Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Five Dice, One Winner (Dice City)

Hear ye, hear ye, to the plight of the city!  Queen Statsia, of the Kingdom of Rolldovia, has decreed that there shall now be a new capital, to rival the old one.  Rumors of the old capital being pillaged and desecrated are greatly exaggerated, and as such, should be disregarded. Those who believe their city is the best of the land shall compete in a contest to see who deserves to be the new capital of Rolldovia!

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Dice City is a dice game for 1-4 players created by Vangelis Bagiartakis and published by Artipia Games.  Players roll, move, attack, and gather points to see whose city should become capital.

SET-UP:  Each player takes 1 Player Board, and 1 set of different colored dice (Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, White).  Split the Lumber Mill, Quarry, Mine, and Regular Army cards into 4 separate stacks face-up.  Shuffle the rest of the Location Cards and place them face-down. Next, draw 8 cards and place them together face-up, as the Display.  Place the Bandits Cards and Trade Ships in three separate piles, with each pile being indicated by the number in the bottom right.  Each Bandit pile will only have a number of cards equal to the total number of players, plus 2.

START:  All players roll their dice, and put them in the appropriate number (located on the top of the Player Board) and color (located on the side) location.  The player to have played a game most recently with dice rolling starts.  During their turn, each player has 4 steps to follow in order: Use Dice, Attack, Building & Trading, and End of Turn.

USE DICE:  During the first step, you may use an action by "spending" a die by moving it from the board.  These actions are:

  • Use the location beneath the die and resolve its ability.
  • Move another die to an adjacent space on that die’s row.
  • Reactivate a Deactivated location anywhere in your city.
  • Once per turn, discard four of the Location cards in the display that are available to build and reveal four new ones.
  • Once per turn, pass and gain a Pass Token.
  • Instead of a die, you may spend two Pass Tokens to gain one Resource of your choice, increase your army strength by 1 for the turn, or force all other players to re-roll one die of your choice.
Once all Dice are spent, the turn moves to the Attack step.

ATTACK:  During this turn, any Attack units used (indicated by a sword) increases your Army strength.  You may attack either Bandits, Locations, or Stock.  For Bandit and Location cards, you must spend a strength higher than the cards defense.  Note that not all Locations have a Defense, making them unable to be attacked.  For Bandits, you gain that Bandit card and place it off to the side, until all those Bandits are gone.  For Locations, place a Deactivation Token on the location.  That player cannot use that Locations ability without Reactivating it.  To gain Resources from another player, you must spend 2 times the Resource(s) you want to steal.  Your Army then returns to 0 at the end of the turn.  

BUILDING/TRADING:  Every other non-Bandit card has a cost of Resources, usually located in the top right, or the bottom for Trade Ships. During this step, you may spend your collected Resources to gain one of these cards.  Trade Ships will go off to the side.  Any Lumber Mill, Quarry, Mine, and Location card bought from the Display will go on the Player board.  These cards can be placed anywhere on the board, but will replace the effect underneath it.

END OF TURN:  If you have any Resources remaining, you may keep one of each kind, with the rest returned to their stock.  All Pass tokens collected remain with the player, however.  The player re-rolls all of the dice and places them back on their Player board.  Then the turn ends, and play passes to the next player.

VP:  Almost every card has a number in a star in the bottom right.  These are Victory Points.  You gain Victory Points from gaining that card, or from a Location's effect.  When you do, you gain VP token(s) equal to the points gained, and place them face-down.  When you attack and Deactivate a Location, gain VP token(s) equal to the deactivated card.

WINNING:  The game ends in one of 3 ways:  Either all three of the bandits piles or two or more of the trade ship piles have run out of cards, the location deck runs out of cards, or any player calls the game over when they have two or more rows on their board filled with built locations, none of which have Deactivation tokens.  The game continues until every player has had the same number of turns.  The player with the most Victory Points wins.

CONCLUSION:  This has always been a hard game for me to review.  There's a little too much down time in a four player game to end as quickly as it does.  I do like that while there is a lot of luck involved, it is aware and does a little to help mitigate it, but not in a way that feels forced.  Also, the single player mode helps to build strategy and see what play styles work for you.  Being able to adjust the difficulty also helps make the game more enjoyable as you see what works and what doesn't.  I would recommend this if you enjoy games like Dominion.  To everyone else, it may be a hard sell, but I would say if you do want to play this, either start with Single Player or limit to three players, as the down time is lessened.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  A quick thanks to Slumpymaster for helping me with the single player part of this review.  You can check his stuff out over on the right.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mini-post: Updates & Patreon

Hey all,

It's time for me to address where this blog is going, and what I'm doing with it.  As many of you may know, there have been ads on the side bar for awhile, along with my social media, and various other people who have supported me.  Well, I've also recently included my Patreon.  This is just another way to help me update and streamline my page, continue to work on my blog, and work on more things.

What kind of things?  Well, I am in production (by production, I mean struggling to figure out how anything works) on at least 1 weekly YouTube series, and another less frequent series.  Also, I am working out some kinks with a fellow gamer on a Podcast on cross topics of board and video games.  And finally, I'm attempting various board game Live Streams via Twitch, YouTube, or some other service.  Now, I can't guarantee any of this will pan out, but here's to trying.

Now that you know, I'm going to address my Patreon.  Right now, as I have basically nothing but this blog, my Patreon is merely $1 for all Patreon access.  If I can offer something more substantial, then I may add more tiers or another way to get those bonuses.  But, if you want to help keep my blog going, and support me to help push these projects, please consider becoming a Patreon for only $1 a month.

And hey, thanks for reading this page, it's meant a lot for me to grow from a school project to something worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Words Man Dare Not Spell (Unspeakable Words)

A is for Azathoth, Ruler of the Gods
B is for Byakhee, Hastur sends them abroad
C is for Cthulhu, you know him well
D is for Dagon, you're under their spell
And while these are only some Unspeakable Words
If you say these to anyone, they'll think you absurd.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Unspeakable Words is a word-based card game published by Playroom.  Players attempt to gather points by spelling words without going insane.

