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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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Gaming Bits: Maki Stack Review

Jonathan Nelson
United States
Birmingham
Alabama
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Maki Stack is a game by Jeff Lai, published by Blue Orange Games. It is for 2, 4 or 6 players. In this game, players will be teaming up as they race to stack up plates of sushi and soy sauce. In some cases they'll have to do it blindfolded, while other times they'll be using their fingers as chopsticks. In the end, the team that can win 6 Challenges first will be declared the winners.

To begin, players should be divided into 2 even teams. Each team is given a Sushi Mat, Mask, and a Sushi set, consisting of a Cucumber Roll, a California Roll, a Fish Roe Roll, a Soy Sauce bottle and a Plate. The Challenge cards are shuffled together and placed face down in the middle of the play area. The rules for both modes of play are explained so that both teams understand them. Once everyone is ready, play now begins.



The game is played over a series of rounds. The way each round is played is determined by the Challenge card. If the card shows Mask mode with a red card, the team must pick a player to wear the mask. This player will be the one to stack up the objects, while their teammates direct them by describing the stack shown on the card. If the card shows Chopstick mode with a yellow card, the teammates must work together to stack up the objects on the Challenge card, but may only use one finger. It should be noted that a player that is describing the stack can not touch any of the objects or show their teammates the Challenge card. Once the game mode has been determined, the Challenge card is flipped over or picked up to reveal the stack. Both teams will now race to complete the challenge, exactly like it's shown on the Challenge card by stacking up the various objects to match the picture on the card. If the stack falls, the players start over. The first team to complete the challenge wins the Challenge card.

The game continues with teams stacking up the different objects as they try to complete each Challenge card. The first team to collect 6 Challenge cards wins.

For games with only 2 players, the rules are a bit different. Setup is all the same, except that the masks are not used for 2 player games. Another difference is that all of the challenges are played in Chopstick mode, regardless of the card color. In this mode, the players must use a finger from each hand to stack up the objects. The rest of the rules remain the same.



COMPONENTS
This game comes with some really great looking pieces. First off there are all the large wooden pieces. There are 6 sushi pieces, 2 of each kind. There are also 2 bottles of soy sauce and 2 plates. Each of these pieces looks like just what it it's supposed to. The pieces are fully painted and look very nice. They're large enough that even younger players should be able to manipulate the pieces fairly easily. I really like how nice and fun the pieces are. The game also includes to large cardboard mats. These have a glossy finish and look like bamboo. There are 2 blindfolds that appear to be foam rubber with an elastic band attached to them. Surprisingly they work well. I honestly didn't think that they would work but they are pretty good at making it hard to see. The final pieces are the Challenge cards. These are a bit larger than normal playing cards. On one side there's a picture of the pieces in a particular arrangement that players will need to arrange them into. On the back side the card shows either the red Mask mode or the yellow Chopstick mode. The cards are quite nice and they're fairly easy to understand as well. I like how nice everything looks on the table. It has a very thematic look to it. Overall the components are good quality and are well made. I'm quite pleased with the finished product.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is a double sided piece of paper. It's fairly small too. There are only 2 pictures on the page, one of each of the different card types. There are no examples of gameplay included, but there's not really much need for any. The rules are easy to understand and are explained really well. There are rules for 2 players which are a bit different than the regular rules. The rules also include some different variants that make things a bit more difficult. Overall, everything is very straight forward and easy to follow. There's nothing difficult to understand. Considering that the rules are so simple, there's no need for anything bigger than the single sheet of rules. However I do wish that this had been placed on a card or something a bit sturdier, as the sheet tends to curl up around the edges. For the most part, it does the job it's intended to do, even with the small issue.
7 out of 10



GAMEPLAY
I'll be honest, I'm not a big fan of dexterity based games. Games like Jenga have never interested me. When my friends would stack up their dice as we played D&D, I didn't find any thrill in doing it myself. My daughter, however, is a different story. There's something about stacking things and trying not to let them fall that intrigues her. The child has a copy of Jenga at both of her grandparent's houses as well as having a copy at home. She will play the game by herself if no one else wants to play, stacking up pieces as she tries to keep them from falling. It's like she's trying to see just how close she can get to making the tower fall before it actually happens. It's no wonder then that she likes this game too. The large clunky pieces with their bright colors and fun shapes really caught her eye, as well as mine. I'll admit, the pieces were what caught my attention to begin with. I thought that even with my aversion to dexterity games, this looked like it could be fun anyway. It seems that I was right. I have to say that I do enjoy stacking up the pieces, maybe it's due to the bright colors and shapes. I couldn't honestly say. My daughter and I have played this one with just us, however I've simplified things a bit to handicap myself just a bit and give her an advantage. I play the normal rules of Chopstick mode, while she simply tries to stack things up accurately. It seems to work out pretty well for us, as sometimes she misses the simple details of how a particular piece will be turned. This gives her a few extra seconds to think as I'm trying to get my pieces stacked with just 2 fingers. As a family game, it's rather fun and silly. The kids enjoy teaming up against each other, using my wife and myself as their teammates. Needless to say, the boys vs the girls tends to be a regular match up in more than just this game. It's nice to hear the laughter as we race to stack up the pieces. It's fun even when you just barely lose. This is a nice family friendly style game. It's one that can be played with all ages. Fans of dexterity based games like Jenga should enjoy this one. This is one that I would recommend.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Maki Stack is a game full of sushi stacking fun for the whole family. The game doesn't take very long at all. Most game sessions last around 15 minutes. The components are all really good quality. The wooden pieces are all big and brightly colored and we like them a lot. The rulebook is a bit small and is only a double sided sheet of paper. I really would have preferred something a little more durable, as the paper tends to roll up on the sides. The game itself if a fun family friendly style game that can be played with all ages. There are plenty of ways to play the game to make it harder or easier. There are even rules for games with just 2 players. My daughter really enjoys stacking up all the pieces and she likes watching my stack fall even more. Fans of dexterity based games like Jenga should enjoy this one. For me, it's an actual dexterity game that I don't mind playing. That's a win in itself. In any event, this is one that I would recommend. Each order is sure to make you smile. So start stacking, cause your order's up!
8 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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Wed Aug 8, 2018 8:01 pm
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Gaming Bits: Cat Crimes Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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Cat Crimes is a game published by ThinkFun. It is for 1 player, but may be played cooperatively with more players. In this game, a player will be trying to solve a series of mysteries, perpetrated by some very sneaky and mischievous cats. The player will need to use their deductive reasoning and logic skills if they hope to uncover the felonious feline. In the end, if the player is able to determine the culprit, they will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. The player will then choose a Challenge card, based on difficulty. Each particular Challenge card describes the crime that was committed. The player will then take the specific Crime Token that matches the image on the front of the Challenge card and place it over the corresponding position on the board. For instance, the broken flower pot token would go on top of the flower pot image on the board. The Cat standees are then placed within reach of the player to be placed around the board during the game. Once the player is ready, play now begins.

As the game is played, the player will read over each individual clue to determine the placement of each particular cat. Each clue will reference one of the cats. The clue also may give an identifying trait, a position relative to one or more of the other cats and/or to one of the pieces of supporting evidence on the table. The clue may also may also reference the Birdcage or Fish Bowl. In some cases, the clue may mention that the cat or cats were upstairs sleeping. In this case, these cats will not be used in the particular challenge. Positioning the cats means understanding some of the terms used in the clues. For instance, if the clue says a cat is sitting in front of something, then it is placed at the location closest to that item. Other terms used are near, next to, between, to the left, across from or 2 seats from another cat. Understanding each of these clues will help the player to determine the placement of each cat so as to satisfy all the clues on the challenge card. Once the player has placed all of the cats around the board and they can name the cat sitting in front of the crime token, the game is over. The player has caught the culprit and they win. To make sure, the player checks the back of the card which shows the placement of each cat and which cat is the guilty one. The player is then able to start all over with a new challenge and a new crime.



