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Essen 2018 Highlight Preview Part 6

Let’s move on to part six, where the good things are keep coming. Essen Spiel 2018 is over and now we need to thinning the herd and make them count. So which games you actually interested on?

pic4177569-2HOLDING ON: THE TROUBLED LIFE OF BILLY KERR
A new release from HUB Games (the one that published UNTOLD: Adventure Awaits and Rory’s Story Cubes). In this game, players will take the role of Nurses in a Palliative Care Unit of a hospital in London. And the hospital receives a transfer patient of a massive heart attack, with the name of Billy Kerr (60 years of old), which is surprising that he still alive. The players will need to take turns to be shift manager in days of work on the hospital. Each player will have a nurse pawn of their colors and there are also assistants and On-Call Assistants that they can use to allocate medical or palliative care to the patient. Medical care is given to maintain the patient health condition, where palliative care is given to build trust between the patients and the nurses so the patient can open his memories. The game comes with 10 scenarios and players will try to complete them in order. The goal is to complete the objectives of each scenario while maintain Billy’s life. To achieve these objectives, players will need to piece together Billy’s lifetime memories while being drawn into his troubled past. It is a worker placement cooperative game, with unique elements. The round is broken down into 3 shifts, Morning, Day and Night shifts. In these shifts, players will take shifts to provide care for Billy. The worker placement aspect is unique, the nurses (workers) can get stressed from covering shifts. Having stress restrict Nurses to work, being overstressed forced them to take on leave (unavailable). A card board ring is used to mark stress on a nurse. Also when trying to give treatment to Billy, players need to decide whether if they want to treat palliative or medical. Palliative gives players closer to their objective, when Medical gives players to maintain Billy’s health condition. Players cannot provide both treatments for a day, so this is the huge decision on planning. When I read the back story of the game, I am hooked. It is unique regardless it is a cooperative game. Of course, cooperative aspect is still a huge warning for me so this need further research or maybe tryout, but this one has potential.

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pic4227674BAD BONES
Bad Bones is a Tower Defense game from Sit Down! Games where players are trying to defense their villages from horde of skeletons while averting those skeletons toward their neighbors. Personally I really like the game art cover. It has a similar look as Tokaido, with white clean background and a piece of illustration in the center, a dragon on top of a tower facing a skeleton. Each player will have their own board (it’s a 5×5 grid with a tower in its center). Players will have to defend their villages and tower with their hero and traps (one of those is a dragon, how cool is that? Of course these are only tiles except of the hero figure). The game comes with a lot of tiles (lots of skeletons) so it’s going to be quite a heavy box. In the game, players will move their heroes around, place or retrieve traps, move the skeletons and spawn them. The skeletons are moved by a certain command based on the movement icons printed on the squares while they are spawned from cemeteries into the board. Illustration and specific symbol on the skeleton tiles will determine where each skeleton tile is going to show up on player’s board. Aside from defending their villages (tiles that worth points if not destroyed by skeletons), they should change the skeletons on their board to move toward their neighbor. I think this is the interesting aspect of the game, where players need to plan carefully with movement programming to do two things, defend their villages and let their neighbors get attacked. Also the game has two modes of play (A for basic and B for advance with cooperative play, advance and skeleton chiefs). The advance version adds a new market phase where players have to buy traps and weapons and also there are coins in the game. The skeleton chiefs add new special skeletons into the bag.

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(Skull isn’t included)

pic4187935WANGDO
In this abstract game of network building (kind of), players will compete to be selected as the heir of the throne. To do this, they need to travel around the world and erect sacred bear steles (statues). The game board depicts some sort of a map with routes and spaces where players will place knowledge tokens on these spaces during setup randomly. And before the game starts, they must replace all (four) the bear tokens with random bear steles (statues) from the bag. There are 4 colors of bear steles (black, blue, white and orange). Players will have a personal board and random 3 starting Steles from the bag. The goal is simple, be the first to collect 2 tokens of each type (A set collection game? You can say that).

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Now the game is very simple, in players turn, they chose one of two available actions which are getting new steles or acquire a knowledge token. To get new steles, they can either take 2 steles from the temples (supply of steles divided by colors) or 3 random steles from the bag. To acquire new knowledge token, they have to place stele on that space and then pay the cost. The cost is the twist part of the game, it varies depend on the number and color of adjacent steles from the space you place a stele.

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They need to pay the cost to the temple. Placing steles on the temples may trigger a ritual when a stele is placed on the last space of a temple. All steles on that temple will be returned to the bag and that player will get one stele chosen from one of the other temples. When players manage to get 2 tokens of a single type, they will get a seal card that can help players during the game. Despite the game has a racing element to trigger the game end, it has certain scoring if more than one player managed to finish their tokens during the last round. The winner is player with the most Dragon seals, which can be found in some of the tokens and the back of the seal cards. Though the chance to get this situation is like Istanbul or Viticulture? The illustrations are beautiful (lots of colors, mostly green), not to mention the steles (plastic or resin? I bet it’s not wooden).

pic4338675BLACKOUT: HONGKONG
A new game from Alexander Pfister, the designer of Great Western Trail. To be honest, I was kind of surprised with this game visual presentation. It’s a unique theme and visual approach for Alexander Pfister. He mostly designed games with classic themes but this one isn’t. Briefly I thought this one is a cooperative game (it really reminds me of Pandemic in term of visual appearance). The game takes place in Hongkong (the near future 2020) where a massive blackout happened on the entire city. Players will work their ways to secure districts by placing their markers on locations that will enclose a district. To do this they need to gain resources (which is designed in the form of dice rolling combined with a rondel. There are 3 resource dice (each has a specific color and symbols on them) that will determine what resources are available for the round. Players then will choose cards from their hands to their board (up to 4 slots of cards). Following the turn order they will reveal the assigned cards and carry out their plans. There are two kinds of cards, specialists and volunteers. Specialists let you do special actions while volunteers allow you to procure things (resources) based on their colors (place cubes on the rondel based on where the same color resource die is). Players may procure resources other than shown by the dice by spending transport tokens. Players also can complete objectives by paying the requirement. Completed objectives allow players to get points, coins and place cubes on the map. The game comes with campaign mode and can also be played in solo mode. The campaign mode offers certain challenges and what objectives the players need to complete. This is surely unusual kind of game from the designer, personally I am not really into this, the overall game’s visual is not appealing to me, but I am kind of curious on how the game play really is.

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pic4272051NEMETON
The forest is corrupted, the trunks are blackened and the sap is toxic. The animals are dying and it’s up to the druids to save the forest and fight back the darkness. In this game players will be druids who will try to heal the forest by creating Nemetons, a sacred ground for brewing purifying potions. The game lasts for 10 or 11 rounds and in each round there will be Night, Dawn, Day and Dusk phase. In the night phase players will take turns to place a forest tile from their stack to the board face down (with moon side facing up). This tile will determine what tiles in straight lines are activated. Players place plants to empty tiles showing plant symbols. In Dawn phase, the Moon tiles are flipped on its day side, this may trigger a special tile to be placed onto the board. In Day phase, the druids will have to move one or two tiles in a straight line and then may use the action of the space it ends movement. Players can collect plants on the tile, brew potions (to get points), earn animal’s trust, or benefit from one of the two powers of the oak. Once per turn players can also use the animal spirit that they’ve collected. There are several kind of animals, each has its own ability. The game is a tile placement game with point to point movement.  Players also may complete goals that are shown on the common board, the first player to complete a certain goal will get a plant from that space. I think Nemeton is quite a light Euro game with moderate complexity from the different kind of tiles and available actions. It might be a good addition if you are looking for a tile placement game with a set collection.

