RSS

Tag Archives: Z-Man

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.

dav

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.

dav

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.

dav

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

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , ,

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

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Ares Project Insight

Please note that this post is not a review.

Friday, 16th Dec 2011

My friend brought this game to the meetup, he just got the game and wanted to play it, so did i. So we played it with 3 players. First he taught me and my other friend the basic game with 2 players. Since he said it’s best to get around the game and it’s complexity with 2 players game and playing it as Kahoum and Terran, then we played 3 players game with other races.

So, what’s The Ares Project anyway? It’s a new released game from Z-Man Games by Brian and Geoff Engelstein. The game’s background theme is centered on sci-fi theme of strategies. There are 4 races in the galaxy that struggles into each other for domination. The Terran, Xenos, Kahoum and Collosus. These races are similar to the races in the game of Star Craft. These races has their own variable player power and unique distinction from each other. The game itself provided closer feels from the core mechanic toward Real Time Strategy genre. This really embedded to the game play and created new feeling on the game itself. So to speak, my friend told me that this game is best with 2 players and with more players need to be played by experienced players. Cause in 1 on 1 play, the game really concentrate on 2 players conflict, but the multi player version could really distract the pure confrontation among players which can lead to one player being assaulted by others.

The game components are in good quality but one thing about the player screens. There’s no way you can screen all your private inventory with that small screen. You need big ones and also tall enough.

I played 2 games, first was 2 players basic game with Kahoum versus Terran (Terran won). And 3 players normal game with Collosus against Kahoum and Xenos (Collosus won). Great games and looking forward to play it again.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Insight

 

Tags: , , , ,

Stupid Dice Game? Let’s Play Again…and Again!

Box Cover

Troyes Review

Just recently got a hold on a copy of this game, and played it 4 times not within a week. Maybe you never heard this game before, since it’s kinda new game, Published by Pearl Games (French / Euro edition) in 2010, which also republished in the same year by Z-Man Games for the international edition, this game was quickly went up in the Board Game Geek rank and popularity (since then it’s called as one of the BGG darlings). Designed by Sebastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges and Alain Orban, this game apparently offers great things and surprises. Being one of the middle box heavy euro, Troyes is stand still the test of challenges. Well, you could see maybe this game was kinda a blind buy for me, since i was instantly fell in love with it when i saw the game setup board including the dice allocation and all the cards in it. So interesting and mind-pulling for me to know more and want it. So i decided to order this game and from around the other games i ordered, this was the one i anticipated the most. And to be honest, based on my 4 times experience, and the game itself, you can say i am pretty great excited and satisfied, in fact it has gone up to the first rank of my best games collection, uprooted The Pillars of The Earth and Thunderstone. So, you might be curious the kind of games Troyes is? So here is my review, read and weep boys.

In the year 1200, the foundation is laid for the cathedral of Troyes, but it will not be finished until 400 years later, after innumerable incidents. This game invites you to experience four centuries of history by participating in the development of one of the finest medieval cities ever to make its mark on Western culture. The society of that day was organized into three orders: the nobility, the clergy, and the peasants. The nobility constituted the military force devoted to justice and to protecting the lands. The clergy were the spiritual guides of the community, contributing to maintaining and developing knowledge and culture. The peasants and artisans, in turn, were given very little consideration, although their hard work was essential to the daily life of the entire populace.

1. The Theme

Actually for the kind of Euro Games, theme aspect is not really matters or important. But in this case, the theme is kinda really stick. Can’t explain why, but somehow the theme really attach to the game quite nice. The game title ‘Troyes’ was pick from the small city with same name in North-central France. The game story is evolve on the building of it’s Cathedral for nearly 400 years since in the year 1200. Players represents one of the the rich noble families from the Champagne region of France, and using their influence to recruit and supervise individuals from 3 different prominent domain (military, religious and civil).

2. The Artworks

The artist Alexandre Roche had really put a great masterpiece with this game, the feel and the styles of the artworks really represent the game and supporting to build the theme of the game. Actually generally i did not really like this kind of style. It looks outdated, classic and so medieval, but in this case it kinda attractive for the game. So, i like it in overall, though the illustrations kinda lame, especially the characters faces.