COMPONENTS
The game comes with some amazing looking components. First off there's a fairly large deck of challenge cards. As a matter of fact, there are 40 different challenges in 4 different difficulty levels ranging from beginner to expert. The cards are a bit larger than your normal deck of playing cards. They have a nice glossy finish and are a good thickness. Each difficulty level is color coded. So for instance, beginner challenges are green while expert cards are red. Each one is easy to pick out. Each card has a series of clues on the front along with a picture of the crime token used in each challenge. On the back, the guilty cat is revealed along with the placement of each of the cats around the board. These are great. Each one is a little harder and a bit more challenging than the previous one. Each one is individually numbered so that you can progress through each challenge if you like. The board is amazing. It is very thick cardboard with a linen finish. The table that the cats sit around is actually a separate layer of cardboard that is in the middle of the board for a dual layered effect. The individual cats are huge cardboard standees that are quite thick, just like the board and have a linen finish. Each one has a cute picture of the cat that it represents along with it's name. The crime tokens are also thick cardboard with a linen finish. These depict everything from a spilled cup of coffee to a broken flower pot. These are used to cover up the original art on the board. For instance, the cup of coffee is covered with the spilled cup of coffee. The artwork on all of the cardboard pieces is absolutely adorable and is so much fun to look at. I really like the designs and love how big and nice looking each piece is. My daughter loves all the different cats and enjoys telling stories with them, even when she's not playing the game. The game itself is very good quality. The pieces are large enough that even children and adults with smaller hands should have no problems manipulating them. The one minor problem that I have with the game is that when you get ready to put the game up, you have to remove the cat standees from their bases each time, as the box isn't large enough to hold them assembled inside. Of course, this is only a minor gripe as everything is so thick that it hasn't been a problem as of yet. So far there has been no damage to anything, even though I've removed them from their stands several times already. Overall, I'm completely in love with how cool everything looks. This is a great looking game.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is very good. There are plenty of pictures and examples throughout the book. There is a very nice 2 page spread that explains the board and how to understand each picture on it. The rules are thoroughly explained from placing crime tokens to the key terms used in the game and how to position the cats. The book also includes some tips on playing the game as well as detailed bios with pictures on each of the cats. The book is cute and fun and is very easy to read through and understand. Everything is extremely simple and is easy enough that kids can understand it. My daughter had no problems with the rules at all. Overall, I feel that the rulebook does a great job of explaining the rules and helping players get started solving crimes. I really like how the book looks and is designed.
8 out of 10



GAMEPLAY
Apart from being extremely cute and well designed, the game itself is actually quite fun. While intended for a single player, this is one that a parent or sibling can help out with quite easily. The object of the game is to place the various cats around the table in such a way that each of the various clues on the challenge card are met. The card will give you clues such as what a particular cat is sitting in front of or which cat they're sitting across from. Of course these are only a few of the many different varieties of clues to be discovered while playing the game. The idea is that you want to determine which cat is sitting in front of the crime token. When you've completed all of the clues, you'll wind up with the guilty cat at the scene of the crime. I'll be honest, starting out the clues are pretty darn easy. As you get into some of the harder challenge cards, especially the expert ones, even I had a bit of trouble figuring them out. It's not wonder that on a couple of occasions, I had to step in to help my daughter figure out a particular clue or help out with a specific challenge card. This game is really great at helping children with some logical thinking and a bit of deductive reasoning. I think it's also great for helping parents and children work together. For me, I like games like this that make you think, even though it's designed more for kids. My daughter and I both really enjoyed this one. Even though we still have some challenges left to explore, you can bet that we'll be solving those crimes very soon. Fans of puzzle games or game that make you think, should enjoy the challenges presented in this one, especially if they like cats or have children. This game is a lot of fun and one that I know we will revisit. I would definitely recommend this one to parents as a way of helping to encourage logical thinking. It's a great game that is super cute and loads of fun.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Cat Crimes is a logic based game of deduction that involves some mischievous kitties. The game doesn't take very long. Each challenge card takes anywhere from a couple of minutes to 10 minutes or so, depending on the difficulty. Players can play as few or as many challenges as they would like. The artwork and design of the components is really great. I love how thick the cat standees, crime tokens and game board are. I especially like the dual layered board and the cute and fun artwork. The one complaint that I had is that you have to remove the stands from the cats every time you put up the game. I really wish the box had been a bit bigger to accommodate fully assembled standees. The rulebook is easy to read through and looks great too. I especially enjoy the various bios and pictures of each of the different cats. The game itself is a puzzle filled gold mine. It's a lot of fun trying to figure out where each of the cats are sitting and which one committed the crime. My daughter and I both enjoyed figuring out each crime and working together to solve them. My daughter really enjoys the huge standees and loves telling stories with them by themselves. Parents with kids of all ages should enjoy the challenges that this game presents and how it helps their kids with their deductive reasoning and logical thinking. Overall this is a very fun game that we all enjoy. I only hope that there will be some more challenge cards available in the near future to add to the fun that we're already having. In any event, this is a game that I would definitely recommend for parents to pick up for their kids. If you miss out on this one, it'll be a CAT-astrophe.
8 out of 10


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

http://thinkfun.com
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Mon Jul 23, 2018 8:44 pm
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Gaming Bits: Sailor Moon Crystal: Dice Challenge Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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Sailor Moon Crystal: Dice Challenge is a game by James Ernest and Mark MacKinnon, published by Dyskami Publishing Company. It is for 2-8 players. In this game, players will take on the role of one of the many characters from the Sailor Moon TV show, either hero or villain. They will use these characters to battle against their opponents with. Players will be using various types of dice to try and capture their opponent's dice with, earning themselves points in the process. In the end, the first player to win three rounds of combat will be declared the winner.

In this review, I will mainly be discussing the Standard rules for 2 players. I will discuss the various multiplayer options a bit later, in the Gameplay section.

To begin, each player chooses one of the character cards and places it in front of themself. They will then gather together a set of Starting dice and a set of Reserve dice, based on the dice shown on their character card. This will normally mean having a mixture of different colored dice, as the game comes with only 4 colored sets of 6 dice. The player's Reserve dice should be placed near their character card for later use. Once players have their character card and dice, play now begins.

The game is played in a series of rounds. Starting off, each player will roll all of their character's Starting dice as their Starting roll. Players should then arrange their dice in a row so that each number is easily read. The player with the lowest number rolled is the first player. On a player's turn, they will perform an attack on their opponent, if they're able. The player may choose to make either a Power Attack or a Skill Attack. To perform a Power Attack, the player will use one of their dice to capture one of the other opponent's dice. This is done by using one of their own dice that shows a number greater than or equal to one of their opponent's dice. The opponent's captured die is then set aside near the attacking player in their victory pile. The attacking player will then reroll the die that they used in the attack. To perform a Skill Attack, the player will use two or more dice to capture a single die from their opponent. The numbers on the attacker's dice must add up to exactly the number of the die that the player wishes to capture from their opponent. Once again, the captured die is set aside near the attacking player in their victory pile. The attacking player will then reroll the dice they used to in the attack. If a player is unable to make either a Power Attack or a Skill Attack, they must pass. A player is not allowed to pass or forfeit their turn unless they can not make a legal attack. Once a player has finished with their attack, their turn is over and play passes to their opponent.

The game continues until a player captures their opponent's last die. When this happens, the round is over. Each player will then score points for each die that they captured, based on the number of sides on the die. They also earn points for each of their own dice that was not captured, earning half the number of sides on the die. Players will then add up their points. The player with the most points wins the round and is given a victory token. For the player that lost the round, they are able to move one of their character's Reserve dice into their Starting Dice group. Of course, this move is optional. Once this move is completed, a new round begins.

The game keeps going with players capturing dice from their opponents and winning victory tokens for each round won. The first player to win three rounds wins the game.

One last thing of note, each character has a special ability that can be used at various times during the game. When using these powers during play, it's recommended for the player to take a number of tokens that match the special ability and place them beside their character card. The number of tokens is equal to the number beside the ability icon on the card. For those abilities with no number beside it, this power functions continuously. Each time a player chooses to use an ability, they must set aside one of the tokens to indicate it having been used. There are 11 different abilities. There are abilities that grant an extra turn, allow a reroll of the dice before attacking or even recover a lost die. Some abilities will allow a player to bring in 2 reserve dice or even remove one of a player's current starting dice. For more information on abilities and how each one works, please check out the rulebook.



