Wednesday, March 30, 2016

One of us, one of us (C'thulhu Dice)

You slip the comfy robe over you, and tie it tight.  You light the candles at the shrine, and give your offering to the great C'thulhu.  Tonight, you ask for his favour and aid to prepare for his coming.  But he is a fickle Eldritch, and you know that his 'aid' may only cause you to lose your mind.  You took that risk when you became a follower.  You know when it comes to C'thulhu, you might as well...roll a dice.

GAME DESCRIPTION: Cthulhu Dice was created by Steve Jackson Games.  Out of the bag, it can only support up to 6 people, but it's designed to hold as many as are willing and able to play.  The object is to not go insane, which is made difficult due to the C'thulhu die rolled each turn.

C'THULHU: C'thulhu is also a player in this game, represented by a pot in the middle.  Each turn, one player chooses any other Non-Cthulhu player, then rolls the dice and applies the appropriate effect:
  • Yellow Sign: Looks like a question mark with two extra symbols.  The player chosen loses 1 sanity to C'thulhu
  • Tentacle: The roller takes 1 sanity from the chosen player.  If the roller is currently at 0 sanity, then the sanity goes to C'thulhu
  • Elder Sign: The roller gains 1 sanity from C'thulhu.  If C'thulhu is a 0 sanity, nothing happens.
  • C'thulhu: Every player loses 1 sanity to C'thulhu
  • Eye:  Shaped like an Egyptian eye symbol, it is the wildcard roll.  The roller applies any other effect mentioned above.
The targeted player than "responds" by rolling the die. Play then continues on to the next person to the left from the roller.
SANITY: Every player starts with 3 sanity tokens.  Sanity tokens are what allow you to potentially win.  If you end up losing all 3 tokens, you go insane.  You will still roll when it's your turn.  Your opponent cannot respond to your rolls, however.  The only way to gain sanity back is if you roll the Elder Sign.  If only one player has sanity, they win.  If all players lose their sanity, C'thulhu wins.

CONCLUSION: A simple, quick party game.  The option of adding as many players as you want really helps the game.  It's pretty fun to pull this out as the night is winding down, and you've only got a few minutes to play.  The only real weakness this game has is it's almost entirely luck based, and it's simple.  If you want something quick, this is great.  If you're looking for something to just relax with and talk with your friends, this is definitely the game to do that.  You're just not going to find anything with real substance or skill here

Thursday, March 24, 2016

How was I supposed to guess 'prince'? (Disney Guesswords)

You can feel your heart racing, your palms starting to get sweaty.  You try to communicate the word in front of you to your teammate.  Hand gestures, tone inflections, anything to get them to get this one lousy word.  The lights slowly go down, one by one, but you don't notice.  You focus on the word in your head, trying to send it.  Will they manage to get it, or will the buzzer cut off your guessing?  You look up, and the other team is smirking.  All is fair game is Disney Guesswords.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Disney Guesswords is a 4-12 player co-operative game that plays like Password.  Each team has 1 player that attempts to get every other member on their team to guess a specific word, all related to a Disney series. The goal is to get to Disney Castle.

EQUIPMENT:  The majority of this game is played with the electronic gadget conveniently shaped like a Mickey Mouse head.  To start, the player reads the clue (if any) located on the disc placed in the gadget.  Time begins once the first team presses the giant green "1" button located on one of the ears.  Then, without saying any form of the word, the host, or clue giver, has to try to get the rest of the team to guess the word.  If successful, the host hits the green button to stop the clock.  Your team progresses on the board based on the number of lights still lit times 2. The team then passes to the opposing team, where they push the little Mickey glove to get the next word.  If either team gets stuck on a word, either team may skip the word once per game.

FAILING:  If your team fails to guess the word before all 5 lights go off and the gadget buzzes, that word then goes to the opposing team for a chance to steal.  As they have already heard the clues, there's a significant advantage to the team who gets this opportunity.  If neither team manages to guess the word before time runs out, the word is skipped, and play progresses to the next player.