The Character Cards

3. The Game Components

It really surprised me, when i look at the box, it looked bigger than the picture. Quite a big box but not a square box like 7 Wonders, The Pillars of The Earth or Thunderstone. It’s more rectangular shape in a portrait orientation. Nice art on the box, really shows it’s unique theme and style. Inside the box i found 1 plastic bag of dice (24 dice with 6 dice for each four colors, black / white / red / yellow), which were nicely crafted with great material. Also included single punch board of VP and deniers tiles in each denominations, 56 wooden citizens (in each colors plus gray color), 90 wooden cubes (also include the gray cubes), 8 wooden disc 2 for each colors), 1 beautifully drawn game board, 27 activity cards, 16 event cards, 6 character cards, 6 player aid cards (2 for each language) and 1 first player card. I kinda found it interesting that the available colors for players are not common (they use green and blue, which are commonly used, but the white or beige and orange colors are not commonly used in a 4 players games). The components are in a great shaped and they also provide sealed plastic bag to be used when you ant to separate the components in each colors for easier setup. The only little downer is inside the box with just white carton compartment to store the components and hold the board. Well, they could made it with better quality from this one, which they’re not. But i guess it’s just minor and really did not affect my review of the game.

4. The Game Play

Each player choose their colors and set the board (how many players in the game will determine how many citizens each player will get during the initial placement. For 4 players, each get 4 citizens which they have to spend in the 3 principal buildings on the game board. This placement will determine what dice you will get during the round. Put the rest of the citizens in the general supply along with the VP and deniers tiles. Each player get 5 deniers as starting capital and stock his color cubes in his personal supply. Shuffle and randomly draw the activity cards, 1 for each age (the numerical shown on the back of the cards) and put it face down in the board based on each principal colors. Shuffle the event cards (the red event cards are supposed to be 6 cards, as it will determine the rounds, 6 rounds for 4 players). Shuffle and randomly drawn the character cards to each player, this will be a secret to every player. Put the rest of the cards without looking at them to the box.

Each round consist of phases in there order:

  • Phase 0 – Reveal the activity cards for each principals (City Hall / yellow, Count’s Palace / red and Bishopric / white) start from the first round (can be identified by it’s number in the back of each card). Start from round 4-6, there will be no activity cards left to revealed, so skip this phase.
  • Phase 1 – Income and salaries. Each player will get 10 deniers each round for his income and must pay salaries for his citizens in the principal buildings (2 deniers / citizen in Count’s Palace, 1 denier / citizen in Bishopric and free of charge for citizens in City Hall).Players who cannot pay the salary losses 2 VP.
  • Phase 2 – Assembling the workforce. Workforce are presented by the dice that players roll, based on citizens they hired just before in the principal buildings. After rolling the dice, each player put his dice in the game board which represent his location district marked by his color marker. These dice will represent citizens and workforces each player has and will be used to execute actions.
  • Phase 3 – Events. For the first round, draw the red event card and resolve it’s effect (starting from the left bottom corner, which usually would require players to draw another event card. Then resolve each effect of the event card with roll black dice be the last effect occurred). Roll the black dice as stated in the active event cards and this will present as military event which need to be countered in the beginning of players action starting from the first player. He must counter at least 1 black die with the highest value (up to 2 black dice), with any of his own dice (based on the number) with red dice are doubled when used to counter black dice. After counter the black dice, each player gain 1 influence for each die. If one players cannot counter the black dice, he losses 2 VP.
  • Phase 4 – Actions. Beginning from the first player (clockwise) each player can use his dice to do actions. Start by activating the activity cards (by hire citizen and pay the appropriate amount of gold in the card and resolve the dice), allocate his dice to put his citizen in principal buildings, counter event cards, participate in the construction of the Cathedral (3 levels) or use agriculture to gain deniers based on the amount total of his dice result, or pass (which will give him 2 deniers and 1 denier for his next turn that he already passed.
  • Phase 5 – End of the round. The round end when every player has passed or there are no dice in the districts.

