many of you didn’t see that coming. Taking from the visual, theme and style the game looks like, you would consider this game to be more of an Ameritrash game than Euro, it’s more make sense. But no, it’s an Area Majority euro game in disguise. Yes, killing and shooting people doesn’t feel gory in here, no blood splattered and no heads got blown off. There are only point crunching for majority, the rest are necessities. While you think the game is about killing and killing, it turns out to be efficiency and opportunity grabs. Your priority is getting the most points, not rolling heads, though killing your enemies sounds intriguing and fun. But in the end it’s about who has the most points. And last bu not least, there’s no player elimination (yes I know most of you do not like that, so its a plus right?).

dav

Playing the game

I think the game is very simple, you can explain the rules under 15 minutes and new players are able to pick the rules rather quickly than most games. The obvious obstacle is the weapons effect. Since all the weapons are one-of-a-kind, the weapon cards only provide icon descriptions on it, though I must admit they work hard to design it as clearly as they can, which I think they did rather splendidly. Though simple icons cannot equal the power of texts and sentences to convey the real definition of something, I believe with one play experience, players will easily pick up the definition of the iconography. So first play can be a challenge. They also try to design the game with balance in mind, since this game type can lead to bullying or player bashing, they use the point reducing for a solution. Each time a figures is killed, he/she is less worthy to be killed again. This create balance on players targeting another in a brilliant way. Okay, players can ignore this but the real aim for the game is most points, so ignoring the rules can lead the players definitely not winning. There’s also an interesting part in the over-kill aspect. When players get over-killed, they set revenge by placing one of their hit point to the tag area of the killer, this way, it gives them incentives to hunt down their killer to get an additional damage.

While the game has different map setups based on number of players, the game is free to be played in any map setup from small, medium or large. Even the large map with 4/5 players it doesn’t feel big. In short, while the game has dude running around the map shooting something, the real is that the game is about getting points from precisely timed shooting opponents. You won’t get lost in it, most of players turn they can shoot somebody because most of the location is reachable with a single turn. I think this is a plus, since it won’t be so fun chasing around people and cannot reach them. The compound is specifically designed to be compact and minimized the labyrinth / maze aspect of the map, avoiding long alleys and secluded area and also dead end. Yup no dead end, all rooms are connected.

So in overall I love the game, it feels new, fresh and very easy to play. I like how dynamic the game is, highly interactive and offers a lot of game changer during the game. I love the weapons and how keeping three of them can create combos, also using the Power-Ups. The components are okay, and in addition, this still an Euro game at heart. Sadly my wife doesn’t completely agree with me. Shooting each other around is not a theme she kindly favored. But for those of you who think shooting weapons is fun and want to add strategy element while shooting people, this might be a good choice.

dav

Crowded space, high conflict

 
 

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How Greed Are You? The Game

pic2773860Thief’s Market Review
This game was launched on Kickstarter by Tasty Minstrel Games, designed by Dave Chalker. It’s a small box game, for 3-5 players. But don’t be fooled, the game is not “small” at all. At first this caught my interest because of the price was cheap and the shipping was so affordable. So I was like “what the heck, let’s back it!”. Well let’s see how the game really is.

The Theme and Artworks
I am not particularly fond with the theme and artworks. It has an okay theme, about thieves doing business in their free time? Just kidding. The artworks are not really my favorite, but it’s okay and you can still enjoy the images, comical and fun. Okay, serious, the game is about splitting up the loot of your last job (remember, you all are thieves) and spend them to get what you want in the market. The back story is that players are a group of thieves, which have been back from their “interesting” looting activity and now the real deal takes place, they need to divvy up the loot and spend their shares to get what they need to help them carve their way to be the one and only, King of Thieves.

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The Components
The dice are what make the game really interesting. The dice are plenty inside a box of that size and they’re custom black dice with colorful symbols. What’s not to love? Though the symbols shown on some of the dice were not really painted well enough, so some icons do not have solid colors compared with others. The cards are in good quality, though they’re not linen finished, but you still can fit them in the box even after you sleeved them (I used premium Mayday sleeves). The coin and point tokens are okay. The small box is good enough to fit all the components, fully packed, and I love the smooth laminated finished on its box.

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The Game Play
The main idea is to get the most infamy points at the end of the game, he/she will be crowned as King of Thieves, it has a card for it, not a real crown, so please be content with just that. Before the game starts, shuffle the cards based on the alphabet shown on its back, place it face down to form three separate decks (A,B,C), draw 5 cards from deck A. Choose a first player and give him the first player marker. The game starts with the first player rolls the available loot dice, and place the first player marker and all the dice roll results to the center of the table as a loot pool. Then the first player choose what to take from the loot pool. He can take anything, all or just some. He even can take the first player marker back. Then the player to His left, choose to take from the loot pool or from any player who has any loot in front of them. If He decided to take from a player, he takes all but 1 from the player’s loot, and return it to the pool (it can be a loot die or the first player marker, if it’s a loot die, He re-roll the die first). So this process is repeated until everyone has a loot in front of them. Then the next phase is to spend those loot, starting from the player with the first player marker and continues clockwise. Players can spend their loot to buy a card from the display, they return all the dice used to buy the card back to the center. In addition, they can spend one or more coins to be any symbol to buy the card. And then they can cash in their infamy symbol with points and gold bag symbols with coins. After all players finish their turns, more cards are revealed, if the current deck is depleted, five more cards from the next deck are drawn and available for next round. If it’s the last deck, the game will end.

So what are the cards do? Some give infamy points but most of them give passive or active benefits that can help players during their turns. This is also one of the many interests about the game, the core idea here is to build your tableau the best you can to gain the most points. The cards are divided into 3 decks, with labels from A to C. It uses cards from deck A and then as the game progresses continued to deck B and C. As the decks changed, the cards get better and eventually offer huge potential points for players.

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The Replay Value
It has some replay value, since all the cards are usually not used in a game, so there often some cases that some cards will not come up in a game. This gives probability and a bit of adaptability with the available cards to build the tableau. Aside from the cards, which is common in tableau building games, one thing that really stands out in this game is the dice mechanic. Okay, it’s just a dice-rolling mechanic but what makes it really interesting and unusual is its distribution. Players have the chance (especially the first player) to get all the dice they need, but there’s a catch. The designer made a brilliant system to incorporate interactive mechanic for players to get their dice. So basically the first player, can and may take all the dice, but that’s not the wisest thing to do, since other players will eventually loot them from his possession. Even if he took only some of the dice, others will decide whether it is okay or not to let him be. The dice amount are limited based on number of players, this what makes it interesting, since in equal perception, there should be an average amount of dice that a player can get, for example in a 5-players game, the game uses 13 dice, which in average there should be 2.6 dice available for each player (not to mention the first player marker). Getting more than the average amount would incite interesting decision by other players, and another factor is what symbols are available in this round relates with the cards available. To some extent the game really has flexibility aspect in the form of what dice and cards available. But aside from all of that, the ugly truth is that people sees things very simple and with the competitive nature of the game, it’s not easy to get away with more dice than the average without other players screwing while they have the chance.

My Thoughts About The Game
I think the idea of splitting the loot dice is very novelty and adds unique aspect to the game in a very big approach. The game is so simple, presented in a very small box but contains a good deal of “contents”. Personally I love the splitting loot mechanic, it stands out very well to represent the game or as it’s identity. The dice allocation and tableau building are nice, they’re just labeled as necessities to form the game. Aside from what components that you get from the game, the price is also affordable from what you really get (in short, it’s very cheap).  What I do not like is the dice, not that really matter to me, but the quality from each die are not consistent and it shows quite apparent.
So in overall, the game is good, you can play in 30-45 minutes with 4 players and it offers interesting choices, tactical and highly interactive. Easy to store with a very small box, even you can put it on your pocket and bring it anywhere.