SET-UP:  Each player takes 5 C'thulhu Pawns, and is dealt 7 Letter Cards.  The player who rolls the highest on the 20 sided die, or D20, plays first.

WORDS:  Each turn, a player may spell a word with 3 or more letters.  No player may form acronyms, proper nouns, names, abbreviations, or contractions.  Players may not play a word that was also played, but playing a different tense, or the plural instead of the singular counts (EX:  Pants cannot be played twice, regardless of tense, but Froze can be played if Freeze was, and Cards can be played if Card was).

POINTS:  Score points equal to the amount of points on the card (points are given based on the number of angles on the letter).  Then, the player rolls the D20 for their Sanity Roll, and if they roll less than the points scored, they give up 1 C'thulhu Pawn.  If they rolled equal or higher, they are safe.  A 20 is an automatic success.  The player draws back up to 7 and the turn passes to the left.

WINNING:  Like most C'thulhu based games, there are many ways to lose.  If a player runs out of C'thulhu Pawns, they discard their hand and are eliminated for the rest of the game.  If only 1 player has C'thulhu Pawns left, they win.  If a player manages to score 100 or more points, but fails their Sanity Roll, then they instead score 0 points, in addition to their lost sanity.  But, if they manage to succeed in their Sanity Roll, they win.

CONCLUSION:  This is a very enjoyable game for those who like challenging word games, but play with at least some of the optional rules. The ability to make your own words with only one sanity is fun, and being able to recover sanity helps even out some of the terrible dice rolls you're bound to get one game.  By itself, Unspeakble Words is a cool idea with a decent change of pace from most card based word games (yes, there's a few), but it's really not complete without the added rules.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  This game is no longer in print, but there is a Kickstarter for a deluxe version.  It is also available via Print 'n Play ( and in Tabletop Simulator.

This week's Patreon support comes from Lizzy-thelizzard Gaming

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

You just saw three monkeys go by on a motorcycle, didn't you? (Jumanji)

Running from monkeys, rhinos, and other beasts
are just one of your many feats.
Play the game and become free,
and call out "Jumanji!"
But do not start unless you intend
to see the game through to the end.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Jumanji was Published by Hasbro in 1995 for up to 4 players as a tie-in for the movie.  Players attempt to land in the circle while various disasters affect them.

SET-UP:  Everyone takes a pawn and places it at the appropriate start at the corner of the board.  Place the Danger cards and the Rhino on their locations, and everyone takes a Rescue die, placing the stickers on as needed.  Whoever suggested the game starts.

MOVEMENT:  During your turn, roll the numbered die, and move along the colored path that matches your pawn.  Whenever you land on a space during your turn, follow the instructions, then the turn goes to the next player on the left:
  • WAIT FOR 5 OR 8:  The player to the left rolls the die.  If it's not 5 or 8, move back one space and the next player rolls.  If you go back to the start, you start your next turn their, and both the rolls and your turn ends.  If any of the rolls are 5 or 8, both the rolls and your turn end.
  • RHINO:  You may place the Rhino token in front of any player.  They cannot move, and instead roll the die during their turn.  If it's even, place the Rhino back in its spot.  If it's odd, the Rhino stays and follow the instructions of your space.
  • BLANK:  Draw a Danger card and place it in the middle, and read it out loud.  Flip over the timer, and all other players roll their Rescue die.  If everyone rolls the symbol in the top left of the card, or rolls the Wild symbol (Hourglass) before time is up, then you are safe.  Every other player moves ahead the number in the top right, and the card is discarded.  If any amount of players fail to roll the symbol or Wild once time is up, then the player who landed on the Blank space moves back the number in the top right.  Place the Danger card in the Doomsday Grid, and the turn is now over.
  • JUNGLE:  Draw a Danger card and place it in the middle, and read it out loud.  Flip over the timer, and every player rolls their Rescue die.  If everyone rolls the symbol in the top left of the card, or rolls the Wild symbol (Hourglass) before time is up, every player moves ahead the number in the top right.  If any amount of players fail to roll the symbol or Wild, then place the card in the next Doomsday spot, and reveal a new card.  Continue until a Danger card is successfully completed. 

ENDINGS:  There are 2 ways to finish the game.  If a player manages to roll or move with a Danger card the exact number into the middle, they win.  If a player is at the middle, and rolls or wins a Danger card higher than needed, they do not move.  If the Doomsday board is filled with 10 Danger cards, then the game ends, and is restarted from the beginning.

CONCLUSION:  As is the unfortunate case for many tie-in games, this one does not have any real depth to it.  The board looks amazing, accurate, and is very on theme.  The problem is that the theme is only aesthetically deep.  By committing so much to the games look, there wasn't much they could do to make the game mechanically interesting.  Luckily, it doesn't outstay its welcome too long, taking at most an hour to play.  This is fun for a nostalgia trip or for kids who have just watched the movie, but don't expect to play it much outside of that.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

It's dangerous to go alone. Take friends! (Hyrule Fantasy)

Long ago, the Demon King Ganon stole part the Tri-force of Power.  Princess Zelda divided the Tri-force of Wisdom into 8 pieces to keep it from Ganon.  Link, a brave young man, is tasked to gather and re-unite the Tri-force of Wisdom.  Will he succeed and restore Hyrule to its former glory, or will Ganon's minions defeat our hero and keep Hyrule enslaved forever?  Find out in The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Fantasy!

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Hyrule Fantasy was made in 1986 in Japan, and was published by Bandai for 1-4 players.  Players take the role of Link and follow the map from the original Legend of Zelda video game to improve themselves and gather the Tri-force, and ultimately fight and defeat Ganon.

SET-UP:  Each player takes a personal Character Sub-board and places it in front of them.  Then, each player takes a colored Link and places them on the start.  Each player begins with 5 Hearts and a Sword.  Shuffle the Labyrinth, Showdown, and Money Making Cards and put them off to the side.  Finally, each player get's all 8 Tri-force Pieces and places them off to the side.