COMPONENTS
This game comes with some great looking components. To start off, their are 4 sets of polyhedral dice consisting of a 4 sided, a 6 sided, an 8 sided, a 10 sided, a 12 sided and a 20 sided die. Each set is a different color, there are green, orange, blue and red sets. Each set of dice has large white numbers on it and the finish is marbilized. These are some really great looking dice. They are very bright and colorful. The game also comes with a good sized stack of character cards, 24 characters to be exact. Each of these is normal playing card sized and has a large picture of the character, along with their Starting dice, Reserve dice and special ability icon. The cards are a very good thickness and have a nice finish on them. The iconography is easy to understand. The special ability even notes what the power is in smaller and condensed text beneath the icon. Also included with the cards are 6 bonus showcase challenge cards that a player may place inside one of the plastic card holders that are attached to the custom Sailor Moon Crystal lanyards. These have a chibi style Sailor Moon character on them with a cute little word balloon for challenging other players at conventions with. These are super cute and have some silly challenges written on them. I especially like Tuxedo Mask's challenge. The lanyard is super adorable and has a string of chibi style characters on it as well. I love how cool these look. My daughter couldn't wait to put one of these on while playing the game, even though we were just sitting at the house playing it. The final pieces to the game is a large sheet of tokens. These consist of special ability, coins and victory tokens. Each token is made of thick cardboard. The special abilities match with the icons on the character cards, while the victory tokens are rectangular and have the words Victory Token written on them, surrounded by flowers. The coins come in 2 denominations of 1 and 2. To be honest, I have no clue what they're used for. I have looked over the rules several times and haven't seen anywhere they may be used, unless they're meant for Tournaments. In any event, they look cool, even if they're not used for anything. Overall, I really like how great everything looks. If there were one thing to complain about, it would be that I wish there were twice as many of each colored set of dice. While there are enough for 2 players to play with, you'll need more dice to play with more players. Other than that, I love the cute and coolness of this game.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is really well designed. All the information is laid out in a very easy to read and understand format. There are plenty of great pictures including a layout of all the many different character cards. There's a great example of gameplay with detailed round by round details. Reading through this will help players to easily understand the basics of gameplay. There are several pages where all of the special abilities are explained in great detail as well. Each ability also has a picture of the icon that represents it. This icon is also found on the cards that use the particular ability. The rulebook also includes several different variants for playing the game. There are rules for Single Combat Teams, Tag Team Combat and Dice Challenge Tournaments. I'll discuss this a bit more in just a moment. Overall the book isn't that long but contains all of the vital information needed to play the game in various different ways. I'm pleased with the design and find it very helpful and easy to navigate.
8 out of 10



GAMEPLAY
For many players, this game will seem very familiar. In fact, anyone familiar with the game Button Men will already have a good grasp on how this one is played. The reason being is that this game is based on Button Men. There are a few differences in the rules, but not many. For one thing, each character has a special ability that may be used at different times. With Button Men, some characters didn't have any type of ability. Those that did, were only gifted with one of three different abilities. In this game, there are 11 different abilities. For those counting along at home, that's 8 more than Button Men has. Each round of gameplay is also a bit different. Instead of a round lasting until each player passes, the round lasts until all of a player's dice are captured with this game. This makes the rounds a little bit longer but gives more opportunities for come backs from almost defeated players. Of course that's not all. As I mentioned earlier, the rules include several new ways to play the game. In Single Combat Teams, up to 4 players can play. This can be played in two teams with players controlling between 1 and 4 characters each. Each team should have the same amount of characters on each side. Winning is determined by a best of series of rounds. Tag Team Combat is played with 4, 6 or 8 players equally divided into 2 teams. In this version of the game, players tag in and out until one team is ultimately defeated. Players are even allowed to use the special abilities of their teammate's characters as well as that of their own character. Like with the standard game, the first team to claim 3 victory tokens wins. Finally there is the Dice Challenge Tournaments. This is played with an unlimited amount of players. In this version, players compete in 1 on 1 matches while keeping track of their victories using some sort of token. Each player will start off with a number of special tokens which they must give the winner of their 1 on 1 match if they lose. If a player loses all their tokens, they're out of the tournament. After the end of a specified play time, the player with the most special tournament tokens is the winner. As mentioned earlier, this game only comes with enough dice for really 2 players to play. More dice and special tournament tokens will be needed if players wish to play any of these special variants. Needless to say, there's plenty of different ways to play the game. Of course for me, I prefer the original way. This game is a great filler game that looks really cute. I'm sure that this game could even be combined with the original Button Men or Button Men: Beat People Up if so desired. Fans of either of these original games should really enjoy this one, especially if they're a fan of anime shows like Sailor Moon. I really like how easily this game can be carried. All of the components can be placed into a small bag and carried very easily. Like the originals, this game has a very small footprint making it possible to play almost anywhere. Fans of dice rolling games should love this one. My daughter loves the characters and really enjoys the fast and simple fun of this game. This is a game that I would highly recommend.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Sailor Moon Crystal: Dice Challenge is a dice game of combat in the Sailor Moon universe. The game doesn't take long to play. Most game sessions last around 5 - 10 minutes. The dice and cards are all very good quality and the artwork is cute and fun, like the Sailor Moon show. I especially like the added lanyards. They are so awesome. The rulebook is very good as well and covers everything wonderfully. I especially like the special ability break downs and the extra variants to play with. The game itself is fast, simple and fun. It does involve a good bit of luck, like any dice game. The game is small enough and has such a small footprint, that it's easy to carry along with you wherever you go. Of course you'll need to put it in something to carry, as the main box is quite large. Fans of Button Men should be very familiar with this game, as it borrows heavily from the rules of play in that game. Fans of dice rolling games and especially Button Men, should really enjoy this game. Players looking for a quick and easy game that works great as a filler, should look no further. Fans of Sailor Moon should enjoy this one as well. Overall it's a great little dice game that should appeal to a lot of players. This is one that I would highly recommend. In the name of the Moon, it's fun.
8 out of 10


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

http://www.dyskami.ca/
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Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:00 pm
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Gaming Bits: Wallet Review

Jonathan Nelson
United States
Birmingham
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Wallet is a game by Wilfried and Marie Fort, published by Cryptozoic Entertainment. It is for 2-7 players. In this game, players take on the role of a birthday party goer for a huge mafia boss. Unfortunately the cops have decided to raid the party causing the big boss to escape on his private helicopter. Seems in the rush, he dropped his walled and players have a few moments to fumble through the wallet for something to save them from arrest. Of course if they're able to grab a bit of money and jewelry at the same time, that's all good too. In the end, the player that can secure their innocence and snag the most loot will be declared the winner.

To begin, the Hourglass cards are placed in the center of the table with the hourglass side face up. A Victory Point token of value 1 is given to each player. The remaining Victory Point tokens are placed in the interior zipped pocket of the wallet. The pocket is then zipped closed. The Special cards are shuffled together. Two cards are dealt face down to each player. The remaining cards are set aside not to be used in this round. Each player looks at their Special cards and places them face down in front of themself. The 5 Extra ID cards are placed in the front compartment of the wallet. If playing with only 2 players, the cards with the number 2 in the bottom left corner are the only ones used. For all other player counts, all the cards are used. It should be noted that if players wish to play a more balanced game, then they may choose to use the cards with the numbers on them that are equal and less than the number of players. Any extra cards are set aside. Once the Playing cards are chosen, they are shuffled together. Each player is then dealt 5 cards face down. The rest of the Playing cards are placed into the wallet. A number of coins equal to the number of players is placed onto the table face down. Each player randomly picks a coin. Once each player has chosen a coin, the coins are revealed. The player with the coin of the lowest value is the first player. These coins remain face up on the table in front of the players. Play now begins.

