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Essen 2018 Highlight Preview Part 4

I am back with the fourth part of the preview. There are some interesting titles here and some of them are going to be in my collection. Curious what games are those? Just read on!

pic4093955KERO
It’s a 2 player game of Mad Max. The game title is taken from the word of Kerosene, which is a scarce resource in the future. Each player will take the role of a rival clan, struggling to survive and explore new territories. The game lasts for 3 claim rounds, which is determined by the draw pile. Players take turns by fueling up with Kero, roll dice and collect resources to take cards, visit the native tribe or explore new territories. The unique element of the game is the Kero resource which represented by the hourglass timer with the shape of a truck. Each player keeps their trucks for themselves. When fueling up their truck with kero, opponent player will roll 8 dice in real time while the active player hold their truck in an upside down position (truck head downside). When the dice roll shows all fire symbols, the player must stop fuel the truck and place it flat on the table. The player then may spend Jerrycans to add additional dice from the shack to improve their dice results. Once ready, the player place their truck on the table on upright position so the Kero starts flowing and the player rolls their dice. The die is locked if showing a fire symbol. If the player ran out of Kero, they must immediately stop and gets nothing. When the claim card is revealed, the players claim new territories based on area majority. After the third claim card is revealed, players finish the round and check who has the most points. I think the game is quite unique with the hourglass timer and it’s implementation. Having your opponents rolls dice to determine the time for you to fuel your truck is very interesting. If only it is possible to play with more than 2-players.
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The RiverTHE RIVER
In this game, players will place terrain tiles on their river board to generate resources and storage spaces. They also have pioneers that they can assign in worker spaces to gain resources, build buildings, swap resources and gain tiles. It’s a very simple worker placement game, with limited resources in the game. What makes the game unique is the river board owned by each player. Briefly the tile placement is in a 3×4 grid (12 tiles) but the placement is following the river direction, which is from left to right down to left and then lastly, dow to right. This will affect players to gain score based on the terrain type scored per column. Matching terrain tiles from the tile of the top column in each column score points. Not sure the replay value will be good or not. I noticed that each player starting tile is drawn from the stack of tiles, randomized at the beginning. This give me the general overview about the tiles. The tiles are mostly balance, no sense of progression, so you just adding quantity to your board instead of quality. But maybe the game is intended for lighter getaway games.
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pic4308140CARPE DIEM
Another new title from Stefan Feld, which I think a lot more simpler than Forum Trajanum. Carpe Diem sets the game in a medieval Roman civilization, where players play as noble patricians set to build and improve their city districts. The game consists of four phases (7 rounds in each phases) just like in The Castles of Burgundy where they use the term ‘phase’ for ’round’ which sometimes could be misinterpreted by players because of the common use of the term ’rounds’ instead of ‘phases’. In this game, players will move around their marker on a circular (mancala-looking kind of board) spaces to take tiles based on the connected lines of those spaces. These acquired tiles are placed on the player’s board to complete a certain landscape, dwellings, market, bakery and fountain (which have different treatment). Once the mancala out of tiles, the phase is over and scoring begins based on the players’ progresses on Banderole track. Player who advance furthest score first, by placing one of his marker on an empty spot between two scoring cards and score points based on these cards (related with his board). So basically the game has tile placement (like Cottage Garden, Barenpark or the likes), very simple. The art is bad, period. Definitely an abstract, as opposite with the art cover. Not to mention the title is overwhelmingly generic, Carpe Diem, is latin for “Seize The Day” which I could say can be applied to anything, regardless the background setting fo the game.
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pic4220884SPELL SMASHERS
Here we go, a word game. You know that I love word games and I am really excited with this one. I guess there’s nothing new in this except that this is an improved version of Letter Tycoon (not having Letter Tycoon on my collection gives me a good reason to get this). Unlike Letter Tycoon, this game has theme, which players take the roles of heroes who fight monsters by crafting spells. The game has 7 rounds, which in each round there are 3 phases, prepare words, battle monsters and then visit the town. As you might already guessed, players craft letters to make a word (spell) to deal damages to monsters. Letter cards have damage value and type that will affecting the damage total based on the type of monsters. During prepare words phase, players are simultaneously craft a word with letter cards (also with the help of Armor and Weapon cards) and simultaneously reveal their words. Then they check their initiatives (most letters to fewest), longest one will go first and choose which monster they will be battling. After dealing damages, players gain rewards, suffer wound or complete quest based on the monster. Wound works quite unique, where players draw a wound card from the deck and add it to their hand. Wound card can be used to form a word, but generally they’re a combination of letters and harder to form and tricky to use in a word. There are ways to remove wound card, by playing it in a word or by using Shaman ability. During visit town phase, players draw 2 quests and keep one (max 2 quests at any time) and then they can visit 1 building such as Shaman, Tavern, Guild, Armory and Alchemist. It’s a unique take on a word game, the general concept that players can fight any available monster and accumulate damages (basically reducing points in the form of coins) on them is quite tactical. Having that said, this provide piggy-backing feature for players to see which monster is dying so that they can take out, though some might not like this concept. Overall, I definitely getting this game, great word game and illustration by the Mico, really peak my interest.
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pic4215812-2SYMPHONY NO. 9
I found this game by mere chance, and upon looking at the game description, I am interested. It’s a game about classic music composers (like Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and etc). In this game, players are taking the roles of music enthusiasts and will support composer to hold royal concerts. The game lasts for three rounds, where each rounds there will be three phases, Sponsor, Concert and Clean up. During Sponsor phase, players will taking donation cubes three times. These cubes represents reputation of each musician. Players will gain composition tiles from musicians based on the majority of these donation cubes. The movement of these cubes could be fiddly to analyze. After then players will finance the royal concert by spending money (wagering) simultaneously, the total money spent by all players will decide whether the concert is a bust (failure) or a success. The concert can fail because the money gathered is under the minimum value or to much above the maximum value. If it’s a success, there is still 3 levels of concert (low, medium or high). The level will determine which musicians will perform and players will get income based on their donation cubes of that musicians. In the Cleanup phase, musicians might be dead (if there is no longer donation cube in their career track) but their works can still be enjoyed by the public, as their works are immortalized through compositions. Players also have furniture tiles, which they can (at any time) sell to gain more money. But of course, keeping furnitures are essential in the household and give points at the end of the game. At the end of the game, players score points based on the scoring methods available on the game (there are different sets). I think the most interesting part of the game is the wagering part, which it can have different outcomes depends on the players as a group. The second one is the theme is kinda unique. Definitely on my top list.
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First ContactFIRST CONTACT
The first thing I have in mind when I read the rules is Codenames! This game reimplemented the core rules of Codenames into a more interesting game with suitable theme. I actually kinda fond of the theme of first encounter. This is a game of deciphering code of alien (foreign) language, translate them and fulfill the needs. Unlike Codenames, in this game players still divided into teams but, there will be only one winner from each team at the end of game. The background story is really interesting, one team will be earthlings while the other is aliens. Alien had come to ancient Egypt and they want to take things from Egypt civilization to be sold into intergalactic market (you can say it like that). But both Aliens and Egyptians do not understand each other languages and cannot communicate using words. So the earthlings need to find a way to translate the Aliens’s needs and offer it to them.
The general game play is still using codenames core deduction, but I think it has enough similarity as Word Porters as describing the nature of the goods. Basically earthling players need to figure out the symbol of certain characteristic from some goods available, the aliens will assign the symbol based on their interpretation, and what is good they want by drawing some symbols. Then after having enough information, earthling players will offer the goods by voting the requested one. If they are correct, each will get a benevolence token from the Alien player. This game is definitely in my must have list. I might prematurely said this, but this might be Codenames killer.