MOVEMENT:  Players move spaces equal to the number of hearts they currently have, and only along pathways that make sense.  Players cannot climb mountain sides, go through bushes, or climb over boulders.

BATTLE:  If you land on any space that doesn't have text, you can engage in a Battle.  Flip the top Showdown Card, and roll the included die twice.  If your total roll is higher than the enemy's, you win, and if it matches or is lower, you lose.  If the case of winning, you can choose to either gain the indicated Rupees OR heal the indicated number, up to a max of 5 hearts.  If you lose, remove the number of Hearts off your Sub-board as indicated.  Then, shuffle the card back into the deck.

PITFALLS:  Some Showdown Cards don't have battles, but have other effects.  These are known as Pitfall cards.  If a Pitfall card is drawn, apply its effect, then shuffle it back into the deck.  All Pitfall cards are self explanatory except for the Money Making Game.  If you play the Money Making Game, take the Money Making Cards and draw one.  Then, the next player draws a Money Making Card.  If any player draws the Moblin or Old Man, they no longer play the Money Making Game this round.  Once both the Moblin and Old Man are drawn, deal out and take the appropriate Rupees, and shuffle the cards back together.

LABYRINTH:  The objective is for players to land on the Labyrinth tiles (indicated by Level) and get the pieces of Tri-force from there.  Players must land in order, from 1 to 8, to gather the pieces.  Once a player lands on a Labyrinth tile, flip over a Labyrinth Battle card.  Roll the die the number of times indicated on the card.  If you win, take the Tri-force piece that matches the number of the Labyrinth, and place it on the board.  Then, shuffle the Labyrinth Battle card back into the deck, and heal back up to 5 hearts  If you lose, you can spend a Blue Potion, or flip the Red Potion over and stay at the Labyrinth.  Otherwise, return to any Fairy Fountain and keep the Labyrinth Battle card for the next fight.

ITEMS:  There are other Items that can help in your adventure.  Some are required, but all are limited to 1 per player, and can only be obtained on the correct tile.

  • White Sword:  Obtainable only once you have Tri-force 2.  Allows you to enter Dungeon 3.  Place on top of the Sword card.
  • Magical Sword: Obtainable only once you have Tri-force 6.  Allows you to enter Dungeon 7.  Place on top of the White Sword card.
  • Power Bracelet:  Allows you to move from a Warp space to any other Warp space.
  • Letter:  Allows you to buy Potions.
  • Potions:  Can only be bought with the Letter.  Blue Potion (50 Rupees) and Red Potion (100 Rupees) both keep you at the same spot, but the Red Potion can be used twice.
  • Blue Ring:  Gives you +2 Hearts for 250 Rupees.
  • Food:  Buy for 50 Rupees to prevent the Surrounded by Enemies Pitfall card.
  • Magical Shield:  Can be bought for 100 Rupees.  Effective against certain enemies.

GANON:  Once you have the Magical Sword and all 8 Tri-force Pieces, you can enter Death Mountain and fight Ganon.  First, engage in a Battle at the Entrance of Death Mountain.  On the next turn, you can enter Death Mountain and fight Ganon.  Roll the die 4 times.  You win if you roll both the Sword and Silver Arrows.  If you do not roll both of these, return to any Fairy Fountain and head back up to Death Mountain to fight him again.  The first player to defeat Ganon is the True Hero

CONCLUSION:  Hyrule Fantasy starts out as a fascinating game, but tends to drag on towards the end.  It stays with its theme all the way through, but that is also its detriment, with the length of the game hindering it in the end game.  But even though it's long, that doesn't make it complicated.  Anyone can pick up and learn it easily.  This is a game that is meant for fans of The Legend of Zelda, especially the original.  Others, however, are likely to be put off by the games length and fetch quest mechanics.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  A fun feature is that the board for Hyrule Fantasy also acts as a 1:1 map for the original Legend of Zelda for the NES.  Hyrule Fantasy was a Japanese exclusive, but was translated by dedicated fans, and is now available in a Print and Play form <>, or on Tabletop Simulator.  Thanks to Saintscrub for the link, and Alberto Vitali for access to this wonderful, massive project.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Illinois James and the Elemental Treasures (Forbidden Island)

Tell me Sonny Jim, do you like adventure?  Do you like treasure?  Have I got the place for you, full of riches to make men's dreams come true, and danger to get your heart a-thumpin', and how! Don't be put off by the name, you certainly don't run the risk of drowning almost immediately once you land.  You'll be the big cheese once ya find that enormous fortune.  Come on down and purchase your ticket to the Forbidden Island!

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Forbidden Island is a co-operative game published by Gamewright.  Each Player is part of an expedition that is attempting to uncover all the treasures before the island sinks.

SET-UP:  Each player selects a Role card and their matching colored pawn.  Place the 4 different Treasure figures off the side.  Shuffle the Island Tiles and randomly place them face-up according to the design in the rules.  Place each player's colored pawn on their location indicated in the bottom right.  Each player is dealt 2 Treasure cards, which they keep face-up.  If a "Waters Rise!" card is dealt, shuffle them back in the deck and draw a new card.  Finally, reveal 6 Flood cards and flip over the matching Island Tiles, and set the Water Level to the appropriate difficulty.

ACTIONS:  Each player begins with 3 actions they can do each turn:

  • Move to another adjacent tile horizontally or vertically (or diagonally if you're the Explorer, or to any space if you're the Pilot).
  • Give a Treasure to a player if you're both on the same Tile.
  • Shore up a tile, or flip a face-down tile back face-up adjacent to you horizontally or vertically (or diagonally again if you're the Explorer)
  • Discard 4 matching Treasure cards to capture that Treasure, if you are on the matching tile indicated on the bottom right.  You may gather the Treasure if the tile is Flooded, or flipped over. You cannot if the tile is Sunk.
FLOODING/SUNK:  Tiles that are flipped face-down are Flooded.  If a Flooded Tile is drawn, it is Sunk.  You cannot move on the areas with Sunk Tiles (unless you are the Diver).  If a Tile is Sunk with a player on it, they move to any horizontal or vertical adjacent tile (or diagonally if you're the Explorer.