The game is played over 3 rounds. During a round, each player in turn order will take a turn. On a player's turn, they may perform one action from a list of four. First, they may take 1 card from the wallet without looking at it and add it to their hand. Second, they may place a card from their hand into the wallet. Third, they may buy an ID by paying 300 CU (currency units) or more in any combination of currencies and/or jewelry, placing them face up on the table. The player will then take the extra ID cards from the separate compartment and pick one without showing it to any of the other players. The new ID card is then added to their hand, while the remaining ID cards are returned to the compartment they were taken from. Finally, they may flip over one of the Hourglass cards in the middle of the table. It should be noted that when the Playing cards are placed into the wallet, they should all be facing the same direction. Anytime a card is placed into the wallet, it should face the same direction. When taking cards from or placing cards into the wallet, players should do this without looking. When placing a card into the wallet, the player is allowed to place the card anywhere in the deck. Once each player has completed a turn, the first player must then flip over one of the Hourglass cards before taking their next turn. One last thing of note, Special cards grant a player a special benefit that allows them to different things, like perform 2 regular actions, force all players to pass a card in their hand to the player next to them or even exchange cards with another player of their choice. These cards have instructions on them that tell when they may be used, either at the beginning of the player's turn or at the end of the round. Each card's text should be followed as written.

Once the last Hourglass card has been flipped over, the round ends. As noted above, some Special cards may take place at this time. Once they have been resolved, any Police Officers on duty reveal themselves. A Police Officer is considered on duty if the player has the Police Officer ID, no more than 500 CU and no more than 2 types of currencies on hand. He may not have any other IDs and must also have the Police Badge. The Police Officer will then inspect a player by looking at their ID and prop cards. All players will then reveal their cards. Players will either be found innocent or guilty. Players are found innocent if they have only one ID, no more than 500 CU and no more than two types of currencies on hand. It should be noted however that Jewelry is not considered a currency. Players are found guilty if they don't meet the requirements mentioned above. It should be noted that some IDs and prop cards will change what a player may or may not have at the end of a round to be considered innocent or guilty. For more information on this, please check out the rulebook. Any player found guilty must lose 1 Victory Point token of their choice, placing it in the interior zippered pocket of the wallet. Innocent players will then count their money. Innocent players will then draw a number of Victory Point tokens from the wallet depending on the number of players, starting with the wealthiest player. It should be noted that not every innocent player will receive Victory Point tokens. Victory Point tokens are kept face down in front of the player. Once all this has been completed a new round begins. Setting up a new round is much like before. For more information on this, please check out the rulebook.

The game continues until three rounds have been fully completed. At this point, players add up their Victory Points and the player with the most points is the winner.



COMPONENTS
This game consists of mostly a bunch of cards and some tokens. However it does have one really unique component that I've never seen used in a board game before, a large wallet. The wallet is a bit larger than most wallets would be. It appears to be made of the same type of material as those kids wallets we used to have back in the 80's. The logo for the game is printed on the front of it, along with the board game companies. The wallet has one zippered pocket and one regular pocket. The back part of the wallet, where one would normally keep their cash, has a zipper on either side. It's actually quite weird, not only because of the zippers but also because the wallet doesn't open all the way up like a normal wallet would. The material that the 2 pockets are on is smaller than the length of the full wallet. Still, it's a very unique and unusual game prop. The tokens for the game are made of thick cardboard. These are used for the Victory Points and the coins. The coins have a special design on them, while the VP tokens are just numbers. These are pretty good quality. The rest of the game is comprised of the various types of cards. There are the hourglass cards which depict a giant hourglass on them. These are used to keep track of time during the game. The special cards are played at different times and have several different images on them, some that are in keeping with the games theme and some that are more about actual game mechanics. The Playing cards contain IDs, props, jewelry and currency notes. There are also 5 extra ID cards. The ID cards have large illustrated images of the specific character type that they represent. The jewelry and props are all large images of what they represent, such as a credit card, badge or ring. The currency cards are brightly colored almost like Monopoly money, just in card form. The game also has some reference cards to help during the game. Needless to say, the game looks really interesting. I like the artwork for the cards especially the different character designs. Each piece fits in well with the theme and helps you to really get into the game. I like that cards were chosen for the money instead of going with paper money or something like that, although that would have been a bit more thematic. I think all the different elements work well together and make for a unique party style game.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is rather small. By that I mean that it is literally about the size of a normal playing card. It's also not a very thick book either. Even with the book being small, it's still got plenty of great pictures and some examples as well. The actual rules take up about 2 pages, plus an extra page for setting up the game. There are 6 pages of nothing but ID, prop and special cards. Each card is explained in great detail with an actual picture of the card. This is really great and is extremely helpful, especially when learning the game. Everything is really easy to read and understand. It doesn't take long to read either. I will say that it does take a little bit of reading to completely understand how the game is played. For instance, you'll have to read the section for the different cards to understand how they work instead of everything just being lumped together in the general rules. It's a little bit annoying but with the book being so small, it's not too bad. There is a bit of page flipping that you'll have to do to completely get everything, so just be aware. Overall, the rulebook is pretty good. I think I would have preferred a bit bigger book, but this one gets the job done.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
On the box, this game calls itself a party game that only takes 15 to 30 minutes to play. While I get where they're coming from, I don't exactly get the reasoning behind that decision. I guess it's due to the fact that games with a similar feel, such as Werewolf or other social games of that nature, are labeled as party games. Whatever the case may be, this is definitely one of the most unusual party games that I've ever played. It definitely has aspects of social deduction, as players will be trying to figure out which ID the other players may have. However unlike in games like werewolf, it's not as big a deal unless you're guilty and someone else has the policeman with a badge. That's about the only real time that you'll worry about it. The other IDs just place different restrictions on how you win. Of course the main idea is to get exactly what you need from the wallet and then to flip over those hourglass cards as quickly as possible so that you win. Of course the fact that each player is dealt out 2 special cards that can really mess you over is something that you have to watch out for. You may have to do a bit of bluffing or rearranging some cards into or out of your hand to get things lined up just the right way. The main thing is to keep a watch on the hourglass cards and make sure that you only have the cards that you need to be innocent. Even if you have to accept less CUs, it's better to not be greedy and push your luck. I found that every time I felt like I could sneak just a little more money into my hand, that's when I'd mess up. Overall this is a fairly easy game to play and it doesn't take a lot of time either. It's a quick party game that the whole family can enjoy. It's easy enough that even some younger players can enjoy it as well. Fans of games like Werewolf or any of the other social deduction style games should enjoy this one as well. This is one that I'd recommend giving a try. It's definitely a different way of playing and it gives more options and choices for players to make. I found it to be a fast, fun filler style game that will work at family gatherings or with just a group of friends.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Wallet is a party game that utilizes a very unique prop, an actual wallet. The game doesn't take very long to play. Most game sessions last around 15 to 30 minutes. The components are great and completely unique for a party style game. The wallet is a little weird in how that the zippers are placed which makes it not want to completely open. The artwork on all the cards is top notch and the tokens are all good and thick. The rulebook is very nice looking, albeit a bit small. There are some great card references in it with plenty of pictures. The rules do tend to skip about a bit making things a bit frustrating as you have to flip back and forth through the pages. The game itself is a neat take on social deduction and bluffing especially for a party game. I feel that it's a bit unusual for a party game but thematically things fit together quite nicely. I like that the game is short and doesn't really overstay it's welcome. I think fans of games like Werewolf or one of the many other games of that type should enjoy the way this one plays too. Players looking for a new twist on social deduction or for something different in a party game, should look no further than this one. This is a family friendly game that everyone can participate in and enjoy. While I'm not necessarily crazy about party games or even social deduction games, I think that this one is quite entertaining. This is a game that I would recommend giving a try. Who took my wallet?
8 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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Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:20 pm
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Gaming Bits: Go Nuts For Donuts! Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Go Nuts For Donuts! is a game by Zachary Eagle, published by Gamewright Games. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players will be trying to score the tastiest and best looking donuts from the bakery. However they'll have to be careful as other players might be after the same donuts as they are, meaning no one gets to eat it. In the end, the player that can choose their donuts the best will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player is given a set of selection cards in numerical order that is equal to the number of players plus 1. For example, in a four player game the player would receive a set of cards with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Any remaining selection cards are returned to the box. The donut deck is created by adding or removing cards based on the number of players. Each card has a colored background and dot around the outside of the description box to help players determine which cards to use. For a four player game, the teal, pink and purple background cards are used while the blue cards are only used with 5 players or more. The donut deck is shuffled and placed face down near the middle of the play area. A row of cards is then placed to the right of the donut deck equal to the number of players plus one. This area is known as the donut row. A donut row number indicator is then placed above each card in numerical order, starting with the number 1 nearest to the deck and moving to the right. Once this has been taken care of, play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. At the beginning of each round, players will secretly choose which of the available cards they want by taking the selection card that matches the card's number from their hand and placing it face down in front of them. Once all players have chosen a card, everyone reveals their face down card. Starting with the lowest number and going up, players will look to see if they are able to take their chosen card. If only one player chose the card number, then they are able to take it from the donut row and place it face up in front of them. If two or more players chose the same card, then no one gets it. The card is then immediately discarded to the discard pile. If a player was able to take a card and it has a star in the corner of it's description border, then that player is then able to activate it's special power when they take it from the donut row. It should be noted that this power is only able to be activated if the card was taken from the donut row. No powers are activated if the card was taken from another player, drawn from the deck or taken from the discard pile.

