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Shoot Kill Repeat!

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

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

dav

The player figures

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

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

dav

Deathmatch in progress

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

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

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One-of-a-kind Weapons

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

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

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

dav

Victory Points

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

dav

Playing the game

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

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

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

dav

Crowded space, high conflict

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My Top 10 Games from 2016

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

The Top 10
#1 Great Western Trail
pic3113247_md
Okay, I heard good (if not great) things about this one. After I got and played it, I must admit that it’s quite over-hyped but agree, this one is good and worth to be in the very top of this list.
Why I like it?
Classic
This is modern Euro that has the classic feel shows in the presentation. The rules are somehow hard to chew but once you play it for the first time, you know what to do and straight-forward simple. There are many mechanics thrown into the game but surprisingly they work very well overall.
There’s a deck-building aspect in it.
A hint but not too strong to be considered as a deck-building game and doesn’t restraint players for building their deck cause there are still many ways to get points. In short, players do not have to totally surrender over the deck efficient and effective aspect of a deck-building game.
Rondel
Disguised in the player board, this one has rondel mechanic in it. Yes, the location spaces along the trail is one network or rondel system that becomes lengthy over time during the game because new locations will be added by the players. I could need a game with rondel in my collection and though this is not the usual rondel but better than none.
Engine Building in player board
The player board gets more interesting since players get to move some components from their player board into the game board in such interesting way. Players mostly score points and get instant benefit while improving their engine.
Clever use of objective cards
Players acquired objectives from the card display and put them their deck. These acquired objective cards are mixed together with their cattle cards, which will eventually be drawn into their hand and can be used in such an innovative way. Players are left with an interesting decision either to keep those objectives in their deck (while making your deck less-efficient in the same time) or play them to get the bonuses but must committed to complete them at the end or they will get penalized with minus points.
What I don’t like about this game?
Hmm, almost nothing. The components are good, though there was minor misprint in one of the player’s building tile (though a simple sticker should take care of the problem). The player boards should be thicker (as thick as the game board) and also has indentation to place all the wooden pieces.

#2 Yokohama
pic2948038_md

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

#3 Terraforming Mars
pic2891964_md
This offers a very interesting theme with science backing the theme and logic of the game. Immediately ordered it once I had the chance and played it straight out. The game is amazing, very intimidating though but rewarding with clever card plays.
Why I like it?
Really dig the science behind the theme
The theme is not very compelling for me, but for some reason the relevancy between game and real life science seems click (thinking of High Frontier or Leaving Earth for other examples).
Clever card plays
This definitely what makes the game shines. First of all this is naturally a card game. Many cards inside the game, and it offers different clever card plays along with a tableau engine building. In a game, all the cards won’t be played and sometimes the cards can be useless but sometimes can be very crucial. This reflected by the timing and compatible pairing with other cards (combos). So players need to adapt to every situation in the game and come up with the best solution to get the most points in the end.
Shiny metallic cubes
Okay, they’re plastic but seriously they still looks good and shiny like metals. I like to hold the biggest cubes in my hand, big cubes. Aside from the idea of same big size for all the cubes, I agree the different sizes makes it easier for color blind players.
Game flexibility
The end game relies on the players. There are three parameters to end the game and players are “semi-cooperatively” work towards that end. So in a way, players together is in control with the length of the game (which could also be the drawback in terms of unnecessary prolonging the game).
What I don’t like about this game?
Many. Yes, aside from the cards have heavy texts on them, makes it hard for players to read and prolong the game duration. And for new players, pretty much intimidating if they’re not omni or heavy-gamer people. The cards distribution can also felt unbalance.
The player board could be improved, to keep track the income track and the supply with the same components could turn your game experience a bit nightmarish if things turn sideways. Good thing that there’s a game trays for the player board (or should I say player mat?). The game length could be hard to determine because of the end game trigger, which based on players game plays.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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More Than Just a Gamer

Looking back at my 30 years I was not a real and passionate gamer. Yes I love to play games, but that is really something that children or kids like, playing. For me, there was nothing specific and special about it, just play and play. I played video games on my childhood and teen era, I got glasses from getting to close to television while playing Nintendo and Sega, it had been an addictive moment but I guess it’s just a phase in my life which already over. As time passed, I play to kill time, yes it still offered me pleasure but not as bad as when I smaller.

