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Gaming Bits: DC Deck Building Game: Crisis Expansion Pack 4 Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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DC Deck Building Game: Crisis Expansion Pack 4 is an expansion for the DC Deck Building Game by Richard Brady and Matt Dunn, published by Cryptozoic Entertainment. It is for 1-5 players. This expansion adds 6 new hero cards and 8 new crisis hero cards, as well as 9 Impossible super villains and 4 crisis only super villains. It also adds 32 new cards for the main deck and 12 personal crisis cards.

For more information on the many different DC Deck Building Game core sets that this product can be used with, please check out the link below.

If you've never played the DC Deck Building game, let me take this opportunity to quickly explain the basics of how a core box set is played. Each player begins with 7 punch cards and 3 vulnerabilities to create their starting deck. They also begin the game with one of the many different variety of DC super heroes, or Villains if using the Forever Evil core set. The main deck of cards is shuffled together and the top 5 cards are flipped over and placed in a row known as the lineup. The Kick and Weakness cards are placed in separate stacks above the lineup along with a stack of Super Villain cards. The Super Villain cards are shuffled together and 7 cards are randomly placed face down with one specific card placed face up on top. The specific villain card is usually noted in the rulebook for that particular core set. Players shuffle their deck and draw 5 cards to begin the game. On a player's turn, they will be playing cards from their hand to gain power which can be used to buy cards from the lineup, the kick pile or even defeat villains with. Some cards will also give special abilities which will further aid the players. Each time a card is purchased or defeated, it's placed in the player's discard pile and will create an even more power, helping the player to earn more points to be able to purchase more powerful cards with and defeat even stronger villains. Each player's Super Hero will also provide them with special powers that can be used during their turn. Players continue adding cards to their decks and defeating villains until the final super villain is defeated. When that happens, players add up all their victory points from the cards in their decks to find their total. The player with the most points is the winner.

With a basic knowledge of how the game works, it's time to look at this expansion to see exactly what it adds to the game. For those players already familiar with any of the previous 3 Crisis expansions, much of this will be very familiar. With the Crisis expansions there are 2 different modes of play that may be utilized. There's the Competitive mode and the Crisis mode. Competitive mode is played pretty much the same way as the basic game, just with new main deck cards sprinkled in to the top half of the deck. Any of the new oversized Super Hero cards can be used by players, however it's recommended to leave out the Crisis Super Heroes. The new Impossible super villains cards may also be used, however the Crisis super villains should also be left out of the competitive game. In Crisis mode players will be working together while dealing with Personal Crises. This mode of play is a little bit different and takes a bit more explanation.

Crisis Mode is set up much the same way as the basic game, with a few exceptions. Instead of 8 Super Villains, the number of Super Villain cards that are used are determined by the number of players. The fewer the players, the more villains to contend with. Instead of the basic Super Villain cards, Crisis mode utilizes the Impossible Super Villain cards. To set up the stack, the Trigon card is placed face down. The Slade Wilson card is set aside and all the remaining Impossible Super Villain cards are shuffled together. A certain number are then placed face down on top of the Trigon card, as noted in the rulebook and based on the number of players. Slade Wilson is then placed face up on top of the stack, which is then placed beside the stack of Kick cards above the lineup. Any remaining Super Villain cards are returned to the box. The Personal Crisis cards are shuffled together and placed face down beside the Super Villain stack. Each player is dealt 1 Personal Crisis card which is placed face up in front of them. Once these additional steps to the normal setup have been completed, play now begins.

Much of the gameplay for Crisis Mode is exactly the same as in Competitive mode, or the basic mode of play for any of the core sets. There are however a few differences. For instance, when you buy or gain a villain card from the line up, normally you would put these into your discard pile. In this mode, you simply destroy it. Destroyed cards are not the same as cards that are removed from the game. Destroyed cards are still a part of the game and may be interacted with. Removed from the game cards are returned to the box and can not be interacted with any more. If you defeat a super villain, you will do the same thing as buying or gaining a regular villain except that you will also gain a Personal Crisis, more on these in a moment. Another note on super villains is that you can't defeat a super villain until there are no more villains face up in the line up. Another change in this mode is refilling the line up. Instead of filling each empty slot during the end of a player's turn, only the top card from the main deck is added to the line up at this time. This means that the line up will fluctuate as the game goes on. The last change is with Impossible Super Villains. These are much stronger and harder to defeat villains. When playing with these, if a Weakness is destroyed, it is returned to the stack of Weakness cards. Also if a card needs to be added to the line up from the main deck and there aren't any to add, the game is over and the players lose.

Earlier I mentioned Personal Crisis cards, these cause negative effects and many times hinder the player in lots of different ways. First, at the beginning of a player's turn, the top card of the main deck is destroyed for each Personal Crisis card that the player has. This depletes the deck faster causing the players to lose quicker. To remove these from play, they must be beaten. These cards are beaten by following the directions at the bottom of the card that say, "To Beat". This involves placing cards from your hand next to or under the Personal Crisis card that meet the requirements. It should be noted that other players may contribute to their team mate's Personal Crisis cards as well. Once the requirements to beat the card have been met, all the cards contributed to it are removed from the game and the Personal Crisis card is placed in the Crisis discard pile beside the Personal Crisis stack.

In this game, a new Keyword is introduced; Unity. These cards are easily identified by the large U in the text of the card. These cards will usually provide a benefit to the players when the card is played. The more Unity cards that are in play, the more powerful they become. For instance, the Super Power, "Titans Together" allows the player to gain +2 power for each Unity card that they play, including the "Titans Together" card.

With Crisis mode, the game continues with players taking turns defeating villains and purchasing cards until one of two things happens. If all the Super Villains in the stack have been beaten before the main deck runs out, the players win. If a card from the main deck needs to be added to the line up and there are no more cards to draw from, the players lose.



COMPONENTS
This expansion comes with lots of new cards that can be added to any of the DC Deck Building Game core sets. There are 14 oversized character cards; 8 Crisis heroes and 6 regular heroes. The Crisis heroes are new versions of the characters in the Teen Titans core set which have new powers. The new heroes are Arsenal, Donna Troy, Nightwing, Omen, Tempest and the Flash. There are 9 new Super Villain cards that may be fought against, as well as 4 Crisis Super Villains which are only used when playing Crisis mode. There are also 32 new main deck cards that can be added to the game for either Crisis or Competitive mode. Finally there are 12 Personal Crisis cards. Each card in this expansion is based on characters from the Teen Titans comics from the DC comics universe. The Personal Crisis cards focus on specific storylines from those comics. The look and feel of each card is really amazing looking. The artwork looks like it was ripped straight from the pages of the comics. The designs are exactly like those in previous sets and expansions so that these are easily added to any set. One more thing of note is that the expansion also comes with a randomizer card that can be used with the Multiverse set, as well as a plastic divider with the same image as the one that's on the box. This divider is great for keeping the expansion separated from the rest of your expansions and sets in the Multiverse box. Honestly, I've always liked the characters from the Teen Titans comics so to expand on the characters in the Teen Titans core set is a major plus in my book. I especially like the addition of Arsenal, which means I can use Green Arrow and Arsenal together in the game. If it's not been completely obvious by this point, let me state that this expansion works best with the Teen Titans core set but can be used with any set. Overall the cards work together really well and look amazing. I am very pleased with the look and feel of everything that comes with this expansion.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this expansion isn't all that big. Those players familiar with any of the previous Crisis expansions will find the size of those rulebooks similar to this one. The book goes over both the Crisis mode and the Competitive mode. For Competitive mode, there's only a small paragraph explaining it, while Crisis mode covers a couple of pages. Instructions for using Personal Crisis cards, Impossible Super Villains are also covered in great detail, as is the new keyword Unity. There are a couple of pages that are devoted to clarifying how certain cards work from the oversized Super Hero cards to the Impossible Super Villains, new main deck cards and Personal Crisis cards. The book also includes a few frequently asked questions that go a little more in detail on certain subjects that may come up while playing. The back cover of the book features a handy reference for playing Crisis Mode, as well as for using Impossible Super Villains. As for the rules, I feel like everything is explained rather well. There should be anything difficult to understand about using this expansion. There aren't a whole lot of pictures in the book. What's here is just a few pictures of some of the cards. There's only one or two examples of gameplay in the book, which is fine as there's not much that should need additional explaining. Overall I feel like the rulebook gets the job done in a small and compact way without a whole lot of reading required. I'm fairly pleased with the results.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
As most of you know by now, I'm a huge fan of the DC Deck Building Game. I've played pretty much everything that has been out for the game since it first came out. Mostly this is due to my love for the DC comics universe. While I enjoy all the various costumed heroes and villains, I have to say that the Teen Titans have always been some of my favorite characters. I always liked Robin/Nightwing, Starfire, Raven and Donna Troy. Over the years the characters have grown and changed. I still like the Titans though, so for me this expansion paired with the Teen Titans core set is absolutely gold. I like that this has two different ways to play with the Crisis mode and Competitive. Of course the competitive mode is great for playing with friends that simply want a quick and simple game to play with the DC characters. This expansion allows you to add a stack of new cards to the main deck and change up the game a bit without going to overboard. The Crisis mode allows you to really get into the game. I wouldn't recommend playing this way with your casual players. It can be rather tough, especially with those Impossible Super Villains. They are called Impossible after all. Those Personal Crisis cards really throw a monkey wrench into what you're doing too. Needless to say, you can find yourself losing several times without blinking. However I really enjoy the challenge. With the Crisis mode, you can also play the game solo which is awesome. Speaking of solo, yes the solo mode is a lot of fun. It's a bit of a challenge but I love a good challenge. I can't forget to mention the new Unity keyword either. I like how that the more of these cards that you play the more power and abilities you're able to generate. Once you get a stack of these rolling, it makes those super villains a bit easier to beat. Needless to say, I'm sure you've figured out by now that I really enjoy this expansion. I'm pretty sure that fans of the DC Deck Building Game, especially the Teen Titans set, will love what this brings to the table. This is an expansion that I would highly recommend. For me, it's a most definite must have.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
DC Deck Building Game: Crisis Expansion Pack 4 is an expansion for the DC Deck Building Game. It's compatible with any of the core sets but has a special connection with the Teen Titans set. It adds adds 6 new hero cards and 8 new crisis hero cards, as well as 9 Impossible super villains and 4 crisis only super villains. It also adds 32 new cards for the main deck and 12 personal crisis cards that are all centered around the Teen Titans. The game length varies depending on the mode of play chosen and the number of players. Most game sessions last between an hour and two hours. The cards that come with this expansion are absolutely gorgeous. I especially like the addition of new characters like Arsenal and Donna Troy. The images on each card look like something ripped from the pages of a DC comic. The new mechanics of the Personal Crisis cards and the new Unity keyword create new challenges and new ways to play an already great game. Thematically I think that the expansion capitalizes on the themes and feelings of the Teen Titans comics quite well. Needless to say, I absolutely love this expansion. Fans of the DC Deck Building Game, especially the Teen Titans core set, should really enjoy this expansion. I highly recommend this one. It's a must have. Now back to more teenage angsty drama.
9 out of 10


For more information about this and other great games, please check out Cryptozoic Entertainment at their site.

http://www.cryptozoic.com/
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Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:20 pm
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Gaming Bits: Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy is a game by Ryan Lambert, published by Adam's Apple Games. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players take on the role of food truck owners as they send their food trucks to different venues in an attempt to haul in as much money as possible. Of course their rivals will be trying to do the same thing and may find a way to get either their food truck or the venue shut down keeping them from earning any money. In the end, the player that can navigate the venues and earn the most money will be declared the winner.

