RSS

Tag Archives: Set Collection

The Lower The Better

Parade Review
I came across this beauty by chance, yes I heard it and saw it before, but never in my mind I would have the game. Okay what is Parade anyway? At first the box looks cool, it has a fascinating illustration of Chessire the cat in Alice in Wonderland universe, you know the purple grinning cat that can disappear at will? If you don’t know, never mind, it’s an abstract anyway. Parade is a card game, small one (you can judge by the size of the box), but contains a very good game.

Once you open the small box, you came across a handful deck of cards with a scoring pad and a manual sheet. Aside from the scoring pad and manual sheet you will only play the game with only cards, sounds simple. The cards are in good linen finish, with manual sheet is printed on not-so-common paper, it has textured surface, so must be fancy paper. The scoring pad is nothing special, never use it anyway.

dav

Game Contents

Sadly, there’s a little room to implement a strong theme in this kind of game. Its pure abstract, though I must say that even pure abstract could have a good art / theme. This game use Alice in Wonderland theme as its artworks and they’re beautifully illustrated.

About The Game
The cards consist of 6 different colors (characters) with 11 cards for each color (with its value ranging from 0-10). These cards will be shuffled and deal six card as a parade line, with one of its end is placed the draw pile. This end should be consider the back of the line. Then each player will get 5 cards from the pile. On their turn, players must play one card from their hand to the front of the line. The card played will determine the resolution for that player. The number on the played card shows how many cards are ignored behind that card, so if you play a 5, you will count 5 cards after that card to be ignored and only check the cards after it. For any cards with an equal value or lower than the played card in the rest of the line, that player will take and place them on their tableau. And if there’s any card with the same color as the played card in the rest of the line, no matter the value, that player also take it. Then before the player’s turn ends, draw another card back to 5 cards. Players repeat their turns until one condition is met, either one player collects all 6 different colors in their tableau or the draw deck runs out, the game will come to an end.
Players will play one more card which leave their hands down to 4 cards. Then they choose 2 cards to keep and discard the other 2. Then they add the two cards to their tableau and final scoring begins.

dav

Color Sets

Unique Scoring
To count the scoring, players need to check cards majority based on colors. Check each color majority, the player with a color majority only count the number of the cards they have with that color. If there are multiple players who have majority over a color, they’re not considered majority, hence need to count the total value of that colors.
While other colors that isn’t majority, players count the total value. The sum value will determine the players’ final points. The winner is the player with the least points.

My Thought About The Game
The game is very simple, easy to learn and offers interesting choices while still maintain interaction and luck. The twist is very interesting, you need to keep your points as low as you can, which means try your best not taking many cards or best not taking at all (yes it’s possible, though you still need to place 2 cards in the end). If you have to take cards, try to take the smallest ones or maybe the cards that could lead you to gain majorities.
I found the game to be entertaining, with 4-6 players, more interactions, more players but the game length still the approximately the same. Luck might play a moderate part in the game but you can figure out what cards still out there once the deck runs out. So in the end, getting to know the cards distribution would give you something to ponder on before the game ends. I always think that getting a majority is a good thing, but way leading in a color might prove to be hurtful, so just keep it in check that other players cannot outmatch your majority, but still keep a back up plan in your hands.
The idea of the game is brilliant, trick taking, push your luck, take that and set collection game with simple math. There’s a good decision making in this and to be honest, I call the game to be a risk-management game of numbers and colors.

