Wednesday, July 19, 2017

They'll Never Stop The Simpsons (The Simpsons: Loser Takes All)

The Simpsons, a brief history:  The series began on a small, budding channel called Fox.  The Tracey Ulman show wanted short animated sketches between commercials and the actual show, so after finding Matt Groenings work, they hired him.  The rest, as they say, is history.  As of this review, 630 episodes aired or plan to air, with more likely coming.  With several Bart based Video games, and merchandise to fill the Grand Canyon, The Simpsons have become a legacy in our time.  But this week: LOSER Takes All!

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Loser Takes All is a game published by RoseArt for 2-6 players.  The objective is to end the game with the lowest score possible, giving away tokens and money to ensure you are the "loser".

SET-UP:  Each player starts with 10 Junk Food tokens 20 Simpsons Money.  Each player takes a Simpsons token and the 5 Character cards associated with that token.  Place your Character cards face-up in front of you, and place your token anywhere on the board.  The youngest player begins.

MOVING:  During their turn, the player spins the spinner and moves according to the directions.  If a number is rolled, the player may move any combination vertically and horizontally, but they may only make one direction change per turn, and they may NOT backtrack onto any previous space.

SPACES:  There ares several different kinds of spaces, including:

  • Event:  Follow the instructions on the board.
  • Hazard:  Marked with a Radiation symbol, these are generally negative.
  • Question:  May also be marked with a Question Mark.
QUESTIONS:  When a player lands on a Question space, they draw a Question List card and choose a player.  The turn player reads either the first or next question in the List out loud, and writes their answer down on a piece of paper, then the chosen player responds with the answer they think the turn player wrote down.  If the answers are closely matching, the chosen player flips 1 of their Character cards face-down.  If the answers are different, the turn player flips their Character card face-down.  The turn then ends.

WINNING:  Once a player has flipped all 5 of their Character cards face-down, the game ends.  Each player scores 1 point for each Simpsons Money bill and Junk Food token they collected, 3 points for each of that players character-card still face up, and if any player is located anywhere in the bottom row of the board at the end of the game, they add 5 points to their final score.  The player with the lowest score wins!

CONCLUSION:  Loser Takes all is a pretty mediocre game, very cut and dry, simple, by the books board game for the most part.  It takes no risks and no solid mechanics from its theme.  There are 2 things which really stand out, however.  Being able to move any direction on the board is intriguing, and makes for some possibly interesting strategy, if there was any real strategy here.  The other is the questions.  This could be a decent ice-breaker game at a Con or a get together with a new group.  But these alone can't save the game from being a pretty generic, non-Simpsony Simpsons game.  Try it out if you'd like, but there are more interesting Ice-Breaker games, and more interesting games in general.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tic Tac Chess (Tak: A Beautiful Game)

Chess, Shogi, Go, Stratego, all games that predate the 20th century, and have established their place in the world as strong, deep games with long lasting replayability.  However, what would require a new game like these to come into this world, one that makes people stop and think, "This game is a lot more complex than I first thought"?  We will find out the answer to this question together in Tak: A Beautiful Game.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Tak is a 2 player board game published by Cheapass Games, originally concieved by Pat Rothfuss in "The Wise Man's Fear", and created by James Earnest.  Players take turns creating roads and walls using simple pieces.

SET-UP:  First, determine the size of the board used, from 3x3 to 6x6, and 8x8.  Take the appropriate number of pieces, or Stones. Capstones are used only in boards 5x5 or larger.  Finally, choose a player to start at random.  That player takes 1 of their opponents pieces and places it.  The 2nd player does the same to the 1st player.

STONES:  The object of the game is to create a road from one side of the board to the other.  Players take turns doing one of two actions: Place or Move.  A player may place any Stone on any empty location on the board.  If the Stone is flat, it is part of a road.  If it is standing, it is a Wall.  Walls cannot be stacked on, do not count as part of a road, but may move.

MOVE:  Instead of placing, a player may instead move any Stone or stack of Stones 1 row horizontally or vertically onto a flat stone or an empty space, and continue moving down that row as long as the player leaves at least one stone along each space.  There is no limit to how tall the stack may be, but a player may only move a stack if their colored stone is on top, and only up to a number of pieces equal to the size of the board (in a 3x3 game, a player may move 3 stones maximum).

