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Shoot Kill Repeat!

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

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

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The player figures

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

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

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Deathmatch in progress

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

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

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One-of-a-kind Weapons

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

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

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

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Victory Points

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

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Playing the game

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

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

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

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Crowded space, high conflict

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Survival Has A New Name

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The Grizzled Review
Okay, just bought this recently and I already logged many plays over this one. So what is The Grizzled anyway? Truth be told The Grizzled is a cooperative game (yeah, I don’t like coop games, but this one is among the exceptions) that sets in the first world war timeline, where a bunch of village men (from France) were forced to take arms and go to war against their will. They promised that if they survive the war, they will get back together to their village. In case you don’t know, this one is based on a true story, historical! The game was published by Cool Mini Or Not (which is unusual for them to release a game without minis, hey it only has cards and some tokens) around 2015 and has garnered quite worldwide attention (a positive one).

The Theme
As you already know from the above description, The Grizzled set in WWI timeline, where some group of village men in France were forced to go to war. They had no choice, but fought for survival, not about winning the war, but how to stay alive together until the war ends. This story was told from the characters themselves, surviving the horror of life called war. And the game recreates that story, which they described as a living hell. In the game players will take up one of the roles of the characters, fight to survive alongside their teammates. They must survive until peace comes or one of them die before then or they lost their morale.

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The Artworks
Simply authentic, since the game was adapted from famous graphic novel, it also used the same talent, Tignous. I did not familiar with the name, though maybe Europeans or French might. But whoever Tignous is, his works are amazing, the style is very fit to represent the era and situation. Warm but rough that represents familiarity and the hardship during war. Sadly, he had passed away in the Charlie Hebdo shooting, may he rest in peace.

The Game Components
Nothing special I must say, though the small box really suitable to say the least. The cards are good, with nice linen finish, but I advice to sleeve them since you will be required to shuffle them often. The tokens are good enough, no complaint. They also provide a square game aid board for reference but not that is really necessary. They also provide a stand we for leader player, a nice addition, though also unnecessary.

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The Game Components

The Game Play
The Grizzled is one of those co-op games that shares partial information to the players, keeping them unknowingly about the situation of other players’ hand aside from what is on the table. Though not knowing other players’ hand, players can figure out some clues along the way, which I must say this one requires more subtle and advance deduction and card-guessing than games like Hanabi or The Resistance (well no bluffing though).
In the game, players will undergo missions and working together until peace is resolved (there are 25 cards form a trial deck on top of the peace card, they will removed these cards so that peace card is revealed and they win). The restriction is that no one get killed or before their morale runs out (which is a morale card beside the trial deck with some cards on top of it). These cards are their morale indicator, when the cards in this deck run out, they died.
At the start of the round, the leader will declare the mission intensity, which is how many cards that each player will be dealt from the trial deck. More cards they deal the faster they go towards peace, but more difficult to finish the mission.
Then starting from the leader, each players take an action. The action could be playing a card from their hand, using their lucky charm or speech token. Playing a card from the hand could be either playing a threat card (cards with threat symbols) to the No Man’s Land (center of the table) or playing a hardknock card beside their character card.

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Using A Speech Token

When playing cards to the center of the table, players must play a threat card, nothing else. Threat cards are cards that consist of one or more threat symbols on them (there are 6 threats, Whistle, Mortar, Gas Mask, Night, Snow and Rain). These threats represent obstacles that the group has to overcome through the mission. If at any time there are at least three threats of the same kind present in the center, the mission is failed.
Aside from playing cards to the center of the table, players can play cards toward themselves, which is to sacrifice themselves by playing trauma or hardknock cards. Trauma punishes the group by adding virtual threat (depicted on the card) as long as the player is active on the mission, while hard knock punishes the group / player during mission in many ways.
Another actions are using a speech token or lucky charm. Players can spend a speech token they have to get rid of cards from their hands that share the same threat that they declare. Very handy but speech tokens are limited, so not to be used carelessly.
For lucky charm, each character has their own lucky charm preferences. Players can use their lucky charm (once) while their character card is still face up. Once used, the card is flipped face down and the lucky charm cannot be used again until they flipped it face up again in later turn.
If they cannot or do not want to play an action, they must or can withdraw from the mission. When withdrawing, they play a support tile (if available) face down and will no longer take part in the current mission. This means they do not take another turn and also their hardknock and trauma cards do not take effect.

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Samples of Threat Cards

The mission is over if it’s completed or fail. Players completed the mission if all players have passed. In other hand, they failed if there are 3 or more threat icons of one kind present in the center of the table. Failed mission is not the end, it just makes the road to peace is further away, which lead to morale drop. Check support tiles, the player who receives the most support tiles this round will get the benefit to either remove 2 hard knock cards or refresh their lucky charm. If they failed the mission, the player only able to remove 1 hard knock card and cannot refresh their lucky charm.

After support phase, there is a morale drop. Each mission the group will always remove 3 cards from the morale deck and place it on top of the trial deck. If the sum of cards in players’ hands more than 3, for each excess card, players add a card to be removed from the morale. If the morale deck runs out, the group lose the game.