To begin, a number of Venue Tiles are placed in the middle of the play area in a row. The specific tiles used are determined by the number of players. The corresponding Venue Die is then placed onto each tile. Each player chooses a food truck and is given the corresponding set of Action Cards and Food Truck tokens. If a specific Venue Tile is not being used due to fewer players, then each player will remove the Food Truck tokens that have those numbers on the back of them. Players will also discard the same 2 Action Cards from their stack based on whether they want to play a game with more or less of the "Take That" mechanic. The Money Tokens are placed into corresponding piles. The Round Tracker Card is placed near the middle of the play area and a 1 money token is placed on round 1. The first player is chosen and is given the first player token. Play now begins.

The game is played over 5 rounds. Each round consists of 5 steps; select trucks, roll dice, select actions, execute actions and resolve payouts. The first step is to select trucks. To do this, each player will secretly choose 2 of the venues that they wish to sell their food to for the round. They will place their 2 food truck tokens with the corresponding numbers on them in front of themself with the number side face down. Once everyone has chosen 2 food trucks, all players will then reveal their numbers and will place their token below the corresponding venue in a row. For the next step, the die for each venue will be rolled once. The number rolled equals the total venue payout in money. In the third step, players will select actions. This is done simultaneously. Each player will choose any of their action cards that they wish to play for the round. These cards are placed in the player's hand, while the any unchosen action cards are placed face down on the table in front of them with their inactive food truck tokens placed on top of them. Once players have completed this step, it's time to move on to the fourth step; execute actions. In this step, each player in turn order will reveal one of the action cards from their hand and will complete the action described on it. Once the action has been completed, the player will place the action card into their discard pile. It should be noted that a player may choose not to execute an action on one of their action cards. In this case, the player may simply discard the card instead of using it. This continues with each player playing action cards until all of the players have used all of the action cards in their hand. If a player has no action cards remaining in their hand, they must pass until all players have used each of their action cards. The final step is to resolve payouts. For this step, each truck at a venue will earn an even payout that is equal to the total venue payout divided by the number of trucks. For example: if a venue has 3 trucks an the venue die result is a 6, then each truck would receive 2 money tokens. If there are any payout reminders, these are discarded at this time. Once each venue's payout has been resolved, each player will take back all of their food truck tokens and any game play tokens. The first player token is then passed to the next player in turn order and a new round begins.

The game continues until the end of the fifth round. Once the last round has been completed, players will add up all of their money. The player with the most money is the winner.



COMPONENTS
The game comes with a lot of different pieces. First off there's a bunch of small punchboards inside the box. These contain all of the cardboard pieces for the game including food truck tokens, venue tiles, money tokens and game play tokens. Each cardboard piece is fairly thick and durable. The food truck tokens have a venue number on the back and a specific look for each of the 6 different player's trucks. There's Game Jammin, Sashimi Rollin', Figtown, BeeBeeQ, The Great Frijolio and Fry Hard. Each one has a very unique look which also makes it's way onto the player's action cards in terms of flavor text. The money and game play tokens are double sided but have the same image on both sides. The game play tokens look like little ketchup and mustard bottles which is pretty darn cool. The venue tiles have some unique artwork that reminds me a bit of the artwork in the game Suburbia. It's not very detailed but gives a real feel of what the venue is supposed to be. The game also comes with a fairly good sized stack of cards. There are action cards that correspond with the player's food trucks and have the same stylized coloring and designs on them. There's also a stack of Daily Specialty cards which add a bit of depth to the game but don't have any real artwork to them. These are kind of like event cards and affect their corresponding venue when they take effect. The final pieces are the colored venue dice and the wooden first player token. The dice and Daily Specialty cards have somewhat similar colors to let you know which venue they belong to while the venue tiles have a dice icon on them showing which die belongs with it. The first player token is kind of a teal blue food truck. Based on the look of the game box, I honestly thought that the game was going to be a bunch of paper craft trucks or something. I thought, "man, I hope I'm up to the task of putting these things together." Thankfully the components were not paper craft so there was no assembly needed. I rather like the images and the artwork for the game. It's very minimal but fits in quite well with the overall design of the game. Overall I think it's a much better looking game than what the actual box cover makes you think is gonna be inside. I'm fairly pleased with the look and feel of this one.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is fairly well designed and is quite easy to read. The text is a bit larger than most rulebooks of this size so it's easy for those with vision trouble to see fairly easily. There's a good amount of pictures and examples throughout the book, which is quite helpful. The book does a fair job of explaining the setup process, as well as providing a step by step overview of a round of play. Each step is explained rather well. The rules also include the Daily Special variant which adds in the Daily Special cards which I described a bit more in detail in the components section. There's also special rules for playing with only 2 players, which add in a 3rd artificial player. The back of the book contains a list of action cards and explains what each one does. This is a rather nice reference to have on the table when playing the game. It's actually quite helpful. I did find one small issue though. On the back, the action cards that are supposed to be low in the "take that" mechanic are shown as Place Another Truck and Trigger a Venue Payout. In the the setup rules, it shows Promote a Venue and Trigger a Venue Payout. I'm not really sure which one is correct so I played a couple of games one way and the rest the other. Hopefully there will be some errata or a revised rulebook to fix this. Overall I'd say that for the most part, the rulebook gets the job done and that it doesn't take very long to read. Apart from the small mistake, it's not bad.
7 out of 10



GAMEPLAY
This is a fairly simple game to play. You decide where you want to send your food trucks to try and make some money. You all reveal your decisions at the same time and then you roll the die for each venue. That tells you how much money is available at each venue. The bigger the die, the more chance for a higher number to be rolled. Next you decide what cards from your hand that you want to play to affect everything from yours or another player's truck to the venue itself. Each player has the same cards in their hands, just with different thematic names on them, so you pretty much know what could potentially be played against you. It's then time to start using those cards to see what happens. This is where the majority of the action takes place. Things can get a bit chaotic in this step. You really never know what's going to happen. For this reason I feel that there's a good bit of luck involved with the game. Once all the action cards are played, it's time to pay off each truck at the venue. Lather, rinse, repeat for 4 more rounds. As I said, pretty simple. So depending on which way you choose to play, the game can have a high "take that" feel to it or a low one. It really depends on which cards you choose to eliminate during setup. Even with a higher feel, it's still not nearly as harsh and nasty as most of the games I've played with a "take that" mechanic. Still the game is pretty solid and can be quite fun with the right player count. The old adage of the more the merrier is very appropriate here. With fewer players it's not quite as fun. I am especially not too crazy about using the artificial player for 2 player games. You really need at least 3 or 4 players if at all possible. It's not that the AI for the artificial player is bad, it's just more fun with real players. For one thing, real players laugh and that's what will happen quite a bit while playing this game. When trucks start getting moved around and then moved around again. You can find yourself getting a good case of the giggles. My daughter loved when I was about to get a good payday from one of the venues and she played an action card that moved my truck to a much smaller payout. The game also excels in simultaneous action selection. In this way, it makes me think of the game The Grimm Forest, which is one of my daughter's favorite games. Needless to say, this is a rather good game. Fans of games with the Take That mechanic like Flaming Pyramids, Munchkin and The Grimm Forest should enjoy this one as well. It's family friendly and one that even the younger players can enjoy. It's a good game that I recommend giving a try.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy is a simultaneous action selection game of take that where players try to make the most money from their fleet of food trucks. The game isn't a very long one. In fact, most game sessions last around 30 minutes or so. It's fairly quick and light enough that most players of every age can play. The components are very good. I especially like the uniqueness of each player's deck of action cards and the flavor text on each one. The rulebook has a minor error or two but nothing too major as to cause a lot of problems. Hopefully there will be some errata or something to clarify the issue posted to fix this. As for the game itself, it's a good game that is family friendly. The take that mechanic is variable and can be added or subtracted from the game to make it perfect for players that prefer light or heavy player interaction. Regardless which level is chosen, the take that mechanic doesn't feel as mean as in other games of the same type. Fans of the mechanic, as well as those that enjoy simultaneous action selection games, should enjoy this one as well. Fans of games like Flaming Pyramids, Munchkin and The Grimm Forest should find something to like with this one as well. This is a game that I would recommend giving a try. Like the perfect menu, there's something very everyone to enjoy.
8 out of 10

For more information about this and other great games, please check out Adam’s Apple Games at their site.

https://adamsapplegames.com/
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Mon Oct 22, 2018 5:16 pm
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Gaming Bits: Fairy Tale Fluxx Review

Jonathan Nelson
United States
Birmingham
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Fairy Tale Fluxx is a game by Andrew Looney, published by Looney Labs. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players will be playing cards to affect and even change different aspects of this fairy tale themed game as they try to reach their own happily ever after. Of course to do this, they'll need to collect the correct characters, items or locations if they hope to acheive their goal. In the end, the player that can best navigate these always changing rules and complete the current goal will be declared the winner.

To begin, the Basic Rules card is placed in the center of the play area. The deck is then shuffled and each player is dealt 3 cards to form their starting hand. The rest of the deck is then placed face down beside the Basic Rules card. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. Each round players will take a turn. On a player's turn, they will perform 3 actions. First they will draw a number of cards as dictated by any rules that are in play. Once they've drawn the correct number of cards, they will then play a number of cards as instructed by any rules in play. Both drawing and playing cards require at least 1 card be drawn and 1 card be played. There are 3 types of cards that can be played; New Rules, Goals, Keepers and Action cards. New Rules change the way the game is played and take effect as soon as they are played. These are placed beside any previous rules unless they override the basic rules of draw 1 and play 1. If this is the case, the new rule cards is placed so that it overlaps the part of the Basic Rule that it is replacing. Goal cards are placed in the middle of the play area and establish the requirements for a play to win the game. If there is another Goal card already face up on the table, it is discarded and replaced by the new card. Keepers are placed face up in front of the player that played it. These are the cards needed for a player to win. Action cards are one time use cards. To play one of these, the player reads it aloud and then does whatever the card says. The card is then placed in the discard pile. Once a player has played the correct number of cards, they will then be forced to discard a number of cards if their hand has more than the current hand limit rule in play. At the beginning of the game, there is no hand limit. Only when a new rule is played that limits the cards a player may keep in their hand, will players need to worry about this. Once a player has completed all 3 actions, play passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues until a player meets the conditions of the current Goal. The player that does this is the winner, even if this happens on another player's turn.