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What Your Dream House Looks Like?

pic3176771_mdDream Home Review
Dream Home is a game published by Portal Games and designed by a Polish designer (I think he’s new to game design and this is his first game), Klemens Kalicki and illustrated by Bartlomiej Kordowski. Right from the start of its inception, this game has already gained a spotlight with the cute, bright-colored and beautiful art, thanks to the artist. It’s like a children’s game which I must admit that it is partly if not whole, a children’s game. It can be played with 2-4 players from 20-30 minutes (you can play this under than the time mentioned, trust me, or you are that worse). The game was published last year in 2016 which I just managed to get early in 2017.

The Theme and Artworks
In Dream Home, players are trying to build their dream home by choosing cards from the available options and place it on their boards. The cards are rooms in the home and can be placed in various spots depends on players’ taste and also basic physics. A good home should have its necessary rooms such as bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, the rest are complementary.
For the artworks, I must give a salute for Bartlomiej Kordowski. His works are superb and really succesfully give the game a very appealing soul to convey the purpose of the game. It really clicks and you know it does.

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The Components
The game is basically a card game, with a central board and some tiles. It has medium square box and of course cute and beautiful art cover. Inside there’s a plastic insert to hold all the components, and it works well, but the cards and tokens are easily scrambled when transported in many positions, so you need a small foam to cover this issue. The cards are small sized, maybe mini Euro size, placed well in the tray even when sleeved. There also a special first player marker, an over-sized orange house-shaped wooden token. There are 4 player boards and a central board, thick and good enough.

The Game Play
In the game, players get their own board as a foundation of their home. The board consists of a drawn image of a home with spaces to place cards. These spaces are drawn with 3 stories, 5 columns except there’s only 2 columns in the bottom story. So in total there are 12 rounds in the game. After 12 rounds the game ends and players sum up their scores. There are mainly two type of cards in the game, room cards and resource cards. During the game, each round players will take a room card and a resource card or the first player marker.

The fun thing about it (or not) is that players will have to choose the cards they need to get for their home from the available ones that drawn on the central display. The problem is there’s the turn order, yaaay… yeah, the one who pick the first cake always get the best and bigger ones. So each round the cards are drawn and displayed on the board, which there are 5 columns and 2 rows but the the first column only draw 1 room card, where the top row is placed the first marker token, you remember the orange house-shaped token? The first row is for resource cards, while the second row is for room cards. Room cards are obviously placed in the player board to occupy the spaces, while resource cards are more, how to say it? Complicated. The resource cards have different types such as experts, roofs, tools and decorations. These types work differently to help players make their dream homes.

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Now let’s take a look into the player board, players have a player board to hold all the room cards they already chose during each round. This player board represent a home with 3 stories (a basement, a level 1 and two stories). The basement only consists of 2 columns, which can accommodate 2 rooms (basement rooms only). Each room must be placed in legal / valid ways, it must have a foundation (a room below it, whether in any type or empty room, not an empty space). So in the first story, at first player can only build three rooms since the 2 right most spaces need basement rooms to be the foundations. Where the second story rooms need foundations from the rooms placed in the first story. Each type or room gives players a certain amount of points that will be scored at the end of the game. Some rooms can be expanded (more than 1 card which expand the room) to get better points. While a fully expanded room cannot be expanded again, so placing the same type of room next to fully expanded / finished room is not valid, hence that room card must be placed in another place or else the room card must be placed face down to show an empty room. Empty rooms will not be scored at the end of the game.

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Resource cards give players flexibility or better points. For example specialist / expert cards, can help you to manipulate one or more elements in the game, whether they can give you better options or additional points. Tool cards work similar like Specialists but the only different is that they have one-time effect, play-and-discard kind of cards. There are also Decors on the resource cards, this kind of resource give you additional points that can be placed on a specific type of room (not always), when placed, the room is considered finished even though it still can be expanded later. So placing a room expansion later is not a valid move and it must be placed face down as an empty room next to it. The fourth type is roof, where players need to collect at least four roof cards during the game to score at the end of the game. There are four colors in the game, brown, purple, red and orange and some roofs have windows on them that gives an additional point to the roof scoring.
At the end of the game, players tally up their points from the room cards, 3 pts from at least 4 roof cards (if they have at least 4 cards of the same color, they gain additional 5 points) and 1 point per window, Specialists that give them points and also additional points for the home functionality, 3 points if they have at least 1 Bathroom in each story and another 3 points if they have at least a kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom in their home.

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The Replay Value
Honestly, this game lacks replay value. The game is simple, easy to understand, straight-forward and have a decent light decision making that is interesting for casual players or children. But the replay value just on vacation in this game, it never came back and you will have to live with it. So after several plays, the game is beginning to feel samey over and over again (okay honestly, after 2-3 plays). There are no card variations, different setups or random encounters in each play. So there will always be the same cards in one play to another the only difference is just when the cards will come out. So with this as a crucial factor, the game does get fixed after one play and the rest are just obvious choices.

My Thoughts About The Game
I think that game is a sweetheart. Love it, the presentation is so amazingly cute and beautiful. The theme is simple and really targeting children and girls. It’s like when you’re a child and you play houses. You can introduce this game to totally new players and children, it’s very straightforward and simple you can explain the rules in 5 minutes. Players pick a column and take the cards on that column, place the room card on their board and move on. Yes, move on to the next round and do the same thing repeatedly 12 times. Though at first there seems to be a definitive decision making I must admit that it doesn’t really have decision making since most of them are obvious choices. I can picture myself playing this game several times in a row, since it’s very simple and takes about 10 minutes per play, but playing this for 5 times in a row, I could yawn and sleep accidentally. But aside from that, I think this game attracts children to learn good how to make decisions, because of the visual presentation and nature of the game. This one is totally a filler, overpriced one I suppose. After one play I realized that there are two important things in the game, which are the first player and the basement room cards, And others can be sort out later and easily. Getting first pick of the available cards are surely powerful, to be able to sort out the good cards and combinations, and it sucks to be the last player since what you get is basically trash (or not). In my plays I found out that the first player usually got hold by the same person most of the time. And the basement room cards are so damn important that even 9 points living room cards look like shit (pardon my language). But it’s true, the power of basement card is so damn great, because without these two cards on your basement, practically your movement ends halfway of the game. So the first thing to do is get that basement room cards while you can and if you cannot, take the first player marker for next choices. That simple.

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Aside from the game play, I think it has nice production quality, good small cards, simple wording on the card effect, thick player board and nice insert. If you have kids (early educational age) this might be a nice choice, or maybe girls, they love beautiful things like this.

 
 

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Racing with Feld

pic3302018The Oracle of Delphi Review
Stefan Feld’s latest new game after The Castles of Burgundy Card Game and Jorvik (while technically Jorvik is just an implementation of Speicherstadt). But beware, this game is not like your occasionally point salad Feld games. Why? Because here you don’t get points (at all) but racing to be the first to appease Zeus. Yep, racing in Greek Mythologies. So, what’s my take on this new and “fresh” Stefan Feld’s  game? You’re about to find out.

