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Solving Cases By Following Leads

DeadlineDeadline Review
So you are into detective stories, mystery or crime cases but do not want to get into long paragraph reading like Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detectives? Well Deadline might be the one game for you. Deadline is designed by A.B. West and Dan Schnake, published by Wizkids in 2017. The story setting is New York City in 1938 and players take the roles of Detectives (private ones at that) under Buckminster, New York Detective Agency. Its a cooperative game where players will hand in hand trying to solve the case in front of them. The game has 12 cases to choose from with various difficulties from one case to another. There are also 8 different characters to choose from, and like other cooperative games, these characters have different abilities that they can use once in the game. It also provides the players with a Case Book, Case Question and a Solution Book that hold as integral parts in the game. Each case has a story that can be checked on Case Book and Clue cards for the players to get information. To start the game, players choose which case to play and prepare the clue cards related to it, do not read the back of the cards since it’s crucial and give case related information. Players decide what characters to play and choose the first player, give him the detective badge, he will be the lead detective for the first round. Set aside the three bullet tiles and four matchbook tiles face down. Shuffle lead cards and place it face down to form a draw pile. Each player gets 3 cards from that pile. The lead detective then read the chosen case from the Case book aloud so all players can hear. At the end of the page, take and set aside the starting clues from the deck and place it face down. These clue cards are the clues available for players to check at the start of the game.

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The lead detectives start the round by choosing which clue they want to follow and choose one action from the available three actions, whether to play a lead card, use their detective ability or use hot tips. If they do not want to or cannot take one of those three actions, they must Drop Out.
The active player may play a Lead card from their hand, if they play the first time in a round, they can play any lead card. But if they are following an already placed lead card, they must place their card overlaying one of the existing lead cards on the table by matching the symbols between the two overlaying cards. Blank space is wild, so any symbol can overlay it or it can overlay any symbol. The goal is to play lead cards with matching symbols shown on the chosen clue card.
The active player can choose to play their unused character ability. Each character has a different and powerful ability that can help them completing a clue card. The active player can also use Hot Tips. Hot tips can only be used if there’s more than one light match on it. The four different colors of the matchbook have a light match on the back side. Players flip this tile to the light match side when they play a lead card with a matchbook symbol on the left corner of the Lead card. When they play a card with this symbol, they can flip the corresponding matchbook tile face up (if it’s already face up, ignore it). The effect of the hot tips are different based on the amount of tokens they use. With two hot tips, they can draw a new card from the pile, with three hot tips, they can remove 1 plot twist card in front of any player and with four, they can remove 2 plot twist cards. Once used the matchbook tiles are flipped back face down and can be flipped again in later turns.
If by any means that a player cannot or choose not to take any action, the must Drop out. In order to drop out they check if there are any Plot Twist card in their hand. If there is, they must play the Plot Twist card in front of them, unless they already have two in front of them (the maximum number of Plot Twist a player can have in front of them is two) and then they discard their hands. Dropped out player cannot take any more turn in the round.

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The round ends when all players have already Dropped Out and they fail to follow up the clue. Or when all symbols on the chosen clue card covered up by the symbols shown on played lead cards. If they fail they remove one of the bullet tiles to the box. Once there’s no bullet left, the investigation ends. If they succeed, they discards the played Lead cards and flip the chosen clue card, read the information aloud while take new clue cards listed (if any) and then they keep the completed clue card as reference at the end of the game. Players draw their hands back to three cards and then the next player clockwise will be the next round first player. In the next round, the lead detective may choose which clue card they want to follow, considering their hands of lead cards.

At the end of the investigation, players will review what information they’ve gained from all the clue cards and they will check the case question book to answer the questions related to the case. There are 2 different questions, critical and bonus questions. Critical questions are strongly related to the case that usually involve who is the criminal, what motive and the weapon of choice, etc. While bonus questions are something that players pick up along the way. How well they answer these reflects their performance / rate in the case they check this on the Solution Book where the answers lie. There are 4 different kind of levels, ranging from Master detectives to the lowest level, Gumshoes.

