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.

Image result for chez geek

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.

Image result for chez geek

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.