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!