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Sample of Hardknock Cards

My Thought of The Game
I think the game is very refreshing, unique but stays simple and easy to learn. You can explain the game in 5-10 minutes and start playing the game. The game also plays quite fast, 15-20 minutes per game and you can play back to back if you have more time. I usually don’t enjoy cooperative games (mostly because of the decision making and alpha male issues) but this one is different, players do not share all the information and they were kept in the dark about other players’ hands. I like the simple idea by playing cards with symbols on it, and the catch is easy, they failed the mission if there are 3 symbols of one kind present in the game. This is a controlled situation (mostly) since they have full control what cards to play (aside from the trap effect). So given the situation, there are many times that players were forced to play bad cards to themselves or withdraw even they still have cards in hand.
The interesting part is they need to determine how they treat the missions, either they want to reach the peace in a hurry (but risky) or keep calm and do small steps. This is interesting since players cannot just fooling around since there’s a morale deck that keep on reduced on each mission. But if players rushing it in, the difficulty rise up. So they need to find a way to keep the balance and survive. Yep I haven’t told you before about it, the game is about survival. And the game play really reflects that in many ways.
I just like how they integrate such a small and simple game into a theme with strong flavor and very immersive from it’s characters’ point of view. I find the game to be relaxing and fun playing with friends or family (nope, never try with family before) disregarding the theme context of war. It’s about survival and nothing is bad from that.

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Sample of Trauma Cards

Replay Value
I don’t think there’s many replay value in the game, but of course since the beginning the game is not really that easy to win, so players will struggle to take up on winning and with different players, there are different feels. But the good thing is that there are some modules and variants to keep you entertained for some time, enough until any expansions released (wait, there is an expansion). The expansion will greatly add replay value to the game, haven’t tried it yet but looking at the preview, it surely damn interesting.
In fact the game’s difficulty can be adjusted, though I am sure the default difficulty is hard enough, it’s good to know that even if you and your friends beat the game at default difficulty you can step up on the game with harder ones (moving cards from morale deck to trial deck).

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Characters that you can play in the game

 

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2016 in Card Games, Reviews

 

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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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You Don’t Need to Be Right, Just Make Sure One of Your Opponents Fell For It!

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Box Cover

Yabunonaka (In A Grove) Review
Would you believe that this game has a box with the size of a cigarette box? Of course you would, why wouldn’t you, right?
Hattari or Yabunobaka (or In A Grove fr its English name) is a small pocket-sized game that you can snuck it anywhere (yes, anywhere). It’s designed by Jun Sasaki and published by Oink Games which already known with their characteristic small-pocket sized games such as Dungeon of Mandom, Deep Sea Adventure, Maskmen, A Fake Artist Goes to New York and etc.
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The premise is its a bluffing and trick taking game with a scent of deduction element in it. There’s a crime happened (murder to be precise) and there are 3 suspects in which one of them is the killer. Now players will try their best to accuse one of the suspects and try not to be exposed as liars (accuse the wrong suspect).
The game plays with 8 man-shaped card tiles with numbers from 2-8 and blank tile. This number is the main information for the player to guess which is the killer. The killer is the highest number from the three suspects. But the twist is, each player will have one tile that they know and they will draft the tile one time so they know 2 numbers, sharing it with their neighbors. Based on this information the first player will secretly look 2 suspects and he can decide whether we want to tamper the evidence or not (switch one of the suspect with the victim without looking at the victim’s number), and marked it with tamper marker hence players will know which one already has been tampered with. Now he must decide which one is the killer by placing his accusation chip in one of the three suspects. Then the next player may look the other 2 other suspects beside the previous player had already accused.

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There are restrictions such as the blank tile is always innocent, and if there are number 5 in one of the suspects, the killer is reversed, the lowest number is the killer. Once all player already accused, the tiles are flipped face up to see which one is the killer. Players who correctly accused get their markers back. But for them who accused the wrong suspect, they have their markers flipped to liar side and the owner of the top visible marker take the whole stack to his supply (along with other tokens below his). This will add his supply with more markers. To determine the loser, players with 8 or more markers in his supply is the loser, if no one then the player who runs out accusation chip is the loser. But if no one, the game continues to next round, the first player is change to next player clockwise.

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At first this game is weird for its end game situation. But once you try it you can see how the game really works.
Based on what information you know, you can make a small deduction to accuse and of course other players’ actions also crucial to give you hints, but beware of the bluffing since the last person to accuse taking all the risk.
It’s a fun and very fast game that you can play up to 4 players. You can play it basically anywhere and anytime since you probably need only 5-10 minutes for one game. The downside is it’s replay value. It relies heavily on players’ behavior and way of thinking. With several plays maybe players can guess how the game works and might be less interesting compared with the first plays, but of course, with different groups, there might be different feels and flows of the game.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Microgames, Reviews

 

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Better Than Jenga

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Box cover

Super Rhino Review
Probably everyone of you already know about Jenga, a game of moving blocks to the upper part of block pile. Yes it requires dexterity from players to pick a wooden block from the pile and place on top of the pile without causing the pile to collapse. When the pile is collapsed, the game ends. As simple as that and it’d been quite popular in our childhood.
So Haba published a game with the same mechanic as Jenga but without wooden blocks, instead with cards. It is this game, Super Rhino. It’s positioned as a children game and has funny and cute theme of cartoon-y Rhino who is a super hero. He likes to climb building over building (don’t ask why). As you can see Rhino is a heavy weight animal, so it’s quite dangerous for it to climb buildings, because some buildings might not strong enough to hold his weight. So that is the game all about.