FuturopiaFUTUROPIA
A new game from Friedemann Friese (you can play solitaire in this one). As the title suggests, this game is about the utopian future, where people want to live leisurely the best they can. For this demand, they need the most sustainable system to accommodate their life and players need to build the fulfilling condo. In the game, players can expand the living quarters of their condo, which can sustain more people (for each people they need to provide their own bed). To sustain their life, people need to work (at first) but they need to improve, meaning let the robot do the work and they can relax and leisurely spend a great life. More needs means more resources, food and energy, to provide these they need generators. To keep the generators running they need to work, or install robots to work the generators, but that also means more energy needed for the robot to operates itself.
I think this is quite interesting, players will need to make a sustainable and profitable engine for their condo. I kinda like the idea and how the game plays. It uses action selection mechanic where each player has a set of 5 action tiles that they can choose for each turn. Chosen action tile is placed face down and cannot be chosen again before they use all the action tiles. So there is a small action programming / planning to take into account.
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pic4244955-2SOLENIA
Solenia is a game of hand and resource management. The premise is simple, each player has the same set of cards ((16) which all of them will be played throughout the game, 1 card per round. They place cards on the board, which consists of 5 pieces of double sided strip tiles (day and Night). There are certain rules about the cards placement, which affecting the position of the giant airship, card adjacency and using resource to lengthen the voyage. What tile the card is placed will determine what kind of effect the players get. If it’s a floating island, they get resources, if it’s a floating city, they must fulfill one of the available delivery tiles (day or night depends on the tile). Acquired delivery tile will be placed on player’s board slot, grating them immediate rewards. When a player plays a value-0 card, then the Giant Airship will move 1 space forward and the cards on the first strip will be resolved and the strip tile is flipped and moved to the back line.
The game is very simple, find ways to collect resources, then spend the resources to fulfill delivery tiles. The concept of day and night is also interesting, because after a cycle, the strip tile will change rom Night to Day or vice versa.
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Note: images are taken from http://www.boardgamegeek.com and full credit to their owner.

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Posted by on October 11, 2018 in Board Games, Insight, Previews

 

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Essen 2018 Highlight Preview Part 1

Okay, Essen 2018 is right upon us and how excited is that? Now there are lots of games coming your way, and you need to trim down that list with some new games that worthy of your collection. But you don’t know what games fit the bill just because there are too many and you don’t do any research? Well worry not, I did some research and might as well share them to you guys. Hopefully these preview lists are useful for your Essen 2018 purchase. And as usual, I will break down the list in several posts to keep them easy to read. Happy reading!