I managed to move on, I let go gaming and no longer pursue to have the newest and most updated consoles or games, I played what I can and nothing serious can be achieved from it and thought I just wasting my time. The last things that I hold on were a PSP and a PC but now they’re just a memory. When I eventually knew about board games, things were greatly changed. I immediately stop playing any video games (aside games from my android phone) and really really take board games into my religion. Everything about board games really drawn me into something fantastic, impressive and amazing all at the same time. I play and play and play, I started collecting board games, not only just playing it.

Shelf of Board Games

Shelf of Board Games

What’s the point by collecting something? Well as you can see taking ownership on something always feel good, it makes us secure in a way that we partially can describe. It gives us sense of belonging, a trophy to remember, monumental, milestone to live by. It gives us meaning to what we do, not just playing it, killing our time. The short would be “you have what you play” which pretty much sums up the whole idea of collecting games. When we share our game stories to other people, to tell them interesting and awesome moments during our gaming session, those people would (some or even one of them) inevitably ask about what game is it, and do you have it or not. This is a cry for achievement, a proud feeling to have the thing that is the center of the conversation.

So there are 2 different things in one unity, playing and collecting, and both of these things have their own issues. Playing is not as easy as it looks, maybe people see that “Why playing is difficult? All you need to do is play!” Well the problem with that are sometimes we don’t have the time to play amidst our usual day to day activity in life, and we don’t have someone to play with (not that you always or may want to play solo). So there you go, playing needs 2 most important aspects, friends and time which not most of us have at the same time. The same goes to collecting, though in different aspects. Collecting games has money and space issue. Money because you need to purchase games from time to time in a regular basis. And to be frank shipping to my country is a killer, just as expensive as the game itself. The other aspect is the space, when you are serious in collecting games, you need a specific space to keep those games in good condition, that rings “Shelf”. You need shelf and it doesn’t come free with the games and also the shelf needs space in your place. More to it, as your collection grows, you need an extra shelf to keep it safe and organized. Extra shelf means extra space, which really leads to take more space in you house (you need bigger place eventually that of course it doesn’t cheap at all).

Playing Board Games

Playing Board Games

So in short, I am not just a gamer. I am something more, more involved in the board gaming industry. I am the market catalyst, the drive of game publishers and proud being one. I know it’s a money spender (drainer or whatever you may call it) but it has to be done. I want to have a great collection of games that accompany me, my life and family throughout the end of this life, so I can keep playing games and share this hobby til the end, a board gamer enthusiast! One day, maybe I could even design a game, maybe…

 

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2014 in Article

 

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From Japan

Nope, I did not go to Japan. It was my girlfriend who visited Japan last week with her mom. So when she visited Japan, I asked her to get me some original Japanese games. The reason was simple, board games in Japan has recently growth in such awesome rate, the popularity and the trends are hitting Japan in both sides. There are many various Japanese game designers and also community and publishers that take this hobby into serious business and passion. So getting some original Japanese games has it’s own values. Since she’s visiting Tokyo, I asked her to drop by Sugorokuya (a board game store in Tokyo) to look around and get me games.

Sugorokuya - Tokyo

Sugorokuya – Tokyo

First I did take some research on the topic, looking around BGG for some potential games and also contacted Sugorokuya facebook to find out which games available and which they recommend. So based on the research results I gave my girlfriend a list of games with priority order but in the end it’s up to her decision. There are 10 games on that list and I’m gonna spill them here.

1. Say Bye to The Villain
As you can see, this game was at the top of the list. I really really want this game since last year. It has good theme and yes it looks very Japanese and it was designed by Seiji Kanai. The game has dual language (Japanese – English) which I found it interesting. But rumor has it’s hard to come by, the game is out of stock. I was pushing it for this game a bit, but it’s okay since I did no harm to anyone or anything.

2. Dungeon of Mandom
Well, just read about this game recently and somehow it has some good review there on Japan. So I decided to take a look. The game dominant color is quite intimidating along with the theme, which is quite manly and not very interesting on women’ / girls’ opinion and taste. The game is quick and like most Japanese games, the core mechanics are bluffing, secret identity and such.

3. Sukimono
Masao Suganuma has been on the spotlight since he designed Machi Koro, in which the game has receiving praise and positive review by gamers around the world. And yes he designed another game called Sukimono. Don’t really know about it but the theme is about collecting precious items or antiques. The visual presentation of the game is stunning and that’s the reason I want it. Too bad it seemed the game is hard to come by.