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Final Thoughts
I find the game to be pretty simple. The rules are easy to discern and straightforward. There are 12 cases and by the looks of the game play this gives you 12 time replay value cause once you figure out the case, then you won’t be playing it again. Unless you are in for the mini game. Okay, what mini game? Yes, the game really revolves around you putting up mini game to get information. Why I call it mini game? Because it’s not related to the case itself. Players completing the lead without any context about the case at all, it’s not incorporated with the story or case you are dealing with. Alas if you compare this with Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, I must say that they are both different in many aspects except cooperative game play and criminal mystery case solving theme. SHCD has a very strong theme that blends well with how the players act as detectives, unlike this game where players just handed out the information once they are done with the mini game. SHCD requires them to actually think, to decide where they should follow the lead. SHCD has a very long, tedious but masterpiece writings in its paragraph provides a very compelling story of the famous Sherlock Holmes cases. Deadline in the other hand, provides an easier alternative to the same spirit of crime-solving detective theme. I found the game to be quite similar with The Grizzled where players have their own hand and when taking their turns, need to play the correct card as they see fit, if not they need to pass / drop out. While works slightly different the plot twists in this game almost work the same as the trauma cards in The Grizzled. While dropping out might be a good idea to secure the lead chain for someone else, having a plot twist in hand might not be a good idea to do that since plot twists are mostly bad and give other players hard time to clear the clue card. The detective abilities are quite interesting cause they do a lot better / meaningful than the abilities in The Grizzled.

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I like the game so far, unraveling the mystery of the case always interests me. Though you do not need to be a detective to enjoy the game. Though once I played all of the cases, I think about to let the game go cause there’s nothing much you can do. Unless the mini game is the appealing factor for you. Played the game once and there’s not enough variation in the game that makes you need to play it several times to really get the hang of it. I played the first case, easy difficulty and it’s just that is. The story is interesting if you like the genre. I call this game as a tea time game, where you can spend time with friends, having tea and solve crimes. A time well spent. But of course not the game that you really want to play, that leaves something behind from your last game and pull you closer to play it again. A game that makes you always talk about it, leave that impression that you always remember. A game that makes you eager to play it again though it’s a once a year game.

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Posted by on December 12, 2017 in Card Games, Reviews, Uncategorized

 

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The Magic Lamp of Randomness

Tales of The Arabian NightsTales of The Arabian Nights Review
I just recently took the experience of both playing this game and owning it. I already heard or knew the game for quite a long time. Its quite famous among board gamer’s communities. The very distinct thing in this game is no other that the story-telling element that drives the game. The game was published around 2009 by Z-Man Games. My wife had played it one time before me, which was a bad experience from her testimonial. The persistent main issue she kept saying over and over again is the long play time. It took ages to finish (if you can finish it) and dragging the game long enough makes it pretty much a boring voyage that even Sindbad feels tormented.

But as some of my friends who like the game keep telling me that the game is best playing with 3-players, not more. Though up to 5 players is listed on the box, they all agreed that with 4 and 5-players, its not recommended due to the long downtime and game length. So putting my faith on their testimonials, I jumped into the magic carpet and tried the game with my better experienced friends on the subject. My wife liking the game is essential for my plan for this game, so if I ever get the game, she must like it cause I intend it to be a couple game at least.

