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Tag Archives: Kickstarter

Back From the Dead in Tabletop Day

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Holla, I am back, writing. It’s been what, months since my last post? Dunno for sure but, here I am with another post (not sure there’s someone really anticipating my post or even read it like a big of a deal. So what happened in the past few months? Well many or not many, but one thing for sure I am (and we are) celebrating International Tabletop Day (Sat, 29th April 2017), which is a topic worth my fingers numbing. So how’s your Tabletop day? Playing and celebrating with some friends? Mine wasn’t heavy into gaming, just stay home with my wife and luckily our friends came over from out of town and we did play some games, good ones.

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The Name of The Rose to celebrate International Tabletop Day

Lately I’ve been resting with the usual gaming sessions, and instead taking the fast non-stop train of Gloomhaven campaign. Do you know it? It’s on Kickstarter right now for it’s second printing and it’s spectacularly on fire right now by surpassing 3 million dollars pledge level. Congrats Isaac Childres (it’s game designer), keep up the good work. In case some of you want to know more or back, there’s still time, just go ahead to the project page and find out yourself about the awesomeness of the game. Find the link here.

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Its just unusual to me to put hold all the gaming sessions and play this game in rows instead, well there’s always the first for everything. I played the campaign with my wife, each of us handle 2 characters. It’s been a joyride, we love it, we cannot wait to find out what scenario we will take and what it has in store for us. Though I might say that the game took hours to play and we consumed our nights just like seconds burned through our delighted and enthusiastic characters. I think it’s safe to say that we are addicted to this game right now, which is completely amazing feat, since my wife is known to be not really a fan of this kind of games, and I also do not have history and experience in such games. But hey, whatever makes us happy is worth our time. And I will be doing another write (review) about this specific game in the next post but I still stand at zero. Hope things can be smooth and I can start writing them to the upcoming post.

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Starting the Campaign

So let’s take a loot (oh, I mean “look”) at another general matter. I also starting to introduce heavier meatier game to my gaming group at office, they’re complete noobs and to be honest this is something that kinda risky, but I can always tune it down when I think it’s necessary. From Camel Up to Takenoko, Codenames to La Isla, Parade to Potion Explosions and Grand Slam to 7 Wonders. And they seemed fine with it, a good sign. So let’s just wait how the ordeal goes in the next future. Hope to bring more meat after this. Maybe The Name of The Rose, El Gaucho or even The Castles of Burgundy.

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Also I just came back from our seventh gaming camp couple’s week back. It’s fun, though there’s just a few of us, but the spirit still the same, play games and have fun. We started up late and got many friends caught up with something can couldn’t join. It’s definitely our fault not to broadcast it sooner. We played a good deal of quality games, like The Colonists, Adrenaline, Anachrony, Kanban, Food Chain Magnate and such. This year was different because we changed the days, from Saturday to Monday, to avoid the post holiday rush on our way back, so we can actually relax and save time in the trip home. This was very good and everyone agree with the idea, and that surely will be implemented in the subsequent annual camps.

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The 7th IBG Gaming Camp, 2017

Here are some event photos you can check out.

Still strong on the gaming camp hype, our team sat down to talk some ambitious project regarding convention, first big convention for our community, to help gamers get to together and play games as well as to keep our community alive well and strong. Though we have some problems and limitations, we did have a good discussion and planned to get something going whatever it is. So all we have to do first is to pull some strings. Let’s hope there’s something good and big come out from it. Crossing fingers.

Apparently Roxley games launched it’s rework of Brass in 17th April and this was something I highly anticipated since a long long time ago. Goodbye EGG version, it’s a good decision not to get that version and waited long enough for such a masterpiece from the legend, Martin Wallace. So, a bit of a note, I dislike EGG business model and I do have personal vendetta against them due to my experience on backing The Gallerist which totally made up my mind not to back any games in KS from them. And the other thing was because the Brass ordeal. You sir, just make up into my shit list.
Okay so how’s the next Brass is going to be? So friggin’ awesome. I opened the KS page, check what they have to offer, read the pledge levels and “click” I backed the bundle pledge. Roxley has overdone it with this one, great revamp on the artworks, omitting the dull tone (though based on the theme, it seems reasonable but not expected) to a high contrast and beautiful art style from Mr. Cuddington, they’re so talented and they’ve made Brass into a work of art. And  not only Roxley revamps the game, they also create another version of Brass, with different game play and rules so in short, they make 2 games in this project, Brass Lancashire (the old and classic one with revamped art and streamlined rules) and Brass Birminghamp (same revamped art but different game play and rules). And guess what, Roxley even offers the bundle package with same cost shipping (USD 19 to Indonesia for both games, so sick cheap). I can’t wait for the games to arrive, though the custom fee for them will hurt my wallet.
Find the KS link here.

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Ain’t this beautiful?