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As you can see the game consists of one Super Rhino wooden meeple (it has good print of the character), some wall cards, roof cards and also multilingual rules. Note that you need to bend the wall cards first before playing it the first time.
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Game Play
Before the game starts, players will decide which foundation / base that they will use in the game, standard or advance version. The difference between the standard and the advance version lies only in the number of walls in the ground floor to support the building. Each player then will receive 7 roof cards drawn from the draw pile. Starting from the first player clockwise each player will play one of his roof cards from their hand to the existing walls to form new floor for the building. To do this he/she place it carefully on top of the wall cards on top of the building. And then place some wall cards on top of it based on the pattern listed on the roof card.
The next player then continue to resolve the special card effect (if any) and play a card. This continue until one of the end game conditions are met. The first player to play all his cards would win the game. If the building collapse before that, the player who make the building collapse, lose the game. And the winner is the player with fewest cards, or if there’s any tie, tied player with most special symbols on his cards win the game. Or if all the wall cards used up, the game also ends and the winner is player with the fewest cards.

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Cards with special symbols adding more surprise and interactive element in the game. Players can play these symbol cards to their benefit or to screw others. The timing of the special symbols really important to support player effort to win the game. But as you know, this is a dexterity game, so no matter how good your plan and cards are, you still need to depend on your hand coordination. It’s a simple game, you can teach new / casual players in 5 minutes and play it around 5-10 minutes. It’s fun and has a very cartoon-y art. The main appeal in the game is how players maintain to keep the building in balance while he/she moves Super Rhino meeple from one place to the next. It’s hilarious and children will highly love the game. And unlike Jenga, this game uses cards instead wooden blocks, which is more subtle, easy to carry, not noisy when it fell through (except the player’s hysteria). And the game is easy to store under small box. Though it is a card game, I don’t think you can sleeve the cards, because it will affecting the game play.
In short this game is way much better than Jenga. Better storage, better travel-friendly, simple components and attractive theme to children. Even the mechanic is more interesting and interactive than Jenga. What’s not to love?
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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Card Games, Reviews

 

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A Long Write Comeback

2014 is rolling. I know that it’s been months that I haven’t had any post to this blog, and I am sorry for that. Let me make it up to you guys with this one.

It’s already a new year, 2014 is on our path. So I’m gonna write a whole lot of stuff regarding 2013 specifically about Essen 2013’s games. Yes that’s the latest hype and let see if those games live up to the hype in my book.

Essen is always an interesting annual event for me (and also for board gamers of course), the reason is simply because there are lot of new games being launched in this event. Long before it’s even coming, we all already made a list of games that we expecting in Essen. Now for Essen 2013, there are lot of games that were added into my list, some of them of course I managed to purchase. But some I only or need to try them first before making any purchase decision.

I’m gonna write a small review (more like sorts of an impression) about Essen 2013’s games that I have managed to try.

Euphoria : Build a Better Dystopia (Nov 16, 2013)
I don’t know if it’s included as an Essen 2013 game or not but it was first shown (officially) on Essen 2013 if I was not mistaken. Jamey Steigmaier is a great designer and an honorable man. His KS project of Euphoria really really a hit and I was quite disappointed for not backing his project. Anyway, I was a playtester for this game with the prototype and I was surprised that my name and my friends’ names are on the back of the rulebook. Awesome Jamey! Proud that my name was immortalized on his game’s rulebook. So it wasn’t the first for me, but at least it’s the first for the official published version of the game. When I looked at the published game, my impression was over the moon. The game’s components are exceptionally great, those beautiful shapes of wooden components, great looking custom dice sets, awesome cards and don’t forget the two-sided board with alternative color tones. Okay enough with the overkill produced components, let’s jump into the water. I guessed there were no significant game play / rules changes from the playtesting. The game has a unique dice allocation mechanic (which is attached with a nice thematic worker intelligence) along with set collection and the core mechanic of VP racing. That’s the main discussion over here, VP racing mechanic. Personally I do not like a racing game (not thematically) and Euphoria is one of those games. This is the main reason that I did not back the KS project.
In overall, the game’s goal is to be the first player to place 10 stars. Once you do that, you win the game immediately. That’s what I called sucks.
But when playing the game I was enjoying the process, though I still think that the winning condition is irritating. For me this game has a collector value and worth to have.
My score would be 7.5 out of 10. It would be 8.5 if not for the racing game.