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pic4012064-2TALES OF GLORY
In this game you are heroes that hungry for adventures. You will visit different places to defeat monsters and gain treasures. In this game players will get adventure tiles and add them to their hero tiles. In each round players will assign a card to determine their destination for the round (which adventure tile that they want) and reveal it simultaneously. Then they need to pay for the tile in order to place it on the table in front of them, adjacent to one of their placed tiles. These tiles must be placed in upright orientation and the side with a diamond must connect to other tiles with the same diamond side. Once the tile is placed, players will get rewards depend on the tile. Some tiles contain chests which can only be opened with a key token. Players can get key tokens from rewards or discard a tile instead of placing it. The game ends after 10 rounds. I think it’s a simple tile placement game with simultaneous action selection. I love the cartoony illustrations by Miguel Coimbra. I am not sure the game will have high replay value (though it also comes with Quest tiles that give more replay value than the base game). I think this is a nice addition to my collection, though the big question is if this game is good enough to be in my collection or not.

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pic4176830SHADOWS AMSTERDAM
This game is another interesting game that uses the core mechanic from Codenames and Mysterium. In this game, players will play in two teams. Each team will have one player as the Intelligence Officer while the others are Detectives. You can say that Intelligence Officers are the same as Master Spy in Codenames. These players will get a screen and a map card. To win the game, a team must win 2 rounds of the game. To win a round, the team needs to find three different pieces of evidence and deliver them to their client. The game is played in real time, so there’s no turn for each team. To find the evidence, the Intelligence Officers use Intel cards to give their detectives a clue to where they should move on the map. The Intelligence officers may not speak or gestures to avoid giving extra clues. You can find similarities of this game with Codenames. As word cards from Codenames are changed to hex tiles with images that form a map board. Players will try to guess these locations based on some Intel cards that the Intelligence Officer is using. I think the game is really interesting, they use a unique mechanic from a famous game and modify it with different approach. Though my concern is that somehow players can see the direction of the Intelligence Officer is looking at on the map board as they constantly check their map card behind their screen, this will surely give away important information for their detective agents.

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pic4058665NEWTON
From one of the designers of Lorenzo il Magnifico (Simone Luciani) and Nestor Mangone, CMON brings Newton, a new game about scientists in the 18th century and their efforts to make a mark in the world. In this game, players take the roles of young scientists who eager to be great geniuses of the world. Players will travel around Europe, to visit universities, study to discover new theories, create tools and also work to earn money. The game lasts for 6 rounds, where in each round players will play cards to do some actions. The actions will be progressive as previous played cards will improve those actions. Though the core actions are simple (involving Work, Technology, Travel, Lessons, Study and Joker actions), there are lot of things to keep in mind. Each action has multitude of considerations that players need to carefully decide. These are probably what make the game complicated. Adding cards to player’s tableau represents the tableau building mechanic of the game. Though briefly the game offers many things at once, there are many things to keep track in a single game. There is a map that shows universities across Europe, income track where you keep track of your works, Bookshelves in players’ study board to keep track your studies, also space to keep track of your inventions. I just thought that with all of these, it would really be interesting to see them fit altogether as a giant big machine. This is surely one of my most anticipated titles from Essen 2018.

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Note: images are taken from http://www.boardgamegeek.com and full credit to their owner.

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Posted by on November 9, 2018 in Board Games, Insight, Previews

 

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Essen 2018 Highlight Previews Part 3

Back to part three of my Essen 2018 Highlight Previews. There is a long list of new titles and we’ve just scratching the surface, so let’s get down to it and take them all up.

pic4328611SUNFLOWER VALLEY
I bet this genre is on a hype this year. Following the hit trend from Santa Maria La Granja Dice Game, The Castle of Burgundy dice game and many more, this year Essen will be filled with games that involving dice roll with pen and paper such as Railroad Ink Red and Blue, and the another one is Sunflower Valley. The game is targeted for children with bright colorful illustrations and simple game play.  The game play is almost similar like other games of the same type, roll dice, choose a die and draw it on a sheet. Very simple idea, but apparently it’s not wholly simple for children to build good-score network of sheeps, houses and sunflowers. It requires a good deal of logic to connect these hexes in order to score good points. The game provides a ruleset for playing with younger players, which count adjacency placement instead connecting with railroads. I found the game to be cute, but not really think it would overstay its welcome.
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pic4285717BETWEEN TWO CASTLES OF MAD KING LUDWIG
This is a mix between a Stonemaier Game (Between Two Cities) and a Bezier Game (The Castles of Mad King Ludwig). Somehow both publishers can manage to combine these two and Stonemaier games get all the glory to publish it. Personally I found Between Two Cities lacking the gaming element and regardless all the decisions, is decision-less) but I do like Castles of Mad King Ludwig if not because the ugly in-game component artworks. The major differences about this one is that it incorporates Between Two Cities game system but in a 2D side scrolling style where you look at the rooms in side-view instead of top-view as in those two games. The golden rule is that when you place a room, you need to place it from bottom up (each room need a foundation just like in Dream Home). The scoring system works similar like The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, interesting. And to be honest, I love the illustrations of the rooms in this game. The illustrators of Dream Home also contribute in this game visual appearances, so that explains partially.
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pic4297333DICIUM
Dicium is a very interesting dice rolling game combination. Why combination? Because the game offers 4 different games by using the same core mechanic of dice rolling and allocation.  Each game offers different game play such as racing, cooperative dungeon exploring, civilization conquest and confrontation skirmish game. All these games are using the same principle of 2-2-2, which are roll two times, take 2 actions and store up to 2 dice. The dice shows different colors and each color has corresponding value (from 1 to 5) and one side showing a spiral (wild number). These are related to what actions that player can take by grouping the dice based on sets (color or number). I think four games offer simple approach in the mechanic but the idea is neat, to offer 4 games in one game.
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pic4022414ATLANDICE
Atlandice is a dice rolling/ drafting game with it’s main board (dial) looks like the player’s lab in Aquasphere (the game plays differently). In this game, players will take a die from one of the location, get the corresponding resource and activate the effect. And then move the clock hand forward. The goal is resource collecting, where there are several resources available in the game, each is located in different district, though during the game, these resources may be moved around the board. When a district is out of resource, the scoring happened and player with most of the resource wins the district tile (and opens up new tile, if any). The tiles have different effect and they will affect resources on the board. I think it’s a very simple and straight forward game though the heart of the game lies on the effects of the tiles, which I am not sure how they work and affecting each other. The downside is the overly well done art cover, which is kinda misleading when you check the components.
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pic4224397ARCHITECTURA
It’s basically a card laying game. Each player has their own deck of cards which they shuffled and draw 3 cards from the top at the start of the game. On their turn they must play a card (place it on one of the eligible spaces on the city which is formed by blocks and rows (with 8 blocks and the number of players determine the number of streets). The placement rules are: The card must be placed on the first block of a street, or must be placed to the right of previously placed card. Player must not place a card which lead to a 3 in a row of a single color. Once placed, the played card is compared with the card on it’s immediate left. Which will affect the orientation of the previously placed card (the value of the card). In the end of the game, players count the value of their cards, player with the highest value wins the game. There is also an advance variant in the game, which using a different set of cards.
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pic4199323PLANET
In this game, each turn players will draft continent tiles and place it on empty side of their planet core. Then starting from the third turn onwards, players will contest who will get the animal cards that are contested on the given round. To do this they need to pass the habitat requirement for that animal. Basically you must provide the habitat by placing continent tiles in specific pattern which allow you to get them. It’s a very simple game of area majority, light strategy game that is casual gamer friendly. Though the general idea is interesting, in addition of the eye candy planet cores, I don’t think the game is gamey enough and warrant nice replay value, let along it’s kinda fiddly to check your continent looks like, rotate that core every now and then; not to mention you need to constantly ask other players about their planet cores, since the main mechanic is area majority or control.
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pic4122624BLUE LAGOON
Another new game from Reinier Knizia. The goal of the game is to expand your tribes throughout the islands. The game has two distinct phases / stages, exploration and settlement. At the end of each phase, there will be scoring. In the exploration phase, players place a token into the board to make a wide network of their tribes. There are restrictions of course, players place settlers in a sea space in the boat side (they can place it anywhere) and to place a village or settler, they need to place it on adjacent space of their previously placed settlers. In the second phase (settlement phase) the villages that on stone tiles, will be removed from the board along with all the settlers, and then new resources will be refilled on that stone tiles. And then after the second phase, the same scoring will take place.
It feels odd, I don’t know why but the scoring mechanics looks boring and tedious. The settlement phase lets players expand their tribes from the villages that they have placed from the exploration phase which could give different stand point from the first entry points in the first phase.
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pic4120596RUTHLESS
Ruthless is an interesting pirate themed card game that combines a deck building with a poker (suit). In this game players will recruit pirates (card from the display) to their ranks and try to make a raiding party by making a set as can be found in poker (such as pair, straight, three / four / five of a kind, flush and full ship). The interesting part is that there are Command actions that players can take from their starting set of cards, which are Trade, Brawl/Bury, Plunder and Board. To make it more interesting, there are also special abilities provided by Pirate cards which immediately take effect once the pirate is recruited. I usually not really into a poker style kind of game but this one looks pretty interesting, and if you are looking for a more compact deck building game, this one is a good one.
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Note: images are taken from http://www.boardgamegeek.com and full credit to their owner.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2018 in Board Games, Insight, Previews