pic4037705CRYPTIDS
Have you heard of the thing that lurks in the night? Nobody ever witness the thing face to face and the rumors just spread wide and wide. You are a cryptologist and this time you are looking for the truth behind the urban legend creatures and where it is nesting. Whether it’s a yeti, chupacabra or something else, you must find it first before someone else. That’s how it is! In this game, each player will have a certain piece or information (different for each player) that holds the location of that creature you all are looking for. Players will take turns to gain information by either question someone else or search. This two actions will revolve around your deduction in order to find the correct location of the creature. The game has modular maps, which determined the map in each game. Players then, work their ways to gain information based on their piece of information. On their turn, players can choose to questioning other player, to do this, they have to put a pawn on a map space and choose any other player “Could the creatures be here?” The questioned player must answer with an honest answer based on the information they have by placing a cube or a disc. A cube if the answer is a NO or a disc if it’s a YES. If it’s a cube the player who asked also need to place their cube in a space that is not the habitat according to their clue. Another action is to search, this is done by placing a pawn on a map space that could be the habitat of the creature based on the information the player has and place their disc there, following clockwise, players must also place whether a disc or a cube. If all players placed their discs, that searching player found the location of the creature and wins the game. If at least one player place a cube, the search fails. The game surely has interesting deduction element, very simple but lots of memory and deduction takes place. There are maps and things on the board, so players can keep track what players did. Some said this is similar with Tobago, I have not try Tobago yet, so wouldn’t know how it is. It’s kind of an abstract game with maps, cubes and discs but an interesting one at that. If you like a deduction game, this might be a game for you.
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pic4089634ARRAIAL
It’s basically Tetris: The Board Game. The premise is about Portugal tradition of outdoor festivals. People will flock the streets because the festivals they often have. In this game players will organize their own festivals and try to attract the most visitors. The game is played over 3 rounds. In each round they will take turns to take action(s). Each turn they have 3 action points which they can spend in 2 ways. 1 pt to rotate the octagon 90 degrees or 1 pt to place a color piece on your street (this is a mandatory action that you have to take on your turn). Rotating the Octagon lets you get the piece you need in a specific orientation. Placing pieces on your street will be like Tetris. You will take the corresponding piece from the supply and put it into the bottom part of your board (you cannot reorient it no longer). If the placement of the piece cross the level bar, return it and any visitor on it to the box, those will not be scored in the final score.
Visitors are gained by placing specific color pieces on the board. If you place a piece which creates a zone (adjacent) of at least 2 tiles of the same color, place the matching visitor on that zone. If you add another tile to that zone, you don’t get additional visitor. If you are the first player to make a zone of certain color, you will get the couple visitor in addition to the single one. But this couple visitor can be claimed by other players who make the larger zone of that color. When you completely fill a line on your board with pieces, same as tetris (but slightly different) you raise one line of your level bar and place an individual visitor (white) on it. At the end of phase 1 and 2, each player will drop their level bar by 2 lines. If the bar doesn’t overlap any piece, move the white visitor to any piece on your board. If it does, remove the level bar as usual. At the end of phase 3, the level bar doesn’t move downward. Players get 1 point from each individual visitor and 2 pts from couple visitor.
I thinks the game is really interesting, very simple, just like tetris, which is kinda nostalgic in some ways. I kinda guess that this game will be a relaxing game, like Cottage Garden or Tokaido and a perfect companion in a very casual night. In addition that the game is designed by one of my favorite game duos, this is a good one to have. One side note, the pieces are not double sided, cause they are not intended to be. The back side has white color which I think kinda drab and lame, should be with the same color on the front (without illustration) to make them easy to recognize even if it’s on the reverse side.
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pic3956079-2COIMBRA
The game uses dice placement and drafting mechanics. In each round players will draft a die and place it into one of the four locations. The placement follows a different rule in each location. The placement in the castle follows an ascending order of dice, while other locations are using descending order. After all players have place their dice, then each player will retrieve their dice from the locations and take the corresponding actions. This is done following the location order from top to bottom. At locations beside the Castle, players will acquire character cards. Taking cards require cost which define by the type of resource it has and the amount of that resource needed based on the value of the dice. This means taking cards first cost you more than taking it last. Cards can be used for several things in the game. After that the game continues to Influence Income, where players advance their influences based on what colors of dice they have and gain the income depicted. Then players can invest in a voyage which will give points at the end of game depends on how you perform.
The game is quite simple, the illustration or presentation of the game looks amazing and colorful. I can see a small hint of Bora Bora in the dice placement mechanic (though I think it’s less elegant). The Pilgrimage aspect of the game feels really like Voyages of Marco Polo, where players move around and place their markers on locations to get the bonuses.
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pic4023265CARSON CITY – THE CARD GAME
Following the same concept of city building in the board game, Carson City Card Game uses a  square terrain cards (with each card represents 2×2 parcels of land) which players will place in front of them to build a city. In order to get these cards they need to participate in a blind auction, strictly confined within a set of cards with value 1-9 (it is possible to increase the ante with cards value of 10-11). During the auction phase there will be some terrain cards and a character cards available to be auctioned and once players already decided what cards they want to use, they reveal the cards and check who has the highest value card, that player will choose first and followed by others in descending order. Then they place their newly acquired terrain card within the range of 8×8 parcels of land with some restrictions for placement. The game lasts for 2 eras, which after the first era, their used auction cards will be returned to their hand and be used again in the next era.
The scoring is done based on the placement of buildings on players land and also some characters that provide points. The game can be played from 2 to 6 players, though playing with less than 4 players requires the use of virtual players that will balance the auction mechanic.