Let’s move on to another topic, with Gloomhaven on my play list, I kinda short list my acquisitions lately. Well can’t say lately since I just starting this month. But for what it’s worth, I usually posting my loot monthly, so each month I will take a group photo of my newly acquired games all in the same month, and then post it on my facebook or instagram. And for April, there is none! Yeaaay… isn’t that something? Though I must say that I cannot do the same in the next month, since right at this moment a friend of mine is hand carrying Cottage Garden from Netherlands, weee…. Okay it’s been something that we (my wife and I) have been looking for, cannot find it here. So I hope Gloomhaven will occupy my gaming time in the near future and keep my purchase into a tight belt, there are good and bad sides to that, sadly.

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Time to go back into Gloomhaven

Okay, though it’s already 30th April and Tabletop day is passed, but not the spirit, we’re going to play some more and tomorrow I will attend a small event near my place held by my FLGS, Monopolis Wonder. Will demo one or two good heavy Euro games, hopefully things go smooth. In case you interested to join me, check here.
See ya and happy gaming!

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That Rush of Blood Up to Your Head

pic2439223_mdBlood Rage Review
Eric M. Lang is a great designer, no doubt about that. He has his own fans, to say the least. One notorious work He had done is Chaos in The Old World and damn, its so friggin’ amazing. I love it, not just because the theme, but the asymmetrical aspect of the game, the clever plays, interactions and full of conflict. “No offense, you’re just in my way” is something you recall it often when playing this.

So years after He designed Chaos in The Old World, He announced a new title that He claimed, shares the same concept but better than Chaos in The Old World. He even meant that it’s what Chaos should be. The game is Blood Rage, not published under Fantasy Flight banner but Cool Mini or Not, which was a potential publisher to be reckon with. The game was on Kickstarter and managed to amassed a great deal of pledges. So let’s join me to see what Blood Rage really is.
A reminder that what I talk about here is the Kickstarter edition, not retail, so expect some differences in components.

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What you get: Kickstarter Exclusives

The Theme
Blood Rage is a bloody game (you probably could guess it by its title). It sets in a Norse Mythology where Vikings believe in. Vikings go to battle, to win wars, come out victorious, plunder the glory or die in Valhalla in the name of Odin, their God. In this game, players take control over a Viking Clan (Raven, Wolf, Bear, Serpent) and try to appease the Gods so they will reward them with glory. The game takes place in the nine realms with Yggdrasil or The Tree of Life located in the center connecting those realms.

The Artworks
As you might already see, this game has many particular reasons why it’s so appealing, and one of them is the artworks, created by Adrian Smith. Smith is definitely one talented artist that could bring the illustrations and imaginations to life. His drawings are simply amazing, really evoking with the theme, setting and tone of it. Each character here is drawn very detailed and has its own persona or characteristic. Given by the theme and the clear visual cue about the game, I remind those who do not like images with horror and terrible looks, gruesome, dark, bloody and a bit of nudity, so not really a good choice for kids underage.

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Unboxing

The Game Components
This is for The KS version, with KS exclusive monsters. The most eye candy of all are of course its miniatures, with the total more than 50 miniatures.  Thanks to Kickstarter, each clan has 2 different poses for the warrior figures, so a bit of flavor and variant there. The monsters are excellently sculpted, they’re the ones that draw many attentions on top of the table, like Sea Serpent, Fire Giant or Fenrir (they’re big). And considering this is CMoN collaboration with Studio McVey, no surprise the quality is top notch. The board and cards are okay, wished that the player boards weren’t too flimsy but if they were thicker  the box wouldn’t able to fit them all. And speaking of the box, it’s just like the usual square box with more depth, due to the many components inside. The cover art is evoking, though upon close inspection, I did find the figure posed quite off. Aside from the box, there are two separate kraft-boxes inside the game box. These boxes are used to store all the miniatures inside. One for monsters, and one for units with plastic insert inside. Pretty cool to get things organized but unfortunately this also means more effort on setup and clean up. There are differences between retail and Kickstarter editions, which really shown in the components. Kickstarter editions have more monsters, plastic tokens instead of cardboard and also plastic figures for first player marker and the phase tracker, pretty neat things.