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So the game comes with a really pretty looking game box (black background with beautiful Arabian decorations and stunning illustrated covers that involves genie and other Arabian tales. Inside, you can find some of the key components in the game which are the Book of Tales, the map board, Reaction Matrixes, player mats, cards and some punch boards for in-game tokens. The map board shows a huge world map with interesting places and the wide networks connecting them all. The center of it is Baghdad, this is where players start the game. But before that, players get a board (more of a reference) some tokens to keep track things like Wealth, Destiny and Story markers as well as Quest, Destination and Origin markers. They also get 3 random skills, drawn one by one (must be different). Then players must decide the amount of Destiny and Story points with the total of 20 (this amount can be adjusted as desired), which they kept it hidden from other players, these are their goals to win the game. The last thing before starting the game, they also draw a quest card. Each player takes turns in clockwise direction from the starting player, move from their current location (they cannot stay unless stated otherwise) based on their Wealth marker. This Wealth gives movement amount limitation in sea or land. Once a player decide to stop their movement, they draw an encounter card and resolve it. To resolve it, the encounter card shows a certain number which will be check in the Encounter book and the active player rolls a die, add the value with the location modifier and destiny modifiers if any. The result will determine the encounter, which then the active player and another player will check the matrix related to it. The active player then decide how they want to interact with that, based on the available actions listed in matrix. Once decide, they roll a destiny die and apply any modifier. The other player then check what paragraph the result is refer to and open that paragraph in the Encounter book (other player can help to do this) and read it aloud to the active player. Usually the reading will show the outcome of the encounter, though some encounters provide options or lead to another paragraph.

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So how the paragraphs work? They’re random and the subject of this review title. Once your fellow partner read the paragraph, you just let it flow and move on. You start with 3 skills (drawn at the start of the game) and as the game progresses you might have more. The skills might help you on your encounters, the key word is might. Yes, you enter the encounter blindly and just hope that the skills are useful. The paragraphs have a chance to have skill or treasure related to it, in which somehow may help or do the opposite. Master skills are different, they’re some sort of upgraded skills, but better in such a big time. Why? Because when you have master skills, the paragraph readers will check whether the three available paragraphs have that master skill inside and the player doesn’t need to roll the destiny die. If there is none, then roll the die. So basically master skill helps you get the best outcome from it. So your freewill and composition of your skills quite likely determine the action you will choose, though there’s no restriction at all to go nuts and feeling lucky (if it is luck) and choose whatever the hell you want to do. Once you gain the required amount of Destiny and Story points, you need to go back to Baghdad and complete an encounter there in order to win the game.

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Final Take
The game is a random fest, you will not know for sure what happen in your encounters. The randomness is high off the chart in this game, you think you know what to do and what will happen but in the end the game might prove you wrong. The game really focuses on the adventure / storytelling aspect, where the fun is. Your characters will have a crazy fun (or not) encounters that will shape the whole adventure in the game. So if you are okay with strong storytelling element that lead your gaming experience, this might be the game for you. It appeals more to players that really treasure the gaming experience and how the theme blends in with character’s progresses than to those who really take the final outcome as the utmost important thing out of the game.
On a side note, I do think that the components fall into more of a mediocre level, it’s kinda bit on the middle of things, not bad but not good either. Despite the beautiful game box cover, I found that the board is a bit drab (as map should be I guess) and the color tone is a bit heavy to my eyes. The cards, okay the encounter cards have illustrations, but it could have been done better with full illustrations instead of drab looking background. The quest cards is just a card with full of text pasted on it, but I guess that serves it’s purpose. Player standees, well cannot complain though, it’s just okay. In overall, this is a game where the components not really evoking how people see it visually but rather immersive to the story it provides. So if you cannot get pass through that visual boundary, maybe you can close your eyes and rely on your own imagination. In the end, I do like the game, it provides a unique gaming experience despite its huge luck factor.

dav

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Reviews

 

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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.

dav

Crowded space, high conflict

 
 

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How Greed Are You? The Game

pic2773860Thief’s Market Review
This game was launched on Kickstarter by Tasty Minstrel Games, designed by Dave Chalker. It’s a small box game, for 3-5 players. But don’t be fooled, the game is not “small” at all. At first this caught my interest because of the price was cheap and the shipping was so affordable. So I was like “what the heck, let’s back it!”. Well let’s see how the game really is.

