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Tag Archives: Dice

How Greed Are You? The Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Racing with Feld

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

 

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Above and Beyond Expectation

pic2398773_mdAbove and Below Review
Red Raven Games hit the Kickstarter again with their title, Above and Below early in 2015 and it’s a huge success. It had garnered more than $ 142,000 from the expected goal of $ 15,000 (that’s a huge success I tell you that). Ryan Laukat is the man behind Red Raven Games and the game itself and managed to get himself  a quite established fan base in the board game hobby. I pledged this one right like instantly just because I knew in my heart and mind that it was the perfect time to back one of his game (after missing out Empires of The Void, City of Iron, and The Ancient World). Maybe partially because that his illustration skill was totally developed into an amazing one and the other was because the game offers something unique than other games in the market.

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Unboxing the game (Kickstarter Edition)

So what is this Above and Below and what kind of game is it? As it is on the title, Above and Below is a storytelling board game, and what I mean by storytelling it’s not like Dixit in any way (that’s the first thing came to my mind in the first place, Dixit). It’s a different storytelling than Dixit but honestly come to think of it, I failed to understand why Dixit is called as a storytelling, it’s a bit far off I think. Yes, you can tell a story, but the real essence is giving out a clue. That clue might be a story. But enough about Dixit and more about this game.

In this game, storytelling may be the strongest factor of the game, which makes it unique from other games aside from the simple worker placement and resources collecting. The storytelling aspect comes from a specific action in the game, which is explore / exploration. When players decide to do an exploration action, they will be read a specific story from the encounter book by on of their fellow players. From this story / encounter they will choose to react / what to do given the options available to them. Though each story / encounter that players have is short and unrelated to each other, it’s up to players imagination and will to make up a connection to those encounters they have for more better immersive game play (but that’s not affecting the game play in any way), in fact you can even ignore the stories and just go for the mechanic (though this isn’t the real intention from the designer).

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The Theme
Above and Below offers a mesmerizing world of fairy tale and imaginative world with beautiful universe created by the designer himself. His illustration style has brought him the title of Hayao Mizayaki’s of Board Games and it’s not exaggerates at all. The background story (might be a follow up from his previous game, The Ancient World) is that each of you lead a runaway villagers from their beloved home which had been invaded by either titans or maybe disasters or ravagers. In search of a new home, you’ve come to a place where you think it’s suitable / best to be your new settlement. As you starting to settle in that place, you found that it has an underground tunnel system that already been there for quite  a long time before your time. Now the sense of adventure engulf you with excitement, hence the game begins. So you will send some of your villagers (or all of ’em, it’s all up to you) to venture the underground hoping it will gives you fortune, interesting results and such.

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My first play

The Artworks
Another compliment to the designer, Ryan Laukat for making such a breathtaking universe, his own original universe. What I like the most about it, aside the beautiful scenery (peaceful blue sky and dark blue underground walls) is the villagers. The villagers have their distinctive feel in each one of them. They’re not only human, there are many other interesting races, Hogman (I guess this following the same universe from City of Iron), Glogos, even robots. The way that it’s made to be uniquely general makes it uncommon in the worlds of races (like elves, dwarfs or orcs and such) which I found it to be more masculine but not this, this can be enjoyed rather by anyone, male or female or children.

The Components
Aside from having a beautiful artwork, the game also comes with a top notch component quality. The cards are linen finished, tiles are smooth and the box is very sturdy (love it very much). And for the KS edition, it has exclusive custom shaped wooden resource tokens that replace the resource tiles (and you still get the tiles). Of course this upgrade the game components by a mile, since the presence of the wooden resources really add a stunning vibe on the game presentation, and gosh touching wooden instead of cardboard tiles are definitely way way much better.
But of course not all components are perfect, I consider the player mat and game board have minor issue on the finishing. The surface is smooth, which is good, but unfortunately it is not durable, easy to worn out by scratches and frictions (so be sure to keep it safely when storing and playing them).

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Wooden Resource Tokens from Kickstarter Exclusive

The Game Play
Though the game centers on the story-telling side, it also offers interesting good mechanic for players. The game last 7 rounds, yes too short. I am not talking about the play time ‘short’, but more about how short players to build their engine to get really started, but that’s make the challenge in the game. I just feel it’s not enough, want to play more and more, finish too soon. In each round players will take turns taking an action with their active / ready villagers. They can send 2 or more villagers to explore the underground tunnel or recruit another person as new a villager, send them to work labor to gain coins, harvesting resource from one of your buildings or build a structure (building or outpost) in your village. The round ends when all players already pass. Villagers that already used to take an action are send to the exhausted area in player’s board (or injured area).