If you are an avid reader of my blog, it’s clear that I do not like racing games (mentioned these a lot lately: Istanbul, Euphoria, Viticulture, etc) if they don’t have rewarding game plays. So that’s why I like Lewis and Clark though it’s a racing game. So crossed my fingers when I got this one. I do like Stefan Feld’s designs, have been collecting His game though not yet complete the line up (Still missing quite many titles). So kinda bit obliged to get this into my collection. Okay, now let’s get down to it shall we?

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The Theme
In this game, players will compete with each other to be the first to appease Zeus. To do that they have to complete 12 tasks given  by Zeus before everyone else. The 12 tasks are broken down into 4 categories, building shrines, erecting statues, making offerings and defeating monsters. The theme seems quite abstract, but the implementations are quite finely done. As you know Feld doesn’t really think through the theme as long His designs have smooth game flow. So not really give much thought about it. But for what is worth, let me give brief description over the theme. What exactly is The Oracle of Delphi? Or maybe the exact question is “who”. In the times of Gods in Greek, there was a sanctuary dedicated for Apollo and in there lies a priestess, which known as the oracle of Delphi. This priestess was chosen by Apollo to translate His message or prophecy. So based on these definition, players will consult to this oracle on what actions they can take and how they will proceed to claim victory.

The Artworks
It’s OK. If you are familiar with Feld’s games, you can see that this game art shares the same resemblance with his other game, Aquasphere. Both of these games’ illustrations were made by Dennis Lohausen, who has been widely known for his illustrations for mostly Euro-games out there such as Terra Mystica, Helios, A Feast for Odin, Coal Baron, Camel Up, Dominion series, Village, The Voyages of Marco Polo and many more. Dennis Lohausen made one of the greatest game box covers in the history of Euro games (IMO) with the illustrations of a woman (priestess) sitting in the center of  somewhat looks like a temple and surround her are many colorful flaming spirits meanwhile the Gods are watching closely above her. I found it to be evoking and rightly describe the game in a way of using dice. The components are colorful, love the way He did with the player boards, very colorful. And one distinctive element to keep note is the iconography throughout the game is very simple and unified, a very good achievement if I may say.

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The Game Components
Okay I will discuss the Tasty Minstrel Games as a reminder here since my copy is TMG version and not yet see or even compare it with Pegasus Spiele version. For me, TMG has better box art, the illustration has border-less frame unlike Pegasus Spiele version, but somehow I noticed it’s a bit thinner than most boxes. The components are good, nice thick map tiles and wooden pieces. I do think the God discs are too small that I would really want to, but then again if it’s bigger, the player board wouldn’t fit them all into the God advancement track, but I suppose you can always stack them.They provide stickers for monster and God tokens, which is very neat and good addition from the bland colored wooden pieces. I just wished the player board could be as good as Trajan in quality, which using thick board instead of thin one. The cards are not in linen finish, which is a bit of disappointment but most of games are using non-linen finish, which I don’t know if there’s a good reason to choose this over linen one. The dice are good, chunky regular dice but wooden, sadly. It would be way much better if using the same quality as Bora-Bora. The thing with wooden dice, they’re too light when rolled, and easy to get dirty.
The rules were poorly written (English), there are many various details got left behind and not many examples covering possible scenarios. And setting up the default map is very challenging.

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The Game Play
As already mentioned above, the goal of the game is to finish 12 tasks given and return to Zeus as fast as you can. The first player to do that, wins the game. So it’s definitely a racing game, bear with me, I do not like racing games (not games a bout racing, but more like a game that players race to win the game, my argument is that these two are different in principle). Players get the same tasks (types and number) but may be different in colors. They need to complete building shrines, statues, making offerings, defeating monsters to appease Zeus. The board laid out as one huge ocean with many islands scattered around.
Players will start their voyage from the center of the board (where Zeus figure is located) and will move their ship through out the board doing actions. Each turn of a player is broken down into several phases, Check Injury, Actions and Consult the Oracle phases.
A. Check Injury Phase
At the start of a player turn, He must check his injury cards, if he has 3 cards with the same kind (color) or 6 cards in total, He must pass his action phase and didn’t consult the oracle. He discard 3 of His injury cards. So it’s kinda important to keep your injury cards in check from time to time, and be wary not to lose the next turn because of this.
But if He has no cards, he gets 2 Favor tiles or 1 step advance in one of His Gods.
B. Action Phase
In this phase, the player carries out His actions, which come from oracle dice and an available oracle card. There are many possible actions that a player can choose from by using a die and there are actions independent no matter the die is or dependent based on which side the die shows. The actions unrelated to the side of a die are taking 2 favor tiles, take an oracle card, or look at 2 unexplored tiles. And the actions related to specific side of the die are below:
– Remove up to 3 Injury cards (of the same color / icon shown on the die)
– Move up to 3 spaces in the sea hex (the destination hex must be the same color / icon shown on the die).
– Explore an unexplored tile (and immediately get it’s reward, whether building a shrine or get it’s bonus) or place a shrine in an explored tile with player’s color.
– Load an offering cube to the ship (the color shown on the die must match the cube color) or unload the cube from the ship to a temple with the same color (also use die of the same color with the cube / temple).
– Load a statue to the ship (the color shown on the die must match the color of the statue) or erect the statue from the ship into the tile with matching icon / color as the die.
– Battle a monster (the color of the monster must match with the color shown on the die).
– Advance one of the Gods with matching color shown on the die, one step in the God’s track.
C. Consult The Oracle Phase
In this phase, the active player rolls His dice. The other players check to see if there are dice matching with their Gods in the advancement track above the clouds, if yes, that particular God(s) move one step forward. The Gods in the cloud (most bottom step) do not advance.
D. Titan Attack Phase
This phase only happened if its the last player’s turn. He roll the titan die and check the result. If the result is 5 or less and the players shield value is less than the result, they gain an injury card. If the result was 6, all players get 2 injury cards instead.


This turn is repeated until one player managed to complete the 12 tasks and return back to Zeus. Once that happened, complete the round until last player and check who wins the game. If there are more than one player managed to finish the game, player with the most oracle cards wins the game.


Battle Monsters
When players take an action to battle monster, they must defeat the monster with starting strength of 9, minus the player shield value. They roll a d9 and check if the result is equal or greater, they defeat the monster. If not, they fail and have to choose to battle another round or give up. If they want to battle another round, they need to spend a favor tile and the monster strength is reduce by one.
If players decide to give up or cannot go through another round, the battle stop and players do not get or lose anything (except the action itself). If they won, the monster was defeated and placed in the player’s board.
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Favor Tiles
Players can also spend their favor tiles to help them in their turns. Each favor tile can be spend to add distance when moving ship, but the ship must end movement in the same color of the die. Or players can also use the favor tiles to modify the die result in clockwise order based on the chart in player board. Players can also use favor tiles to help them fight another round when battling with monsters.
Rewards
Completing tasks not only take players closer to the goal, but each completed task provides players with reward that can help them in later turns. These rewards are fixed based on what kind of task is being completed. Each time players build a shrine, they can move  one of their Gods one step forward. Each time they defeat a monster, they can get one equipment from the available. Each time they erect a statue, they can get a companion card of the same color as the statue. Each time they make offering in the temple they get 3 favor tiles.
The Gods
During the game, players will advance Gods in their advancement tracks. Once a God is in the top most space, players can use it for it’s special effect to help them complete their tasks. Once used, the God token will reset back to the bottom of the track, which players need to advance again to the top so it effect can be used for the second time.
There are 6 Gods for each player, each with different ability. There are Poseidon (teleportation), Apollon (one turn wild dice and draw 1 oracle card), Aphrodite (discard all injury cards), Hermes (loading another statue into the ship), Artemis (uncover an unexplored tile) and Ares (automatically defeat a monster)
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Ship Tiles
There are also ship tiles, which a ship will be randomly / drafted / whatever you prefer, to each player. This ship tile not only provides a cargo slot for each player but also provides a different starting benefit or ability for each player.