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pic4010727-2JUNK ORBIT
At first, this game really feels like a children or not serious game with simple and take that and randomness and luck elements on it. But the truth is, it is. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be fun. I hold myself to read the rules and turned out to my satisfaction, the game is really interesting. Though there’s a crunching numbers and AP potential on it, it surely interesting to see managing chaos get a hold of you. In Junk Orbit, 2-5 players will be junk pilots that will make deliveries of junk cargos across the Earth, Moon, Mars and as well as Phobos and Deimos. Each planet have different locations / cities surrounding it (thus the title orbit) and players will travel these locations in a very interesting manner. In players turn, in order to move, they have to launch a junk from their ship. They decide the direction on the launch and it will travel a number of spaces based on the value listed on that junk tile. When a junk ends it movement, it will stop on the city, it can rest there (nothing happened) or can be delivered remotely (congratulation to you) or it can hit another player’s ships (yes if there’s more than one ship, all of them get hit). When a ship hit, that ship must discard a junk tile from their cargo or delivery area into the city they’re in.
The funny and interesting part is, after you launch a junk, your ship will move in the opposite direction of the launched junk tile in the same exact spaces shown in the junk value. If when your ship ends its movement to a city that exactly match with one of your cargo, you just made a direct delivery (hats off to you). You place that junk tile face down on your delivery area. And then you pick up junk tiles in that city.  Ships can move between planets from specific cities which act as transfer points between 2 planets. I found the game to be very interesting, there are interesting decisions inside and totally a number crunching game. I just hope that it’s not diminishing the fun part from the game.
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pic3443532-2PRINCESS JING
It’s an asymmetric two player game with one player will be the princess and another player as the guard. The princess of course want to get away from the guards while the guards want to capture her. It’s a hide and seek, cat and mouse game with a twist. Players will try to pin down by using mirrors and the position of their player pawns.  The thing that doubts me the most would be how good the mirror even works. I bet in this hidden movement game, your discreet is really an essential thing, getting to look at the mirror would make your opponent kinda actually know where is the location, not exactly but maybe they can narrow it down. And given the mirror is not an actual glass mirror, you will be faced with blurry reflection, which I think could be on purpose, you never know. I just hoped this game has good replay value, it’s a 2-player hide and seek game, so replay value is important. They do includes the advance variant with more components and variable to add more replay value to the game though.
Apparently the designer himself commented on this post about my mistake in translating the game as an asymmetrical game. The truth is that the game is actually a symmetrical game, where both players have their own princess trying to escape from opponent’s guards. This change several things to consider, the competition is balance, players will try to be the first to deliver their princesses to their Captains. Pointing out the location of an opponent princess may give the player, time to complete their own goal because if they correctly point the whereabout of the opponent’s princess, they have to return back to the starting line. It’s an interesting one though thematically I would say it’s less fit with the game play. First of all, the game title is Princess Jing, but actually there are two princesses and the other one is Jing’s sister named Fang (should it be Jing & Fang?). And secondly, the game pits the two characters in opposite sides, though based on the story given they’re not fighting or even competing, but getting to reach each captain (but it’s not in whatsoever affecting the game play). So The concept is interesting, unique and definitely has great presentation, which will draw public attention to the table.
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pic4259360-2UNDERWATER CITIES
In this game, players will build underwater cities. Th game is played over 3 eras. Which in each era, players will play 3 cards or more. The game uses hand management and action selection. In their turns players play a card onto one of the available action slots on the board. If the card and slot have matching color, the card effect is resolved, if not only the slot effect is resolved. This is the core mechanic of the game, which players will manage their hands with cards which determine two things, the actions on the card and the actions on the action spaces that matching the color of the cards. It still feels like a worker placement game, but it uses card instead of a worker meeple. The main objective is to get the most points by building cities with buildings attached to it and the networks. Networks are important, because you need to connect the cities or metropolis in order for them to score / produce.
This is Vladimir Suchy’s new game and it uses different game mechanic from his previous games (Last Will, Pulsar 2849 and Shipyard and many more). I think he always use different mechanics in his games.
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pic4143114GUGONG
Gugong is a game with China as the background during the Ming Dynasty. Where players will take the roles of leader of powerful Chinese families, try to gain influence and power by exchanging gifts (bribes) with Emperor’s officials. The game uses an interesting card play mechanic where they place cards to get cards for future rounds. The twist is that player must place cards of higher value than the one they take. The game is played over 4 rounds and each round consists of 3 phases (Morning, Day and Night phase). During the Day phase, players will perform various actions by exchanging gift cards from their hands with the ones in the game board. As already mentioned that player can get a card from the board by placing a higher value card from their hand, this not always the case, and players can do something to get the card even if it’s higher or equal with the card from their hand (remove servants or discard another card or exchange without performing the action). The actions that player can take from exchanging cards are varies, from traveling to cities (to get travel tokens, which could be useful for several things during the game). Participate in the renovation of great wall, which would lead to a great wall scoring if a segment is completed. Getting a jade token from Jade Official houses, which worth as points at the end of the game. You can also climb up the intrigue track. You can also advance your envoys in the palace track to gain points. Obtain a decree which gives various benefits. You can also send your servant on a journey on the grand canal, to trade with outside people. In the Night phase, players can score points with their gift cards if one or more cards are matching the destiny dice. And then all ships moved. I think the game is very simple, basically the core concept is exchanging cards and taking the actions which mostly cost servants to take.
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Note: images are taken from http://www.boardgamegeek.com and full credit to their owner.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2018 in Board Games, Previews