The Theme and Artworks
I am not particularly fond with the theme and artworks. It has an okay theme, about thieves doing business in their free time? Just kidding. The artworks are not really my favorite, but it’s okay and you can still enjoy the images, comical and fun. Okay, serious, the game is about splitting up the loot of your last job (remember, you all are thieves) and spend them to get what you want in the market. The back story is that players are a group of thieves, which have been back from their “interesting” looting activity and now the real deal takes place, they need to divvy up the loot and spend their shares to get what they need to help them carve their way to be the one and only, King of Thieves.

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The Components
The dice are what make the game really interesting. The dice are plenty inside a box of that size and they’re custom black dice with colorful symbols. What’s not to love? Though the symbols shown on some of the dice were not really painted well enough, so some icons do not have solid colors compared with others. The cards are in good quality, though they’re not linen finished, but you still can fit them in the box even after you sleeved them (I used premium Mayday sleeves). The coin and point tokens are okay. The small box is good enough to fit all the components, fully packed, and I love the smooth laminated finished on its box.

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The Game Play
The main idea is to get the most infamy points at the end of the game, he/she will be crowned as King of Thieves, it has a card for it, not a real crown, so please be content with just that. Before the game starts, shuffle the cards based on the alphabet shown on its back, place it face down to form three separate decks (A,B,C), draw 5 cards from deck A. Choose a first player and give him the first player marker. The game starts with the first player rolls the available loot dice, and place the first player marker and all the dice roll results to the center of the table as a loot pool. Then the first player choose what to take from the loot pool. He can take anything, all or just some. He even can take the first player marker back. Then the player to His left, choose to take from the loot pool or from any player who has any loot in front of them. If He decided to take from a player, he takes all but 1 from the player’s loot, and return it to the pool (it can be a loot die or the first player marker, if it’s a loot die, He re-roll the die first). So this process is repeated until everyone has a loot in front of them. Then the next phase is to spend those loot, starting from the player with the first player marker and continues clockwise. Players can spend their loot to buy a card from the display, they return all the dice used to buy the card back to the center. In addition, they can spend one or more coins to be any symbol to buy the card. And then they can cash in their infamy symbol with points and gold bag symbols with coins. After all players finish their turns, more cards are revealed, if the current deck is depleted, five more cards from the next deck are drawn and available for next round. If it’s the last deck, the game will end.

So what are the cards do? Some give infamy points but most of them give passive or active benefits that can help players during their turns. This is also one of the many interests about the game, the core idea here is to build your tableau the best you can to gain the most points. The cards are divided into 3 decks, with labels from A to C. It uses cards from deck A and then as the game progresses continued to deck B and C. As the decks changed, the cards get better and eventually offer huge potential points for players.

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The Replay Value
It has some replay value, since all the cards are usually not used in a game, so there often some cases that some cards will not come up in a game. This gives probability and a bit of adaptability with the available cards to build the tableau. Aside from the cards, which is common in tableau building games, one thing that really stands out in this game is the dice mechanic. Okay, it’s just a dice-rolling mechanic but what makes it really interesting and unusual is its distribution. Players have the chance (especially the first player) to get all the dice they need, but there’s a catch. The designer made a brilliant system to incorporate interactive mechanic for players to get their dice. So basically the first player, can and may take all the dice, but that’s not the wisest thing to do, since other players will eventually loot them from his possession. Even if he took only some of the dice, others will decide whether it is okay or not to let him be. The dice amount are limited based on number of players, this what makes it interesting, since in equal perception, there should be an average amount of dice that a player can get, for example in a 5-players game, the game uses 13 dice, which in average there should be 2.6 dice available for each player (not to mention the first player marker). Getting more than the average amount would incite interesting decision by other players, and another factor is what symbols are available in this round relates with the cards available. To some extent the game really has flexibility aspect in the form of what dice and cards available. But aside from all of that, the ugly truth is that people sees things very simple and with the competitive nature of the game, it’s not easy to get away with more dice than the average without other players screwing while they have the chance.