My Though of The Game
First of all, before I spill out my opinion about the game I must point out that I do not like racing games and this game got all my doubts. But since it is a Feld’s, then I must try and hope He can deliver something different out of the stereotype racing game I dislike. So by any means, I bought a copy against my fear and tried the game anxiously. And wow, it’s not that bad as I feared. Okay, you may think there’s a catch in my statement, not that bad also means not that good. Well you are right, this is not the best of Feld and also not my favorite immediately. My first impression was kinda mixed with confusion for the rule book lacks of details and examples. My expectation was they could made it way much better. The map setup is a pain, short on example and hard to recreate. First obstacle in the game, getting the default map structure ready. But of course there’s no problem when you start creating map freely.
The game play is actually pretty simple and straightforward, aside from the fiddly rules and tidbit of restrictions but hey once you master all that and get onto the game halfway, you realize how easy it is. The essential thing in this game is observation. Feld has proven again to be one of the best and notable modern game designer over the past few years. His game design is very solid, stream-lined and excellently easy to digest. Just look at the use of the dice integrates perfectly not just with the actions but also to the game elements such as the map, gods, cubes, statues and everything. Multi-use of symbols became the important element in the game. Love this and I must praise Him for it.
The game play is simple, dice allocation, a group of 3 dice can be used for multitude of options. Of course there’s a luck of the dice, but many elements help to mitigate this.
It still a racing game, and I do feel the hopelessness in the last round, but one must say that playing this game is quite rewarding. Players can tinker their dice usages and timing to perform combos. The game also offers moderate player interactions from watching opponent plans and what they have in store for next turn and also outmaneuver your opponents with the same goal.
Like most racing games, its hard to catch the runaway leader, there’s no catch-up mechanic. But it is possible to win by tie breaker, which is not bad.

The Replay Value
Each game will mostly the same, with different outcome of course. Though setting up the map differently might affecting how you play it. You can change and customize the map to your liking but the golden rule is that the ocean tiles must be connected as a single large space. The different ships also make a difference but not that big I guess. After several plays I still want to play it again, a good one though the racing aspect of the game keeps me out for loving it.
dav

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Board Games, Dice Games, Euro Games, Reviews

 

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That Rush of Blood Up to Your Head

pic2439223_mdBlood Rage Review
Eric M. Lang is a great designer, no doubt about that. He has his own fans, to say the least. One notorious work He had done is Chaos in The Old World and damn, its so friggin’ amazing. I love it, not just because the theme, but the asymmetrical aspect of the game, the clever plays, interactions and full of conflict. “No offense, you’re just in my way” is something you recall it often when playing this.

So years after He designed Chaos in The Old World, He announced a new title that He claimed, shares the same concept but better than Chaos in The Old World. He even meant that it’s what Chaos should be. The game is Blood Rage, not published under Fantasy Flight banner but Cool Mini or Not, which was a potential publisher to be reckon with. The game was on Kickstarter and managed to amassed a great deal of pledges. So let’s join me to see what Blood Rage really is.
A reminder that what I talk about here is the Kickstarter edition, not retail, so expect some differences in components.

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What you get: Kickstarter Exclusives

The Theme
Blood Rage is a bloody game (you probably could guess it by its title). It sets in a Norse Mythology where Vikings believe in. Vikings go to battle, to win wars, come out victorious, plunder the glory or die in Valhalla in the name of Odin, their God. In this game, players take control over a Viking Clan (Raven, Wolf, Bear, Serpent) and try to appease the Gods so they will reward them with glory. The game takes place in the nine realms with Yggdrasil or The Tree of Life located in the center connecting those realms.

The Artworks
As you might already see, this game has many particular reasons why it’s so appealing, and one of them is the artworks, created by Adrian Smith. Smith is definitely one talented artist that could bring the illustrations and imaginations to life. His drawings are simply amazing, really evoking with the theme, setting and tone of it. Each character here is drawn very detailed and has its own persona or characteristic. Given by the theme and the clear visual cue about the game, I remind those who do not like images with horror and terrible looks, gruesome, dark, bloody and a bit of nudity, so not really a good choice for kids underage.

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Unboxing

The Game Components
This is for The KS version, with KS exclusive monsters. The most eye candy of all are of course its miniatures, with the total more than 50 miniatures.  Thanks to Kickstarter, each clan has 2 different poses for the warrior figures, so a bit of flavor and variant there. The monsters are excellently sculpted, they’re the ones that draw many attentions on top of the table, like Sea Serpent, Fire Giant or Fenrir (they’re big). And considering this is CMoN collaboration with Studio McVey, no surprise the quality is top notch. The board and cards are okay, wished that the player boards weren’t too flimsy but if they were thicker  the box wouldn’t able to fit them all. And speaking of the box, it’s just like the usual square box with more depth, due to the many components inside. The cover art is evoking, though upon close inspection, I did find the figure posed quite off. Aside from the box, there are two separate kraft-boxes inside the game box. These boxes are used to store all the miniatures inside. One for monsters, and one for units with plastic insert inside. Pretty cool to get things organized but unfortunately this also means more effort on setup and clean up. There are differences between retail and Kickstarter editions, which really shown in the components. Kickstarter editions have more monsters, plastic tokens instead of cardboard and also plastic figures for first player marker and the phase tracker, pretty neat things.