 

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Essen 2018 Highlight Preview Part 1

Okay, Essen 2018 is right upon us and how excited is that? Now there are lots of games coming your way, and you need to trim down that list with some new games that worthy of your collection. But you don’t know what games fit the bill just because there are too many and you don’t do any research? Well worry not, I did some research and might as well share them to you guys. Hopefully these preview lists are useful for your Essen 2018 purchase. And as usual, I will break down the list in several posts to keep them easy to read. Happy reading!

pic4037705CRYPTIDS
Have you heard of the thing that lurks in the night? Nobody ever witness the thing face to face and the rumors just spread wide and wide. You are a cryptologist and this time you are looking for the truth behind the urban legend creatures and where it is nesting. Whether it’s a yeti, chupacabra or something else, you must find it first before someone else. That’s how it is! In this game, each player will have a certain piece or information (different for each player) that holds the location of that creature you all are looking for. Players will take turns to gain information by either question someone else or search. This two actions will revolve around your deduction in order to find the correct location of the creature. The game has modular maps, which determined the map in each game. Players then, work their ways to gain information based on their piece of information. On their turn, players can choose to questioning other player, to do this, they have to put a pawn on a map space and choose any other player “Could the creatures be here?” The questioned player must answer with an honest answer based on the information they have by placing a cube or a disc. A cube if the answer is a NO or a disc if it’s a YES. If it’s a cube the player who asked also need to place their cube in a space that is not the habitat according to their clue. Another action is to search, this is done by placing a pawn on a map space that could be the habitat of the creature based on the information the player has and place their disc there, following clockwise, players must also place whether a disc or a cube. If all players placed their discs, that searching player found the location of the creature and wins the game. If at least one player place a cube, the search fails. The game surely has interesting deduction element, very simple but lots of memory and deduction takes place. There are maps and things on the board, so players can keep track what players did. Some said this is similar with Tobago, I have not try Tobago yet, so wouldn’t know how it is. It’s kind of an abstract game with maps, cubes and discs but an interesting one at that. If you like a deduction game, this might be a game for you.
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pic4089634ARRAIAL
It’s basically Tetris: The Board Game. The premise is about Portugal tradition of outdoor festivals. People will flock the streets because the festivals they often have. In this game players will organize their own festivals and try to attract the most visitors. The game is played over 3 rounds. In each round they will take turns to take action(s). Each turn they have 3 action points which they can spend in 2 ways. 1 pt to rotate the octagon 90 degrees or 1 pt to place a color piece on your street (this is a mandatory action that you have to take on your turn). Rotating the Octagon lets you get the piece you need in a specific orientation. Placing pieces on your street will be like Tetris. You will take the corresponding piece from the supply and put it into the bottom part of your board (you cannot reorient it no longer). If the placement of the piece cross the level bar, return it and any visitor on it to the box, those will not be scored in the final score.
Visitors are gained by placing specific color pieces on the board. If you place a piece which creates a zone (adjacent) of at least 2 tiles of the same color, place the matching visitor on that zone. If you add another tile to that zone, you don’t get additional visitor. If you are the first player to make a zone of certain color, you will get the couple visitor in addition to the single one. But this couple visitor can be claimed by other players who make the larger zone of that color. When you completely fill a line on your board with pieces, same as tetris (but slightly different) you raise one line of your level bar and place an individual visitor (white) on it. At the end of phase 1 and 2, each player will drop their level bar by 2 lines. If the bar doesn’t overlap any piece, move the white visitor to any piece on your board. If it does, remove the level bar as usual. At the end of phase 3, the level bar doesn’t move downward. Players get 1 point from each individual visitor and 2 pts from couple visitor.
I thinks the game is really interesting, very simple, just like tetris, which is kinda nostalgic in some ways. I kinda guess that this game will be a relaxing game, like Cottage Garden or Tokaido and a perfect companion in a very casual night. In addition that the game is designed by one of my favorite game duos, this is a good one to have. One side note, the pieces are not double sided, cause they are not intended to be. The back side has white color which I think kinda drab and lame, should be with the same color on the front (without illustration) to make them easy to recognize even if it’s on the reverse side.
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pic3956079-2COIMBRA
The game uses dice placement and drafting mechanics. In each round players will draft a die and place it into one of the four locations. The placement follows a different rule in each location. The placement in the castle follows an ascending order of dice, while other locations are using descending order. After all players have place their dice, then each player will retrieve their dice from the locations and take the corresponding actions. This is done following the location order from top to bottom. At locations beside the Castle, players will acquire character cards. Taking cards require cost which define by the type of resource it has and the amount of that resource needed based on the value of the dice. This means taking cards first cost you more than taking it last. Cards can be used for several things in the game. After that the game continues to Influence Income, where players advance their influences based on what colors of dice they have and gain the income depicted. Then players can invest in a voyage which will give points at the end of game depends on how you perform.
The game is quite simple, the illustration or presentation of the game looks amazing and colorful. I can see a small hint of Bora Bora in the dice placement mechanic (though I think it’s less elegant). The Pilgrimage aspect of the game feels really like Voyages of Marco Polo, where players move around and place their markers on locations to get the bonuses.
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pic4023265CARSON CITY – THE CARD GAME
Following the same concept of city building in the board game, Carson City Card Game uses a  square terrain cards (with each card represents 2×2 parcels of land) which players will place in front of them to build a city. In order to get these cards they need to participate in a blind auction, strictly confined within a set of cards with value 1-9 (it is possible to increase the ante with cards value of 10-11). During the auction phase there will be some terrain cards and a character cards available to be auctioned and once players already decided what cards they want to use, they reveal the cards and check who has the highest value card, that player will choose first and followed by others in descending order. Then they place their newly acquired terrain card within the range of 8×8 parcels of land with some restrictions for placement. The game lasts for 2 eras, which after the first era, their used auction cards will be returned to their hand and be used again in the next era.
The scoring is done based on the placement of buildings on players land and also some characters that provide points. The game can be played from 2 to 6 players, though playing with less than 4 players requires the use of virtual players that will balance the auction mechanic.