4. Sail To India
Hisashi Hayashi is not a new designer, we all know his works and he’s also a good one at it. Sail To India is getting a wide release by AEG and while I can get the US edition, the original version does have more value for me. And more of it, the game has a very positive feedback, seems a good choice and heavier game than the rest of the games in the list.

5. Mai-Star
Along with Sail to India, AEG also distributes this game also. The visual presentation really similar like Say Bye to The VIllain but with different theme. It comes in dual language so another plus.

6. Criminal Dance
I don’t really know about this game, but it looks interesting and has cool-looking hand sketch style art with colorful backgrounds.

7. Koi-Ochi Idol
Also don’t know about this, but looking at the arts, they’re cute and funny.

8. Candy Chaser
Another Maso Suganuma’s game. Well he’s pretty popular recently, thanks to Machi Koro. Candy Chaser is on of his new games, about collecting points from candies. It really involves bluffing and dice rolling. The game has this unusual dark look but cute illustration, a bit of abstract and it’s language independent.

9. Stray Thieves
This one caught my attention because the simple art with cute illustrations designed by Jun Sasaki (another potential Japanese designer) and published by Oink games. The game evolves in card bluffing with hand management. Pretty much a simple and quick party game.

10. Nuggets
I don’t say the game is original Japanese, but the Japanese version looks very cute and gorgeous. Really has good collection value and I can see people will be interesting looking and playing it.

Her picks

Her picks

But in the end my girlfriend bought me 2 games and 1 game for herself. The games are Sail To India, Criminal Dance and Pyjamaparty. The last game is hers. So she bought me number 4 and 6 from the list, too bad the top numbers were not available. I have the Japanese version from Gamefield of Sail to India and Criminal Dance, both of the games are in Japanese and hell I cannot read the rules. Sail to India is easy, I can check the rules from boardgamegeek.com having AEG distributed the English version does make it easier to look. But I couldn’t find anything on boardgamegeek.com for the other game, so still don’t know how to play the game. The game site is on Japanese and they only give short / brief explanation of the game play (even that’s on Japanese that I used Chrome to translate with no satisfying end).

Lewis and Clark on sight!

Lewis and Clark on sight! … and another recently released games.

I’ve managed to create some English paste-ups for Sail to India and sleeved all the cards, so it’s ready to be played anytime soon.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2014 in Article, Board Games, News

 

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The Castles of Feld

Box Cover

Box Cover

The Castles of Burgundy Review

For long I have wanted to do a review for this game. It is one of my favorite games and it’s from my most favorite game designer, Stefan Feld. You would know the game if you’re not a newbie to the hobby. Feld has received many great responses for this game, some even might say that it’s the best game he ever invented. For those who don’t know, Burgundy is a region located in East-Central France. As you can relate the title of the game with the background, you can see that there are lot of castles in Burgundy, in which were built during Middle-ages. In this game, each players will become an Aristocrat who controls an estate of settlements. Players will compete with each other to build the most prestigious estate during the game.

The Theme of The Game
The Castles of Burgundy, while having a theme (Euro style) is really a Euro game with pasted theme. Nothing special here, it’s just you are bla bla bla, controlling bla bla bla, competing with other player in bla bla bla, to get the highest points by the end of the game to win it. So it’s really boiled down to the game play mechanics rather than the theme’s importance in a game. In this game, you will become someone powerful enough with authority and decision to shape the land that’s given to you by building some settlements in such a specific manner that (instantly / eventually) give you prestigious value that will be accumulated as points at the end of the game. And by jolly that someone will become the winner by having the most points and celebrates over the entire land, which I doubt that someone will ever truly do so in real life. That’s why this is just a game.

The Components
Feld is known to design a game that has lots of lots of components. In this game for example, there are hundreds of tiles in many shapes. Also dice, yes colorful dice. The game comes with a main board and several double-sided player boards (or more likely player mats), settlement tiles in several categories, goods, worker, Silverlings tiles, wooden player markers and also colorful 6-sided dice. In details there are 164 hex tiles, 42 goods tiles, 20 Silverlings tiles, 30 worker tiles, 12 bonus tiles, 4 victory pieces, 8 wooden markers, 9 dice and 6 player boards. Alea published the game with only one flaw, the thin not so good-looking tiles. It would be perfect if they made it with thicker cardboard material and also the player mat should had been perfect if they made it just like the main board. But of course they had considered these things before.