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Russian RailRoads (Nov 22, 2013)
This one is one of my favorites of Essen’s 2013 games. Why? Well you need to feel it yourself. But I’ll try to explain it to you the best I can.
At first I was not interested on this one, the title seemed very 18XX-ish if you know what I mean. But a friend mentioned to get this game and that made me look into it. Surprisingly the visual presentation did a very good job intensifying my interest. After reading the rules, I ordered it from amazon with quite a bargain on the shipping. While waiting for my copy to arrive I tried a copy of my friend’s. The rules are simple and easy to understand, just like a simple worker placement game on the main board. But the point generators are what the main attraction on this game. These engines are lies on the player board which is consists of three Trans Siberian tracks (Vladivostok, St. Petersburg and Kiev destination) and an industry track.
During the game player will need to make lot of hard decisions to build their rail tracks and industries. Normally the game last 7 rounds. Each round players will score their progresses. What’s interesting with this game is there are lots of combination of strategies and you need to find out which ones are the best and most efficient to give you maximum points. At first the rules could be quite intimidating (I am talking about the point generators and how they work) but once you play your first game you’ll realized how easy to play this game (just like Castles of Burgundy and I know why this game is very similar). But the essence is how to get the most out of your plays. The engines are not as easy as playing the game. In order to win you need to carefully mix and match your strategies. Whether you play all three tracks, only some or with industry or maybe leave out the industry aspect at all. It’s very interesting and each turn you will have to make a decision where you should placing your worker(s), because next turn that slot wouldn’t still be available.
This game is one of my favorites and it’s easy to get this on the table often. My girlfriend likes this game just as she likes Castles of Burgundy.
My score is 9 out of 10.

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Bruxelles 1893 (Dec 13, 2013)
I planned to buy this game but I changed my mind in the last minute. I changed my purchase to Russian RailRoads instead of this one. The reason would be simple, the situation wouldn’t let me. Well, that time I could only afford one game. While I already set my target on this game, a new game (which is Russian RailRoads by the way) emerged and judging from the situation it’s easier to come by rather than Bruxelles 1893. So there you go, I missed this one. The truth is I did not regret this, it’s a fine decision. But I do not say it’s a bad game, in fact it’s good looking game. Would love to have this on my collection. The visual presentation is stunning, not main stream stunning but in a unique way. The art style followed the theme in which art nouveau is the main attention. The theme is really describing what really is from the title itself. Bruxelles is a city from Belgium which on 1893 was very profound of their art progress and style. Arts are highly regarded as great work and respected among the society. In this game players play as artists who perform arts in various mediums suchs as paintings, sculpts and also models or furnitures. Alexandre Roche was doing the artworks for the game and I must admit that his work on Bruxelles 1893 really drips Troyes style artwork (which I also love).
The game last for 5 rounds where in each, players will get their workers / assistants to help them with their works. So this is a worker placement game, nothing new here but hold that thought because there is a twist in it.
To assign a worker you must also place coins in it (with minimum one coin). You place the worker on available tile slots on the round (yes each round the first player will decide which tiles are used in a given round based on the column and row, ain’t that interesting?). After all players already placed their workers and resolve the actions, the next thing is to resolve the bids based on the total number of coins on each columns. The winner gets the card under that column. These cards can be used for instant benefit or you can place it under your player board for end game scoring upgrades.
Also there is a majority scoring on the tiles. It’s pretty unique and more of it the chart of market price are also one of a kind. You can adjust the selling price of your art in the market by adjusting the chart based on how many types of arts you have. You can choose to get more coins or more points.
It’s pretty interesting and also not very brain burning. My score would be 8 out of 10.