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The Monsters from Base Game

The Game Play
When you get a first look on Blood Rage, the visual presentation, some of you might think that this game is about hack and slash your opponents down to nothing. Just kill and destroy to win the game. This is where you are wrong. Aside from the visual, this game is pure Euro with a shot of direct conflict, not a regular Ameritrash (AT). The theme is strong, but when you strip them down, it has remarkable Euro feats such as drafting, area control and tableau building.
The game lasts for 3 ages (rounds), each age is broken down to several phases: God’s Gifts Phase – Action Phase – Quest Phase – Ragnarok Phase – Release Valhalla
God’s Gifts
The game is mainly divided into 2 major parts, this is the first. In this phase, players are given 8 cards, where they will draft until they have 6 cards. Discard the leftover cards and go to the next phase.
Action Phase
In this phase, from the first player and continues clockwise, players will take turns to do one of the possible actions (Invade, March, Upgrade, Commit Quest and Pillage). Before getting into the actions in detail, each player has a player board which contains spaces for upgrade cards, tracks for Rage, Glory and Honor points. Players will play upgrade cards to improve their factions, advance in Rage track to do more actions in each age, advance in Glory track to score more points  when winning battle and also advance in Honor track to increase their unit limit in the board. OK let’s back to Actions.
Invade – This is the basic action how to place units into the game board. In a single turn, player can take this action to place a unit (exactly one) into any unoccupied slot on the outer province (not in Yggdrasil, which cannot be invaded through basic action). Each province has different (and limited) amount of slots and once it’s occupied, no unit may occupy the slot. Invade with a unit costs rage points (the amount is usually based on the unit Strength,shown in the left top corner of the card / image) except if it’s a leader unit (the rest being warrior or monster units), which is free to invade.
March – If Invade is about adding units inside the game board, March is about moving units from one province to another. This is the basic way to move your units on the board. The cost is cheap, only 1 Rage to do a March, in which you can choose more than one unit in one province to move into another province (Yggdrasil also counts, so this is the basic way to move units into Yggdrasil). Yggdrasil is an area that is located in the center of the map / board (surrounded by all provinces), and it doesn’t have slots for units, there’s no limit in this place.
Upgrade – This action requires players to play an upgrade card from their hand. Upgrade cards are divided into several types such as warrior, leader, clan, monster and ship upgrades. Players play these cards into their board by spending Rage points shown in the left top corner of the cards. These cards is the core mechanic that make players have asymmetric powers one from another along the game progresses.
Commit Quest – Quest is one out of many ways to gain points. To complete a quest, players not only to do / achieve some sorts of condition or tasks but also they have to commit on the quest first. To do this, they have to have a quest card (from the drafting) and play it when taking this action (by committing the quest) and only then they can gain the rewards from completing the quest. But no worry, even if you cannot complete the quest, there is no penalty at all (aside from failing to get points), kinda weird huh? Well, the interesting part doesn’t lies in that reason. There are many things going on in this action, at first I thought there’s not enough incentives not to play quests or why not if there’s no penalty. The twist here lies on timing and situation, which in this kind of game, are very important things.
Pillage – One last action is Pillage. With pillage, players try to conquer provinces, and sometimes if there are other factions join in, it turns to battle. It doesn’t cost players rage point to do it, but the trick is the player must still have rage points. Pillage can only be done when the player has at least a unit in the questioned province and it’s still not successfully pillaged yet. When doing Pillage, other players in clockwise order from the pillager have the opportunity to jump in if, there’s still unoccupied slot in that province and They have a unit in adjacent province to spare. After that, battle happens (if there are 2 or more factions in the disputed province). The battle is simple, pillaging players must play a card (if they have any) from hand and reveal it simultaneously. They sum the strength of their unit and the strength value listed on the battle card played (only battle cards are counted), don’t forget to resolve the effect in the card if any. Player with the most strength wins the battle, gain the reward listed in the province, glory points and discard his played card. The losers, may keep their card and all their units are moved into Valhalla (destroyed).
This phase ends when all players have passed their turn. Then players must discard their hands down to 1 card.
Quest Phase
Now players check their committed quests, whether they fulfill the quest or not. If they fulfilled their quests, they receive the points listed and have to advance one step from one of the three tracks. Luckily, if you cannot complete the quest, no harm’s done.
Ragnarok Phase
During this phase, Ragnarok happens in the province shown in the progress board. All the units in that province are destroyed and sent to Valhalla. Seems bad, right? Well, not entirely bad if you want it, at least it compensates you with glory points for each unit dying in Ragnarok. This could be profitable for players, since the points for each unit dying because of it increase over age. So this could be a strategy to keep in mind, especially in the last age because there is no point of having units at the end of the game, why not make them give you points.

The game ends after the third age, which players tally up their scores based on their tracks (each track gives +10 or +20 points when reached the last or second to last place in its track. Player with most glory points, wins the game.

The game core mechanic is drafting, which is essential because the cards drafted will determine players’ actions and strategy. Players will build their factions by the cards they played, adding monsters into their faction and improve their clan or units. The cards in each age are different, they’re progressing in strength and also reward. This drafting requires players to know the cards first, what they can do and how they works with other cards to make better combos. So for new players, this could be a disadvantage but since everything will  be easier in the subsequent plays, I suggest do not worry about this, consider the first play as learning session.
The cards (or you can say faction progression / improvements) provide the strategy aspect of the game, meanwhile the deployment of units represents the tactical side of the game. This game is very tactical in nature, where you deploy units and when, really affecting the outcome of the game in a very big way. Even a small decision can make or break your plan. Units deployment is very important because it affects a lot more than you can imagine, the slots are limited, so first one get dibs. Players also has limitation of unit on the board and also rage points strictly limiting your options. Timing also takes a great part in this game, since placing units and pillaging will relate heavily on your opponents’ plans.

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Miniatures with plastic insert

My Thoughts on The Game
The game is great from many aspects, components, theme, the artworks and also the game play. At first this game had been compared with Chaos in The Old World, another game the designer made in the past (which also one of the greatest game ever made), even at some point the designer himself said that Blood Rage is the kind of game where He wanted Chaos in The Old World to become, this statement was really intriguing, but after experience it in person, I must admit that this don’t have that material to be on the same level as Chaos in The Old World, but make no mistake, it doesn’t  mean it’s bad and it doesn’t have better things than Chaos in The Old World itself. It’s a whole different kind of game. Chaos relies heavily in the asymmetrical aspect of each factions and this brings issue in the player count that leaves unbalance play. Chaos has such deep and clever play of cards and units throughout the map. Blood Rage has simple rules and easy game play and of course with shorter game length. The miniatures are top notch, better than Chaos, obviously.
While it presents with direct conflicts, Blood Rage doesn’t place the winning strategy winning battles, players may also pursue different strategies, this leads the game to have another interesting aspect, which is bluffing in the card play. “Sometimes losing is the best way” phrase really plays its part in this game.

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Aside from many goodness of the game, the game also has bad sides, which in my defense aren’t many. I thought the box quality is too thin given the weight of the components, the player boards and Age tracker are too flimsy thin, the cards aren’t in linen finish but that’s okay. The only big disappointment for me is the box is already too full to accommodate the expansions and fifth player expansions (you can put it all but need certain modification to the insert which already good enough for me and wanted to keep it that way).

Replay Value
To be honest, there’s not much replay value in the game, aside the different card plays and combinations. There is no variable player powers, the boards always the same, monsters in play can offers good variables but that’s also limited. All the cards are almost used in the game, so not many variability involved. Of course there are expansions, the God of Asgard and Mystics of Midgard which add game play variants. The rest lies in the player interactions and how they play.

dav

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2017 in Board Games, Euro Games, Kickstarters, Reviews

 

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My Top 10 Games from 2016

2016 is over and from it, there are many games that I’ve tried and yet to try. So in short, here are my top 10 of 2016 and some worth mentioned. The rank is of course, subject to change by play count and also different feel of the game and as time goes by, but at least this is my initial take based on my (first) experiences.

The Top 10
#1 Great Western Trail
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Okay, I heard good (if not great) things about this one. After I got and played it, I must admit that it’s quite over-hyped but agree, this one is good and worth to be in the very top of this list.
Why I like it?
Classic
This is modern Euro that has the classic feel shows in the presentation. The rules are somehow hard to chew but once you play it for the first time, you know what to do and straight-forward simple. There are many mechanics thrown into the game but surprisingly they work very well overall.
There’s a deck-building aspect in it.
A hint but not too strong to be considered as a deck-building game and doesn’t restraint players for building their deck cause there are still many ways to get points. In short, players do not have to totally surrender over the deck efficient and effective aspect of a deck-building game.
Rondel
Disguised in the player board, this one has rondel mechanic in it. Yes, the location spaces along the trail is one network or rondel system that becomes lengthy over time during the game because new locations will be added by the players. I could need a game with rondel in my collection and though this is not the usual rondel but better than none.
Engine Building in player board
The player board gets more interesting since players get to move some components from their player board into the game board in such interesting way. Players mostly score points and get instant benefit while improving their engine.
Clever use of objective cards
Players acquired objectives from the card display and put them their deck. These acquired objective cards are mixed together with their cattle cards, which will eventually be drawn into their hand and can be used in such an innovative way. Players are left with an interesting decision either to keep those objectives in their deck (while making your deck less-efficient in the same time) or play them to get the bonuses but must committed to complete them at the end or they will get penalized with minus points.
What I don’t like about this game?
Hmm, almost nothing. The components are good, though there was minor misprint in one of the player’s building tile (though a simple sticker should take care of the problem). The player boards should be thicker (as thick as the game board) and also has indentation to place all the wooden pieces.

