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Counting Spells GO!

pic2209219_mdAbraca…What? Review
This game is hilarious. It’s from Korea (Dive Dice / Korea Board Games), designed by Gary Kim and illustrations from Marie Cardouat (Dixit). I got my copy from South Korea and I love to play this with hilarious casual group with spontaneous reactions.
Abraca…What? has a nice theme with a bunch of wizards trying to remember their spells correctly in a competition to be the best wizard in town. The interesting part of this game is that players will have to cast spells without knowing their own spells. Huh? Okay let me break it down to you. You can play with from 2 up to 5 players in the game and usually a game takes 30 minutes or so.

In the game, there are 8 different spells (number from 1 to 8) and the amount of each spell is the same as its number (there are only one spell of Spell number 1, two for Spell no. 2 and so on). The spells come in the form of plastic blocks (with thin insert to place the spell tile inside each of them) and these spells will be randomly shuffled face down. Players then will take 5 of these randomly and place it in front of them with the front side facing outward without looking at them. So players cannot check their own spells but can see their opponents’ spells (This would remind you of Hanabi from Antoine Bauza). Place 4 spells face down in the game board and the rest in the center. Each player choose a color and receive 6 life tokens with the respective color.

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Game components

The game is played in rounds. In each round, starting from the first player clockwise, they must cast a spell. If they guess a spell that matching their spells, they managed to cast it and that spell effect is resolved. Place the spell in the game board on it’s corresponding slot. After that, the active player can choose either to cast another spell or end the turn. If they choose to cast another spell, the restriction is that the spell cannot be lower than what was already cast this turn (same type of spell can be cast again).
If the active player incorrectly guess the spell, that player’s turn ends and lose a life token, the player then refill their spells back to 5 spells.
The round ends in one of two conditions, either one or more player runs out of life token (by himself or the active player managed to make at least one player run out of life tokens) or the active players managed to cast all the spells on their hand.
Player who managed to eliminate a player gets 3 points, while surviving players get 1 point each. Eliminated players gain nothing. Each Secret Stone that the surviving player have also gives one point. Then next round begins from the start, shuffle back all the spells. The game ends when one player managed to get 8 points.

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Life tokens, player markers and a six-sided die

The game involves deduction from spells that are available to check, you can check these spells from opponents’ hands, the already cast spells and the secret stones. It has pretty interesting deduction element, not just by eliminating the available spells but also by judging players’ guesses. It also has a very small bluffing element in the game, not really major but can still give interesting touch in the game. It’s a hilarious game, light and players very quick. Easy to teach, learn and play, has a high take that and push your luck element, leader bashing but restricted). Spells have different abilities, lower spells have more powerful effect while higher spells are less powerful, this is balanced by the amount of each type of spells. Spell number one has a very powerful effect that can force all players to lose some damages but there’s only one in the game, and it’s pretty hard to cast among all other spells if you not pretty sure you have it. But I have seen several players managed to cast this spell early in the game, which I believe a pure pushing their luck. Even if they managed to cast that spell, they also have to roll a six-sided die to determine the amount of damage (range from 1 to 3).

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Spell tiles

The game feels fresh at first though repeated plays might force the game experience to feel samey and boring after a while. Different group plays differently, though playing it with a group of casual, non-gamer, family or children can be quite fun.
From my experiences, the pattern usually starts from spell number 4 or 5, getting a winning streak in a single turn is very rare. My tips for the game, appoint a person to check active player’s guesses (usually the player to the left), this is to ensure that no one else pointing the spell which could lead to break the game if there’s more than one spell that the active player guess and more than one person pointing to different spells. And do your best to play in a round table or round formation, since checking everyone else’s spells could be difficult in certain angles and in some degree you could accidentally see your own. You mainly target your neighbors, targeting another player other than your neighbors can only be done with spell number 1 and 2, and there spells are only 3 in the game, so rare.
Also playing with different number of players are surely different. If you are playing with less than 5 players, there are some random spells removed from the game (with 3 players, remove 12 spells, 4 players remove 6 spells). So playing with 5 players assures all spells are used, while in 3 or 4, there is uncertainty which spells are not used in a game. If having control over the game means important, playing with five is surely a good option.

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Game in progress

The 8 spells are:
Ancient Dragon (1): roll a die and other players lose that amount of life tokens.
Dark Wanderer (2): gain 1 life token and other players lose 1 life token.
Sweet Dream (3): roll a die and gain that amount of life tokens
Night Singer (4): choose and take one secret stone from the board, place it aside in front of you face down.
Lighting Tempest (5): player to your left and right lose a life token.
Blizzard (6): player to your left lose a life token.
Fireball (7): player to your right lose a life token.
Magic Drink (8): you get a life token.