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pic4010727-2JUNK ORBIT
At first, this game really feels like a children or not serious game with simple and take that and randomness and luck elements on it. But the truth is, it is. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be fun. I hold myself to read the rules and turned out to my satisfaction, the game is really interesting. Though there’s a crunching numbers and AP potential on it, it surely interesting to see managing chaos get a hold of you. In Junk Orbit, 2-5 players will be junk pilots that will make deliveries of junk cargos across the Earth, Moon, Mars and as well as Phobos and Deimos. Each planet have different locations / cities surrounding it (thus the title orbit) and players will travel these locations in a very interesting manner. In players turn, in order to move, they have to launch a junk from their ship. They decide the direction on the launch and it will travel a number of spaces based on the value listed on that junk tile. When a junk ends it movement, it will stop on the city, it can rest there (nothing happened) or can be delivered remotely (congratulation to you) or it can hit another player’s ships (yes if there’s more than one ship, all of them get hit). When a ship hit, that ship must discard a junk tile from their cargo or delivery area into the city they’re in.
The funny and interesting part is, after you launch a junk, your ship will move in the opposite direction of the launched junk tile in the same exact spaces shown in the junk value. If when your ship ends its movement to a city that exactly match with one of your cargo, you just made a direct delivery (hats off to you). You place that junk tile face down on your delivery area. And then you pick up junk tiles in that city.  Ships can move between planets from specific cities which act as transfer points between 2 planets. I found the game to be very interesting, there are interesting decisions inside and totally a number crunching game. I just hope that it’s not diminishing the fun part from the game.
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pic3443532-2PRINCESS JING
It’s an asymmetric two player game with one player will be the princess and another player as the guard. The princess of course want to get away from the guards while the guards want to capture her. It’s a hide and seek, cat and mouse game with a twist. Players will try to pin down by using mirrors and the position of their player pawns.  The thing that doubts me the most would be how good the mirror even works. I bet in this hidden movement game, your discreet is really an essential thing, getting to look at the mirror would make your opponent kinda actually know where is the location, not exactly but maybe they can narrow it down. And given the mirror is not an actual glass mirror, you will be faced with blurry reflection, which I think could be on purpose, you never know. I just hoped this game has good replay value, it’s a 2-player hide and seek game, so replay value is important. They do includes the advance variant with more components and variable to add more replay value to the game though.
Apparently the designer himself commented on this post about my mistake in translating the game as an asymmetrical game. The truth is that the game is actually a symmetrical game, where both players have their own princess trying to escape from opponent’s guards. This change several things to consider, the competition is balance, players will try to be the first to deliver their princesses to their Captains. Pointing out the location of an opponent princess may give the player, time to complete their own goal because if they correctly point the whereabout of the opponent’s princess, they have to return back to the starting line. It’s an interesting one though thematically I would say it’s less fit with the game play. First of all, the game title is Princess Jing, but actually there are two princesses and the other one is Jing’s sister named Fang (should it be Jing & Fang?). And secondly, the game pits the two characters in opposite sides, though based on the story given they’re not fighting or even competing, but getting to reach each captain (but it’s not in whatsoever affecting the game play). So The concept is interesting, unique and definitely has great presentation, which will draw public attention to the table.
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pic4259360-2UNDERWATER CITIES
In this game, players will build underwater cities. Th game is played over 3 eras. Which in each era, players will play 3 cards or more. The game uses hand management and action selection. In their turns players play a card onto one of the available action slots on the board. If the card and slot have matching color, the card effect is resolved, if not only the slot effect is resolved. This is the core mechanic of the game, which players will manage their hands with cards which determine two things, the actions on the card and the actions on the action spaces that matching the color of the cards. It still feels like a worker placement game, but it uses card instead of a worker meeple. The main objective is to get the most points by building cities with buildings attached to it and the networks. Networks are important, because you need to connect the cities or metropolis in order for them to score / produce.
This is Vladimir Suchy’s new game and it uses different game mechanic from his previous games (Last Will, Pulsar 2849 and Shipyard and many more). I think he always use different mechanics in his games.
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pic4143114GUGONG
Gugong is a game with China as the background during the Ming Dynasty. Where players will take the roles of leader of powerful Chinese families, try to gain influence and power by exchanging gifts (bribes) with Emperor’s officials. The game uses an interesting card play mechanic where they place cards to get cards for future rounds. The twist is that player must place cards of higher value than the one they take. The game is played over 4 rounds and each round consists of 3 phases (Morning, Day and Night phase). During the Day phase, players will perform various actions by exchanging gift cards from their hands with the ones in the game board. As already mentioned that player can get a card from the board by placing a higher value card from their hand, this not always the case, and players can do something to get the card even if it’s higher or equal with the card from their hand (remove servants or discard another card or exchange without performing the action). The actions that player can take from exchanging cards are varies, from traveling to cities (to get travel tokens, which could be useful for several things during the game). Participate in the renovation of great wall, which would lead to a great wall scoring if a segment is completed. Getting a jade token from Jade Official houses, which worth as points at the end of the game. You can also climb up the intrigue track. You can also advance your envoys in the palace track to gain points. Obtain a decree which gives various benefits. You can also send your servant on a journey on the grand canal, to trade with outside people. In the Night phase, players can score points with their gift cards if one or more cards are matching the destiny dice. And then all ships moved. I think the game is very simple, basically the core concept is exchanging cards and taking the actions which mostly cost servants to take.
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Note: images are taken from http://www.boardgamegeek.com and full credit to their owner.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2018 in Board Games, Previews

 

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Flipping Arcade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Top 10 Board Games in 2017

I’ve played a few 2017 release games, not many but enough for me to rank up the top 10 games. Though it’s not really justified because of the log plays and other stuffs but it’s my top 10 (from my opinion). Feel free to disagree and discuss. Here are my top 10 list in countdown order

#10. EX LIBRIS
Lets start with Ex Libris, the board game for librarians (or anyone). It is a worker placement game in the setting of arranging books in alphabetical order. The theme is unique (though not that really attractive for gamers and to be honest I also didn’t have this game on my radar at first. But once I realized that the game has different unique workers (with special abilities and unique shapes), I started to find out more. Upon research I found one unique worker that made me just “wow”! It was gelatinous cube (which unlike other wooden meeples, it is a cube made from plastic resin in a transparent green color). That made me want to get the game. I bought it though it was quite expensive for what it’s worth. Played it and turned out it’s a simple game. The goal is to build / arrange your own library of books. In order to do that you need to get the books by assigning three of your assistants to different locations. You need to arrange them based on alphabetical order, the stability of your shelf and your collection of prominent, focus and banner books. I found the game to be somewhat a race to collect books but rather multiple solitaire in form and without tense or climax. I do have some grimes about the game, though those are still acceptable.
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#09. DICE FORGE
This game is very innovative. It’s not the first that uses dice customization mechanic, it applies the same concept from older game called Rattlebones, which players can swap sides from the dice to get different effects. The dice in Rattlebones seemed like a side mechanic not the core of the game, but here they made that as the core of the game. Players will constantly roll and modify their dice. It has a very beautiful box cover (oh yes I have to mention it). The game is simple and plays rather quick (30-60 mins). On a player’s turn, all players roll dice and get resources. The active player either buy a card or buy die faces. The game ends after a number of rounds and the final scoring takes place. The dice use innovative system and have great quality materials. There are some strategies to go for in the round, most of the cards are useful and important if you can get them all compatible with your strategy. The game is very suitable for casual players, newbies and gamers alike. It would be better if they gave a small lever to remove the dice’s face, because without it, I sometimes find it difficult or hurting my fingers.
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#08. LONDON (2nd Edition)
I haven’t try the first edition but it was already on my wishlist / radar for quite a long time because of the designer alone (Martin Wallace). I like Brass and some of his games, so this one is also interesting to try. Luckily I had not get the first edition when this one was released. In my opinion, the second edition has a very artistic cover artwork, if not the illustrations on the cards are already beautiful. I like the game very much, it’s a tableau building game with a twist. When I tried it for the first time, I felt a classic Euro game within this game and it’s a very good thing. It’s been quite a while to get that classic feeling from Euro games nowadays if you know what I mean. It’s simple, has easy rules and simplified components, but the game offers depth decision making and strategies. Of course the replay values seems low due to the nature of the cards (all of them are used in a single game). I wonder if the game has randomizer system like deck building games, where not all cards are used in a game. This one definitely a keeper.
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#07. NEAR AND FAR
After Above and Below, Near and Far was one of my two anticipated games from Red Raven Games (another one is Empires of The Void II). It claims to offer more depth to the strategy and exploration aspects of the game instead the storytelling in Above and Below. I felt intrigued, Above and Below is great, it gives immersion to the game play with the storytelling aspect but that is it, it’s a bit too simple for my gamer’s soul. So having another game with the same spirit but offers more complexities and depths with different variants of game play, my expectation was high. For this game’s sake, I bought the game a bit pricey and to be honest I was a bit disappointed. Don’t take me wrong, the game is good, it’s interesting and I would still enjoy to play it in future to come. But I expected more from this one, the campaign system doesn’t really rewarding from play to play, aside from the story, players in the end just compare / tally points from all maps. Not sure there’s a connecting story from one map to another and character / player progression, though there’s a skill / talent that can be purchased, but I think it’s not that much big of a deal from scenario to another. And there’s a character progress variant, haven’t try this one, but I don’t think it offers enough to significantly increase the game play experience. But of course I like this one better than Above and Below, still offers deeper and more complex game. I like how Ryan considers the adventurers’ compatibility to be played with Above and Below.
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#06. RAJAS OF THE GANGES
For me Village was good, just good. But it didn’t leave me such impression that I should own the game. So the designers then released Rajas of The Ganges, which also gave similar visual appearance with this one, classic Euro games. At first I wasn’t really hooked on the game, but I decided to give it a try. My biggest concern was the racing mechanic. Yup, of of my most undesired mechanics in a board game, racing game. This game though it looks like the usual Euros, this one hides that racing scoundrel in those two point trackers (fame and money). Though it seems that players collecting points throughout the game, the reality is that these points are just progress. Yes the ugly truth, you try to get your two markers on the tracks meet or overlap each other in order to win. This will trigger the game end, although there’s a possibility for other players to catch up that would lead to tie breaking to determine the winner. But when finished my first play, I was hooked, not very hooked, just ok hooked. I like it, interestingly engaging and feels like Euro engine building, maybe because of the tile laying, dice rolling, worker placement and set collection aspects that overshadowing the racing element, who knows. The important thing is I feel rewarded when playing this the game, that’s what makes me to like the game. This game feels very similarly like The Voyages of Marco Polo, though it’s quite different.
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#05. PULSAR 2849
I had to include this into this list and kicked out Flatline to eleventh place. Just managed to play this game in early January and I was very surprised on how good this game is. It has very simple and common mechanic that can be find in other games, but the combination and formula make it a perfect and interesting game. The dice drafting and initiative order are brilliant, with interesting ‘exploration’ aspect in the game where you place stations throughout the the star system and claim pulsars. How the designer balanced the dice selection is so damn amazing. In general you will want high value dice, but to gain them you need to pay with energy / initiative markers. These two aspects are important and giving away loosely for higher value dice would really hurt you in turn order and energy bonus aspects. More of it, deciding which die not to take also affecting players in during action phase because players can copy the leftover die using a bonus die. Played the game back to back and even I was lost to my wife, I was so furious and couldn’t figure out how to win it, I want to play it again and again. Try with different number of players and different strategies. There are so many actions in this game, even how bad your dice are, you can always take actions. Gyrodynes are important, it’s the soul of engine building from the game. Though other things could also help you. The tech tree and goals would determine game’s objectives. The game is played in 8 rounds, with each round players will choose 2 dice per player. This means basically each player gets minimum 16 actions plus potential 8 actions from the bonus die. The implementation of the bonus die is kinda unique, since there’s a limitation that a player can only use at max a single bonus die in each round, but the source to get it and actions to use it are so many. And looking back, this game was designed by Vladimir Suchy, the man behind Shipyard (Last Will if it matters), one of our favorite games (me and my wife). For this we expected at least this could match Shipyard, and turns out, it is way better than Shipyard for me.
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#04. THE 7TH CONTINENT
Okay I had a very high hope for this one, backed the Kickstarter project of the first edition instantly. I was hooked with the storytelling concept of the game. The game is likely similar or adapt the same concept like T.I.M.E Stories, where players must figure out the case / or you might call it as scenario / puzzle to be able to finish the game (successfully). There’s an element of surprise in the game which is no longer a surprise once you finally able to experience it. Unlike T.I.M.E Stories, this game lies heavily in cards as main components while T.I.M.E Stories also involves dice roll for success check. Card laying exploration game that form the map and action cards that come into the game with hand management mechanic. There’s a push your luck element too as the success parameters for actions, which is very simple and traditional but looks quite interesting. Though once you finish / complete a curse the replay value just almost gone, the thing is that to complete one curse you need to play it several times. You will figure out where to go and what to do after consecutive plays, this gives you play logs for just one curse. And my biggest admiration to the game is the amount of story related element that was poured into the game itself. It perfectly grabs the feel of the game and how it can feel different in each play because of the ever-changing environment. Of course there are fixed things, like the map. That place will always be there forever, not gonna change from play to play. But the event or situation will be different, maybe yesterday you met a grizzly bear, today you find what’s left of that bear is only it’s corpse. I find this element to be very interesting. You wouldn’t know what lies ahead. Of course it’s not perfect, I found some flaws in the game, but it still a very good game.
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#03. LISBOA