#2 Yokohama
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Finally another heavier game (heaviest actually) from Hisashi Hayashi. I kinda like most of His game and this one is so beautiful (aside from the beautiful artwork from Ryoko Hayashi). Some said (including Rahdo) that the game design shares the resemblance with Stefan Feld designs (a point-salad game), and I must agree. Even this year, Hisashi Hayashi is more Feld than Feld himself.
Why I like it?
Heavy
At first the box and visual presentation of the box art surely gives you friendly and casual feel of a classic Euro with a location (city / country) name as its title. If it’s true then you were fooled, it’s unlike any of sorts, though the box art is remarkably compelling and relaxing. The truth, the game is quite complex. Though the rules are simple but there are many tidbits that players need to keep up for the first time.
As far as the eyes see
Ludicrous amount of ways to get points. Yes there are many ways to get points (really a point-salad game) even there are some double locations that serve that sole purpose to open more access through out the map.
Combos
After a while learning the game, you can figure out some interesting combo with chaining action and additional action together, also helped by abilities from technologies and bonuses.
High variable setup
There will be no setup like before. The game map setup makes it different each time you play, the location and how you build your resource processing engine is based on the game map. You need to be more efficient to move around and using your assistants to beat your opponents. And in addition, the technology card and award distributions are also different in each game.
What I don’t like about this game?
The modular boards are easily get moved and shifted by players though I understand that this is how the variable setup possible. And the cards, ugh the cards are too fiddly, placed on top of the modular boards and also technology cards are too hard to read (the texts are too small) especially from a player seat to the end of the table. If only they can come up with iconography solution for this. Table-hugger, yes the game takes a lot of table space. With card displays and huge modular boards with maximum amount of players, you get a busy tablecloth ready to be played.

#3 Terraforming Mars
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This offers a very interesting theme with science backing the theme and logic of the game. Immediately ordered it once I had the chance and played it straight out. The game is amazing, very intimidating though but rewarding with clever card plays.
Why I like it?
Really dig the science behind the theme
The theme is not very compelling for me, but for some reason the relevancy between game and real life science seems click (thinking of High Frontier or Leaving Earth for other examples).
Clever card plays
This definitely what makes the game shines. First of all this is naturally a card game. Many cards inside the game, and it offers different clever card plays along with a tableau engine building. In a game, all the cards won’t be played and sometimes the cards can be useless but sometimes can be very crucial. This reflected by the timing and compatible pairing with other cards (combos). So players need to adapt to every situation in the game and come up with the best solution to get the most points in the end.
Shiny metallic cubes
Okay, they’re plastic but seriously they still looks good and shiny like metals. I like to hold the biggest cubes in my hand, big cubes. Aside from the idea of same big size for all the cubes, I agree the different sizes makes it easier for color blind players.
Game flexibility
The end game relies on the players. There are three parameters to end the game and players are “semi-cooperatively” work towards that end. So in a way, players together is in control with the length of the game (which could also be the drawback in terms of unnecessary prolonging the game).
What I don’t like about this game?
Many. Yes, aside from the cards have heavy texts on them, makes it hard for players to read and prolong the game duration. And for new players, pretty much intimidating if they’re not omni or heavy-gamer people. The cards distribution can also felt unbalance.
The player board could be improved, to keep track the income track and the supply with the same components could turn your game experience a bit nightmarish if things turn sideways. Good thing that there’s a game trays for the player board (or should I say player mat?). The game length could be hard to determine because of the end game trigger, which based on players game plays.

#4 Scythe
pic3163924_mdThis one is one of the best, undoubtedly. You can see it on its Kickstarter project and how good the feedback is. Backed it myself and worth every penny. Stonemaier games has a very good reputation though relatively new in the hobby.
Why I like it?
Stunning artworks and immersive theme
Actually the game was purposely designed out of the beautiful and stunning artworks from Jakub Rozalski, based on His self-made universe of alternate world war aftermath. The scenes are jaw-dropping and awesome. One can own this for collection only and no one dares to argue. The game sets in a alternate history of world war where mechs were exist in 1820’s and there are some factions that want to seize control of the land. The factions not only shows different characteristic in appearances but also in abilities that affect the ways to play them.
Marvelous components
The game is heavy, literally. Many top notch quality components, as already known by it’s components quality, Stonemaier games didn’t kid around by chucking realistic resource tokens and metal coins, not to mention thick card board and huge enormous game board, and those mechs. Hands down, one of the best Kickstarter game projects.
Interesting game play
The rules seems intimidating, but once you break it down, it’s pretty simple and straightforward. It’s an engine building game with variable player power, area control, resource management, and semi racing game with interesting player interactions.
I love how the scoring works and the encounter cards also add a nice touch to the game theme. Battle doesn’t seems highlighted, so for Euro-gamers this should give a plus, direct conflict is down to minimum. So for those who expecting frequent battle, they might be disappointed. Though of course they can play it that way, it’s not guaranteed to be a winning strategy.
What I do not like about the game?
This is hard. Maybe my biggest issue is the game takes a huge table space, more if you use the collector’s edition bigger board. Also it’s better if players can accomplish more objective cards.

#5 The Oracle of Delphi
pic3302018It’s Stefan Feld new title, The Oracle of Delphi. Surprisingly in this game He didn’t make His usual point-salad game, this one is a racing game. Yeah, racing, surprised me. I do not consider myself as a Feld fanboy, but I do like and admire His games. There are many favorites among His games such as Trajan, Bora-Bora, The Castles of Burgundy, Amerigo, Aquasphere, The Name of The Rose and many more.
Most of these share the same feat, various ways to get points (point-salad). But not this one. In this game players need to appease Zeus by completing 12 tasks before anyone else. The player who completed those 12 tasks and managed to get back to the starting place, won the game.
I usually do not like racing game (Euphoria, Istanbul, Viticulture) so I am kinda pessimist with this one and did not get my hope high. Though I hope this could be like Lewis and Clark or at least as good as Automobiles for me.
So let see the summary…
Why I like it?
Stefan Feld
Okay should I admit that I might be a fanboy after all? Stefan Feld always counts something in my book. His games are awesome so far and truth be told in early days of my board gaming adventure, I planned to collect all of His games (though I’ve been lazy and distracted). So His name as the designer should be one of the reason why I like this game.
Dice Allocation
Yes, one of initial reasons why I like Feld was right after I tried The Castles of Burgundy. The dice allocation system is very clever and interesting (for me). What you can do with such dice really amazed me, and how He managed to mitigate the dice roll luck, the reason why I like dice games. And guess what this one also uses the same system and in addition, the dice are custom dice, superb.
The symbology and iconography
Okay, I do not know whether it’s Feld’s, Dennis Lohausen’s or the developer’s doing that makes it great but this game has such a clever implementation of colors / symbols in the game. Not only just to make players identify the elements in the game but also the various aspect or elements in the game are boiled down to these 6 colors / symbols. And extra, it’s color-blind friendly (bravo!).
Theme
Greek Mythology is one of the themes that makes me interested. So this one is interesting. Though I also think it’s lack of theme and quite abstract (most of His games are).
Rewarding game play
Actually aside from the racing game aspect, the game play is simple and quite fun. Okay Euphoria is fun and simple but somehow at the end of the day, its not really rewarding for me when lost the game. But this one feels slightly different. You can feel the excitement to complete task, moving around ship and matching the colors, tinkers with your dice and what combo you can possibly do with those God’s special abilities. So my verdict so far, its playable in the future. In fact, I already logged 3 plays in such a short time.
What I don’t like about this game?
I’ve experienced difficulties to set the map. Even there’s a pictured diagram for the basic map setup, it’s kinda hard to determine the shape of those map tiles because there are more then one kind (4 shapes and sizes). And Place Zeus in the center, what center? There’s no shallow in the center (at least not center, center if you know what I mean). And the cities should be placed in an equally-distant way (come one, it gives me headache). I also tried the random setup and it’s not easier (could be worse).
Racing game, as I already mentioned earlier, even the racing is not that bad, but if it’s not a racing game, it could be better for my taste. For example completing tasks gives you points (how many points is vary not on the type of tasks but the type of objects (monsters, statues, offerings or build shrines), this mean based on colors and each game it should be vary. I never favor a wooden die. Better other materials. Not really an issue but worth mentioned. I mean how good could this be if the dice are plastic or resin (just like in Bora-Bora) or whatever that is beside wood.
The Gods abilities and Ship tiles feel somewhat not balanced. I feel Ship tile that gives starting position on all Gods really overpowered. I also feel that Blue, Red and Yellow Gods are very useful throughout the game, unlike other Gods, which only used number of times for specific actions. But that’s just based on 3 plays.