Once all of the cards that were selected by players has been taken and any special powers resolved, the donut row is refilled. That means that any empty spaces in the donut row are filled by drawing a new card from the deck and placing it into the vacated spot, starting with the lowest number and moving upward. Players place the selection card that they used during the round back into their hand. A new round will then begin in exactly the same way as above.

The game continues until there aren't enough cards in the donut deck to completely refill the donut row. When this happens, each player will then look at each of the cards in front of themself and count up the points received for each one, being sure to include any points earned from any special powers noted in the text of each one. The player with the most points is the winner.



COMPONENTS
These have got to be some of the cutest looking cards and pieces that I've seen since Sushi Go Party. The game consists of mainly two decks of cards. There are the small euro sized cards that are the selection cards. These have a number shaped donut on them. The other card deck is the actual donut cards. These are normal sized cards that have the different donuts on them that players will be trying to acquire through the game. The artwork on each of these cards is really cute and fun. The donut designs all have a silly and cute little face, much like the different types of sushi in Sushi Go. The back side of the cards make me think of the old Dunkin Donuts shops from the 80's. Each card has a really nice textured satin finish on them that makes them very easy to shuffle. The special abilities on the cards are easy to figure out and the text is large enough to read without any trouble. The other pieces that come with the game are the donut row indicators. These are made of thick cardboard and also have the same numbered donut designs as those on the donut selection cards, except with wints or vents. I'm not sure what the design is actually supposed to be. I'm saying wings. Each of these is double sided and have a shiny finish to them. I have to say that I'm pretty pleased with the overall designs of everything inside the box, including the insert, which fits everything in a nicely designed slot specific to each piece. Overall I think that the game is simply too cute for words and that it looks great. Kids will definitely love the designs and will be quite happy to see each new card type come out onto the table. I'm very happy with how this game looks.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is actually quite good. There are plenty of pictures and examples of gameplay in the pages of this book. Everything is explained really well and is quick and easy to read. The rules of the game are very straight forward and simple. The book also includes a donut guide that includes detailed explanations of each card along with a picture of each donut type. The guide even separates the donuts by the background colors of the cards so that you can easily find what you're looking for. I'm really thankful for this, even though most of the cards are pretty much self explanatory. I didn't see anything in this rulebook that was difficult to understand at all. This is a very well thought out and well designed rulebook. I'm very pleased with the overall look and design.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This game is so cute and so fun. When I first saw it, I immediately thought of Sushi Go. Each of the cute little faces on each one reminded me a lot of the different sushi images. In some ways these games are similar but also very different. In Sushi Go, you're drafting cards from different hands of cards that rotate till they're all gone. In this game, you're selecting cards as well, except that you're not always guaranteed a card each round. Sometimes you'll pick the same card that another player chose which means that neither one of you get a card that time. You really have to think about what the other player already has and what they might be going for. Are they wanting that donut with the high point value or do they want to be able to draw another card from the deck giving them 2 cards this round. Do they want to add to their set of donut holes or do they want to give you a negative card. These are the kinds of things you have to think about. While this is a fast paced game, it does have a little bit of strategy to it, not that you're going to be spending 10-15 minutes trying to decide what move you're going to make, like in some of those strategy and war games. Still with more players, you do have to make some tough decisions. With fewer players, the negative cards and those that interact more with the other players, don't really enter into the game. It's in those higher player counts that things can get a bit crazy and chaotic. I like that I can play a simple game with just my daughter or I can get the whole family together and really go at it with everyone. This is a great family card game that the kids will especially love. It's also a great filler game as well. The short play time makes it easy to bring to the table during a night of longer games quite easily. Fans of games like Sushi Go should love it for sure. Even though there are some similarities, this one is different enough that you can own both without any real overlap in gameplay. Needless to say, my daughter absolutely adores this game and so do I. This is one that I would highly recommend. What more is there to say? I love this game.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Go Nuts For Donuts! is a fast paced card game full of donut goodness. It's quick and easy to play. Most game sessions last around 20 minutes or so. The cards are great quality and have some of the most adorable looking artwork that I've seen. Many players will find the look very similar to that of Sushi Go. The rulebook is excellent and has a very helpful donut guide inside with pictures and explanations of each of the different cards. The game itself is a lot of fun. It reminds me of Sushi Go, but is different enough that players can own both without there being any overlap in gameplay. The game is family friendly and is fun for everyone from the kids to the adults. It also works as a great filler for a longer night of gaming. This is one that my daughter and I love. The more players that play, the more interaction there is between players and the more chaos there is. With fewer players, the game focuses more on gaining points and collecting sets of donuts. This is one that I can easily play with my daughter just to have fun, or I can play it with the whole family and we can get crazy. The varied styles of gameplay are an amazing part of this game. Fans of games like Sushi Go should love this one. I highly recommend this game. It's great for families, even those with younger kids. It's definitely got mine and my daughter's seal of approval. We love it a lot. One thing though, don't be surprised if you're craving donuts after playing it. I am.
9 out of 10


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

http://www.gamewright.com
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Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:20 pm
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Gaming Bits: Rick and Morty: The Ricks Must Be Crazy Multiverse Game Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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Rick and Morty: The Ricks Must Be Crazy Multiverse Game is a game by Matt Hyra and Cory Jones, published by Cryptozoic Entertainment. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of one of the characters from the TV show, Rick and Morty. They will be building contraptions and power supplies to earn victory points. Of course they'll have to watch out for their opponents who will also be trying to snatch up that power for themselves. In the end, the player that can earn the most VPs will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player chooses a character and takes the character's oversized card, pawn, VP tracking token and Build/Control tokens. Each player places the oversized character card in front of them. It is recommended for the first game, to have the full art side face up. After a few games, players can choose to use the flip side. The Power/VP track is placed near the middle of the play area. Each player places their character's VP tracking token on the 0 space of the VP track with their character's face side up. When playing with the special abilities, each player should read aloud their special ability for all players to hear. The oversized 'Verse cards are placed in the middle of the play area in a row. The cards are placed in this order from top to bottom; Rickverse, Microverse, Miniverse, Teenyverse. Space for cards to be placed should be left between each of the 'Verse cards. Each of the 'Verse card's special text is read aloud for everyone to hear. Each player places their character's pawn on the Teenyverse card. The cards are shuffled together and placed face down near the middle of the play area. Each player is dealt 5 cards each. This is their starting hand. The first player is chosen and is given the First Player token along with the 5 Action tokens. Play now begins.

The game is played over a series of rounds. Each round consists of two phases; the Action Phase and the Power Up Phase. At the start of each round, each player will draw 1 card from the deck. If a player is playing as Morty and using the special abilities side of the card, they will draw 2 cards instead of just 1. In the Action phase, each player will take a turn. At the start of each player's turn, they will take Action tokens equal to the Action icon value on the 'Verse card that their character's pawn is located on. In the player's Action phase, they will be able to take actions from a list of 6 different actions. Each action costs 1 Action token to perform. The player may use an Action token to place a Contraption card. This is done by placing the chosen Contraption card below the 'Verse card that your character's pawn is on. The player will then place 1 of their Build tokens on it with the hammer and wrench side face up. They may use an Action token to place a Power Supply card. This may be placed below the 'Verse that the player's character pawn occupies or it may be placed 1 'Verse lower. When placed on the same 'Verse as their character pawn, the player places a Build token on the card with the hammer and wrench side up. If the player chose to place it 1 'Verse lower, then the player must have enough Action tokens to complete it. However the cost to complete it is much lower and uses the lower Action cost on the card, more on this in a moment. Another action that may be taken for 1 Action token is to attach an Ability. The Ability card is placed beside the player's character card and just like Contraptions and Power Supply cards, a Build token is placed on it with the hammer and wrench side up. With Contraptions, Power Supplies and Abilities partially built, another action the player can take is to add a Build token to one of these for the cost of 1 Action token. Once the number of Build tokens matches the Action cost of the card, the player removes all of the Build tokens from the card. The card is then considered built. If a Contraption was built, the player flips one of their Build tokens to the other side to the face side and places it on the card to show who controls it. Power Supplies do not have owners but the player that completes it gains the reward listed on the card instead. Ability cards provide an ability that may be used once per round by paying the specific cost to activate it. If a player is running low of Action tokens, it should be noted that they have the option to discard a card to gain an action. Yet another available action for players to take is to move their pawn to an adjacent 'Verse card. This costs an action token just like the other actions. The final action is to discard a card to draw a card for the cost of one action. Once a player runs out of actions or chooses to pass, play passes to the next player in turn order. Once each player has completed a turn, play moves to the next phase.



The next phase is the Power Up Phase. In this phase, each 'Verse wil be resolved starting with the Teenyverse and moving up to the Rickverse. At the beginning of the game, the Power Level is set to 0 by placing the Power Tracking Token on 0 space of the Power/VP track. For each 'Verse, players will complete 3 steps before resolving the next 'Verse. First, the players must check for any completed Power Supplies in that particular 'Verse. If there are any, then the amount of power listed on the card is added to the Power track. Next, each player in turn order may play only one One Shot card and activate any number of their abilities once, as long as their character pawn is present on this 'Verse. One shot cards cost a specific amount of power that the player must pay by moving the Power Tracking token down on the track. For the final step, players in turn order will activate completed Contraptions that they control in the particular 'Verse. It should be noted that in the Rickverse, players may activate partially built Contraptions as well. Also of note is that players do not have to their character's pawn present on the particular 'Verse to be able to activate a Contraption. Once all Contraptions have been activated, or all of the power has been used up, any remaining power is saved and is available for the next 'Verse up. This process is then repeated for the next 'Verse up and so on until the Rickverse has been resolved.

Once the Power Up phase for the Rickverse has been completed, the round ends. Any remaining power is lost and the Power Track is set back onto 0. Players will then check to see if anyone was able to hit the required Victory Points number to end the game. If they reached that number at any time during the round, then the game ends. If not, then play and the First Player marker passes to the next player in turn order. A new round will then begin. If a player did hit the required number, even if they lost points placing them below the required number, the game ends at the end of that round. Players check the VP track and the player with the most VPs is the winner.



COMPONENTS
This game comes with some great quality pieces. First off there is the Power and Victory Point track. This is thick cardboard is has the show's logo at the top of it. As the numbers get higher, the color goes from green to red. It's pretty cool looking. Some other cardboard pieces are the different character pawns. There are four of these that showcase a particular character. The background color of these matches with the plastic base that the pawn is placed into. The color also matches on the character's VP Tracking token, Build/Control tokens and Character card. The tokens have the character's face on one side. The other side has a hammer and wrench for the Build/Control tokens and +30 on the back of the VP Tracker. The Power Tracking token is the same size as the player's VP Tracking tokens, but it has the power design that is present on the One Shot cards and at the bottom of the Power Supply cards. This design is also present on one side of the 5 Action tokens. The other side of these has a gear design that is the same as the Action cost on the different cards. The 'Verse cards are also thick cardboard pieces. These have a piece of art that looks like it was taken from the show. These cardboard pieces are really nice and sturdy. The Build/Control tokens feel a bit small but it's nothing major. This brings me to the cards of the game. There are the oversized character cards and the regular sized game cards. The character cards remind me a lot of the character cards for the DC Comics Deck Building Game. They seem very close to the same size, even the design is similar. On one side is a full art picture with the character's name. The other side looks more like the DC character cards with the character's name, picture and ability down below. I really like how these are set up and I like the artwork. Then there are the game cards. Each of these looks like it has an image from the show on it. The card quality is good, although the cards are a bit slick. The iconography on the cards is pretty simple to understand and the text is easy to read. This brings me to the few minor issues that I have with the components. First, there's the First Player token. This large cardboard piece depicts the main 2 characters with outstretched arms and raised middle fingers. In other words, they're flippin' the bird. Was this image seriously necessary? This same type of crude and brash humor is also found in the images of a couple of the cards, such as the Egan Cinema and Peace Among Worlds. Some of the card names are a bit rough as well. Those I won't list here, just be aware that they're there. Look I get that the game is based on an adult cartoon from Adult Swim. However there's really no need for images and words like that in a board game. I'm a bit disappointed. For the most part the game looks good, however those few blemishes on an otherwise nice looking game will affect my rating.
6 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is pretty good. There are a few pictures and some examples of gameplay in the book. However there can always be more. The explanation of how to set up the game is great, as is the picture that accompanies it. Each of the different icons, tokens and card types are explained in great detail, which I really appreciate. The problem I found was in the explanation of the rules. It seems like to get the full concept of how to play the game, you need to bounce from one page to the next. The phases and steps are laid out, but are then explained in greater detail on a different page. You'll also need to flip ahead to understand different parts not spelled out in this section, as well as flipping back for more information on how the cards work. It's a bit annoying and rather frustrating. The rules for the game are not that difficult, but to fully understand them requires way too much trouble. Thankfully, once you have learned the rules, the back page has a nice reference on how a round works. This is one more part of the book that I'm thankful for. No need to start flipping and hunting again. All that said, I think the book is ok but could have been designed a lot better. Once more, I'm disappointed in the results.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
So far, this game has had some very mediocre ratings from me. Thankfully though, the game plays better than the sum of it's parts. First I'll admit, I've only watched 1 episode of Rick and Morty. So I know very little about the show or it's characters. They look like a spoof of Doc Brown and Marty McFly from Back to the Future, which I'm sure is the basis for the characters. The one episode that I watched seemed rather disgusting and nothing like what I expected it to be. That said, I was only mildly interested in this game when I first saw it. Obviously some of the humor of the game is lost on me, having only watched 1 episode. Still I found the game quite interesting and kind of fun. It has a few similarities to the DC Deck Building Game with a bit of worker placement feel to it. The idea is to get the most Victory Points by building different Contraptions and Power Supplies. You'll power up your character using abilities and be better able to perform certain tasks by using your special ability. I like as the power levels build in each 'Verse, you're able to use that power to do more things. That is as long as you're able to be one of the first players to use it. The idea that players higher in the turn order can use up all the power before another player lower in turn order can adds a little bit of take that to the game. Of course you'll need to move around to be able to build and activate more Contraptions. The more you build and control, the better off you'll be and the more you'll be able to do. The one problem is that as you move further from the starting 'Verse, you'll lose more and more actions. The closer you come to the starting 'Verse, you'll start gaining those actions back. Of course you won't get them until the next turn. I do like how that the game seems to always be changing. Things get built and power gets added to the pool. This allows you to do more things and gives you more choices to make. I like having plenty of choices to make. It means that there's no one path to victory. That's true with this game. I think that fans of the show may enjoy this one, especially if they like any of the Cryptozoic Deck Building games or they like games with a worker placement feel to them. Thematically, I can't say that it fits or doesn't, as I'm unfamiliar with the show. As I mentioned earlier, the only real problem that I found with this game is the crude humor and images on some of the cards and the first player token. I saw no real need for any of it. Those few images and words could have been replaced with something different and it wouldn't have affected the gameplay. If anything it would have improved the look of the game. As it is, this is one that is not family friendly. That is unless you don't mind your kids seeing the images and words. This may work with older teens and adults. I'm guessing that's why it has ages 17 and up written on the box. That makes sense. Otherwise the game is good. I enjoy playing it. With the right group, it works. This is one that I would only recommend for the age limit on the box. For families and those with younger kids, this would be a pass. The main thing is to know what you're getting into before playing it. Overall, it's a fun game with an image problem.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Rick and Morty: The Ricks Must Be Crazy Multiverse Game is a game that combines aspects of worker placement with a bit of take that. It's centered on the characters from the Rick and Morty show on Adult Swim. The game doesn't take too long. Most game sessions last around 40 minutes. The components look great and are remind me of those found in the Cryptozoic Deck Building games. However there are a few things like the First Player token and some of the cards that have some rather crude humor and images on them that I found unnecessary. The rulebook looks good but requires a lot of page flipping to fully understand the rules. This was yet another aspect of the game that I found disappointing. The game itself makes up for some of the failures of the components and rulebook, as it's actually a fun game. I enjoy that there are aspects of several mechanics in work here. I enjoyed playing this one and find that even despite the minor issues that I had with this one, it somewhat redeemed itself. Unfortunately I know very little about the show so I'm sure most of the humor of the game has escaped me. This is one that is not family friendly. Families and players with small children should probably look somewhere else. Those players 17 and above may find plenty of things to like, especially if they enjoy the show. This is one game that I could only recommend for the ages listed on the box, 17 and above. As it is, it's not a bad game if you know what you're getting into first.
7 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 Jul 2, 2018 6:24 pm
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Gaming Bits: Mountains of Madness Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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Mountains of Madness is a game by Rob Daviau, published by IELLO. It is for 3-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of scientists on a daring expedition to Antarctica where they have discovered an ancient city behind a chain of nearly impassible mountains. They will have to work together to not only survive the harsh weather and rugged terrain of the mountain but also the attacks on their very sanity. Communication is the key as they try to discover one of a kind relics in this hidden city. In the end, if the expedition is able to recover more relics without suffering too many injuries, then the players will be declared the winners. However if their injuries prove to great, the mountain will have claimed them and all hope of discovery is lost.

To begin, the mountain board is placed in the middle of the play area. Each player choose a player board and places it in front of them on whichever side they choose. The Encounter Tiles are sorted by type and a set number of each are placed face down randomly on the matching spaces on the board. The Injury Card deck is placed face up on the board in it's space, as is the Arcane Equipment Card deck and the Relic Card deck. The Equipment Cards are shuffled and placed faced down on their space on the board. A number of Injury Cards are drawn from the deck equal to the number of players and placed in the Equipment discard stack. The Madness Cards are sorted by level and placed into face down stacks that are shuffled separately. These are then placed on their spot on the board. Each player is then dealt a number of equipment cards determined by the number of players. These may not be shown to any other players. The Sand Timer is put on it's space on the board, while the Penalty Die and Relic Tokens are placed near the board. The first player is chosen and assumes the role of Leader for the first turn. The Airplane and Sled Board are given to the first player, who will then place these in front of themself. The 6 Leadership Tokens are then placed on the corresponding space on the Sled Board. Finally, the Leader will deal out a number of Madness cards based on the number of players. Once this is done, play now begins.

The game is played over several turns. Each turn is divided into 5 phases; Movement, Encounter, Resolution, Draw and Rest. The first phase is the Movement phase. In this phase, the Leader will decide which direction to move the expedition, starting from the Coast and eventually moving onto the mountain, through the city and into the Edge of Madness before escaping through the sky. The players are able to discuss which path they think is best but ultimately the decision rests with the Leader. On the first turn, the Leader will take one of the Coast tiles and place it in front of them, placing the airplane onto the empty space. In later turns, the Leader must choose an adjacent space to move the airplane to. This may be be to a uncovered tile or into an empty space that had previously been taken. It should be noted however that the players may not stay on the same space. They must move. Also of note, when the players reach the Edge of Madness tile, they are no longer allowed to descend. They must try to escape by moving onto the next Escape tile for each of the next 3 turns. At the end of the turn where they moved onto the third escape tile, the players have escaped and the game ends. One last thing, in this phase the Leader can elect to discard one or more Leadership tokens to allow a player chosen by them, to ignore their Madness card for the rest of the turn. More on Madness Cards in a bit. The discarded Leadership tokens are moved from the Sled Board to the Leadership Token discard area on the board.

The next phase is the Encounter phase. In this phase, the players deal with the Encounter tile until the Sand Timer runs out. First the Leader will turn over the Encounter Tile if it's not already face up in front of them. They will then turn over the Sand Timer. At this point, any player that has a Madness card is forced to apply the effects of the card and must play accordingly. Madness cards affect a player's ability to communicate by changing the way they behave, talk or move. Once the sand timer is no longer running, players are free to act normally, but must act as if they don't remember their strange behaviors. Players are not able to discuss their Madness and may not show anyone else their Madness card. Once the sand timer is running, the players must use this time to gather any equipment needed to overcome the challenge as noted on the Encounter tile. Each tile will show 2 or 3 challenges along with the accompanying symbol for the type of equipment needed, as well as a number or range of numbers required to complete the challenge. Players are allowed to discuss which equipment they have in their hand at this time. Once players are ready they may play Equipment and/or injury cards by placing them face down onto the Sled board. This may be done at any time during this phase. As soon as a player places a card on the Sled board, any and all communication must stop immediately. Players are then able to play cards from their hand face down onto the Sled board until the sand timer runs out. If a player speaks or tries to communicate in any way, the Leader is forced to discard a Leadership token. Once the sand timer runs out, players must remain silent for a few more seconds as the Leader decides if they want to use a Leadership token or not. If they choose to use one, it is discarded from the Sled board and placed in the Leadership token discard area of the board. The Encounter phase is then restarted. The sand timer is flipped over allowing the players to once again talk and discuss. This can be done as many times as the Leader feels necessary. Once the Leader decides not to use any more Leadership tokens and the sand timer has run out, play continues on to the next phase.

The third phase is the Resolution Phase. In this phase, players determine if they were successful in overcoming the challenge from the previous phase and seeing if they gained any rewards or suffered any failures. At this time, the Leader reveals all of the cards placed on the Sled board, comparing them to the Challenge tile and the values for each type of equipment needed. If the total value of each required equipment type equals or falls within the given range of numbers, then the challenge was a success. If the total value is higher or lower than the required number of range of numbers, then it was a failure. If the players succeed in at least one of the challenges on the tile, they gain the reward shown on the tile. Rewards can be one of several different things. It can be a Relic card that forces a player to also draw a Madness card or a piece of Arcane equipment. It can also allow the Leader to turn over a tile for a few seconds to scope out a particular section. It can heal an injury on the Sled board, returning it to the deck or even place Leadership tokens back onto the Sled board. Of course if the players failed at any of the challenges, they must also suffer any failures. For each challenge that the team failed to overcome, the Leader must choose a consequence. The Leader can choose for one player to take a Madness card or roll the Penalty die. If all players already have a level 3 Madness card, then this option is not available. If a player already has a Madness card, they must draw a card from the next level up. If all players have a level 3 Madness card and a card must be drawn, the Leader must discard a Leadership token from the Sled board. If there are no more tokens on the Sled board, then the Leader places one of the Leadership tokens from the discard area on the board, back into the box. If the last Leadership token is ever returned to the box, then the players immediately lose the game. If the Leader rolls the Penalty die, they must apply the effect indicated by the symbol. This may be an accident that causes the Leader to draw 2 Injury cards and add them to the Equipment card discard pile. If an Injury card must be drawn and there are no Injury cards left in the deck, the players immediately lose the game. The die result can also lead to confusion which forces the Leader to discard as many cards from the Equipment deck as the difference between the total value of cards played of the required type and the failed challenge value. The Penalty die can also create a loss of confidence that requires the Leader to discard 2 Leadership tokens from the Sled board. It should be noted however that the Leader can choose to discard a Leadership token to be able to ignore the rolled result and then reroll the Penalty die. This can be done as often as the Leader would like, by discarding a Leadership token for each reroll. Once the failures have been taken care of, all the cards that were played during the Encounter phase are discarded. The Encounter tile is set aside not to be used during the rest of the game. Play then continues to the next phase.

The fourth phase is the Draw phase. In this phase the Leader deals Equipment cards out to each player, including themself. Cards are dealt out until either the player's hand limit is reached or the deck runs out of cards. The hand limit is determined by the number of players. If there are not enough cards left in the deck for each player to refill their hand, the Leader choose who gets cards. The Leader can also discard a Leadership token from the Sled board to increase a player's hand size by 1 card until the next Draw phase. Once cards have been dealt out, play passes to the final phase.

The last phase is the Rest phase. This phase is optional. For this phase, the Leader can choose for the expedition to take a rest, following 3 steps in order. First, 1 Leadership token is is taken from either the Sled board or the discard area and is placed back into the box. Next any remaining Leadeship tokens in the discard pile are returned to the Sled board. Finally, the Equipment card discard pile is shuffled with the Equipment card deck to make a new Equipment card deck. The deck is then returned to it's place on the board face down. It should be noted, that if the team has only 1 Leadership token remaining on either the Sled board or in the discard pile, they may not use the Rest option. Regardless of whether the Leader chooses to use the Rest option or not, the players check to see if the Airplane is on the third Escape tile. If it is, the expedition has escaped the mountain. If not, then the Sled board is passed to the next player in turn order and a new turn begins.

The game continues until one of the end game actions occurs, as noted earlier. If the Leader is forced to return the last Leadership token to the box, the players lose. If the Leader must draw an Injury card and the Injury deck is empty, the players lose. If the airplane is on the third Escape tile at the end of a turn, the players have escaped the mountain and must then check to see if they were successful or if they failed. If the expedition collected less Relic cards than there are Injury cards in the Equipment deck, Equipment discard pile and all the player's hands combined, then the players lose. If they gathered an equal amount or more Relic cards than Injury cards in the Equipment deck, Equipment discard pile and all the player's hands combined, then the team wins. The amount of Relic cards over the number of Injury cards will determine just how successful the expedition actually was. This number is checked against the chart in the rulebook.



COMPONENTS
This game has some truly great looking pieces. The board is amazing. It looks like something painted for the cover of a H. P. Lovecraft book. The artwork really conveys the isolation and chill of the frozen mountain. The player boards are double sided and have a great looking photo of the character that it represents. Each of these has an overview of the different phases of a turn on it, which makes a great reference. These are made of really thick cardboard making them quite sturdy. The airplane figure is like a miniature model. It kind of reminds me of the models for the X-Wing Miniatures game or Star Trek Attack Wing. The detail on this really great. I especially like the call sign for the plane printed on the underside of the wing. It's a neat little detail. The Sand Timer is a large wooden piece with red sand inside a glass tube. This thing is really nicely detailed and looks amazing. It's very high quality and could have easily been substituted with a cheap plastic model instead. However IELLO chose to go with a much better quality version that I really love. The Sled Board and Relic Tokens are all thick cardboard, much like the player boards. I like the artistic design for the sled and how well it fits in with the theme and designs of the rest of the game. The Relic tokens are confusing and cover up portions of the player's player board determined by the Relic card. It adds another thematic element to the game that really fits in with the madness aspect. The Leadership tokens are thick plastic pieces that have what appears to be a screen printed design on them. They are double sided and have the same image on each side. The Penalty die is red and has white icons engraved into it. There are 3 confusion icons, 2 injury and 1 loss of confidence on the six sided die. The images are quite large compared to the die which is quite nice. The Encounter tiles are also thick cardboard and have this nice looking icon on the back of each that fits in with the symbols on the board. The Escape tiles are a little smaller than the others. On the front side of the tiles is an amazing piece of artwork that showcases one of the different encounters that must be dealt with. The symbols are easy to understand and does not dominate or distract too much from the art. The cards are really great quality as well as the rest of the game. There's not a whole lot of artwork on these but what little bit is there looks nice and fits in with the feel and theme of the game. Most of the artwork on these are found on the backs of each one. However the equipment cards do have a small pencil drawing of whatever piece of equipment it represents. I kind of wish there had been a bit more art on each of these, even though it does feel right already. One last thing of note is the insert. This game has a really remarkable insert that fits each of the pieces inside in it's own place. Everything is sorted beautifully and looks great inside the box. Overall I'm really overcome with how nice each of the different pieces looks. It's an amazing looking game that you have to see to believe. It's definitely one of the most artistic and thematic looking games that I've seen so far this year.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is really great. It has so many great looking pictures and tons of examples throughout the text of the book. Each of the different elements of the game are explained in great detail with some nice pictures to go with them. There's a amazing looking picture of how the game looks set up along with the detailed instructions on how to set it up. Each phase of the game is explained in great detail, along with several examples with pictures on each phase. Throughout the book are these neat little pictures and pages that look like they were torn from a weathered journal. Each one feels like it tells a little piece of the story and adds a bit of theme to the book. The rulebook also includes an added expert variant, in case the game feels to easy. Overall I think the book fits in with the game's theme really well. I didn't see anything that was particularly difficult to understand. Everything is laid out rather well and is fairly easy to read through. All in all, I'm pleased with the overall look and feel of the rulebook.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
I love reading H. P. Lovecraft. His stories are so imaginative and creative. They really paint such an amazing world throughout each one. This game takes the idea behind just one of his stories, At the Mountains of Madness, and turns it into a sort of social deduction game. In some ways the game makes me think of Dead of Winter, The Thing Infection at Outpost 31 and Werewolf, just without the traitor aspects. In this game you'll be trying to figure out the best route to take, minimizing the hazards as best as possible. You'll also be trying to discuss the different pieces of equipment needed to succeed at the encounters. The problem is that you might not have all the pieces that you need to be able to do what needs to be done. On top of that, if a player has a Madness card, there's no telling what they might say or do as you're trying to get the right pieces in place. Even worse is that you only have 30 seconds to figure it all out. Those discussions and the planning remind me of the discussions in Werewolf as you try to determine who to exile. Have a character or two start collecting relics and when it's there turn as the Leader, they aren't able to do certain things. Of course you have those Leadership tokens to help you through the game. Thing is that you'd be surprised at how quickly you'll be discarding them, especially if you have some inexperienced players. This is definitely one that you'll want to play with older players as the tenseness and role playing aspects of the game may be too much for younger players. Even so, the game isn't as deep and difficult as something like Eldritch Horror. This is definitely a game with a bit lighter feel. Thematically the game fits in perfectly with the story. I like the tenseness and desperation you can feel while playing. I like how each player will experience their own madness in unique and unusual ways. I also like how that everyone is working towards the same goal, collecting relics and escaping from the mountain. That said, the game almost feels like a Cthulhu themed party game, which is a bit odd. Not that it's a bad game, it just isn't exactly what I thought it would be. This one will work with groups of 3 -5 players but isn't exactly family friendly. Not that there's anything here that would be scary or inappropriate for younger players. It's just that they may not understand exactly how to play or what is actually going on with this one. Overall I feel that fans of games like Elder Sign, Eldritch Horror and Arkham Horror that are looking for something a bit lighter, may enjoy this one. It's definitely one that I would recommend giving a try, especially if you like Lovecraft's stories.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Mountains of Madness is a game of completing challenges and escape that is centered around H. P. Lovecraft's story, At the Mountains of Madness. It's a game of average length that is much shorter than most Lovecraft themed games. Most game sessions last around an hour. The components for this game are really great. I especially like the artwork on the board and the details of the airplane miniature. The rulebook is very thorough and covers everything quite well. It even has some artwork that fits in with the theme of the game. The theme is a major part of the game and can be felt in everything from the gameplay to the components. The game itself throws different challenges at the players that they will have to overcome together while role playing whatever quirks that the madness cards throw at them. In some ways the game feels like one of those social deduction games like Werewolf, but it also has some of the same tenseness and feeling of games like Dead of Winter or The Thing Infection at Outpost 31. Fans of Lovecraft's stories and games like Elder Sign, Eldritch Horror and Arkham Horror may enjoy this one. This is one that I feel works better with teens to adults, as younger players may have some difficulties grasping this one. This is one that I would recommend giving a try. I think with the right group it can be a good game that players will enjoy. As for me, I feel like it didn't exactly meet my expectations as far as gameplay goes. I like it, just not as much as I wanted to. Maybe that's how my Madness card affected me.
8 out of 10


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

www.iellogames.com
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Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:10 pm
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