Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tick Tick Boom (Exploding Kittens)

Can you hear that hissing?  Can you smell the sulfer and litter mix?  It's getting closer.  Closer and closer until your loss, closer and closer until your dead.  The hissing, it sounds like a bomb, but it's more.  Oh, my dear friend, it is much more.  But that won't matter soon.  The last thing you'll worry about is that kitten, blowing up and ending your life. Watch out for the EXPLODING KITTENS!!!

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GAME DESCRIPTION:  Exploding Kittens is a card game for 2-5 players.  Each turn players must draw cards and avoid getting an Exploding Kitten.

SET-UP:  Before the game begins, remove all Exploding Kitten and Defuse cards, then shuffle the rest of the deck.  Each player begins with 1 Defuse card and 4 randomly dealt cards.  Shuffle all Defuse cards into the deck, as well as Exploding Kitten cards equal to 1 less than the total number of players.  If there are only 2 players, shuffle 2 Defuse cards into the deck.  Any cards left are removed for this game.

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CARDS:  Each turn, a player may play any cards during their turn, or end the turn.  Once a card's effect is resolved, you may continue to play cards, or end the turn.  Each player ends their turn by drawing a card.
  • Exploding Kitten:  These black border cards, when drawn, mean an immediate loss unless a Defuse card is played, and discard all cards as well as this card.
  • Defuse:  If a player draws an Exploding Kitten card, they may play a Defuse card.  The player discards the defuse and places the Exploding Kitten card anywhere in the deck they wish.
  • Nope:  If a player plays a card, any other player may cancel it by playing a Nope card, and discard both cards.
  • Attack:  The player who plays an Attack card does not draw, and the next player takes 2 turns in a row.
  • Skip:  The player ends their turn immediately without drawing a card.
  • Favor:  Forces another player to give up a card of their choosing to the player of the Favor card.
  • Shuffle;  Shuffle the deck.
  • See the Future:  Look at the top 3 cards of the deck, and place them back in the same order.
  • Kitten Cards:  These cards have only images on them, and must be played as a matching combo of 2 or 3 of a kind.

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COMBOS:  Combo's are advanced rules which, when played correctly, ignore the text on the card and are instead applied accordingly.
  • 2 of a Kind:  If 2 matching icons (located at the top left) are played, randomly take 1 card from any opponent.
  • 3 of a Kind:  If 3 matching icons are played, name a card from a specific opponent.  If they have it, it's now yours.  If not, nothing happens.
  • 5 Different:  If 5 different icons of any card are played, you may take any 1 card from the discard pile and add it to your hand.
WINNING:  When an Exploding Kitten is drawn, and the player does not or cannot play a Diffuse card, they are eliminated for that game.  The game ends when there is only one player left.  They are now the winner.

CONCLUSION:  Exploding Kittens is a card version of Russian roulette, plain and simple.  The randomness nature of the game will definitely put off more than a few people, but the simplicity of the rules combined with the fact that the game is random gives most players a chance to win, even if they play 'badly'.  It makes for a great intermission game for longer gaming sessions and wind downs on game nights.  It's a fun, enjoyable little game that both younger and newer players can pick up.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

That Rabbit's Dynamite (Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot)

Round and Round the Bunnies go,
Shot at and Burned and Turned into dough,
magical carrots are sought from afar
while Bunnies are Drowned in pits of tar,
all while we Watch
and Laugh.

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GAME DESCRIPTION:  Killer Bunnies is a card game developed by Playroom Entertainment for up to 8 players.  Each player attempts to find the Magic Carrot card that determines the winner.  Each player also attempts to gather Bunnies and keep them alive, while eliminating and killing other players Bunnies.

SET-UP:  The main deck and Carrot cards are placed in the center, next to the Starter Card: "Kaballa's Market".  Each player starts with 7 cards in their hand, and will always have 7 cards in their hand, minimum.  Place the small green Cabbage and blue Water cards in the middle, and place the small orange Carrot cards off to the side.  Then, each player places two cards horizontally in front of them, in a single column.  This is your run, and you should always have 2 cards in the run at the end of your turn.

RUN:  At the start of the turn, each player flips the top Run card over, and moves the bottom Run card to the top.  If it is a Bunny, it is played in front of that player, to the side of any other Bunnies (think of playing the Bunnies in one big circle).  Some cards cannot be played without Bunnies.

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IMMEDIATE:  If you get a Play Immediately card, it is played and resolved right away, regardless of turn order.  If you get a Kaballa Dolla, it is placed in face-up front of you.  Kabala Dolla's are spent before you reveal your top Run card at the Market.  Then, draw back up to 7 cards.

DEATH:  Most Play Immediately, as well as any successful Weapon cards and other various cards will Kill or Eliminate a Bunny.  Killed Bunnies go to the discard pile, and all other Eliminated Bunnies (such as Abduction) are placed where the card's effect states.  All cards have a small pink or white rectangle on their left side.  If a player has no Bunnies when any card with a pink rectangle is revealed from the Run, that card cannot be used, and is discarded as play continues.

SPECIAL:  Some cards have Special or Very Special at the top instead of Run.  Special cards may be played before you play your top Run card as well as in your Run.  Very Special cards can be played at any time from your hand, or in your Run.  Any Special or Very Special card in your run may be played off to the side to be played at any time.

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DICE:  There are various colored dice used in Killer Bunnies.  On the right side is a column of boxes, sometimes no colors, one color, or a bunch of colors.  The colors indicate which colored die or dice you roll.

TRIPLETS:  If a player has 3 Bunnies of the same color or name, they then play the 2nd card in their run at the time of the reveal.  Then, both cards in their Run are revealed during their turn, and place both cards in their Run instead of just 1.

WINNING:  Once the last player has bought or chosen the last Carrot card, the game is over.  If any player does not have a Bunny in play, they must give all their Carrot cards to the player with any Bunny and the most Kaballa Dolla left. A player then takes the small Carrot cards and reveals them one at a time.  Each time a small Carrot is revealed, the large corresponding Carrot card  is eliminated and turned face-down.  The last Carrot revealed determines the winner.

CONCLUSION:  The best way to describe this game is Rabbit Russian Roulette: The Card Game.  It is incredibly easy to lose your Bunny right before the game ends, or not get a Bunny for most of the game.  Still, the luck factor makes it so that even if you only get 1 Carrot the whole game, you can still end up winning, making it possible for even beginners and first timers to come out winning.  There are very few games where newer players have a chance to come out ahead, making this a rather strong recommendation.  Plus, the wacky build-up and planning ahead don't feel gimmicky, and the cultural references are all over the place, from puns like the Holy Angle, to the more obscure Red Dwarf reference in the Holographic Bunny.  This game is silly, luck-driven, and a whole lot of fun for the whole family.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  One of the difficulties reviewing this game is the Expansions.  With the edition I played having one built in, and a dozen expansions, the gameplay has altered from one version to the next.  Still, with the extra cards and rules I've played with, the game changes a fair amount, allowing the game to have more life just from including or excluding a version of it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Flying Through Udder Space (Cosmic Cows)

Log entry 5978:  The Earth creatures known to the locals as "cow" simply fascinates us.  They seem so unaware and accepting of their fate when we abduct them.  So, while waiting for our Commander, we have decided to play a game, seeing who can capture the most.  Sub-Commander Draub wants to call it Space Cow Chess, but that's stupid.  We've agreed on "Cosmic Cows" until a better name can be chosen.  So for, I'm winning.

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GAME DESCRIPTION:  Cosmic Cows is a 2 player dice game published by Playroom Entertainment, and created by designed by Maureen Hiron.  The object is to move Cows from the center of the board to your "Win Zone".

SET-UP:  Set the board between both players.  Place the 9 Cows in the middle of the board, on the green "grassy" area. Each player is given a set of 5 matching dice.