CAPSTONES:  In larger games, Capstones may also be used.  Capstones may be placed onto any empty space, just like ordinary stones. They may count as part of the road, and may not be stacked on.  A Capstone may move onto a Wall, and turn that Wall into a Road.  However, the Capstone must move alone to convert a Wall into a Road.

WINNING:  There are two ways to end a game.  The first is if either player creates an unbroken path using no diagonals from any end of the board to the other, that player wins.  The second ending is if either players run out of pieces, in which case the last player who played ends their turn, and the other player wins.

CONCLUSION:  As many might be aware, Tak was adapted from a novel, The Wise Man's Fear, as an equivalent to older games like Chess and Go.  It is my opinion that this game surpasses that expectation.  It feels like a game that would be re-discovered in modern times.  But as a game, it is simple in theory, deeply complex in practice.  Every move has you thinking about varying possibilities.  Honestly, I would love to see technology advance to a point where computers can play this exceptionally well.  If you love games like Chess, but maybe found it a bit hard to remember all the pieces movements, or you just want a change, I recommend this game heartily.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  2 Afterthoughts this week.  First, I was introduced to this game by my neighbor, and it would go amiss if I did not properly cite him.  Thank you Steve Johnson.  And if you are ever passing through Cedar City, Utah, feel free to check out his new store Noggin Games.  2nd, thank you to @robespierrette for a pointing out a couple rules I got wrong or failed to notice.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Sleepin' With the Fishes (Family Business)

So, ya wanna join our family, eh?  It's gonna take a lot more than a nice suit and a tough-guy attitude.  Ya gotta trim the fat, let go of those who can't support the family.  But ya gotta protect the Family's reputation, and make sure none of 'em go down.  It's just Family Business, see?

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Family Business is a card game published by Mayfair Games for 2-6 players.  Each player controls a Mafia Family using their influence in the law in order to keep their Family alive while eliminating the other families.

SET-UP:  Each player places their Family cards face-up in front, and is dealt 5 cards face-down for their hand, and must keep 5 cards in their hand.  Leave the box lid face-up, an empty space next to it at least 5 cards long.  Dealer starts the game.

TURNS:  On their turn, a player first draws a card, and either plays a card or discards by announcing "Pass".  There are 3 cards you can play.  An Attack card has a red border, and can be used to either place a Family Member card in the Hit List, or start a Mob War.  Green bordered Rescue cards can be used to remove or replace a Family Member from the Hit List back to the player, or end a Mob War.  Blue border cards are Counters, and can be used to prevent various cards.  If a Counter card is played, the player then takes the next turn.

MOB WAR:  If there are ever 6 or more Family Members in the list, or 6 or fewer Family Members in play, a Mob War starts.  At the end of each turn during a Mob War, Kill the Family Member at the front of the list, closest to the lid, by placing them in the lid to the RIP side.

WINNING:  Once all of a players' Family Members are Killed, the player is eliminated, and discards all their cards. Once only 1 player has a Family Member left in play, either in the Hit List or in front of the player, that player wins.

CONCLUSION:  Family Business is a lot of fun, and plays in a simple, easy to learn way.  However, it is just as cutthroat as you would expect from a Mafia game.  This is a game you'll want to play with close friends, or are willing to just accept defeat from other players. There's not much to say other than it's simple, pretty quick, and a lot of fun.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Arabian Nights, like Arabian Days (Shahrazad)

One more night, one more day to live.  Shahrazad crafts her stories so well, just to keep the king wanting to know more.  The stories live on, and continue to keep her alive.  However, who knows how much the king will like the next story?  Time will tell, and so will Shahrazad.

GAME DESCRIPTION: Shahrazad is a tile game published by Osprey Games for 1-2 players.  The goal is to play matching tiles to score points, either solo or cooperatively.

SET-UP:  Shuffle the tiles and place them face-down.  The player or players are dealt 2 tiles, and 1 is place face-up in the middle.  If playing with 2 Players, keep your hand secret, but you may discuss what is in your hand without revealing it.