Since the core of the game is about exploring, I will start with that first. Exploring action is the only way to develop your underground area. By exploring new caves, you can build outposts available in the center of the table. To explore the main requirement is having at least 2 villagers, they’re too scared or maybe not that stupid to go venturing to uncharted tunnels (and dark) alone. The player rolls a die and consult on the result table listed on the top most card from the cave pile. This will point out what encounter that player will have. Another player will have to go through the encounter book and find that paragraph, read it aloud to the active player. This paragraph contains a short backstory of the encounter to set up the scene and gives the player a set of choices to make (without saying the rewards and penalties). The player must choose one and resolve it. This usually requires the player to gain a specific number of exploration points in order to succeed, by rolling  a die per villager that participate on the exploration. If the result is equal or higher than the required amount, it is a success, but even if it not, the players can still  choose to exert their villagers (work extra hard) to get 1 point from each villager to count toward the result. But, as consequence those exerted villagers are injured (players will have to heal them with potions during the end of the round). Villagers have different values and chances of success, some of them also have special bonus for certain actions. If the exploration is a success, the player gets the card and the rewards listed, if its a failure, the action is wasted.

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Player’s Villagers, Ready and Exhausted

Another action is to recruit more villagers. In their turn, players can send a villager with a scribe icon to recruit one of the available villagers by spending a certain amount of coins listed. The new recruited villager cannot be used until next round, they place it on the exhausted area.
Another action is build. Players can choose to build a building (above the ground) or build an outpost from their completed exploration cards. Yes, outpost can only be build if there’s an empty exploration card in the player’s table. Players can choose from the available buildings, the starting star buildings, key buildings or from the draw lines. Players can also pay one coin per turn to discard all the cards from a line and draw another set of cards before or after doing this.
Another action they can do is to send villagers to harvest resources from their buildings. Some buildings provide resources and they need to be harvested first in order to be used or considered owned.
They also can send villagers to do labor. Labor is getting a coin per villager sent to do labor. The first player to do this action on a round, gets a cider token from the main board.
Once a player do not want or cannot do any action, they can pass for the round.
Once the round ends, players will get income based on their resource tracks. And they can spend potions to heal the injured villagers. And then the villagers that have a bed can sleep and rest to be ready in the next round. If there are more villagers than the number of beds, the rest are not be available next round.

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Playing the game, very enjoyable

Aside from the storytelling, the game also emphasizes about the village building aspect. Players can do actions to make their village better and generates points for them in the end game. So basically players get points from building that they’ve built, end game points from buildings, reputation track and advancement track. Let’s focus on advancement track. In this track each space contains 2 different information, points and coins. As I already mentioned before the coins are generated during income phase in the end of each round. Points from this track are only counted at the end of the game. This points work by set collection. Players can place one kind of resources in each slot. The slots are limited to eight, as many as resource kinds in the game. These slots aside from opening your income raise but also worth points at the end of game based on the number of resources in the slot. The more slots you occupied the more income you will get (up to the maximum of 8 coins). You open these slots by placing one kind of resources in each slot. For example you place a fish token on the first slot, and the next slot you must place another resource that has not yet been placed in previous slots. So if you get an already placed  resources, you place it on the specific slot.  At the end of the game, each resource worth points based on the  value listed on that space. So getting many resources in slots further along the track would give you a lot of points.

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Resources comparison between KS Exclusive and Retail version

My Thoughts
I definitely love this game. All of my plays were amazing, with lots of stories, interesting encounters and fun simple resource collecting. I like everything about the game, nothing less. Even down to the box quality I just cannot hold myself to not give out my thumbs.
The game is simple, easy to play for casual and non-gamer but also offers a good deal of Euro style game of worker placement, set collection and tableau building. I always thought that the game really answers on two sides, the casual side which leans heavily on the story telling aspect of the game and the avid side with enough meat inside the game. But getting only one of them is still balance throughout the game. You can totally ignore the Euro aspect of competitive game and just focusing the story you are trying to complete in the game or you can ignore the story and just dive in to get maximize points from your actions. For me I like the story aspect so much, you can get very immersive with the story. Even though the encounters are not related to each other, but you can relate them with you own ways, to make it more interesting. There are a lot of encounters in the book to build your own story in each play, but if that’s not enough for KS edition, its backers have a small expansion that consists of a separate book for new encounters. This should keep you busy to arrange a good and interesting story by yourself.
I like the choices that players must take during encounters and the consequences and rewards behind them. But of course you want to win (but that’s not priority for me in this game), by doing things right.
So the game really fits for casual players that really want to enjoy the story, and for gamer that also demand some meat inside it.
So for me this game is easily one of the best games out there, definitely one of the best in 2015. Lets just hope there will be more encounter expansions, I hope in PDF so you can just download it.