Madeira (Dec 14, 2013)
This game is brilliant. Hail to Nuno Sentieiro and Paulo Soledade for making such a game. It was published by What’s Your Game and I pre-ordered the game as soon as I heard that they opened the preorder on their site. €40 include international shipping was really sold me out. Instantly purchased and I waited for around 1 months to get it shipped, and 2 weeks to receive the game. I love the artwork but there were some component issues. They informed me that the first batch copies have a minor miscutting register and it would need utmost caution punching the tokens. That’s not a big deal. But what I mostly concerned about was the game box. The outer lid has severe torn on one of the edges. The reason is still unknown since the packing was exceptionally good with bubble wraps and sturdy outer box. No dent was ever found. I told them about this and they told me that they will check into this.
The components are in good quality, I love the dice and the board.
Madeira is an island that was officially discovered by Portuguese seafarers.
In this game players will need to cultivate the lands and adapt in the land’s condition. The goal is to be the player with most points. The game lasts for 5 rounds in which each round players will choose a set of dice, activate available characters with their dice and also activate buildings with their action markers. And in the end of each odd round they will score points from Crown’s request tiles they own. It does sound easy doesn’t it? But the fact says otherwise, it is one hell of a brain burning heavy euro games. It has heavy strategic and planning with moderate learning curve. One needs 45-60′ and a huge motivation to explain this game to new players (or vice versa).
Though the learning curve is ain’t as high as Brass but it’s notable to put this under consideration. The first game would totally blow you away. There are lots of elements that get in the way of the game play. So you need to learn the mixture of things while you play.
I love the game, yes it’s hard but rewarding in my opinion. The pirate aspect really adds players interaction. The dice allocation mechanic is unique. Each round players is gonna choose one set of three dice from the available sets. These preliminary phase has already put players into deep and careful planning since what you choose is not only the dice but also turn order, guild’s favor refresh and your scoring possibility as well.
This mechanic alone shows Madeira has a rich game play and challenging experience in each session. During the character phase, players will take turn to use a die (their own or even a pirate die) to activate a character. There are 5 characters available that randomly distributed into 5 fix locations on the board each round. This also gives players new experience each session.
The island is divided into 3 region (region 1 to 3) and these regions restrict the use of dice, in which random dice rolling factor can be mitigated by the use of breads. Using breads let players to break the restriction of placing a die into a region. The dice have 3 values from 1 to 3 (each value has 2 sides) and each value corresponds to the region where it can be allocated. For example you may only place a die with value 1 onto character in region 1 and a die with value 3 into any region. So this is where the bread tiles come into use, if a player want to place his die but restricted because of the value, he can pay 1 bread tile to virtually modify his die one value higher.
Once all players are already passed (they choose to pass or they cannot use any more die) the buildings are resolved in order. Players who have an action marker in a building have to pay the cost (this cost is generated for each building by a specific number minus the sum value of re-rolling all the dice used previously on the character that’s on it). They need to pay regardless they want to activate the building or not, if they do not want or cannot pay, they receive pirates token (1 pirate plus the value of re-rolled pirate die if any).
After all the buildings are resolved, the rest of the round are upkeep and cleanup. Each odd round players will score points based on their Crown’s request tiles. In round 1, they will choose one out of 2 tiles, where in round 3 they will choose 2 out of 3 tiles and in the last round they will score all their tiles (3 tiles). In the final scoring, player with the most pirates gets penalty 16 points, the second most gets penalty 8 points. This aspect really adds tension in the later rounds and also very punishing. I love the game, the components, the quality, the artworks, the strategy and decision making, the interaction and the game play. The downsides are it’s intimidating rules, complexity and duration length. My score for this game is 9 out of 10.

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Asgard’s Chosen (Dec 8, 2013)
Okay, it’s not a hit. But based on the review it has very nice feedbacks and reviews (besides the lousy component qualities). It’s an innovative deck building game with Norse mythology theme by Morgan Dontanville. I came across this game the first time through boardgamegeek.com (what else?!). I always love mythology theme with gods and such and it’s Norse mythology where you can find Thor and Loki in it. I read the game’s designer diary and it totally sold me out. I found it really interesting of what the designer think about the deckbuilding mechanic and how he wants to take it into another different level. This one might be another addition to my list of loved games but not particularly liked by others (along with Wiraqocha and Panic Station, etc). The artworks look fantastic, you can see there’s also David Cochard in the artists line up (in case you geeks did not know, he’s the artist behind Dungeon Petz and Lords artworks). The characters have great detail artworks and they decided to bring distinguished looks in each character’s level which turned out pretty awesome. This game is published by Mayfair games, which is one of the most famous board game publishers. But they delivered this game very disappointing. The components are in bad quality especially on the game box material (bad finish, thin material) and the punchboards. The tokens are easily worn out and the printed surface is easily falling off. This is very bad, big time.
The card quality is OK but not impressive, a little bit thin and flimsy.
And I do wonder why they use different size hero meeples, I can see the different shapes, but the size just didn’t cut it. The female hero meeples is cylindrical in which if the female hero was vanquished you need to place it aside and with that cylindrical shape, it’s easily to roll out.

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Okay let’s talk about the meat of the game. It’s basically a VP racing game (which is I am not personally favor at), players need to appease a number of Gods to trigger the end game and the one with most appeased Gods win the game. Each player will get a set of God cards (10 Gods to be precise) which includes Odin, Thor, Loki, Tyr, Heimdallr, Frigg, Freyja, Sif, Hel and Baldr. Each round, players will have to take turns to move their 2 heroes one by one in a set of modular boards consisting different type of terrains. Their heroes will conquest uncontrolled or controlled terrains. One of the reasons to do this is for deck manipulation / deck building. They need to diversify their controlled terrains to be able to muster new creatures available in the Tisch during muster phase. What is the ‘Tisch’? The ‘Tisch’ is a 2 rows of cards with 4 cards each. It consists of creature, town item and magic item cards. These cards will help players to appease their Gods. Creatures have their terrain affinities as well as magic and town item. In other words, in order to get them you need to control the matching terrain. For example if you want to muster a mountain creatures you need to control at least one mountain terrain. The same thing if you want to muster a town item you need to control a town.
Now let’s get down to the game play. Each round there are sequence of phases, starting from God phase in which players decide which God in their hands that they want to use it’s favor. That God card is placed in front of them and they can use the favor describes on the card. Next the Charm phase, players may use one item card that can be activated during charm phase from their hand. The next one is the Campaign phase. This is the core system of the game. Each player will take turns to move their heroes one by one. The ‘move’ action in this game means players could literally move their heroes inside their controlled territories or conquest other territory that is adjacent to theur controlled territories. So player can conquest an uncontrolled territory or an opponent’s controlled territory. When they try to conquest an uncontrolled ones they will be facing thr game mechanic, otherwise they’ll be facing the game mechanic and also the controller of that territory.
The next phase is Muster phase. This is where all the deckbuilding happens. Players may take turns to muster a card from the Tisch. These recently mustered cards are placed on the discard pile along with the cost.
The last phase is renewal phase in which players discard and draw up to 7 cards and revive their vanquished heroes.
Appeasing Gods. There are some restrictions when it comes to appeasing Gods. At all times, players can only appease one God per phase and may only doing so during their turn. Played God card during God phase cannot be appeased, they may only appease Gods from their hand.
I like the unique appeasing God and the deckbuilding mechanic. It’s very thematic and one can say it’s pretty much fiddly, to cover all those details and elements during the game. The 6 different terrains, the unique and various creatures’ abilities and the restrictions for each action. The learning curve could be quite high judging it’s not a simple deckbuilding game. In this game, to build your deck you need to plan your actions.
My score for this game would be 8 out of 10.

