Wednesday, November 15, 2017

All Magic Comes With a Price (Once Upon a Time)

Once upon a time, 6 young adults played a card game.  But it was not just any card game, this was a game filled with danger, horror, and a girl who had no idea what she was doing.  In a land where anything could happen, a story was crafted.  True, no one would remember the story months later, and no one would want to hear it again, but it was a story they enjoyed making.  And all that came from 4 classic words:  Once Upon a Time.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Once Upon a Time is a storytelling card game published by Atlas Games for 2-6 players.  Players craft a story over a period of time using cards, attempting to "de-rail" the story in their favor.

SET-UP: Each player is dealt a hand of cards, the number depending on the number of players, and 1 Happy Ever After card.  All players determine who starts.

STORY:  Each player has a set of story-telling cards.  The first player starts telling a story.  Anytime something important to the story is said, the player may lay down that kind of card.  If, however, it's just a minor detail mentioned in a list, or a throwaway line, the player cannot play a matching card.  If a player wishes to no longer keep the story going, they may pass.  They then draw a card, and may discard one, and the story passes to the left.

INTERRUPT:  A player may interrupt and take control of the story in 2 ways.  If a player mentions something, and another player has a card that matches, they may play it immediately.  The second way is that some cards have Interrupt on them, which allow them to play them to interrupt a matching types of card (Place, Character, Item, Event, Aspect).  In both cases, the previous story-teller must draw a card, and the other player continues the story with that card.  Players may also lose the story to the player to the left if the player starts rambling or pauses too long.

WINNING:  Once a player has played all their cards, they may not add any new elements to the story, and they may close the story by revealing and reading their Happily Ever After to win.  If all players agree it does not match the story, that player must draw a new Happily Ever After card, and a new Story card, and the story passes to the left.

CONCLUSION:  Once Upon a Time is a pretty fun improvisational-style game.  This is a game that most people can play, and is a stronger game then something like Aye, Dark Overlord, being open enough for players to allow their creative juices flow, but structured enough to avoid giving players choice fatigue.  A pretty solid game for all ages, and enough for most to get a good experience out of it.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

It's the Sex Bob-ombs! (Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Card Game)

Welcome to the final week of VG Month, a look into Video Games as Tabletop games.  This week, we close off by traveling to the rich, drama filled world of Scott Pilgrim.  But with a successful comic, a well received movie, and a solid actual video game, is there a place in the Pilgrim verse for a physical game?  This is Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Card Game. 

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Card Game is a deckbuilder published by Renegade Game Studios for 1-4 players.  Players take on the role of Scott and his friends to defeat the Evil Exes.

SET-UP:  Scott Pilgrim is odd in that all the cards are double sided, and players are able to look at both sides of the card in their hand.  In order to set up, each player places their character card and all cards with the characters face in the top right in front of them, shuffling and keeping it face-down to prevent peeking.  Shuffle the remaining cards and place them in two separate piles.  Take 1 Evil Ex and place it between the two decks, applying any effects to all cards.

PLOTLINE:  Now, place the top card from both decks and place them in a column, making 2 rows called the Plotline.  The first player then adds 1 card from the top of either deck to the right of any card, and may also Eliminate, or remove from the game completely, 1 card from the top of the deck.  The next player then does the same, until there are 2 rows of cards equal to the number of players.  Players may not look at the opposite side of any card in the Plotline.  The first player draws 4 cards to begin, while other players draw 5.

ACQUISITION:  Before the first phase, the current player may Eliminate the top of either or both Plotline decks.  Then, the player may play any cards from their hand.  Each blue Story card generates 1 of 3 resources, indicated the top left of all blue Story cards, on the opposite side of Combat.  Cards with the 3 arrows generate any type of resources.  Any card that generates multiple resources can only be used for 1 resource.  These resources are used to buy cards in the Plotline, with their buying price in the top right.  Any card except Challenges can be bought, with Power Up! cards going in front, and any other being discarded.  Once the player chooses not to buy anymore, they discard their hand and may either continue to the fight phase, or skip it and draw 6 cards.