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Spell board

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

 

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Information Breakdown

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

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

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

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Inside the box

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

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Colorful Dice

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

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

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Gadget Cards

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

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

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The location boards and intel cards

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

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Game in progress

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

 

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Spy Among Us

Spyfall Review20150722_131803-1
This game is phenomenal (looking at it’s simplicity and gaming experience). I immediately decided to buy it after my first play. The thing is I really fond the concept of the game, which has high player interaction. Spyfall is literally a social interaction game where you as players have to find (cleverly) which among you is the spy. And the spy also have to figure out where is the location you are in through clues and communications among players.
The game was first published by Russian game publisher, Hobby World for local publication and then got the English version published by Cryptozoic Entertainment. It can be played with 3-8 players. The game consists of multiple sets of cards that show many different locations. In each game, players will randomly choose one of the sets and play with that set of cards. Pick a spy card and a number of location cards minus one from the number of players and shuffle those cards together. Then dealt one card each for each player face down. All players look their cards secretly. The game is ready to begin. Choose one player to start the game and set a duration with a timer. The duration can be set freely. For a starter, you can set the duration one minute per player. The starting player will start the game by asking a question to one player. The question should related to the location listed on the cards, though not necessarily be true. This is the tricky part or most challenging element in the game. Players need to creatively devise a question that can get the questioned player into a position to reveal his identity (either he’s a spy or not), while in the same time, the asking player can also give certain hint about his identity based on his question. The questioned players also have to answer it cleverly by giving away his identity to his allies while in the same time trying not to be so obvious for the spy to guess the location where about. After the player answer the question, he can ask someone else (he cannot ask back to the player who asked him previously). A player can (during his turn) to accuse one player as the spy, in which players in clockwise direction will take a vote whether they agree or disagree with this accusation.  If all players agree, then the accused player must declare whether he is the spy or not. If he is truly the spy, he can then make a guess about the location, if his guess is correct, he won the game. But if it’s incorrect, other players won.

The game should be played with points, but I personally never use the point system cause I think it’s unnecessary. The game already works fine without those fiddly scoring system. It’s pointless. But if you want you can play with scores, to show which player win the game. Judging by the rules, the game is very easy and simple, plays rather quickly (caused it’s time based). But in reality if you are new to the game, come up with certain question could be a challenge. The tricky part of the game is how you can cleverly devise a question that give clue to other players that you are not the spy and give the player you ask a good viable answer to offer so you and others believe that he’s not a spy while in the same time doesn’t give any clue to the spy himself. This what makes the game really interesting. The idea is brilliant, with only sets of cards and a very simple rules, the designer can come up with a very smart engaging social game.

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The game comes with many different locations, so it’s not easy for new players to figure out the locations easily since they need those locations as a basic reference about the location in question. The spy have to figure out the alternative possible locations, which he has to consider amidst the questions thrown by other players. Being a spy is difficult for new players, they must act like they know the location and in the same time, figure out what all other players are saying to each other. If the spy is too quiet, he raises suspicion, if he talk, he’s exposed to say wrong things about the locations. The most dangerous thing for a spy is if that he was the first player or was thrown the first question by the starting player. He has no information at all. These situations are very possible and could break the game. If this happened, his reaction and answer would determine his survival within the game. Honestly I think the game is very entertaining and great, but it also has some issues. The first is the locations, some players / new players don’t know the available locations, this means being a spy is a lot harder cause he need to know these locations in order to figure out which one is a relevant information and which one isn’t. So naturally the spy is compelled to check the rule book for locations (this could give away his identity). Okay one can argue that others also need to check / know the locations but it’s not very essential for them as it is for the spy. This issue can be minimized by providing each player information access more close and personal (like booklets). But this doesn’t totally solve the issue since the spy is more frequent to check the locations than others.
The other issue is that the game really has a hit-or-miss behavior, it can work very well with a certain group but can become the opposite with another group. Some players have a hard time to figure out the question they need to ask, this wastes time, thus the limited duration seems unbalanced for each player. We usually pause the timer when the active player is thinking. Of course this makes the game longer, but as long as the game plays well, longer game time is not a very big deal.

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The game also provide a variant with the roles. Each location cards has a small role printed on the bottom. This can be used for role play variant where players will role play the role listed on their cards. I do think it’s more interesting and challenging. Experienced players should use this variant to have more engaging plays.