DRAWING:  Once you end your turn, draw 2 Treasure cards.  If you have more than 5 cards, you must discard down to 5.  If a Waters Rise! card is drawn, shuffle the Flood discard pile and place it on top of the deck, and raise the Water Level up one tick mark.  Then, reveal and flip over the Flood cards equal to the current Water Level.  If either the Flood or Treasure deck runs out, reshuffle the appropriate discard pile and place it as the deck.

ENDING:  There are 5 ways this game ends.  If the players manage to gather all 4 treasures and make it to the Fools' Landing, and someone has a Helicopter Lift card in their hand, the players win.  The players will lose if: 
  1. Both of the Tiles you can gather Treasure at are Sunk and no-one has collected that Treasure.
  2. The Fools' Landing Tile is Sunk.
  3. If any player is on a Tile when it is Sunk and they cannot move to an adjacent tile.
  4. If the Water Level reaches the top Skull & Crossbones symbol.
CONCLUSION:  Forbidden Island is hard, plain and simple.  It is always actively trying to kill you and make sure you can't win through luck or mis-plays.  There have been games that have ended on the first turn they began just because of bad luck.  That doesn't mean that the game is bad, just hard.  The really neat thing about this game is the co-operative element.  There are very few tabletop games that are truly co-operative, and even fewer have made it as compelling as Forbidden Island.  Plus, the rules are simple to understand, but allow for deep play with careful planning.  If you plan on playing, make sure it's with a group who can stand to lose over and over, because the victory will be that much sweeter.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Go Sushi, Go Sushi Go! (Sushi Go)

All around the Conveyor Belt, 
the Chopsticks chased the Sushi.
The sushi thought twas all in fun.  
Sushi Go in my mouth now.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Sushi Go is a card game for 2-5 players, and was published by Gamewright.  The players are standing at a Sushi Restaurant, and can only take one dish at a time, so each player wants the tastiest combination of Sushi that they can get.

SET-UP:  Each player is dealt an set amount of cards, depending on the number of players.  2 players get 10 cards, whereas 5 players get 7 cards.  Set the deck aside, until the 2nd round starts.  Assign 1 player as the designated score-keeper.

TURNS:  Each turn, a player takes 1 card from their hand, and places it face-down in front of them.  Once all players have chosen a card, reveal them all.  Then, pass your hand to the next player.

CARDS:  Each card has a point value depending on specific circumstances, such as:

  • Chopsticks:  If you have played this, you may call out "Sushi Go!", and place a 2nd card face-down.  Then, place this back in your hand.
  • Tempura/Sashimi:  To score, you need a set of 2 Tempura or 3 Sashimi.  If you only have 1 Tempura, or 1-2 Sashimi, you score 0 points.  You may also have multiple sets of these cards for more points.
  • Nigiri and Wasabi:  Each flavor of Nigiri scores a set amount of points. If you flip a Nigiri after you have a Wasabi face-up, you may place it on the Wasabi, and earn triple points on the Nigiri card.  The Wasabi is now used up, meaning you cannot use that Wasabi card to earn anymore points.
  • Dumplings:  Dumplings give you points depending on the amount you have.  Once you reach 5, you can no longer gain points for Dumplings.
  • Maki Roll:  The player with the most amount of Maki scores 6 points, with the player with the 2nd most scores 3.  Split any ties, rounded down, between those players who tied.
  • Pudding:  The player with the most pudding scores 6 points, again splitting and rounding points between all players who may have tied.
WINNING:  Once all players have no cards, the round is over, and the cards points calculated, save for Puddings.  Then, discard all cards face-up next to the deck, again save for Puddings.  Each player is dealt a new hand, and the 2nd Round begins.  Once the 3rd round is over, score Puddings with all other points.  The player with the most points wins.  In case of ties, the player with the most Pudding cards wins.

CONCLUSION:  Sushi Go is a deceptively simple game.  The rules are simple, easy to learn, and the game plays fairly fast.  However, the fact remains that you can only play 1 card a turn, and you need to plan extremely carefully.  On top of this, there's the fact that this is a card game, meaning every hand is left up to chance.  If that sounds too stressful for you, and you don't like a lot of RNG and chance based games, pass on this one.  But, if you can accept the fact that you may get ridiculous sets of cards, and can work your strategy around that, then Sushi Go is one of the best card games I can recommend.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

More than a Hill of Beans (Bohnanza)

Buy low, sell high.  The mantra of the world.  And nowhere is it more applicable than here!  Plant those beans and watch the price go higher and higher.  But be careful, because you never know what seeds are going to be delivered.  Oh, you thought you chose what to plant?  Don't make me laugh.  We get what's shipped, so you'll have to rely on your fellow farmers out here in Bohnanza.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Bohnanza is a card game published by Rio Grande Games, and is designed for 2-7 players.  Players attempts to collect various types of Beans to sell.

SET-UP:  Each player starts with 2 Plots of land to plant Bean cards.  Every player is dealt 5 cards in their hand, and must keep the order in which they were dealt, with the first card in front.  Each time a player draws, that card must be placed as the last card in the hand, at the back.

PLANTING:  At the start of their turn, the player must plant the first Bean card in their hand in one of the fields.  If there is already a matching Bean card, they may place that card on top on that Bean.  If there's no empty fields or matching Beans, they must Harvest and sell a Plot.  Then, they may Plant the next Bean.  If a player has no cards in hand, this phase is skipped.

TRADING:  Next, the player draws 2 cards, and lays them face-up.  The player may set aside 1 or both of the cards, donate 1 or both to other players, or trade 1 or both for something.  The player may also donate or trade any cards from their hand.  You cannot trade or donate Beans that have already been traded or donated.  Any Beans traded or donated must first be accepted, and are set off to the side to be planted once Trading finishes.  However, planting may occur in any order.