My Thoughts About The Game
I think the idea of splitting the loot dice is very novelty and adds unique aspect to the game in a very big approach. The game is so simple, presented in a very small box but contains a good deal of “contents”. Personally I love the splitting loot mechanic, it stands out very well to represent the game or as it’s identity. The dice allocation and tableau building are nice, they’re just labeled as necessities to form the game. Aside from what components that you get from the game, the price is also affordable from what you really get (in short, it’s very cheap).  What I do not like is the dice, not that really matter to me, but the quality from each die are not consistent and it shows quite apparent.
So in overall, the game is good, you can play in 30-45 minutes with 4 players and it offers interesting choices, tactical and highly interactive. Easy to store with a very small box, even you can put it on your pocket and bring it anywhere.

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What Your Dream House Looks Like?

pic3176771_mdDream Home Review
Dream Home is a game published by Portal Games and designed by a Polish designer (I think he’s new to game design and this is his first game), Klemens Kalicki and illustrated by Bartlomiej Kordowski. Right from the start of its inception, this game has already gained a spotlight with the cute, bright-colored and beautiful art, thanks to the artist. It’s like a children’s game which I must admit that it is partly if not whole, a children’s game. It can be played with 2-4 players from 20-30 minutes (you can play this under than the time mentioned, trust me, or you are that worse). The game was published last year in 2016 which I just managed to get early in 2017.

The Theme and Artworks
In Dream Home, players are trying to build their dream home by choosing cards from the available options and place it on their boards. The cards are rooms in the home and can be placed in various spots depends on players’ taste and also basic physics. A good home should have its necessary rooms such as bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, the rest are complementary.
For the artworks, I must give a salute for Bartlomiej Kordowski. His works are superb and really succesfully give the game a very appealing soul to convey the purpose of the game. It really clicks and you know it does.

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The Components
The game is basically a card game, with a central board and some tiles. It has medium square box and of course cute and beautiful art cover. Inside there’s a plastic insert to hold all the components, and it works well, but the cards and tokens are easily scrambled when transported in many positions, so you need a small foam to cover this issue. The cards are small sized, maybe mini Euro size, placed well in the tray even when sleeved. There also a special first player marker, an over-sized orange house-shaped wooden token. There are 4 player boards and a central board, thick and good enough.

The Game Play
In the game, players get their own board as a foundation of their home. The board consists of a drawn image of a home with spaces to place cards. These spaces are drawn with 3 stories, 5 columns except there’s only 2 columns in the bottom story. So in total there are 12 rounds in the game. After 12 rounds the game ends and players sum up their scores. There are mainly two type of cards in the game, room cards and resource cards. During the game, each round players will take a room card and a resource card or the first player marker.

The fun thing about it (or not) is that players will have to choose the cards they need to get for their home from the available ones that drawn on the central display. The problem is there’s the turn order, yaaay… yeah, the one who pick the first cake always get the best and bigger ones. So each round the cards are drawn and displayed on the board, which there are 5 columns and 2 rows but the the first column only draw 1 room card, where the top row is placed the first marker token, you remember the orange house-shaped token? The first row is for resource cards, while the second row is for room cards. Room cards are obviously placed in the player board to occupy the spaces, while resource cards are more, how to say it? Complicated. The resource cards have different types such as experts, roofs, tools and decorations. These types work differently to help players make their dream homes.

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Now let’s take a look into the player board, players have a player board to hold all the room cards they already chose during each round. This player board represent a home with 3 stories (a basement, a level 1 and two stories). The basement only consists of 2 columns, which can accommodate 2 rooms (basement rooms only). Each room must be placed in legal / valid ways, it must have a foundation (a room below it, whether in any type or empty room, not an empty space). So in the first story, at first player can only build three rooms since the 2 right most spaces need basement rooms to be the foundations. Where the second story rooms need foundations from the rooms placed in the first story. Each type or room gives players a certain amount of points that will be scored at the end of the game. Some rooms can be expanded (more than 1 card which expand the room) to get better points. While a fully expanded room cannot be expanded again, so placing the same type of room next to fully expanded / finished room is not valid, hence that room card must be placed in another place or else the room card must be placed face down to show an empty room. Empty rooms will not be scored at the end of the game.