Replay Value
It has no variation, so the truth is that there’s no new elements in your plays but the interactions give good replay value. The cards are all the same, there are obvious moves, though opponents might make different moves / plans toward specific colors.  It is a good filler, so keeping the game for 15-30 minutes of free time is always a good choice.

dav

Playing the game

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Board Games, Card Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , ,

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.

pic2967163_lg

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.

pic2967162_lg

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.

pic3083149_md

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.

pic3059395

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.

pic3054367_lg

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.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

sdr

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

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , ,

Cute Animals Can Be Watchmen Too

pic2880756

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

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

Watchmen ex03

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

Watchmen ex02

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

Watchmen ex01

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

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

5b370d21d7642eace2ee3bc829cd6c46_original

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

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

Feld Brings Mancala Over The Top!

pic1054375_mdTrajan Review
At last I am ready to review this game. It’s been on my collection for a long time and I’ve played it quite a lot. Trajan is (IMO) the best of Stefan Feld’s games. Oh yes, it beats Castles of Burgundy or Amerigo or Notre Dame or In The Year of The Dragon.
So what is Trajan anyway? What kind of title is that? Well, I knew nothing of it before, it sounds weird and alien in my ear. Trajan is in fact, a person’s name. He was a Roman emperor  from 98 AD until his death in 117 AD. Officially declared by the Senate as optimus princeps (“the best ruler”), Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emperor who presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history, leading the empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death. He is also known for his philanthropic rule, overseeing extensive public building programs and implementing social welfare policies, which earned him his enduring reputation as the second of the Five Good Emperors (the other four were Nerva, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and Antoninus Pius) and who presided over an era of peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean world.

So what’s good about Trajan and why it can be my number one from Stefan Feld? I hope you’re onto long reading.

Game Components
The game has standard rectangular box like Agricola or Stone Age, has full packed content and the box is very heavy for its box size. The main reason might because of tons thick card board components. The card board tiles are thick, its player boards also has the same thickness (unlike The Castles of Burgundy’s player boards). There are many wooden tokens for player’s meeples, Trajan arches and action markers.

Artworks
It doesn’t have the best art for a board game but it serves pretty well in term of game play. Like other Stefan Feld games, Trajan has a very good iconography spread all over the game. It’s very functional and nicely designed. Though this lead to dry and abstract visual aesthetic aspect from the game. But as classic Euro should, the mechanic is what makes the game.

Trajan was published in 2011 after Castles of Burgundy, which has good ratings among Euro-gamers. Trajan is a game about managing you empire, to get most points during 3 years time, each year has 4 quarters, which in summary, players will play 12 rounds in the game. At the end of each year the scoring happens, and players need to fulfill people’s demands or else get penalty.

20150627_094517-1

Flow of Play
In these 12 rounds, players need to assign markers in their player board within Mancala system to take specific actions provided in the game. There are 6 actions in the Mancala system, these actions are Ship, Senate, Forum, Military, Trajan and Build.
In turn order, each player declare how many markers he will take from one bowl (of the available 6 bowls) and move all those action markers in clockwise order, bowl by bowl and in each bowl passed he must drop one of his picked-up markers. When the last action marker is placed, he check for completed Trajan tiles (if any) in that bowl. Then resolve the action corresponding with that bowl, for example Ship or Build.
Other player will advance the round marker in exact amount declared by the active player. If the round marker ends or passes the starting space, the quarter comes to an end and after the active player ends his turn, one demand tile is revealed. If the quarter is ending while there are already 3 demand tiles, do not open another demand tile, but proceed with end of year scoring and resolution. Players need to fulfill the 3 demand tiles and get penalty if they cannot complete all (the penalty amounts are varied by the number of demand that they cannot complete.

dav

Detail of Actions
1. Senate
This action lets players to advance their markers one step in the Senate track and get points from the value below their marker after advancing. In truth, the function of this Senate is not only the points it generates, but there are 2 other functions. During the end year scoring, while resolving Senate track, the player with most votes (number of votes received from the Senate and the Senate tiles combined) will get to choose one of two available Bonus tile for end game scoring, the 2nd most will get the other but in a face-down (lesser) tile. The other function is to break ties.

2. Forum
This action lets players to take a Forum tile from the available Forum spaces. The tiles are reset each year, so players need to plan what they want to get and how important the tiles based on the drawing. There are 2 kind of tiles in the spaces, basic Forum tile and extra action tile. The setup maintains that there are minimum of three extra tiles in each year, but there is possible to have more from the basic tiles. Extra tiles is used to get extra action of the specific action listed on the tile and can be modified / boost with +2 action, so you can use it double. The other tiles are mainly need and voting tiles and also wild / joker tiles that can be used as different types.