END TURN:  Once the turn ends, the player draws 3 cards, one at a time, and places them at the back of the hand, to keep the order in which they were obtained straight.  If the deck runs out, shuffle the discard pile.  The next player to the left begins with the Planting step.

HARVESTING:  Players may Harvest at any time.  You must Harvest all Beans from a Plot.  First, you count the number of Beans planted. Then, look at the bottom of the card.  You get the number of Coins according to the number sold.  Flip over the Beans equal to the number of Coins obtained, and keeps them in a stack.  Then, discard the rest of the Beans.  In some cases, you may not gain any Coins.

3RD FIELD:  At any time, a player may buy a 3rd field to plant Beans.  To do this, they discard 3 Gold coins so that the Bean side is face-up in the discard pile, and place the 3rd Field indicator card in front of them.

WINNING:  The game ends once the deck has run out of cards 3 times.  If this happens during Trading, the player may draw 1 or 2 cards, depending on the amount left, and the game continues until Trading has finished.  If this happens when a Player is drawing for their hand, the game ends immediately.  All players discard their hands, and Harvest all beans currently in their Fields.  The player with the most Coins wins.  In the case of a tie, the player with the most cards in their hand and the most Coins wins.

CONCLUSION:  This game is interesting.  On the one hand, I like the level of strategy and the finagling required to be able to get the right Beans before anyone else.  I also like the adaptation the rules have, depending on the number of players.  On the other, the forced order of Bean cards can make it frustrating for any new players, especially since the rest of the game plays like a more "traditional" game, with trading and scoring.  This is a game that while it has a good theme and strong mechanics, they're hindered by some weird, forced choices.  Still, this is a game worth playing every once in a while, especially among more competitive players and friends who don't mind stabbing each other in the back once in a while.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (Small World)

When you've become a jaded adventurer like me, you've seen it all.  Flying Dwarves?  Seen it.  Merchant Ghouls?  Meet some for tea every Tuesday.  Swamp Elves?  Just as haughty as those found in forests. But...even Diplomat Trolls?!  Surprisingly civil, once you get to know them.  I guess it really is a Small World after all.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Let's Play That Again, Bob (Last Word)

The timer counts down, never revealing how much time you have left, but the ticking is still going.  Your mind races for something, anything to come up with.  Sweat glistens on your brow, and still the timer is going.  Suddenly, you shout "TETRIS!"  and the buzzer goes. The votes are tallied, and the announcement is made.  You have indeed gotten the Last Word.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Last Word was published by Buffalo Games in 2005 for 2-8 players.  Each player attempts to get their word spoken before the buzzer goes off.

SET-UP:  Each player chooses 1 colored pawn, and is dealt 1 Subject card to be kept hidden.  Place the pawns on the start space of the scoreboard, and flip over the top Letter card.

SUBJECTS:  Each player tries to name something that matches the Subject card in their hand and starts with the current Letter card.  Once they name that thing, the subject is revealed.  Then, the timer is pressed.

TIMED:  Once the timer is hit, each player then tries to name a thing that matches the current Subject and starts with the current Letter. The last player who can successfully finish naming a real, matching word that hasn't been said before the timer goes off moves forward 1 space.  Then, flip the next Letter card.  The player who played their Subject card draws a new card.

HOT POTATO:  Hot Potato cards play similar to normal rounds.  The difference is that once a player names their word and plays their subject card, the next player sitting clockwise says the next word.

CHALLENGES:  Occasionally, someone will slip up and say something dubious or completely ridiculous, or even finishes their word just as the buzzer goes off.  In this case, all players vote on whether the word was acceptable.  If the challenged player wins, they get the point.  If not, the previous word is given to the player.

CONCLUSION:  This is another game published by Buffalo Games.  And just like the last one, it is incredibly simple, with the free-for-all being the thing that tips it from a generic game to something vaguely interesting. It's great for an ice breaker or for those groups that don't really play a lot of board games.  The difference here is that unlike the last one, there's a lot of energy going on through this game. It's a little more competitive, and becomes just that more compelling to play.  Now, I don't really like simplifying my reviews into numbers, but this definitely scores higher than Likewise, if only that its just a little more energetic.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What on Earth is a Pretty Candy?! (Likewise)

What's the first thing that comes to mind when I say "Weird Pizza Topping"?  Maybe anchovies?  How about pineapple or bacon?  What about corn?  Well, if you guessed any of these answers that were thought up, then you might feel Likewise.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Likewise is a party game published by Buffalo Games for 3 to 6 players.  Players attempt to guess the most common choice everyone else would pick based on a set of clues.

SET-UP:  Each player takes a colored Paddle and marker.  Shuffle the red Subject cards and orange Description cards, and place them on the Scoreboard, and write each players name on the scoreboard in the name space of the color paddle they chose.  The player with the next birthday goes first

PLAY:  Roll the die to determine what "mode" is played, then flip 1 Subject and 1 Description card:

  • Likewise:  Everyone writes a secret answer that matches the Subject and Description, and reveals their answer when everyone has chosen something.  The players with the most matches each score 1 point, marked on the scorecard.
  • Doodle:  Instead of writing, draw something that matches the Subject and Description cards.
  • Wiseguys: The player who rolled picks a player, and discusses the Subject and Description cards.  Then, they play as a team for this round, giving only 1 answer.

TIES:  If 2 different answers have the same amount of matches, then every player who guessed one of those answers gets a point.  If 2 or more players get to the Winner Circle on the scoreboard and have the same amount of points, keep playing until one player has the most points.  The winner is the player with the most amount of points once at least one player gets to the Winner Circle

CONCLUSION:  This is a quick, easy to play, little party game that has a some interesting ideas.  It's short, so don't expect too much in the way of actual in depth gameplay.  It's good for an ice-breaker, or just to kill time or your group wants to play something a little different.  The way the game is set up allows for a more relaxed way to play, which can hinder or help the mood of the game.  The Subject and Description cards add an interesting element to a pretty basic game.  It's good as a travel game to play in the car or down time at a convention, but like I said, at the core is a very basic party game.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Can You Make it Fit? (In a Pickle)

The solar system.  It is beautiful, the planet's are perfectly in sync, orbiting the sun.  Home to all humans, large and small.  It is massive, holding our planet and everything in it.  Ah, but a model of the solar system could fit in a box.  Then a box could fit in a car.  And a car could be in a Pickle.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  In a Pickle was published by Gamewright in 2004.  It is a card game where players attempt to justify their plays that this thing can fit inside the previous thing.

SET-UP:  Each player is dealt 5 cards.  Then, 4 additional cards are placed to make a plus sign, with the arrows pointing out. Each card should be about a hand span away from the card opposite of its location.

SCALING:  Each turn, a player places 1 card either behind or on top of any card or pile, if the card played is smaller or larger, respectively.  You cannot ever play in between cards.  Then, at the end of each turn, draw back up to 5 cards.

CHALLENGES:  If a player wishes to challenge that a thing cannot fit in the other thing, then the player being challenged must first be allowed to defend their choice, free of criticism or discussion from the other players.  Then, each player votes Thumbs up or down.  If more thumbs up occur, then it passes, and play continues as normal.  If more vote down, then the card is discarded, and play continues to the left.

PICKLE ROUND:  Once a set of 4 cards have been played, a Pickle Round occurs.  You can only play on that pile of 4 during the Pickle Round.  You must also play on top of the pile, making it "larger" or fitting in the previous thing.  Once everyone has played, the Pickle Round ends

WINNING:  You win the Pickle Round if you are the player who has the largest card down.  Take the cards, deal a new card in the slot, and everyone draws back up to 5 cards.  The first player to obtain a set number of piles wins the whole game.

CONCLUSION:  This is a game that's great if you like wordplay, and more casual games.  Now, the rules are meant for younger players, but just a slight tweak or two makes it an enjoyable experience for all ages, such as continuing the Pickle Round more than one go through. You may want to be careful you play with less competitive players to allow for more wacky hi jinks, and more like minder people to avoid unnecessary conflicts with non-plays.  But if you can find those people, or your family likes word games, this is one that you could enjoy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Happy 50th (13 Dead End Drive)

49 posts have come and gone.  Some games were great while others were not as good.  For this one, I pondered over which game was worth such a monumental position.  After much time deliberating, I have found the one I wish to talk about, one of the first interesting, unique games I've ever played: 13 Dead End Drive.

GAME DESCRIPTION: 13 Dead End Drive is a board game developed by Milton Bradley in 1990.  Aunt Agatha has died without a successor, and her closest 11 friends and employees (and her cat) have come together to read the will to find out which one has been left the estate. Careful though, as various traps have been set, and we wouldn't want anyone to die and not get the fortune, would we?

SET-UP:  Place the board and trap pieces all together on their specific spots.  Put the detective outside, and all the characters on the red couch spot.  Place the Portrait cards in the frame and hang it up on the wall, then reveal the first character portrait.  Then, each player is dealt an equal amount of Character cards, kept hidden in their hand.  Finally, shuffle the Detective and Trap cards together.

MOVEMENT:  The first player takes the 2 dice and rolls them.  That player moves any 2 different character on the board, one per die, regardless of who has them in their hand. All characters must be moved off their initial Couch space before they can moved again.  Each piece can move Vertically or Horizontally 1 space, but not diagonally 1 space, and must be moved their entire roll.  Thick black lines represent walls, which characters cannot pass.  They also cannot move on a space they already moved to that turn, or where it is occupied by another character or a piece of furniture like a table or vase.  Once the characters are moved, the turn ends.

PORTRAITS:  The current character hung in the portrait is the favored heir.  The goal of the player with that character in their hand is to have that character escape, while everyone else tries to prevent them from doing so.

DOUBLES:  If a player rolls a double, then you may move the portrait card currently showing to the back of the frame.  You may then either move 1 character the total amount of both dice, or move 2 characters as normal.

TRAPS:  Trap spots are identified by a colored skull.  Once a Trap spot has been landed one, that player draws a Trap card.  If it is normal, they place it in their hand.  After movement, if the player has a Trap card that matches the trap landed on, they can use it to spring the trap and kill the character.  If a character is killed, remove the portrait of that character when it is revealed from the deck, and the player discards that chacter from their hand.  Reset the trap back into it's set place.

DETECTIVE:  Additionally, the player may draw a Detective card.  If one is drawn, it is discared along with any previously used Trap cards. Then, move the Detective piece one place.  The game ends when the detective reaches the Game Over piece on the porch.

SECRET PASSAGE:  If a character reaches a Secret Passage tile, identified with a trap door, then they may pass through it to another Secret Passage tile.  However, passing through a Secret Passage requires 1 movement.  In addition, as players cannot cross spaces they have the turn, A player can only use either Secret Passage used once per that character's movement.

WINNING:  The game is concluded when one of three things occurs:
  • A character can leave out the front door when their portrait is hanging on the wall.  The player with that character in their hand wins
  • If only one character remains alive, then that character in their hand wins.
  • If the Detective reaches the stoop, then the player with the currently displayed portrait wins.

CONCLUSION:  I still remember the first time I played this, the cat won as the last one standing.  I had managed to pull out a victory by pure luck.  As a childhood memory, it was wonderful.  I can see now that it is a little gimmicky, but the feel in the traps and the careful maneuvering did feel like a lot of fun, and it got me into really interesting, different games.  There was a sequel called 1313 Dead End Drive. I only ever played it once, but I still found it enjoyable.  I would love to see this in a digital form, maybe with a bit more fluid gameplay.  While I can't say that it has much staying power in our current Golden Age of board games, it is still worth checking out once in your life, especially if you're a fan of Betrayal at the House on the Hill.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

College the Card Game (Chez Geek)

Wake up, go to class, eat a "healthy" lunch, do homework, and go to bed.  Is that how you expected life on campus to be?  No!  You need to break from that dull routine, and have adventures.  Or more accurately, do as little as possible while still passing class.  It's now your mission in life to be the best slacker imaginable at Chez Geek.

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GAME DESCRIPTION:  Chez Geek is a card game by Steve Jackson for 2 to 5 players.  Each player takes the role of a geeky college student, with the goal being to get away with doing as little as possible, such as napping or watching TV.

SET-UP:  Each player is dealt 1 Job card face-up, and 5 Life cards from the deck to their hand.  At the start of each players turn, they draw until they have 6 cards in their hand.  All cards with Slack will stay in front of the player, such as People or Activities, in their Room.

JOB CARD:  Each player has a set Free Time, Income, and Slack Goal located on the Job card.  If a Job card have a "/" printed with 2 numbers on the Free Time or Income, then each turn, that player rolls a die/  If they roll a 3 or less, the lower number applies; but if they roll a 4 or higher, the higher number applies instead.  Each Job card's Free Time and Income may be spent, but is reset at the beginning of the turn.

FREE TIME:  Each player has a set amount of cards they can play determined by Free Time.  On the players turn, they may do an Activity, such as watch TV or have Nookie (which, apparently, is a type of snack).  They may also use their Free Time to go Shopping to buy cards like Booze and Food from their hands.  However, those also require spending Income depending on the card.

PERSON CARDS:  Each player may also call a Person to any Players Room, which does not require spending Free Time.  Instead, the player may only call them during the Call phase, which takes place before spending Free Time.  If no Slack is given from the person, they go in that Room automatically.  Otherwise, the player calling rolls the die.  On a 3-6, the call succeeds and goes into that Room.  On a 1 or 2, the call fails, and the card is discarded.

WHENEVER:  These cards are the only ones that can be played regardless of who's turn it is.  Some require a certain activity to be played in order to use them, whereas others can be played anytime to get their effect for the next event.  In most cases, these are usually discarded.

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SLACK GOAL:  Most cards have a Slack count in the top right corner.  Whenever a card with Slack enters your Room, gain that many Slack counters as points.  The player who manages to get Slack points equal to or greater than their Slack Goal on their Job card wins.

CONCLUSION:  Steve Jackson manages to pull out another solid title in Chez Geek.  It invokes a similar feel from things like Munchkin, but the gameplay is still as strong as ever, and the rules just as crazy.  Plus, there's still variations in expansions like Slack to the Future, and thematic changes in Chez Cthulhu and Chez Goth.  Steve Jackson is a giant among the tabletop industry, and Chez Geek shows you the reasons why.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

It's How You Say It (Moods)

I'm gonna give you a phrase, let's say..."May the force be with you."  Can you say it sarcastically?  How about sadly?  Now, can you say it Angrily?  How many other Moods can you say this phrase?

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Moods is a game developed by Hasbro for 3 to 8 players.  1 player attempts to read a line a certain way, while other players have to guess the specific way in which they spoke the line.

SET-UP:  Each player takes 1 colored Mood stone as their player token, and a set of 4 corresponding color Voting chips.  Then, take 10 Mood cards and place them on the board in the empty slots numbered from 0 to 9,  The remaining Mood cards, and the Phrase cards are next to the board in easy access of all players.

GAMEPLAY:  The first player rolls the 10 sided die in the die cup, hidden from the other players.  Then, they draw a Phrase card, and say it in the tone or style that matches the card next to the number rolled (e.g., if the player rolled a 4, and "aloof" was next to number 4, they say the phrase drawn in an aloof manner).

VOTING:  Each player takes 1 of their 4 vote tokens, and places it next to the Mood they think the player was going for.  If any player guesses right, then they move an amount of spaces equal to the number on the token, and the player who read the clue moves equal to the number of chips on the correct card.  Play then passes to the next player.

WINNING:  Once a player votes with any token, they cannot use that numbered token until they have used all 4 of their tokens.  The player or players that makes it into the Finish zone first win.

CONCLUSION:  This is the kind of game that people who like Imaginiff would like.  It's a game that requires a bit of a vocabulary (or smartphone), and a little bit of theatrical enjoyment.  It's not full on Quelf levels of looking ridiculous, but there is a little bit of that over-the-top performance that is required to fully enjoy this game.  If you like acting a bit silly, a bit hammy, then Moods is going to be a lot of fun for you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

They'll Make Anything Into a Card Game (Tetris: The Card Game)

Ah, the famous Tetromino.  A source of pride for many.  It can create feelings of accomplishment and wonder, or anger and frustration, depending on the shape.  Except that backwards Z one, no one likes you Back-Z.  We trained our minds to twist and turn these shapes, letting them fall where they may, hoping to get that one long one, and claim a victory.  Now, we shall dwelve past the digital realm of the Tetromino, and see the Card Game that is Tetris.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Tetris: The Card Game is designed for 1-4 players.  The goal is to clear the most lines and have all your cards face-down before anyone else does.

SET-UP:  Once the deck is shuffled, each player gets 10 random cards, with the single Tetromino (or Tetris piece) all face-up, in 2 rows of 5, called Score cards.  Then, each player is dealt 1 card into their hand, with the Tetromino side hidden from the other players.  The deck is then placed with the single Tetromino face down, so the Matrix is face up.

PLAYING:  When it is a players turn, they draw so they have 2 cards in their hand.  The current Matrix on the deck shows that players board.  Their goal is to play one of their cards so that it would clear 1 or more lines on that card.  Then, the player flips over an amount of their score face-down equal to the amount of lines that would have been cleared, and the turn passes to the next player.

PENALTY:  If a player cannot clear any lines, then they instead discard a card, and flip 1 of their score cards face-up.  If all their cards are face-up, then nothing else happens, and the turn passes to the next player.

SPECIAL:  There are also special cards which can be played instead of playing a Tetromino or discarding a card.