 

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Essen 2017 Highlight Preview Part 7

Okay, it’s 2018 and still there is a long list of Essen 2017 games to be done. Have you acquired some of them? Feel free to share the new collection or discuss them here. Now lets move along to the seventh part of this long preview.

pic3736981_lgPULSAR 2849
2849 marks the beginning of an interstellar energy boom. Human finally invented new technologies that can harness or utilize the energy of pulsar for many different things. In this new dawn, players as corporations do not want to miss that chance and compete with each other to take part on this historic event by building megastructures in space. Okay, this sold me out, though I tend to avoid space sci-fi theme due to my wife’s disliking of the specific theme. My main interest honestly lies within the designer behind the game, Vladimir Suchy which designed Shipyard in the past, a game of building ships, which my wife really fond of.  So what game is Pulsar 2849? It has a round-shaped board showing a space in the galaxy with a star cluster and many planetary systems. In 8 rounds players will take turns to draft dice and allocate them to different parts of the game. There are so many actions to choose over the turns, players can move their survey ships around, develop pulsars, build energy transmission, patent technologies, and work on special projects. These are major things you do in the game, the truth is there are many other small things under this major actions you need to do. One of the interesting things in the game is the engineering and initiative tracks which run side by side depending how players want to use it. See, while drafting dice, players can choose any die but they need to pay the cost based on the median track of the available dice of that round. They need to pay the cost with their engineering or initiative. The thing is the higher the die value, the better it is. So I guess the game mitigates this issue by making the players to pay the cost, which getting a high value die is more expensive than the lesser ones. When paying the cost they can choose to move out one of their tracks (engineering or initiative) based on what die they take and its current median. Initiative will determine the turn order of next round, while engineering is like an income for energy cubes based on the position of the markers. When the game ends players score points based on their goal tiles, purple patents, claimed pulsars, leftover engineering cubes, and stations. There are so many things spread around the game and with those come so many choices to choose for. It feels like a point salad game, while you gain points based on what you do. I like how the game looks and can’t wait to try it out.
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pic3364832_lgPHOTOSYNTHESIS
This game is very interesting, you can see it only by the looks of the game set up on the table. There are card board trees, many card board trees. So the game is about the title itself, photosynthesis which is a process used by plants to convert light energy into chemical energy so that they can grow. In this game, players will be one of 4 different varieties of trees and compete to grow and spread their seeds in the sunlight. In the game players will get a player board with slots for many different size trees of their variety. There are 3 sizes of trees, small, medium and large. And players will start with 2 small trees on the board and can work to grow them and add more trees into the board. In order to grow, players need sunlight to light their trees. But the sun moves around and cast shadows. Shadowed trees cannot grow because the sunlight cannot reach it. That shadow comes from another tree blocking the sunlight, since there are different sizes, larger tree will cover the sunlight from smaller ones, making them cannot grow. In the game, players can buy trees from their player board to their supply by using light points, plant seeds around their existing trees on the game board, grow trees by using light points and collect scoring tokens by ending the life cycle of large trees. The game ends when the sun rotates 3 times and the last sun revolution counter has been drawn. I found the game has a very really simple set of rules but offers very deep tactical choice within the game. Players need to plan and take actions carefully by looking at the board situations and how opponents will act to determine what is the best thing they need to do on their turn. The components are good, it’s very nice to look at, definitely eye candy over the table. And the most important thing is it has a very nice educational value for kids (or adults alike) about how trees grow.
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pic3553913UNTOLD – ADVENTURES AWAIT
This interesting storytelling cooperative game is played using a set of Rory’s Story Cubes. For those who don’t know Rory’s Story Cubes, it’s a set of 6-sided dice with different symbols on each side (the symbol is unique one of a kind in a set). In the original game of Rory’s Story Cubes, players will roll dice and set a story from the rolled dice. It’s a loose game of storytelling. Now in this game, they took the cubes usability to a whole another level. With some rules and standard guide they create a structure needed for the dice to be used in a way that players will try to make more compelling and structured good story. Before the game starts, players will set a base story in the episode guide as a starting point and setting for their story to expand. The game also comes with character creation, a quite loose one at that. To create a character, players can use the story cubes (dice) as assistance to shape the character or do it freely and then fill out the questions on their character sheets. A character can also has special abilities along with companion or items than can helm them on the story. As most of good stories, it’s broken down to several scenes (orderly fashion), starting from A Dangerous Dilemma, The Plot Thickens, An Heroic Undertaking, The Truth Revealed and The Final Showdown. Based on these scenes players will reveal scene cards to guide them with their story. The symbols on scene cards will determine how players will use the die of their choice. Since this is a cooperative game, by the nature of this game, there will be an alpha player issue. It requires some sort of creative storytelling and imagination level from the players to create a good and interesting story that will engage them as the game goes by. So if you do not like these kind of stuff, sharing you imagination, give story ideas and like to playful with your stories, this might be not a good fit for you. It relies heavily on that part to determine the fun level of the game. There are some features for players to control (to some extent) on how the story goes, they’re given some tokens to alter the story in one way or another. Players can interrupt other player’s story with idea token (each player has two tokens), go back to the past and try to add more depth or details to the backstory using flashback token, change a die result by using a modify token and a play/pause card to pause the game to set a discussion about the story. This is not a game about winning or losing, it’s about how you build the story together and feel accomplished.
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pic3399864VIRAL
Viral is a game about virus (obviously) in a human body. Players take the role of different viruses trying to get viral points by infecting, spreading through different organs on the body. It’s a pretty unique theme, while Cytosis has a positive approach this one has negative approach. The main boars depicts a human internal organ such as brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, intestines and others divided into different zones. The game uses action selection mechanic with cards. In each round players will assign 2 pairs of cards (with each pair consists of 1 zone card and 1 action card) and then resolve the actions in turn order and discard the used cards (those cards couldn’t be used for next single round).  Players will have to spread their markers to different zones and organs to gain majority and zone controls. To control a zone, each player must have at least one marker in every organ in that zone. Some organs will have a crisis tile (depending on the number of viruses (markers) that organ has and number of players. Crisis tiles mark the organs where the body’s immune system will work. Some viruses on that organ will be removed (there also be scoring). There are also cures which based on the research track on each player. Player’s that already move into the top space on the research track will remove all of their viruses (except the ones with shield icon) from the board and reset the track back. The game uses tie breaker mechanism where players will determine which one of them win the tie breakers. So there will be a lot of tie situations on the game. The game uses vibrant color for the organs and it looks very contrast over the white background. It looks colorful and clear. But apparently I consider this overly too simple for this kind of game. I wanted more interlocking mechanics than just placing viruses and control the areas.
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pic3711919_lgPIONEER DAYS
This is a very simple dice drafting / allocation game from Tasty Minstrel Games. It is designed by Matthew Dunstan and Chris Marling. The game sets in a wild west frontier where players will set a journey with their wagons through the perilous Oregon trail. Life is hard in the frontier and it takes careful planning, cunning decision and perfectly timed actions to avoid disasters and complete objectives. The game lasts for 4 weeks (5 days in each week, 5 turns). In the game, players try to get points by acquiring Town folks, pairs of cattle, favor tokens, gold nuggets while avoiding take damages to their wagon. In this game players draft dice from the pool to do certain actions (Income, Action or Recruit). There are also Disasters in the game, turns out living in the frontier is not that peaceful, there are Raid, Famine, Disease and Storms. Disasters on the game are triggered based on the color of the leftover die that players didn’t pick up each round. Black die is the most dangerous of all which advance all the disaster tracks up one space while other colors only advance that particular color. I think the game is pretty simple, you pick a die and choose what to do in a turn. The drafting is a bit interesting with the disaster tracks. When choosing a die, you need to consider what will be the last die left. This will determine which disaster track would advance. The Town folks also interesting, aside from providing benefits to the players during the game, some of them also provide points generators.
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So, until next time.