COMPONENTS
This game consists of a box of 100 cards. Each card is high quality and is just the right size and thickness. The finish on each one is very good and makes it easy to shuffle together when in the deck. The artwork for the game is done by the amazing Mary Engelbreit. Each design is so cute, fun and full of imagination. I love how each one looks like it was ripped from the pages of a storybook. She has definitely captured not only the idea of the game but also the heart of it as well. I honestly don't think that the art for this one could have looked any better. Thematically, each design fits in perfectly. My daughter absolutely loves the pictures. It really captures her imagination and reminds her of the different stories that I would read to her when she was younger. Some of the cards, like the new rule cards have icons. Compared to those in previous versions of Fluxx, these are quite a bit larger and easier to understand. The text on the cards also seem to be a bit larger and easier to read. I have to say that I'm very happy with the overall look and feel of the game. It's definitely fun to look at and it will captivate your heart with it's unique charm.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
For this game, the rulebook consists of a large double sided sheet of colored paper that is multi-folded. While large, it fits nicely into the box when folded. Unlike some of the other Fluxx titles, this rulebook actually has some very nice looking pictures on it. On the front page, there are pictures of a sample game in progress, as well as specific pictures for each type of card and how to set up the game. On the back of the page is a large piece of artwork combining several of the designs from the game into one beautiful piece. This particular piece is so nice, that it's almost worthy of framing. I honestly wish I had a print of this for just that reason. The rules themself are actually quite simple and are easy to understand. The back of the page has a few examples of gameplay to help players understand a few things a bit better. There are also some notes that clarify a few things, such as discarding cards, reshuffling, cards in play and free actions, as well as notes on jumping in and dropping out of the game. Overall the rulebook looks good and is a much needed improvement to previous designs. I'm really thrilled with how great it looks.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
For several years now, my family and I have enjoyed playing Fluxx. We've played lots of different versions of the game and have enjoyed each one. We've taught the game to lots of people who have enjoyed it as well. Needless to say, Fluxx has been a staple of our home for awhile now. So how does this version compare to other versions of the game? I'd say that it's pretty darn good. I'm still not a fan of the removal of the Creepers from the game which was done around the time of the fifth version of the basic game. However I understand their decision to make the game a bit more simple to appeal to players of all ages and experience. That said, this version centers around all of those classic fairy tales that your parents read to you as a kid. Stories like Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White and the 7 Dwarves, Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood are featured on the Goal and Keeper cards. A few of the Action and New Rule cards touch on these themes, but most of them are pretty general and would work with any version of Fluxx. I have to say, even without Creepers this is a really good version of Fluxx. My daughter absolutely adores all the fairy tale characters and she really enjoys playing this version. This is definitely a game that the whole family can enjoy. As for those that have never played Fluxx, it's all about trying to play the right cards at the right time so that you can have the right Keepers on the field to meet the requirements for the current Goal, or simply changing the Goal to meet what you have either in your hand or already on the field. As you can see, there's a lot of chaotic fun to be had as the game is always changing. The rules change, the Goal changes and you just never know who will win. Fans of games like Munchkin or other hand management games of that nature should really enjoy this one. For Fluxx players that enjoy a good fairy tale or that are looking for a version to play with the kids, this should be right up your alley. This is a really great looking version that I would highly recommend.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Fairy Tale Fluxx is a family friendly game of ever changing rules and goals in a fairy tale world. It's a great little card game that doesn't take a long time to play. Most game sessions last around 15-20 minutes. The cards are great quality and the artwork is simply amazing. Anyone that's a fan of Mary Engelbreit will love the different fairy tale designs created by her. The rulebook is a definite improvement over past versions. I especially love the additional design by Mary Engelbreit on the back of the page. The game is family friendly and is one that can be played with both kids and adults alike. Fans of any of the other Fluxx games should enjoy this version as well. My daughter and I both really like the look and feel of this version. This is one that I would highly recommend, especially for those players that love a good fairy tale. No fairy godmother needed.
9 out of 10


For more information about Fluxx and other great games, please check out Looney Labs at their site.

http://looneylabs.com
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Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:16 pm
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Gaming Bits: Preview Review of Town Builder: Coevorden

Jonathan Nelson
United States
Birmingham
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Recently I was given the opportunity to preview an upcoming new game that will soon be available to back on Kickstarter. I received a prototype copy of the game and rules. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!

Town Builder: Coevorden is a game by Eric Raué, published by First Fish Games. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of the lead architect for a noble family, tasked with building the best town district for a fierce town building competition. They will need to gather the necessary resources and choose the right buildings if they hope to impress the judges and win the best awards. In the end, the player that can harness their town building skills the best and thus earn the most points, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the Town cards are shuffled together to form a deck which is then placed face down in the middle of the play area. The top 5 cards of the deck are then placed face up in a row beside the deck. This is the initial card row. The Judge cards are then shuffled together. Three cards are then drawn from this deck. The first card is placed face up above the card row. The second is placed in approximately the middle of the Town card deck. The third card is placed at the bottom of the same deck. The Award cards are shuffled together next. The top 2 cards of this deck are drawn and placed face up above the card row next to the Judge card. Any unused Judge and Award cards are then set aside in a face down pile. A number of Player Crest cards are taken equal to the number of players, including the one marked, "First Player". These cards are shuffled and dealt out, one to a player. Any of these cards that are unused are placed back into the box. Whichever player receives the First Player card will begin the game. Each player will then place their Player Crest card face up in front of themself. This area is the player's district. Once this is done, play now begins.

This game is played in a series of turns, with each player taking a turn consisting of 2 steps. In the first step, the player will refill the card row back to 5 cards, drawing cards from the deck to replace any empty spots with. If a Judge card is revealed, it is placed face up above the card row along with the other Judge card(s). Any remaining empty holes in the card row are then filled. Once the deck is empty, the discard pile is shuffled together to create a new facedown deck.

The second step of a player's turn is to take two actions. There are 3 types of actions that a player is able to take. The player is allowed to take the same action twice or take two different actions. The actions are start a foundation, gain a resource and store a gold. The first action is to start a foundation. To start a foundation, the player simply takes one of the cards from the card row and places it sideways in front of themself in their district. It should be noted that if a foundation has a gold cost, this must be paid before the player can choose to start this particular card as a foundation. The player will need to discard gold cards stored under their quest equal to the chosen card's cost. It should also be noted that foundations do not count towards claiming awards or scoring judges as they are not built buildings yet. The next action is to gain a resource. To do this, the player will take a card from the card row and place it behind a foundation in their district that requires the specific resource that is printed on the bottom of the card. The card is placed so that the resource end of the card is showing. It should be noted that a resource can not be placed behind a foundation that does not require the specific resource located on the card. The final action is to store a gold. To do this, the player will choose a card from the card row that shows a gold coin at the bottom of the card. This card is then placed behind the player's crest with the gold end showing. One thing should be noted, once a foundation has all of it's resource costs satisfied, it must be built. All the resources behind the card are discarded and the foundation card is then turned upright and become a building. If a foundation has only a gold cost, then it is immediately built without needing to acquire any resources. It should be noted that some buildings will have a build ability that may be used once during the turn that the foundation was built. Other buildings may provide abilities that score points at the end of the game, or a special ability that may be used once per turn. One last thing of note, a player may only use 1 special ability per turn. These special abilities are noted with a star.

One final thing that I haven't mentioned is awards. These are cards that require certain things and will score points at the end of the game. To claim one of these, the player must first be able to meet the requirements of the award. When they do, the will take the award and place it in their district. Until the first player's next turn, other players may also share in claiming awards. If the player is able to meet the requirements for an award, they will then take an unused award face down in it's place.

Each time the deck runs out, the discard pile is shuffled to create a new deck. Once the deck runs out a set number of times, dependent on the number of players, the game end is triggered. When the deck runs out for the last time, the discard pile is shuffled once more. Players will continue to take turns until it is the first player's turn. Each player will then take 1 last turn. If the deck runs out after the end game is triggered, the discard pile is shuffled again as needed. Once the game ends, scoring occurs. Any incomplete foundations, along with the resources stored behind them, are discarded. Players will then check to see if they have any scoring abilities that may affect Judge scoring. These are then activated in turn order. The player that has the most buildings of a judge's preference will then claim that particular judge. Players will then add up their points from their buildings, awards and judges, as well as for any scoring abilities. The player with the most points is the winner.



COMPONENTS
The version of the game that I received is a prototype copy. With that in mind, be aware that some things about this game may change before being published. As it is now, the game consists of only a stack of cards. There are 60 town cards, 6 judges, 8 awards and 4 player crest cards. The town cards have these really nice designs with huge pieces of art surrounded by some iconography that is fairly simple to understand. At the moment, none of the judge cards have faces on them. I'm assuming that this will be an option for backers of the Kickstarter campaign to be able to put their face into the game. I think these will look really cool once they're completed. The awards cards are a little bland, with only a trophy on them along with the requirements to collect one. However I'm sure these will also be upgraded to look much better when the game goes into production. The player crest cards are really nice. On the backs of these is a really unique coat of arms. The front side of these contains a player reference, along with the turn sequence, special icons and even a special ability that may be used during the game. Overall I really like the look of the game. The town card are gorgeous. I'm hoping that this beautiful artwork will also make it's way onto the awards cards as well. Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to seeing how this game turns out once it's finally put into print. If what I've seen is any indication of how good it'll look, I'm sure it's going to be amazing.
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RULEBOOK
As with the components, the rulebook is also a prototype. That said, the book is pretty impressive. With lots of full color pictures and examples throughout the book, there's a lot to love here. The contents of the game are found on the first page along with a great look at what the Judge cards may end up looking like with their completed artwork. The next page has a breakdown of a town card, explaining each of the different parts of the card. There's also a reference of the iconography used on them as well. The next 2 pages consist of explaining the setup, including a minor change for 2 player games. The next several pages go over the steps of a player's turn, along with the different action which are explained in detail. The last couple of pages include rules for playing the game solo, along with a card appendix that explains a bit more in detail some of the different cards. Overall, I think the book looks great. After reading through it, I found that I understood how to play the game quite well. The rules were simple to read and understand. For the very few times that I found myself looking back at the rulebook, it was very easy to find what I was looking for. Everything is laid out so well that I had no problems. I really like how nice the book looks and am very appreciative of all the great examples scattered throughout the book. They really helped me understand the rules even better. Needless to say, I'm pleased with the current rulebook and can't wait to see the finished product.
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GAMEPLAY
I rather enjoy a good city building game. Computer games like Sim City and Roller Coaster Tycoon were among my favorites growing up. I enjoyed creating something that was completely unique to me. In the board game world, games like Suburbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig gave me this same feeling and enjoyment that I would get from those old computer games. Town Builder: Coevorden fits in right at home with those other games. I enjoy finding those cards that mesh just right together to get my district humming right along. I really like creating this unique little city of my own design. I like gathering up the materials to be able to turn that foundation upright. There's something uniquely satisfying about doing that . I really enjoy the look of the game. The cards really help create this lovely town that you will be working to build. I found that once I finished playing the game, I liked to look back at what I'd built and kind of think about what that city might actually look like and what the story behind this particular city might be. I know that's probably odd and a bit too involved, but that's one thing that I really enjoyed about this game. It made me feel involved in the city that I was building. Some games I have felt like I was simply dealing with a random bunch of resources and nothing else. This takes some of that same idea, but makes you think sometimes about just what you want to do with them. Do you place that stone and wood card beneath your quarry for the extra stone to help build it, or do you use it to finish off that town castle that will earn you 7 points at the end of the game. That's one thing about this game, points are tight. What i mean is that in multiplayer games every point matters and can be hard to come by. That's even more important in the solo game. You will definitely find yourself thinking ahead several moves as you try to get those few points that you're able to get. Needless to say, I really enjoy this one, both as with other players and as a solo game. As a matter of fact, I probably like the solo game the best. Not that the regular game is bad, because it's not, it's just that I honestly haven't found many games like this that play solo this well. There are a few changes to the solo game from the main game, but it's mainly just removing a few cards and judges from the game. The solo game is all about scoring as many points as possible. The higher the score, the higher you rank. If you score less than 30 points, you're an unworthy peasant who should probably get back to the pig farm and leave the city building to the professionals. However if you're able to score 38 points or more, well you're just the most noble of nobles and can expect to have the kingdom handed to you on a silver plate at any moment. You lucky dog! Regardless of which way you play, whether solo or multiplayer, this is definitely a game that should appeal to you. I find that fans of games like Suburbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig should really enjoy this one as well. This is one that is family friendly and not too overly thinky. However the younger players might have a bit of trouble understanding just exactly how to play. I think most preteens and older shouldn't have any trouble with this one. I really enjoy the game. This is definitely one that I would recommend keeping an eye out for and backing when it comes to Kickstarter. I highly recommend it.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Town Builder: Coevorden is a city building card game of resource management and strategy. The game isn't one that takes too long. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes or so. The cards for this game have some really great looking artwork. With this just being a prototype, I can only imagine how much better the game will look once it's actually produced. The same is also true of the rulebook. As is usually the case with most prototypes, you can probably expect some changes before the game actually makes it to market. That said, I'm very impressed with the overall look and feel of what I've seen so far. The game itself is fairly simple to learn but challenging to win, especially as a solo player. It's really fun. Fans of games like Suburbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig should enjoy the city building aspects of this game. Solo players will also enjoy this one, especially if they like a beat your own score victory. This is also one that is family friendly, especially with preteens and older. This is one that should just get better when produced. I would highly recommend backing it on Kickstarter. No building license needed.
9 out of 10


For more information about this great game, please check out First Fish Games at their site.

http://www.firstfishgames.com/

Please check back soon for the Kickstarter link where you can back the game and get your own copy.
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Tue Oct 9, 2018 5:54 pm
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Gaming Bits: Dogs Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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Dogs is a game by Marcos Macri, published by Gray Mass Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of managers of their own Animal Rescue Center or ARC. They will be trying to rescue a variety of different breeds of dogs while managing their resources to best utilize them. In the end, the player that can run the best ARC, gaining the most points, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the main board is placed in the middle of the play area. The Action Spaces/Dog Fair board is placed to one side of the main board. The Bonus cards are shuffled together. Two cards are then dealt face up above each of the spaces on the Action Board. The remaining deck of cards are then placed face down near these rows. The Dog Fair cards are shuffled together next. The deck is placed face down next to the Dog Fair board. The top card is then flipped face up beside the deck. All of the different resource tokens are separated into piles and placed within reach of all players. The dog tokens are separated into two piles, 1 for the City dogs and 1 for the Country dogs. Tokens are randomly drawn and placed on the board, 1 per empty space with the City dog tokens on the blue paw prints and Country dog tokens on the green ones. Each player will then pick a color and will receive a player board, truck tile, wooden truck, 3 wooden dog houses and 2 meeples in their chosen color. They will also receive 3 coins, 2 food tokens, 2 medicine tokens and 6 gas tokens. The player will place their player board in front of them. This is also known as their Animal Rescue Center or ARC. The player will then place their 3 coin, 3 doghouses and 2 meeples in the office. The 2 food tokens are placed in the store room. The 2 medicine tokens are placed in the veterinarian. The 6 gas tokens are placed in the garage. The player places their truck tile near their ARC. Their wooden truck is placed on the center space of the board. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over 3 phases. In the first phase, the players will move their wooden trucks from the central staring location, beginning with the first player. Each player will move their truck a number of spaces. These spaces may contain dogs or not. Once the player decides to stop moving, they must then pay 1 gas token for each space they moved through, including the one they stopped on. Moving through the central starting space does not cost any gas tokens. The player will then collect the dog from the space that they stopped on. If the dog is healthy or sick, it is placed on the player's truck tile. If it's a reward dog, the player will place the dog on the highest available space at the Dog Fair. They are then awarded the number of coins indicated on the main board beside the spot that the dog was taken from. Once this has been completed, play passes to the next player in turn order, who repeats the same steps. This continues until all players have decided to return to their ARCs. To do this, the player declares that they have finished collecting dogs and must now pay 1 gas token to return their wooden truck back to the central starting location. The first and last player to return to their ARC collects 1 resource of their choice. It should be noted that if a player used all of their gas tokens prior to returning to their ARC, then all of the dogs on their truck tile are returned to the corresponding bag. Their wooden truck is then placed back on the central starting location. It should be noted that a player may also choose not to move on their turn, passing their turn instead. If all players chose not to move, this will trigger the Game End. Once all wooden trucks have returned to the central starting location, each player will then take the dogs from their truck tile and organize them into their kennel stalls. Sick dogs are placed into the Infirmary. Healthy dogs are placed into one of the prebuilt kennels, but only dogs of the same breed may be placed side by side. In the Infirmary, this isn't necessary. It should be noted that if a player collected more dogs than they have room for, they must be donate any overflow dogs to the player to their left. The player may choose which dogs to donate, either from their truck tile or their ARC. The player that receives the new dogs may then rearrange their own kennels to place them. If they wind up not having room for all the new dogs, just like before a number of dogs are passed to the player to their left. This continues until the last dog has been placed or the last player has passed. If a dog is not placed into a kennel, it is placed on the highest available number on the Dog Fair. One more thing of note, if a player fills a kennel with 4 dogs of the same breed, they immediately receive 1 coin. Players may only receive this bonus one time per breed in their kennel. Once all player have completed the placing of dogs into their ARCs, play moves into the next phase.



In the second phase, players will assign their workers to various building action spaces on the board, starting with the first player. To do this, the player will place one of their meeples onto one of the building spaces. However, only 2 meeples may be on each place on the board. If a player has a Free Entry card though, then they may place their meeple on a space that has already been filled. Once the meeple has been placed, the player will then take one of the available cards from above the action space that they chose. When using the Free Entry card, the player is not allowed to take one of these cards. If the card is a resource, the player immediately gains the resource and the card is placed into the discard pile. Special cards may be played as appropriate or saved for a later time. The player then performs the action of the space that they placed their meeple on. Doing this action is optional however, the player may pass on taking the action if they choose. There are 5 spaces that players may send their workers to; Town Hall, the Warehouse, the Pet Shop, the Veterinary and the Dog Fair. The Town Hall lets the player build an additional stall in their ARC for 2 coins. The Warehouse lets the player exchange up to 2 resources from their ARC for any other 2 resources from the pool. The Pet Shop lets a player buy food and medicine for their ARC. For every coin they spend, they gain 2 tokens in any combination. The Veterinary lets the player spend medicine tokens to cure up to 6 dogs in their infirmary. Each dog cured costs 1 medicine token. At the Dog Fair, the player can either buy, sell or trade a dog. To buy a dog, the player must pay 10 coins minus the number of dogs in the Dog Fair. To sell a dog, the dog must be one of the breeds on the current Dog Fair card. The player places it on the highest available number and then collects 2 coins. To trade a dog, the player may simply swap one of their dogs from their kennel for one of the dogs from the Dog Fair. Once finished, play passes to the next player. This continues until all players have placed all of their workers and completed all of their actions. Once this is completed, play moves into the final phase.

The third phase is the cleanup phase which may be played simultaneously by all players. In this phase players must now pay 1 food for every stall that has at least 1 dog in it. Dogs in the Infirmary do not require the player to pay any food. If a player doesn't have enough food to feed all of their dogs, then 1 dog from each stall that they are unable to feed becomes sick and must be placed into the Infirmary. If the Infirmary is full, then the dog goes to the Dog Fair. Players must then pay their Assistant 1 coin. If they don't have any coins to pay them with, then the Assistant goes away. The player must then place one of their meeples to the side of their ARC and cannot use them in the next round. They may rehire them in Phase 3 of the next round for 1 coin. Once players have taken care of these payments, the board is cleaned up. First any remaining cards above the Action spaces are placed in the discard pile. Two new cards are then drawn from the Bonus deck and placed above each space. A new Dog Fair card is then revealed and the old one is discarded. New dog tokens are drawn from their respective bags to replaced any empty spaces created from the last round. If there aren't enough dog tokens to refill the board with, either from the city or country dogs bag, then the game ends immediately. Once the board has been dealt with, players will now complete their clean up. For this, each player will now collect 1 coin from the bank for their income. They may also buy gas tokens by paying 1 coin for 3 tokens. A player may only have 9 gas tokens at one time. Once this has all been dealt with, the first player token is passed to the next player in turn order and a new round begins.

The game continues until one of 2 things happens. If all of the players choose not to move from the central starting location during Phase 1, then the game ends. The players will finish the remainder of the round, completing Phases 2 and the feeding of dogs and payment of their assistant in Phase 3. The other way the game can end is if there aren't enough dogs to fill all of the empty spaces on the board during Phase 3. If this happens, players proceed immediately to scoring. Scoring occurs in several ways. Players will score points for the dogs in their stalls, for each additional stall that they build, for each breed of dog in their kennel, for having paid their assistant in the last round and for their collection of resource tokens. They will lose points for each dog in their infirmary. Players add up all of their points and the one with the most points is the winner.



COMPONENTS
This game has some really great looking pieces that will appeal to the dog lover in everyone. First off there is the main game board. This has some really great looking artwork on it. There are images for each of the different breeds of dogs along with some scoring reminders along the bottom of the board. I really like the design, even though the city is a bit too rectangular and perfect for my taste. Still this is a game and not supposed to mimic reality completely. Next there is the Action Spaces/Dog Fair board. This one is really cool looking. I love the artwork on this. The iconography is fairly easy to remember too. On the back side of the board is a great looking logo of the game which I found to be a nice little extra touch. Next there are the 4 different colored player boards or ARCS. Each of these is exactly the same, apart from the difference in color and the name of each one. I have to say that I like the added little personal touch for each ARC having a different name. These boards are quite thick, much like the Action Spaces/Dog Fair board. The same thickness is also found with the truck tiles. These are done in colors that match the different player boards. The game also comes with lots of thick cardboard tokens for coins, food, medicine and gas, as well as roadwork tokens and dog tokens in two varieties; country dog and city dog. Of all of these, I really like the dog tokens the best. There are 7 tokens for each of the 12 different breeds of dogs. Each of these depicts a dog that is easily recognizable. I like the artwork on these a lot. Also included with the game are a whole bunch of wooden pieces. There are meeples, trucks and dog houses in 4 different player colors. There are 2 meeples for each color and 3 dog houses for each color. These are really nicely shaped and easily recognizable for what they are. There's also a starting player token shaped like a dog that is made of wood as well. This too is a really nice touch. The game includes 2 quality draw bags for placing the country and city dog tokens into. Each of these is made from quality materials, almost like a satin piece of material. I like these a lot. Finally there are all the many types of cards. There are bonus cards and Dog Fair cards. Each of these has some really great looking artwork that is easy to understand. The cards have a good thickness and finish to them and simply look great. Pretty much everything that comes with this game is high quality and looks amazing. I'm really overwhelmed with how cool it all looks. Needless to say, you get a lot of stuff inside this box. Overall I'm thrilled with the game as a whole.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is very well designed. There are lots and lots of full color pictures and examples of gameplay throughout the book. The first couple of pages show off all of the great components included with the game and explain each of the different Bonus cards and how they each work. The next pages explain how to setup the game and each player's ARC. From there the book focuses on explaining each of the phases of gameplay, including some tips and examples along the way. Near the end of the book, there are some advanced rules included as well as some rule changes for 2 player games. The book ends with several thorough examples and a list of all of the dog names as proposed by Kickstarter backers of the game. The back page of the book has a handy scoring reference which is very helpful. I really like how nice this book looks and am very thankful for all of the handy references and examples. I especially like how that each bonus card is highlighted in the section associated with it. For instance, in phase 3 where you are supposed to pay your assistant 1 coin for their hard work, the Assistant card is noted in this section that it can be used instead of paying the coin. Overall I found the rulebook to be very thorough and well designed. I really like the extra page of dog names and finding out where each one was sent in from. Needless to say, whoever the backer from Branchton, Ontario Canada was that named one of the saint bernard Nelson, you are my favorite person right now.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Imagine what it would be like to run your own kennel. You'd have to keep up with feeding and caring for each dog. You'd need to pay your assistant for helping out with all the menial tasks. You might even have to go and pick up some dogs from around the city. Now imagine how those types of things might translate into a board game and that's Dogs in a nutshell. This is a great game that I really enjoy. You start off by moving around the board and collecting certain types of dogs to fill your kennel up with. Of course you want to make sure that if you snag any sick ones, that you have the meds to take care of them. Once your truck is full of furry goodness, it's time to get 'em all snug in their own little pen. Once the doggies are all down for the night, it's up to you and your perky assistant to scamper about town for all the necessities needed to keep your pups happy and healthy. Of course you can always take a little time to upgrade the old kennel as well. Finally it's time to feed your doggos, pay your assistant and clean everything up for another day of canine craziness. As you can see, the theme of the game really comes through. You really get the feel that you're running your own kennel. On top of that, the game is as cute as it can be. Each piece ties in quite well with the overall game and looks good too. In a lot of ways this game makes me thing of another dog themed game, A Dog's Life. With A Dog's Life, you discover what it's like to be a dog running around the city. Well with this one, the shoe is on the other foot and you're trying to catch the dogs and run the kennel. For me, if you took A Dog's Life and combined it with a worker placement game, this game might be what you end up with. I quite enjoy having the freedom to move around wherever I want to pick up whichever types of dogs I want. I like the worker placement aspect of the game and how not only do you get to take an action, but you also get to choose a card that can help you out later in the game as well. About the only thing that I wasn't just completely thrilled with, is the scoring. I do like that there are a lot of different ways to score points, but the stall scoring made me think of Zooloretto. While Zooloretto is a game that I really love, I'm more interested in the big picture of what animals, or in this game's case which dogs, am I putting into my spaces. I'm not crazy about worrying about trying to corner the market on a certain type of dog, when I'd much prefer just placing as many different types of dogs and possible into my kennels. Seems a bit elitist if you're just grabbing all of a certain type of dog. Well excuse me if Fifi doesn't like anything but French Poodles, maybe she should lighten up and try a Border Collie instead. In any case, that's only a minor complaint of mine and doesn't really affect the overall fun of the game. Needless to say, fans of games like A Dog's Life or Zooloretto should really enjoy this one too. Players that love worker placement games with a bit of heart too them, should also like this one. Overall this is a game that my daughter and I really enjoy. It's a great game to mix up for game night along side A Dog's Life. This is one that I would recommend.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Dogs is a family friendly game about owning and operating a dog shelter. It takes an average amount of time to play. Most game sessions last around an hour to an hour and a half. The components are all really great quality. The artwork looks great and is quite fun. All the cardboard is really thick and the wooden pieces are super sturdy. Thematically everything ties in really well together. The rulebook is well designed and is very easy to find everything that you're looking for. I like the nice little added touch of all the Kickstarter backers that got to name a dog included in the back of the book. The game itself is a lot of fun. There are plenty of decisions to make and lots of ways to score points. The game is family friendly and easy to pick up and play. The iconography doesn't take too much to understand and remember. This is one that's easy to teach and fun to learn. Even younger players shouldn't have a lot of problems with this one. This one makes me think of A Dog's Life and Zooloretto. In fact, fans of those games should really enjoy this one. This is a game that I would recommend. My daughter and I both enjoy this one and love to add it to game night along with A Dog's Life. This is one game that doesn't need a Pedigree to be a prize winning show dog. It's bow wow wonderful.
9 out of 10


For more information about this and other great games, please check out Gray Mass Games at their site.

http://graymassgames.com/
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Sat Sep 29, 2018 10:15 pm
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Gaming Bits: The Island of Doctor Lucky Review

Jonathan Nelson
United States
Birmingham
Alabama
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The Island of Doctor Lucky is a game by James Ernest, published by Cheapass Games. It is for 2-8 players. In this game, players take on the role of a vengeful killer in the guise of a close personal friend to the infamous Doctor Lucky. They will be doing their best to take him out in any way possible. However they'll need to be careful, as their opponents are also looking to end his existence as well. They might even use the island to their advantage to also remove the other players from the picture. In the end, the player that can actually muster up the skill and luck to bump the good Doctor off, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. Each player will choose a character card and take the corresponding pawn. The player will then place the character card in front of themself and their colored pawn on Castelo Feliz. The Doctor Lucky pawn is placed on Sunset Beach and the cat pawn is placed on the Observatory. The weapons, hazards and failure cards are shuffled together to form a deck. Each player is then dealt a number of cards to create their starting hand. The number of cards is determined by the number of players. Once the cards have been dealt, the deck is placed face down beside the board. The first player is chosen and play now begins.



The game is played over a series of turns. Each player will take a turn consisting of two steps called Phase 1 and Phase 2. In Phase 1, a player is allowed to take 1 of 3 actions. They can move their pawn, move the cat or play a hazard. The first action is to move your pawn. In this action a player is allowed to move from one region to an adjacent region. If they are on a region that contains an airplane, then the player may move their pawn from one region to another, as long as the other region has an airplane on it as well. Another action that the player may take is to move the cat. The cat pawn may be moved from one space to any other space on the board. It should be noted that when the cat pawn is on the same region as another player or Doctor Lucky, they are unable to see outside that region. Normally player's and Doctor Lucky are able to see each other on the same space and on any regions that are adjacent to the space they are on. The final action that may be taken by a player in this phase is to play a hazard. Hazards are traps, creatures or terrain that may be played on other players or on Doctor Lucky if they are alone and in the right type of space. Being "Alone" means that no other pawns, including Doctor Lucky or other players, are on the same space. The cat pawn isn't included in this. That means that a pawn may be on the same space as the cat pawn and still have a hazard played on them. When a hazard is played on another player, the player must pay one of 2 penalties. They may either pass that player a card from their hand or they must discard enough luck from their hand to match the value of the hazard. If a target player's hand is empty, they suffer no penalty. Playing a hazard on Doctor Lucky acts the same way that a murder attempt does and will be explained in a bit more detail in a moment. Once a hazard has been played, the player that played it places the card face down under their character card on the "+ move" side, gaining +1 to their movement. Of course if a player may choose to do none of the previous actions and may choose to simply stay where they are by passing.

In Phase 2, the players have two actions to choose from. They can either draw a card or try to kill Doctor Lucky. If they choose to draw a card, they will simply take the top card from the deck. However, a player may not draw a card unless they are unable to be seen by the other players or Doctor Lucky, as explained earlier. The other action that a player can take is to make a murder attempt. A player may choose this action if they are alone with Doctor Lucky and no one else can see them, as explained earlier as well. The player is allowed to play a weapon to improve their attack, or they may simply choose to use their bare hands. A player starts with a basic attack of 1. This is increased by unsuccessful murder attempts by the player, more on this in a moment. If the player chooses to use a weapon, that card's weapon value is added to their attack value. In certain areas, a weapon will have a more improved value. Once the player's final attack value is determined, their opponents may discard as many cards as they wish to contribute to Doctor Lucky's Luck value starting with the attacking player's left and going around the table one time in order. Each shamrock found on a card is worth 1 Luck. If the other players discard enough Luck to equal the attacking player's murder attempt, then Doctor Lucky lives and the game continues. If enough Luck wasn't discarded, then Doctor Lucky dies and the murderer wins. If the player's murder attempt was thwarted then the player gains +1 attack for any future attempts. This is shown by placing either the weapon card that was played or any discarded card beneath the attacking player's character card below the "+ attack" side. Much like the "+ move" side, each card beneath this area adds 1 point to the corresponding value.

Once a player finishes their turn, Doctor Lucky moves around the island. The pawn for Doctor Lucky moves to the next region in order. So starting at region 15, he will move ahead to region 16 and stop. Once he reaches region 24, his next move would be to region 1. It should be noted that when Doctor Lucky moves, he can sometimes cause players to draw cards and can even change the turn order. On the board there are several regions that contains buildings. These are noted with a card icon. If Doctor Lucky moves into an empty building, that is to say a building that contains no players, then any player that has fewer than 3 cards will draw a card. Cards are drawn beginning with the player to the left of the last active player and proceeding around the table. If Doctor Lucky moves into a space with a player, then the turn jumps to that player and play will then move to the next player to the left of them going forward. This rule does not go into effect until each player has had at least one turn. One more thing of note, if Doctor Lucky moves into a space with occupied by more than one player, then the turn moves to the player that is closest to the left of the last active player. One final thing of note, there is a special mechanic that is known as "Riding the Lucky Train". This is when a player moves one step ahead of Doctor Lucky which then allows the player to go again once Doctor Lucky moves into the same space with them. A player can wind up taking several turns in a row by doing this. After Doctor Lucky completes his movement and any other issues are resolved, play passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues until one of the players either plays a hazard on Doctor Lucky or makes a murder attempt on him and succeeds with either one. The player that kills Doctor Lucky is the winner.



COMPONENTS
The game doesn't come with a whole lot of pieces, but that's ok. What it does come with looks pretty good. There's the gameboard where all of the action takes place. The board is really great quality and has a nice linen finish to it. The artwork depicts a dangerous island with lots of different land marks. There's the Sneaky Peak, The Bog o' Bones and the Tiger Woods. Yes, that's right...Tiger Woods. Try killing the Doctor with a 9 iron while you're there. Just saying. I have to say that the design here is really fun and light hearted. I really love the look of the island and get a kick out of the names of some of the regions. The game also comes with some really great looking wooden pawns too. There are 7 different colored player pawns, a Doctor Lucky pawn and a disc for the cat. The color of the player pawns correspond with the one on the matching character card. I really like the choice of colors used here. The Doctor Lucky pawn is a bit larger and is a different design. It has more of a natural wood finish and it kind of looks like a guy in a suit with a hat on. Of course that's just my take on the design. The cat is just a simple thick black disc. While I think that the game could have used meeples for the different characters and possibly even a cat meeple for the cat, I have to say that I rather like the simplistic design of these wooden pieces. Granted, they aren't really thematic to the game but they're good quality and give me more of a retro Clue type feel to them. The final part to this game is the cards. There are 4 types of cards. There are the character cards. One side of these has a brief statement from the character along with a full body picture of them along with the colored pawn that represents them. The back side has a closer picture, more like a portrait. I really love the artwork and sayings on these. They really look nice and help you get into character a bit. Next there are the Failure cards. These have 1 of 4 different pictures of Doctor Lucky on them, along with a number of shamrocks from 1-4, as well as a quick little quip about the particular failure. Like the character cards, these look great. I love the Doctor Lucky character designs and find the different quips kind of funny and mildly thematic. Then there are the Weapon and Hazard cards. The weapons have two different numbers on them. The larger number is the attack value that can be used anywhere. The smaller number in parenthesis is the attack value that is used for a specific place, which is also noted on the card. Hazards have a specific type of regiond where they can be used along with a damage value. Some of the Weapon and Hazard cards also have shamrocks which can be used to help thwart another player's murder or hazard attempt on Doctor Lucky. Finally, both the weapon and hazard cards have a piece of artwork on them representing the particular weapon or hazard. This is probably the one thing about the cards that I don't like. The artwork is so much fun on everything else, but the artwork on these doesn't even look like it came from the same game. This looks more like something from the 1890's. It looks like a badly sketched design that someone used colored pencils on. If you've ever seen the artwork from the original Alice in Wonderland book, then you kind of get what I'm talking about. The artistic designs are fairly similar. I mean I kind of get what they were going for, but I really wish that they'd continued with the already fun and great looking artwork that had been used on everything else. Apart from that, the game looks great. I really like the designs and find it to be fun looking game.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is fairly small. Much like the other games from Cheapass Games, the book is only a few pages long. The book starts with a little bit of a back story behind the game. From there it goes into the basics of the game along with a break down of the components. The next 2 pages explain the different phases of a player's turn and also how Doctor Lucky moves. Finally the back page of the book contains a few rules changes for 2 and 3 players, along with how to win the game. The basic rules are for 4 or more players. These rules help keep the game from ending too quickly by adding a few automated players to the mix. For more details on these rules, please check the rulebook. I will say that there aren't a whole lot of pictures in this rulebook. There's a nice picture that shows how to add to a character's movement and attack value, by placing cards under their character card. There's also a couple of iconography pictures and a couple of art pieces. I rather like the art pieces, especially the one on the back cover with Doctor Lucky's cat. The rules do explain things rather well, using some examples in the text. However a few times I found myself looking back or ahead to figure out a specific rule or understand how something worked. Thankfully with the book only being 4 pages long, it's not that difficult to do. For that reason, I won't judge it too harshly. The rules aren't that difficult to understand and should be fairly easy for anyone to read. Overall I think they do a good job of conveying the rules in a reasonably simple manner.
8 out of 10