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Resource cards give players flexibility or better points. For example specialist / expert cards, can help you to manipulate one or more elements in the game, whether they can give you better options or additional points. Tool cards work similar like Specialists but the only different is that they have one-time effect, play-and-discard kind of cards. There are also Decors on the resource cards, this kind of resource give you additional points that can be placed on a specific type of room (not always), when placed, the room is considered finished even though it still can be expanded later. So placing a room expansion later is not a valid move and it must be placed face down as an empty room next to it. The fourth type is roof, where players need to collect at least four roof cards during the game to score at the end of the game. There are four colors in the game, brown, purple, red and orange and some roofs have windows on them that gives an additional point to the roof scoring.
At the end of the game, players tally up their points from the room cards, 3 pts from at least 4 roof cards (if they have at least 4 cards of the same color, they gain additional 5 points) and 1 point per window, Specialists that give them points and also additional points for the home functionality, 3 points if they have at least 1 Bathroom in each story and another 3 points if they have at least a kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom in their home.

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The Replay Value
Honestly, this game lacks replay value. The game is simple, easy to understand, straight-forward and have a decent light decision making that is interesting for casual players or children. But the replay value just on vacation in this game, it never came back and you will have to live with it. So after several plays, the game is beginning to feel samey over and over again (okay honestly, after 2-3 plays). There are no card variations, different setups or random encounters in each play. So there will always be the same cards in one play to another the only difference is just when the cards will come out. So with this as a crucial factor, the game does get fixed after one play and the rest are just obvious choices.

My Thoughts About The Game
I think that game is a sweetheart. Love it, the presentation is so amazingly cute and beautiful. The theme is simple and really targeting children and girls. It’s like when you’re a child and you play houses. You can introduce this game to totally new players and children, it’s very straightforward and simple you can explain the rules in 5 minutes. Players pick a column and take the cards on that column, place the room card on their board and move on. Yes, move on to the next round and do the same thing repeatedly 12 times. Though at first there seems to be a definitive decision making I must admit that it doesn’t really have decision making since most of them are obvious choices. I can picture myself playing this game several times in a row, since it’s very simple and takes about 10 minutes per play, but playing this for 5 times in a row, I could yawn and sleep accidentally. But aside from that, I think this game attracts children to learn good how to make decisions, because of the visual presentation and nature of the game. This one is totally a filler, overpriced one I suppose. After one play I realized that there are two important things in the game, which are the first player and the basement room cards, And others can be sort out later and easily. Getting first pick of the available cards are surely powerful, to be able to sort out the good cards and combinations, and it sucks to be the last player since what you get is basically trash (or not). In my plays I found out that the first player usually got hold by the same person most of the time. And the basement room cards are so damn important that even 9 points living room cards look like shit (pardon my language). But it’s true, the power of basement card is so damn great, because without these two cards on your basement, practically your movement ends halfway of the game. So the first thing to do is get that basement room cards while you can and if you cannot, take the first player marker for next choices. That simple.

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Aside from the game play, I think it has nice production quality, good small cards, simple wording on the card effect, thick player board and nice insert. If you have kids (early educational age) this might be a nice choice, or maybe girls, they love beautiful things like this.

 
 

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You Can Get Choked Drinking This Potion

dav

Potion Explosion Review
Warning, choke hazard, if you drink any potions on the game! They come in marbles, colorful marbles (okay only four colors, but still…)
Potions do explode, which based on my experience, I know none of this thing, never ever I brew a potion, worse make it explodes. So, when a potion explodes, what that leaves us, a good thing or not? In this game, explosions are always good if it’s your turn. Others, not so much. The game is about making potions (that’s obvious). The game had been on my wish list since last year, which the game had made it’s debut in Essen 2015. Finally I got the game from an online store in Italy (it’s an Italian games, so that explains), which I gave up to wait for English version, and got the Italian instead.