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Lewis & Clark: The Expedition (Dec 26, 2013)
I highly interested on this game but decided to give it a try before making a purchase. It’s my most anticipated game that I want to try so badly. At last I tried the game from a friend’s copy. It has beautiful awsome artworks and more than that, each player card set has different illustrations though they have the same effects, even more there is no duplicate name and illustration on all the cards. Pretty neat huh? The game is about the expedition of Lewis and Clark during the time when United State bought a portion of land from the French and decided to order an expedition to mapping the location led by Lewis and Clark. They mapped the location from the river stream, from one point to the other end. Now this historical theme might led you to think that it’s a racing game, and it was true that this is a racing game. The first player who reach the destination wins the game. This is the only reason why I hold my purchase and decided to try it first. I’ve read the rules and must admit that I was completely interested on the game play and mechanics, despite the fact that it is a racing game. Players goal is to be the first one to bring their camp to the finish line.
In this game each player will get a set of character cards, a player board and also camp & scout tokens. During their turn, players may play a card, place Indian(s) or set up camp. Playing a card must be accompanied by another face down card, Indian meeple(s) or both. The Indian symbol and meeple(s) represent strength or activation time.
With cards they will collect resources, convert resources, move scouts and other things. They can also place their Indian meeples into available spaces of powwow area on the game board. These spaces provide players with resources and upgrade options. They can also set up camp. To do this they will need to resolve left out cards in their hands and also the player board situation. These will determine where the exact space they can set up camp.
Players can also buy new cards from the available row with some cost.
While one of your aims is to collect resources for your expedition, you cannot travelling carrying heavy luggage, this is why players consider on their supply. With heavy luggage they cannot travel as quick and fast as they travel in light. So there is something that they need to consider when planning. And also, the route is getting more difficult by having 2 different kind of terrains (water and mountain). These 2 kind of terrains will slow your progress, since in order to pass through these terrain a different kind of transportation is needed, either with canoes, horses or yaks. It’s pretty much great decision making aspect to get what you after.
I like the beautifully looking components, especially the Indian meeples and also the cute tiny resource hexes (more if attached with resource stickers). Another reason that I wanted to try this first before purchasing was I also want this game to be liked by my girlfriend. I do not really want to get this game and do not get it into the table because my girl doesn’t like to play it. But luckily she said it is good. So can’t wait to get this one in my next purchase.
My score is 8 out of 10.

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Legacy: Testament of Duke de Crecy (Dec 26, 2013)
This game garnered quite a hype amongst my buddies that moment. But I did not agree. Not really interested on it and did not bother to look into it. But a friend asked me and my girlfriend to join for a session and we both liked “Why not? It’s a new game to try”. Apparently the game has similar resemblance theme and play style as Last Will, though they’re completely different in origin. In Legacy, you are the head of a family that needs to protect and preserve your bloodline for three generations (rounds). You will get married, make children of your own and get them continue your bloodline from generation to generation. This is actually a pretty interesting idea for a theme and I found that my first play was really enjoyable and fun. I felt lack of actions (only 2 basic actions in each turn) which hold you down with so many things you really want to do. Arrange marriage, make children, make friends, get a title for your family, buy an estate and such. That’s a lot to do. It’s basically a card game, as you can see mostly the components are cards, with player boards, main boards to place cards and tracking rounds, cubes and action tokens and also coins.
We’re having some difficulties to differentiate the gender of the child. I don’t see why they make the boys have a long hair, which easily create player’s confusion. Anyway it’s an ok game, with quite a lot of luck factor on the friend cards, their nationalities and also the children’s gender. It’s just not my cup of tea, though playing it the first time could be fun and enjoyable.
My score would be 7 out of 10.