3. Trajan
This action lets players to get Trajan tile from the supply. There are 6 types of Trajan tiles (in 6 stacks) with each different color markers combinations. When a player takes this action, he choose the top tile of the available 6 types and put it in his player board, beside the bowl where his Trajan marker resides, and move his marker to the next empty space in clockwise direction, if there is no empty space (full with Trajan tiles), he put it in the central of the Mancala. He cannot take anymore Trajan tiles and need to complete one of his first to get another. There are tiles that give players 9 points, give players 2 cards, give players +2 extra action modifier, give permanent need tiles, give builders and also soldiers.

4. Military
This action lets players to choose one out of several possible actions, either to place 1 soldier from his player board to the Army camp, to move his general to adjacent province / region, or to score a region with one of his soldier in the camp.
If players choose to move their general, they can only move to adjacent region and if there is a tile available, they take the tile and place it on their board.
The scoring action lets players to move one soldier to a region where has their general and score points based on two restrictions. A player score full points from the listed points on the region if he is the first player to score this region (it can be seen by the soldier in that region, if there is none, it means he is the first. If there is already one, then he is the second and so on. If he’s not the first, firstly check how many soldiers already exist in the region (note that each player can only score once in each region) and then deduct 3 points for each soldier already in that region (this exclude any general in the region). For example, the region worth 10 points, a player choose to score that region but he’s the third player doing that, so he only gets 4 points. If later there is another player wants to score that region, he will only gets 1 points, which is not a wise decision. Players cannot take this action if they do not have a soldier available in the camp.

5. Build
This action also similar like Military action, which provides several possible actions. The first is to place one worker from player’s board to the worker camp. The second action is to claim a building tile. If it’s the player’s first claim, he can choose any available tile and move his available worker from the camp to replace the tile he claim. The tile he takes is placed on the corresponding space in his player board. If it’s the first tile of that type, he gets building bonus action, which varies depending the building type. There are 5 building types. His consequent building action will have to follow the restriction of orthogonal adjacent tile from the already existing worker in the building area. If the space already occupied by another worker, the space is not blocked, the player can still place his worker there, but since the tile is already taken, he doesn’t take any.

6. Ship
Ship action lets players to take one of the possible actions. The first action is to draw two cards from the draw pile and place in hand, then discard one card. The second is to take one card from one of the discard pile, the third is to place one to two cards to the display and draw one to two cards from the draw pile. The last is to ship the resource cards based on three different ship tiles, Each different, each same type and different pairs, Once one of the shipping tile is used, it’s flipped face down, which show lesser amount than the face-up tile. The tile can be flipped face-up again at the start of next round. When a player do this, he place his corresponding resource cards to his display but do not refill his hand.

dav

The game ends after the last year ends and score points based on several things:
1. Number of cards still in hand (1 point per card)
2. Number of incomplete Trajan tiles  (1 point per tile)
3. Number of soldiers and workers still in camp (1 point per worker or soldier)
4. Bonus tiles (set collection for the commodity cards in table is probably the most lucrative if you can focus on that. Since there are limited amount of cards, there’s also possibility that your opponents are blocking / holding the cards you need.
5. Joker tiles (1 point per tile)
6. Building set collection (3 tiles of a kind gives you 10 points, while 4 tiles of a kind gives you 20 points). This is powerful if you managed to get 4 tiles of a kind.