FIGHT:  Players choosing to fight first declare which Challenge card they are fighting and draw 5 cards, using the Combat side.  If the card has a VS Draw, the player to the right draws the number indicated, and places them next to the Challenge, with any Drama cards drawn giving the challenge the indicated bonus.  The player may then exchange any 1 card from their hand with any drawn card. 

COMBO:  On the back of each card is a list of "Combo's", which is given when you play a particular set of cards in a certain order, with the "Button" hit indicated on the top left.  These will give you a specific amount of points against the Challenge when played in the right order.  Then, when a Combo is shown, players may play another Combo below it.  If no Combo's can be played, the player "Button Mashes" by just playing cards, each one with 1 point against the Challenge.  Any cards requiring a specific card must be played before the required card, not after.  If a player Succeeds in matching or beating the number, or Fails by not matching the number, the player follows the effect on the card.

DRAMA:  Each deck starts with a set amount of Drama.  Drama is used only in VS Draw and cards that require Matching Drama, which is when you play that card, you play a Drama with it.

WINNING:  Players win by gathering Victory Points, indicated by the Black Star of certain cards. the player who gathers the Victory Points indicated on the Evil Ex card in the small star wins, or if another victory condition is indicated by an Evil Ex.

CONCLUSION:  Scott Pilgrim's Card Game is a deck builder, complete with deck construction and thinning, Victory Points for winning, battles, and manipulating luck and RNG for your benefit.  If you'd like my opinion on most deckbuilders, go check out my review on DC Deckbuilder.  As for this one, does it stack up against most deck builders, and does it differentiate itself enough?  There are definitely some interesting ideas, such as the combo's, the elimination phase, and the double-sided cards.  The elimination and double-sided provide speed to a genre that, frankly, could use it.  In addition, the ability to solo or play co-operative, while not original to this game, is still a nice variance to this game.  I will say it's kind of a slog to only have 1 boss per game, and getting unlucky still happens in games like these.  But I think it's a simple game with the right theme, and plays pretty smooth, a nice way to round out Video Game Month.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Quake: The Board Game? (Adrenaline)

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the future of sports!  Take your very life into your hands of this show, with bullets flying everywhere and no one is safe, not even the audience!  Find the weapons and show the world who's boss!  It's time, Ladies and Gentlemen, to feel the Adrenaline!

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Adrenaline is a board game for 3-5 players for Cranio Creations.  Players take the role of 1 of 5 characters and attack the other characters with various forms of weaponry and rack up kills.

BOARD SET-UP:  Each player takes the 2 board pieces and lay them out on any side combination.  Place 5 to 8 red plastic skulls on the Kill Fshot track located at the top of the board, depending on the length of the game.  Shuffle the small Power-up (indicated by a lightning bolt on the back) and large Weapon (indicated by a gun) decks.  Draw 9 Weapons into each matching gun space on the board.  Shuffle the Ammo tiles and place 1 onto each space marked with a circle inside a square.

PLAYER SET-UP:  Each player takes a double sided colored board and matching Action Tile, with the side with the 8 and the Action Tile with only a "x2" face-up.  Each player also takes their character and matching blood shaped Wound tokens, and 3 of each different colored Ammo cubes into their personal supply, placing 1 of those 3 onto their portrait, or Ammo Box.  Finally, give the first player the Starting Player marker.

SPAWNING:  Players begin their first turn by drawing 2 Power-up cards, and discarding one.  The colored cube at the bottom of the discarded one indicates in which color the player is spawning.  Players spawn in the spaces with a large circle and smaller square next to it, where no Ammo tiles should be placed.

ACTION: Once a player has Spawned, or during a normal turn, they may take up to 2 of the following actions, in any order, or even taking the same action twice.  At the end of the turn:
  • Movement:  Move up to three spaces.  A player cannot move through walls or diagonally.
  • Grab stuff:  A player may move up to one space and grab something.  Players cannot grab and then move with this action.
  • Shoot:  A player must have a loaded Weapon, indicate by being in the hand.
  • Reload:  This action only takes place at the end of the turn, before reserving any kills.
ITEMS:  If an Ammo token is "grabbed", the grabbing player moves up to that many from their personal supply to their Ammo Box.  If there is less Ammo then indicated in the supply, the player moves all that colored Ammo into their box.  If a Power-Up card is shown, that player draws 1 Power-up card, and puts in their hand to a max of 3 cards.  At the end of the turn, replace any Ammo tokens that were taken.  If there are no more tokens, shuffle the discarded ones.

WEAPONS:  If a grab action is used in a Spawn room, then the player may take 1 of the Weapons next to that spawn room by paying its cost, ignoring the top colored cube, and then move any other required cubes from the Ammo Box back to the personal supply.  Add the paid for weapon to your hand.  If a player has more than 3 Weapons, they must discard 1 into the slot from where it was just purchased.  At the end of the turn, replace any Weapon cards that were taken from the deck.  If the Weapon deck runs out, do not replace it.

SHOOTING:  If a player is using a Weapon to attack, it is placed in front of them, following the rules on the card and in the Weapons manual.  If the Weapon has any special abilities or alternate moves, the player may choose to use the ability by paying the Ammo Cubes indicated next to that ability from their Ammo Box.  Then the Weapon is placed face-up in front of the player, and must be re-loaded using the whole cost indicated at the top from their Ammo box at the end of the turn.  Any re-loaded gun is added to the players hand.

POWER-UPS:  A player may discard a Power-up to add its colored cube at the bottom to any cost required.  Power-ups also have special effects to add more damage, Mark a player, or move a player's figure.

DAMAGE:  When a player is dealt damage, that player is given Wound tokens from the attacking player equal to the damage given.  It is added to the damage track from left to right.  Once a player has taken 3 Wounds, that player may now move up to 2 spaces and pick up an item as part of their actions, as shown on the board.  If a player has taken 6 Wounds, they may now move 1 and attack as part of their action, again according to the Wound token.  If a player takes 11 Wounds, they take a Kill shot.  Once a player has taken a 12th Wound, they take Overkill, and any other Wounds or Marks are ignored.

MARKS:  Marks are indicated on certain weapons with a double red circle.  For each Mark, add a Wound token to the top of that players board, for a max of 3 from each player at any one time.  The next time that player does damage, add the Mark to the damage track.

DEATH:  Once a player has taken a Kill shot, they are dead.  If a player gets 2 or more Kill shots, they score 1 more point.  Tip the figure over, and the "dead" player may still be able to take Overkill.  At the end of turn, after Reloading, the players score on any players board who received a Kill shot or Overkill.  The first player who shot gains 1 point.  The player who put the most total damage gains 8 points, as shown on the bottom of the damage tracks.  The 2nd most gains 6, etc.  Any tie is broken by giving the highest points to the player closest to the left.  The other tied player(s) get the number next indicated.  Any players not on the Damage Track or have only Marks do not score any points.

SKULLS:  Once a dead player has been scored on, return all Marks and Wounds on the player, and the killed player takes the Wound token from the Killshot space, and puts it in place of the left most Skull on the Killshot track.  Any Overkill is placed on top, and the dead player Marks the player who caused the Overkill.  Take the skull and place it on top of the highest point of the dead player.  Players cannot gain points from any indicator covered by the skull.  The dead player will now only generate 6 points and lower for their highest score on their next death.  The dead player draws a new power-up card, discards a card and respawns there.  Any previous Weapons or Power-ups stay with the player in the position they were previously.

WINNING:  Players are given Point tokens to represent their points, which are placed face-down on the side of the board.  Score the Killshot track from using the points to the left of the track as you would a dead player.  Once all Point tokens are given and counted, the player with the most points wins.