TURNS:  A turn consists of drawing 1 tile from the deck, and placing it face-up directly above or below a tile, or in the next row to the left or right touching the tile and offset half-way up or down the tile.  Alternatively, a player may swap a tile from their hand instead of playing a tile, but they must play 2 tiles next turn, and cannot swap that turn.  In a single player game, columns have a max limit of 4, whereas with 2 players the max limit is 3.

SCORING:  Each tile is 1 of 4 colors: red, black, yellow, and blue.  Each tile also has a number in the top corners, and the goal is to play the numbers left to right from lowest to highest.  If there is a tile that has a lower number to its right, flip over the higher number.  Then, follow the tiles from left to right as a path.  Any tile that does not make from the far left tile(s) to the far right tile(s) is flipped, and gaps and flipped over tiles do not count.  If an entire column is flipped, score 0 points for that round.  Finally, count how many tiles of matching colors there are for each color, and score once for each color, and the highest amount of matching tiles of that color.

POINTS:  Once you have scored, remove any face-down tiles for the rest of the game, shuffle and re-deal.  Once you have played and scored 2 rounds, the game is over.  Add up both sets of points to determine your final score.

CONCLUSION:  Shahrazad is a score attack game, where the object is less about winning and more about personal challenge.  This game is going to appeal to a very small demographic, especially since games like Solitaire exist, making it easier to play with a standard deck instead of having to buy a whole new game.  This game is also designed to be played with 1 player more than it is with a friend.  The restriction of 3 tiles per column just adds to the difficulty, even if you now have twice as many tiles as before.  Shahrazad is a niche game, but I can see the appeal, if only for solo players.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How to Steal Their Dragon (Dragonology)

Good morning, intrepid adventure!  How would you like to travel to exotic lands, meet fantastical creatures far beyond your imagination, and perhaps even discover untold riches, hmmm?  That's right, this can all be yours, if you act now!  Just grab your Journal, and come join fellow thrill-seekers like yourself in Dragonology!

GAME DESCRIPTION: Dragonology is a Board Game published by Sababa Toys, and based on the fictional encyclopedic book Dragonology book.  The object of the game is to search the globe for information on Dragons to become the Master Dragonologist.

SET-UP:  Each Dragon is placed on the board in its specific location.  Each player is dealt 1 red Bit of Knowledge card and 3 Transportation Tickets.  The rest are placed face-down on the board.  Each player reveals their Bit of Knowledge card and places their figure in the City indicated on the card.  Then, each player rolls the Dragon Die.  The player with the highest roll goes first, with the Dragon's Eye being the highest number.

MOVEMENT:  To move, the player may either roll the die, or discard 1 Transportation Ticket.  If the die is rolled, the player moves that many spaces, or to any Dragon's home city if the Dragon's Eye is rolled.  If the player discards a Ticket, they may move according to the Ticket used:
  • Air (Hot Air Balloon & Airplane):  The player may move to any space on the board.
  • Sea (Steamboat):  The player may move from one Port, indicated by an anchor symbol, to any connecting Port over any blue Ocean/Sea spaces
  • Land (Locomotive, Camel, Elephant, & Stagecoach):  The player may move to any space in that continent.
SPACES:  When landing on a space, there are 4 actions that can happen.  Landing on a blank does nothing.  Landing on a Port, City, or Dragon's Home allows the player to draw a Bit of Knowledge or Transportation Ticket.  If a player lands on a "B", they draw a Bit of Knowledge card, and if they land on a "T", they draw a Ticket.

DRAGONS:  Once a player has collected 3 matching Bit of Knowledge cards about a specific dragon, they then must either use a Ticket, or roll exactly to land on that Dragon's home.  Then, they discard those Bit of Knowledge cards and collect, or Master, the Dragon figure.