MOVEMENT:  Each turn, players roll their set of dice up to three times.  Between rolls, they may set aside/re-roll any amount of their dice, and roll again, or stay with their current roll.  Cows move closer to the player who rolled according to a specific roll (similar to Yahtzee):

  • Pair:  Move the cow on the board in the column that matches the number you rolled 2 spaces towards you.
  • 3 of a Kind: Like the Pair, but move 3 spaces instead of 2.
  • 4 of a Kind: Like the Pair, but move 4 spaces instead of 2.
  • Two Pairs:  Move the two cows in the columns that match the number you rolled 2 spaces each.
  • Full House:  Move the cow in the column that matches the number of the pair you rolled 2 spaces, and the other cow that matches the number of the other dice you rolled 3 spaces.
  • 5 of a Kind:  Move the cow in the Super Beam Column closest to you.
  • Small Straight:  Move the cow in the Straight Column 3 spaces
  • Large Straight:  Move the cow in the Straight Column 4 spaces
  • Chance:  If no other conditions can be fufilled, or the player wishes to move this cow, add up the total number rolled.  If the total equals 10-12 or 23-25, move the cow in the Chance Column 3 spaces.  If the total equals 5-9 or 26-30, move 4 spaces.
WIN ZONE:  Each player has a Win Zone, indicated by the red spaces on the board.  When any player gets 3 cows in their Win Zone, they win the game.

CONCLUSION:  Cosmic Cows is like Space Yahtzee, in a way.  It can be fun to play through once, but due to it's reliance on luck and basic rules, it's hard to recommend after a couple playthroughs.  The fact that this game is for only 2 players makes it limited in where and with whom you can play this. This game would work great for kids who want something with a little more visual feedback than something Yahtzee or Farkle can provide.  It's a good choice to play a round if you're looking for something a little more intimate with someone close to you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Anyone for Furry Smoothies? (Kittens in a Blender)

October marks the start of Theme Month, where each review will revolve around a single theme or concept.  This year, the theme is "animals".  The month will begin with a nice glass of blood, fur, and cat spirits, as we blend up our first game: Kittens in a Blender.  Just, watch out for any dogs wandering in.

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GAME DESCRIPTION:  Kittens is a Card Game designed by the Brothers Knudson for 2 to 4 players.  The object is to amass a furry pile of cats in the Box, while killing off your opponents with the Blender.

SET-UP:  The over-sized Blender card is placed face-up in the box top, and set in the middle of the table.   The base of the box is placed next to it.  These will be the Blender and the Box, respectively.  The space in between is the Counter. Each player then selects of a color, designated by the background of the Cat cards.  Then, each player is dealt 6 cards.

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PLAYING:  Turns consist of playing 2 cards, applying their effects, and drawing back up to 6 cards. If the deck ever runs out, play continues without drawing:

  • Kittens:  A kitten may be played in the Box, the Blender, or on the Counter.
  • Blend!:  When this is played, all Kittens in the Blender are removed for the game, all Kittens in the Box are saved, and all Kittens on the Counter are moved to the Blender.  Saved Kittens count towards your total point value at the end.
  • Blend Pulse:  Similar to Blend, with the addition of cancelling a Blend card.  Blend and Blend Pulse cards stay in front of you.
  • Kittens on the Move:  Move a specified amount of Kittens the specified amount of spaces (if it says 1 space, you can move the Kittens from the Box or the Blender to the Counter, or vice versa, but you cannot move the Kittens from the Box to the Blender, as that is considered 2 spaces.)
  • Dogs in the Kitchen:  Every players hand is rotated to the appropriate player.
  • Kittens in the Blender/Box/Counter:  All Kittens move to the place the card specifies.
  • These Cats in the Blender:  Move all Kittens of a specified color to the Blender.

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SCORING:  The game ends when all 16 Blend and Blend Pulse cards have been played.  All saved Kittens are worth 2 points, and Blended Kittens are worth -1.  In the case of a tie, a winner is decided by whomever has the most Blend and Blend Pulse cards in front of them.

CONCLUSION:  Kittens in a Blender sounds like one of those twisted games that can't help but get a laugh from how messed up the concept is.  Yet, the game plays simply, fairly quickly, and gets a laugh in a good way.  The art is so cute and appealing, and really gets what it was going for.  This game does require you to be okay with having vast amounts of luck and RNG be against and with you.  The games time requirements makes it easy to play multiple rounds if you just keep losing.  Kittens in a Blender can make for a great, silly time with some close friends.