Game in Progress

The game ends after the sixth rounds and the player with the highest VP win the game. VP can be collected by activate a card, counter events, construct the Cathedral, and secretly complete character cards prerequisites. Influence can be used to re-roll one of your die (cost 1 influence), hire citizens from general supply (cost 2 influence), flip up to 3 dice of his own (cost 3 influence). Oh yeah it’s rather kinda late in, but better than never, the most interesting part is, you can use someone’s else dice. Oh yeah you can, with the right amount of money you can get everything they said. If you use 1 die for an action by using someone’s else die, you must pay 2 deniers. If you using 2 dice for an action which 1 of it was someone’s else, you must pay him 4 deniers / die you buy. If you use 3 dice for an action which 1 of it was someone’s else, you must pay 6 deniers / die you buy. There can only be 3 dice in one dice group and commonly with the same color (special case if the cards say otherwise).

5. The Replay Value

Now it’s time, when you say about the replay value, I’ve got 2 words which are ‘OPEN POSSIBILITIES‘. Yeah after 4 plays, i found the game mechanics has led to an open possibilities for players. For start, the cards that came in the game were not all come into play, this is one element that add variant to the game (event, activity, and character cards are not all played) and also the promo cards also add more variant. And the dice mechanic, wait, hold your thoughts. Dice mechanic? 24 dice? 24 dice are a lot amount of dice i admit it. What would one possibly do with 24 dice? Since dice are often associated with luck factor, and i won’t argue with that. This game has a dice allocation mechanic (remember Kingsburg?), which you maybe already thought that it’s a high roller game. Well, you can say that, but being a high roller is not always present the best result for you, and being the opposite (low roller) won’t kick you out of the game. In Troyes, being high roller put you in a dilemma, if you’re not the first player. The unique of the game or this mechanic is, it brings you more possibilities than any other games. When you look at the board, you’re not only see your dice, but all the dice in the board. Why? As i stated before, the game gives you more possibilities. This is the part where the game become interesting. You can ‘steal’ other player’s dice. What? steal? you mean cheating? Well, actually not stealing (at least indirectly literal), i would prefer the word ‘buy’ rather than ‘steal’ but that’s not gonna make it interesting, is it? When it’s your turn, you can use any dice.. if you can, while your impertinent rivals doing voodoo dance behind your back and hope that you make your mistake. So the game really has great replay value (let aside the cards variants which aren’t too many).

My Thought of The Game

Hmm, what words fit the game perfectly, i vote for none. You can’t describe the game with only words. Well if i have to, it would be MARVELOUS, FANTASTIC, FABULOUS, and AWESOME! The game is classic but has a modern touch in it. When i ordered it, it had been my most anticipated games and when i played it for the first time, it emerged as one of the best i have ever tried. It’s a worker placement and dice rolling game that really served in such an interesting way. There are many ways to win the game, and you can use your dice or someone’s else dice to the very least of options. This is the kind of games that forced players to skulking in their seat with eyes focused on the board, thinking hard while their hands hold their deniers tightly and mumbling some ancient chantings, hoping they eventually have an enlightenment of their best move. Yeah, this game is AP (Analysis Paralysis) potential, even for heavy gamers, so if you’re not a heavy gamer, you’re gonna likely end up in AP state.And i just recently noticed the perfect phrase that fit to this game, which is “A STUPID DICE GAME!” Yeah, one of my friends constantly saying it over and over again. Well in a way yes i couldn’t be more agree with him, this is a stupid dice game, The dice you roll make you look stupid or do stupid reactions. So yes this is a stupid dice game. “A stupid dice game! Let’s play again…and again!”.

All activity cards opened

The artwork is great and the game play is unique. I would say that the rules is simple once you get the hang of it, the difficult thing is your decision. Troyes is the game that will surely often hit the table if i had the chance, and to be honest it worth every penny.