GAMEPLAY
If you've ever played any of the Kill Doctor Lucky games, then you probably already understand the concepts behind this one too. You move around the board trying to get Doctor Lucky alone and kill him. Simple, right? However this version also has ways of hurting the competition, as well as a optional game rule that allows you to eliminate them altogether. I have to say that I really like this new version. I like the optional rules and will, more often than not, choose to use the elimination rule. It sort of adds a new dimension to the game that the other versions don't have. With that optional rule in play, you really have to keep an eye on your hand and try not to run out of cards or you could fall right into an opponent's hands. Needless to say, I like this version even more than any of the others that I've played. I love trying to get everything lined up, only to have the old codger luck out due to some help from my opponents. No wonder he's called Doctor Lucky. I can say that I've always enjoyed the Doctor Lucky games, most likely because I always enjoyed Clue as a kid. These games are kind of like a reverse version of Clue but more fun. This one is no different. Fans of any of the Doctor Lucky games should enjoy this one too, especially if they like a little more player interaction. If you've never heard of or played one of these but you like Clue, then I'm pretty sure that you'll enjoy this game too. This is one that I would recommend. It's not overly complex but can provide enough strategy for everyone to enjoy. This one is family friendly and is one that even the younger players can take part with. Overall, I enjoy this game. It's the best of the series so far for me.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
The Island of Doctor Lucky is a light weight game of murder on a dangerous island. This isn't a very long game. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes or so. The artwork on board and some of the cards is really fun and looks great. However the weapons and hazards cards feel a bit disconnected in terms of the artwork. They almost look like they came from a different game. The wooden pieces are very nice and give a real classic board game feel to this one. I do think that they could have been updated a bit, possibly into some screen printed meeples or something of that nature. The rulebook is pretty well written and includes a few special rules for playing with less than 4 players, as well as a fun variant that I wouldn't play without. The game itself is a lot of fun. I really like the addition of the hazards and how that they can be used against other players. I especially like using the elimination rule for playing hazards against your opponents. For players familiar with any of the previous Doctor Lucky games, this should feel familiar but with a bit more fun to it. Fans of those games should enjoy this one. I would also think that anyone that enjoys Clue should also like this one too. This is a game that I would recommend. I like it a lot. For me, it's the best Doctor Lucky game in the series. It's family friendly and a lot of fun to boot. Now if I could just figure out where I put that elephant gun.
8 out of 10

For more information about this and other great games, please check out Cheapass Games at their site.

http://cheapass.com
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Tue Sep 4, 2018 10:13 pm
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Gaming Bits: Dice Wars: Heroes of Polyhedra Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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Dice Wars: Heroes of Polyhedra is a game by Zach Roth, published by Brybelly. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will take on the role of commander of a fantasy army. They will be trying to defeat their enemies through either strategic wit, overwhelming might or silver-tongued cunning. Of course they will have to devise their tactics on the fly as each army will be completely random. In the end, the player that fulfills one of the 3 victory conditions first will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player will choose a Faction of a particular color. For a 2 player game, each player will choose 2 Factions which will be deployed in opposite ends of the map. They will then take the corresponding dice of that color; 7 unit dice per Faction and 3 numerical dice. Players will then roll all 7 of their unit dice. If the player's Advanced unit dice match, they must reroll one of them. If two players Hero dice match, then both players must reroll the die. Once all players have completed building their armies, they will then need to find their unit cards in the deck by matching the die face to the corresponding icons on the unit cards that are color coded to their particular Faction's color. Each player is also given a number of HP cubes to keep track of the health of their Advanced and Hero units. Players should now work together to build the map by placing the 9 map tiles onto the play area. It is recommend for first time players to use the layout provided in the rulebook. Once the map has been setup, players roll their 20 sided die. The player that rolls highest is the first player. Players will now place all of their unit dice onto the map; one die per hex paying attention to any impassible terrain. Each die must be placed in the corner tile closest to the player. Players are free to move and adjust their placement until all players have agreed upon the deployment. Once this is completed, play now begins.



The game is played over a series of Command phases. In each Command phase 2 of a player's units will take a turn. A unit's turn consists of movement and an action. At the beginning of a player's Command phase, all of their conditions that they grant or inflict will be dispelled. Players may use their movement and action in any order. They may even split their movement by moving a number of hexes, taking an action and then completing their movement. When moving, the player moves one of their units a number of hexes based on the stat on their unit's card. They may even move their units through an allied unit. However certain types of terrain will either slow or block a moving unit. Once the unit has been moved, the player may choose to face their unit in any direction. However if the player ends their turn with an action, the unit is left facing the direction of the action.

Speaking of actions, there are 4 major actions that a player may take. These actions are Weapon Attacks, Using Skills, Capturing Cities and Guarding. First off there are Weapon Attacks. These can be either physical or magic. Physical weapon attacks are rolled with 2 six sided dice, while magic weapon attacks are rolled with a 20 sided die. Physical weapon attacks are modified by the attacker's Attack and Range stats, as well as the defender's Defense stat. To attack, the defender must be within the attacker's range and also they must be able to be targeted. This means that they can't be obstructed by mountains, walls, forests, or other units. Magic weapon attacks ignore all of the defender's Defense stat. However they can still be affected by bonuses. When attacking using a physical weapon attack, the attacker rolls their 2 six sided dice, adding their attack stat and any other bonuses to their roll. The defender then rolls their 2 six sided dice and adds their defense stat along with any bonuses to their result. If the attacker rolled higher, the defender takes 1 point of damage. If the defender rolled higher, no damage is dealt. If the roll is tied, then both players reroll until there is no longer a tie. When attacking with a magic weapon attack, the attacker and defender both roll a 20 sided die and add any bonuses.

Using Skills is another action that may be taken. For a player to be able to use one of these, the target must be within the skill's range and the player using it must make and succeed at a skill check by rolling 2 six sided dice. The result must be equal or greater than the number required to use it. Some skills have a greater result that is an even more powerful skill granted for players that roll high enough on their check. If a player fails to meet the minimum requirement for the skill, nothing happens but the player still loses the action.

Another action that may be taken is Capturing a City. Players are able to capture either unclaimed cities or those that are controlled by their opponent. For unclaimed cities, the player must move onto the the city's center hex known as the Capital. They will then use this action to draw a random wooden city sigil. The sigil is placed into the city's capital. The player will then find the city's matching card and place it face up in front of themself. When capturing a city controlled by an opponent, the player spends this action while on the city's Capital. They will then take the corresponding city card from their opponent and place it in front of themself. Captured cities give a player and any of their allies a bonus that is shared between any and all cities that they control. Some cities have skills that may be taken by a player. These skills can be used by spending an action for one of the player's units during the Command phase.

The final action available for a player to take is Guarding. A player uses this action to place one of their units on guard. Once done the guarded unit is granted +1 defense and can't be safely approached from their three front hexes. If an opposing unit enters one of these front hexes, the unit must immediately attack the guarding unit with either a weapon attack or skill. If the opposing unit does not attack then it will suffer a counterstrike equal to the guarding unit's attack stat. If it survives the counter-strike, the opponents unit may continue it's turn.

One thing that should be noted is that some units have traits that do not require an action to be used. Instead these can be used during a player's phase and are considered always in effect.

The game continues with players taking turns until one of 3 victory conditions have been met. The 3 conditions are Regicide, Domination and Diplomacy. Regicide is met when a player kills an opponent's hero unit. The player that lands the killing blow is the winner. Domination is met when a player kills an opponent's last non-hero unit. The player that lands the killing blow on this last non-hero unit is the winner. Domination is met when a player holds 3 captured cities through 3 of their Command phases. When a player captures 3 cities, they will begin to accumulate victory points in the form of a golden crown token. These tokens are given to a player at the beginning of their next phase. Once a player collects 3 of these crown tokens, they win.



COMPONENTS
This game has some really great looking pieces to it. First off let's talk about the dice. After all, the game's called Dice Wars. There are several different types of dice. There's the normal numerical dice that consist of 2 six sided dice and a 20 sided for all 4 colors; green, red, purple and blue. These are pearlized dice that look really great, much like what you'd use for a normal tabletop rpg. The other dice are absolutely huge. These consist of basic, advanced and hero unit dice for all 4 colors. There are 4 six sided dice, 2 eight sided and a 12 sided. The 12 sided is sparkly and has gold engraved designs on it. The others have white engraved designs on the six sided dice and silver engraved designs on the eight sided ones. These are normal colored with no pearlized or sparkle features. If you've seen the dice from any of the Story Time Dice games, you'll know just how big we're talking in terms of size here. I mean the six sided dice are like an inch across. There are dice bags in each of the four colors to hold all of the colored dice in. There's also a 5th colored bag to hold the wooden city sigils. This bag is brown like wood. The bags appear to be double layered and quite sturdy. The sigils are thick and wooden. They are fully painted and have the name of the city on one side and the sigil on the other. These are two toned and look absolutely great. There are also some HP cubes that are made from red plastic that are included with the game. Next there is a bunch of tokens that are included. These are all made of thick cardboard and include the victory point crowns, bonus tokens in several denominations, army banners and map tokens. The bonus tokens are a bit small but they work out quite nicely. The banners look great and are a fun reminder of who controls what color. There are 9 map tiles that come with the game. These are quite large and pretty thick. They have a nice finish to them and the artwork on them is pretty basic fantasy battlefield looking. Finally there are all of the cards. These come inside a very nicely produced tuck box. I have to say that I quite like the tuckbox design. It looks really cool. There are cards for each of the 4 colors that include all of the different units. Each color has the same type of units, just with a different colored outfit for each one. These take care of the basic and advanced units for each color. The hero cards are used for all of the color and there is only 1 card for each face of the hero dice. This is why players have to reroll if they both get the same result. There are also cards for the cities and for the relics, which are used in the advanced game. There's one final piece remaining and that's the quick reference quide, which I will discuss in the rulebook section. Let me just say, these are some great looking pieces. I'm very impressed with the overall look and design of the whole game. The dice and cards work well together to help players keep their units separated. All of the pieces are very sturdy and high quality. I don't think there are many war games or dice games that look quite as good as this one does. This is extremely well done.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is fairly thick. It contains a bunch of information which is well written and well designed. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book. The book starts off with a thematic letter that explains the backstory of the game. From there, all of the components are explained in great detail. Every element from the map tiles and cities to the units and unit cards are covered extremely well. The book then starts to delve into the actual rules from setup to how the game is played. Along the way, the book explains things like the different types of terrain and how they work, the different attack types and targeting, as well as explaining the different type of conditions. Everything is easy to read through and easy to understand. As someone who doesn't play very many war games, this was easy enough that even I could understand it. I don't think anyone should have any problems either. After all the rules are explained, the book goes into the advanced gameplay variants. These add new layers of tactical depth to the game as well as adding new challenges. There are 7 different challenges that include ancient relics, faction bonuses, shuffling the map, the Hinterlands, alliances and coalitions, tournament deployment and veteran units. I'm not going to go into how each of these work. For now, it's just something to be aware of. For more information, you can check out the rulebook. Needless to say, these really add a new spin on things and really change up some of the gameplay. I haven't tried all the different challenges yet, but look forward to trying them out. The other thing to note is the quick reference guide that I mentioned earlier in the components section. This thing is shaped like a huge polyhedral dice and is super thick, like the map tiles. One side has the Dice Wars logo, while the other has all of the pertinent information for playing the game. Everything from the types of terrain and attack types to a step by step walkthrough of the command phase. This could have been printed on a card or two and placed in front of the players, yet this massive piece of coolness was created instead. I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with the quick reference guide, as well as the rulebook. Overall I'd say it was a job well done.
9 out of 10



GAMEPLAY
In terms of war games, this is one of the best war games that I've played. It's fairly easy to understand and play. It's easy enough that even war game novices like myself can play it without any problems. In some ways it feels a bit like an introductory game into the war game genre. The thing is that there are plenty of challenges and strategies to make it fun for even veteran war gamers. The advanced gameplay really opens things up and introduces a lot of different ways to play the game which will really increase the replayability of the game. Another aspect of the game is that it feels more like a skirmish style game than an actual war game. Most war games last 90 minutes to 2 hours, and that's for an easy game. This one plays in about 45 minutes to an hour. That's easily half the time of a normal war game. With so many different combinations that can be had from a simple roll of the unit dice, there's an infinite amount of teams that each player can use to vanquish their foes with. I like that the game doesn't come down to simply destroying all of a player's units. The game can be won in 3 different ways, which makes it possible for players to use several different ways to win. They can try to take out a players hero or if the hero is too tough, they can try to wipe out their non hero units. Of course there's also the diplomatic method, but this can be a bit tough to do. It's especially hard with more than 1 opponent. Once players see that you've captured that 2nd city, they will be all over you making sure that you don't keep them for long. In any event, I really like this game. It's not what I was expecting. While the large dice and cool looking artwork drew me in, the gameplay kept me wanting to play it. It kind of reminds me of the game Duel of Ages. The main difference to me though is that this game looks a lot better and is more fun in my opinion. This is a game that is easy enough that the whole family can play together. Even the younger players can participate with just a little help from mom or dad. The advanced game challenges add just enough to make things interesting for more advanced players. Fans of fantasy style war games or games with skirmish modes in them should enjoy this one, especially if they prefer shorter play times. This is a game that I would recommend, especially as an introductory style war/skirmish game. Overall, this is a hidden gem that is a whole lot of fun to play.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Dice Wars: Heroes of Polyhedra is a fantasy war game with some of the largest dice imaginable. The game isn't long, especially for a war game. Most game sessions are around 45 minutes to an hour. The components are all great quality. I love the huge dice and the thick map tiles. The artwork is equally good and every piece works well with the theme. The rulebook is also great. There is plenty of information including several challenges for advanced players. I especially like the added quick reference guide that is very thick and sturdy. The game itself is a very fast playing war game lasting less than half the time of most war games. It's a great introductory game into the genre but it also has plenty of strategic challenges and rules for advanced players. This is a family friendly game that can easily be taught to players of almost any age. Younger players may have a bit of trouble understanding some of the concepts, but for teens and up, it works great. There are plenty of layers of strategy that can accommodate both new and veteran players alike. Fans of fantasy style war games or games with skirmish modes in them should enjoy this one as well. This is a game that I would recommend. It's especially great as an introductory war/skirmish game. Now if you'll excuse me...I have a city to capture.
8 out of 10

For more information about this and other great games, please check out Brybelly at their site.

https://www.brybelly.com/
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Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:18 pm
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Gaming Bits: Story Time Dice: Scary Tales Review

Jonathan Nelson
United States
Birmingham
Alabama
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Story Time Dice: Scary Tales is a game by Zach Roth, published by Imagination Generation and Brybelly. It is for 1-7 players. In this game, players will become story tellers as they set forth to tell a spooky story through some of the creepiest places. Along the way, they'll use their imagination to overcome obstacles with the help of some powerful tools. Of course every good scary story has some kind of twist ending. In the end, will the hero make it through the story in one piece or will they succumb to the creature that stalks their every move. Their fate lies in the hands of the story tellers.

This game can be played in any way the players would like. The rulebook includes 7 different games that may be played with the dice. In this review, I will discuss a few of them. For more ideas and information, please check the rulebook.

The two games that we've played the most are "It Was A Dark And Stormy Night..." and Campfire Stories. These are some of the most basic ways to play. The first one that I'll explain is "It Was A Dark And Stormy Night...". In this game, players will take turns telling a scary story. On a player's turn, they will roll all 7 of the dice to determine the Setting, Hero, Villain, Obstacle, Tool, Twist and Ending of their story. The player will then begin to tell a scary story using each of the seven elements. Of course, they'll have to make sure and begin the story with, "It Was A Dark And Stormy Night..."

The next game is called, Campfire Stories. For this game, the dice are divided among all the players. To begin, the player with the Hero dice rolls their dice first. They will then begin to tell a scary story using the hero that they rolled. As soon as the player gets stuck with the story, the next player in turn order rolls their dice and continues the story where the previous player left off, just like they were telling a story around the campfire. They will need to be sure and add the element from their die roll to the story. This continues until all the dice have been rolled. Players continue to take turns telling the story. Once all the players have finished and have gotten stuck, the player with the Endings die rolls their die. They will then finish the story. It should be noted that if players would like to play a longer game, the Endings die is set aside until all the other dice have been rolled at least twice.

In this game, there are no winners or losers. The idea is to spark imagination and creativity and to just have fun telling stories.



COMPONENTS
The only components that come with this game are 7 gigantic polyhedral dice. Let me tell you, these things are like 2 to 3 times the size of a normal die. I can honestly say these are the largest dice I've seen in any type of board game. The dice are made of solid plastic and are very durable. Each die has a special type of plastic that allows it to glow in the dark. Each die contains one of the 7 different story elements; Hero, Villain, Tool, Setting, Obstacle, Twist and Ending. Each face of the die is a different image. So for instance, the Hero and Villain dice are both 12 sided, giving players 12 different heroes and villains to use in their stories. The Obstacles and Settings dice are 8 sided, the Tools die is 20 sided and the Twists and Endings dice are 6 sided dice. Each of the different images is pretty easy to pick out and understand. However if anyone needs help, the rulebook includes a dice guide that tells what each symbol represents on each die. I think the images are really fun and not actually creepy or scary. This is something that smaller kids can pick up without worrying about them having nightmares. The images are fairly easy to pick out, although a few of the heroes are a bit too similar in my opinion. I'd also like to point out that the images on the Tools die are a bit small too. It's not a major issue, but sometimes I have to get right up on it to see what the element is. The dice guide is very helpful on these issues too. Overall I think the dice themselves are really cool looking and are a lot of fun to roll. Everything comes packaged inside a cardboard tuck box that is easy enough to carry with you anywhere. I really think that everything looks really nice and the added glow in the dark feature for the dice ramps up the cool factor. For the most part, these are some really cool dice.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a double sided, tri-folded sheet of color paper. The paper is actually pretty thick and is a lot more sturdy than usual paper. On one side there are the rules for 4 regular games that can be played with the dice, as well as 3 more advanced ways to play. One thing to note, the last game included in the rules can only be played if either the original Story Time Dice or the Fairy Tales expansion are owned. I just wanted to point that out. On the rules side of the sheet, there's a picture of the box cover. This is the only real picture on the entire rulebook. The back side of the rules is the Dice Guide. This is a black and white guide to each of the 70 different dice faces found on the dice. Each particular die has it's own section with a picture of the die face along with a label telling what it's supposed to represent. Of course these are suggestions and may be changed or swapped to anything the players choose. It's completely up to them. Everything in the rules is very easy to follow and understand. As a matter of fact, it only takes a couple of minutes to read over everything. Players simply need to choose a way to play and they're ready to go. Overall I think the rulebook does a good job of explaining everything. I'm particularly happy with the Dice Guide. That side of the rules can be left out on the table or wherever you choose to play as a reference for the dice faces. Needless to say, I like how simple the rules are and I also like that there are so many different ways to play.
8 out of 10



GAMEPLAY
Players that are familiar with Rory's Story Cubes or any of the other Story Time Dice products will understand how this game works quite easily. The main idea is for a player to roll the dice and then tell a story using the images rolled. It's very simple to understand. However the actual story telling, that takes work. For some players, it's quite simple to master the art of story telling. For others, they may need a bit of encouragement and possibly even some help. Unlike with the Fairy Tale dice , my son on actually found these dice to be more to his likings. If you read my review for them, you'd know that he wasn't a fan of the sparkly pink dice. These glow in the dark ones were a lot cooler to him though. In addition, the more monster like scary elements on the dice are more to his likings as well. My daughter also enjoyed the novelty of the glowing dice but was a little less keen on the scary elements. She is still in love with the Fairy Tale dice and prefers them. In any event, the dice are great and they're a lot of fun to play with. I really enjoy using the different dice to tell a story with. These are very good at helping to spark some inspiration and creativity in your kids. They're also fun and useful at helping them to write stories. As a home schooler, these work great for that purpose. There are many ways that home school parents can use them. Let's say that you want the kids to work on their handwriting, simply roll the dice and have them write a story using the elements from the dice. They can then work on their verbal communication and read aloud skills by having them read their story out loud. That's just one of the ways these dice can be used. Fans of Rory's story cubes or any of the other Story Time Dice will enjoy these dice as well. The dice are family friendly and lots of fun for all ages. As a home schooler and parent, I would definitely recommend getting a set of these and/or the Fairy Tale dice. They are a great addition to any home.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Story Time Dice: Scary Tales is a game of dice rolling and story telling. It doesn't take a long time to play. Most of our game sessions lasted around 15 minutes or so. However you can play for as long as the story takes. It's completely up to the players and the story. The dice are lots of fun and look great. My son and daughter both really enjoyed the glow in the dark aspect of the dice. I like that the images on the dice are large enough to be able to see clearly, apart from the Tools die. The Hero die also had a few issues with some characters looking too similar. The rulebook has plenty of ideas for how to use the dice. Of course you can play with them however you like. The game, as you can tell, is whatever you make of it.
It's a lot of fun to tell spooky stories as if you were sitting around the campfire. My kids really get a kick out of it and it's fun to hear what they can come up with from their imagination. Fans of games like Rory's Story Cubes or any of the other Story Time Dice sets should enjoy this one. The game is family friendly and is fun for all ages. Even though the stories are spooky, there's nothing here that should give the kids nightmares. The game is also great for home school teachers and families and can be used in a variety of ways. Overall I would definitely recommend picking up a set of these. They are really great and look amazing. That's The End...or is it?!
8 out of 10

For more information about this and other great games, please check out Brybelly at their site.

https://www.brybelly.com/
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Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:03 pm
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Gaming Bits: Story Time Dice: Fairy Tales Review

Jonathan Nelson
United States
Birmingham
Alabama
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Story Time Dice: Fairy Tales is a game by Zach Roth, published by Imagination Generation and Brybelly. It is for 1-7 players. In this game, players will become story tellers as they set forth to tell an epic tale of good vs evil throughout a fantastic fairy tale world. Along the way, they'll use their imagination to overcome obstacles with the help of some powerful tools. Of course no good fairy tale can be told without a twist. In the end, will the hero be victorious or will they know utter defeat. Their fate lies in the hands of the story tellers.

This game can be played in any way the players would like. The rulebook includes 7 different games that may be played with the dice. In this review, I will discuss a few of them. For more ideas and information, please check the rulebook.

The two games that we've played the most are "Once Upon a Time..." and The Never(?)ending Story. These are some of the most basic ways to play. The first one that I'll explain is "Once Upon a Time...". In this game, players will take turns telling a story. On a player's turn, they will roll all 7 of the dice to determine the Setting, Hero, Villain, Obstacle, Tool, Twist and Ending of their story. The player will then begin to tell a story using each of the seven elements. Of course, they'll have to make sure and begin the story with, "Once Upon a Time...".

The next game is called, The Never(?)ending Story. For this game, the dice are divided up equally among the players. The Endings dice, however, is left out. To begin, the player with the Hero dice will roll their dice first. They will then begin to tell the story using the hero rolled, along with any other dice. As soon as the player gets stuck with the story, the next player in turn order rolls their dice and continues the story where the previous player left off. They will need to add the elements from their dice roll to the story. This continues until all the dice have been rolled. The dice are then redistributed as equally as possible and the dice rolling and story telling continues. Once each of the dice have been rolled at least two times, one of the players rolls the Endings dice and finishes the story. It should be noted that players may roll more than twice if they choose to play a longer game.

In this game, there are no winners or losers. The idea is to spark imagination and creativity and to just have fun telling stories.



COMPONENTS
The only components that come with this game are 7 huge polyhedral dice. When I say huge, I mean HUGE! These things are like 2 to 3 times the size of a normal die. I can honestly say that I've never seen dice this large before, apart from maybe those fuzzy dice that people would hang over the mirror in their car. Unlike the fuzzy dice though, these things are solid plastic and are very durable. Each die is kind of see through with lots of pink glitter on the inside that shimmers like a star when placed in the sunlight. As soon as my daughter saw them, she immediately fell in love with them. I mean after all, they're pink and glittery. Each die contains one of the 7 different story elements; Hero, Villain, Tool, Setting, Obstacle, Twist and Ending. Each face of the die is a different image. So for instance, the Hero and Villain dice are both 12 sided, giving players 12 different heroes and villains to use in their storys. The Obstacles die is 8 sided, the Tools die is 12 sided and the Settings, Twists and Endings dice are all 6 sided dice. Each of the different images is pretty easy to pick out and understand. However if anyone needs help, the rulebook includes a dice guide that tells what each symbol represents on each die. I think the images are really fun and cute. Even without the dice guide, it's pretty easy to figure out the different icons. Overall I think the dice themselves are really cool looking and are a lot of fun to roll. I mean, it's not every day you find dice this big to roll. Everything comes packaged inside a cardoard tuck box that is easy enough to carry with you anywhere. I really think that everything looks really nice and it definitely gets my daughter's stamp of approval. We're both very pleased with the dice.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a double sided, tri-folded sheet of color paper. The paper is actually pretty thick and is a lot more sturdy than usual paper. On one side there are the rules for 4 regular games that can be played with the dice, as well as 3 more advanced ways to play. One thing to note, the last game included in the rules can only be played if either the original Story Time Dice or the Scary Tales expansion are owned. I just wanted to point that out. On this side of the sheet, there's a cute picture of a princess with a sword fighting a dragon. Looks like she didn't need Prince Charming to save her. At the bottom of the page is a bunch of various characters running around. The back side of the rules is the Dice Guide. This is a black and white guide to each of the 70 different dice faces found on the dice. Each particular die has it's own section with a picture of the die face along with a label telling what it's supposed to represent. Of course these are suggestions and may be changed or swapped to anything the players choose. It's completely up to them. Everything in the rules is very easy to follow and understand. As a matter of fact, it only takes a couple of minutes to read over everything. Players simply need to choose a way to play and they're ready to go. Overall I think the rulebook does a good job of explaining everything. I'm particularly happy with the Dice Guide. That side of the rules can be left out on the table or wherever you choose to play as a reference for the dice faces. Needless to say, I like how simple the rules are and I also like that there are so many different ways to play.
8 out of 10



GAMEPLAY
If you've ever played with Rory's Story Cubes, then you're probably familiar with the concept of rolling dice and telling a story. It's not really all that hard to understand. However the actual story telling, that takes work. For some, it's quite simple weaving the different elements into a story that's worth telling. For others, it may take a bit of practice and possibly even some help. My son is one of the latter. He can tell you all the history behind a particular type of gun or piece of machinery that was used during World War II and have you completely spellbound by his narration. However ask him to tell a story that uses imagination and creativity and he will stare at you like a cow trying to do calculus. It just doesn't click with him. My daughter on the other hand is more like me. She can create some of the wildest and most imaginative stories that you've never heard before. It's always interesting to sit in on one of her play times with her dolls and toys. Let me tell you, I'm still wondering how Apple White is going to find the perfect dress in time for the prom. I'm guessing it'll come down to Ariel and some mermaid magic. That's just my thoughts anyway. Needless to say, if you actually read the section on the components, you'd know that my daughter already loves the dice for this game. My son, on the other hand, was a bit reluctant to play with such girly looking dice. No need to worry though, we took care of that with Scary Tales dice. Expect to see a review for them very soon. In any event, the dice are great and they're a lot of fun to play with. I love telling stories so these are quite cool to spark some inspiration when you have a bit of story teller's block. They're also fun and quite usefull at helping kids to learn to write stories. As a home schooler, these work great for that purpose. Want the kids to work on their handwriting, roll the dice and have them write a story using the elements from the dice. They can then work on their verbal communication and read aloud skills by having them read their story out loud. There's just lots of creative ways that the dice can be used. Fans of Rory's story cubes will enjoy these dice, especially since they're about twice the size of Rory's. The dice are family friendly and lots of fun for all ages. As a home schooler and parent, I would definitely recommend getting a set of these. They are a welcome addition to your teacher's resource arsenal.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Story Time Dice: Fairy Tales is a game of dice rolling and story telling. It doesn't take a long time to play. Most of our game sessions lasted around 15 minutes or so. However you can play for as long as the story takes. It's completely up to the players and the story. The dice are lots of fun and look great. My daughter loves the fact that they are pink and sparkly. I like that they are large enough to be able to see the details of each element on them. The rulebook has plenty of ideas for how to use the dice. Of course you can play with them however you like. The game, as you can tell, is whatever you make of it. It can be a lot of fun sitting around and telling stories involving fairy tale heroes and villains. My daughter loves playing the game and telling stories. Fans of games like Rory's Story Cubes should enjoy this one, especially since the dice are twice the size of Rory's. The game is family friendly and is fun for all ages. It's also great for home school teachers and families and can be used in a variety of ways. Overall I would definitely recommend picking up a set of these. They are really great and look amazing. Once you've played with them, you'll be able to say, "...and they lived happily ever after. The End!"
8 out of 10


For more information about this and other great games, please check out Brybelly at their site.

https://www.brybelly.com/
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Mon Aug 13, 2018 4:00 pm
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Gaming Bits: Shaky Manor Review

Jonathan Nelson
United States
Birmingham
Alabama
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Shaky Manor is a game by Daniel Skjold Pedersen and Asger Harding Granerud, published by Blue Orange Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will take on the role of treasure hunters as they try to collect the hidden treasure from the local haunted house. They'll have to be careful though as lots of spooky creatures will be trying to keep them from escaping the manor with their ill gotten gains. The player that can best maneuver themselves through the manor with the treasure will be declared the winner.

To begin, the boxes should be set up so that each of the walls match the floors for each room. Each player takes a Shaky Manor box along with a meeple, 2 ghosts, 2 eyes, 2 spiders, 2 snakes and 3 treasure chests. Players will set up their boxes by placing a meeple, a ghost and 3 treasure chests randomly into them. The remaining items are placed in front of the player. The cards are shuffled and placed in a pile with the objects side face up. Play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. To start each round, players will randomly switch up all the items in the player to their right's box. One player flips over the top card of the deck, showing a specific room. In future turns, the next player in turn order will flip over the card. Players will now race to get the meeple and the 3 treasure chests into the room pictured on the card. It should be noted however that there may not be any other items but those in the room. As soon as a player completes the task, they must then get the player to their right to double check their box. If everything is as it should be in the box and that player is the first to complete the challenge, they win the card as a point. If they are wrong, they must give back a card. The remaining players will then continue until someone is able to complete the challenge correctly. Once a player wins, the player to their right will now pick an object from those in front of the player. It is then added to the winning player's box. A new round will then begin. The game continues until a player reaches 5 points. The first player to do this is the winner.

The game also comes with a different way to play the game. Setup is exactly the same, except for two things. In this game, all of the objects are placed into the players box, not just a meeple, 2 ghosts, 2 eyes, 2 spiders, 2 snakes and 3 treasure chests. The other thing is that after shuffling the cards, they are placed with the room side face up instead of the objects side. For this game, both sides of the cards will be used. Before each round, players will randomly mix up their boxes and then hand them to the player on their left. To start the round, the card is flipped over and placed beside the deck. The two cards are then used as a reference. The players must now race to get all the objects pictured on the flipped over card into the room pictured on the other card. Just like before, no other items may be present in the room. Once a player completes the challenge, they must get the player to their right to check to see if they are correct. If they are correct and the first player to complete the challenge, they win and receive the card as a point. If they're wrong, they must give a card back. The remaining players will then continue until someone is able to complete the challenge correctly. A new round will then begin by flipping over a new card to reveal a new set of 2 cards. The game continues until a player reaches 5 points. The first player to do this is the winner.



COMPONENTS
The game comes with 4 large cardboard boxes that have dividers which separate the box into 8 colored rooms. The cardboard is quite thick, especially on the actual box itself. The colors and patterns are easily distinguished from each other, so there's no worry that you might misunderstand which room is which. The walls have cut outs in them so that the different objects can be slid around inside the box. The game also includes a large selection of objects, most of which are wooden. There are meeples, ghosts, eyes, snakes and treasure chests that are all made of wood. There are spiders that are rubber. The meeple is dark brown and has some highlights that make it look like an explorer of some kind. The ghost has some little gold highlights on it, as does the eyeball. The ghost is also a meeple. The eye is a round ball. The snake is purple and is a zig zag piece of wood with a gold eye. The treasure chests are wooden cubes that are painted gold. The spiders are black rubber with white highlights painted on. The cards aren't normal playing card size but are smaller and square. One side of the card shows the room, while the other side shows a selection of different objects. The cards are a good thickness and have a nice finish on them that makes them easy to shuffle. I think the different pieces are silly and fun looking, while the boxes are a good size. They are easy to manipulate and move around. Each piece moves around quite well inside the box, which is good. Overall I think everything looks and feels good.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a large double sided sheet of color paper. It has several pictures and a couple of examples on it. The rules are pretty much straight forward, so there's nothing too difficult to understand. Everything seems to be laid out pretty well. With the rules on only 1 sheet of paper, everything is easy to find. The rules include 2 different ways to play the game and an additional variant for the 2nd game. There's nothing overly fancy or jaw dropping about the rulebook, but then again there's nothing bad about it either. Of course once you understand the rules, there's not much need to look back at the rulebook, except maybe to see how many of each piece is placed into a player's box for the first game. Overall I think the rulebook gets the job done and looks good too.
7 out of 10



GAMEPLAY
I remember when I was a kid there were these plastic mazes that had little ball bearings in them. The idea was to get the ball bearing from the entrance of the maze to the end of it by turning and tilting the maze back and forth. Those things were always entertaining and were good for killing time. In a lot of ways, this game reminds me of those little plastic mazes. Through the course of the game you're tilting and turning, shaking and bumping your box to try and get the different pieces where you want them. Of course the more pieces that are in the box, the more difficult it is to get each one where you need it to go. As an adult, I have the patience and ability to gently guide each piece around the box. My daughter on the other hand is like a bull in a china shop. She will shake and turn that box back and forth, many times putting more items in her way than out. Of course she still has fun moving the pieces around. That's what this game is, moving pieces around in your box until you get the right ones in the right room. The thing is that you've got other players trying to do the same thing at the same time and only one of you can win. Some things move a bit slower, like the snake or the spider, but the eyeball can be a real pain. One minute it's way up in the far corner, and the next it's rolled all the way into the room you're trying to complete. This game is one that I think kids will enjoy. It's family friendly and easy enough that all age groups can play. Adults that enjoy dexterity games should find this interesting enough, especially those adults with kids. Fans of dexterity games like Jenga or Maki Stack should enjoy this one as well. While this isn't one of my most favorite games, as I'm not big on dexterity games, I can still appreciate the fact that my daughter enjoys it. To me that matters the most. I think there are plenty of people that will enjoy this one. This is one that I'd recommend giving a try. You very well may enjoy it.
7 out of 10

OVERALL
Shaky Manor is a dexterity based game of moving and shaking for the whole family. The game doesn't take very long. Most game sessions last around 15-20 minutes. The components are very good. I like all the many different pieces and how well the pieces are made. They are fun to look at and manipulate. The rulebook isn't very complex, but then neither is the game. I think that the rulebook works for the simplicity of the game. The game itself is one that kids of all ages should enjoy. The fun of moving all the pieces around and trying to get them in a particular room reminds me of the old plastic mazes with the little ball bearing inside them. My daughter likes how everything works and she seems to enjoy the game a good bit. Fans of dexterity games like Maki Stack and Jenga should probably enjoy this one as well. This is a family friendly game that is easy enough for old and young players alike. This is one that I would recommend giving a try. While it's not necessarily my cup of tea, it's definitely one that the kids will enjoy. This is one game that's meant to be shaken, not stirred.
7 out of 10


For more information about this and other great games, please check out Blue Orange Games at their site.

http://www.blueorangegames.com/
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Thu Aug 9, 2018 1:56 pm
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