#6 Word Porters
pic2948039_md This one is coming from Hisashi Hayashi, one of the few Japanese games that go international. His games are amazing and innovative.
I knew him the first time from Sail to India and then Trains. As these games are good, I started to check His other games and turned out His other games are also good.
And when I knew He has a new game with word as its main idea, well I like word games, so I immediately sold.
Why I like it?
Word Games

I love word games, and this looks a very nice addition aside from Codenames, Snake Oil and Dixit. The truth is, I think this is the successor of Dixit and Codenames combined. It shares unique features from both games.
Hisashi Hayashi
I don’t know from when I starting to like and hunt for Japanese games (maybe safe to blame Love Letter) and to be more specific, Hisashi’s games kinda always have special treatment in my eyes. So here it is, another Hisashi’s game that actually quite good and fresh.
It actually good
Turns out the game is very good. If you have second thought about this one because it looks similar to Codenames and Dixit altogether, well it has the same features but the scoring system is different and it changes a lot in the gaming experience. Since in Dixit you try to choose the one and in Codenames you play in teams, in this game you try to guess all other players. The feel is quite different (turned out it’s a big turnover) and it’s so exciting. So I still think it’s worth having in my collection (I own Codenames, Dixit, Spyfall and Snakeoil for your consideration).
There is a minor but essential deduction element in the game, which makes the game quite complex in meta gaming but not necessarily running the game entirely. So whether you use deduction or not, the game can still be fun.
What I don’t like about this game?
The only version is in Japanese though it has English paste ups in the BGG file section and the word cards have English translations, still hard to get this easily run smoothly. You need to get some efforts done, such as print the paste ups, stick it in the hint cards or use sleeves and insert it to the sleeves.
Also the English texts in the word cards are too small, it’s hard to read.
It shines with more players, the game can be played with 3-7 players, but with 3 or 4, is not as good as 5-7 players.

#7 Mask of Anubis
pic3104778_mdThe only reason I found this game interesting was the VR implementation into an analog game. Sounds and looks cool. It’s a Japanese game and not an easy one to acquire. I had to go to Japan to get this, though this was also available in Essen 2016 for a limited amount.
Why I like it?
VR Technology

Okay, technology implementation is always interesting. You can see many approaches from the likes of X-Com, Alchemist and such but this one is more interesting since it’s using our sensory and perception more closer. To play the game you need a VR goggle (which already included inside the game). The first time, you need to assemble it first which is not easy but I am sure everyone can do it.
The interaction is off the chart
In this game, it constantly demands interaction between players. Players need to listen carefully, explain clearly and work together to map the pyramid. It’s a very fun game to begin with, lots of talking, back and forth and getting things done. I also think it’s good for training your visualization skill (mapping it out in your head based on the description of your teammates).
Challenging with different people or group
since the main focus is people interaction and communication, it’s essential to have a good communication and interaction. But in order to do that, there are too many factors at play. Different people with different understanding, speaking skill and how their mind thinks really make this game challenging when played with different people. Though returning group find it easier from session to session due to teamwork and progressing communications.
A monster to explore
As you check on the maps (oh did I tell you about the app you need to install first before you can start to play this game?), there are many stages provide by the publisher, from easy to hardest. The difficulty is based on the scope of the map size. The bigger the map is the more points of view it needs. So, it’s rewarding in terms of game time. And also there also extra stage and time trial mode if you want to change the game mode.
What I don’t like about the game?
The VR goggle is kinda bit fiddly and fragile. You need to carefully use and store it if you want it long-lasting. The truth is you can always replace / substitute it with another VR out there (there are many cheap ones). The assembly instruction could be more helping and clear.

#8 Automobiles
pic2586265_md Another racing game, that I like. It’s about racing (Nascar) so definitely a racing game. Its a good game, quite thematic in spirit of the game.
Why I like it?
A racing game with racing theme
This really makes the game inline with the theme. A game about racing cars with a racing mechanic. So you can feel the atmosphere of speeding over your opponents and give them smoke!
It actually tense and satisfying
To get your car speeding away leaving your opponents behind or even make a come back by surpassing your opponents give a great satisfaction to anyone. Though in the end there’s only one winner, the game rewards you with some adrenaline along the race.
Bag building in it’s finest
Bag building is not a common mechanic used, it’s new and you can also find it in Orleans and Hyperborea (don’t know any other games that use this). But this one really works very good compared to those two (hyperborea too fiddly with the game map, while Orleans is too dry and bland). Okay the bag building also doesn’t important but that makes it good, its just a means, an engine for your car to beat others. So we need to make the engine better but the most important thing is the result. As long as you can beat your opponents or progressing you car as you expected, keep ’em coming!
Tweaking
You can try different or random setup for the cubes ability. So each race would not be the same. And there are 2 circuits to choose, which each has different characteristic that change how you race. So you can always tweak the game setting and feel it in different ways.
What I don’t like about the game?
Hmm, nothing in particular I guess. A good game without any flaw, oh well the box is too big because of the not so useful plastic storage.

#9 Railroad Revolution
This was my only blind buy in 2016 that turns out pretty good. My two reasons were because it’s from What’s Your Game? and its price was reasonable.
Why I like it?
What’s Your Game?

What can go wrong? Yes, they have been releasing good quality games so far. Well, Signorie and Zhang Guo are the least of my favorite, but still good games nonetheless. I like how they present their image and well also because Nuno and Paolo are with them (can’t wait for Brasil).
Simple rules
After reading the rules once, it’s quite straightforward. Easy to grasp rules and the actions are very streamlined. Its enjoyable and rewarding, though unlike my top favorite heavy games such as Madeira or Kanban.
Cool Worker Placement
Okay, actually it’s just a simple one, place a worker in an action, do the action and take a bonus. But the bonus depends on what kind of worker you use to activate the actions, different not based on the worker type but also on the action it’s used. Simple not really that innovative but somewhat fresh yet simple.
Why I don’t like the game?
One thing for sure, What’s Your Game? is notoriously known for its warped game board. Don’t know why they couldn’t make their folded board flat in the table. Encountered the same issue with Madeira and Nippon.
Another issue is the restricted actions, don’t get me wrong, but simple actions and set of rules intend to do just this. There are basically only 4 actions on a player’s turn and there’s nothing that a player can do outside that. So whether a player want to build a station, rails, telegraph office or trade, you need to do it. The only thing that makes them different is only the kind of worker you used to do the action. So the game is somewhat constrained in a specific length. Which not always a bad thing, just consider it as game rounds. Also the condition of player’s action is somewhat solitaire and there’s no blocking in the game. Of course there’s a minor element where player’s get the first bonus effects but that can be mitigated easily by playing the right worker in a certain action. The last thing is the iconography or maybe graphic design elements. Don’t get me wrong, Mariano Iannelli is a talented artist but from what I see with this one, He didn’t take this 100%, the icons were bit off, out of place and not really suitable. Just call it designer’s perception, but that is it. Not affecting the game play and surely won’t be matter to anyone.