My Thoughts
I think the game core mechanic is not new but indeed innovative and has novelty. Stefan Feld applied innovative mechanic in the old Mancala system and made it more interesting. Not only you take and place action markers, but the there are 6 different kind of colors for the markers which really need considerations to complete Trajan tiles (not only to take an action).  This gives the game a small puzzle game but impacts greatly on the game play. Some feel (me too, a bit) this as the brain-burner element in the game.
It has lots of options and chain combo with the extra action and bonus action from building tile and that make the game more interesting. Though it has lots of options to consider the game play still has clear coverage, since all that you can do is solely based on your Mancala and the distribution of the action markers. The common sense for returning players is about how they manage the setup for the action marker distribution, which in some cases impose debates on how to maximize the setup. But I don’t really care, just distribute them randomly and plan after that. One note though, I intend to keep the markers in different color for each bowl, not saying that I’m trying to set something up, but just for the sake of random (evenly distributed).

20130923_171321

In Trajan, since it’s also considered as a point-salad game, you can see many different ways to get points but there are some considerations for what strategies you should after. Either you go heavy on shipping or building or military or getting senate and bonus tiles as your trumps. Based on my playing experiences, players can go and grab 1 or 2 strategies but not all, since getting all of them into the plan proved to be unwise, since they cannot utilize all of them to get the most of them. Players will not have enough time, for example collecting 4 building tiles of one kind also need hard efforts, especially if the tiles are not strategically placed (it would be wise to choose other type of building that is strategic) so if you also after Shipping, things could be hard to maximize them both. Some players found that Shipping strategy is quite powerful and easy to gain points in the end game combined with Bonus tiles. Building can also provide you bonus actions and also huge amount of points. But I believe each strategy is quite balanced and each one relates to each other, you cannot play with only one strategy without taking others.

The game also has dynamic turn sequence, different for each player. Since players are mostly take actions based on their personal considerations, the game plays very differently for each player about how many spaces each turn will take. At first each player will absolutely take 2 spaces in each turn, since the distribution of the markers is fixed. But during in-game or once the game progresses, there are varied amounts of markers in each bowl, so the number of space that a player will take is different from other players and this often makes the game unpredictable (you can predict it though if you observe other players carefully (and also guess what their plan next turn).

I think Trajan is way much better than Castles of Burgundy, because it offers more depth and planning than Castles of Burgundy. Castles of Burgundy has smaller scope with only 2 dice to allocate, though it could be many different options but still 2. In Trajan you need to consider 6 different bowls for your plan and it connects together for each turn and also there are also combos to think about so you can take your turn more efficiently.
The player counts are also good, you can play a 2-player game as good as in a 4-player game, the differences are the number of action spaces each round, cards distribution, forum tiles, military expansion and also blocking in the construction site.20150627_100957-1.jpg

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Board Games, Euro Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cooking Has Never Been This Easy

Game Box

Game Box

Fish Cook Review

I love cooking! Well, at least cooking foods that I really like. Not really if you don’t like the foods right? Fish Cook is a game from James Earnest’s Cheapass Games. As you notice games from Cheapass Games are all unique, they’re all cheaper than other games. The reasons are the game components are not really complete (you need several other components that can easily be found on other games). I must admit that the first time I found the game, I was astonished and hard to believe. The game did not come with dice and money. Cheapass games wants us to get the rest of the components by ourselves. I think their reason is to make the game retail price cheaper, since you can get dice and replacements for money from other game’s components. Here is a short explanation about it from the publisher’s website:

Our traditional business model is printing games in the $5-$15 range, which ship with only the bare essential pieces. This helps us reduce our inventory risk, and essentially puts half of the manufacturing burden on the consumer, who must still provide spare parts like dice, counters, play money, and so on. Thus, we can sell a game that might be worth $40 with all the bits, and meet our customers halfway. It’s especially convenient that the best chips for Veritas, at least at the time of this writing, can be found really cheap. If those chips were in our box, we could never give you such a good deal!

James Earnest is the founder of Cheapass games, which he founded on 1996 along with his most famous board game titled Kill Doctor Lucky, which won the Origins award for the best abstract board game in the following year. He mostly designed all of Cheapass games titles and most of them are free to download. Some of his games are Deadwood Studios USA, Unexploded Cow, Veritas, Pairs, Buttonmen, Falling, Witch Trial and of course Fish Cook.