 

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Essen 2017 Highlight Preview Part 6

We’re moving on to the sixth part. Now let’s see what I have in store for you guys in this highlight episode. New games to ponder, research, try and maybe eventually buy!

pic3382176_mdDOGS
Not sure this is also included as an Essen 2017 games but it’s new and listed as 2017, so I throw it in along. Hope it’s fine for you guys. Dogs is a very simple pick-up delivery game with worker placement game. It’s not great, it’s ok or decent. But in its defense if you like dogs or animals this would be a good choice. In this game you will own your very own kennel with a sole purpose to help stray dogs in the city (well honestly, your goal is the highest point, luckily it’s align with that noble charity work of helping dogs). In the game you will move around the city with your truck and collecting stray dogs (there are different kind of dog breeds) which then will be placed on your stalls (cage?) or infirmary if they’re unwell. After this players will take turns to assign their assistants in various places in the city, town hall to build more stalls, store to get food and medicines, vet to treat your dogs in infirmary, market to trade stuffs or fair to sell, buy or trade dogs. You must carefully plan your actions because you need to manage your kennel, give your dogs food and pay your assistant or get gas for next round. The game has a very tight money income and I think it really depends on the random draw of bonus cards (which could easily ruin your plans) and feels unnatural towards common game play in many other games. I think this brings a good and bad aspects to the game. First, the bad side is that you really depending on the bonus cards (more than the location action) and from round to round, players will mostly snipe money bonuses instead of other things, though sadly the first player will change in clockwise which is not a good incentive in this kind of rule, again if there’s a way to manipulate the turn order, it would be a good idea. The good thing is that it gives very tight and challenging aspect in the game. Money is very important in the game, it can make or break you. I find the game has a very unique feel and theme cause I love dogs, so it’s a big value for me. Aside from that, it’s an okay game of set collection and worker placement.
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pic3668630_mdOTYS
Welcome to the future water world. In Otys, players are part of the living colony above sea level called Otys where players need to retrieve the past humanity debris from the underwater remnants of a civilization drowned in order to build the future civilization. In the game players will have divers ready to get things needed to complete contracts. These divers are assigned to different depths to retrieve items, complete contracts and some. Basically it’s a programming game where you need to carefully plan the actions based on what you have and what the goals are. On player’s turn, they will choose a level and slide a key token on that level to the right and activate sponsor tiles corresponding to that level. Next they will activate the diver on that level. Then the key token is flip face down and place it on the bottom of the player board (in the left most free space of the hacker track) and the diver will be slide over to the top (resurface) and divers on top of it will move down. This will change the order of the divers based on the activated level. There are many ways to manipulate this process, by using battery tokens to re-arrange divers, or by using ‘x’ key token to manipulate the use of sponsor tiles. The divers have many effect and can also be upgraded to its advance side to give players with more improved skill than the basic side. There are lots of moving parts in the seemingly simple game play, which obviously makes the game kinda bit harder or need essential planning between actions. And it’s also a racing game to get 18 points to win the game. What funny is that recently I was attracted to several racing games which not the aspect I particularly like. But I do think this one is not purely a racing game (the end game trigger might be racing), in the end the winner is based on most points. I think the game has gorgeous artworks but unfortunately it’s not shown with a strong presence in the game. But the good thing is that the player boards have recessed slot that really works with the components. You will slide the divers often and having a well-made player board will improve the game play experience a lot.
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pic3728149_lgFALLOUT
Now this one is very interesting. The game is a board game adaptation of the video game with the same title. I think most gamers or fans have high hopes this one could do justice to the video game. It was released by FFG so the components and artworks should be top notch. I like the presentation of the game and it also boasts that every game will never be the same. Though I still don’t know how different each game will be. The game offers 4 different scenarios to play with and the characters have good quality miniatures with different abilities as well. As you know, the game has a unique setting of a post-apocalyptic world with a vintage steam punk art direction style and of course there are lots of iconic elements inside the game such as the pip boy and the VATS system, bottle caps, perks and other things. During the game players will get encounters, which is resolved with the help of other players reading the card for the active players. It’s more like Above and Below kind of game where players are presented with choices to make. They will also move around, exploring the wasteland (shown in hex map tiles put together), complete quests, trade, fight enemies and others. I like how the hex map is designed, it has beautiful (amazing) wasteland artworks but in the same time has clean and nice graphic design elements on it. One of the biggest thing in the game is that players can gain perks that give them beneficial effect throughout the game by activating / using sets of letters (forming a word “SPECIAL”) that players can collect. They also bring out the VATS on the combat dice where the damage allocation based on the targeted parts of the body. Players can die on the game, but worry not, there’s no player elimination. When they died, they will reset back (not sure where) their life (but not radiation level). Yes, there are two parameters in player’s health, life and radiation. When this two trackers meet, players die and the life track gets reseted back, but not radiation. So throughout the game the radiation level will pushing player’s life shorter. I cannot wait more goodness this game has to offer Since this is an FFG release, it should be available very soon on your friendly local game stores.
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pic3113311_lgWORD DOMINATION
Here is another game of crafting letters into word. There are few good word games, scrabble is one of them (legendary game) and others such as Paperback, Word Porters, Codenames, Hardback, Wordsy or Letter Tycoon. But not all are involving crafting letters into words, Codenames isn’t. Scrabble is good, no doubt about that as you jumped into the mind-boggling word puzzle. Your vocabulary knowledge is basically essential to excel at the game. For me, I love word games, Scrabble is a classic and I have had a good time with it in the past, but unfortunately the grid board really gives you a restraint to some extent (though it’s not particularly a bad thing for those who like it). I find the grid placement really restraining to craft letters into words, in addition with random draw of letters. Letter Tycoon is a more simplified word crafting game compared to Scrabble, but I found that the word has no real distinct value like in Scrabble. Now Word Domination is not the best, but it surely gives a gamey feeling. In this game, players will be a super villain that using letters to dominate the game to gain infamy points. Players will craft a word using a letter in their hand and letters available in the grid. The letters do not have to be adjacent and in order (which is an improvement than Scrabble for me). Crafting letters do not give players immediate points, but rather placing tokens on them. This is required if they want to claim letters. Players can claim a letter tile if there are 2 of their tokens on it, claimed letters are placed in front of players that can be passively used in future turns (exclusively can be used by the owner). But if players place their tokens in letter tiles with another player tokens, they remove the tokens back to the owners. This is area control game, where in 2 turns if you can secure the letters, you will get control over it. Players get points based on the final situation on the board, 1 point for each stolen tile and 1 additional point for each stolen tile in a group (3 or more tiles). I found the game to be quite interesting, in addition you can also play with different character abilities (and weaknesses). The downside is that the same thing with Letter Tycoon, the game doesn’t reward you with difficult word or letter values. It’s just the longer the word is, the better.
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pic3717815_lg-2NOMADS
This game was previously known as Jeju Island (from the same designer, Gary Kim) but this one was released developed by Libellud based on that game. It follows the same principle as Jeju Island, the Mancala mechanic. Players will try to tell stories or sing a song around campfire. In turns, players will either move and listen to stories, or write a song or legend. Moving is done by distributing discs in one direction and taking a tile (it could be a story tile, a moon tile or a wild tile). All players with disc on top of the stack will take a tile if any. Or players can claim a song or legend card by paying the cost. Song tile can be claimed once (players cannot change to another card in future turns) while legend cards can be replaced with better ones for each type. The game is simple, intermediate scoring happens during full moon (moon tiles form a full moon) where players will score points based on the total of legend card and song card they have minus the existing story tiles the possess. Its basically Jeju Island but with better game play, variation and better looking artworks. The game is simple, there’s a puzzle element to some extent. Also the characters have special abilities that could break rules to give more interesting options. It is a light medium set collection game, good for casual or new entry gamers. Of course for some intermediate or heavy gamers, this might be lack of challenge for their taste.
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There you go, another 5 titles from Essen 2017. 5 more on the works. Stay tuned and subscribe for more.