You also can view this review on boardgamegeek.com here.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 19, 2011 in Board Games, Euro Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Gemstones into Gemstones?

Box Cover

Scepter of Zavandor Review – 110624

Just been introduced to this game, and for my first play in 3 players game, i like it. But definitely not for newbie, since it really need quite understanding upon the mechanics and all the possibilities. Published by Z-Man Games and designed by Jens Drögemüller

The Scepter of Zavandor is about magic and power. Players represent young magicians who have gained possession of old magic knowledge, and with it they attempt to achieve the powerful position of archmage, symbolized by the Scepter of Zavandor.

To increase their power and influence, the young magicians enchant jewels and seek out knowledge. An auction mechanism also allows them to acquire artifacts and sentinels. Victory points are earned through active gems, artifacts, sentinels, and knowledge.

Here is the overview of the game:

1. The Theme
Well, since it’s euro game, there’s not much to talk about the theme. But even it’s paste on, theme is quite different and fresh from other games. Players take the role of magician apprentices that have the goal to achieve the highest VP when the game ends. Each player has variable player powers. the only odd thing is, the apprentices turns a specific gemstones into that same kind gemstones! What? Well i know they’re still an apprentice, but seriously? Even i myself doesn’t need to be them to be able to convert a ruby into ruby! But, carry on, it still interesting (ignoring the odd).

2. The Artworks
Beautiful. Yes, the artworks looked fresh and clear to be seen. But the illustrations of the characters seemed immature (well they’re apprentices anyway) and not good lookings. And there are some texts that really hard to be read because the annoying background (darker color that interfere the black text readibility).

Player Sheet example

3. The Game Components

Unboxing

Actually the game components are quite good, even though there were some minor drawbacks such as the gems cards (which the front side are black and white), the gem tokens VP info are in the other side, and the 2 version languages (really cramped the space with texts). The main board is just for the spell books and each player has his / her own player sheet. The gemstones’ denomination comes in tokens and cards for easy handling for the incomes. The sentinel tiles has different size from the others (square tiles).

4. The Game Play
Okay, the game take bidding / auction mechanic, variable player powers, resource management mechanic.
Each player randomly choose a character and take his / her starting statistic (from starting hand limit, spell book, starting gemstones and capital).
Now set the starting players by randomly choose the player order tiles.
Now the goal of the game is to collect as many gemstones you can hold each turn and turn it into VP every turn (by doing actions). Each turn consist of 4 phases (determine turn order, income phase, action phase, count the VP’s). Every player can take actions as many as they want if he / her is able to.
So what actions are available to each player? They are listed below

  • Put your skill token (or whatever it’s named) to one of the spell books (this can only be done once per turn by each player.
  • Buy or sell any kind of gemstones.
  • Allocate active gemstones.
  • Buy your skill token.
  • Bid the artifact cards and sentinel tiles.

Game in Progress

Each gemstones you posses, generate some amount of gemstones (this is the weird thing) that you can use or keep (when you decide to keep it, only the same amount of your hand limit, the excesses were removed back to the supply at the end of the turn). Opal stones gives you opal tiles, based on the number of opal you have. The ruby, sapphire, emerald and diamond has cards, that randomize the amount that generates the gemstones.
Spell book gives you knowledge, there is 6 knowledge trees that can be developed (each knowledge tree has 5 levels). when you gain the last / top level you instantly receive 2 VP’s. This knowledge gives you benefits and also detriments. Usually it affects your hand limit. The game ends when the fifth sentinel are bought.

5. The Replay Value
It’s quite good and after my first game, i want to play this again. The variable player powers gives you variants, and the random gemstone cards and artifacts put luck into replay value. And no dice, so no curses if your hand sucks to roll.

My Thought of The Game
Well, you can say i love this game, i even think about own it myself. A great game to pass the time with thinking. This game also indirectly put your math lessons in elementary school to test. The need of adds and substractions in inevitable. The downside of the game is, there’s no change of quarters in this game, so quite a hard decision to let go that useless dimes for donation.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 26, 2011 in Board Games, Euro Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: