Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Destroying Relationships Through Programming (Robo Rally)

Good evening Lug-nut bots and Automatons!  Tonight's going to show an exciting race, that's for sure!  Rivalries have been flaming on the production line all week, and there will be no punches pulled!  But who will go back to their pod with the gold, and who will need the weekend to repair?  Find out in Robo! RALLY!

BACKGROUND:  Robo Rally is a board game designed by Richard Garfield and published by Avalon Hill Games originally in 1994 for 2-8 players, and was republished in 2016.  Players take control of automotive factory robots that race each weekend after the factory closes, with sabotage and fighting abound.

GAMEPLAY:  Players are dealt a hand of cards from one deck that determines how their machine moves, be it forwards, backwards, or turning.  Everyone sets up their initial 5 card movement and on their board, or register, and discards all other cards.  Then each player flips their first movement card.

MOVEMENT:  The players move according to the highest priority number located at the top right.  Once all players move, the board elements like conveyor belts and spinning gears move all robots accordingly.  Continue until all 5 cards are flipped and played, then redeal each player an appropriate hand size.

DAMAGE:  Once all players and the board have all moved, any lasers on the board, and on all robots fire.  If they hit another robot, that player marks damage, and is dealt less cards.  Enough damage locks in the players movement to any card still on their register.

REPAIRS:  There are two ways to repair a robot.  Players can, instead of taking cards for the round, shut down their robot, clearing any damage at the beginning, but they may still take damage from another player or a board laser.  There are also Wrench tiles and Wrench & Hammer tiles.  Landing on one of these will heal 1 damage from a robot, while landing on the latter gives the player an Option card, which have various effects.

WINNING:  All around the board are Flags.  Players must land on each flag in numerical order, and move their Archive token from the either initial starting square or the previous Flag to that space.  If a robot gets knocked off the board or into the pit or takes 10 damage, they respawn on that square at the initial deal phase.  The first player to make it to all the flags and

CONCLUSION:  For this review, I played the 1994 version of this game.  The 2016 republish has apparently altered some rules such as having each player have their own deck and damage cards shuffled into the deck instead of losing cards, but I won't be discussing it here.  Robo Rally is a lot of fun for people who are into games where you plan strategy long term.  It reminds me of a turned based version of the British show Robot Wars, which I loved watching growing up.  This game also has a lot of longevity, as there are multiple suggestions in the manual to set up the boards, with even more combinations as every board can be mixed and matched in the way the players want.  My only mild complaint is if you ever wanted to play with every board, you'd need to buy 2 copies, as the boards are double-sided.  I enjoyed this game immensely, and thanks to my friend Duane for introducing it to me.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Chiming the Upcoming 365 Days (Buzzword)

Happy 2018 all, and welcome to a new year, full of new experiences and attempts to make this blog expand and grow to help people make great game choices.  This year will start with a slight revamp of the format, and an attempt to upload more consistently.  This week's review will start simply with an easy party game called Buzzwords.

BACKGROUND:  Buzzwords is a party game published by Patch Products for 4-12 players.  Players guess words or phrases bases on clues given.

GAMEPLAY:  Players are split into 2 teams.  During their teams turn, a player will take a card, and read off the category at the top.  Then, the opposing team will flip the timer while the guessing team reads off the 1st clue on the left.  The rest of the team will attempt to guess the correct answer located on the right.  If they guess correctly, the reader gives the next clue.  If the team is stuck, they may pass and the reader gives the next clue.

STEALING:  The team continues to guess until either all 10 clues have been either guessed or passed, or time runs out.  If a team passes on any clues, the opposing team has a chance to steal those points and guess on those clues.  The team may also guess on the last clue given if it was read but not answered when the timer ran out.  The opposing team then takes their turn.

WINNING:  While a team is guessing, the other team passes the scoring cards in order to keep track of points, starting at 1.  Players may keep track of points on the white board.  The first team to guess 50 words correctly over the rounds wins.