Game Components

Game Components

The Artwork
Nothing special on this one also, but it’s pretty good as a standard Euro game. Not great nor bad. The artist behind this game is Julien Delval , who also had share a good portion around Euro games’ artworks such as Dominion, Battle Lore, Citadel, Memoir ’44 and other things. The symbol designs are pretty much intuitive and it’s finely made to provide a language independent aspect throughout the game and the components.

The Game Play
The game lasts in 5 phases, which there are 5 turns in each phase. Each player will receive a player board (which can be random or predetermined), 3 random goods, 1 Silverlings, 2 dice of a chosen color, 2 player markers that are placed on the shipping track and VP track, 1 initial Castle tile that players place into one of the dark green slots on his player board (each player chooses which slot he want) and some workers (the first player gets 2 workers, while the next player gets plus one worker more than the previous player consecutively in clockwise order. Place the main board in the center or the table and fill it up with the needed tokens, such as 5 face down goods tiles in each phase slot and randomly draw hex tiles based on the corresponding color slots and number of players listed. And the game is ready to start.

Main Board Breakdown

Main Board Breakdown

At the start of each phase, reveal the current phase’s goods tiles into available slots. This 5 goods tiles will give players easy sign to mark the current turn of the phase. Next all players roll their dice simultaneously (the first player adds the white die to his roll). After the roll, the first player place the current goods tile to a depot with a corresponding value of the white die (this is important to be remembered by the first player, so he doesn’t forget to place the goods tile into a depot). A mistake is crucial and can make the game 1 turn more or less.

Lets take a look at the player board. Each player board, has a space on the right side which is the Estate. This hexagonal shape space is formed by small and colorful hexes with different dice values. The colors and dice values are important, for they will be used to determine placement of the settlement tiles. There are 6 different colors for the settlement tiles. Those colors are Blue for the Ships, Dark Green for the Castles, Brown for the Buildings, Yellow for the Knowledge, Green for the Animals and Gray for the Mines. These colorful tiles are spread on the Estate, creating regions based on color adjacency. The left side of the player board, you can see brown buildings’ references, scoring chart, space for workers, goods and Silverlings.
Meanwhile on the main board, there are 6 depot slots around the central black depot. During preparation process at the start of each phase, these hex spaces on those depots will be filled by randomly drawn tiles based on their colors. These are the hexes that available for the players to acquire at the current phase. There’s also a shipping track which shows players turn order. At the top and bottom right of the board, there are square spaces for bonus tiles. These bonus tiles are rewarded for players who complete to fully cover a specific type / color on their estate. There are 2 bonus tiles for each type, one for the first player and another one for the second.

Player Board Breakdown

Player Board Breakdown

During a player’s turn, he will take 2 actions consecutively out of 4 available options with his two dice. A player may use the same action out of the two actions he choose. Those 4 actions are:

A. Taking a hex / settlement tile from the Depot
There are 6 available depots around the central black depot. These depots have die values from 1 to 6. Using one of the player die, that player can take any hex tile available on one of the depot with the same value of that die value, placing it to one of the three available slots on the player board.

Numbered Depots

Numbered Depots

B. Placing a settlement / hex tile to his Estate
A player can use this action to place a tile that’s already in his storage spaces into his estate. Note that the restrictions of the placement are based by the type / color of the hex, the pip value on the hex space and it must be adjacent to an existing tile on the estate. Once the tile is placed, the tile effect is triggered if any. There are 3 kind of tiles based on the effect, some tiles are immediately activated once placed, some are for end game scoring and the others give benefits during the course of the game as long as the requirements are met.
If placing a tile complete a region (adjacent spaces with the same color), scoring takes place. The scoring values are different based on number of tiles and at what phase the scoring takes place. The more tiles and the earlier phase a player scores, the more points he get. Also when a player places the last settlement of that type / color, he receive the bonus tile (if any).

Estate

Estate

C. Selling goods tiles from the warehouse
Each player has a warehouse section on his board. The warehouse provides 3 slots for goods, each slot used for a different kind of goods, so a player can only stores up to 3 kind of goods at a time. Players can sell goods to get points and silverlings. There are 6 kind of goods and each kind has a die value. To sell it, players use one of his die which has the same value of his goods. For each tile of goods sold, players get 2/3/4 points in a 2/3/4 player game. And in addition of the points, players also receive 1 silverlings tile from the transaction. The sold goods are placed face down on the sold goods spot.

