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.