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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.

dav

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).

dav

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.

sdr

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.

sdr

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.

dav

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.

dav

Game in progress

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

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
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