Friday, February 16, 2018

A Day Late and a Dollar Short (Cover Your Assets)

Easy Larry here down at the EXPO OF AWESOME STUFF!  We got Cars, we got Homes, We got Mattresses stuffed with cash that we don't know how it got there!  So come on down, supplies are limited.  We're practically giving this stuff away!

BACKGROUND:  Cover Your Assets, alternatively known as Big Deal, is a card game published by Grandpa Beck's Games for 2 to 5 players.  Players build stacks of cards to gather as much money in assets as possible.

GAMEPLAY:  Each player is dealt a hand of cards, varying on the amount of players.  Each turn, a player must either stack a pair of matching cards in their hand, or a matching card from the discard pile and in their hand, in front of them on top of their asset pile, or discard a card or attempt to steal.  Players will then draw back up to their hand size after playing or after a steal attempt.  Gold and Silver are wild cards, and can match anything except other wilds.

STEAL:  If another player has a group of assets a card another player has in their hand, the player may attempt a steal.  The player places the card down, and the defending player must either play the matching card or a wild.  If either player cannot, the stack and cards used in the steal attempt go to the winning player on top. 

WINNING:  Once all cards are drawn and played or discarded, players add the face value of the cards together.  Players mark their scores until at least one player hits or passes $1,000,000, with the player with the highest score winning.

CONCLUSION:  CYA is an easy to learn, luck driven game with little strategy.  You definitely won't have long sessions of deep thought about this game, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its place in a game night.  This is a breather, in between, game that due to its luck based system, means that games of CYA won't stick around too long in peoples minds.  It's a game that is right down the middle, not great, but still worth playing a few rounds in for a more relaxing session.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Leaning Tower of Sanity (Wonky)

A man walks into a review board, dressed in his finest brown top hat and purple jacket.  He pulls out a deck of cards and a set of cubes.  "What's the meaning of this, where did you come from?"  Asks the head of the board.  The man grins mischievously, and replies, "Sir, I have a game that is so different, so unique, I have to sell it to you.  I made my fortune in candy, and I can make yours."  He proceeds to pitch the game.  The man, after hearing all this, says, "Sir, this is an interesting game, but it's bonkers."  "No sir," says the purple dressed man, "It's absolutely Wonky."

BACKGROUND:  Wonky is a card focused dexterity game published by USAopoloy in 2015 for 2 or more players.  Players attempt to create a stable tower out of unstable blocks using cards in their hand.

GAMEPLAY:  Each turn, players play a card in their hand.  Most of these cards tell you to stack a certain type of color of block.  If at any time all a players cards are only able to stack blocks that have already been stacked, they will draw until they can play.  If at any time the tower falls on a players turn, there turn ends immediately and they have to draw 3 cards.  The tower is reset, and play continues.

SPECIAL:  There are two types of special cards, Action and Combo.  Action cards allow a player to either pass without stacking a cube, or reverse the direction of play.  Combo cards will allow you to play a cube of any size and color, and either reverse the direction of play, or make the next player draw a card.

WINNING:  The goal of the game is to get rid of your entire hand, with the last card played not being an Action card.  However, if a player manages to place the 9th block successfully, that player automatically wins.

CONCLUSION:  Wonky feels a bit like Uno mixed with reverse Jenga.  This is a very simple game with a solid game play.  It won't set the world on fire, but it's great for a game with a bit of a different twist, like Kilter.  There is also an "Adults" version, which causes players to get drunk, making the game a little bit harder and apparently more interesting.  In the end, Wonky is a pretty solid game.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Chinese Tricks (Gang of Four)

Green, Yellow, and Red.
The Dragon and the Phoenix.
This is Gang of Four.

BACKGROUND:  Gang of Four is a card game for 3 or 4 players.  It was initially developed in China by Lee Yih as a metaphor for the four powerful politicians that rose to power in China in 1966 to 1976, as well as previous rises in power.  It was published in America by Days of Wonder in 1990.