dav

A quite successful village

 

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The Offensive Catan

Box Cover

Box Cover

Wiraqocha Review

In 1995, Klaus Teuber released Settlers of Catan, a Euro game that revolutionized the board gaming world. The game is almost 20 years old and already played by most board gamers worldwide and had once become one of the obvious choice for Christmas present by a lot of families over the world. Many other board games were inspired by it and take some mechanics of the game and also improve it more and more. The game itself applies the core mechanic of dice rolling with hand management, networking and also trading. This is a new and fresh approach to the game system that everyone know about at the time (looking at Monopoly, Game of Life and Risk). It gives a more friendly approach with interesting play for families and friends. Roll and move had become boring and stale at the time, creating a mindset that player’s actions dictate by the result of the dice. Direct conflict has become more and more responsible for conflicts in relationship. Settlers of Catan offers an interesting decision factor in more friendly situation for casual gamers (at the time). In 2011, Henri Kermarrec released Wiraqocha, a board game with the similar aspects found in Settlers of Catan. I found the game from boardgamegeek and don’t know why I just hooked. I ordered the game aside from the game’s rank on boardgamegeek and users’ feedback. I like the presentation of the game. So what kind of game is this? A Settlers of Catan copycat? Not a chance.

Back of the box

Back of the box

1. The Theme
I do not know how to classify the game, into Euro or AT but it has both styles in it. It surely has a good portion of theme and background story to give the game a good sense of flavor. The game takes place in an alternate world where England found a new and secret entrance to the long lost realm of Wiraqocha. It’s like Atlantis but it’s Wiraqocha. In this game, the Queen of England delegates several conglomerates to share the land and reap the benefits for her. So player will be those conglomerates and compete to be the first that complete one of the three objectives given. So it’s basically a race game, the first one to complete an objective win, simple. There are three objectives within the game, by collecting 4 relics throughout the land you will unlock the secret treasure of Wiraqocha, which I bet gonna make the queen very, very happy. The second objective is the collect a number of Somnium crystals that prove to be very powerful energy that can affect matter and even time. The third one is to acquire enough scientific knowledge to build Leviathan, a war machine based on the ancient and lost technology of Wiraqocha’s civilization.

2. The Artworks
The game has nice looking arts that really popped out throughout the game. The arts on the land tiles, cards and sticker tokens really show it nicely and perfectly integrated with the time and style of the theme. The artist that made this work of art was Yuio, a great artist who also behind the artworks of Karnag, Rockwell and Takenoko. Artworks in Wiraqocha has a strong conceptual feeling and not particularly set for main stream audiences, the design concept of the buildings and inventions are unique, different from common sense and also strange and alien from the normal idea of them, which can be found easily on the Juggernaut, Flying Fortress, Transport Tunneler, Android Explorer, Battle Exoskeleton, Mechanical Miner and more.

The Juggernaut Art

The Juggernaut Art

3. The Components
The game comes in sturdy box with 12x9x2 inches dimension, which was chosen perfectly by the publisher to store all the game components nicely, no extra space issue (I still think the expansion would also fit into the base game box, but I don’t have it so not much a reliable info). The game comes with wooden discs and punch-board tiles, 11 6-sided wooden dice, some cards, some cubes and crystals, 22 hex tiles and stickers for the wooden discs. The game components are top notch, good quality card stock material for the cards (it’s okay not to sleeve the cards, because you won’t get to shuffle the cards often in a game). My copy of the game had bad production wooden discs (some of them were cracked) but replacements were quickly sent by the publisher, thumbs for Sit Down! Games. The stickers could be better in color contrast aspect and paper material, it’s in matte finish, glossy should be better but can’t complain it’s still good. The rulebook is printed on a fine paper stock material, one of the best rulebook quality I have ever seen. The dice material could have been better, instead they’re using wood for it (I know it suppress the cost) which really lack the feeling of accomplishment when rolling them (maybe it’s just me).

Example of game in progress

Example of game in progress

4. The Game Play
To play the game, players need to assemble the hex tiles to form the land (you can choose to form it randomly or using predetermined setup from the rules. The designer suggests to use the predetermined setup for first time play (the friendly landscape for new players). Shuffle the cards and draw 4 cards face up. The game starts from the first player clockwise. Each player chooses a color and take all wooden tokens (units) with his corresponding color. These wooden tokens / discs are player’s units, there are 7 unit discs in total per player, 1 Base Camp, 2 Zeppelins, 2 Drills and 2 Explorers.

The Base Camp token
Imagine this token as the main camp or headquarter for your expedition. You need this unit presents on the game board in order to take other actions. The unit’s sticker has a 5 value pips symbol that referring to the natural protection of the Base Camp. This means, the unit has a natural protection with a value of 5. During the first turn, players must firstly place this unit onto the game board before taking any other actions. On the next turns, player then can place another units onto an adjacent tile (conquering a tile) and / or move the existing unit (including the Base Camp) to any tiles on the board.
Zeppelin tokens
Each player has 2 Zeppelin tokens at their disposal. This Zeppelin units are used to enter a Mountain tile (white), the other units cannot enter / conquer mountain tiles. So the only way to place a unit / conquer a mountain tile is by using Zeppelins. Of course, thematically, Zeppelins are airborne units, and thus it can only be attacked by another Zeppelins, but it can attack ground unit as well (think of Zeppelin unload bombs and such). And another crucial advantage of this unit is that this is the only unit that can deploy other units into mountains. Players may “disgorge” one or more of their Zeppelin(s) during the preparation phase to deploy a unit either from a supply or from the game board onto the tile where a Zeppelin exist.
Drill tokens
These units also called miner, because they extract / harvest Somnium for players. For each miner / drill unit that exist on the board, players will get one extraction points. For each two extraction points, players receive 1 Somnium crystal. If a drill unit is on a tile with Somnium veins, it generates 2 extraction points instead the normal one.
Explorer tokens
Explorers main use is to collect Relic tokens from Ruin tiles (there are 4 Relic as well as there are 4 Ruin tiles on the board). Each Relic token are placed on a Ruin tile matches the corresponding color. One of the three objectives is to collect all the Relics in order to win the game. This Relic can only be taken by Explorers, if  a player has an Explorer token on the Ruin tile with a Relic token, he may take the Relic token immediately (without cost).

Player Tokens

Player Tokens

Players take turn in clockwise order, where in each turn players will follow these 3 phases:
A. Preparation Phase
In this phase, players harvest resources based on the tile they control (there are tiles that generates one or two resources). They take the resource cubes from general supply to their personal supply. They can also activate some cards that can be activate during this phase. The important part of this phase is players have the chance to “disgorging” their Zeppelins out from the game board, which players oft to forget, and if they already pass this phase and continue to the next phase, it would be too late to do it. The last thing is players prepare the dice to roll in the next phase. At first, players receive 3 dice by default (the minimum number that players are allowed to roll) and possible to get extra dice from hex tiles.

B. Action Phase
In this phase, the active player roll his already prepared dice and then take some actions. There are several things that a player can do for their actions, one of them is conquering a tile. Players can conquer a tile by allocating their die/dice. The dice allocation is based on the type of the tiles, either by the dice value or by dice pips. If  a tile requires a dice value to conquer, the player must spend a die or a combination of dice with the exact value of the cost. (so in order to conquer a tile with the value of 7 or higher, a player must use at least two dice). But if a tile requires a set of dice with specific numbers of pips on each die, then the player must spend the set with the exact same pips. If the tile that he conquered is adjacent to his own controlled tile(s) then he can place one of his unit tokens from the supply (minding the type of the tile, hill or mountain) or any unit from the board. If it’s not adjacent, then he may only place one of his units that already on the board, not from the supply. This regulation means to limit player’s movement, so players cannot easily place units from the supply into the board. If there is an opposition unit on the tile, the active player conquer the tile as normal (considering there is no protection dice on the unit) and place the opponent unit to the graveyard (except if it’s a Base Camp).

A Player's area (relic, wooden tokens, somnium, resource cube and invention card)

A Player’s area (relic, wooden tokens, somnium, resource cube and invention card)