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The Monsters from Base Game

The Game Play
When you get a first look on Blood Rage, the visual presentation, some of you might think that this game is about hack and slash your opponents down to nothing. Just kill and destroy to win the game. This is where you are wrong. Aside from the visual, this game is pure Euro with a shot of direct conflict, not a regular Ameritrash (AT). The theme is strong, but when you strip them down, it has remarkable Euro feats such as drafting, area control and tableau building.
The game lasts for 3 ages (rounds), each age is broken down to several phases: God’s Gifts Phase – Action Phase – Quest Phase – Ragnarok Phase – Release Valhalla
God’s Gifts
The game is mainly divided into 2 major parts, this is the first. In this phase, players are given 8 cards, where they will draft until they have 6 cards. Discard the leftover cards and go to the next phase.
Action Phase
In this phase, from the first player and continues clockwise, players will take turns to do one of the possible actions (Invade, March, Upgrade, Commit Quest and Pillage). Before getting into the actions in detail, each player has a player board which contains spaces for upgrade cards, tracks for Rage, Glory and Honor points. Players will play upgrade cards to improve their factions, advance in Rage track to do more actions in each age, advance in Glory track to score more points  when winning battle and also advance in Honor track to increase their unit limit in the board. OK let’s back to Actions.
Invade – This is the basic action how to place units into the game board. In a single turn, player can take this action to place a unit (exactly one) into any unoccupied slot on the outer province (not in Yggdrasil, which cannot be invaded through basic action). Each province has different (and limited) amount of slots and once it’s occupied, no unit may occupy the slot. Invade with a unit costs rage points (the amount is usually based on the unit Strength,shown in the left top corner of the card / image) except if it’s a leader unit (the rest being warrior or monster units), which is free to invade.
March – If Invade is about adding units inside the game board, March is about moving units from one province to another. This is the basic way to move your units on the board. The cost is cheap, only 1 Rage to do a March, in which you can choose more than one unit in one province to move into another province (Yggdrasil also counts, so this is the basic way to move units into Yggdrasil). Yggdrasil is an area that is located in the center of the map / board (surrounded by all provinces), and it doesn’t have slots for units, there’s no limit in this place.
Upgrade – This action requires players to play an upgrade card from their hand. Upgrade cards are divided into several types such as warrior, leader, clan, monster and ship upgrades. Players play these cards into their board by spending Rage points shown in the left top corner of the cards. These cards is the core mechanic that make players have asymmetric powers one from another along the game progresses.
Commit Quest – Quest is one out of many ways to gain points. To complete a quest, players not only to do / achieve some sorts of condition or tasks but also they have to commit on the quest first. To do this, they have to have a quest card (from the drafting) and play it when taking this action (by committing the quest) and only then they can gain the rewards from completing the quest. But no worry, even if you cannot complete the quest, there is no penalty at all (aside from failing to get points), kinda weird huh? Well, the interesting part doesn’t lies in that reason. There are many things going on in this action, at first I thought there’s not enough incentives not to play quests or why not if there’s no penalty. The twist here lies on timing and situation, which in this kind of game, are very important things.
Pillage – One last action is Pillage. With pillage, players try to conquer provinces, and sometimes if there are other factions join in, it turns to battle. It doesn’t cost players rage point to do it, but the trick is the player must still have rage points. Pillage can only be done when the player has at least a unit in the questioned province and it’s still not successfully pillaged yet. When doing Pillage, other players in clockwise order from the pillager have the opportunity to jump in if, there’s still unoccupied slot in that province and They have a unit in adjacent province to spare. After that, battle happens (if there are 2 or more factions in the disputed province). The battle is simple, pillaging players must play a card (if they have any) from hand and reveal it simultaneously. They sum the strength of their unit and the strength value listed on the battle card played (only battle cards are counted), don’t forget to resolve the effect in the card if any. Player with the most strength wins the battle, gain the reward listed in the province, glory points and discard his played card. The losers, may keep their card and all their units are moved into Valhalla (destroyed).
This phase ends when all players have passed their turn. Then players must discard their hands down to 1 card.
Quest Phase
Now players check their committed quests, whether they fulfill the quest or not. If they fulfilled their quests, they receive the points listed and have to advance one step from one of the three tracks. Luckily, if you cannot complete the quest, no harm’s done.
Ragnarok Phase
During this phase, Ragnarok happens in the province shown in the progress board. All the units in that province are destroyed and sent to Valhalla. Seems bad, right? Well, not entirely bad if you want it, at least it compensates you with glory points for each unit dying in Ragnarok. This could be profitable for players, since the points for each unit dying because of it increase over age. So this could be a strategy to keep in mind, especially in the last age because there is no point of having units at the end of the game, why not make them give you points.

The game ends after the third age, which players tally up their scores based on their tracks (each track gives +10 or +20 points when reached the last or second to last place in its track. Player with most glory points, wins the game.

The game core mechanic is drafting, which is essential because the cards drafted will determine players’ actions and strategy. Players will build their factions by the cards they played, adding monsters into their faction and improve their clan or units. The cards in each age are different, they’re progressing in strength and also reward. This drafting requires players to know the cards first, what they can do and how they works with other cards to make better combos. So for new players, this could be a disadvantage but since everything will  be easier in the subsequent plays, I suggest do not worry about this, consider the first play as learning session.
The cards (or you can say faction progression / improvements) provide the strategy aspect of the game, meanwhile the deployment of units represents the tactical side of the game. This game is very tactical in nature, where you deploy units and when, really affecting the outcome of the game in a very big way. Even a small decision can make or break your plan. Units deployment is very important because it affects a lot more than you can imagine, the slots are limited, so first one get dibs. Players also has limitation of unit on the board and also rage points strictly limiting your options. Timing also takes a great part in this game, since placing units and pillaging will relate heavily on your opponents’ plans.