GAMEPLAY:  Every player is dealt a hand of 16 cards from the 64 card deck.  Starting with the player who went out last, or the player with the multicolored 1 card, players go around playing combinations of cards in order to get rid of their hand first.  Players may pass at any time, but may still play again when it comes to their turn.

TRICKS:  Each time a player plays a "trick" or a card combination, it must be able to beat the previous numbers, beat matching numbers with colors.  Yellow beats green, and   A pair of red and green 2's can beat a pair of yellow 2's, but cannot beat anything higher than a pair of 2's.  Poker hands like Straight or a Full House are some of the higher combinations, but a group of 4 cards, the titular Gang of Four, is the highest, and can only be beat by a higher Gang of Four.

SPECIAL:  In the deck are 2 Phoenix cards and 1 Dragon.  The Phoenix beats any numeric card, 2 Phoenix's beats any pair, and a Phoenix pair may only be in a group of 5 as a Full House.  The Dragon beats any single card.

WINNING:  Once a player has gone out, the other players count their cards, and score that many points times the scoring charts indicated number.  For example, players with 8 cards will double to 16 points, and players with 16 will quintuple to 80 points.  The first player to get to 100 points ends the game, with the player with the lowest score winning.

CONCLUSION:  Gang of Four is a tricky game to review, as it has a significant place in history, and reviewing it would be like reviewing Chess or Go.  However, Gang of Four is a pretty solid game, akin to games like Hearts or Cribbage.  It's the kind of game you play with a group of friends who want a nice, slow game that's easy to understand but hard to master.  That being said, this is the kind of game that you'd want to play with older friends, or your parents/grandparents.  Gang of Four is a pretty good game, but not one that will click with a lot of people.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Been There (Scene It)

Movies, Tv, sports and more, how many points can you score
when your choices for theme are Friends, Twilight, or Disney?
When random trivia is what you get,
The question remains: Have you Scene It?

BACKGROUND:  Scene It is a digital trivia game designed by Screenlife for 2 to 4 players or teams.  Initially created in 2002 for popular movies, it gained popularity and has various "editions" and themes, such as Star Trek, Harry Potter, and Disney to even FIFA.

GAMEPLAY:  Scene It has a short and long mode, depending on the size of the board upon set up, and a DVD for certain game modes.  During their turn, the player rolls both the 6 and 8 sided dice, and moves along the space according to the numbered die.

CATEGORIES:  The 8 sided die determines what trivia or event occurs.  If the player guesses correctly, they can roll again:

  • My Play:  The player will usually watch a clip of a movie or show and need to answer a question at the end, before it shows on the screen.
  • All Play:  Everyone watches the screen and has a chance to answer the question.  If another player besides the turn player guesses, they may give a Buzz card to any player or move forward 1 space.
  • Trivia Card:  There are generally 3 types of trivia cards, which another player will read to the turn player with the timer on in the back.
  • Buzz:  Special cards which have an event and flavor text.  Drawing or giving out one of these ends the turn immediately.

WINNING:  Once any player gets to the end, choose All Play to Win.  Same rules apply as in All Play, but the stakes are higher.  If the player guesses it first, they win.  If another player does, their turn ends, and they move to Final Cut 3.  These are basically My Play, but the player needs to guess them all correctly to win.  If they fail, they move to Final Cut 2.  Failing that moves to Final Cut 1, where they stay and attempt on their turn each time until either they or another player wins.

CONCLUSION:  Scene it is, at its core, a simple trivia game.  And like most trivia games, the strength lies not in the gameplay, but in the categories and questions.  The nice thing about Scene It is the fact that there are different themes, with different strengths.  I have a friend who dominates in Disney edition, but I'm still king in Star Trek and Simpsons.  My biggest problem is, like most popular culture trivia, we HAVE to include Behind the Scenes trivia.  But I'm sure others would revel in that.  Take it for what it is, a good trivia game with a gimmick that works out for itself.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  The Scene It franchise is no longer available to purchase in stores, but there is a version for iPhone and Android.