Here is another Vital Lacerda’s games that worth to be praised. The Gallerist was the first game of this scale that made me want to collect His series, like Vinhos. Now I own three of them. Not a fan of the publisher (Eagle Gryphon Games) with their KS projects, but hey I still admire their production quality and standards and also Vital’s amazing games. Though I struggled to like Vinhos (maybe it’s because of the theme), turns out I like Lisboa. It’s not tied with The Gallerist in my opinion, but of course the number one is still Kanban. Unfortunately it’s not in the same series as Lisboa and the likes. There are so many things going on in this game. I had troubles with my first play, dissecting the rules from that rulebook. I must say that it’s not the best rulebook I ever encountered. But finally it paid my efforts full. Love the synergy of the game, the visual presentation is stunning, though it might be overwhelming to some point. This is by far the most beautiful Lacerda’s games aesthetically in my opinion. But I think it’s not really thematic. In this game, players will try to be the best influential noble who contributes efforts to rebuild the desolate city of Lisboa from the triple disasters back in the day. The game is long as usual, around 3 hours play with 4 players. It’s broken down into 2 ages where players will need to rebuild stores and public building, trade routes, relationship with prominent figures and also the church / cardinal as well as producing goods. Unlike The Gallerist, Lisboa is more focus on card plays, the tableau building by building your portfolio is really essential. There’s no worker placement mechanic as it is found in The Gallerist, though by looking at the game components, there are workers / meeples. Just like most Vital Lacerda’s games (I think all of them) the game consists of simple actions. During your turn, choose to play a card. That card can be played differently, either play the card into your portfolio or to into the Royal court. If you choose to play it into your Portfolio (tableau) you resolve the effect first and then get to choose one of the two available action, trade with the nobles or sell goods. If you choose to play it into the Royal Court, you can visit a noble’s office or sponsor an event. When visiting the noble office, your opponents may follow the action. Each action may provide certain benefits for you to gain prestige points in the bigger picture or longer run instead of short term or immediately. Player interactions are tied in the building site and ships where they will compete or look for opportunity to score and claim the best choice.
The components are definitely top notch as expected from Eagle Gryphon Games, thick card board material as a standard, nice linen finish cards and amazing-working plastic trays that hold the components inside the box, one issue thing usually occurs is that some complaint their player boards are bowed, must have something to do with the dual layer finishing.
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#02. ANACHRONY
Oh man, I love everything about this game. I own the Leader Box from KS and it’s huge as well as heavy. It’s definitely a big game, fully loaded with many great components inside. Lets just say that it is a box of delight. I was one of the backers that immediately jumped to back this KS. Mainly because it’s from Mindclash Games. I was very satisfied with their work in Trickerion. After took some research on the game I was immediately on board. I love the theme, it’s deep heavy Euro game with strong theme. Totally epic. There aren’t many games with this theme. It fulls of cool stuff like exosuit miniatures, variable player powers, interesting time travel mechanic, the use of multi-layered workers and etc.
When I unboxed the game, the box was full of good stuffs, after punched the tiles out, the card board wastes didn’t help to loosen up the contents inside the box. It’s still fully packed and heavy. I like how fierce the worker placement can be during the game, fight over resource management while need to execute your plan in timely manner in order to complete super projects and other things. There are several different strategies you can after to get most points. Some modules give more variation and different feels, such you can modify your exosuits and go explore the outer world, while more details and challenge on the timeline and having neutral exosuits that can be bought each round with different abilities. There are so many things.
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#01. GLOOMHAVEN
The one and only, Gloomhaven. I was so excited when this game launched in Kickstarter several years back, 2015 if I am not mistaken. The game is epic and full of great things. It’s weighed almost 10 kgs (9.7 kgs precisely). I fell in love with the game instantly. The main reasons are because it’s a very thematic theme, with original contents and a breakthrough of the common RPG background. You won’t find any elves or orcs or trolls here. All the characters are new and made just for this game from the scratch. The designer, Isaac Childress poured his dream, efforts, ambitions and total dedication into this game. He is practically one-man-army behind Cephalofair games. He made a new universe and it also used for another game after this one, Founders of Gloomhaven (a very different game but still within the same universe). I backed this game more like a gamble because though I really love this kind of game at heart, my wife doesn’t. She had a very skeptical opinion on the subject and constantly states her dislike but didn’t deny the opportunity to try. So with half of her feet out of the door, I pessimistically but hopeful, asked her willingness to try the game. When the game arrived (after it was delayed in post office), I was so excited, the box was huuuge, my biggest game in my collection no doubt about it. Sadly it arrived in bad condition (the box had tears all around the edges). I punched the game together with my wife and my arms felt so tired. There are so many components inside the game.
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I immediately jumped into the rulebook, learnt the game and played a campaign with my wife. I was blown away with how awesome it is. There are so many brilliant things in the game, how the combats resolved and the cards played are amazing. At first there are only a handful of characters that can be played, but as you progress through the campaign, you would unlock more new characters, not only with different abilities, but also different play styles. Though it has the same genre with other games of the same category, the game is dice-less, meaning it uses no dice in any part of the game, which commonly used by other games in the genre for combat / battle resolutions, skill checks, etc. It uses interesting deck building (sort of) for the modifier cards as the character progresses. There are lots of things going on within the game and you can say the rules are fiddly, which I think any game couldn’t evade this kind of issue while maintaining interesting and engaging game play. When players choose a scenario within a campaign they will embark to the location from the city of Gloomhaven, which there will be Road event (this could be good or bad) that in a way affecting players condition before the scenario, so there’s the element of surprise.
After that, within the scenario, players and monsters will take turns based on the initiative order decided by the cards they play. Players choose 2 cards for the round to use the top part and bottom part and decide which initiative they use to determine their character activation. Despite the game is a cooperative game, there are secret information within players, this is one of the many reasons why the game is interesting. Players cannot reveal the initiative value they choose to another, only just a hint whether it’s high or small to keep decisions more interesting and have impactful consequences. Without the full information, players’ actions are not entirely effective because the situation changes based on the turn order. Monsters also have initiative that shown as part of its Ai system. When revealing initiative, a card will be drawn from specific deck for each type of monster, this will determine the initiative value of that monster and the action that they will do on their turn. I find the monster Ai to be very clever, every type of monster has different deck, this shows how different they are based on each type characteristic. These situations come into the game more like a puzzle that players must face and solve to complete the scenario.
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Battle are amazing, aside from the ability cards that show the base value of the action, players and monster also have a modifier deck specifically designed for that character (monsters use a single modifier deck) which can be modified as the character progressed based on the character sheet. So there’s no way characters have the same deck composition. This is truly amazing because it reflects their behaviors or attack styles. In addition, each character also have personal goal, given from the beginning, that will determine their involvement within the campaign. Once that character complete that goal, that character is retired and unlocks something (events and new characters). Players must stop using that character and choose another character to continue playing. There’s an interesting approach towards the game progression in overall. Players are forced to make changes so that the game is dynamic, not only in term of general campaign but also how each scenario plays out. Characters also advance their levels by spending XP gain from scenarios. Advancing levels does mainly to increase HP and unlocking new ability cards that players can choose to keep. Higher level cards have more powerful abilities but each character has a hand size of ability cards that they can carry on a scenario. So even if they managed to unlock lots of cards, they need to choose which ones work best in a given scenario, which I think it’s very amazing! The hand size also works as timer, since in most scenarios, players will race against time, which are  their hand size. Once their hand runs out of cards, they will be exhausted and out of the scenario. Luckily in this game, you can still complete the scenario even there’s one or more player eliminated (dying or exhausted) as long as one character still remain to complete.
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I must admit, there are many amazing things about the game and the easiest way to do that is to sit down with me and let me walk you through all of it by playing the game. But the game also has its own downsides. I own the first edition and though the game is so freaking amazing, I am kinda disappointed by the weaknesses or errors happened during the first edition. The box is too thin to handle the component weigh, but I do plan to get a custom box made for this game, still waiting for possible expansions. Also the actual HP and XP trackers failed to work, so I need to get Dial tracker add-ons for it. You need to commit time and space and gaming partner to finish the whole campaign. The time it takes to set up and tear down the game is equal to play a session of medium Euro game (lol). And to end this, it beats Eclipse as my number one game of all time.