CONCLUSION:  Adrenaline seems like a rather complex and ambitious game, but that isn't exactly true.  While scoring and setting-up seems complicated, it's not hard once you start seeing the patterns.  There's also more modes with Domination, Final Frenzy, and Bot mode.  Each adds more rules to the game that I haven't even touched yet.  However, there is a lot of replay value to this game just with the amount and combination of Weapons it has to offer.  Adrenaline very much feels like if Quake or a multiplayer Doom were made into a board game.  There's plenty of hectic, wild energy that this game provides.  Again, the amount of weapons is great, but most of the weapons feel different, from melee based scythes and chainsaws to chain lightning guns and shotguns.  The abilities add something unique to guns that might feel the same, as do the power-ups.  A solid game that could easily have come from the First Person Shooter video game genre.
Also, the rules have some real character.  Go read them, even if you aren't planning on playing it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

(Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game)

Week 2 of Theme Month: Video Games.  This week we're delving down deep into the dungeons.  We're taking the role of the villain, struggling to survive against the onslaught of heroes meant to kill us all, but we'll show them, with tricks and traps and treasure to tempt even the most Nihilistic of adventures.  We are the one and only Boss Monster!

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Boss Monster is a card game published by Brotherwise Games for 2-4 players.  Players take the role of the Boss Monster of a dungeon, inspired by RPG's from 16 bit games.

SET-UP:  The number of Heroes and Epic Heroes you begin with is changes according to the number of players, indicated on the bottom of the Hero cards, i.e. 3 figures represent a 3 & 4 player game. Shuffle and deal each player 1 Boss card, 5 Room cards, and 2 Spell cards.  Each player reveals their Boss card, discards 2 of the remaining 7 face-down. and keeps the rest hidden in their hand.  The Boss with the highest XP goes first, indicated in the bottom left.  Before a players first turn starts, they may play or build a room by placing it face-down to the left of the Boss

BEGINNING:  Draw 1 Hero for each player and place it next to the deck.  Then, each player draws 1 Room card.  No effect can be activated during this phase.  Once all players have drawn, the Build phase begins.

BUILD:  Players take turns placing Rooms face-down in their dungeon, left of the most recent room built, or of the Boss. Players may also build over any room, as long as the bottom right Treasure icon matches in both rooms.  Room cards with a gold icon in the top right are upgrades, and can only be played on another room.  Any ability or Spell with a Hammer may be used in this phase only.  If you choose at any point not to build a room, you cannot build any longer.  Once every player passes, flip every Room card and activate any appropriate effects.  Now, the Bait phase begins.

BAIT:  During this phase, players has a chance to bring Heroes into their dungeon.  Compare the Treasure icon of each hero in the top right with the icon in the bottom right.  The player with the most of that icon brings any and all Heroes into their first Room, according to the order revealed, with any ties and 0's causing those Heroes to stay.  Epic Heroes with gold backing come into play after all ordinary heroes are claimed.

ADVENTURE:  During the Adventure Phase, the first player has their first hero go through the Rooms in order.  Rooms first activate any effects, then deal damage according to the bottom left number to the Hero.  Once damage is dealt, players may activate any ability or Spell card with an Axe.  If the Hero takes at least as much damage as they have health, they die, and the player gains the Hero in their score zone face-down, adding it's Soul value to their point value, indicated at the bottom of the back of the card.  If the Hero survives to the Boss room, the player takes the Hero and puts in the score zone face-up, adding its Wound to their count indicated in the bottom right.  Once all Heroes for 1 player have gone, the next player goes.  Once all Heroes have gone, go back to the Beginning phase.

WINNING:  Any player is eliminated if they end their turn with 5 Wounds.  The first player who ends their turn with 10 Souls wins.  In the case of a tie, or if the Hero deck runs out, subtract each player’s Wounds from their Souls collected. The player with the highest number wins.  If this still results in a tie, the player with the lowest XP value wins.

CONCLUSION:  Boss Monster is a cut-throat, dirty, vicious game that successfully manages to capture the difficulty presented in old Super Nintendo games.  It feels long, but that is mainly due to the fact that it is slow and deliberate.  Once players become familiar with the cards, it starts to pick up.  That being said, especially in 4 player games, there is still a fair amount of down time to be expected.  It's a very methodical, competitive game that captures the nostalgia of old video games.