KNOWLEDGE:  If a player lands on a space with another player, they may trade cards, or Bump them.  A Bump Challenge is conducted by the challenging player wagering any number of Cards OR Tickets in Rock, Paper, Scissors.  The winner takes all wagered cards.  In addition to Dragon Bit of Knowledge cards, there are special Spells and Charms Bit of Knowledge cards that have various effects:
  • Wild:  This card may be used as any third Dragon Bit of Knowledge card.
  • Snatch:  Steal a random Bit of Knowledge from any player.
  • Hypnotize:  The player may request a specific Dragon's Bit of Knowledge card from any one player.  If they have it, the player gives 
  • Master Claw:  If a player lands on a Dragon's home that has already been collected, they may steal the Dragon from the player.
  • Déjà vu: Take another turn.
  • Confusion:  Take all others players Bit of Knowledge cards, shuffle them and deal them out, not including yourself, 
  • Swoop:  Move another players piece to any space.  This may only be played if the player has collected any of the following dragons: American Ampithere, Cockatrice, European Dragon, Frost Dragon, Gargouille, Marsupial Dragon, or Wyvern.
  • Shield:  This protects a player from Bump Challenges, Snatch, or Hypnotize.  This effect can only protect against one card per Shield.

DRAGON'S EYE:  Once a player has collected 3 Dragons, they can then advance to the Island of Winged Serpents.  If a player rolls the die to land there, they must roll the exact number to land of the Island.  Once a player has landed on the Island, they are immune to all Spells and Charms.  Then, during their turn, if the player rolls the exact number of spaces or a Dragon's Eye, they reach the Dragon's Eye on the board.  If they roll lower, they advance that many spaces, and must wait until their next turn to attempt to reach the Eye.  If they roll higher, the player stays there, and attempts to roll the next turn.  The player that manages to reach the Dragon's Eye on the board with 3 or more Dragons wins, and signs their name on the Record Sheet, stored in the Secret Envelope.

CONCLUSION:  Dragonology is a beautiful game, with cards reflecting its theme well, a gorgeous board, and detailed figurines that are better than some Mini-figs I've seen.  The problem comes down to its gameplay: It feels like every bland board game ever created.  For how pretty the game looks, the generic gameplay kills it.  Now, this wouldn't be so bad if the gameplay was shorter, but games tend to last at least an hour or so.  If you have kids who are interested in dragons, it's worth playing once or twice.  Otherwise, the only way I can recommend it is if you can find it at a thrift store for cheap, and only for the figurines.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"I know what it's like to be Hilter!" (Secret Hitler)

There is a man, wandering the streets of Munich, observing the Regime.  The man pulls his cap a little lower, and tightens his coat against the cold.  The man smiles at the quality of Polizei, his little mustache twitching.  This is the ultimate Undercover Boss, for this man is Secret Hitler.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Secret Hitler is a Social Deduction game published by Goat Wolf & Cabbage for 5-10 players.  Each player is either a Fascist, a Liberal, or Hitler.  The Fascists and Hitler attempt to establish Fascist Polices before the Liberals establish their Policies.

SET-UP:  Place the Fascist track that corresponds to the number of players and place it next to the
Liberal track.  Then each player is dealt an envelope containing a Ja! (Yes) and Nein (No) card, and 1 randomly dealt Party Membership Card, according to the number of players.
For 5-6 Players:  All players then close their eyes, and the Fascists and Hitler open their eyes and reveal themselves to one another.
For 7-10 players:  All players then close their eyes, and the Fascists open their eyes and reveal themselves to one another. Hitler keeps his eyes closed, but raises his hand so the fascists can see who he is.

ELECTION:  At the beginning of each round, the President placard moves clockwise to the next player, who is now the new Presidential Candidate.  That player then chooses the next Chancellor by passing the Chancellor placard to any other player who was not elected President or Chancellor last round.  Then, all players vote on the proposed Presidency and Chancellorship.  Each player takes either a Ja or Nein card and places it face-down.  If there is a tie or the majority chooses Nein, the next player is President Elect, and the Election Tracker is moved forward one.  If the majority chooses Ja, the President and Chancellor are now elected.

TRACKER:  The Tracker gets reset once any Policy is enacted.  If the Tracker is moved 3 times, so that the players reject 3 Presidents/Chancellors in a row, reveal the top Policy and enact it.  Any power normally given is ignored, but all players are now eligible to be President or Chancellor.

LEGISLATION:  If a President and Chancellor are chosen, then the Legislation round begins.  The President draws 3 cards from the Policy deck.  The President then discards 1 face-down, and passes the remaining 2 to the Chancellor.  The Chancellor then discards 1 of them face-down, and places the last one to the appropriate board to enact it.  If at any time there are less than 3 Policy cards, shuffle the deck with the previously discarded Policies to create a new deck.

EXECUTIVE ACTION:  At various points, when a Policy is enacted and placed on the board, the President gets a power that triggers immediately, and must be used to begin the next round.  These powers are:

  • Investigate Loyalty:  The chosen selected player passes their Party Membership card (not Secret Role card!) to the President.
  • Call Special Election:  The President chooses the next President.  Once that Presidency is over with, pass it back to the player who would have been President (If that player was the President, they are President again).
  • Policy Peek:  The President secretly looks at the top three tiles in the Policy deck and then returns them to the top of the deck without changing the order.
  • Execution:  One player is selected and killed.  They cannot speak about or participate in the game.  The player must announce truthfully if they are or are not Hitler.  No other information is given.

WINNING:  The Fascists win once either Hitler is elected Chancellor after three Fascist Policies
have been enacted or 6 Fascist Policies have been enacted.  The Liberals win once 5 Liberal Polices have been enacted, or Hitler is ever killed.

CONCLUSION:  This is one of the best hidden role games I've ever played, bar none.  This is the game that made me want to review tabletop games.  It has a strong theme and solid mechanics.  There is always something going on, it never feels like there's much slowdown, which is rare for these types of games.  There's always a goal, and a push to drive towards that goal.  But there's also that feeling of freedom that you might be able to get away with it if you're just clever enough, just sneaky enough not to give anything away. And that feeling exists on the other side, that if you can just read the signs well enough, you can unmask Hitler.  Obviously, those who struggle reading people and don't enjoy these types of games should stay away.  However, if you do enjoy Mafia, Are You A Werewolf, and other games like them, then this is a strong contender.  Just, good luck finding enough people to play it.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  Secret Hitler is available for purchase or Print and Play by following the link here.  Thank you to Totalbiscuit and the Co-optional Lounge (link here) for getting me started on doing tabletop game reviews.  Also a big thanks to Jesse Cox for the title.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Don't Go Bacon My Heart (Pass the Pigs)

Don't be dis-gruntled by all these puns, just enjoy the game.  But be careful, there may be Truffle ahead.  Expect a twist in the tale.  And when it's time to Pass the Pigs, don't do it so ham-fisted.  After all, we don't need Pulled Pork.  

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Pass the Pig is a "Dice" game published by David Moffat Enterprises for 2 or more players.  Players attempt to gather points by rolling the Pigs.

PIGS:  The game contains a scorepad, pencils, and 2 small plastic Pigs.  Each turn, one player rolls the pigs onto a flat surface.  The player gains points depending on the position of the pigs.  If a pig is on its side, it gives the player 0 points.  If it's on its back, or standing up, it gives the player 5 points.  If on its snout, 10 points.  If its on both snout and ear, 15 points.

COMBOS:  In addition, if both Pigs are rolled in a specific pattern, the player will get more points.  For example, if both Pigs are lying on their back, then the player gets 20 points instead of just 10.  However, if the Pigs land touching each other, or if one is lying on its left side, and the other on the right, that player loses all points gained that round and the Pigs are passed to the next player.

WINNING:  At any point, a player may stop their roll, and keep the points that they gained that round.  Any player can win when they stop at a predetermined set of points.  However, if a player manages to roll the Pigs so that one Pig lands completely on top of the other, resting all 4 feet on the others back which is also on all 4 feet, then the player is out of the game.

CONCLUSION:  This is a strange game indeed.  It definitely plays similar to games like Zombie Dice.  However, whereas those games are built as dice games, this one feels less balanced.  According to Wikipedia, just landing on the highest points is a less then 1% chance to get it.  Because of that, it seems like there's something a bit too gimmicky.  And yet, I still enjoy it.  Maybe the gimmick is something I like, as a novelty.  I wouldn't recommend playing this weekly, but give it a chance, you might not think it so hogwash.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  Thanks to Lizzy-thelizzard Gaming for the bevvy of Pig puns strewn throughout this review!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Keep Calm and Slay the Intruders (Castle Panic)

So, against better judgement, you've built your castle right in the middle of a monster infested forest.  No, don't give me that look, sire. We both know that if you really wanted, you could have built it anywhere else, instead of being blinded on all sides by thick forest.  But don't panic, this castle will be a lovely monument to your *cough* bravery forever.  That is, if it doesn't get torn down first.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Castle Panic is a co-operative strategy board game published by Fireside Games for 1 to 6 players.  Players work together to defend their castle from jealous enemy monsters. There are 3 modes to play, but this review will only cover Standard.