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Concordia (Dec 26, 2013).
A new game from Marc Gerdts, that’s not involving rondel. Usually Marc Gerdts designs games with rondel mechanic, such as Antikke Duellum, Hamburgum and Navegador. It’s his signature, and now he’s making a game without it, interesting.
Actually I was never interested on this game at all, aside I have Antike Duellum on my wish list. A friend asked me to join and I was gladly accept it. It’s a pretty straight forward Euro with paste out theme, leaning more onto abstract side. The game uses roles and set collection with the combination of networking and resource collecting. At first each player has the same set of cards, each with a specific role. Each turn players will play a card as an action. The game ends if the last cards on the row is bought. The anatomy of a card has different part, there is the role part which describes what action the card can do, beneath it there are list of recources as cost to acquire this card. In the bottom is the end game scoring reference. In other words, players will have to choose wisely what kind of cards they need to invest in. Either they get cards for its actions or for its final scoring. The main board has a map drawn and depicts several provinces. These provinces consist of different areas and each of it’s own resource. Players also need to cover areas with their ships and colonies to get benefits while harvesting and final scoring. Surprisingly the game is quite good and it’s fun. But sometimes this could let to AP prone situation while deciding which card you want to use, since more and more you’ll get more cards, which your hand will be full of cards. It’s not like a deck building that you have to fill your hand up to some amount. In this game you take back all the cards you have into your hands after you play a specific cards, that makes you hand really really full. And also deciding what areas to get and where to go could lead to AP situation. With lots of access and randomly different recources in each game leads players to a new situation. The resource tokens have cute shapes, and the card design is so classic old roman style.
My score for this game is 8 out of 10.

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Archon: Glory and Machinations (Jan 11, 2014)
This is my new game for 2014. I should have backed this game while it’s on KS but I did not. I pretty much had a tight budget back then and also not really sure if it would be good. So I skipped the KS, but a friend of mine gave me the opportunity to buy his new sealed copy right after it’s arrived. So I did not skip it this time. The main attraction of this game is the artworks. As you know, Antonis Papantoniou did all the illustrations for the game and man he is one of the best illustrators I know. You can see his works in Drum Roll, Among The Stars and Fallen City of Karez. In this game he also uses the contrast color tone approach on his illustrations (which probably his main style). The characters on the cards are really depicting royal and prestigious feel with gears and bolts all over them. This is the thin red line, the strain that connects all of the illhstrations. The board is amazing and huge, just like Fallen City of Karez. That monstrous and gigantic illustrations of locations and places that put together into a one higly detailed big city embodied with gears element.

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In this game players need to collect the most points for 9 rounds. Each 3 rounds there will be an event and scoring. The game is quite simple, players play cards in order to place their workers into slots from locations on the game board. There are mainly 2 kind of cards, courtiers and magisters. Courtiers are basic characters and do not have special effect. While Magisters have different kind of types and effects. At the start of the game each player will have 8 Courtiers and 2 selected Magister cards in their decks. In each odd round players will need to assign 5 cards that they want to use during this round and the next. Cards for the next round are placed face down for future use. This mechanic is unique and gives you more freedom to build your hand, of course this is not a deck building game, despite you refine your deck of cards, the numver of cards are still 10 cards. Once you get a new Magister card you need to replace it with your Courtier. The flexible thing is you can replace it with Courtier card from your hand (so that newly acquired Magister can immediately be played this round) or from your discard or from your next round’s cards. Players get points from advancing their tracks on the guild hall (getting Magisters), placing Elite warrior on the 2 wall spaces that generates 1 point, build structures, collect science and arts and also collect Elite Warrior cards. There are also end game scoring from 4 level 3 structures. Though the game is good and challenging, there is some issues on one of the strategy in the game. The Roy Guard action to place Elite Warrior cards are deemed not worthy the actions and cost to be taken into account. Yes you get the protection from event, 2 points on the wall an majority from Elite Warrior cards but the actions and resources you need to complete that are almost nonsensical.
I’m gonna bring out topics about the game components, the game uses unusual colors for the playing pieces. They are all monochromatic. From white, beige, grey and black. Also the same with the resource cubes. These colors could look the same and some players reported the misidentified colors between white and beige, black and grey. This turned out to be fatal for my first play, which we identify the grey as black on one of the locations symbol. They should use different shape if they persistent with the colors. They said it’s for the color blind issue, and that’s not a bad thing, I just a bit disappointed that they did not consider other aspect as well. And also during the KS project development, they proposed an alternative art for the game board (the darker one) which could help to bring out more distinguishable look of the buildings apart ftom the background illustrations. This would surely stressed out the functionality design on the game board, but the crowd responses were critically discharge. It’s too bad though, I like the darker ones. Anyway it’s a fun game and I do not regret for having this game in my collection.
My score for this game is 8 out of 10.