#10 Covert
pic2744644_mdDice…. yes dice. Would love for a good dice game.
Many said that this game is good and couldn’t wait to try it.
Why I like it?
Dice allocation
is always interesting, the actions are blockable by dice value so you need to prioritize, so there’s a good decision and planning in it. After you roll your dice, you need to figure what are you going to do with those dice, checking other player’s dice results too.
Theme
Its a secret operatives / spy theme. You need to gather intel and travel around the world to complete missions.
Why I don’t like this game?
First, the dice roll is too random, you can plan it but there’s a time when you really really get a bad roll. Next is the code breaking, it’s fucked up. Getting first is important but the rest only luck left that you can break the code after other players messing it up.
There’s no modifier for general. Okay, there are some, but not easy one to get. If only it has same one like workers in Castles of Burgundy or something. Fixed action to spend dice to get modifiers.
The world map is kinda bit complex. it’s hard to find a location (though it’s already color coded. Also there’s an inconsistency in the iconography, I don’t know why they did not use the same icons.

There were also some games that worth mentioned, like these games below:
Quadropolis – As you notice, it has Days of Wonder’s game quality and characteristic. It has family-friendly value, easy to grasp rules and interesting play. The real deal is about set collection in a 9×9 grid tile laying game. There’s a small bit of worker placement but not quite a classic worker placement since the worker is more like a resource. This one is not really my taste just like their other games (though Five Tribes is on my collection).
Thief’s Market – Surprisingly good beefy filler, though the rules are simple and straight-forward. But the game’s hook is what make this one good. The dice distribution is really clever, players  are forced in position to decide how they take the dice in a clever way to achieve their goals.
The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game – It’s the card version of one of my most favorite games and though at first thought skeptically at it, it turned out OK, well yes not good because too simple for my taste. Good thing this is perfect if you want a fast game (30 minutes or under an hour) with casual friends, since it’s very simplified with the building types, restriction of tile laying and also small-generated points, strictly a set collection card game.
Waka-Tanka – A friend introduced this one to me and wow, we had fun. It’s a bluffing, push you luck game that could make your night with friends unforgettable. I consider this as a filler. An OK filler game with casual friends.
Dairyman – Got this one from Japan. It’s a very simple Yahtzee style of dice game. The interesting part is the decision offered to players whether they want to pursuit another risk to get bonuses based on partial stages in dice rolls. And the use of freeze tokens and additional red dice improve the game.

And also some that I really want to try, interested but still don’t have the time to try it.
A feast for Odin – It’s Rosenberg latest, another monster after Caverna. But what I do not like is the idea of Rosenberg’s games is really centered in the same idea, like it’s an improvement of some sort from the same game between Agricola, Le Havre and Ora et Labora.
Cry Havoc – A Blood Rage killer? Okay that’s way ahead of it’s head. Blood Rage is a beast and though it seems like one, I do not think it is. A good game maybe, I really interested in the conflict resolution system, which kinda unique. But still this is an area majority game in the core.
Inis  – Been hearing good things about this. It’s the new title from Matagot in the same line of Kemet and Cyclades. The cards are so beautifully represent Celtic’s art visual theme.
Vast: Crystal Caverns – One of those games that I really want to try. It offers a very unique game play and experience, a new level of variable player power. It’s a game where players have different goal, which change the way they play in the game. Sadly it’s hard to get and quite expensive, and lastly I do not know if it’s within my taste or not.
Cottage Garden – I love Patchwork and this one really tingles my love of it in a very different way. Patchwork seems mathy, this one seems a lot more fun and more space to move around. Would love to get this one.
Vinhos Deluxe Edition – I really want this one, since I wanted to complete my big box collection of Vital’s game, I alread had The Gallerist (and Kanban though it’s not in the same line). One said this game is the most complex of Vital’s games, so really interesting to see this one compared to Kanban.
Black Orchestra – The idea and theme sounds good and yes I love the artworks. Simple as that, though I do not know is the game really work or not for me.
Dream Home – Look at those beautiful pictures? Who could resist this one? In this game you build a dream home of yours by drafting cards as rooms, specialists or even tools. Definitely will pick this one once I have the chance.
Lorenzo il Magnifico – One of my most wanted list, the box cover is so stunning, though the in-game artworks are not. But hey, this is Euro and a good Euro is simply not based on it’s artwork. Been hearing good things about this one and definitely want to have.
Solarius Mission – Okay, this one lost against Terraforming Mars, but not totally, since I still want it even after I got Terraforming Mars. I do think my wife will prefer this over Terraforming Mars being it’s more towards classic Euro feel than TM.
Beasts of Balance – I’ve seen this on Kickstarter, though as much as I really wanted this, I did not back it due to the expensive price and a children game likely. Yes, this game helps children with their hand coordination and animal / shape recognition. Though the technology they used is slick! Would love to try or have it.
Fabled Fruit – A new mechanic in the board game world, fable. Not the same as legacy but it offers a progressing game in a series of sessions where players keep progressing the game even after several plays until the game run out of resources (in this game’s case it’s the cards). Unfortunately the cards have pretty moderate in-game texts.
Oceanos – Bauza’s new game with drafting mechanic (thinking 7 Wonders) but offers a new element of decision in it. Definitely will pick this one once available, already watched Rahdo’s runthrough and I fell for it.
Roll Player – The rare of the bunch. Its a dice game with role playing theme. And it’s so awesome. I really want this so bad but it’s hard to get. Passed on the Kickstarter because of the shipping cost. Hope I can get this game soon.
Ulm – The first impression I get when seeing this game is Pillars of The Earth, because of the 3D-like building components in the center of the game board. And it gives certain vibes of a good classic Euro, so nailed it.
The King’s Abbey – Actually already waiting for this for quite a long time, even before it’s released. Based on the description it’s a medium heavy game about building an abbey. Sadly I had to pass on this when I had to choose whether getting this or Domus Domini.
Legends of The American Frontier – Wow, just wow. This game was on my wishlist for a very long time. The Kickstarter project took a very long time to complete. I love the idea / concept about being a legionnaire and working their life career with various choices. Love the artwork too, beautiful. Sadly the high roll and price really kinda turned me off.
Round House – Finally got this just now and I am looking forward to try it. Rahdo said it’s good and it’s from the same designer of Burano (which I also want it). The rules seemed simple and interesting with rondel and worker placement.
Dragoon – I just interested on the game components, which are sick with metal dragons, cloth map and others. But after rules reading I thought it’s too simple for my taste.
Moonquake Escape – Damn I really want to get this, the components are very eye candy though I do not know how the game turns out and does my wife will like it or not judging by the game’s alien theme.

 

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