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Miniatures with plastic insert

My Thoughts on The Game
The game is great from many aspects, components, theme, the artworks and also the game play. At first this game had been compared with Chaos in The Old World, another game the designer made in the past (which also one of the greatest game ever made), even at some point the designer himself said that Blood Rage is the kind of game where He wanted Chaos in The Old World to become, this statement was really intriguing, but after experience it in person, I must admit that this don’t have that material to be on the same level as Chaos in The Old World, but make no mistake, it doesn’t  mean it’s bad and it doesn’t have better things than Chaos in The Old World itself. It’s a whole different kind of game. Chaos relies heavily in the asymmetrical aspect of each factions and this brings issue in the player count that leaves unbalance play. Chaos has such deep and clever play of cards and units throughout the map. Blood Rage has simple rules and easy game play and of course with shorter game length. The miniatures are top notch, better than Chaos, obviously.
While it presents with direct conflicts, Blood Rage doesn’t place the winning strategy winning battles, players may also pursue different strategies, this leads the game to have another interesting aspect, which is bluffing in the card play. “Sometimes losing is the best way” phrase really plays its part in this game.

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Aside from many goodness of the game, the game also has bad sides, which in my defense aren’t many. I thought the box quality is too thin given the weight of the components, the player boards and Age tracker are too flimsy thin, the cards aren’t in linen finish but that’s okay. The only big disappointment for me is the box is already too full to accommodate the expansions and fifth player expansions (you can put it all but need certain modification to the insert which already good enough for me and wanted to keep it that way).

Replay Value
To be honest, there’s not much replay value in the game, aside the different card plays and combinations. There is no variable player powers, the boards always the same, monsters in play can offers good variables but that’s also limited. All the cards are almost used in the game, so not many variability involved. Of course there are expansions, the God of Asgard and Mystics of Midgard which add game play variants. The rest lies in the player interactions and how they play.

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Posted by on January 10, 2017 in Board Games, Euro Games, Kickstarters, Reviews

 

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Cute Animals Can Be Watchmen Too

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Watchmen of Destiny Preview
Watchmen of Destiny is currently on Kickstarter, you can check the KS page here. In case you are wondering what this is, it is a card game from Lukas Litvaj about cute animals as something called Watchmen supposedly to watch something. And to my surprise as I looked where was the publisher name, it’s self published. So good luck to him!

Let’s get down to it shall we?
The game components are mostly cards (hell it’s only cards), hence it’s a card game. Don’t stop reading please… cause I think this game is great. Small games, only cards but interesting to play. The background story is that players need to hire watchmen (cute animals with different races and classes take on the world of Ninjas, Assassins, Warriors, Mages and etc) in order to protect the so-called Tree of Destiny. The player who hires the best army to protect it will win the game. The game ends after one player managed to hire 7 watchmen (still finish the round), but that doesn’t mean that player wins the game, there’s a scoring to decide who has the highest point.

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Each round, players will take a turn to do four steps (or less). The first one is using an item from your disposal, this step is obligatory, so a player must play an item card. Item is very important, it determines the number of cards a player can draw this turn and how many action points they have aside from having a special effect. Each player will be dealt a number of item cards based on number of players at the start of the game, but the first player will have a necklace item already played in front of him as a marker to be the first player this turn.
The second step is purchase tent cards. Tent cards are used to accommodate your recruits. Each tent card can accommodate a single watchman. So basically a player need to purchase 7 tent cards in order to hire 7 watchmen. Each tent card cost 1 gold coins, which can be paid by spending a watchman card with at least one gold coin symbol. Players can buy more than one tent card at once, sum up the total cost and pay it with watchman card(s), but keep in mind, overpaid value is lost. Based on Rahdo review, He has a good idea to set up 7 face down tent cards in front of each player. So when a player buys a tent card, he just need to flip one of his face down card. This makes it easier to track each player progress from time to time. Good job Rahdo, you’re the best!
The third step is hire a watchman (which can only be done once per round). To recruit a watchman, a player must play it from his hand and pay the cost listed on the top left of that watchman card. Put the hired card on top of an available tent card in your display but show some space on the above to track activation available in this watchman (how many activation this card can be used is listed on the bottom center of the card).
The last step is to perform the actions available. As I already mentioned before, players will gain action points from using an item card and the available actions are listed from their watchmen based on their classes.
At the end of each round, the player with the necklace item will have the first pick to choose one of the items used by players (he cannot choose his own item card) in that round. If a player choose a necklace card, he will be the first player next round and this is the only way that a player may end up having the same item card he played in this round. If the necklace is not changed hands, the first player doesn’t change.

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The Scoring
When the last round is over (a round when one player or more hire the 7th watchman) it’s time to do the scoring. Each player sums up all the cost of their hired watchmen. And add modifier from Warrior card (+1 point for each warrior hired). Then subtract one point for each pair of watchmen who have the same race and class. And finally each player score points from majority of each race. The last scoring is unique since the amount of points from winning this majority is equal the total amount of cards of one race in play.