Unfortunately some time after this game released (around a year) the sequel was released, Spyfall 2. That sounds like a good news, it is. The sequel offers more different new locations and it has one more spy card (so players can play with 2 spies instead of 1). That’s a good thing, of course but not that good for the Spyfall itself since the sequel kill the game totally. People just prefer to get the sequel instead this, and only though who already own this game would probably get the sequel for the second spy card and new locations.

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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Board Games, Card Games, Reviews

 

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You Don’t Need to Be Right, Just Make Sure One of Your Opponents Fell For It!

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Box Cover

Yabunonaka (In A Grove) Review
Would you believe that this game has a box with the size of a cigarette box? Of course you would, why wouldn’t you, right?
Hattari or Yabunobaka (or In A Grove fr its English name) is a small pocket-sized game that you can snuck it anywhere (yes, anywhere). It’s designed by Jun Sasaki and published by Oink Games which already known with their characteristic small-pocket sized games such as Dungeon of Mandom, Deep Sea Adventure, Maskmen, A Fake Artist Goes to New York and etc.
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The premise is its a bluffing and trick taking game with a scent of deduction element in it. There’s a crime happened (murder to be precise) and there are 3 suspects in which one of them is the killer. Now players will try their best to accuse one of the suspects and try not to be exposed as liars (accuse the wrong suspect).
The game plays with 8 man-shaped card tiles with numbers from 2-8 and blank tile. This number is the main information for the player to guess which is the killer. The killer is the highest number from the three suspects. But the twist is, each player will have one tile that they know and they will draft the tile one time so they know 2 numbers, sharing it with their neighbors. Based on this information the first player will secretly look 2 suspects and he can decide whether we want to tamper the evidence or not (switch one of the suspect with the victim without looking at the victim’s number), and marked it with tamper marker hence players will know which one already has been tampered with. Now he must decide which one is the killer by placing his accusation chip in one of the three suspects. Then the next player may look the other 2 other suspects beside the previous player had already accused.

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There are restrictions such as the blank tile is always innocent, and if there are number 5 in one of the suspects, the killer is reversed, the lowest number is the killer. Once all player already accused, the tiles are flipped face up to see which one is the killer. Players who correctly accused get their markers back. But for them who accused the wrong suspect, they have their markers flipped to liar side and the owner of the top visible marker take the whole stack to his supply (along with other tokens below his). This will add his supply with more markers. To determine the loser, players with 8 or more markers in his supply is the loser, if no one then the player who runs out accusation chip is the loser. But if no one, the game continues to next round, the first player is change to next player clockwise.

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At first this game is weird for its end game situation. But once you try it you can see how the game really works.
Based on what information you know, you can make a small deduction to accuse and of course other players’ actions also crucial to give you hints, but beware of the bluffing since the last person to accuse taking all the risk.
It’s a fun and very fast game that you can play up to 4 players. You can play it basically anywhere and anytime since you probably need only 5-10 minutes for one game. The downside is it’s replay value. It relies heavily on players’ behavior and way of thinking. With several plays maybe players can guess how the game works and might be less interesting compared with the first plays, but of course, with different groups, there might be different feels and flows of the game.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Microgames, Reviews

 

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Resistance is Futile

Box Cover

The Resistance Review

You’re in the middle of the room, panting while observing everyone around you. Sweats run through your forehead, set one of your eye blinked, not because the room temperature’s hot, it’s chill instead. Chill stab into your skull and deliver the shivering that slowly weigh you down. Your comrades quarreling about the mission, yet you didn’t hear any sound, only silent, the only thing you can hear is your heavy breathing that slowly required you to put efforts into it. They demand you to decide what is best for the team, something is not right. We starting to divide and conquer each other. And now, not only you cannot trust them, they also don’t trust you. They suspect you, talk behind you even you’re the leader. Dark is brooding inside the room, no one is safe, no one. You’re alone and you need to do something! You need to decide! THIS IS THE RESISTANCE!

So, in this game of The Resistance, players will play as resistance members, who try to accomplish 5 missions. But, while they try to take on the missions, there are spies among them, who want to screw the missions. This backstabbing, social deduction and secret identities game was designed by Don Eskridge under Indie Boards and Cards. A party game with serious theme and pointing fingers. It’s climbed quite really quick in BGG rank and becoming one of most favorites game among both party and casual gamers alike.

In here I will describe you the reason that this little hotshot achieved all the fame and fans.