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The Capitals (Jan 18, 2014)
This is one big and expensive game. The main reason is the game weight, it’s full of building punchboard tiles all over it. The game is very similar in theme with Sunrise City, City Tycoon and Suburbia. It’s about city building. Players will control their own city and try to build it the best way they choose. After the game ends, player with the best city wins the game. There 3 rounds of scoring with 4 turns in each round. During each turn players will determine turn order and buy a building tile. Then they take action(s) activating their buildings based on their power plant level and cultural bonus.
There are different kind of building types which shown in different color background. The building has immediate effect once built and also has active or passive effect. Active effect need to be activated first to get the effect. Activation cost needs power cubes from power plants.
There are several different aspects that players need to manage, they are city fund, population, cultural, industry and public works. There are also the tourism concept that I find it interesting. Tourism lets player with the most advance on the culture track to get benefit from the tourists that came to his city. Those tourists apparently come from other (players’) cities. This is interesting, since having highest culture give the city benefit for being the most wanted place to be visited. While cities with lower cultures really do not favorable place to visit even their citizens prefer to visit another city. The benefit is in the form of a car meeple that can be used as energy cube. The advantage is the car meeple can always moving around each time you want to activate a building. So it’s more flexible and give you easy access to more buildings.
Another unique thing is the population track in correlation between the work force track. These 2 tracks must really balance. At first population has minus points up until some point. So you need to expand the city population up to at least safe level. But beware you must also manage the work force track. Good level of population is not good if the work force is not balance that could lead to potential jobless threat.
The turn order is also interesting. Players will need to pay thebturn order based on their current order. First players must pay a lot of money to maintain his turn order while of course the last player can easily take the first place if there is no one fill the position yet. In other words, first player that maintain his first position will be wasting points since $4 is worth 1 vp.
I like the game, it’s simple and easy to play. Yes it has random factor from the building tiles but it’s still manageable. You also have to be careful with your point condition. Players will start with minus points and you have to make it positive and gain as many as you can before the time is up.
My score to this game is 8.5 out of 10

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Kohle & Kolonie (18 Jan, 2014)
This is one of my favorites games of Essen 2013. A monster game of the same level as Terra Mystica (well at least the box has the same size). I was interested on the theme and the visual presentation. I wanted it but trying first would be a wise decision since this game it’s not cheap and it’s very heavy. So we’re having board gaming session last Saturday and this game is right on top of my list to play, along with Nations.
When I looked inside the box there are lots, I mean lots of components inside. The box is full with boards, tiles and wooden components. Awesome feeling for unboxing I am pretty damn sure. Each player gets their own player boards with double sided ability tiles, cubes, discs and tiles. It looks gorgeous and I love this.
Let’s get into the game play. The game has a mining theme integrated into it. Players will be a mining businessmen who buy mines, run them and take profit from them. The board is spread long to the side, depicting a map with different region separated by lines and colors. There are around 5 or 6 regions on it. Each region also has some areas with mining sites on it. The game last 5 rounds and there is a progress track on top of the board to eadily track the phase progress of each round. A disaster track that also functions as round track on the right bottom of the board. Each round players will have normally 2 actions (more if you take the bonus tile and spend an extra action tile). During these actions players may take one of available actions (they may take the same actions with all of their actions). These actions are buy a mine, deploy and move workers, place a settlement and 2 workers, train an engineer, make a steam engine. Players also has ability boards that can be placed with their workers, steam engines and engineers. These tiles have double sides with the back sides are higher level that will be available after upgraded and are integrated well with their 3 action tiles.
At the start of each round new mines will become available to purchase. These mines also gives income for the owners, and players can place up to 6 mines on their player boards. These mines also give players points based on how many mines are inside the area. Settlements also give points on how many adjacent mines owned by the player. Each round there is disaster phase, which has a unique drawing mechanic. Players who have uninsured mines will put their disc / uninsured mine into the bag along with black discs. Then 3 discs are drawn. If their discs are drawn, they need to pay the penalty and place a worker cube per drawn disc into the disaster phase (minus points for placing cubes here). The first disaster is natural disaster, which is gonna stay until the end of game (it’s effect will triggered when the beige disc are drawn). If black discs are drawn, bank will buy the lowest number of mines and the bank threshold value is added.
After income and scoring mine phase, there is consolidation phase. Each area has different consolidation round, which depicts when the mines on that area will be cobsolidated. This phase is also unique, since if there is more than 1 owner of the mines (other players and the bank itself) they will take part into consolidation bids. The winner will take control of the area and score points from it. The losers will score 2 points for each mines they have on that area.
Players also get benefit if they complete connected networks on the rails with their workers. There are 4 rails spread over the map each with different length. When players take deploy and move 2 workers, they can deploy workers into their built settlements or into available slots on their ability boards and then move the workers (on settlements) into connected stations. If it’s the first worker moved into the station players can get a bonus tile available on the station. Each player may, during his turn, upgrade his ability boards by spending coins and / or neutral workers. Upgrading ability boards mean that he turn the board into the other face side up which gives him points and also better slots. There are 3 ability boards that when upgraded will automatically flip the action tile corresponding to that ability. Action tiles that are flipped are not only the player’s but also other players. The flipped action tile has higher cost than the basic one.
I love the simple and streamline game play that the game has to offer, okay maybe it has a bit conplex on the consolidation phase but that’s it. There is many things you can do with all your 2 actions per round but I guess it’s still ok compared with Legacy. I wonder when can I added this game into my collection. Since it’s quite expensive and I even haven’t get Terra Mystica. I guess my girlfriend likes this one better than Terra Mystica. It’s one level below Terra Mystica on the heavy Euro scale.
My score would be 8.5 out of 10.

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Alright, those above were Essen 2013’s games that I tried and still lot more to come. I still haven’t try Nations, Rokoko, Glass Roads, Caverna, Patchistory, CV, Om Nom Nom, Tash-Kalar, A Study in Emerald, The Witches, Mauna Kea, Coal Baron and Rampage.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Article, Board Games, Insight

 

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