SET-UP:  The game board contains 5 labeled rings going inward, and is split into 6 numbered segments.  Place 1 Tower into each of the 6 segments, separated into 3 colors, in the Castle Ring, and 1 Wall in between the Castle and Swordsman Ring.  Take 3 Goblin Monster Tokens, 2 Orc Monster Tokens, and 1 Troll Monster Token.  Place only 1 Monster Token in each segment in the Archer Ring, with the highest number on the token facing the castle.  Shuffle the Castle cards, and deal cards face-up to each player, with the number dependent on the number of players.  Place the rest of the deck face-down.  Finally, turn all the Monster Tokens face-down and mix them up.

STARTING:  The turn player starts by drawing back up to your hand limit, which is usually ignored at the first turn.  Then, the player may discard 1 card and draw a replacement in its place, or skip this step.  The 3rd step allows trading between players.  If there are 2 to 5 players, a player can only make one trade per turn.  With 6 players, a player may trade either 2 cards with the same player or trade with 2 different players.

FIGHT:  During this turn, the turn player may play as may cards as they wish and are able.  A player may attack any monsters not in the forest during this turn by playing the card that matches both the color and Ring of the location of the monster.  Rotate the token so the next lowest number is facing the castle to indicate 1 damage taken, unless otherwise stated on the card.

SLAYING:  Once a Monster Token is at 1, and takes damage, it is removed from the board and given to the player who slayed it as a Trophy.  Any Monster that is slayed from a Boulder or other event is not given to any player.

MOVEMENT:  Once the player cannot or chooses not to play anymore cards, every Monster Token advances 1 Ring forward.  Any Monster that gets to a Wall destroys the Wall and takes 1 damage.  If the Wall is fortified, the Fortification token is removed, and the Monster takes 1 damage.  If there is no Wall, the Monster advances into the Castle Ring, and that Castle is destroyed and the monster takes 1 damage.

REINFORCEMENT:  Once the Monsters have moved, the player flips over 2 Monster Tokens and places them into the Forest Ring, the location determined by dice roll.  There are also special tokens, such as Boss Monsters.  Boss Monsters also have special effects detailed in the rules, and can be identified by the gold background behind their damage points.  There are also Plague tokens, which discards the indicated card from everyone's hands.  There are also Tokens that rotate every Monster one number clockwise/counter-clockwise, move Monsters forward in a specific color, or force the player to draw more Monster Tokens.

GIANT BOULDER:  The Giant Boulder rolls down a numbered segment determined by dice roll, and destroys any Monsters it passes until it hits and destroys either a Wall, Tower, or Fortification.  If none of these things are in the way, it continues through to the other side and destroys any other enemies and stops after it hits the next Forest ring.

FINISHING:   If the Monsters manage to destroy all Wall and Castle segments, the players lose.  If the players manage to play and slay all 49 Monsters, the players win.  In that case, each player adds up the highest number on each of their Trophies.  The player with the highest number of points is now the Master Slayer.

CONCLUSION:  I am a sucker for Co-operative games.  This is probably one of the first ones I've ever played, and it plays well.  The game is punishing and difficult, but not terribly so.  Castle Panic has enough randomness and player support to make it work.  However, it is still a strategy game, which means that even though you can have players help and guide you, or just straight up tell you what to do, if you don't enjoy turn based strategy, it won't be fun.  This is the kind of game that changes on a whim, and well laid plans can be swept out from under you in a heartbeat.  Still, with a solid group of friends who understand long term strategy, you should at least attempt it, if only to see if you like strategy games or not.

AFTERTHOUGHTS:  There are 2 more variations of play of Castle Panic.  The first, Co-op, just eliminates Trophies, so it might be good to play with younger people who struggle with this game, or players who have a habit of ruining a plan so they can score.  The other version, Overlord, seems to make it more of an asynchronous 1 vs 3-5 game, which might be fascinating to try.

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.