CONCLUSION:  Simple to learn and simple to play doesn't mean it's simple to win.  Sudden loss of communication, brain farts, and word stumbling are rich here.  Sudden upsets can occur at any time, and the chance of suddenly falling behind is always prevalent here.  Plus, there is always the option of playing with the side B, which eliminate the hints.  This is a great game for family nights or Disney fans.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  Does this work without the little gizmo?  Sure, if you're willing to time when all the lights go out.  If you're willing to make a thing to hide the clues so each team only sees one (which isn't actually that hard to craft) or forego the cards entirely with your own clues.  Sure, it's possible, but I feel like it really just ties the whole thing together, and the design makes it less of a Disney gimmick and more of a Disney game.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

So Kawaii! (100% Orange Juice)

You have faced the darkest depths of Hell, faced demons and gods, and faced horrors men have no words for.  In spite of facing down zombies, haunted houses, and even the Great C'thulhu, you won't be prepared for this.  This, my friends, is what true Chaos looks like.  Her name, QP.  She's small, adorable, and ready to rob you blind.  In a battle for the stars (literally), you must take chances, make mistakes, and get ready for 100% Orange Juice.

GAME DESCRIPTION: 100% Orange Juice is a 4 player Digital board game created by the developer Fruitbat Factory.  There are 2 modes, Story Mode and Free Play.  In the story, you take the role of 1 of 4 anime-esque characters that are chasing down the mischievous QP in order to take back something that was stolen from them, such as a wallet or some pudding.

SET UP:  At the beginning of each game, you select 1 character you have currently unlocked, and create a deck of 10 cards.  All these cards are mixed into 1 central deck.  Each card has a cost that requires stars located on the right.  The kinds of cards that the deck can contain are:

  • Traps: Set these, and any player that lands on it triggers the card.  Mostly negative.
  • Battle: You can only use these when a battle starts.  Generally aids your stats.
  • Event: These will either apply to all players, or over a series of turns.
  • Boost: One time cards that affect 1 player once.
  • Hyper: In the deck, these cards are blank.  When drawn, they turn into a special card exclusive to the character that drew it.  These have any number of abilities and costs.  If, however, you lose this card to another player, it does not change to that player, but stays as the card it changed into.

BOARD:  There are several different types of spaces, which include:

  • Stars (Yellow): These are primarily spent to play cards, or fufill a Norma (see below). Roll a die, and you get that many stars times your level.
  • Battle (Red): On these spaces, you'll fight an AI enemy.  If defeated, they'll get you 1 win and some stars.  At least once per game, these will be replaced with a Boss, which has incredibly high stats.
  • Warp (Purple): Land here, you teleport to a new square, and your turn immediately ends. 
  • Draw (Green): This allows you to draw 1 card from the main deck.
  • Drop (Blue): Roll, and you lose that many stars times your Level.
  • Home (Rainbow circle): This is your starting point, and the point you return when you finish a goal.
There may also be board events which occur every few turns, which can cause damage, healing, influx of stars, and more.

NORMA:  In order to win, you must fufill a specific "Norma", or goal, and return home back to your starting space.  To start with, everyone must first fufill the Norma of 10 gathered stars.  Once you fulfilled your Norma, you level up, and choose to either obtain stars (easy to get, easy to lose), or victories (cannot be lost, harder to obtain).  The first player to reach level 6 wins.

BATTLE:  When you land on a red, boss, or another players square to challenge them, A battle occurs.  Each player may choose to play 1 Battle card.  The attacker starts by rolling a die, and adding or subtracting their characters Attack stat. The opposing player can then choose Defend or Dodge.
*If they defend, than the number the attacker rolled (with applicable modifiers) is subtracted by the number the defender rolled (again, with all modifiers), to a minimum of 1.  That damage is then applied.
*If they dodge, than if the defender rolls higher than the attacker (with all modifiers), no damage is dealt.  If the number rolled is lower or equal to the attackers, all damage is dealt to the defender. Then, if the defender is not knocked out, the defender then becomes the attacker, and battle occurs again.  Once either player is knocked out, or both characters have attacked, the turn continues as normal.

KNOCKED OUT:  When your character's hp goes to 0, you are knocked out.  During this state, you cannot move, play cards, or have any effect directly applied to you, but some Events and Hypers may occur.  Each turn, you are allowed to roll.  A number will appear on the screen.  If you roll higher than the number, you are revived for next turn.  If not, you lose that turn, and gain another chance to roll again next turn, minus 1 from the last roll.  If you do not revive on a turn with a 2, you revive automatically next turn.

STORE:  At the end of each game, you get points which can be spent at the Store.  The store contains things like cards, pallet swaps, and special characters to play as (such as mobs or Bosses).  Important to note is that each pack has 1 card, and you cannot buy specific cards that go into the deck.

CONCLUSION:  This is a game that is going to appeal to a specific kind of people, anime and manga fans.  As one myself, the game definitely struck a cord with me visually.  The idea of mixing decks makes the games a lot more hectic and crazy.  The biggest problem I, as well as others, have found with this game is just how much RNG (Random Number Generating) is going on.  This is a game that can cause major upheavals and create some incredibly unexpected come from behind wins.  I do love this game, but the fact remains it's easy to get mad when you play a game that's 90% luck.  It may be called 100% Orange Juice, but it could just as easily be called 100% Salt.  If you can get past that, maybe I'll end up playing against you sometime.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  The big question is, could this have worked as a physical board game?  Perhaps, if you are willing to give a small stack of Hyper cards per character that can replace the blank Hyper cards. Also, with over 50 cards, and 4 players per game, that totals out to 200 cards.  With all players needing 2 of each kind of card, that comes out to 400 cards minimum.  You could do it, but I feel the game works better here, and allows new players to slowly get an idea of what to play, rather than throwing every card at them right at the beginning.  It might work, but I doubt it would be as fun or flow as well.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Mmm, brains (Zombie Dice)

Shambling through the forest, you hear a faint noise. You fall into a clearing and see them.  Two humans, both with tasty brains.  You haven't eaten in quite some time, and the shot you took awhile back is certainly slowing you down.  But you're hungry, and you need to take the risk.  You choose to shamble to them.  You manage to get both people's brains, but not without taking a shot in your shoulder.  But that's the risk you take when you're a zombie.  Now, you have to take the chance, and roll the Zombie Dice.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Zombie Dice is a *ahem* dice game created by Steve Jackson Games.  You take the roll of a zombie during the zombie uprising.  Each turn, you take 3 dice at random, and roll an encounter to determine the outcome of that turn.  You can then choose to keep progressing and roll 3 more randomly selected dice, or you can pass to the next player.  The main objective of the game is to just keep eating brains from people without dying, until you become full.

DICE EFFECTS:  Each die has a different group of colored symbols on them.  The colors determine the difficulty of the roll, with green being the easiest, yellow the next difficulty, and red being the most difficult.  The shape of each die determines the effect of the encounter
  • Brain:  "Yummy." Each time this is rolled, the die goes off to the side.  If you pass, the total number of brains rolled increases your score permanently.
  • Shotgun: "Ouch." These also go off to the side.  If you get a total of three shotguns, your turn ends, and you gain 0 brains this turn.  
  • Footprints: "Almost."  Any footprints you roll this turn are re-rolled, decreasing the amount of dice you draw for this encounter.

WINNING:  The first player who collects 13 or more brains puts the game into the final round.  At this point, every other player gets one more turn to attempt to out-roll that player.  The winner is then declared after the last player ends their turn.  In the case of a tie, the players that tied each play one additional round.

CONCLUSION:  This is a nice little game to play after a high-stress event.  With little decision making involved, it's a nice game to with which to shoot the breeze.  It also makes for a simple ice-breaking game.  Of course, as with all of Steve Jackson's games, there is definitely some room for interpretation and house-ruling.  The expansions are also a lot of fun, such as including new effects, new ways to keep playing, and getting brains from Santa (if you don't end up eating his brain).  I do love this game, and recommend it for small parties and at the end of game nights.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Gotta Catch 'Em All (Pokémon Master Trainer)

You've started your adventure from Pallet town, traveled far and wide across the Kanto region. With your starter, you've battled, trained, and discovered all sorts of people, places, and Pokémon.  You've encountered the Legendaries of the region, even managing to catch the powerful Mewtwo. With your team in place, your power at its peak, and a couple potions in your belt, you take the step forward to the Indigo Plateau.  Now you're ready to battle the Elite Four and finally become the Pokémon Master Trainer.

GAME DESCRIPTION: In honor of the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, I decided to show off one of my favorite games, Master Trainer.  Based off the games and show, Pokémon Master Trainer is a 2-6 player game where each player travels around the region of Kanto, attempts to catch various Pokémon from the first 150, and gather enough power from their team to become a true Pokémon Master.

SET-UP:  Players begin by getting 1 of 6 starter Pokémon tokens, and the appropriately colored Ash token to go with it: Charmander, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Meowth, Clefairy, and Pikachu.  These are the only Pokémon you must keep throughout the game.  Every other Pokémon is put facedown into the matching color slots scattered along the board.

POKÉMON TOKENS:  Pink tokens are the weakest, and contain the first stages of Pokémon, to what are generally considered the weakest (e.g. Rattata, Pidgey, Caterpie)  Green contain the next strongest group, blue after that, with red tokens being the strongest in the game, as well as containing the highest evolutions of half the starters (e.g. Charizard, Blastiose, Venasaur).  Finally, the yellow tokens contain the 4 legendary Pokémon Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, and Mewtwo.  These can only be seen through events.  Every Pokémon token has a die number underneath it. You must roll that number to capture it.

BOARD:  There are 3 types of spaces on the board.  Landing on a Catch 'Em space allows you to attempt a roll against the Pokémon space you landed on.  City or Town Spaces allow you to heal 1 of your fainted Pokémon, or draw item cards.  Draw an Event lets you, well, draw an event card.

EVENTS:  There are two types of cards, item and event cards. Event cards have 1 turn effects that have various effects from healing your team, trading or battling another player's Pokémon with one of your own, freely obtaining a Pokémon from the color you are on, draw Item cards. or encountering one of the legendary Pokémon. 

ITEMS:  Each player has a hand, from 0 to 6 cards, that can contain Item cards.  These cards can be Attack Bonuses for trainer battles, different kinds of Pokeballs for catching Pokémon, the Time Machine which allows you to freely re-roll any thrown dice once, Fly to a town, or an item that heals a fainted Pokémon or avoid a trade or battle altogether.

BATTLE:  When you draw a battle card, or fight one of the Elite Four, you enter a battle.  Each trainer chooses one Pokémon to battle with.  At the bottom of each Pokémon is a number written in black.  This is that Pokémon's starting power.  Each trainer may then play a card from their hand, and apply the effect.  Finally, both trainers roll the die, and add the resulting number.  The loser flips their Pokémon face-down (unless they only have one, then skip this rule) and the winner randomly takes up to 2 item cards from the loser, and draws any remaining amount from the deck.

BONUS:  There are 2 kinds of bonuses.  When in battle with a trainer or the Elite 4, you are allowed to play an Attack Bonus card.  These give you a 1-5 attack bonus.  If you have all members of 1 evolutionary line (Clefairy and Clefable, or Weedle, Kakuna, and Beedrill), you get an additional bonus.  You get an additional 3 points for a complete evolutionary line of 2, and 5 points for a complete evolutionary line of 3.  ALL Pokémon must be yours to obtain the bonus, which means an evolutionary line of 3 does not get a bonus if there are 2 members in your team. 

INDIGO PLATEAU:  Every Pokémon also has a yellow number.  When these all add up to 20 or more, you can enter the Indigo Plateau via Cinnabar Island.  All these spaces have an effect similar to the board, except for one.  This space, "ENTER Final Battle", makes you battle a member of the Elite Four or the Champion.  Any other trainer not battling takes the role of the character.  All Elite four has a base power, and the Elite 4 member also rolls, applying the dice number and the bonus located below.  If the challenging trainer's Pokémon loses, that trainer is kicked off the plateau back to Cinnibar Island, and the chosen Pokémon faints.  If that trainer wishes, they can return to the plateau of they still have at least 20 points.  However, if that trainer wins the battle, the game is over and the trainer wins the game.

CONCLUSION:  This is a must play for any aspiring and current Pokémon trainer.  This game can change on dime, such as an opposing trainer getting your Charizard while you have both Charmander and Charmeleon.  The trade feature is crazy, as I've lost my precious Zapdos for a freaking Oddish!  But even with that and the 1+ hour gameplay length, this holds a special place in my heart.  Happy anniversary Pokémon, and thank you for filling my life with the child-like wonder and sense of adventure only you can give.  There also happens to be both a Pokémon Master Trainer 2, as well as a red edition of Pokémon Master Trainer which plays a little easier and contains the 2nd Generation Pokémon from the Gold, Silver, and Crystal games.