Players can modify their dice by spending 2 resource cubes to adjust a die value by one, higher or lower (without limit) and also buy an additional die with a Somnium crystal (limit to one).
Players can also buy one available technology cards from the row, the cost to purchase is listed on each card (the cost are resources and Somnium crystal). There are two kinds of technology, an Invention or a Building. Inventions can be stolen, while Buildings cannot. These technology cards have various uses and effects that can be used to help players gain benefit during the game and also complete the Leviathan.
Players also can place a protecting die on one of his units. This protecting die is used to give protection for a unit to make it more difficult to be attacked by other opponents. The protecting die is work just like a die cost in a hex tile, players who want to conquer a tile occupied by a unit with a protecting die must spend an additional die which is higher than the protecting die. In which a protecting die with the value of 6 can only be conquered by spending extra die with a value of 6 and 2 resources to modify it into 7. The restriction of using a protecting die is each unit is limited with only 1 protecting die at any time. A player Base Camp has a natural 5-value protecting die (you can see the Base Camp token’s sticker shows a die image with 5-pips). So using a protecting die to protect a Base Camp is really useable when the protecting die value is 6, better than the natural protection from the Base Camp. Strictly from the rules, that a unit cannot have more than 1 protecting die, so if the Base Camp is only reasonable if the natural protecting die is replaced by a 6-value die.
Players can also modify their dice result by paying 2 resources for 1 value modifier. This modifier is only limited to a value of six. Players may only modify up to 7 if they want to defeat a protecting die with a value of 6. There is no limit how many times a player can spend resources to modify his dice. Modifier is essential, since it’s a dice allocation, the dice roll results are usually need adjustment (if they cannot, it would be very frustrating).
Players can also sacrifice 1 of his Somniums per turn to get an extra die to roll. Once per round players can also recover a unit from the graveyard (this is the only way to get units back) by paying 3 resources.
Players can steal a Somnium crystal, an Invention or a Relic from an opponent. This works precisely the same for conquering another hex tile controlled by the opponent’s Base Camp, the only difference is the Base Camp token is not destroyed (since you’re only stealing). Movement restrictions are applied as normal for this action.

The game in progress

The game in progress

C. End of Turn Phase
After a player had taken all of his actions, he must take End of Turn phase, where a player harvest Somnium with his Drilling units. Each Drilling unit on the board provides 1 extraction points in any hex without the Somnium symbol, if there’s a Somnium symbol, the unit provides 2 extraction points instead of 1. For each 2 extraction points, the player receives 1 Somnium crystal. As mentioned above, players can use these crystals during action phase or to fulfill two of the three winning conditions. After this, a player must discard excessive resources from his supply. Player can only keep 3 resources by the end of this phase, the rest are returned to the general supply.

The game immediately ends when one player fulfill one of the winning conditions and that player wins the game.
The game also offers one expansion and a mini expansion. The expansion’s title is The Way of The Feathered Serpent which adds several new units and new cards for specific winning condition, new hex tiles and also player screens. It’s not considered as a big expansion but packs a bunch of elements that really improve the game in some way. The stickers give players optional units to start the game which is good and provide new gaming experiences.
The mini expansion gives 4 tokens that can be achieved by controlling a ruin tile. This token can be used to counter a protective die with a specific value.

5. Replay Value
It’s definitely has a great replay value. Playing with different people gives different experiences. Not mention the modular board during setup can provide different challenge and situation. The game is quite quick in general, it could last 45-60 minutes with experienced players and has a medium learning curve. It’s basically a racing game in disguise, and more to, it sounds Euro but Ameritrash at heart with three winning conditions. Unlike Euro games, this game doesn’t have programmable choice of actions and players are freely to take available actions to win the game. Playing with different number of players also gives huge impact on the game. Playing with two players will definitely brings tactical elements very crucial with only a single opponent to fight off. When playing with 3 and 4 players, negotiation and table talks would surfacing the game experience while players need to carefully plan their actions against not one but 2 or 3 enemies at once. The game comes with predetermined game board, but since it’s modular, you can use different kind of setup which really-really enhance your experience. You can set it randomly or maybe determine different combinations of terrain tiles.

Game board hexes

Game board hexes

My Thoughts of The Game
My fondness towards the game has been growing since the first time it entered my wishlist. I love the game, it’s not perfect but love this more than other good games because it has values in my opinion. The rich theme and nice artwork really do the game some good. Some players might get fooled to think it is an exploration game, when in real it’s not. Players need to find one spot that they think the best place to put base camp and conquer some spaces that give them resources and defend it. Once players get the best place, they can focus to reach one of the objectives to win the game. In my opinion this game have a Euro feel while it’s really an Ameritrash from the core. If you like direct conflict and ever changing board situation, instant win and stuff, this game might be perfectly fit for you. But if not, you might as well pass the chance to try the game, since the dice roll and other players picking on you are what you will get for the entirety of the game. I love it and it’s definitely has managed to get privilege spot on my collection.

 

Some of the cards

Some of the cards

Note: Images are courtesy of BGG users

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Reviews

 

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Quantum Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

Box Cover

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

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

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

Map Tiles

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

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

Game in Progress

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

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

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

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

Advance Cards

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

Command Cards

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

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

Game Box

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

 

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Rolling In The Sky

Art Cover

Art Cover

Skyline Review
A simple dice game from David Short, the game designer of Ground Floor. This game is part of Ground Floor Kickstarter exclusive stretch rewards. The project had reached $75K to unlock this additional game for each backer. At first the game was not known by anyone, the project backers were pleased for having an additional game from a game they backed. All they knew was it’s a game of dice rolling with a city building theme (well, though it’s not literally a city building, more like a dice building game). The first thing we knew about the game was the cover, which was an okay. The rest were revealed right after the stretch reward was reached and I was half of ignorant about how the game played, since I was more lean toward the main game (Ground Floor) instead of this one and pretty much ready to receive this additional bonus for whatever it was.

1. Theme
I guess there’s really not much of a theme in this game. It’s practically a dice ‘building’ game with pasted on theme of skyline buildings. For such a simple and short game like this, theme is never such a big deal in the fist place. It’s a filler alright and people don’t care about the theme. What they care is, this game answers their need for a quick and simple game to fill in their gap time.

2. Artworks
Gavan Brown did the art of the game. The box art really depicts his style. You can check his other creations like Eminent Domain planet cards, Jab Real Time Boxing and Undermining. These artworks have the same style of colorful vector arts. Few things to notice though, the colors are combined very well and really stand out, and also the building tiles have various shapes and colors even for buildings with the same value. These attention of detail is a plus in my opinion though not an essential aspect to the game play.

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3. Game Components
Dicefest, yes indeed there are a lot of dice in the game (I’m talking of 60 custom six-sided dice), it’s a dice game after all. The black based dice are divided into 3 categories: ground floor dice, upper floor dice and penthouse dice. These specific type of dice has different color on their sides, to determine the type of buildings, a low rise (purple), mid rise (blue) or high rise (orange) building. The building tiles are plentiful with double sided card board in different values (1 / 4 / 9 / 16 / 25 / 36) in different colors and shapes of the building.  There are also a simple piece of game board for reference and round track and a single piece of small black cube for the round marker, The overall quality of the game is quite good, the bad side is the color quality of the dice are very poor. There are lots of dice with mismatch color, it’s like applied with washed effect. For example the orange color of the dice does not consistent in each die, some have lighter color of orange, some have darker ones. But, this downside does not affect the game play, since you can still easily differentiate the type of building (either it’s a low rise, mid rise or high rise) on the dice. This shows not only you can mark the building type by color, but you can also mark it by the iconography of the dice. A low rise building only has 1 window and mostly in blocked color, while the mid rise has several lines that form window panes. In the other hand, the high rise building has more lines (which means more window panes) than the mid rise. The game board quality is very good, it consist of a round track and also the building and space references. The board is double sided and has a smooth finish applied to it (my favorite finish beside linen finish).

Custom six-sided Dice

Custom six-sided Dice

4. Game Play
Though it’s a simple and easy to learn game but I managed to understand it clearly after several times reading the rules and playing the game once. It’s not that the game is hard to understand, it’s just the rules are not pretty much clear with the walk through actions. In this game players compete to gain as many points as possible in 9 rounds by build buildings from dice. The game play area consist of 3 spaces (the main board, the construction yard and the abandoned district). The pool of dice are placed  on the construction yard space based on the dice types, set the round marker in the first place of the round track and place one die of each dice type in the abandoned district (which always forming one die of each type minimum available for every one’s turn). Player’s turn consists of several phases, which are Take Dice, Roll, Action and Roll Again.
TAKE DICE
During player’s turn, the player can choose to take dice from the construction dice or from the abandoned district. If he choose to take dice from the construction yard, he takes 3 dice (from whatever type whole or combination). If he choose to take dice from the abandoned district, he takes all the dice available on that space (there will oft be more than 3 dice in this district).
ROLL DICE
After taking dice, he rolls his newly taken dice and check the results. With these results he may take an action.
ACTION
Basically there are 3 actions that can be chosen. Player can either build, abandon or demolish. The most important thing is after player rolled the dice, he’s must take an action. If he choose a build action, he may build his dice as a building (of course each building starts from the ground floor). He only needs to match the type of building and level of the dice. Once a penthouse part is completed, the building is considered complete and immediately exchanged for building tiles of the specific level (the dice returned to the pool). Beside BUILD action, players may abandon the dice by set aside one or a group of dice into the abandoned district. The other option is to demolish. This is done by demolish a player building (completed or incomplete) to return dice back into the pool.
RE-ROLL
After players take an action, they may re-roll the leftover dice and choose another action. Or they can choose to resign and end their turn (they return their leftover dice back into the pool).
The game ends after the last player take his turn on 9th round. Player with the highest value point of buildings win the game.