  • ROTATE:  Each player passes their hand to the next player
  • POWER-UP:  Replace this card from your hand with any players Score card, and play or discard 1 more card from your hand.
  • DROP 2/4:  Any player targeted by one of these cards flips either 2 or 4 cards, according to the number.
  • BOMB:  All other players flip a Score card face-up.
WINNING:  Once a player flips all 10 of their Score cards Tetromino side face-down

CONCLUSION:  Tetris: The Card Game isn't really Tetris.  Sure, it looks and feels like Tetris, but where planning and luck went hand and hand in the Video Game, the Card Game is more reliant on chance then careful maneuvering and playing 10 turns in advanced.  Still, the speed and relatively low price make up for the "lack of Tetris" in the game.  This is the kind of game easily played on a long trip, or during a short break.  Don't expect to sink hours into this game like most have in its original form, but I do recommend checking it out if it seems interesting.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  There is also a "Single Player mode". which I haven't had the chance to play.  It appears to be more of how quickly you can win, rather than competing with another player.  I don't feel that playing it is necessary, or even as enjoyable as with other people.  But take that with a grain of salt.  I do like the idea of including a way to play without other people, but it is hard to make a game that is enjoyable both on an individual level and with friends, so I appreciate Tetris trying to pull that off.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

NSFW Cyanide and Happiness: The Card Game (Joking Hazard)

Have you ever wanted a game that was a bit more adult than Apples to Apples, but more challenging than Cards Against Humanity?  Are you a fan of Cyanide and Happiness?  Got some friends? You should try in Joking Hazard, the random comic generator turned card game.  Joking Hazard is not liable for damages, floods, or the summoning of C'thulhu.  If games last more than four hours, consult your physician.

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GAME DESCRIPTION:  Joking Hazard is a card game for 3 or more players.  Each turn, players attempt to finish a 3 panel comic in the funniest way possible.

SET-UP:  Each player is dealt a set of 7 cards.  One player is takes the role of Judge for this round.  The Judge flips the top card from the deck.  There are two colored borders, red and black.  If the border is black, then the Judge plays a card from their hand, on either side of the first card.  Each player plays 1 card in a pile face-down to finish the comic.

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RED BORDER:  If the first card has a red border, the judge will not play this turn.  This is a Bonus Round, and players may now replace unwanted cards from their hand.  The red bordered card is now played at the end, and players must play their cards before the red bordered card.  Every other player plays 2 cards instead of just 1, with the bottom card being the first panel.  Note that players may not play a red bordered card from their hand during a Bonus Round.

WINNING:  Once all cards are gathered, the judge rewards a point to the player who made either the best or funniest comic. The first player to get 3 points wins, but continuous play is encouraged.  The fewer players, the more points you may want required to win.

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CONCLUSION:  If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you'll notice that I am not a big fan of "adult games", seeing them as easy, unfunny, and gross.  I've yet to review Cards Against Humanity because I don't see the fun in it.  Joking Hazard, however, manages to do something most NSFW games have failed to accomplish: It made me laugh, and laugh hard.  True, most of that is from the dark humor of the game, rather than the adult, but that still proves that it made a strong connection with me.  The comic aspect of Joking Hazard makes it a bit more of a challenge to make it funny instead of just "insert strange/dirty joke here", which most of these games rely on.   The jokes don't just work because a cheap laugh, they work because the players actually had to think about the layout of the jokes.  This is not a game for family members, but it has a lot more merit than most Adult party games I've played.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  I didn't have a chance or a place to discuss this, but the game also comes with a set "house rules" to change up how to play.  A lot of the house rules don't really change much, or just make the game more bizarre.  I never got a chance to play the house rules, but just an inclusion of them makes me realize how aware the creators are to how most people play.  Well done, Explosm, I tip my hat to you.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Riddle Me This (Crack the Case)

2 men are found in a cabin in the woods.  There are no signs of a struggle or murder.  The both are resting on chairs.  The cabin is made of metal, but there is no sign of any burns or lightning damage on the cabin or the 2 men.  How did they die?
The solution:  They died in an airplane crash.

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GAME DESCRIPTION: Crack the Case is a puzzle game for 2 or more players.  Players attempts to solve a mystery from a given scenario, by asking Yes/No questions and applying deductive reasoning.

SET-UP:  The cards are split into 3 difficulty levels, and 1 player is chosen to be the Moderator.  Players split up into 2 teams, and choose the difficulty of their Cases.  Each team takes turns solving a Case.  The Moderator reads each Case and Mystery aloud, reads the Solution and Story silently to themselves, and answers all questions given by the other players, or Investigators.

QUESTIONS:  Investigators may only ask Yes/No questions.  The Moderator may respond with 1 of 7 responses:

  • YES:  Answer is clearly yes.
  • NO:  Answer is clearly no.
  • YES AND NO:  Answer might be Yes or No, but not in a way most people would see it.
  • IRRELEVANT:  The question doesn't affect the Case or give any helpful information.
  • I DON'T KNOW:  The question may give information, but the answer isn't in the story or solution.
  • REPHRASE YOUR QUESTION:  Used if there are two questions in one, or a false assumption was made
  • DEFINE WHAT YOU MEAN BY:  Used to clarify a term or question, and help
Image result for crack the Case game

CLUES:  If the Investigators are at any point stuck, they may take a time penalty, and are given one of the clues located at the top of the card.  If they are still stuck, they can take the other clue for another penalty.  Each penalty is different, and specified according to the clue.  But, if an Investigator can prove they knew the information given before the clue was read, the time penalty doesn't apply.

CASE SOLVED:  At the end of each Case, the Moderator stops the clock, adds up any penalties, and awards the appropriate amount of points shown on the card to the team that played this case.  The game ends when each team has finished 3 Cases, with the winners being the team with the most points.  

CONCLUSION:  This is a fairly hard game, even if you only play the easy cases.  A lot of the Cases that are given are word-play, such as a mint and a plate being not a sugar mint and dinner plate, but a bank mint and money plate.  It requires a mind that likes to be challenged with difficult riddles and puns.  If you are that type of person, and can find some like minded friends, then this is a great, solid game.