1. The Theme

The theme in this game is about the freedom fighters /  The resistance group who try to take down the government regime of tyranny and injustice. By doing so, they need to carry out 5 missions. By achieving 3 out of 5 missions, they will be able to succeed. I found out that this serious cold gripping theme really absorbed into the game play. The designer really succeed to implement the theme into the game which resulted into a serious, thrill and deception feeling of the game. A party game indeed but, how can you party while the person right next to you is a spy? Now, that need an answer.

Character Cards - Spies (red) & Resistance (blue)

2. The Artworks

Obviously, the artwork does not influence the game play much, but considering the synergy on the game and it’s components, there would be suitable decision to make the artworks somewhat supporting the game. But personally, the artworks are far from compelling. One suitable word I might spill is ‘standard’. I even made the re-theme of the artworks using artwork from Mass Effect universe, which I like and maybe one day I’ll print those re-theme and substitute the original one.

The Resistance Character Cards - Mass Effect Retheme

Plot Cards - Mass Effect Retheme

3. The Game Components

In this kind of game, game components are not essential, though needed. So in this case, the game components, yet not really have direct impact on the game can be substitute by other components that we all can found in our daily activities. The most simple example are pen and paper. Though the publisher is just a small company, yet the quality of the components are surprisingly nice.Thick cards with linen finish made it more sturdy (you don’t need sleeve for this one and also you don’t need to worry that the cards will easily worn out). The board is not really important, since it just contains list of game setup and mission slot, which can be unused in a game. Nice wooden token, not spectacular but good enough for this game.

Game Components

4. The Game Play

The game can hold from 5 to 10 players (which is good enough if you play with 10). The more the merrier they said, but I say, the more the hectic the game is. So, get ready and observe your partners real carefully. Based on the number of players, the game will be set on different amount of spies and resistance, you must consult with the rules or the list of players from the board. At the start of the game, each player will be assign a secret character card face down. Only he can look upon the card and place it into safe place face down. After all the players look and realize their roles the fun starts. Random the starting player (leader) and he will lead the game at the beginning. The leader will announce all players to close their eyes and after that the spies can open their eyes and look at each other. This will give the spies advantage point for who’s on their side (oh yes, it’s Werewolves alright).

Game in Progress

After that the game is on. The leader consult the mission list and select a number of players which he would assign for the mission. He as a leader can also choose himself. After the team assembled, all players will enter the vote phase. They must vote either agree or disagree with the leader’s choice of team. If most of the players vote agree (being equal is not enough), the team pass the test and will carry out the mission. If not (the disagree votes are equal or more than the agree votes), the team composition is fail. If this happen, the leader will be pass into next player clockwise and black marker is placed on the first place, then the process is repeated again. If the black marker is placed in the fifth place (5 times failure composing a team in a row) the resistance is considered fail to carry out that mission (place red wooden marker on that mission slot).

Team members carry out their mission by submitting one of the two mission cards given for each member. The two mission cards consist of success card and failure card. Unlike the voting phase, in this phase when there is one (even only one) failure card in the submitted mission cards, the resistance is considered to have failed the mission. The first side who placed 3 wooden markers on the mission slots, win the game.

It’s a simple game which played quick enough. About 15-30 minutes max.

5, The Replay Value

I say the replay value is undeniably high. Maybe you can see some pattern here and there, which slowly begin to rise into the surface after lot of plays. The thing is, since you got the grip of the game and how it’s usually works, you can build your own mindset and possible cause in the behaviors and hypothetical theories. But I won’t worry about that, since the interaction between players really subdued all of them into a serious thrilling experience with sots of laughter around the room. While I still recommend to play this game with player with the same experience or enough experience to make the play at it best. So, the key point is the player interaction. Since the nature of the game is somewhat a party game which evolves around secret identity, social deduction and bluffing as the core mechanics, this really depend heavily on the group. Each players really down to contribute with the play and more perfect group means more perfect game. The game (newer version of the game) include the small expansion (The Plot Thickens) which gives not a small impact on the game play. The expansion introduce new element to the game, Plot cards. These cards really bring the game into another level of depth and frankly if your gaming group had already accustomed with the basic game play, this expansion is a must, to deliver more challenge, adding more tense and depth to the game.