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My Thoughts on The Game
The first caught my interest is, of course the artworks. Super cute animals (I love animals, and my girlfriend loves them too) really done the job. Checked the price and shipping and it’s not really expensive, BAM! here I am, a backer. At first I thought it’s just a simple (mindless, empty and so ordinary take that) card game, but when I read the rules and watched Rahdo’s review, I was wrong. This one hides quite a powerful punch in the game play. Yes it uses hand management, but honestly the main appeal is not in the hand management, but how to efficiently put your cards to use. The mechanic of the tent cards and action point allowance is so good. It forces you to think your next move, your actions are limited based on the item card you choose to use at a given round, yes the item card is very interesting, players will be given the dilemma to choose which item to use because it provides them several benefits to be considered. How many cards they can draw, how many action points and also what effect the item has. This really affecting the outcome of the game. And the available actions from the watchmen are fewer from time to time, force players to consider the timing and plan their moves. I like the idea of having watchman cards that are limited and at some point will no longer can be activate. It’s like they’ve done their purpose and we shall hire another if we still want to use a specific action. I love the distribution rules on the item cards in each round, this way mitigates the luck of the draw from the item cards.
So I think this one is a pretty little card game that offers quite interesting game play. A bit of “take that” feel from the Ninja action but overall the game is about efficiently use your cards. I definitely think this is a good one to back if you like a  card game since the components are, of course, only cards. And not to mention the art is superbly amazing, cute animals! But of course it could be more interesting with name for each character, that would be more attractive, easy to mention the characters during the game if they have names.

So let’s take a look about the project and what’s in store in the upcoming days (13 days to go). Here’s the stretch reward goals.

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At this point there are already tons of stuff unlocked, a whole new race, more cards in each class, better card quality. And multi language rulebook (which I found to be pretty much useless). I guess me being Indonesian is used to use English as a main language when it comes to board games. But that’s how it is. The latest one being unlocked is an interesting one, a better box. Well, sleeved cards fit into the box is really something for me, since I will definitely sleeve this one. They also added some Kickstarter exclusive SGs but I don’t think it really important, unless if you’re being a completionist (I have that feeling). So I hope these locked SG’s will be unlocked in the next days. Hurrah for the project!

 
 

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[mini review] Trickerion: Legends of Illusion

Mini Review of Trickerion: Legends of Illusion
In which I know this doesn’t do justice to the game, because there’s nothing mini in the game (except the crystal shards compared to the stone). But nevertheless I was so excited about the game that I thought it would be nice to make a short review about the game.

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Kickstarter Edition with Legend Box (Exclusive box sleeve)

This game was released in 2015 via Kickstarter (in 2014) and had garnered some buzz among the geek. I backed the legend box with exclusive contents (dark alley expansion along with magician powers). The game is heavy, there are a lot of components stuffed inside, hundreds of cards, tokens and trickerion shards, huge player boards (yes not the game board itself, let me make myself clear that when Rahdo claimed this game as “devourer of tables” I was wrong to think the game has huge game board, in fact the main board is kinda small considering my expectation to that title).

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Game Components

 

I love its visual presentation (basically one of many reasons why I backed the game) with a bit classic and fantasy touch bring the glorious past time full of magic and wonders. But the character illustrations are another thing, not really fond of them.
The game is looking fairly complex from a glance, many components and bits scattered around that in the same time it gives you amazement and confusion. So how is the meat really taste?
I’ve played it twice in full mode with the expansion (one of them also with Magician powers), we hit it right off the bat with full mode just because we’re arrogant bastards, yes we are. How on earth we cannot handle this game, if we already beaten Kanban or The Gallerist? Well, we’re kinda mistaken. In the game each player will take a role as magician, who will compete in such prestigious arena where the legend himself (Dahlgaard) being the host. In order to perform, you magicians need to learn tricks and prepare them before the shows begin. But to prepare tricks, player need to have the required components, in which if they don’t have them, they need to get them in the market row. Once prepared they also need to set the trick into the stage located in the theater, where players will book stages to perform the best they can. Once they perform they will get fame and coins based on their tricks and other bonuses.

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Game in Progress (Downtown)

 

In the game players will assign their characters (Magician, apprentices and specialists) to run errands across the town’s 4 locations (5 if you are playing with Dark Alley expansion). Placing the characters are purely worker placement but with innovative twist (with assignment cards). These cards are assigned face down in each characters and players will reveal them simultaneously, this will create tension and mind reading play as players will guess what other players will do in a round. Also each character also has a base action point that they can add with the slot modifier based on where that character is placed. This combined mechanism give players interesting decision making during the game. A headache to begin with. Also the assignment cards are limited for each location, so players cannot as they wish, send all their characters into a single locations to abuse the usage of that location in a single round, in other words, your management is crucial.
Another interesting part is the trick cards. There are 4 trick categories (Escape artist, illusionist, spiritual and mechanical) that are available and each magician has one of these categories as their personal preference. By learning tricks, players build their engine on their board so that their tricks can gain profit (of coins, fame points and shards). But preparing the tricks is another headache, you need to mix and match the components required among the tricks you have so that you can get the components from market row as efficient as you can be. I found this to be the most challenging part of the game (though it’s not the only one).

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Stage Performance on the Theater

When you want to perform, you need to go to theater, where in a round (one week) magicians will fight for stages and performance schedules so they can gain the most out of the performances. First of all, if magicians want to perform they need to book the stage (their magicians do nothing with the 3 action points) and also set up the trick (although two actions can be done separately in different weeks). When booking a stage players can choose to book the day they will perform (turn order) from Thursday to Sunday, where Sunday will gain extra profit while Thursday will gain less (very thematic, I like that the theme are tailored quite well into the game). Setting up tricks let players placing their trick markers into the performance cards (it’s like a mini puzzle where players will match the trick into slots and creating links). These cards will then be performed by magicians on the stage. All tricks placed on the chosen performance cards will be scored (regardless who activates them). So order of activation is very important, not mention that performing also get bonuses from the links, specialists supporting the performance and also the card itself. The game is complex, though it’s look simple by the game phase breakdown. Players need to build their tricks arsenal and put them in the right spots and in the right time to steal the highlight from anyone else.

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Player Board

Honestly the game takes a very long time, we played both games in 4 hours plus (exclude the game explanation) and there were lots of errors because of the complicated and fiddly rules. But in overall, I love this game very much. It scratches that itchy feel to build something and tinker with it. The interactions are high where players will battle positions on each locations and when performing. I love the theme, and how it integrates very well into the game. This game is surely one of the best games in my experience.

 
 

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Kickstarter – Heldentaufe

Hi guys, with this post I want to introduce you about a new game that’s on Kickstarter right now, called Heldentaufe. This game is from a new publisher, Board Game Circus, from Switzerland. You can check the project here.

Heldentaufe Box & Components (rendered)

The Game


You can read the brief description right below:
“Heldentaufe – An adventure board game for the whole family
 
Two worlds – One game: The unique experience of Heldentaufe arises from two distinct but connected realms: The Upper World and the Netherworld. Heroes can travel back and forth to the separate worlds through portals. Events and activities in the Upper World are mostly serene and peaceful. You will harvest natural goods, carry out missions and trade items that you find. Somewhere hidden in the Netherworld lies a bright and shiny treasure – but what underworld would be complete without monsters and traps?
 
Heldentaufe is easy to learn and has all the key ingredients of a true adventure game (discovering treasures, collecting items, completing missions, and battling monsters).”
 
It is an adventure game for the whole family, judging by the visual you can see why. The illustrations are beautiful and you can see the similarity with Dixit in a way. So what makes this game unique? Let’s find out.

The first time I checked about the game, the illustration hooked me instantly, now you know how illustrations or visual presentations really matter. It’s colorful, beautiful, cute and fun in the same time. They are toying with cute chibi children characters and also scenes with vibrant colors.  When I read more about the game, apparently the game offers more than it looks, interesting game play and accessible to wide range of audiences (children to adult, male to female). Of course it’s about dungeon crawling hero adventures and treasure hunting (which is more likely attract males), but of course they made it as friendly as it is so the opposite sex also interested on it.

In the game, players will play as adventurers who will venture to find monster teeth (somehow these teeth are something of great value in the game). Player who collects a certain number of teeth will win the game. Of course in order to do so, they need to explore, find and battle monsters. And maybe they encounter treasures along the way. Those teeth can be collected in some ways, mainly by defeating monsters or maybe by completing missions.

Here’s my thought on the game’s strong points:
A. Two Worlds.
They explicitly stated that in this game they offer the players two world in one game. The Upper world and Netherworld. Upper world is here, our world, in the surface of earth, such as forests and meadows, and of course portals which are the entrances to the Netherworld, an underground world under the Upper world. These two world provides two type of gaming experiences, where the Upper world is a place where players will go venturing around (peaceful and serene), while the Netherworld is where battle takes place, players will battle monsters here.

Heldentaufe Area Tiles, Figures & Dice (rendered)

The Upper World

Heldentaufe Netherworld Map (rendered)

The Netherworld

B. Great illustrations.
As I already mentioned before, the game has beautiful illustrations all over it, the characters, maps, items and backgrounds. These amazing illustrations are works of Mathieu Leyssenne, the illustrator behind the game Jamaica and The Hare and The Tortoise. He did a great job for this one, it has Dixit feels on it but more 3D-ish.

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Beautiful illustrations


C. Wide range access.

Yes, this game attracts not only gamers but also casual gamers alike, and children, or females. The friendly nature of the illustrations really did a good job to make this game accessible to children and female. Even with dungeon crawling aspect, this game offers something interesting. And also the game play is really simple. In each turn players will have some Action Points to spend and with those points they can choose from the available, either reject a mission, move or attack. So children can basically play this game with some guidance.

D. It pleases gamers in some ways.
Okay, what if you’re a gamer? This looks children game and not challenging and not satisfying as your kind of game. Maybe not, but it has characters with different stats. So you can explore play style of each character. It also offers variability on the game setup, like the monsters different stat in each setup.
Like the monsters, if you defeat a monster, you will get some teeth and this affecting that monster stats in the next encounter because each time they’re defeated, they worth more and more but also stronger. It’s like monsters in video games, the more you defeat them, the stronger they are.

Heldentaufe Hero Cards (rendered)

5 Different Heroes

E. Immerse into the game.
Yes, this game can be played in a certain way that you feel like it’s a dungeon crawling Dixit. The cards i the game have illustrations that can be relate with each other as free as you want it based on your imagination. Of course it’s not affecting game play, but it can be fun for some people who like this kind of story telling element in the game.

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The Game

Sounds neat right? Well, I like the game already, but I’ll be honest, frankly put this game is not perfect, it’s far from it but I also don’t think there’s a game that is perfect in my eyes. This game is beautiful, we all know that, interesting and looks very simple. Not let’s look upon it’s downsides.
A. The shipping.
Okay you all know where this is going right? We’re live in a place where board games are not cheap, aside from the generous price they offer us below the MSRP, board game prices are in general, never be like it is. Yes, we live in Asia, where to get games, we need to import them from European countries or US. The thing is the shipping price is bad (most often) and that hurt us so much. This game has a US $40 price tag and we can live with that, it’s quite normal from what you’re getting, a good game with a good components. But if you add the shipping cost, it’s like getting another game. Unfortunately they charge $40 for this game’s shipping. And we’re like “what the…” and be done with it. I know this, I dismissed my plan to back the game because of this, but do not lose hope, they offer a pnp pledge level and that’s quite affordable. I am looking at the game components and I think it’s fairly feasible to do the print and play. Some cards, boards and tiles. The pledge level is US $12.5, not a cheap one but judging what you will get is fairly modest (with all those great illustrations). I pledged this level by the way, not final yet but it’s a start. Maybe you guys can consider backing this level if the physical shipping is way beyond what you can afford.

B. Character standees.
Okay, another classic issue. I know for some, standee is disgusting and miniature trumps it anytime. I agree to this, but if they use miniatures instead of standees, the price would be higher than it is. I already brought this issue to them and their reason is reasonable. Even with small number of miniatures in the game (5 heroes, 3 monsters and a boss), getting these with miniatures, will make it hard for them to be flexible to add more characters or possible expansion in the future with limited print run.
Heldentaufe Box & Figures (rendered)

C. Variability.
Okay I already mentioned this in below as one of the strong points but the truth is, for me as a hardcore gamer, that kind of variability is not really affecting the game in a huge way. It’s just randomization, but practically it’s the same game. The characters have different stat, but that’s it. Okay they have equipment that can be upgraded to higher levels, this should offers something during the game, but I think it will wear off quickly. The random setup of the monsters, I must say it’s very minor just like the random setup of the Netherworld. What I want is branching out story lines, different monsters or bosses that could change how you play the game, objectives that will drive you to constantly adapt from game to game. If they could offer these, it would be amazing. And I almost forget, the battles  in the game use dice, yes dice rolling and high results. That could be a problem for more advance gamers. This luck based battle resolution some times not in our favor. So this is worth to be mentioned, but I understand the necessity of using this system to resolve battles, after all it’s a family game.
Heldentaufe Netherworld Map, Monster Card Closeup (rendered)

I hope you guys can find out more about the game from my observation and if you are interested you can pledge the game or maybe print and play files on Kickstarter. If you want to know about the game, you can check its rule here (not final though). Or check their facebook page.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2016 in Board Games, Kickstarters, Previews

 

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Stockpile – Early Review

Hi, it’s my first early review. What is an early review? Well I called it early review because it’s a review for a game that not yet final or complete. Stockpile is on Kickstarter right now and therefor this is my early review of the game. Nauvoo games launched the Kickstarter project on 21st of October 2014. The game is designed by Seth Van Orden and Brett Sobol. You can check the project’s page here and maybe consider to back this awesome simple game.

Box Cover

Box Cover

Stockpile is a game about stock market and insider trading that can be played with 3-5 players (there’s a 2 player variant but not sure if they already make it official or not) in surprisingly 30 minutes. And in case you’re not familiar with and/or intimidated by stock market and trading do not be afraid, I can assure you the game is very simple and easy to understand. In fact aside from the fun, it’s a good way to introduce the topic to people that are strangers to the theme. What’s inside the game Stockpile is a simple game that involves stock shares and market with bidding element, set collection and also economy. In this game, players need to get the most money by the end of the game to win the game. In order to do that they will have to buy low sell high company shares, investing stock shares and try to be the most stock holders in all companies. The game comes with a double-sided board (picturing basic game and advance game board), player mats, money tokens, player & game markers and of course cards ( lot of cards).

Game Layout

Game Layout

The Meat
The game plays in several rounds (depends on the number of players) which in each round there are several phases that will be resolved in order. At the start of the game, each player will get a player mat and a market along with 20 grand worth of starting money and also one out of 6 company shares (secret). The round runs in several phases, these phases are Information, Bidding, Action, Selling and Market phase. During Information phase, each player will be given 2 cards (hidden) that contain information of a company and what market condition their stock is in and also there is a set of cards opened in the main board as a collective information for all the players. Depending on the number of players, there are possibilities that there are also several sets hidden in the table. And each player get 2 cards from the draw pile (these cards can either be company shares, action cards or even trading fees) that are placed in player’s hand (not on his player mat). The second phase is bidding. Cards are drawn from the pile to fill the bidding slots on the main board based on the number of players and starting from the first player clockwise, each player assign the two cards from their hand to these slots, one face up and one face down. The cards can either be placed in the same slot or different. Once all the players already placed their cards, the bidding starts from the first player by placing his marker to one of the available slots. Each slot has spaces that determine the value of one’s bid. Players need to place his marker higher than the previous marker (if any) in the slot to outbid. Player that was outbid by other players can outbid or move his market to another slot. Players with highest bid marker on a slot cannot move his marker to another slot, they can only do this if another player outbid their marker. Once each player is the highest bidder, the bidding ends and each player needs to pay the bidding cost depends on the value where his marker is placed. If there are Trading Fees among the cards, the owner needs to pay the cost listed. One thing about bidding games is that the bidding tends to be flux based on the players or the gaming group. So it’s a mixed feelings to be sure, some players easily bid high or maybe some players really bid low, both kinds give the game different feels. During Action phase, starting from the first player clockwise each player have to play action cards that he has (he cannot keep action cards for future rounds) to manipulate the company stock values. After that in Selling phase, starting from the first player clockwise, each player is given the chance to sell their company stock. In this phase of course players can guess or read other players mind and insider information, whether to follow others or not which is a plus situation in the game, there’s a trick taking and bluffing situation going on and players will definitely react differently in each game. In the last phase, starting from the first player clockwise, each player reveal his inside information cards and adjust the company values. There are 2 conditions in this phase, bankrupt or stock split. When a company goes bankrupt, players need to reveal their shares to show whether they have that company share or not. If they have, they must discard that company shares (the company value then reset back to 5). But if a company value goes stock split (raise above 10), players need to show their shares, if they have split shares, they get 5.000 for each share in their stock split portfolio (10 grand for one card) and then move any company cards from their stock portfolio to stock split portfolio. Each company card on stock split portfolio slot is counted double in selling, dividend and majority shares. At the end of the game, players check majority for each company shares, player with the most shares get 10.000, if there is any tie, tied players get 5.000 each. Then players sell all their shares. Player with the most money win the game.

Company Shares

Company Shares

My story behind the game
I actually did not know anything about stock market and trade, these all are so alien to me and that’s intimidating. But when Seth (Van Orden) posted in BGG about playtester for his unpublished game, I was there and interested to try. So I asked him a permission to try the game and he delightfully gave me the print and play files. In order to print and play the game I read the rules first so I can understand the game and make necessary adjustment with the files as I see fit. I could see it uses a lot of cards and I decided to make the cards smaller that the real size so I can save papers (printed them front-side only). As for the board, I also resized it for the slots to perfectly hold the cards (single sided, didn’t print the advance board) and also made my own custom temporary player mats. When I learned the rules I noticed that it’s very simple for me, someone who didn’t know anything about stock market. So once I managed to get everything done I started to ask my friends to try the game.

My Print and Play version

My Print and Play version

My Custom Player Mat

My Custom Player Mat

The first try was in a 4-player game which turned out to be a success. We had so much fun with the bidding and push your luck element of the game. When I explained the game to some of my friends that actually know something about stock market, they confirmed that the game rules stay mostly real and correct. Some of them had comments about how the rules really work in reality which I already discussed them with Seth by mail as feedback of my plays. But Seth did managed to explain their reasons and I thought they’ve done a great job to convey the subject into such an easy but fun game. I did test the game several times, with different number of players (3 and even 5 players) and these tests were all successful.

Investor Cards

Investor Cards

The game also has advance board and character cards. The advance board gives players more variable in company share values (I have not try it yet, but I am sure it will change the players treatment for each company’s shares. And the character cards will give more variation to the game, with character abilities and also different starting money. The game has awesome artworks, it conveys the stock market world very well. The sophisticated cartoonish look with clear and simple vectorish style.

Game Presentation Rendered

Game Presentation Rendered

Overall
Game play: 7/10 It’s a fun game for both casual or non-gamers and serious gamers. Theme: 9/10 Successfully portrays the theme very well but still easy to play (you can say that the game is perfect as a beginner’s tool to undestand stock market and trading. Some rules are simplified from the actual reality but it’s for the sake of simpler game play and mitigate fiddly elements. Difficulty: 5/10 It’s difficulty goes as far as basic economy, so most people will find the game easy to understand and has simple game mechanics. Game time: 3/10 Even playing with 5 players, it only takes 45 minutes most, so it’s quite fast for a game that packs something clever in simple way. *some images are credit to the publisher and BGG users

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2014 in Board Games, Card Games, Reviews

 

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Rolling In The Sky

Art Cover

Art Cover

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

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

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

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

Custom six-sided Dice

Custom six-sided Dice

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

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

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

The Board

The Board

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

 

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