Notable games:
FLATLINE
We start with Flatline from Renegade Games Studio. It’s a real-time cooperative dice rolling game with the same setting of FUSE, the sequel from the same game designer, Kane Klenko. It still involves the same dice rolling mechanic as FUSE, but different implementation. In FUSE, players constantly roll their dice until they found the side they’re looking for, but in Flatline, players only roll their dice one time in each round and then allocate them to different places. At first I wasn’t really interested on the game, mainly due to its cooperative genre. But of course when I checked upon the game components, the first thing that caught my attention were the dice. No doubt the dice looked very attractive, colorful custom dice and they’re plenty. I love it, always a sucker for dice fest (especially customized). So I decided to get it and my first play was a blast (even it’s only a 2-player game). I was pessimist with the tension of the game play regarding players assign dice to many different places within a certain time limit. Before playing the game I thought it’s not a big deal and we can deal with it pretty easily, oh boy I was wrong. Okay player count does matter, with more players the game feels more chaotic because the communication between players just clash into each other. It’s fun, full of tension, lots of shouting, frustrations and totally freeze your brain from thinking straight.
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Posted by on January 30, 2018 in Article, Board Games, Insight

 

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2017 in Words – My Monthly Loot Recap

Hi, it’s me at the end of 2017 and back again with a short (hopefully) summary of my 2017 gaming life. It’s been a fun ride, lots of interesting things (games) and I honestly guilty with all those whole year acquisitions. 2017 is my first year (if not 2016) of married life and it really changed the table for me. I tried to maintain my gaming sessions though it’s been significantly decreased from before. It just had to happen, none could say otherwise and I could live with that. But lets just say that I keep on clinging with at least the true nature of myself, a board gamer (fan, player, collector and enthusiast). So I’ve been recently busy with my VLOG, reviews and other things. Now the end of year will mark my next (new) step on this board game industry, hopefully things will be smooth and rewarding.
So let’s keep on talking about 2017 cause it’s still hot from the oven. I’ve been tracking my monthly loot for over 2 years or so and it’s awesome (no matter how you may see it). My collection is keep on growing (not gonna spill the bean here, let’s say I am proud and shame at the same time). But in this post I will mention exclusively for the ones in 2017.

January
Starting off 2017, January was not really that special. I only got Round House and Legends of The American Frontier which admittedly I did not enough table time for these two. Round House has nice looking mechanic of rondel action selection though it seemed lack of solid balance on the actions. While Legends of the American Frontier was a journey game where players can feel or create or play as the life of an American living on the Frontier, not an easy one I guess back then (I just recently watched A Million Ways to Die In The West). It really puts the game in the push your luck element with character building into a simple enjoy-the-game-experience rather than the game mechanic and point rewards. I could play this with my afternoon tea (if there’s such thing).
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February
Now this was one of the best of 2017, due to my birthday and other things. I snatched a good deal of games in this month. My Anachrony Kickstarter arrived and it couldn’t get any better. My best birthday gift after The Name of The Rose and Ladies of Troyes (these two were from my wife, so both trumped any game). I like Mindclash Games, had a very pleasant and satisfying experience with Trickerion and they did the same great thing with Anachrony. The Name of The Rose had been a long overdue game from Stefan Feld that I need to have, so it was a very great thing to finally own it. It’s not like His recent games, it’s definitely unique and we all like it. My next birthday gift was Troyes expansion, which I didn’t see it coming. I am always a fan of Troyes and having the expansion is surely a great deal for me, my wife is the best! I also got Dream Home from a friend which she insisted to give me instead. Thanks to Her, she’s always the best. I also found Oceanos to be interesting but sadly it’s too simple for me. Not that I say that I didn’t have fun playing it, since any game if fun if you play it with the perfect group.
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March
Adrenaline. Yup just one. It’s a good one. It’s an Euro but feels very different, fresh and fun. It’s an Euro disguising as Ameritrash. In the game players vie controls / majorities over the dominion of each other. Who beats the hardest to someone and else. Though it does not offer variable player powers but this offers variable weapon powers instead. Surely gonna keep this.
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April
Gloomhaven! Yes this big bad-ass epic game finally arrived! (damn you postal office, it’s longer than it should). My long wait Kickstarter game that I backed 2 years ago finally arrived. I shared some love of my life in this game and it didn’t disappoint. It was good and I must admit that it beats Eclipse as my number one game of all time. But, hopefully Eclipse could beat it in the next 2018 with it’s second dawn edition (yes, time to burn some money for it). And what better is, my wife turned out to like the game (to my surprise). I am looking forward to finish the game (or complete) with her, enjoyed our sessions together and currently waiting for removable stickers to arrive.
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May
We had some good games from South Korean trip. Those were Abraca…What! and H.I.D.E. I was quite surprise with HIDE, it was so damn good. Plays fast, simple and hilariously fun! Okay, it might be a silly game for some but this one rocks my boat so hard. Abraca…What is cute, simple and fun, but not spectacular. I also got Cottage Garden from a friend when she visited Europe. That time wasn’t easy to get this game here. It’s a multi player Patchwork, they said. Surely it’s way more simple, but not better. I kinda disappointed with the lack of challenge on this one, hoping Barenpark would do the job. Indian Summer also released in 2017 Essen Spiel, but I think I had enough of Uwe’s refurbish games.
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June
This month was probably the biggest loot of the year. Sadly not my proudest loot, how can you beat April’s Gloomhaven? ”
There was Vinhos (also a belated birthday present from a friend, she’s the best!) though it’s not a Kickstarter version. I wasn’t into wine and things so hadn’t fully wrap my head into the game just yet. Oink Games invaded, I had Insiders, Fake Artist, Pyramid’s Deadline and Startups to fill the lineup. Also Strawberry trios arrived from Kickstarter, these were some of my KS disappointment, simple and filler games surely but they just didn’t click with me. I also got a great deal with CV which I had an eye for quite a long time thanks to Minions and Co. And last but not least, I managed to get my hands onto three of Hisashi Hayashi’s games, Rolling America, Emperor’s Choice and Junglila (so fulfilling).
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July-August
Nothing! Yep, really nothing. It’s a hiatus for me, preoccupied with Gloomhaven at that moment and satisfied with it. I guess it’s a good thing (thankfully / sadly it’s just a temporary).
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September
Back on track in September. Heavy hitter games were arriving such as Lisboa (Kickstarter edition) The 7th Continent, Dice Forge and Tales of The Arabian Nights. I bought Stronghold on impulse which up until now haven’t hit the table (guilty). The 7th Continent was a roller coaster, I enjoyed hours of it though there still hundreds of hours of it. Haven’t clear the first curse yet after 3 plays and I am ashamed of that. Lisboa doesn’t disappoint, I like it so far. Tales of The Arabian Nights offered something different in the storytelling genre and I shattered the game’s bad image from my wife’s, which is a good thing. Dice Forge is solid, clever and nice looking dice customization game and it also plays fast.
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October
Finally I completed my Eclipse expansion with Shadow of The Rift. It’s a life achievement. Now my next life achievement is to get this game played on the table (and also get the second dawn edition and trade this edition away). I got a mixed feeling with this and whatever I feel about it, I need to get that second dawn edition, absolutely and definitely.
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November
Essen 2017 was on the air and I was lucky a friend brought me back Rajas of The Ganges (not my first pick of Essen 2017 releases but it still good). InBetween is Stranger Things The Board Game and I satisfied with it. Not the best but it’s good enough, not for everyone but good for me. I also got Near and Far which aside from being quite expensive I could snatch it with the help of my friend on Monopolis Game Store. They’re awesome and you should check them out. Dogs Kickstarter arrived and it’s lovely. It has many flaws but we still love it, cause we love dogs (apparently). Flatline was a joyride, it was fun and chaotic, but firstly I got it because of those colorful custom dice.
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December
Not the best of months since I really expecting another game to arrive. But I had to be content with these, Otys, Ex Libris and Gloomhaven 2nd printing KS fulfillement. Ex Libris was good, I like it and keeping it on my collection. Though I couldn’t justify the expensive price with it’s components, of course it has custom wooden meeples but a million for it (its surely against my logic). Gloomhaven 2nd printing fulfillment just consists of reprint rules and scenario book. I also got the solo scenarios but that’s just for the sake of completion. I also had Isaribi when a friend of mine decided to release it. It’s another addition of Hisashi Hayashi’s games into my collection. But luckily in the last minutes before the month and year ends, a good game joins into the fray, Pulsar 2849 is mine. Though I wasn’t really keen on the game due to its space exploration theme, the game designer’s was the one that redirected me back to get my hands on it. He’s the designer of Shipyard which is one of my wife’s favorite games of all time. So I jumped on board to get this one for her (its a strong alibi) even though she’s not really fond with its theme.
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It’s been a good year. Hopefully 2018 will be the same or better. There are some Kickstarter games that I am currently waiting to arrive on 2018 (Brass from Roxley, Cerebria, Roll Player and Hand of Fate: Ordeals), including the one that was late for 2017 (I am waiting for you). And what other games that I will be getting, that list is surely interesting as hell, such as Agra, Flipships, Meeple Circus, Lorenzo il Magnifico, Santa Maria, and many more. So many games to get, so little time to play them all and limited cash to spend. What an irony!

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2017 in Article, Board Games, Events, Insight, News

 

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Essen 2017 Highlight Preview Part 5

Next, our journey post-Essen continued with this 5th part of this highlight preview. I’ve tried Dogs in the past day, not sure it’s a valid Essen game, but it’s a Kickstarter game and just recently fulfilled by the publisher. It’s a simple game, yet we played it totally incorrect, shamefully in my defense that’s not entirely my fault. Okay let’s not ponder on it, move on to these games instead.

DeadlineDEADLINE
Deadline is a cooperative game with a setting where players are 80’s detectives who try to solve crime cases. The game comes with 12 cases to work with, with different range of difficulty, from easy, normal and hard. It also has several characters with different abilities. The game works similar like The Grizzled in term placing cards to complete objective or play cards to table that usually not good for the group. The game play works very simple, players try to complete the available clue cards by placing required symbols. Each completed clue card gives a certain amount of information about the case and what are the next clue cards available. The round ends when all players have passed or when they managed to complete all the symbols on the chosen clue. The game ends when players managed to clear all the clues or when they failed the third time to complete clue cards. This will lead to the question phase where they need to answer questions related to the case. Their answers will then cross-checked with the solution book to determine how well the players worked the case. I find the game to be a mini puzzle game that rewards players with information that relate to the case, it’s not directly related and thematically tied with the case. Thus some people do find it quite abstract.  Though the stories / cases are written well and provide interesting narrative in overall game experience. The game however has a very low replay value since when you’ve played and know the answers, there’s nothing can draw you back to replay the case aside from the mini puzzle experience or trying to improve your performance.
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pic3710491_lgPANIC MANSION
Now this is a game with a very unique approach from the dexterity genre. In Panic Mansion, players will try to escape from the mansion (or to be in one specific spot rather than out). In order to do this, they have to try to create the situation required in the objective. Each player will get a mansion board that consists of several rooms with partitions and all the meeples needed in each objective.
The fun part is that players need to direct their marker (and/or other markers needed) to complete the objective. To do this they will shake, slide or tilt their mansion board in order the markers to move from room to room until the objective is met. It’s surely a fun, new and bizarre experience in board game design and this can be a hit or miss game for sure. At first the objective level would be very simple and easy to do, but as the game progresses, the difficulty will increase and they will have to juggle more meeples in the same time. It’s a fun family game where you can laugh and move the parts of your body around, it’s like you shake a tray in search of gold (you know what I mean?). I for one, would love to try this game, though not sure if this will find a good place in my collection or not. Quality-wise, it has good and attractive components.
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pic3693999-2LONDON (2nd Edition)
Though this is the second edition of a classic game with the same title, it’s published under different publisher and got a complete overhaul in the visual aspect of the game. Osprey games did a very fantastic job on this one, it’s surely a work of art. I fall in love immediately with the box cover, which gives a deluxe / collector edition feel into the game. I for one, had been waiting this (kind of) game for quite a while. Never played it, but always eager to try and own Martin Wallace’s games. I know that not all of His games are proven great but some of them are legendary games such as Brass, A Study in Emerald (first edition) and Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. So head good reviews about it and luckily haven’t own the first edition, I jumped the wagon to own this one. I must admit that it is without disappointment. I guess no such thing is perfect. It has issues on the card quality, from the linen finish and the color consistency. I found the game to be brilliant, it plays fast, has very simple rules and very quick setup. You can setup and explain the game within 10 minutes. I personally like the game, the first time I tried the game, there was this feeling of a classic Euro game. Like it’s been quite a while playing games of this genre. I found it to be satisfying, it has a very simple ruleset but offers a rich possibilities on how you play the game. I must admit, there’s a small variability in the game due to the nature of the card variations within the game. It would be great if there are more card sets come with the game but there’s a randomizer to what sets used in the game. I think it would changed the game a lot. The game is more like a card game rather than a board game. In player’s turn they will draw a card and then take an action (either play a card, buy a borough, run your city or draw 3 more cards). Also there’s a twist on how players collecting poverty cubes involuntarily, which in the same time they need to remove it for it would gives penalty in the final scoring. Also the way of card drawing is affecting the length of the game into some extent. For me this is easily a keeper mostly because of the art and Wallace’s game, the good gameplay is a plus though.
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pic3624298_mdINBETWEEN
This game is a 2-players asymmetrical game with a horror sci-fi setting which can be relate with Stranger Things TV series. It’s a small box game that can be played in 30 minutes. In the game, players will take the role of human and the creature from different dimension. The goal is to achieve one of the winning conditions, whether to raise awareness to level 6 or influence a number of characters within the game or when there is only 5 characters left in the game. It’s a very unique tug of war, where players will try to pull the characters to a side of their own. Each player will have their own deck of cards with different effects and uses. In each turn, they can choose to take one out of the 2 available actions, play a card or recharge energy. Character cards also have abilities that can be triggered and have two sides showing the two different dimensions to determine which they’re currently in. The characters can be in 2 different dimensions, shown by 2 sides of the card (human or creature dimension). When players try to influence the character, they use cards from their hands (the symbols shown on the cards) to shift the safety marker on that specific character. This process feels like a tug of war where players pulling the character back and forth to their sides. It’s a tedious process for sure and it needs high amount of patience. Though somewhat the game can move back and forth without significant progress there are some aspects that players can consider and these will affect player decisions throughout the game. They need to cleverly analyze the characters’ abilities and how they are spread out in the game. Cleverly set priority which character need to be secured first will surely gives high advantage in future turns. Observe your opponents also important to react wisely before or after their moves. The game may have slow pace, I feel this as a creeping death and slowly grow paranoia and tension, thematically fit with the theme. It’s not a game for everyone though, since the gameplay requires certain understanding, slow paced and has different feel and tone compared with other games. For me, this game fits the bill for Stranger Things card game (if not a board game) and does justice to it.
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pic3717323BATTLEFOLD
This game reimplements a game called Fold It! and adds fantasy theme to give more attractive appeal. The game uses the combination of dexterity and speed element as it core mechanic. In this game players play as characters with different class and try to win the game by achieving one of two conditions, be the last living character or be the first to resurrect their ghost character. Each player will get a piece of cloth with a 4×4 grid icons, a player board and a marker. Each round players will try to fold their cloth to follow the pattern shown on the card. This is a speed game, the first player to match the pattern may take a turn order marker in the action phase. Basically the symbols on the pattern will determine the actions for the players in the current round. The actions are move, attack, potion, shield, item and trap.
When a player health is drop to zero, he died and becomes a ghost (flip the player board). However, he’s not out of the game, he can still move around (though cannot use any other action beside move and attack). Attack also have different effects. Attack action does not give damage to the attacked players, but instead give spirit points to players for resurrect purpose. Once resurrected, the player wins the game (unless another player has won before that). The game is simple but has additional depth to the folding action in the previous game Fold It! It also has interesting plays with the characters have different abilities. It is full of pattern recognition, puzzle and speed hand coordination (maybe).
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Another 5 titles are done. Now onto the next fives.

 

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2017 in Board Games, Insight, Previews

 

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