My Though of The Game

Well, this is one of my jewels. The best at it’s category so far, compared to other secret role, deduction and bluffing games. The game really shine with 7-10 players but still playable with 5. At first i bought this game blind, since it didn’t cost me much. And when i read the rules, I just didn’t get it without playing it first. After first play, the rules just became quickly and crystal clear. A simple game, which need practice to understand it completely. So, even though this game is not easy to win, there are measures to be taken and this depend on the players and groups. When we divide the two roles, The Resistance and Spies, we could clearly see that they have different goals. The Resistance need to carry out missions successfully while Spies need to sabotage missions in order to take down the Resistance. Sometimes players as The Resistance tried so hard to uncover the spy’s identity and this let them to forget what their objective really are. The spies in the other hand, facing more difficult situation, since they must perform, speak, and present themselves as The Resistance while fulfilling their objectives. They must gain others trust to be able to sabotage the mission without alarm anyone. Even when they succeed to do so, their job is not done, they need to make 3 missions failed. So they must try to keep under the radar even after they sabotage a mission, since if they’re on the spotlight and others put their suspicion onto him, that’s gonna be to late. His work here is done.

This kind of game sometimes need some kind of agreement, a house rule to clearly set the game play and avoid in game misunderstanding and disagreement. The most common topic is table talk. Either the group is agree on table talk or not. Table talk let players to explicitly observe the mission and describe the situation and their hypothesis into the table. This sometimes create uneasy situation for some people, which led to think that the game essence was exposed and lost it’s interest. Other thinks that without table talk, this game has somehow lead into serious lame condition. For me, table talk is a must to make this game shine. We’re at war aren’t we…so cut the crap and be a man. Face the condition whatever it is and whatever it takes.

Though the theme is seriously serious and darkened with deception and political affairs of the government, it doesn’t keep the game out of laughter and hilarious actions from each players. This game maybe one of the game that could make me laugh out loud, sore throat and stomachache.

On A Mission

*) some of the images are courtesy of BGG Users

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Board Games, Card Games, Reviews

 

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The First Panic

Panic Station Session Report – First Play Test 12th December 2011 (4 Players Game)

A TROUBLED MIND / Journal Log #0026359 – Capt. Cmd Angrod Vardamir / 10th December 2220 – The Citadel, Headquarters of The Guardian Federation of Galaxy (Primary Left Section Fleet – Central Military Movement Operative First Officer). 16.28
As being one of the most decorated officers in the federation, not even once I ever take that as a compliment or even a payout. I consider myself as a servant to the federations, just looking to serve another purpose for the great calling or even cover up some imbecile diplomats stupidity from their hellholes. The problem is, once you get the hang of it, it slowly turned you into something else. An entity that answer anything through the banner of this pride, glory and respect. I’ve become a tool of war, that had been trained to finish what I started, to decide without hesitation, to neglect doubts and provide solutions for the greater medium which called The Federation. It’s been 20 years under that glorified banner, some began talking behind my back for the retirement plan, some think I just never got enough action and lust for violence, a hard man that seeks only justification of his mean of existence in this universe. But to tell you the truth, I just feel lonely. Lonely for I have nobody, nobody that related, nobody that care, nobody to come back home for. This is what I’ve got, this is everything I know, the people, the rules, the fundamentals and ideologies that shaped me before, they’re my families.
If I was asked to retire and let go all of these, what would I do? What would I become? That is my only fear, fearing only the truth of my future that’s not eternal like these decorated medals that shining with silvers and golds. I know I’m not a saint, living as myself would get you as far as a sweat running through your forehead for being straight in the platoon. We’ve been in and out of hell and by God, you can’t be a saint by doing that. We play God, we chose our kills and hell some of us thought we had paid those greatly.

Though, my spirit and nerves never ever let me down to this moment, yet I cannot ignore the fact that we all growing old. I can still take those awful beating by those guys back in the camp and walk with my head up high, but still, the pushing and growing fatigues are really corrosive time by time. The counsel think my time has come and their persistent persuasions are slowly bear fruit in my mind. Maybe it’s time, to let it go. All these medals to be put into frame and all I would do is just dust it off day by day and reminiscing those proud memories. An ugly truth but yet, it’s a thing that all man should face when the time comes.

LAST MISSION / Journal Log #0026371 – Capt. Cmd Angrod Vardamir / 11th December 2220 – The Citadel, Headquarters of The Guardian Federation of Galaxy (Primary Left Section Fleet – Central Military Movement Operative First Officer). 05.09
A beautiful morning, which i barely remember how a beautiful morning feels, yet rather seems common like any other morning. I woke up in the darkness of morning dusk, put on my training shoe and started to take a jog around the Piazza of the central community center. It’s been always no daylight since our sun was destroyed in the War of The Crowns. When I was back at my private quarter, I found a letter for me from General Commander David Ausloos, that the high counsel has  requested my appearance in a meeting, this afternoon.

08.47
Questions were racing in my mind, when I walking down the hall of the conclave to answer the counsels summon. What would they want me for, but this must be very important, for being summoned by the counsels is not my day to day job.  I met The General Commander in front of the Stronghold Gate and he asked me to join him in.

I was greeted by the grim and bitter tone of all the counsels. They’re old, old enough to be wise…yet i don’t know what age is old enough to be wise. The lead counsel spoke to me, his name is Kevin Nesbitt.
He said that the board have been reviewing my full dossier and with all the achievement and medals they want to liberate me from my position and be granted commendable and respected figure position on one of the armada fleets as a staff sergeant first officer and relieve me from all the current duties. But, in order to get that, they want me to do one last mission, as it is a standard operative during the resignation in field assignments. Honestly i was quite surprise this would knocked my door earlier than i had expected. But, i had no option to accept the proposition.

STATION DEBRIEF / Journal Log #0026377 – Capt. Cmd Angrod Vardamir / 11th December 2220 – The Citadel, Headquarters of The Guardian Federation of Galaxy (Primary Left Section Fleet – Central Military Movement Operative First Officer). 12.36
General Commander sat in front of me, having a chat and some of the old days memories we had back then. After several glasses of whiskey, he turned silent. I waited him for some time, then he reach inside his jacket, a black and yellow colored envelope, a top secret files as i recognized it. This must bey last mission. He opened it and start briefed me about the background nature of my mission. He said it’s a simple mission and they expected to stay that way. During the mining colonization several years ago, one of the station on a small mining planet named Recon-6 stopped sending signal to earth and lost contact ever since. An investigation team was send but they never returned. The team was considered missing, and the operation was
closed and shut down. Last month, the patrol dreadnought that orbiting the space solar system near the planet received disturbing signal which was believed as a communicative attempt from the station. After heard about the report, the central dispatch filed it as a top priority subject and David was ordered to re-activate the operation. David told me that the important and delicate matters about this mission was it’s not a simple and common mining station. Based on the secret project, the station was also conducted as a research facility
of an alien terraforming and advanced technology implementation. This made it critical so they want all the available data and conducted test results along with the lab specimens. The possible situations are the station might have been captured by the space outlaws or rebels, an accident inside the station or overwhelmed alien infestation problem. David wanted me to assemble my team and dispatch to retrieve all the necessarily and investigate what had happened to the station and the investigation team.

TEAM ASSEMBLY / Journal Log #0026378 – Capt. Cmd Angrod Vardamir / 11th December 2220 – The Citadel, Headquarters of The Guardian Federation of Galaxy (Primary Left Section Fleet – Central Military Movement Operative First Officer). 19.21
Though David gave me several recommendation of the personnel, i prefer to choose my own team. And by the look of the mission i need a special tactical small team that consist of technician officer with alien terraforming specialization, Lt. Sgt. Ricky ‘GREEN’ Bayu was my first choice. His technical skills are on the top list among the geniuses and we had been working together before. Firepower and heavy assault was down to Capt. Daniel ‘FRENZY’ Mulia. A tough and quiet man, but reliable hands with the 19mm caliber heavy assault rifle. The last was a recon and secret ops that specialize in retrieval, infiltration and sabotage. Pvt. Karno ‘GRIEF’ Gunawan, a shady man with dark background. With him it’s as simple as you don’t need to know him to know he’s best at what he does.

INTERESTING MISSION / Journal Log #0026382 – Capt. Cmd Angrod Vardamir / 12th December 2220 – Goliath Starship fleet Northstar Armada, Main Deck. 10.11
I left the vicinity of The Citadel along with the team. We’re ready and would be arrived in destination in approx. 4 hrs hyper light speed time. Team members are:
Capt. Cmd Angrod ‘JOKER’ Vardamir
Lt. Sgt. Ricky ‘GREEN’ Bayu
Capt. Daniel ‘FRENZY’ Mulia
Pvt. Karno ‘GRIEF’ Gunawan
Estimated time of mission take out is 0400 hours. General Commander  send me direct message that he had new information about the mission, that there was confirmation of alien infestation presence on board the station and most likely they set a hive somewhere inside the station. The objective of the mission was added with destroying the hive came out as a primary objective above all else. This mission turned out to be more ‘interesting’ before it even started.

POWERLESS / Journal Log #0026383 – Capt. Cmd Angrod Vardamir / 12th December 2220 – Mining Station GHT-6528, Recon-6 (Inside Tricoran Gamet Solar System). 02.33
We had arrived at destination, the mining station. We needed to execute personal infused teleportation procedure with the reactor templates between the ship and the station to transport us inside the station, for the unfriendly environment and the hazardous atmosphere. To do this we need to be transported one by one. Start with me, followed by GRIEF, FRENZY and GREEN.

02.45
I entered the station with 2 gas cans and began exploring the other room on the left. GRIEF was behind me, with the same direction. Carrying the heavy assault rifle and ammo. FRENZY with heavy assault
rifle and gas can, GREEN with gas can and knife. When we entered the station, parasite was spotted in the reactor room but we’re unable to take it down. It was dark, damp and surely had not been operated for years. The power generator didn’t work, only the emergency lights turned on. So we will be exploring this place in the
dark.

—crrtzzzz— over radio comm
JOKER: “We need to find the hive…”
GREEN: “Understood sir!”
GRIEF: “I don’t like this…”
FRENZY: “Huh, Just like old times right?”

—crrtzzzz— over radio comm
JOKER: “Check all you stats, stay alert and android assault on. FRENZY, take GREEN and lead down that corridor!”
FRENZY: “Got it Sir!”
JOKER: “GRIEF, on me!”
GRIEF: “lead the way sir!”

I explore some rooms and searched one of the rooms and found a kevlar vest from one of the lockers. The more we went deep, the air smell  worse, it reeks. What happened here… There is no sign of life, not  even a body or trace. It’s like they just vanished to thin air.

—crrtzzzz— over radio comm
GRIEF: “Sir, i found a gas can!”
JOKER: “Okay, useful. Let’s keep on moving! We need to find that hive ASAP, and be careful for alien infestation. We seen it once and i believe it wasn’t the only one that swarm this place.”
GRIEF: “Damn, i think i saw another one sir. But lost sight of it in the dark!”
JOKER: “This thing sucks, we need to get the power back on.”
—crrtzzzz— over radio comm
JOKER: “Guys, check out for backup power on your way. We need the light quick!”
GREEN: “Affirmative sir!”
JOKER: “what’s your sitrep guys?”
FRENZY: “We’re 300 meters and down 1 level. The place reeks and we found an ammo clip and heat scan sir!”
JOKER: “Okay, same thing here. But we’re still on the same level and spotted 2 aliens movement. Careful guys, i planned to get us back just the way we got in!”
FRENZY: “Oh, that’s very kind of you sir!”
JOKER: “JOKER, out!”

FIRST CONTACT / Journal Log #0026383 – Capt. Cmd Angrod Vardamir / 12th December 2220 – Mining Station GHT-6528, Recon-6 (Inside Tricoran Gamet Solar System). 03.08

I explored one of the room that seemed like a supply depot. Searched it and found another 2 gas cans and i notice a parasite movement in the other room. I would be in a very bad situation if that shit come.
My android wasn’t here. GRIEF handed me his assault rifle and went to other room. GREEN found an access card for the security door, but he got attacked by one of the parasite. He’s losing much blood.

GREEN: “Shit, I’m fucked. It cut me deep!”
FRENZY: “Come on GREEN, keep yourself together…we need to find a sick bay!”
JOKER: “are you okay, both of you?”
GREEN “aye sir, no sweat…just blood!”
FRENZY: “damn, GREEN is severely wounded sir. We need to look for a sick bay! Request of overrun the primary objective temporary sir!”
JOKER: “Request granted! Just be careful!”
GRIEF: “Arrrgh!!!”
JOKER: “GRIEF! What happen?
GRIEF: “it got me sir…but not bad. I had a first aid kit”
JOKER: “Did you get it? The parasite!”
GRIEF: “Yes sir, i think i hit it quite good. Good God, i’ve never seen this like and with this big!”
JOKER: “What? Is it dead? Stay alert, this is far more dangerous than it seemed!”
GRIEF: “Yes sir, pretty dead!”

03.23
—crrtzzz—
GREEN: “Uh uh…JOKER!”
JOKER: “Yes GREEN…”
GREEN: “i found a sick bay. It’s locked but luckily i had the access card!”
JOKER: “Good, patch yourself quick and move on”
GREEN: “Got it sir!

JOKER: “Damn, this is not a simple mission. Guys, please remind me to kick that old David’s ass when we get back!”
GREEN: “Will do sir!”

03.37
FRENZY: “JOKER…”
JOKER: “Hey, FRENZY, how you’re doing down there? You went silent for a brief there. Any update?”
FRENZY: “Found the terminal room. But the power generator was down to junk, beyond repair!”
JOKER: “Shit! Okay, what else you could do there?”
FRENZY: “The security cams still works, but most of them are low visible. The security panel still works. Heat scan sir!”
JOKER: “Okay what do you got there on the cams? And perform the heat scan right away!”
FRENZY: “Sir, this is bad! There are 2 infected member sir! But i had no idea who they are!”
JOKER: “What? How come? I didn’t hear anything suspicious!”
FRENZY: “I could see GRIEF, you but no GREEN! And sir, i think i found the hive!”
JOKER: “That’s good. Who’s the closest? GREEN is in a sick bay, somewhere.”
FRENZY: “GRIEF Sir! It’s right above his and  right in the corner. I guess it’s the water drainage room sir!”
JOKER: “Ok, GRIEF, what’s your stat?”
GRIEF: “Good sir. Ready to comply. But one thing sir. I don’t have
enough gas cans.”
JOKER: “Okay, stay there! I meet you there with extras!”
GRIEF: “Okay sir, and be quick sir! I wanna go out from this shit hole as quickly as possible. And i see movement sir!”
JOKER: “Okay, stand your ground, son! FRENZY, GREEN go to him!”
FRENZY & GREEN: “Roger that!”

2 BY 2 / Journal Log #0026383 – Capt. Cmd Angrod Vardamir / 12th December 2220 – Mining Station GHT-6528, Recon-6 (Inside Tricoran Gamet Solar System). 04.18

This is our hope. The hive had been found and all we need to do is burn down that shit. But i guess there are something bad we yet to uncover and this really got me worries with 2 infected members and still have no idea who were infected.

04.21
When i could reached GRIEF, he still alone. I tried FRENZY and GREEN but no response, just static.
JOKER: “GRIEF, how’s your condition?”
GRIEF: “in pain sir…the blood hasn’t completely stop, but still manageable”
JOKER: “Good! This is awful, i couldn’t get FRENZY and GREEN from the radio. And with that heat scan, probably they’re infected!”
GRIEF: “I see… So it’s just us then?” (in dismay)
JOKER: “we can’t be sure of that. The important thing is we need to burn the hive first!”
GRIEF: “Okay, but my flamethrower busted out sir! So it must go with yours sir!”
JOKER: “Okay, let see what you’ve got!”

We traded items and to my great surprise, he got me infected. I couldn’t believe this… GRIEF was infected?! How could all of these happened? We lost our hope.
Who else? 2 members were infected, who’s the host? Is it GRIEF? and who else, either GREEN or FRENZY?

04.31
FRENZY’s android arrived in the room and to our surprise, his android shot us both. What in the hell, did he already know that we’re infected? I thought he also infected. He killed me. Only my android left.

ALL HOPE IS GONE / Journal Log #0011837 – Lt. Sgt. Ricky ‘GREEN’ Bayu / 12th December 2220 – Mining Station GHT-6528, Recon-6 (Inside Tricoran Gamet Solar System).

04.35
FRENZY did a heat scan in the terminal room. And there was only 1 human left. I am the only one who’s not infected. I head gunshots, they got FRENZY? or it’s the other way around?

GREEN: “Guys, what just happened? I heard gunshots!”

No response… I think again, it’s not the wisest thing to do to communicate over the comm. The infected member and the host could overheard us.

GRIEF: “God, oh God…no… this couldn’t be! Ugggh…”

Shit what happened? It’s GRIEF… i need to!

GREEN: “GRIEF…are you okay? What happened?”

GRIEF: “Arrgh…help me…GREEN!”

GREEN:”Hold on… I’ll get to yours as fast as i can! Tell me what happened? Where’s JOKER?”

GRIEF: “…ugh…Cap is dead! FRENZY shot us down! Hurry…he’ll find me!”

GREEN: “Shit Shit Shit Shit Shit Shit!!! JOKER!!!”

FRENZY shot JOKER and GRIEF for a decoy. He thought that would left me trusted him, he wanted to infect and kill us all. I’m his last bounty, the alien have prevail.

04.38
I heard a shot, what happened? Was it something i fear the most? Is it FRENZY of GRIEF. I run through the corridor toward the source of the gunshot. I found JOKER lying still and pass to the hive. And to my dismay, it’s GRIEF, covered in blood with 2 shot wounds, in his chest and head, lost an arm. This is madness, GRIEF was killed by FRENZY. I didn’t find  FRENZY, where is he? What is that? Wait a minute…

04.39
————–static

THIS IS PANIC STATION!

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Board Games, Card Games, Session

 

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