What made me drawn into this game anyway, aside from the marbles? Well, the marbles, I mean the dispenser (they call it that) that hold all the marbles looks spectacular from my seat or anybody’s. The dispenser is unique not also in form and shape, but also how it works. It holds all the marbles and can slide them over for game purpose, so a design with purpose is always a plus on my side. Plus the game play seems simple enough to produce fun with casual friends (when I don’t do heavy Euros but need something to occupy my time around 60-90 minutes).

The Theme
This is very abstract, so don’t expect much but it’s theme is applied perfectly. Players are chemistry students learning about the reaction of mixing potions. Now the test begins and they will compete with each other to prove that they’re the best among many in front of the professor. Player with the most points at the end of the game wins the game to be the most talented student of the professor.

dav

Inside the Box

The Game Components
Marbles (of course), the dispenser, some tokens and potion tiles. The marbles come in four colors (blue, red, yellow and black) and the colors are not solid, so they are kinda different from each other. The game comes with two extra marbles for each color, substitutes if you lose a marble or two, a nice gesture from the publisher. The potion tiles are fun to look at, colorful, but a bit thin than it should, but then again, if its thicker than it is, the pile would be very high and won’t fit into the inserts. Sadly the holes in the potions weren’t cut perfectly in place, many misses that some OCD players will find them annoying. The marble dispenser need to be assembled for the first time, and it’s quite fragile, so glue it down is a good solution, since you can store the assembled dispenser back into the plastic insert (yes they provides a very useful insert) without the need to disassemble it again. And the in-game issue I have with the dispenser is that, your playing surface need to be totally flat, a degree tilt makes the marbles deviate slide through one of the slots.  One last thing is, the box quality is not very good, I own the first Italian edition from Ghenos / Horrible games and it’s kinda thin, flimsy and easily torn, luckily the game is not that heavy.

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Playing The Game

The Game Play
It’s very simple, on your turn you must take one marble (ingredient) from the dispenser, and you take any explosion caused by your action (2 or more marbles of the same color collide with each other and explode). These marbles go into your hand and you must allocate these marbles onto your available potions (which you will always have 2 in your brewing desk) based on the matching color. When a potion tile is complete (all the slots are filled with matching marbles), you flip it face down and remove it from your brewing desk and return all the marbles on it back to the dispenser.
This complete potion can be consumed (aside giving you points at the end of the game) to gain it’s effect (which could be varies depends on the potion types). Once you consumed it, you turned it upside down to remind that you already drink it.
You also can (once per turn) ask help from the professor, which allow you to get additional ingredient from the dispenser (but keep in mind, no explosion will happen even if 2 or more marbles of the same color collide with each other) to help you finish your potion during your turn, but of course it’s not free, you must take a -2 token which will count against your points at the end of the game.
You can also get achievement token by completing 3 potions of the same type or 5 different potions. Each achievement token will give you 4 points at the end of the game, and these achievement tokens also what trigger the end game aside from the available potions from the pile. So once the game end is triggered, each other players will have one final turn, including the player who triggers it.

dav

Brewing Dry Potions

My Thoughts
It’s a very fun game, light and easy to play. What you do is take a marble and see the magic from marble explosions. Then try to complete your potions, maybe with the help of the professor or your own arsenal of potions. Though its quite straightforward, there are some way to arrange your moves to get the best chain combos outcome, timing is essential. Either by asking help or using potions in the right time can change the outcome  of your actions big time. Because of this reason, some might found this game prone to AP players. Personally I take this game as it is, a light game that you can play with your family, non-casual gamers and other friends who thinks winning is not the real purpose but to have a great time playing and seeing marbles explodes (not literally). I found the game to be very easy (or not punishing) since you still count the points from completed potions even if you already consumed it for its effect. I think you can try the game without counting the points from used potions, that could be more challenging.
But not to ignore the fact that there are many interesting combos based on the mixture of player’s action, potion uses and professor’s help which timing plays a great part of it. So given the small scope of constraints in the game, players can really work the game out based on what options shown in front of them, a very good plus if you are into that sort of combo thing.
Talking about practical time for setup and tear down, I think this one has a problem (at least for me), since preparing the game is kinda fiddly and long when it comes to sort all the potions when you randomize potions to use in the game. There’s no other way, you have to choose either take more time to setup or more time to tear down. Or maybe you can play it with all the types (in which I don’t know how it affect the balance of the game).

Replay Value
The game comes with 8 different kind of potions and you only play it with 6 potions, so 2 random potions won’t be in the game. Aside from that, there’s no other element to add the replay value.

dav

8 kinds of potions

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2016 in Board Games, Euro Games, Reviews

 

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Rock Paper Scissor With A Bull

IMG_20160401_191716[1]Rodeo Review
My friend gave me a review copy of the game. It’s not a final copy, still prototype (but the arts are already final). He designed this game for quite some time, never take part in the process but I am quite honored He asked me to review his (first) game. He published it under his own banner, Red Vanilla Games which still has a very small print run. The game is now available only through pre-order with minimum quantity.

The game comes with (mostly) cards, tokens and rule set. It has a compact small box size like the box of Citadel or Red November (small). The art is simple, grunge brush style from Ivan Pratama (also a friend of mine), pretty neat. But sadly I thought the game title could be better in terms of font choices and colors. The rules also suffers the same fate, to crowded and the font for body text is not very easy to read. I think the rule structure can be improved, and it might be better with more examples of the game play. I do believe the rules can be greatly improved to make it more attractive and clear.

dav

Game Contents

How To Play
Each player gets a deck of movement cards and a set of duel cards. One player will starts a the bull (each player will be the bull once in a game). They shuffle these movement cards and draw a number of cards (6 for cowboys, 8 for the bull). The movement cards has 4 directions, UP, DOWN, LEFT and RIGHT. The bull play a card first, then other players must follow the bull movement on the card by playing a card with matching direction. If they cannot, they can discard any card and draw a card from the pile hoping it matches. But if not, they fell down (eliminated from the game) and the bull gets some points for it’s overwhelming effort to knock down the cowboy. But no worry, the player’s out but he can participates again in the next round.

Cowboy’s movement cards have 2 arrow icons to trigger a special action when these arrows match the bull’s two latest movements. With this special action cowboys and the bull can get points by playing a duel card. Before dueling with the bull, the cowboys can even play a matching movement card to add multiplier. Duel is basically a Rock-Paper-Scissor game. Players involve in duel play a duel card (either Rock/Paper/Scissor) and reveal simultaneously.
After the duel, the round continues again with the bull playing another movement card. Each player will take turns as the bull once, if the last player already finished the round as the bull, the game ends. Player with the most points, wins the game.

dav

Playing the game

My Thoughts
This is a very simple, light-hearted game. Basically it’s a RPS game (Rock-Paper-Scissor) inside a hand management game. It plays quick and easy and guess what you don’t even have to think. I have quite some fun with the game, though I must say that it’s not my kind of game. There’s not real decision at all in the game, since everything is about luck and random. When you’re dueling, you choose one card to play, either a Rock, a Paper or a Scissor card. This turns out doesn’t work at all, based on my plays we decided to shuffle the three cards and draw one (yes, that random), the positive thing you can get with this way is that you add a surprise element to the game. When we simultaneously reveal the cards, we have a good laugh over the result. I recommend this game for children or playing with family. It’s simple, easy to learn and also plays fast. So if you’re looking for a 30 minutes game with a lot of fun and easy to learn, this could be it. Why don’t you give it a try.

dav

I love this cute Cowgirl character, kudos to Ivan Pratama

I just thought the game deserves some improvement, in terms of components and design aspects. The VP chips should be in different denominations, in order to keep the supply small. And the rules could do a rework with body copy fonts and more game play examples. Also, different card backs could help a lot.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Card Games, Reviews

 

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