Goods Storage Spaces

Goods Storage Spaces

D. Buying workers
This is the most simple (but often important) action out of the four. You trade die with workers. Each die generates 2 workers no matter the value is. What’s the use of worker? Worker gives you modifier for your dice. 1 worker tile gives you a plus one or minus one to the value of the die. Players can use multiple workers to modify one die value. And yes, it’s possible to modify 6 value to 1 with +1 modifier and 1 value to 6 with -1 modifier. This gives you flexibility against the luck of your dice roll.

In addition of the actions mentioned above, players may also spend their silverlings once per turn to get the black / special hex tile on the central depot with the price of 2 silverlings. So what’s the difference between other hex tiles and these black tiles? Well, the black tiles consist of various types of tiles, this provides extra chances for players to get the tiles needed out of the six depots available.

Central Black Depot

Central Black Depot

A phase ends when the last player had completed his fifth turn of that phase. The depots (the six depots and the central depot) are refreshed (the goods on the depots are stay). The next stack of goods tiles is distributed to the goods slots. All players’ mines generate silverlings. The game ends after the last phase has been completed. The final scoring takes place, players get points from the end game bonuses from yellow / knowledge tiles, bonus tiles, extra worker tiles (1 point for each 2 workers) and 1 point for each silverlings tile.

Strategy
As you can see, based on the rules of the game play, this game falls right into the medium heavy category Euro games. You need to get familiar with the rules and all the settlement abilities to really understand what to do and plan during the game. At first, if you are not a gamer yourself, you might get overwhelmed by the lots of different types of settlements and specific treatments for them. It’s usual getting lost not knowing what to do during your turn, asking advise from more experienced players should be useful, though it won’t help much because experienced players usually have more wide range strategies that they can choose from. Just like his other games (his signature maybe), Feld made this game with lot of options, many paths to get points, which some might see diversification is the best thing, but don’t get it wrong, as many as you want to diversify, focus just on several not all could be an important key to play the game. Yes they all have potentials for you to get points, but not all can be accomplished in one play, players will need to choose which paths they need to focus on and which path they don’t need to. This is important, the run of the game should force you to make important decisions throughout the game. Whether the tiles you need will ever come out or maybe it’s already taken by someone else. The dice factor really adds some key element, though it’s pretty much random and luck, they provide coverage for your plan. The dice roll determine which action you can take and which you cannot during each turn, and to mitigate the luck factor, Feld added the worker tiles. It’s luck alright but you can still survive bad luck roll with those workers, bless them!During the game players will encounter some pretty interesting combo and combination effect with different kind of tiles and how big difference could be when timing the turn order. After one play, new players could easily understand how the game works and fully enjoy it.

Settlement’s Breakdown
1. Shipyards
Shipyard is a blue settlement with a ship image on it, The main purpose of this settlement is to advance a player marker on the turn order track. And aside from that, this settlement is the only way for players to gain goods tiles on available on the depots. There’s a little tactic that goes on with the turn order, being the first player at the start of each phase is very important, this way you can snatch the new tiles you want before someone else. Making sure that no other players will be able to surpass your turn order track at the last turn of the phase is always a good plan. So it’s good to run ahead leaving other players behind as soon as possible, not entirely true, though being the first player gives you more advantageous position, being the first player to reach the end of the turn order track has it’s downside beside achieving shipyard bonus tile and being first early on the game. Of course your opponents won’t do nothing being left out in the back, they will pursue you and when you’re already maxed out, the other players can eventually get on top of you on the track. Well, just like most Feld’s games, the tie breaker is based on the order of the stack, the one who’s on top wins the tie. So if that happened to you during the first half of the game, your second half would get you last,

Ship Track

Ship Track

2. Castles
Castle is a settlement tile with dark green color with a castle image on it. At the start of the game each player has already own a castle that marks his starting position on his estate. The good thing about castle settlement is the free action it gives. Immediately after placing a castle tile, the player gets one free action that he must immediately take. This free action can be any one action from the 4 available actions and doesn’t restricted upon any die value. So you can take a tile from any depot, place into any space or sell any type of goods.
And there are only 4 Castle spaces on the estate, so it’s not hard to complete to gain the bonus.
3. Mines
There are only 3 mine spaces on an estate, the least spaces from any other settlement, but of course it’s also has the least distribution tiles on the main board. Mines main purpose is to generate silverlings at the end of each phase. These silverlings are used by players to buy black tiles or worth 1 point each at the end of the game.
4. Pastures
Pasture is a settlement with light green color and animals. There are 4 kind of animals in the game, chicken, cows, pigs and sheep. This animals solely purpose is scoring points and points and more points. Each time you place an animal tile on a pasture space you score points based on a number of animal shown on that tile plus points from the previously placed animal tiles with the same type in the same region. So they could be many. Usually you gather them animals of the same type in the same region place tiles with most animals first so they can hopefully score more than once.

A Pasture

A Pasture

5. Knowledge
Knowledge tiles are yellow colored with various images, those images describes the effect of the tiles. There are two kind of effects, the end game scoring effect and the passive continuous effect during the game. Though the images is self explanatory, new players will need some adjustment and time to understand and memorize all of them.
6. Building
Building tiles are brown colored and have different kinds with different images. The description of each building is shown on the left side of each player board, and the symbols are also self explanatory. There is a basic restriction for building tile placement, players may not place more than one building of the same type in one region (unless you have a knowledge tile that allows you so). The building effects are surely interesting, there is a building that upon placement let you acquire a specific kind of tile from one of the depot (if available of course). Or a building that upon placement gives you 2 silverlings, or a building that upon placement let you to place any kind of tile from your storage to your estate and many more, I let you find out yourself.

Different hex types

Different hex types

The Replay Value
You can rest assure that this game offers you high replay value right from the start. The game comes with different player boards that you can try aside from the 4 basic boards for your first game. These other boards have different estate layouts that could give you interesting approach in the game paths you need to take. And also, playing with different number of players doesn’t work the same, since different number of players provide different number of tiles drawn in each phase and points given from selling goods. So basically, the replay value is quite good, playing over and over again is unlikely the same, since you cannot get everything you want in each game. Now let’s get to the bad parts, as you can see there are some aspects why this game is not as good as it should and some might agree or disagree. The awful thing to start this game is the preparation, you know separating and organizing those tiles are painful and unasked for. The game does not come with draw string bags in it, so you need to find at least 4 draw string bags to hold and randomly draw the tiles. And don’t forget to clean up after the game ends has the same painful effect (more I dare to say) since you need to separate those tiles back into the box based on it’s category. Looking on the tile’s thickness, I should say it’s supposed to be thicker than it is, so you can feel the goodness of the tile when picking them up. Not really important but could improve the premium feel of the game components, same thing with the player boards.

Draw String Bag

Draw String Bag

My Thoughts on The Game
No doubt that this is one of my favorite games in my collection, my girlfriend likes it. It even works very well with 2 players (quicker I must say). Two experienced players can finish the game in 45 minutes (aside the setup) and 90 minutes for 4 players. This is a game that finds a permanent place on my collection, no way I’m gonna sell it (or no way she gonna let me), it has this awesome feel of building something, some sorts of accomplishment to complete your estate in such a way and yes, you will feel the solitaire game in your estate but of course there is still interaction on the main board. This game is widely known and overly known as the most favorite Feld’s in my group though I am not completely agree with that statement. I still prefer Trajan over Castles of Burgundy by a hair or two. The game is fun, with simple rules and the building theme really fits into gamer and non-gamer alike. New players or casual gamers will find it amusing. The only reason why I picked Trajan over this game is Trajan is heavier game than this game, that has medium weight scale. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I prefer heavy Euro than medium. One to his own.

Images courtesy of BGG users

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2014 in Board Games, Dice Games, Euro 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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Meeple Town – Issue #03 July & August Special!

LO & BEHOLD, THE WAITING IS OVER!

Meeple Town Issue #03 – July & August 2012 Special!

Meeple Town Issue #03- Preview

Meeple Town is back, after skipped the last issue of July. But I wouldn’t call it skipped, since it’s rather re-allocated the July issue with the August issue, which brought this month issue a special one. Special indeed, with one issue covers up to 2 issues (July and August), not only the contents are practically improved and more beef inside, but there are other surprise elements and new articles popping up from inside. Please forgive me that in this special issue, there are no Wishlist Preview or Buzztalk! articles. But to make amends, I filled this issue with session reports, lots of reports and with a new article called First Hand Review.

What makes it more special is the arrival of my most anticipated game ever, yup it’s Eclipse I’m talking about. After 6 months waiting the back order, I finally got this baby and it’s becoming the subject of my gaming sessions, discussions and reviews. So, be ready the first impression of the game, overall preview and double session reports. The unboxing ritual is not yet available, which still in process in compilation for next issue.

So, don’t hesitate to check out, download the link and ENJOY!

Here’s the link:

Low resolution file: https://www.yousendit.com/download/TEhWcHBBTXY1bmhMWE1UQw

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Meeple Town Issues

 

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