Now let us look deeper into Fish Cook. I know this game from a friend of mine who ordered this game and I was curious to ask him what kind of game this is. I did find the game curious because of the game box, colorless with simple black texts and sketch and white background. Now that’s not something that you see in most of board game boxes.

Game Components

Game Components

Not much theme in the game, it’s a cooking game I suppose which involves collecting ingredients along the way. Players are chefs that need to create original dishes for their restaurants to gain profits. In the game, chefs also have to go to market to get all the necessity ingredients in the recipes. After collecting the ingredients, they can cook recipes and sell it to gain some profits (naturally they need to sell the dishes higher than the price of the ingredients to make a profit, the bigger the margin of their profit is the better so they can collect the most money at the end of the game).

I already mentioned the game box art, which is… standard. The rest of the components are also standard but the cards are better with colorful artworks. Not much of commissioned artworks on this game and everything is just based on the necessity for the game to be play-able. The game comes with 4 parts of game board (made from thick paper material), cards, game round and first player tokens and also ingredient tiles in 6 types. Players need to provide 12 6-sided dice and the money in different denominations (preferable denominations up to 100 value to keep track the money easier).

The game consist of several rounds (based on number of players, 3-5 rounds) shown as days. In each day players will have to go through 2 phase, day and night. During the day phase, each player will take turns clockwise to collect ingredients / buy recipes. There are 6 different types of ingredients as well as 6 different grades of fishes. Ingredients are filled by rolling a die to determined how many of them added to the supply. Fishes are presented by the dice which rolled before each day starts. The dice roll results determine how many fishes are available and in what types. The price of the ingredients and fishes are vary based on the stock of the specific type at the moment. Ingredients / fishes with surplus supply are cheaper than the ones with small amount supply, which really related to basic economy principle of offer and demand.

Players can also take his turn to buy new recipe instead of ingredients. They buy recipe from the available (cooking school) with the cost of 5 coins, or buy a recipe from the top card of the draw pile with cheaper cost, 2 coins. The recipe cards consist of the required ingredients to make the dish (fish is the only ingredients that always presents). First grade (die value of 1) can only be used for a recipe that required grade one fish, unlike Sixth grade fish that can be used for any dish (since Sixth grade fish is the highest grade), but of course the higher the grade is, more expensive the price is (but more flexible). A day phase ends when one of some certain conditions is met, these conditions are when all players have pass their turn (if a player pass his turn, he can take his turn again in the next turn), when one type of ingredients (not fish) is out of supply or when there is no fish left on the market. Once a player trigger this, all other players take one final turn (including the triggering player). Pass the firs player token to the left player who triggers the day end and the night phase starts.

The Game Board

The Game Board

Starting from the player with the first player token, he cook one of his recipe (if any) and gain profits. If he cooks a recipe from his hand, he gain the bonus as well (return the ingredients and fish required by the recipe). He can also cook an already played recipe from his tableau or from another player’s tableau or even from the available recipe on the center of the table. When he cook his own recipe he gets the bonus as normal, but if he cook a recipe that belong to another player, the bonus goes to the owner of the recipe and the player will have a chance to steal the recipe. The player roll one die and if the result is equal or higher than the bonus value, he can take the recipe and place it on his tableau. During the night you must pass your turn if you cannot cook anything, and if you pass while you still have fish, you must throw one fish away. The night phase ends when all players’ fish are cooked or discarded. Player then can keep his leftover ingredients for the next day. Next day begins, refill the markets and the cooking school.

After the last day is over, the game ends and final scoring is taken place. Players who has the most recipes in each fish grade get points based on the value of the grades (if there is a tie, all tied players received the bonus). So the player with the most recipes of Sixth grade fish gain menu bonus of 6 points and the player with the most recipes of Fifth grade fish gain menu bonus of 5 points and so on. Each player then sum his coins and points together to the the total points, the player with the most points win the game.