 

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2017 in Board Games, Insight, Previews

 

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Essen 2017 Highlight Preview Part 5

Next, our journey post-Essen continued with this 5th part of this highlight preview. I’ve tried Dogs in the past day, not sure it’s a valid Essen game, but it’s a Kickstarter game and just recently fulfilled by the publisher. It’s a simple game, yet we played it totally incorrect, shamefully in my defense that’s not entirely my fault. Okay let’s not ponder on it, move on to these games instead.

DeadlineDEADLINE
Deadline is a cooperative game with a setting where players are 80’s detectives who try to solve crime cases. The game comes with 12 cases to work with, with different range of difficulty, from easy, normal and hard. It also has several characters with different abilities. The game works similar like The Grizzled in term placing cards to complete objective or play cards to table that usually not good for the group. The game play works very simple, players try to complete the available clue cards by placing required symbols. Each completed clue card gives a certain amount of information about the case and what are the next clue cards available. The round ends when all players have passed or when they managed to complete all the symbols on the chosen clue. The game ends when players managed to clear all the clues or when they failed the third time to complete clue cards. This will lead to the question phase where they need to answer questions related to the case. Their answers will then cross-checked with the solution book to determine how well the players worked the case. I find the game to be a mini puzzle game that rewards players with information that relate to the case, it’s not directly related and thematically tied with the case. Thus some people do find it quite abstract.  Though the stories / cases are written well and provide interesting narrative in overall game experience. The game however has a very low replay value since when you’ve played and know the answers, there’s nothing can draw you back to replay the case aside from the mini puzzle experience or trying to improve your performance.
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pic3710491_lgPANIC MANSION
Now this is a game with a very unique approach from the dexterity genre. In Panic Mansion, players will try to escape from the mansion (or to be in one specific spot rather than out). In order to do this, they have to try to create the situation required in the objective. Each player will get a mansion board that consists of several rooms with partitions and all the meeples needed in each objective.
The fun part is that players need to direct their marker (and/or other markers needed) to complete the objective. To do this they will shake, slide or tilt their mansion board in order the markers to move from room to room until the objective is met. It’s surely a fun, new and bizarre experience in board game design and this can be a hit or miss game for sure. At first the objective level would be very simple and easy to do, but as the game progresses, the difficulty will increase and they will have to juggle more meeples in the same time. It’s a fun family game where you can laugh and move the parts of your body around, it’s like you shake a tray in search of gold (you know what I mean?). I for one, would love to try this game, though not sure if this will find a good place in my collection or not. Quality-wise, it has good and attractive components.
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pic3693999-2LONDON (2nd Edition)
Though this is the second edition of a classic game with the same title, it’s published under different publisher and got a complete overhaul in the visual aspect of the game. Osprey games did a very fantastic job on this one, it’s surely a work of art. I fall in love immediately with the box cover, which gives a deluxe / collector edition feel into the game. I for one, had been waiting this (kind of) game for quite a while. Never played it, but always eager to try and own Martin Wallace’s games. I know that not all of His games are proven great but some of them are legendary games such as Brass, A Study in Emerald (first edition) and Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. So head good reviews about it and luckily haven’t own the first edition, I jumped the wagon to own this one. I must admit that it is without disappointment. I guess no such thing is perfect. It has issues on the card quality, from the linen finish and the color consistency. I found the game to be brilliant, it plays fast, has very simple rules and very quick setup. You can setup and explain the game within 10 minutes. I personally like the game, the first time I tried the game, there was this feeling of a classic Euro game. Like it’s been quite a while playing games of this genre. I found it to be satisfying, it has a very simple ruleset but offers a rich possibilities on how you play the game. I must admit, there’s a small variability in the game due to the nature of the card variations within the game. It would be great if there are more card sets come with the game but there’s a randomizer to what sets used in the game. I think it would changed the game a lot. The game is more like a card game rather than a board game. In player’s turn they will draw a card and then take an action (either play a card, buy a borough, run your city or draw 3 more cards). Also there’s a twist on how players collecting poverty cubes involuntarily, which in the same time they need to remove it for it would gives penalty in the final scoring. Also the way of card drawing is affecting the length of the game into some extent. For me this is easily a keeper mostly because of the art and Wallace’s game, the good gameplay is a plus though.
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pic3624298_mdINBETWEEN
This game is a 2-players asymmetrical game with a horror sci-fi setting which can be relate with Stranger Things TV series. It’s a small box game that can be played in 30 minutes. In the game, players will take the role of human and the creature from different dimension. The goal is to achieve one of the winning conditions, whether to raise awareness to level 6 or influence a number of characters within the game or when there is only 5 characters left in the game. It’s a very unique tug of war, where players will try to pull the characters to a side of their own. Each player will have their own deck of cards with different effects and uses. In each turn, they can choose to take one out of the 2 available actions, play a card or recharge energy. Character cards also have abilities that can be triggered and have two sides showing the two different dimensions to determine which they’re currently in. The characters can be in 2 different dimensions, shown by 2 sides of the card (human or creature dimension). When players try to influence the character, they use cards from their hands (the symbols shown on the cards) to shift the safety marker on that specific character. This process feels like a tug of war where players pulling the character back and forth to their sides. It’s a tedious process for sure and it needs high amount of patience. Though somewhat the game can move back and forth without significant progress there are some aspects that players can consider and these will affect player decisions throughout the game. They need to cleverly analyze the characters’ abilities and how they are spread out in the game. Cleverly set priority which character need to be secured first will surely gives high advantage in future turns. Observe your opponents also important to react wisely before or after their moves. The game may have slow pace, I feel this as a creeping death and slowly grow paranoia and tension, thematically fit with the theme. It’s not a game for everyone though, since the gameplay requires certain understanding, slow paced and has different feel and tone compared with other games. For me, this game fits the bill for Stranger Things card game (if not a board game) and does justice to it.
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pic3717323BATTLEFOLD
This game reimplements a game called Fold It! and adds fantasy theme to give more attractive appeal. The game uses the combination of dexterity and speed element as it core mechanic. In this game players play as characters with different class and try to win the game by achieving one of two conditions, be the last living character or be the first to resurrect their ghost character. Each player will get a piece of cloth with a 4×4 grid icons, a player board and a marker. Each round players will try to fold their cloth to follow the pattern shown on the card. This is a speed game, the first player to match the pattern may take a turn order marker in the action phase. Basically the symbols on the pattern will determine the actions for the players in the current round. The actions are move, attack, potion, shield, item and trap.
When a player health is drop to zero, he died and becomes a ghost (flip the player board). However, he’s not out of the game, he can still move around (though cannot use any other action beside move and attack). Attack also have different effects. Attack action does not give damage to the attacked players, but instead give spirit points to players for resurrect purpose. Once resurrected, the player wins the game (unless another player has won before that). The game is simple but has additional depth to the folding action in the previous game Fold It! It also has interesting plays with the characters have different abilities. It is full of pattern recognition, puzzle and speed hand coordination (maybe).
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Another 5 titles are done. Now onto the next fives.

 

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2017 in Board Games, Insight, Previews

 

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Essen Spiel 17 Highlight Preview Part 4

Wow, it’s already part 4 and to be honest we (or is it just me?) just moving still. There are still many, many… (I emphasize on many) new games out there need to be previewed and I am ashamed with my speed. But no good whining about good stuff, let’s savor it the best way we can and buy it eventually.

pic3646165_mdRAJAS OF THE GANGES
This game is one of the games that I got my hands into. A friend got me this directly from his Essen trip. Bless you and your games man! Okay, this game is designed by Markus and Inka Brand, the couple behind Village, La Boca, Orleans Invasion and the famous EXIT series. The box cover in this game is breathtaking, I love it very much though the font type of its title is not so much, but hey as long as its inline with the theme. The cover shows a landscape of the famous Ganges river with looming figure of the God, Kali with colorful dice in her hands. In this game, players will take the roles of Rajas / Ranis in the 16th century of India and try to expand their province in order to gain fame and riches. Player that cleverly does so that their fame and riches intertwined, wins the game. The game uses some classic mechanics with added twist. The core is a worker / dice placement game with tile laying element. Players will have a province board and a Kali statue board with one die for each color (4 colors) with 3 workers at the start of the game. Players take turns to place their workers with the possibility of spending dice or coins in several places like Marketplace, Quarry, Palace and Harbor to do different things. Players can get province tiles from the Quarry by spending money and dice to add them to their province board. Players can also get money from Marketplace based on markets that they have on their province board. Palace gives special benefits that requires the cost of die of a specific value and also the place where players can get dice or convert dice to another color. Harbor is place where players can move up their Ships on the Ganges river. I found the game to be very simple, easy to learn and setup. It has the same feel like The Voyages of Marco Polo in the aspect of dice utilization. I’ve played several times and I like it so far. It’s one of few games that has a racing feel that I actually like (Lewis and Clark is still the best though).
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pic3582920_mdTHE CLIMBERS
Okay we head on to an abstract game. In this game you will try to climb a pile of wooden blocks as high as you can and get rid of your opponents. So the game comes with lots of different size wooden blocks with different colors on one side. These colors represent player colors. Before the game starts, players need to arrange the wooden blocks to a single pile (in any way they want) of course with certain requisites. Players take turns to move their climber from the bottom to the top of the blocks. To do this they can move up a level (shown by their climber’s “neck” level), if above this limit, they cannot climb it. Each player also given a pair of ladders, one small and one large. These ladders can be used once each to help them climb onto blocks that are higher than them. And also a blocking stone that can help them hinder their opponents for a single turn. But as it’s not enough, players also can only climb / move onto a block with the surface of their colors or neutral (beige wooden color). If I recall correctly, this game uses player elimination, since it’s possible that players can out of their movement. In this case they are out of the game. The game is actually not a new game, the listing page on BGG suggests it’s from 2008. I found the rules are very straightforward and easy. And the components are wooden blocks (so I expect it would be heavy) and can make a spectacle on top of the table. So if you like tactical movement with tolerance of abstract theme and a small direct conflict to block others, this might be good for you to check out.
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pic3489123_mdFLATLINE: A FUSE AFTERSHOCK GAME
This is a sequel game of FUSE, designed by the same designer, Kane Klenko. As you know, in FUSE, players work together to defuse a bomb, this time the bomb exploded and players need to save the casualties. They work in the medic bay of the (broken and crashed maybe) space ship just barely getting the equipment running to save the critically injured or dying due to severe explosion. Unlike FUSE, this game has more components (it has bigger box and definitely heavier) and meatier. In this game, players get their own dice (by colors) and there will be an exact number of rounds (8 rounds) in which they need to save all the patients before the last round or they lose. In the game one player will be assigned as the Chief Medical Officer, who will keep things up based on the round breakdown. The first one is to remove a round marker and draw cards. These cards are (yes) bad for the players. There are two types of card, orange (stat) and blue (emergency) cards. When they’re drawn, they’re placed separately based on colors. Then the CMO roll the emergency dice to determine which emergency cards are active. Then they discuss the plan this round. Okay before move on to the next phase I want to explain about the board. There are 4 sick bays (medical pods if you like) to hold the patient tiles (a different number of players determines how many tiles that players need to save). And in the center, there’s a dial with 4 connectors, with each of them connected to a sick bay. After the discussion, the CMO will start the timer (one minute) and players roll their dice and assign them all into various spots. Once the one minute time is over, players must stop distributing dice. Okay, not only to cure the patients, but also different places such as the cards and recharging stations (there are two of them on the board). These recharging stations can bring back one round (delay the game) but there are only 2 of them. The different color cards have 2 different effects. Orange cards must be solve in that round, if not they’re placed on fail space and a number of failed cards can make the players lose the game. Blue cards in the other hand, is not as devastating as that but when triggered they can hurt players quite bad. And the bad news is that there can be 2 rows of 6  blue cards present in the game (and that’s a crowd). Treating the patients is as simple as assigning dice based on the symbol, but this must be done in inline fashion (they must clear it line by line). The other restriction is that who to place the dice, must be one player only, 2 or more or each player. This will surely keep the players busy with their dice allocation. When this hit the bottom, players can also use cards from Triage (cleared orange cards have their good effects) or submit a die to have all players the option to re-roll their dice, but the die locked in it for the rest of the game (also its limited to submit a die here). And about the connector, once a patient has all lines covered up, they are removed and the effect column that connected with the connector will take effect (black means nothing, green means good effect and red is the opposite). These connectors are set up in a way that each patient’s tab will get connected differently with each other, this adds another element to consider about timing to clear the patients. I played this game for several times, with 2, 3 and 4 players and these plays were memorably fun and crazy, lots of hilarious and chaotic moments. I guess it’s not that easy as it looks, to assign dice among players. As people say, “more minds, more problems”, can’t argue to that. But I must say that the game is beatable, we beat it once with 4 players, though it’s just in training mode. But amidst all that, the sole thing that drawn me into getting this game is the dice, the custom dice. Yes, I am a sucker for it. I love the colorful custom dice, period.
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pic3606262_mdMEEPLE CIRCUS
Okay lets head on to a dexterity game. In this game, your motor skill will be tested. In Meeple Circus, players need to pile up meeples and the likes in order to get points. There are different shape of meeples, from basic meeples, animals and different objects. Players will do a great performance with 2 rehearsals (3 acts). In each Circus acts, players will go through a preparation,  presentation, evaluation and end phase. In the preparation phase each player takes turn to take a component tiles and act tile (in the order they choose). After that players must show to their best what the public demands with their acrobats and other components, yes you stack ’em up! Of course there are some restrictions, you need to stack them inside your circus ring, place it on their side (not lay it down) except barrels and beams and all components on the ground must carry at least one other components. Players do this against time and other players. The time is from an application with circus music themed (very fun and lively), once the music stop, they must stop. In evaluation players will gain applauses by their presentations through public demands, acrobat meeples and speed bonus tokens. Public demand cards are somewhat like objectives that player can follow through to get points (these cards have different categories shown by different colors and each act will have different cards available). Next are acrobat meeples, which have 3 different types of acrobats, beginners (blues), intermediates (yellows) and experts (reds) and they score points differently, interestingly it’s thematic in some way. The beginners score points as long as they touch the ground, while the intermediates score points as long as not touching the ground. Now the experts have very unique and interesting scoring mechanism. Experts score by using a custom designed ruler (provided from the game). They score based on their heights. Higher they’re the bigger the points are. The second rehearsal (act 2) works similar with the first one with small difference, there are guest stars that can give points in specific ways. The great performance has some changes, speed tokens are not used, double points from guest stars and each challenge will give points when completed. I think its a simple dexterity game, you can find similar games in this genre such as Animal Upon Animal, Rhino Hero and others. But in this one, they managed to make it interesting both in terms of theme and game scoring, totally well done. This is definitely on my must have list.
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pic3718275_mdAZUL
This one is one of the most stunning (if not beautiful) games released in Essen 2017. Azul is an abstract game with a very loose theme of aesthetic decor ceramic tiles originated in Alhambra palace, in southern Spain, called Azulejos. It was introduced by the Moors to King Manuel I when he visited. The king was mesmerized and awestruck that He began to order His architects to redecorating His palace in Portugal. In this game, players will be the King’s architects and try to decorate the walls of the palace. Each player will get a player board and the goal of the game is to be the player with most points after the game ends (which is triggered when a player successfully complete a horizontal line in their player board.). The gameplay sounds simple, in a player’s turn, the player takes tiles of the same color from either the factory display or center of the table and place them on one of their pattern lines. When all players already take tiles, next they place the tiles onto their 5×5 wall grid from the pattern lines and scores. The basic mode has a pre-definitive pattern shown on the grid, while on the back side of the board, there’s a blank grid (a variant, as expected for this kind of game). Scoring is unique, players will score the row and column of each tile placed. Players get one point for each tile currently exist in the same row and column line of the placed tile, and this is done separately between row and column. But the twist is that those points will be deducted with the tiles laying on the floor lines. More tiles, the negative points are bigger, so this put a huge consideration to the player’s choice when taking tiles. I found the game to be pretty unique, complex in the outside while the real thing is quite simple and pretty much 5 minutes rules explanation. This game required a great knowledge and plan further because the pieces placed going to affect subsequent turns greatly. I am not a big fan of an abstract game, but this one surely caught my attention due to its beautiful components, thanks God they didn’t go with card board tiles, that would be so lame. The tiles are gorgeous, beautiful, stunning and amazing (I am out of words), the game visual presentation is out of the chart, its an aesthetically work of art. I found it quite unnecessary for the score track in each player board, a single score track for all players would be more suitable since players can observe others and it surely mitigates the chance to knock or slide player markers off their place.

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I included two photos of Azul, in my defense, the game is worth it. So this has to end and I need to prepare with the next list. It’s been slow but I hope you can understand, since I also has couple of new games coming (though sadly not all of them are Essen releases). Also shamefully, my game review posts have been pending due to a lot of things (this is one of them). So until next time, with part 5.

Disclaimer: all of the images shown are taken from boardgamegeek.com and the credits go the owners, I do not have the rights for all the images.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Article, Board Games, Events, Insight, Previews

 

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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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