CONCLUSION:  Buzzwords is a simple game with simple mechanics and a weird, difficult way of thinking.  Depending on the edition, some of the clues might be impossible just because of some of the popular culture references you'd need to know.  It can fill in some time in between more mechanically deep games, and there's some fun clues given, but this is a game mainly for people who enjoy wordplay.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  Hey, if you like or dislike the new format, feel free to leave a comment below, as well as any other games you'd like me to review or even be aware of.  Thanks, and here's to a great new year!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Where Everybody Knows Your Name (The Red Dragon Inn)

Oh, lad, it's good to see you.  Step inside and join the party, all your friends are here.  The drinking is just getting started, and the night promises to be full of surprises, and humour, at least to me and the barmaid.  Who knows what might happen in the Red Dragon Inn?

GAME DESCRIPTION:  The Red Dragon Inn is a card game for 2 to 4 players (with additional players depending on expansions) published by SlugFest Games.

SET-UP:  Each player takes a board, and 1 red and 1 clear token.  Place the Red token on the 20, which represents your Fortitude, or health.  The clear is placed on the 0, and represents your Alcohol level.  Each player takes a character deck, and places it in the deck area, and draws 7 cards.  Shuffle the Drink deck and place it in the middle, and give each player 10 gold coins.

TURNS:  Each player follows the turn order on the board.  First, the player may discard any cards from their hand, and draw back up to 7.  Then, the player may play 1 action during the Action phase.  The player then goes to the Order Drinks, and gives any other player a Drink card from the deck face-down without looking at it into their Drink Me! pile.  Finally, the player Drinks the top card from their Drink Me! pile.

TYPES:  There are several types of cards in this game, all located at the top.  The first is Action, and only one can be played by the current player on their turn per turn.  Anytime cards can be played...well, anytime, and Sometimes cards can only be played in response to an appropriate effect. 

GAMBLING:  "Gambling? I'm In" cards are also a standard action.  Gambling is a mini-game where each player tosses in a coin into the "pot" for the ante, and the current player is in control.  The next player may play any Gambling or Cheat card in their hand, and control passes to them.  If a player cannot or chooses not to play a card, they "pass".  If a round goes where all players pass and it goes back to the player who was in control, they win the pot.

DRINKS:  There are several types of drinks.  Most either raise the players Alcohol level, or lower their Fortitude.  Some are events, where players are forced to follow an effect on the card, and the cards involved are usually drawn from Drink deck.  Chasers, or drinks with a plus next to the number, force the player to draw the next drink from their Drink Me! pile, or ignore if there are none.  If, however, there are no drinks during the Drink phase, the player starts to sober up and loses 1 Alcohol level.

KICKED OUT:  If a player has run out of gold either at the end of a gambling session, or during normal play, they are eliminated, and kicked out of the Inn.  If a players Fortitude and Alcohol level ever match or pass, they become too drunk and are kicked out.  Half that player's gold is distributed among the rest of the players, and the other half, and any remainder, is given to the inn.  The last remaining player wins.  If there are none, everyone loses.

CONCLUSION:  Red Dragon Inn is a competitive, back stabbing, revenge seeking kind of game.  It's a great laugh with a solid theme.  The first set might not seem like much, as the cards don't differ much between characters, but the later editions add much more chaos to the game.  This is an Expandalone, or a game that can stand on its own, or be added into other versions of itself, like Munchkin.  This is the kind of game that can be easily frustrating if you allow it, or a lot of fun if you can get past that initial barrier.  The fun comes from the vindictive nature of the game, and plotting who should get out first.  Just make sure when you start, you don't make enemies too quickly.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  The one thing that I will not do, but has been mentioned, is a real drinking game.  A couple of my friends are going to attempt it, and it seems like there's some real thought being put into the game.  If this strikes your fancy, go ahead, it appears to be just the thing to make the game just that more crazy.  Remember: Drink Responsibly, don't drink and drive, and be safe.

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.