In overall, this game is simple and easy to explain. It’s straight forward, players collecting ingredients and cooking dishes to get more money. The game is very economic and it’s crucial to get ingredients cheaper than the money and potential bonus of the dish to get a good profit margin. Sometimes players are faced upon situation that they need to get ingredients and / or fish in higher price, this will determine how big the profit margin players receive in compared with the efforts and turns invested to complete the dish. If the profit is not really good, it’s better to find a better dish (of course considering that maybe you want to earn the most grade of fish). Players will often take new recipes from the deck or cooking school, but it’s a valid and important strategy to steal another player’s recipe to cancel their majority on grades of fish.

This game can be played by 2-6 players under 30-45 minutes and it has a good theme for either adults and children, men and women, it’s about food, everyone loves food.

Ingredients

Ingredients

My Thoughts on The Game
Okay, first of all the game looks minimalistic interesting and to be honest after a first play, I was hooked so I bought the game (instantly, as it’s as cheap as 6 bottles of beer). It was supposedly provides cheap games to play but in the end some of us (my friends and me) bought a special set of dice and money tokens for this game, which led us into extra expenses. The game is very straightforward, buy ingredients, cook and score points but there are some points of strategy or tactic in this game and also decision making. This is also a game that I usually bring to meetup for it’s flexibility (newbie friendly, easy to learn, and short game time and it ranges up to 6 players), very flexible (if you are bored with 7 Wonders, which is more newbie-intimidating).

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 17, 2014 in Board Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

A Korean Twist

Box Cover

Box Cover

Koryo Review

Koryo is catchy, is it not? Easy and fun to pronounce, but it’s definitely a strange to our tongue, unless of course you’re a Korean. Koryo is a card game from Korean designer Kim Gun-Hee, published on 2013 by Asmodee and Moonster Games. I honestly don’t know the origin of it’s title but it surely is interesting. A friend asked me to look into it and with only a handful of cards (okay one deck, but still…) this game is surprisingly good and interestingly fun.

Kim Gun-Hee’s name probably a stranger for our ears but he’s not a first time game designer. Actually he had design several small games like Spice Merchant, Tales & Games: The Hare and The Tortoise and Black Swan. He’s also The president of KBDA (Korean Boardgame Designers Association), which sounds prestigious indeed.

Koryo has nice steam punk anime style (Korean style I guess) over the artworks (Thanks to Stephane Gantiez and Ian Parovel), but I must admit the cover is a bit too bland and non-thematic. You can find a someone in the cover, miraculously (maybe with the help of some unknown technology) draft cards in front of him, seemed cool but in short it’s like really straight-forwardly explains that there is no story in the game, just you as players, play cards. Thank God it’s just the cover, the cards have amazing thematic artworks. The game contains 63 cards in total (45 Character cards, 10 Event cards and 8 Season cards), 8 VP tokens, first player marker and rules, packed in a small simple box, easy to carry, can be played in 15-30 minutes and very easy to learn by 2-4 players.

THE GAME
Okay, let’s breakdown the game inside. The character and event cards are shuffled together to form the draw deck while the 8 season cards are sorted in ascending order from top to bottom based on the season number. The game is played over the course of 8 rounds (Season), and at the end of the last round, final scoring takes place and player with the highest point wins the game.
There are 9 different Characters over the 45 Character cards and each character has distribution as many as it’s value (range from 1 to 9). These characters have different effects listed in the form of symbols and brief text description on the bottom part of the card. Event card is more like an action card that can be played during the game, and only consist of 2 types of event (5 cards distribution for each event).
A round is divided into 4 phases, Card Distribution, Order, Action and Round Ending Phase. During Card Distribution Phase, each player is dealt a number of cards from the draw deck based on the current season card, in which player choose simultaneously during Order Phase. Players can only choose 1 type of card to play, discard the rest. On Action phase, once they already choose the cards, beginning from the first player clockwise, each player reveals the cards and some cards can be activated if the requirements are met during that time. After each player has play the cards, the round ends, the first player marker is moved clockwise from the current first player to the next and then check the number limit for player’s tableau. If a player has more cards than the limit, he needs to discard down to the limit, the only restriction is he cannot discard event cards, they can only discard character cards. Once players check their tableau limit, the next season card is revealed and next round begins.