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5. Replay Value
This game is certainly a filler. You can play it alone or with 3 more friends while waiting over anything (waiting in the restaurant, class, coffee shop, or maybe waiting for another heavier game to be played). It has it’s uses, not really a thinker game and maybe with several plays, you’ll have enough of it. I would say it has low replay value since every game should be no different, there is no element to add variant of the game.

My Thought of The Game
Personally this is a good game, easy to learn and quick to play. It’s good to play the game with non-gamers and you can done all that in 30 minutes more or less. Though the game is just about rolling your dice, there are several decision makings in this game. A short and simple plan is needed for deciding which dice you should take and which dice you should choose in you actions. Whether you need to abandon or demolish your dice. But it’s all end up in your luck of the dice. I sucks at this game and til now I still cannot win against my girlfriend over this game. She just never run out of luck. At first I did not thought the depth reward of the demolish action, what pushed players to lose points / incomplete building by demolish action. The main reason is not to let players after you to get additional dice in his disposal from the abandoned district. But considering the possible actions and outcomes, is it worth it? And at what cost? So it’s a good thing if you stock one or two low rise ground floor dice in your building area just in case you are forced to take the demolish action.
I think it’s a good and worthy game considering I got it from Kickstarter exclusive reward, it’s the same to say that I got the game free.

The Board

The Board

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2013 in Dice Games, Reviews

 

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I Didn’t See That Coming!

Box Cover

An Epic Spell Wars of The Battle Wizards: Duel on Mt. Skullzfyre Review

So, you like being a wizard? Of course beside the deathly spells pointed at you and those crazy creatures sprawling towards your face. Me like being a wizard, because I can punish and torment others with my weird, tricky and sometimes devastating spells. As long that ‘others’ aren’t also wizards, who could spell back at you.

But, in this game you will face seriously hilarious wizards, exchange spells with them and be the last wizard standing. So, looks like an easy task right? Nothing vicious, no one gets harm and we’d shake hands after that? Hold your thought, it’s hilarious alright but it’s way far off easy. You’ll be dead before you know it.

This game was designed by Cory Jones and Rob Heinsoo, published under the Cryptozoic Entertainment. Originated from a card game, this one little bad-ass came out strong and surprisingly outstanding. The game designers created a simple yet unique and innovative from card component and combined with dice rolling mechanic.

Did you know that magical wizards are battling to the death … and beyond … right now!? “Why battle?” you might ask. “What have I got to prove, magic man?” Only who’s the most awesomely powerful battle wizard in the entire realm, that’s what! As a Battle Wizard, you’ll put together up to three spell components to craft millions (okay, not really) of spell combos. Your spells might kick ass, or they could totally blow – it’s up to you to master the magic. You will unleash massive damage on the faces of your wizard rivals in a no-holds-barred, all-out burn-down to be the last Battle Wizard standing. And it doesn’t stop there! Powerful magic items bring on a whole new level of bloody carnage as you and your mighty wizard opponents tear each other limb from limb in an orgy of killing! Do you have what it takes to use epic spells in a war at Mt. Skullzfyre? Will YOU be the Ultimate Battle Wizard!?!

Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre is a humorous card game depicting a vicious, over-the-top battle between a variety of comically illustrated wizards. The game focuses primarily on creating three-part spell combos to blast your foes into the afterlife. The unique Dead Wizard cards allow players to stay in the game even after their wizards have been defeated.

So, what made me pick-up this awesome gem? Well, the first thing was the artworks. When I got my eyes on that comical and hilarious illustrations, I just knew that I must have this one. And when I got my hands into this baby, got it through several plays and hell it’s just too goddamn worth it. It’s quick, simple to learn, easy to understand and the rules are exemplary easy to understand. Had it played with 2,5 and 7 players. Yeah I know, over the limit, but who cares since we had fun out of the roof. So, after several plays, here is my review on the game.

1. Theme

Fantasy theme with shallow background story. It’s okay, since this game is just a filler and people just want to have some fun. So, here goes the theme. So, there’s a battle, epic they said. Battle between wizards, which usually they cast spells all over the place. The last wizard standing is the winner (oh yes it’s a player elimination game), but that’s not it, you need to be that twice. Now you don’t say, twice? Do you mean all the dead wizards come back to life to fight with you again? Yeah, kinda. We are wizards who seek supremacy and being the last wizard standing somewhat meet that criteria.

One of the 8 Over-sized Hero Cards

2. Artworks

This aspect was the first thing caught my attention. The artwork is superb, it has the feeling of cartoonish with violence theme and somewhat strong explicit images. This may not very suitable for underage children and proven to be harsh and negative influence for them. But for me, it’s hilarious and worth collecting. The cheesy bright and contrast color combinations with spectacular arts from the gruesome characters with ridiculous spell names really lighten up your day. The good part is with the unique mechanic of a spell that consist of a set of cards, which the illustrations are joined together to make a single illustrations with different combination through the cards. This is creative way of visualization. One illustration can connect to another illustration to form an illustrative spell with catchy and super unique name. This one rocks and deserve my thumbs all the way up. Nick Edwards, the artist really did a great job.

Artworks on some of the cards

3. Game Components

The game comes up with awesome components, the cards are smooth and nicely finished. It consist of 178 cards, 8 Over-sized Wizard cards, 6 Skull life counters, 7 Last Wizard Standing tokens, 4 six-sided dice, 1 Rulebook and there is one standing card board to picture Mount Skullzfyre as a theme flavor only function. The Cards are divided into 3 different basic types (Source, Quality and Delivery) which each has it’s own effect. The other cards are Wild Magic Cards (kinda more like a joker type of card), Treasure cards and Dead Wizard Cards.

The other components are simply in good quality, such as the tokens, the Over-sized Wizard Cards and also the dice. Sometimes the dice just not enough, you’ll need 2 more (for every player may required to roll a die in the same time or a player may rolled more than 4 dice during his turn), but this could be solved by rolling the dice in several groups.

The box comes in a small size and also with a nice insert (there is an illustration on the insert, which is a plus) but that almost not fit all the components, and forget the insert if you want to sleeve all the cards. It won’t fit into the insert. Si I decided not to sleeve the cards and keep the awesome insert.

Game Components

4. Game Play

The game is simple, all you need to do is understand all the card types and read the text for the effect. It’s one of those games that you can easily and quickly pick up an play in an instant. The cards effects are clear and easy to understand. Players simultaneously choose what spell to play from their hands. A spell can contain 1 to 3 cards contain of 3 types (Source, Quality and Delivery), in other words you cannot play more than 1 card with the same type. After all players done their selection, the cards are revealed. The player with highest initiative value in the spell goes first (or players with the fewest cards in his spell, in case of a tie, roll a die).

The player announce the spell names in such stylish fashion (this make the game more hilarious) and resolve the effects of the spell in order from Source, Quality and the last Delivery. The target of the spell are different based on the effect, it could be one of the specific players, your neighbors or even random players (by a die roll). The players whose life is diminished to 0, eliminated the game and collect a Dead Wizard card. If the game still going around, when it’s his turn, he doesn’t draw spell cards, but a Dead Wizard card instead. This Dead Wizard cards are useful for the next round. After all players cast their spells, each players refill their hands up to 8 cards. Next turn begins. There are Treasure cards, which player can usually get from the effect of the spells or from the Dead Wizard cards. These Treasure cards are useful for a player to fight against other players. When there is only 1 player left standing, the round is over, the last player gain a Last Standing Wizard token. All players discards their hands and Treasure cards and also cash in their Dead Wizards cards. Next round begins, all players draw their hands up to 8 cards again. The game ends when there is one player with 2 Last Standing Wizard tokens. There are also Wild Magic Cards, these cards give you the option to play a spell card type that you don’t have, when you are about to cast the spell, you’ll be able to draw spell cards from the deck until you found the card of that type to replace the Wild Magic Card.

A Complete Matched Spell

5. Replay Value

The key of the replay value is the cards. With it, you can have millions of combination spells. There are always different effects and combos in store for you to play. Cast them off and finish your opponents. This game shines with the perfect gaming group, which can be hilarious enough for you to laugh out loud and shout to cast the spell in ridiculous style. What more you want, it’s a party game indeed. There won’t be the same game every time you play, it’s hilariously different in each game.

The Cards

My Thought of The Game

I like the game very much, instantly bought it when I saw the arts. And after reading the rules, the game play offered me interesting points. I like the creative idea of combining 3 cards into a spell with different combinations and effects. The name of the spell also creatively made. It’s a quick filler card game with party and hilarious feel in it. Play it with your crazy group and shots laughter into the room. This game is a quick paced card game with the ‘take that’ effect that played without thinking and careful planning, so better playing it fun and do not waste your time. It’s potentially gonna hit tables often and easy to become everyone’s favorite. Though it’s luck dependent on the dice rolls but must I remind you that it’s a party game after all and do not take this game seriously. You should just concentrate on how your spell casting evil voice drive the tension or laughter to the game.

Fresh Out of The Box

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Card Games, Dice Games, Reviews

 

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