Game Components

Game Components

The game is simple, the season cards are sorted from 1 to 8 with different numbers as limit for card distribution and tableau. First round has high number of card distribution (with 10 cards) and low number of tableau limit (3) and with each round the limits are one by one added and subtracted, when at the last round, the card distribution limit is 3 and the tableau size is 10. So based on this clever system, we can see that the game has tableau building mechanism. Players build their tableau with cards to gain the effect and scoring points at the end game. Character cards have 9 different characters which can give certain benefits if (only if) a player has a clear majority of that character during his turn (only this the character’s effect can be triggered).
An event card has immediate effect on being played, but cannot be discard in normal way (like discarding cards out of tableau limit effect), since each event card on a player’s tableau will give minus 1 point in the final scoring.

Players' Tableau

Players’ Tableau

In the final scoring players get points out of the value of a character that they have majority on and also VP tokens minus event cards on their tableau (if any). Player with the most points win the game, if there is any tie, the tied players share victory. Okay that’s the second clue of how the game works, character majority and set collection. Now, onto the characters:

1. The Omniscient (only 1 card in play) which only gives 1 point in the end game but it surely is powerful during the game since it can break ties in card effect majority resolution. So with this card you can still win the majority even if you tied with other players.

2. Spy (2 cards in play) gives 2 kind of powers / abilities. The first power is stealing a VP token from another player (if any) and the second power is protection against Lobbying events (only in effect if there is no Guardian around in the player’s tableau).

3. Senator (3 cards in play) gives you extra +2 tableau limit, which is very useful to collect more variety of cards and gain majority.

4. Priest (4 cards in play) gives you the ability to discard an event card if you majority. This is the only way you can get rid of event cards.

5. Ship Owner (5 cards in play) gives you the flexibility to play 2 cards of 2 different types instead the normal 1 type of cards. This is also very powerful to get more than 1 type of card in a single turn.

6. Banker (6 cards in play) let you take 1 VP token from the bank (if any).

7. Guardian (7 cards in play), when a player has majority of Guardian, that player cannot be targeted by Barbarian event cards.

8. Broadcaster (8 cards in play) gives you an extra card during the card distribution phase.

9. Merchant (9 cards in play) gives you only victory points at the end game, it does not give players in-game benefit.

Barbarian event card (6 cards in play) let players to destroy (discard) a character of one player, unless that character is protected by Guardian effect.

Lobbying event card (4 cards in play) let players to swap 2 cards in anyone’s tableau (including his tableau), unless that player is protected by Spy effect.

Character Cards

Character Cards

IMPRESSION
The first impression playing the game is the shuffling, yes you heard me, as for a small game like this, it surely needs to be shuffled a lot (8 times) because each round the discarded cards are shuffled to form the new draw deck, so you definitely need to sleeve the cards to protect them worn out easily.  The game play is quick and very easy once you grab how all the characters work and I’ve tried several plays with 2 and 4 players. Though essentially with that range of players, there is no different setup or rules, the game play is somewhat different. It’s a bit more tactical with 2 players compared with 4 which more chaotic and unpredicted. The turn order is more important with more than 2 players since it’s very crucial who’s going first and who’s after. I like the clever way to put decision making in this game is more and more important in each round since you will get less and less cards as rounds progress. Event cards provide the core tableau manipulation in later rounds where majority is pretty important for players to decide which they want to keep and lose as well as deny other players points.

It’s a good filler game with some nice depth and decision making, though of course it’s quite sucks if you don’t get certain cards in certain times. I tried the game with my gaming and non gaming friends, and they all seemed enjoy a game or two.

pic1859178_md

A 4-player game setup

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Card Games, Euro Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: