Gaming Bits: Board and Card Game Reviews

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Gaming Bits: Nut So Fast Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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Nut So Fast is a game by Jeff Lai, published by Smirk & Laughter Games. It is for 3-6 players. In this game, players will be flipping over cards and watching for special triggered events. Once they see the correct trigger they will need to race to grab the correct nut from the table or strike the correct pose. Of course the slowest player will be forced to suffer the consequences. They will have to be fast if they hope to win and score the least amount of points. In the end, the player with the lowest score will be declared the winner.

To begin, the Almond and Pistachio are placed in the middle of the play area, within reach of all players. A number of Cashews are placed around these 2 equal to the number of players minus 1. The same is done with the Walnuts. Each player is given 1 blue Base card with the words, "Score the Round" on it. The red NUTS! cards are shuffled together and dealt out face down to the players as equally as possible. Players are not allowed to look at the cards and must place their stack of cards in front of them at the edge of the table. They must also place the blue Base card at the bottom of their stack. The double sided number cards are placed in order to one side of the play area within view of all players. The Nutty Pose cards are shuffled together and 1 card is placed beside each number. Players will then go over the poses, performing each one and saying the number aloud. The first player is chosen as the active player and play now begins.

The game is played over 3 rounds. During a round, each player will flip over a pair of cards from their deck in front of them, starting with the active player and continuing in turn order. When flipping each card, the player must flip the card away from them so as not to give an unfair advantage to the player flipping the card. Each card flipped will cover any flipped cards from previous turns. When a card is flipped, players will be looking for one of the triggers that will cause them to react quickly. There are 4 different triggers. If there are exactly 4 matching nuts, then players must grab the corresponding nut from the middle of the play area. If there are 7 of the same matching nut, then the players must try and grab the Almond. The same thing happens if there are two sets of four matching nuts or 8 of a single type of nut. In either case, the players must race to grab the Almond. If a number card is flipped, players must ignore the nuts and strike the correct pose from the corresponding number on the side of the play area. Once the trigger has happened, the slowest player to react must take a consequence. If the player was too slow at grabbing a Cashew, then all the face up cards in front of the active player are placed underneath the slow player's base card to be used as points against them. The same penalty happens if they were too slow at grabbing a Walnut. With the Pistachio, only the fastest player will be able to grab it. In this case, the player will take all the face up cards in front of the active player and choose a player to place the cards underneath their base card as points against them. Just like the Pistachio, the Almond will only be grabbed by the fastest player. For this player, they will not touch the active player's cards. Instead they will be able to take all the cards underneath their base card and place them on top of their deck, cancelling out any points against them. If the player was too slow at striking the correct pose from the number card, this player must take all the face up cards in front of the active player and place them beneath their base card as points against them. It should be noted, that any time a player grabs the wrong nut by mistake, they must place 2 cards from the top of their deck underneath their base card as points against them. Once the consequences of a trigger have been resolved, or no trigger occurred, then play passes to the next player in turn order who then becomes the active player.

The round continues until a player's blue Base card is exposed on top of their deck. The active player finishes their turn, with players completing any triggered events. Scoring occurs at this point. To score the round, each player counts up the number of nut cards below their Base card. The number for each player is written on a separate piece of paper. Once completed, a new round is set up the same as during set up. The Nutty Poses cards are discarded and replaced with 3 new cards from the deck. The player that ended the round becomes the new first player. Play resumes in the same way as previously described. It should be noted that if a "?" is revealed as one of the Nutty Poses, then the first player decides what the pose will be.

The game continues until 3 rounds have been played and scored. After the third round has been scored, players add up their total points and the player with the lowest total score is the winner.



COMPONENTS
This game comes with some really great quality pieces. First off there are the giant wooden nuts. These are really big and chunky pieces that are painted white and have a particular nut printed on one side. There are 5 walnuts, 5 cashews, a pistachio and an almond. These are really nice and I like the heft and feel of them. The designs are all silly and fun. The other component in the game is a huge stack of cards. There are 4 different types of cards. There are the 3 double sided number cards for placing a Nutty Pose beside. These are numbered 1 to 3. Next there are the Nutty Pose cards. These have a special pose on one side that the players may have to try and pose like if a number card is revealed from the Nuts! cards. There are also 6 blue base cards with the words, "Time to Score!" on them. This lets players know when the round is over. Finally there are the Nuts! cards. These have different images on them, usually containing one or more of the nuts. Sometimes, there will be a number instead of a nut. As mentioned earlier, these will cause the players to strike the corresponding numbered pose. There are also some reference cards that help each player know when to grab one of the nuts from the middle of the table. Each of the different card types are completely square and are not the normal playing card size and shape. However the finish is very similar to that on most playing cards. I really like the designs and look of the different pieces, especially the wooden nuts. They are really silly looking. Overall the components of this game are very good. I really like what you get with this one.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is fairly small and very simple to read. There are plenty of pictures and examples throughout the book. Everything from setup to explaining the different triggers is covered in great detail. The back of the book even has a trigger reference chart which is a bit larger than the reference cards included with the game. This is really great for some of the older players or anyone with vision problems that might need a bit larger print. This is one book that most likely won't need to be read through more than once, as the rules are pretty simple. The only thing that might need referenced would be the scoring rules for each of the different nuts and possibly the triggers. Other than that, I think it's pretty easy to understand. Overall I think the designer did a great job with the layout and explanation of the rules. There's nothing that should be difficult to understand. I'm very pleased with the look and feel of the rulebook.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is one wild and silly party game that I really enjoy. Let's face it, most party games are rather boring, at least to me they are. This one doesn't have you trying to draw a picture or match up some cards to make a silly combination. It's all about being the fastest person to grab a big silly looking wooden nut or striking a humorous pose when the trigger occurs. That's pretty much the game right there. I know that sounds pretty simple, but what is not mentioned in those few sentences is that the laughter and fun that you'll have playing this one far exceeds your daily dose of recommended hilariousness. Just looking at the wooden pieces makes me chuckle. Add in the silly poses and the franticness of players trying to either be the first to grab one of the special nuts from the table or to not be the slowest player to do so. The game only lasts about 15 minutes but the laughter will last far longer than that. I will say that you really have to be paying attention to the card that each player flips over and be thinking of what you're going to need to do. There are already 2 walnuts on one of the cards, if the next card flipped over has 2 more, you have to grab one of the walnuts quickly. Wait! That first walnut card also has 2 cashews. What if the next card flipped over has 2 more walnuts but also has 2 more cashews. You'll need to grab that almond first if you want to remove all those negative points that you've already accumulated from being too slow previously. But what if instead of there being nuts on the card, there's a number instead? Are you prepared to do you best impression of a fashion model and strike a pose? My kids love this one. The silly poses and high speed hilariousness makes all of us laugh. This is a game that we really enjoy. Normally I'm not that big of a fan of party games or dexterity games, but this one strikes the right balance between the two which simply works for me. Fans of party games or games full of laughter will most definitely enjoy this one, especially if they don't mind a bit of high speed dexterity thrown in. Overall this is a game that I would highly recommend, especially for families. The kids will love it.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Nut so Fast is a silly game of dexterity where players will have to quickly grab one of the wooden nuts from the table or strike the proper pose. The game is very quick and can be played in about 15 minutes. The wooden pieces are quite large and silly looking. I really like the designs on each one. The cards are great quality as well. I especially like the nutty poses. This game reminds me of a party game but doesn't bore me like most party games do. There's plenty of silliness and fun wrapped up in this game. This is one that will make you laugh and keep you laughing. It's family friendly and great fun with the kids. Fans of party and dexterity games will most likely enjoy this one. This is one that I highly recommend. It's full of nutty goodness.
9 out of 10


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

http://www.smirkanddagger.com/
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Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:20 pm
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Gaming Bits: Get the MacGuffin Review

Jonathan Nelson
United States
Birmingham
Alabama
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Get the MacGuffin is a game by Andrew Looney, published by Looney Labs. It is for 2-11 players. In this game, players will be trying to acquire the ever elusive MacGuffin and eliminate everyone else in their way. Of course holding onto something so elusive isn't easy, as the other players will be trying to do the same thing. In the end, the last player that remains will be declared the winner.

To begin, the cards are shuffled together. The cards are then dealt out to each player, with no player receiving more than 5 cards. Players must have the same number of cards as everyone else, so once there aren't enough cards to deal out a complete round, the dealer must stop. The extra cards are set aside without anyone looking at what they are. The player to the left of the dealer is the first player. Play now begins.

The game is played in a series of turns. Each player takes their turn and play passes to the next player in turn order. On a player's turn, they must perform 1 of 4 actions. The first action is to play an action card. To do this, the player simply plays the card and performs the action on the card. It is then discarded to the discard pile. Another action the player can take is to play an object card. To do this, the player simply places the object card face up in front of themself. Yet another action is to use an object. To do this the player must first have an object card face up in front of them, before the start of their turn. The player may use the power or the card if it's power may be applied. This may cause the player to discard the object card in some cases. The last action is to discard an object. To do this the player simply discards the object card in front of them to the discard pile. Of course the player must have had the card in play prior to the start of their turn. Once the player has chosen and performed one of these 4 tasks, play passes to the next player in turn order. It should be noted however, if a player has no cards in their hand or in front of them, they are eliminated from the game.

The game continues until only one player remains in the game. The rest of the players having been eliminated due to them having no cards in their hand or on the table in front of them. This final player is the winner.



COMPONENTS
This game comes with a small pack of tarot sized cards. The quality of each one is really good. They have a good thickness and finish on them. They're easy to shuffle, even with them being larger than your average playing card. The artwork is very interesting. It's bright and colorful and lends itself quite well to the theme. In some ways, the artwork makes me think of artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. The colors and style are very fun and playful. There are few familiar faces and some iconic themes present on the cards that you'll find yourself grinning at. Overall, the cards are very nice and I like the look and feel of this game a lot. If you like the theme, I think you'll enjoy the cards.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a large oversized sheet that folds up nice and neat to fit perfectly inside the pocket sized box. One side of the sheet is nothing but descriptions with full color pictures of each of the 23 cards included in the game. Each card is explained in great detail. The front side of the rule sheet has the actual rules outlined inside a blue box. The remaining sections include definitions, frequently asked questions and tips on playing the game without a table. The rules are actually quite simple and very quick to pickup and learn. A couple of minutes of reading, and you'll be ready to play. With such simple rules, the sheet could have been quite a bit smaller. However I'm actually quite glad that the back side of the sheet has all the different cards explained. It's a nice reference to be able to see what might be out there from what's already been played while actually playing the game. Overall, I'm very pleased with the look and feel of the rules. A very excellent job overall.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a very quick and simple game to play. It works well with just a few players, or a lot making it a great game to start an evening of gaming or a great filler for between games. It's also a great portable game. With it being able to fit inside your pocket, along with the tips on playing without a table, you can pretty much play it anywhere. The game itself is a lot of fun. It's very easy to learn. The small deck of cards reminds me of games like Love Letter, another small deck card game that plays quite fast. I enjoy that it can be played with as few as 2 players or with a larger group. The mechanics of the game make me think of games like Werewolf, where you're eliminating other characters and using your best detective skills to figure out what card to play and when. There is a little bit of strategy involved in the game, but not so much that you'll wind up giving yourself a headache from having too many decisions to make. I enjoy the quickness of play. I like that you can blow through the game several times in a row and still have plenty of time to play other games too. The game's theme reminds me of movies like Pulp Fiction, Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon. The idea of trying to collect this particular object and be the last one holding it is played out quite well in this game. I think that fans of any of these particular movies should enjoy the theme and gameplay of this one. Overall this is a really great little card game that I would highly recommend picking up.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Get the MacGuffin is a fun and fast card game that centers around trying to be the last one left holding the most coveted item. The game is very quick and can be played, usually in less than 10 minutes each time. The small deck of cards is very reminiscent of games like Love Letter. The artwork on them has a very pop art style that makes me think of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. The style is very bright and fun. I like it quite a bit. The game itself is very simple to play and is one that most anyone can learn to play. It works great with just a few players up and goes all the way up to 11. It's a fun fast game that can be played with the whole family, a group of friends or even while standing in line. It's highly portable and fits inside your pocket. There are even rules for playing without a table. The game works great as a filler or as a prelude to a more meaty session of gaming. Fans of movies like Pulp Fiction, Citizen Kane or The Maltese Falcon should enjoy the theme of this game. This is one that I would highly recommend picking up a copy of. It's a great game that doesn't cost a lot and is a lot of fun. Now if I can just find where I put that briefcase...
9 out of 10


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

http://looneylabs.com
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Wed Apr 4, 2018 6:17 pm
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Gaming Bits: Button Men: Beat People Up Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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Button Men: Beat People Up is a game by James Ernest, published by Cheapass Games. It is for 2 players, but may be played with more. In this game, players take on the role of a gangster from a 1950's era town on the Gulf Coast, known as Fight City. They will be trying to knock out the other player through hand to hand combat, capturing their dice. If they're able to beat up the other player a total of 3 times first, they will be declared the winner.

For this review, I will mainly be discussing the 2 player rules. However, I will cover the multiplayer game a bit later in the Gameplay section.

To begin, players choose a character. They will take the character's card and the corresponding dice for that character. It should be noted that the letter "X" on a player's character card represents a Swing Die. A Swing Die can be any size die and is chosen by the player before the first round. The player with the smallest die on their character card chooses first. A player that has multiple "X's" must use the same size die for each "X". It is suggested that for the first game, players use characters from the core game. Later on characters from the West Side, Delta and Uptown may be used. However it's recommended that when using new die types, players use fighters from that region only or mixed with the core cards until the new mechanics of the special die have become familiar. I will cover more on the special dice a bit later. Once players have their character and dice, play now begins.

The game is played in a best 3 out of 5 series of rounds. Each player starts off by rolling all of their character's dice. They will then place the dice where both players can see them. The player that rolled the lowest number goes first. On a player's turn, they will make an attack if able. There are two basic types of attack; power and skill. To perform a power attack, the player must capture one of the other player'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, who then rerolls the attacking die that they used. To perform a skill attack, the player must use two or more dice to capture one of their opponent's dice. 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. The captured die is set aside near the attacking player. The dice used to capture are then rerolled. If a player is unable to make an attack, they must pass. A player may not pass unless they can not make a legal attack. Once both players pass, the round is over. Scoring will then take place.

Scoring is done for each player. Each die that a player captured will earn them a number of points equal to the size of the dice. They will also earn half points for each die of their own that they kept. Players add up their points and the player with the most points wins the round. A new round will then begin. It should be noted that the loser of each round has the option to swap their Swing Die if they choose to. The first player to win three rounds wins the game.

Earlier I mentioned the special dice that are used by characters from the West Side, Delta and Uptown. Each different region has a different type of special dice that are indicated by different colors on the character cards. It's recommended that players use the white dice for normal attack dice and the black dice included in the box as the special dice. Now, let me explain the different types. The West Side characters have Poison Dice that are shown on the character card in green with a "p" for poison. Poison Dice are worth negative points. During scoring, if a player was forced to keep one of their own Poison Dice, they must subtract it's size from their total. If they captured an opponent's Poison Die, they must subtract half of it's size from their total. Delta characters have Shadow Dice that are shown on the character card in blue with a "s" for shadow. Shadow Dice can not make power attacks. They may only make shadow attacks, which work a bit differently for these dice. The player may use a Shadow Die to capture an opponent's die as long as the captured die shows a number that is greater than or equal to the attacking Shadow Die. However the number may not be greater than the Shadow Die's size. Uptown characters have Rush Dice that are shown on the character card in orange with a "r" for rush. Rush Dice have an extra attack and an extra vulnerability. Rush Dice may be used to capture two of an opponent's dice in a Rush Attack, as long as the numbers on the targeted dice add up to the exact number of the attacking Rush Die. Rush Dice can be captured in a Rush Attack in much the same way. This means that the Rush Die may be captured with another die of any type that adds up to the exact number of the attacking die.



COMPONENTS
The game comes with a big bag of dice in two colors, white and black. Actually the white dice are more of a cream color than white. There are dice of every size from 4 sided dice up to 20 sided dice. However there are no 10 sided dice in the mix. That's because the designer wanted to make the game accessible to everyone and new player might have some difficulty with the 0 side of the 10 sided dice. They may have thought it meant 0 instead of 10. It was for this reason that they were left out of the game. Not that players couldn't add some of their own as Swing Dice if they so desired. Players could also further customize the game by adding orange, green and blue colored dice for Rush, Poison and Shadow dice. Back to the actual components of the game. The game also comes with a stack of character cards. There are characters from each of the 4 different regions. The artwork on these is really great. I love the look and feel of each one. Each character has a distinct look and personality that really comes out in the design. The numbers on the cards are all large so that there's no mistaking which dice the player should use. The cards have a really nice linen style finish that is just a big glossy looking. However with the linen, the cards don't stick together. The game even came with an actual metal button with a few of the characters on it, just for added flair. I have to say that I'm pretty impressed with the overall look and feel of the components. Everything is really great quality and each part is well designed. I'm very happy with everything in the box.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a long double sided sheet of glossy colored paper which is folded up to fit inside the game box. There are a couple of picture on the sheet, a couple of which are pencil drawings. There are also several examples of gameplay to help understand the rules and special dice. The sheet has a bit of history on the original Button Men game along with some back story on the fictional town that the game is set in. I have to say that I originally thought that I was losing my memory, since I'd never heard of the Lawaree River or the town of Selaria. I'm happy to say that my memory is fine though, as neither of these exist in real life. The rulebook covers all the rules for the basic game, as well as the special dice in great detail. There are also rules for multiplayer variants included, as well as campaign rules for both 2 players and multiple players. The rules also include rules for drafting characters. I'll explain these all in just a bit. In any event, the rulebook looks rather nice and covers everything quite well. It's fairly easy to read and understand. Overall it seems pretty good to me.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a very fast and fun game. It's really simple to explain and so it can be taught quite quickly too. The game involves quite a bit of luck due to the handful of dice that you roll at the start of the game. The strategy comes in as you figure out how best to use what you rolled each turn. Should you take out that 20 sided die that your opponent rolled low on this turn using two of your dice, or do you use your 12 sided die that you rolled high on. Once you start using those special dice, you have to figure out the best way to use them too. It's all about maximizing your points each round. As I mentioned earlier, the game can also be played with multiple players. The rulebook even includes several variants for games with more than 2. Most of the time however, you'll need more dice than what comes with the game. There's the Free For All, where any player can attack any other player. There's the Cycle, which is much like Free For All except the player can only attack the opponent to their left. There's Ping Pong, which is also like Free For All except that when a player is attacked, the turn moves to that player. There's Around the World, where each player will play once with each character on the table. This one goes for as many rounds as there are players. These are all fun in their own way, however I prefer to play this as a 2 player game. The rulebook includes some Campaign rules for players wanting to play a longer game, usually involving drafting cards in one of the many ways included in the rules. Once again I prefer to play the basic game, however the Elimination series for 2 players is pretty cool. In this version, players choose a block of characters. For each battle, the players choose 1 card to fight. The loser of the battle discards their character card and must choose a new one. This continues until one of the players runs out of characters to fight with. As you can see, there are lots of different ways to play this game. I personally enjoy using this as a quick filler or when I only have a short amount of time to play. With a quick playtime, it's pretty great. The dice and cards can even be removed from the box and thrown into a backpack or something and carried anywhere. The small footprint that this game has makes it very easy to play pretty much anywhere. I have to say that I really like this game. Fans of dice rolling games should really enjoy this one. I would also recommend this for players looking for a quick and portable game to take with them on trips or outings. Overall it's a very good game that I would highly recommend.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Button Men: Beat People Up is a game of dice rolling combat that involves a good bit of luck. It doesn't take a long time to play. Most game sessions last around 10 minutes or so. The cards are very high quality and the artwork is really nice. I love the designs and finish of each one. The game itself is fast and fun. It involves quite a bit of luck but can be somewhat strategic too, especially when you use the special dice. The rulebook has lots of variations that can be played with 2 or more players. Each one adds a new dimension to the game. The game is quite portable. The small footprint of the game makes it easy to carry with you and play anywhere. Fans of dice rolling games or players looking for a quick and portable game should look no further. I really think they will enjoy this one. Overall I like it a good bit and would highly recommend it. Just try not to get beaten up.
9 out of 10


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

http://cheapass.com
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Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:59 pm
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Gaming Bits: Tak: University Edition Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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Tak: University Edition is a game by James Ernest and Patrick Rothfuss, published by Cheapass Games. It is for 2 players. In this game, based on the abstract strategy game from Patrick Rothfuss' novel "The Wise Man's Fear", players will try to build a road across the board by stringing together pieces connecting one side to the other. The first player to create this road of pieces will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is placed on the table between the two players. The pieces are divided between the players, with one player receiving all the darker pieces and the other player taking all the lighter ones. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played in a series of turns, much like in chess. Each player will take their turn until the end game condition is met. In the first turn of the game, each player will place one of their opponent's stones onto the board in the flat position. Once this is done, players will be placing their own stones going forward. On a player's turn they may either place a piece on an empty space move one of the stacks under their control. To place a piece, the player will simply place one of their pieces onto the board onto an empty space. If a player places their last piece or if they fill the last space on the board, the game immediately ends. It should be noted that a player has 2 different types of pieces that may be placed; stones and capstones. Stones may either be placed flat or standing on their edge. Flat stones can be stacked and count as part of a player's road. Standing stones do not count as part of a player's road and they can't have anything stacked on top of them. This last type of stone is good for blocking and is thusly referred to as a "wall". Capstones, like flat stones, count as part of the player's road and they may not have any other pieces stacked on them. These pieces also have a special ability that lets them move onto a standing stone and flatten it, turning it back to a flat stone.

The other action that a player may take is to move a stack under their control. To do this, the player chooses a stack that has one of their pieces on top of it. Stacks can be from one piece to many. The player will then take from 1 to 5 pieces off the top of the stack. This is known as the "carry limit". The player then moves these pieces in a straight line, dropping at least one piece off the bottom of the stack in each space that the stack moves onto. It should be noted that capstones and standing stones will block movement since they can not have any pieces placed on top of them. Standing stones and capstones move in the same way as flat stones do. However capstones have the ability to flatten a standing stone as long as the final step of flattening the wall is done by the capstone alone. It should also be noted that a player may flatten their own standing stones with a capstone as well as their opponent's.

The game continues until one of the end game conditions are met. If a player connects opposite sides of the board with their pieces, that player is the winner. If either player runs out of pieces or if the board is full, the game ends. In these cases, the player with the most flat stones on top of stacks is the winner.



COMPONENTS
Much like the Classic edition of Tak, this version comes with some really beautiful pieces. There's a really nice looking 5x5 board that looks like a wooden checkerboard. It's very sturdy and looks very nice. The game also comes with lots of wooden pieces in 2 different colors. The wooden pieces remind me of games like Quaridor and Quarto. For this game, there are an equal number of both light and dark pieces. This version of the game comes with 21 stones and 1 capstone in each color. That makes it possible to play a 3x3, 4x4 or a 5x5 game. The Classic edition will play 6x6 and 8x8 games as it has quite a lot more pieces. For this version of the game, all the flat stones are square pieces. In the Classic edition the darker pieces were more rounded, like a half moon while the lighter pieces looked like a trapezoid. They all have a nice wood finish on them and are very light weight but sturdy. The capstones look like something you'd find in a cabinet shop. This game also comes with a cloth drawstring bag to hold all of the pieces in, making it portable and easy to take with you. One good thing about the bag is that you don't have to carry the board with you. You can simply throw the bag with all the pieces in it into a backpack or use the drawstrings to tie it to your belt. Then you simply pull out the bag and open it up to play anywhere. As for the board, you don't really have to have it with you. You can draw a board on a sheet of paper, use a piece of chalk to draw a board or even play without a board. For this last way, you'd just need something to mark the center space with, like a penny or a scrap of paper. From there, once the pieces start being laid out, then you can really start to see the board. Overall, I really like the look and feel of this smaller and more portable version. It looks very nice.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is very simple to read. It's not very large, so it doesn't take a long time to read through. There's nothing difficult to understand either. The book has lots of great looking pictures and examples, including a few comic book style illustrations. Every aspect of the game is explained in great detail. There are several different ways to play, as mentioned above, and the rulebook gives the piece counts for each size board. The book even includes some basic strategy tips for playing the game, as well as rules for multi-game scoring. The book also includes some University Gambling rules as well. These include antes, bidding, calling Tak and the end rewards. This adds another layer of fun to the game for those looking to add a bit of profit to their pockets. Overall I find the rules to be very comprehensive and nice to look at too. I think the book is well designed, just like the game.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
To be honest, I don't exactly know the history of the game of Tak, apart from that it is mentioned in Patrick Rothfuss' novels. I also have never read one of his books. Which I guess I probably should, as they appear to be quite interesting looking. This game is an abstract strategy game full of really nice looking wooden pieces, much like Quaridor or Quarto. It's one that will really make you think, much like Chess or Checkers. It's a fairly simple game to play but is one that will take awhile to master, much like Chess. The object of the game is to make a path from one side of the board to the other, simple enough. If you're not able to do that, then you'll want to have control of the most stacks on the board. Either way, it's a real thinking man's (or woman's) game. Having played the Classic edition several times, I have to say that I kind of like this smaller and more portable version a little better. For one, it's quite a bit faster. The larger games can take up to an hour or so, while this version can be played in about 30 minutes or so. I also like the portability of this version and the ability to play anywhere. While I like that there are added rules for multi-game scoring and gambling, I tend to stay away from these aspects as I prefer the regular rules of play. Players that like a good game of strategy should really enjoy this one. I like the overall look and feel of the game, as well as the strategy and fun of it too. Fans of abstract strategy games like Chess and Checkers or even Quaridor and Quarto, should enjoy this one. I really like it and would highly recommend this version.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Tak: University Edition is a highly portable and smaller version of the Classic abstract strategy game Tak. The game is played fairly quickly, with most game sessions lasting around 30 minutes or so. The wooden pieces are very high quality, as is the board. The cloth bag makes it easy to carry the pieces to be played virtually anywhere. The rules are very easy to read and understand and are very well designed. The game itself reminds me of classic strategy games like Checkers and Chess, as well as new classics like Quaridor and Quarto. It's a very fun 2 player game that looks beautiful too. This version is easily carried with you and plays a bit quicker than some of the larger boards of the classic game. Fans of strategy games should really enjoy this one, especially if they're looking for an easy game to take with them. While it is a bit smaller, the fun has not been diminished. I really like this version and would highly recommend it. As someone who used to do a lot of backpacking back in the days, this would have been great to carry with me on the trail. I really enjoy this one and think most players will too. Forget Beer Pong, play Tak instead.
9 out of 10


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

http://cheapass.com
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Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:36 pm
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Gaming Bits: Quests of Valeria Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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Quests of Valeria is a game by Isaias Vallejo, published by Daily Magic Games. It is for 1-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of a famous Guild Master in the fantasy city of Valeria. They will need to hire the best citizens to take on the most dangerous quests in order to gain the most prestige and become admired by the citizens and King of Valeria. They'll do this by gaining victory points. In the end, the player with the most victory points will be declared the winner.

To begin, the Guild Master cards are shuffled together. Each player is then dealt 1 of these cards face down. Players will look at their card and place it face down in front of them, keeping it secret from the other players. Each player will also be given a Player Aid card. The remaining Guild Master and Player Aid cards are returned to the box. The Card Cost tokens are placed in the middle of the play area in order from left to right beginning with the 0 and ending with the 3. The "Hire From Your Hand = 2" token is placed to the right of the 3 token. The Citizen cards are shuffled before dealing 3 to each player. This is the player's starting hand. Six cards are dealt out face up below each of the Card Cost tokens, forming the Tavern Line. The remaining cards are placed face down below the "Hire From Your Hand = 2" token. This is the Citizen deck. The Quest cards are shuffled and a certain number of cards are dealt out face up above the Card Cost tokens. The number is determined by the number of players, normally this is 6. For a 2 player game it is 4. These are the Active Quests. The remaining Quest cards are placed face down above the "Hire From Your Hand = 2" token. This is the Quest deck. The first player is chosen and is given the 2 Action Tokens and the First Player token. Play now begins.

The game is played over a series of turns. Each player will take a turn consisting of 2 phases, beginning with the first player. Those 2 phases are the Action Phase and the End Phase. The first phase is the Action Phase. In this phase, the player must perform 2 actions from a list of 4. Each action is able to be taken more than once. Each time the player takes an action, they will pass an Action Token to the next player in turn order, starting with the token with the number 1 on it. This will help remind the player how many actions they have taken and how many they have left. Once they have passed the second Action token and completed their second action, play moves to the next phase. The 4 actions that a player may choose from are draw, hire, reserve and quest. For the Draw action, the player will simply draw a Citizen card from the Citizen deck and place it in their hand. At the end of a player's turn, if they have more than 8 cards in their hand, they will be forced to discard down to 8. For the Hire action, the player will choose one of the Citizens from the Tavern Line and place it face up in front of themself. This area is known as the player's Guild. They will then have to discard the required number of cards shown on the Card Cost token above it. Alternatively, the player may hire a Citizen from their hand, paying for it by discarding 2 other cards from either their hand or their Guild. Once the Citizen is placed in a player's Guild, the Hire Power of the card is activated. This power can also be activated if the Citizen is placed in a player's Guild from completing a Quest. Just like with cards in a player's hand, there may only be 8 Citizens in a player's Guild at the end of their turn. If there are more than that at that time, they will be forced to discard down to 8. For the Reserve action, the player has 2 options. They may take 1 Active Quest from the Tavern, placing it face up in their Guild as a Reserved Quest or they may discard all the Active Quests from the Tavern, immediately refilling it with new Quests from the Quest deck. They will then take 1 Active Quest card from the new line of Quest cards and place it face up in their Guild as a Reserved Quest. A player may only have 1 Reserved Quest in their Guild at a time, but may discard the previously placed one to make room for the new Reserved Quest. For the Quest action, the player will select an Active Quest from the Tavern or their Reserved Quest in their Guild, discarding the Citizens from their Guild that fulfill the requirements listed on the Quest card. This includes both Citizen Role and Resource icons. It should be noted that Citizens from a player's hand may not be used to fulfill these requirements. After discarding the cards to meet all the requirements, the player will take the Quest card and place it face up in their Guild. The player then gains any bonus actions shown on the card. Once the bonus actions have been completed, the card is flipped face down.

This brings us to the second phase of a player's turn, the End Phase. In this phase, the active player will refill any empty spaces in the Tavern with new Quest cards by drawing cards from the Quest deck and placing them face up until the Tavern is completely refilled. The remaining Citizen cards in the Tavern line are then slid to the left to fill any empty Card Cost slots. New Citizen cards are drawn to fill the empty spaces starting with the right most space. Once these actions are completed, the player checks their hand and Guild to make sure that they don't have more then 8 cards in either their Guild or their hand. Excess cards are discarded if the limit is exceeded. Play then passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues until the game end is triggered. This happens when a player completes their fifth quest. Play continues with players taking their turns until the turn order returns to the player with the First Player token. The game then ends. Players will count up their Victory Points on their completed Quests, adding any bonus Victory Points due to their Guild Master's End Game Power. The player with the most Victory Points is the winner.



COMPONENTS
There are lots of truly amazing looking cards and pieces with this game. The artwork on the cards is great. It looks a lot like the art on other games in the Valeria series. Each of the Citizen and Guild Master cards has a great painted design of the person it's supposed to represent. The Quest cards have a thematic looking scene depicting whatever the quest is centered around. I love the artist's work and designs for this game. There are also some Player Aid cards with a great overview of the Action and End phases of a player's turn, as well as a reference for all the icons in the game. These are very handy to have and are a great addition. There are several cardboard tokens for the game that are made of thick cardboard and are fairly sturdy. There are 7 Card Cost tokens for creating the Tavern Line with, as well as the 2 Action tokens and the First Player token. The Card Cost tokens simply have a large number inside a square white box on a colored background. The Action and First Player tokens are a bit more colorful and have a little more artistic flair to them. Overall I really like the look and feel of this game. The cards are amazing and everything works really well together. About the only thing that I could wish for would be some type of thematic play mat to place all my cards on. Otherwise, the game is just fine the way it is. I'm very happy with everything in the box.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is very nice as well. It looks great with plenty of pictures and examples throughout the book. The rules are all explained in great detail and are easy to understand. There is a section devoted to just explaining the different icons in the game which is very helpful in learning the game. There are sections devoted to each card type, explaining what each aspect of the card is and does. There is even an option for solo play included in the book which I'm very greatful for, as I'm always on the lookout for new games to play by myself. The back page of the book has a very nice quick play reference that includes setting the game up, the basics of the Action and End phases and the End Game and Scoring. The book fits perfectly inside the smaller game box and isn't too think or overly wordy. Everything is extremely easy to read and understand. I really like the overall look and feel of the rulebook. It's well designed and looks great.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Let me go ahead and spoil this section for you. I really like this game. I enjoy hiring all the different Citizens to my Guild so that I can complete the different quests earning the honor and respect that my guild so richly deserves in the form of Victory Points. I love that this feels like a quicker and lighter version of Lord of Waterdeep, which just so happens to be one of my all time favorite games. I love that there is a solo option that Lords of Waterdeep doesn't have. That means that I can sit down with this one and play a quick game by myself and scratch that itch. It also has a fairly small footprint on the table, meaning that it can be played in a lot of different places. The small box and small footprint make it easily portable. The game also has a few similarities to Splendor, in that you can be working on getting what you need to complete a particular quest and have it snatched up before you can get it finished. Much like how a noble can be taken out from under you in Splendor. In other words the game has some set collection and a bit of take that mechanics to it. It works really well with 2 or more players. It's also quite fun solo. However, the solo game is more of a score the most points and compare them to see how well you did kind of thing. I don't normally like playing that way, but over the years I've learned to like this play style a bit better. With the great looking cards in this game, it's a bit easier to enjoy too. This is not a difficult game and it doesn't take a lot of strategy either. This is one that the whole family, even the kids, can enjoy. I feel like fans of games like Lords of Waterdeep or Splendor should enjoy the theme and gameplay mechanics of this one. For me I like playing it and I would highly recommend it.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Quests of Valeria is a light weight fantasy themed card game centered around hiring Citizens and completing Quests to earn Victory Points. The game isn't too long. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes or so. The designs and artwork on the cards is truly amazing. I love the art style by this artist. It's so much fun to look at. The game has a lot of mechanical similiarites to Lords of Waterdeep and Splendor. Fans of either of these games should enjoy the theme and mechanics of this game. It's a family friendly game that can also be played solo. I personally enjoy playing it both ways, even though the solo version has you trying to score the most points. Overall this is a really great game that I would highly recommend. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to see a barbarian about getting rid of some owlbears in my barn.
9 out of 10

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

https://www.dailymagicgames.com/
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Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:41 pm
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Gaming Bits: Ghostbusters: The Board Game II Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Ghostbusters: The Board Game II is a game by Mataio Wilson and Vincent Pritchard, published by Cryptozoic Entertainment. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of the famous Ghostbusters as they battle spooktacular ghosts of every kind including piles of bubbling negatively charged slime using their proton packs and slime blowers. Of course they'll need to seal gates if they hope to contain the darkness and ultimately save the world. In the end, if the team is able to complete the scenario by using teamwork they will be declared the winners. Otherwise, the ghosts will destroy the world as we know it.

To begin, players should choose one of the scenarios. If playing a campaign, the scenarios are linked together and should be played in order. Each scenario has a map setup on one side and the objective and other scenario specific details on the other. Each scenario will have different success and failure conditions. These should be noted before playing. It should also be noted that if playing a campaign scenario as a standalone, the scenario's number in the campaign sequence should match the team's recommended starting experience level. The map on the scenario card shows the different tiles that make up the board and should be placed on the table in the correct position and orientation. It also notes the starting positions of all the different elements of the game including, gates, goo piles and ghosts. These different pieces should be placed in the corresponding locations on the board. Gates should be placed on either the open or closed side, depending on the scenario's instructions. Goo piles are placed face up on the corresponding location of the scenario map. The Spirit World tile should be placed near the board. The bottom of the scenario card tells what ghosts start in the spirit world. The corresponding entity cards should be placed near the board for future reference when dealing with each entity. The scenario card gives instructions on the Goo Pile cards that are put together to form the Goo Pile deck. These cards are shuffled together and then placed face down next to the board. In some cases, cards may be removed and other specific cards added before shuffling again. The scenario card should be followed in each specific case. The Ecto-Tank tile is placed beside the spirit world tile. Timer/Plazm counters are placed in an easily accessible pile, as they will be used for many different purposes, including keeping track of the total deposited Plazms that have been placed inside the Ecto-Tank. The PKE Meter tile is placed near the board and once placed should not change it's orientation at any time during the game. The Ecto-1A vehicle is placed on the board in any 2 of the 4 spaces of the start zone on the scenario card. The Ecto-1A tile is placed near the board. If the scenario calls for the Lady Liberty figure, she is placed in the 4 spaces of the start zone instead of the Ecto-1A. Each player will choose a Ghostbuster character. They will receive the character card, proton pack and slime blower miniatures that match their character, along with the corresponding colored base and proton stream/mood slime tokens that match the color. They will also receive a combat die and an XP tracker that is placed on their character card on the 0 space. If playing a single campaign scenario, the XP level will start higher based on the scenario's number. Each player will place their colored bases onto the bottom of both of their miniatures. They will need to choose which pack to start with, either the proton pack or the slime blower. The chosen figure is then placed on the Ecto-1A tile, while the remaining figure is placed near their character card. Each player should take the Class-S equipment cards that correspond to their character and shuffle them together. They will then choose 1 card randomly, placing it face up next to their character card. It should be noted that if playing with less than 4 players, it's recommended for one or more players to play with multiple characters. The first player is chosen randomly and play now begins.



The game is played over several rounds. Before the first player begins each round, players can decide if their team will activate an Ecto-Tank ability. These abilities are on the player's character card and can only be activated if the character is at the correct level and there is enough Plazm counters in the Ecto-Tank to activate the ability. When activated, the ability will affect all Ghostbusters on the board. Once this is finished, the round begins. Each round each Ghostbuster will take a turn. On that turn, the player may perform 3 actions. Each action may be performed more than once per turn. The actions are move, drive, deposit, remove slime, switch out the pack and combat. The move action consists of the player moving their figure 1 or 2 spaces in any direction. It should be noted that a figure can not move across red, dashed red, orange or dashed orange lines on the board. The figure also can not move off the map. It also can not be moved into or through spaces with entities, open gates or open goo piles. The figure may move through another Ghostbuster if there is enough movement points left over to move out of their space. The figure can also move into the Ecto-1A through the side if the movement ends the figure on the space that the Ecto-1A is on. In this instance, the figure is then placed on the Ecto-1A tile beside the board.

Another action is the drive action. If a figure is inside the Ecto-1A, the player may then drive it up to 6 spaces, either vertically or horizontally. It may not be moved diagonally. To move it, the player chooses either the front or back end of the vehicle and counts out the number of spaces to be moved. The vehicle is then placed with one end in the destination space and the other end in the previously counted space. If there are other characters inside the vehicle when it is moved, they travel with it. The vehicle may be driven through a Ghostbuster as long as it has enough spaces to move out of it's space. It may not be entered or exited while driving and it can not drive off the board. It also can not move across red, dashed red, orange or dashed orange lines, neither can it move through spaces with entities or open gates. If an entity shares space with the Ecto-1A, it can not be driven and no trapped ghosts or plazm counters may be deposited.

Speaking of depositing, this is another action that the player may take. This action allows the player to send any number of trapped ghosts on their character card back to the spirit world and to add any plazm counters on their character card to the Ecto-1A's Ecto-Tank. The player's figure must be inside the Ecto-1A or adjacent to it to perform this action. Ghosts are placed back on the spirit world board, while plazm counters allow the counter on the Ecto-Tank to be moved up 1 for each plazm deposited.

Another action that a player may take is to remove slime from an adjacent Ghostbuster; more on how slime happens and what it does in a moment. This is done by simply choosing a type of slime that has been placed on the player's character card and removing it. It should be noted that this action does not allow the player to take slime of their own character, only from adjacent characters. Slime can not be removed from a Ghostbuster while they are inside the Ecto-1A either. So where does slime come from and what does it do? Well, sometimes an entity will move through a Ghostbuster which will cause them to be slimed. That character will then gain a slime token of the type indicated on the entity's card. That character can be slimed more than once but can only have up to 3 slime tokens on them at a time. If they would gain a fourth one, then one of the slime tokens on the character is exchanged for a caustic slime of the player's choice. These slime tokens cannot be removed by normal means and if a character gains 3 of them, the team loses the scenario. These slime tokens can cause the player to lose 1 on their combat rolls, lose 1 space on their line of sight, lose a space of movement, lose a maneuver point or even lose an action. It's for these reasons why this action is available.

Another similar style action is to switch out the pack of an adjacent Ghostbuster. Much like removing slime, switching out one's pack must be done by an adjacent Ghostbuster. When this action is taken, the player that's switching packs will take their figure off the board and replace it with the other figure of the same Ghostbuster. Doing this allows the character to use different forms of attack during combat. It should be noted however, that like removing slime, packs can not be switched out inside the Ecto-1A.



This brings us to combat. Combat is an action that may be taken by a player to fire a proton stream or mood slime against a target, depending on the Ghostbuster's pack. The player rolls their combat die. If their roll is higher or equal to the entity's "To Hit" value, then the player scores a hit against that entity. It should be noted that ghosts must be fought with proton streams and plazms must be fought with mood slime. Ghosts are not affected by mood slime and plazms are not affected by proton streams. When a ghost is hit with a proton stream, the player will place one of their proton stream tokens on the figure. When a plazm is hit with mood slime, the player will place one of their mood slime tokens on the figure. Ghosts have a "To Trap" value which requires a certain number of proton streams on it before it can be trapped. Plazms have a "To Extract" value which requires a certain number of mood slimes before it can be extracted. Each entity has certain instructions on it's card that determine what it does when hit or when missed. If the player was able to place the final hit needed to trap or extract an entity, it's "When Hit" ability does not resolve like normal. The player is then able to place the trapped ghost on their character card or remove the plazm from the board and the player gains a certain number of plazm counters as described on the entity's card. Each player receives 1 XP for each stream that they had on an entity when it was trapped or extracted. The tokens are then returned to the respective players. It should be noted that Haunted Humans are a bit different. Some of these require both proton streams and mood slime, while others may allow either. They may be trapped like ghosts but they also reward the player with plazm counters when trapped. Another thing to note is that if the player changes targets or they switch out the pack on their character, they must remove their tokens on the original target. The same is true if line of sight is broken by the entity moving out of range or if it's broken by another entity, gate or terrain line. Besides entities, the players will need to attack gates to be able to close them. They may be closed by either proton streams or mood slimes. Just like entities, the gate will have a "To Hit" value which must be rolled equal to or higher on a combat roll. The player that hits places the appropriate token on it and follows any additional effects that may be caused from the scenario card. Just like entities, some gates may require multiple streams or slimes be placed on them. This is determined by the scenario's "To Close" value on the card. Once the appropriate number of tokens has been placed on the gate, it is flipped over to the closed side and each player receives 1XP fore each of their tokens on the gate. If the player misses the gate on their combat roll, then the player checks the scenario card for the results. If the last open gate is closed, all of the ghosts on the map are sucked back into the spirit world, excluding mini boss and boss ghosts. Plazms also are unaffected and stay where they are.

One final action that's not listed above is to pass. This simply means the player chooses to take no more actions. If a player does this before taking any actions they are able to remove slime from their character or switch out their own pack. If either of these options are taken, the player is still able to perform maneuvers and use character abilities.

Maneuvers do not require one of a player's 3 actions. These may be taken in addition to those. Each player may perform up to 2 maneuvers at any time. It should also be noted that a player may convert a regular action into a maneuver. This allows a player that has no maneuvers due to slime to be able to perform a maneuver. There are 4 different maneuvers that may be taken. The first maneuver is to transfer trapped ghosts and plazm counters. This allows a player to move any number of trapped ghosts and plazm counters from their character card to another player's character card, or vice versa. However the character must have line of sight to the other character. Trapped ghosts and plazm counters may also be transfered from a character adjacent to the Ecto-1A to a character inside the vehicle and vice versa. Another maneuver that may be taken is to transfer equipment to or from an adjacent Ghostbuster. This maneuver is very similar to the previous one except that instead of ghost and plasms being transferred, in this case it's equipment cards. The same rules as for the previous maneuver apply. The only thing to note is that Class-S equipment can not be transferred. The next manuever available is to enter or exit the Ecto-1A. For this manuever the character may be moved from either inside the vehicle to the outside or from outside the vehicle to the inside. If the character is inside and exits, then the figure is placed on an unoccupied space adjacent to the Ecto-1A along the 4 side spaces. If the character decides to enter the vehicle, then the figure must be on one of the 4 side spaces adjacent to it. The figure is then placed on the Ecto-1A tile. The last maneuver is to investigate a goo pile. To do this, the character must be adjacent to the goo pile and have line of sight to it. The player will then flip over the goo pile token and gain 1 XP. They must then draw the top card from the Goo Pile deck. This card can be anything from a key item to complete the scenario, a piece of equipment or an event. If it's an event or equipment, then a card is drawn from the appropriate deck and placed beside the board or the player's character card respectively. It should be noted that if an entity is sharing the same space as the goo pile, then it may not be investigated.

Once each player has completed their actions and maneuvers, the end of round effects take place. First off players check the entity cards, event cards and scenario card for any "at the end of the round" effects that may occur. These are then resolved. Afterwards, the Goo Timer is moved down 1 on the scenario card. Once this is done, the event die is rolled. Players check to see if the side of the die that was rolled matches any of the gate symbols. The players then check to see if the matching gate is open or closed following the instructions on the scenario card for what to do. If the chaos symbol is rolled, it causes every entity in line of sight of a Ghostbuster to go into a frenzy. This means that it reacts as if it was missed in combat. Players should then check the specific entity's card for instructions. Many times the event die will cause new ghosts to appear on the board. When this happens, the player must roll the movement die and then use the PKE meter to determine where the entity exits the gate to. Likewise if an entity must move, the player rolls the movement die and consults the PKE meter to determine the direction it moves. Once the event die has been rolled and resolved, a new round begins.

The game continues until one of the scenarios success or failure conditions has been met. If the players complete the success result, then they win. If not, they will have to try again, especially if playing a campaign.



One last thing of note, just like the Ghostbuster figures, entities can also have colored figure bases place on them. There are 5 different colored bases that may be used and each one affects the entity in a different way. There's the brown Hive base that causes all other entities that share a name with that entity to react as if they were hit or missed by the same Ghostbuster that attacked the one with the base on it. The black Caustic base changes the entity's slime type to caustic slime, which can not be removed until the end of the scenario. If a Ghostbuster receives 3 caustic slime tokens, the team loses the scenario. The light green Amplify base causes the entity to have it's "To Hit" and "To Trap/Extract" number increased by 1. The light blue Shadow base allows an entity to move 2 spaces towards the nearest Ghostbuster at the end of each round. The magenta Marked base is used when an event, equipment or ability requires an entity to be marked. The specific equipment, event or ability will determine how to react to these entities. It should also be noted that entities can have multiple bases applied to them. Each one's effect stacks with the other abilities applied by the other bases on it.



COMPONENTS
Before I get into detailing the different components included with this game, let me state that my copy is the Deluxe edition with all the Kickstarter extras. The base game in retail will not come with everything that mine does. While there are several things that are not included, there's still PLENTY of good stuff in the retail edition to make you happy. Oops, spoilers. With that said, I'll start with the base game's contents. There are 12 large thick cardboard map tiles. These make up what I commonly refer to as the board in this review. These remind me a lot of the city tiles in Zombicide. The quality is very similar and the artwork is great. You really get a great feeling of the atmosphere that the game is trying to convey. There's also a spirit world tile where all the different entities are held before coming onto the board. There's a PKE meter tile for moving entities with, an Ecto-1A tile for holding Ghostbuster figures when they're inside the vehicle and an Ecto-Tank tile for keeping up with all of the plazm counters that have been stored. There are all kinds of tokens, from the many different types of slime tokens to goo pile and gate tokens. There are also trap tokens for the variant and pack tokens to show which pack your character is wearing. The game also comes with the various colored proton stream/mood slime tokens that conveniently can be placed around on the different ghosts and other entities due to the hole in the middle of them. When you're punching these out, you'll find the timer/plazm counters which are little circular 1 and 2 tokens. The game has several dice from the 8 sided movement die, to the 4 combat dice as well as the event die. The combat die is particularly cool as it has a ghostbuster symbol where the 6 should be. There are a bunch of cards included with the game. There are goo pile cards for when you inspect a goo pile. Equipment cards that add different abilities, including the special Class-S equipment cards. There are event cards which cause different things to happen. There are all the larger cards which include the scenario cards for playing the actual game. These include set up and all the special instructions for playing each one. There are the entity cards which describe the different entities and explain how each one works. Then there are the Ghostbuster character cards. I really like the artwork on all of these cards. They feel like something from a comic book and look great. However there are several problems with the entity and scenario cards in general. See the rulebook section below for more on these issues. The game has lots of little snap on bases in different colors for placing on the Ghostbuster characters and for the specific special abilities of some entities. There are also some little plastic arrow clips that fit on the character cards to keep up with XP. These are a lot like the ones in Zombicide. Finally there are all of the many different miniatures. There are ghostbuster character minis in 2 different varieties, slime pack and proton pack. There's also a Vigo mini, Ecto-1A mini and a larger Lady Liberty figure. These are all gray and look great. I especially love the Lady Liberty and Ecto-1A figures. They are amazingly detailed, as are all of the miniatures and figures. Speaking of which there are lots of different entity minis, some purple and some pink. The purple ones are your normal ghost entities while the pink ones are the plazms. Some of the minis are smaller and some like the Washington Square Ghost are huge. Each one of these plastic minis is amazingly detailed and looks completely awesome. I will say that the quality seems a lot higher on these, as they seem a lot stronger than those in the first game. These don't seem to break as easily which is a huge plus. If you just get the basic retail edition of the game, this is what all you'll be getting. That's a huge amount of stuff that looks great and really conveys the theme of the game. The only problem is those issues that are mentioned below about some of the larger cards.



For those with the deluxe Kickstarter edition, you get even more cool stuff. There's a cool Litho print of the cover of the rulebook that's suitable for framing or whatever. There are ecto dice which are supposed to be glow in the dark. However I haven't tried to see if they are or not. They just look cool anyway. There are several new Ghostbuster characters included which are those from the animated Extreme Ghostbusters cartoon series. Unfortunately I don't remember anything about them, as I can't say I ever saw the show. In any event, I'm happy to have more characters to enjoy playing with. There are also several new ghost and plazm minis that add even more for the Ghostbusters to deal with. There are some new map tiles which work with the new scenarios included. There are new entity cards for all the new ghosts. There are new equipment and event cards as well. All of these new cards will fit inside the Roylance Guide box, much like the Tobin's Spirit Guide box from the first game. If that wasn't enough, the Deluxe edition also contains the Tully expansion with two miniatures for him, some new ghosts and a giant Giga Plazm. There are also entity cards and a group of new scenarios that works with it. Once again, there's a ton of extra stuff in this version. The Tully expansion came inside the Deluxe box, while all the other extra content came in a brown cardboard box. Not exactly sure how I'm going to fit everything together in one box. For now, I'm keeping it all in the original boxes. It's a bit of work getting certain things ready to play but so far it's not been too bad. Needless to say, there's so much cool looking stuff. As I'm sure you've already figured out from the different pictures that I've included in this review. Oh and did I mention the extremely cool looking deluxe edition box cover. Where the first game's Deluxe edition was all black, this one is all white. It's very cool. So what I'm saying is that everything looks great and this is definitely one of the best looking games that I've seen this year. If it weren't for the mishaps on the core game cards, it would get a higher rating. In any event, for what all comes included, you get a bunch of great pieces that any fan of the movies or cartoons would be glad to have.
9 out of 10



RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is pretty much standard across the different versions. First let me discuss the good things about the book. There is a really nice story in 3 parts that is spaced out throughout the rule book. I really love that this was included and I enjoyed the story. There are lots of great looking pictures throughout the book as well. There are pictures of components, cartoon like illustrations and plenty of examples. That's another good part about the book. There are plenty of great examples with pictures to explain how things work all over the book. Each of the different game elements are explained in good detail with breakdowns of scenario cards, character cards, entity cards and more. There's also optional rules included for playing with ghost traps that I didn't cover in the overview. Just looking at the book, it looks great. For the most part, it appears that everything you need is there and it looks really great. Now for the bad parts. There are a few rules missing in the book such as how that investigating a goo pile causes the goo timer on the scenario card to move up by 1. This I didn't realize until I was looking through the game forums on BGG. I saw that there has been a updated rulebook posted and an appendix of all the things that were misprinted or left out of the rulebook and on the different cards. I couldn't beleive how much there actually was. Ok, so that's bad. The rulebook also tends to jump around and not really give you a real idea of here's how the game is setup and here's how you play and here's how you win. While the book looks amazing, it definitely needed some work. Granted, I own and have played the first game so I already have a bit of knowledge on some of the content of this book. However for first time players, reading this might overload their senses. I mean, it's over 30 pages long. While I appreciate the attention to detail and the extra content and beautiful design to the book, it could have been laid out better from start to finish. I would have liked to have seen the contents move into setting up the game, followed by how to play and ending with winning the game and the variant rules. I really feel like if it had been done like that, things would have been a lot clearer and could have cut down a good chunk of pages too. So while it looks great, it's not really all that functional. You will definitely find yourself look all over the book for that rule you forgot. That is something I didn't like. Overall, it's good but it's bad too. I'll give it a fairly average grade but seriously consider downloading the appendix and updated rulebook.
7 out of 10



GAMEPLAY
First off, I really enjoyed playing the first Ghostbusters game. My family and I have played several of the scenarios and even the youngest could enjoy playing it. Sure it was a bit random and silly at times, but we all loved it. For me, I thought of it as a more family friendly version of Zombicide, especially since my daughter is a bit frightened of the zombies. I'm not sure why the ghosts don't bother her though. So what does that mean for this version? Well it's a bit of a conundrum wrapped in an enigma, if that makes any sense. There are some things that I like and some things that I don't. As I've mentioned earlier, the rulebook is a bit messy and doesn't really explain everything in the way that I wish it did. There are also rules left out, not to mention the errors. I wasn't really aware of this when we were playing the game. It wasn't until later when looking through the forum threads on BGG that I noticed some of the problems. I'll be honest, I thought I was doing something wrong. I'm glad to know that it wasn't me. The second scenario was so difficult, due to the errors on the card, that after a couple of times playing it, we simply moved on. It just seemed impossible to beat and the kids were getting annoyed with it. Some things like the goo timer are a pain. Sure if you're playing with hard core gamers then you may be good with the sense of doom breathing down your neck every single round. For my family, it wasn't as much fun. It definitely amps your anxiety as you know that the game is about to utterly destroy your group. The game also has a lot of luck to it, much like the first game. Nothing wrong with that as long as you're good with it and realize it up front. Sometimes the dice won't go your way. Sometimes the card that you really need to accomplish a task is at the bottom of the deck. Sometimes you're just going to lose. Well that stinks, but it happens. The thing is if you realize that things could go that way ahead of time, it makes it not as hard to deal with when it happens to you. Another thing that I didn't like was the lack of good character abilities. While the first game had actual directions for each character to go in, this one many times gives you an equipment card and calls it good. Where are the awesome and cool abilities of the Ghostbusters? While each one of those options in itself isn't TOO bad, combined together it makes for a frustrating and at times very difficult game to play. If you don't realize that something's wrong you can't fix it and do it right. Thankfully I see from the appendix that several of the things were wrong from the get go and should make for a bit smoother game. While I haven't had a chance to replay it with the updated information, I have the utmost hope that things will go better this time around. I don't want you to think that this review is negative. In all honestly, it's not. The thing is that you need to be aware of the errors and be prepared to address them prior to playing the game. That way you'll have a much better experience than we first did.

Now I realize that I've been kind of harsh so far, so now let me give some highlights to the game. I like that this is a game my family can play together. It is one that everyone enjoys. We love the theme and enjoy the look and feel of the game. It's definitely a bit tougher and more involved than the first game was, but it's still one that even the youngest can play with a bit of help. I will say that sometimes I had to remind everyone that they had 3 actions and 2 maneuvers. Sometimes you won't be using the manuevers as there won't really be anything you can do at that time anyway. The thing is that I like that some of these simple things don't cost an action. I like that there are more entities to face than what the first game had. I also like that there are 2 different types so you have to actually be a bit more strategic than in the first game. For it you could simply run around and do what you needed to do shooting everything in your path. With this one, you have to discuss what the best course of action for each player is. It's definitely a game that inspires teamwork. I like the different slime types for ghosts and how this can affect how their attacks work against you. It gives me a bit more thrill when I catch that ghost that's been causing my team such headaches for the past several rounds. While the difficulty is amped up a good bit more in this game, I like it and find that it's a natural progression for players that are ready to take a step up from the first game. With all the different scenarios that are available to play, it makes the game very replayable. Not to mention the fact that you can design your own scenarios with all the content that's available inside the game. Overall, I think that fans of the first game should enjoy this one. I think that families will enjoy it if they're aware of the increased difficulty level. Errors and luck abound in this one, but there's still things to enjoy about it too. I'm sure that there will be some players that find ways to make house rules to deal with a few of the issues, making the game better. As it is, it's good. I wanted it to be better but it's still good enough that I will want to play it more. Needless to say, the pros definitely outweight the cons. I like it and I would recommend giving it a try.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Ghostbusters: the Board Game II is a miniature heavy co-op game that is based on the Ghostbusters II movie, as well as the Ghostbusters cartoon series. The play time on this game can vary depending on the scenario and how lucky or unlucky you are. Game time can range from 20- 30 minutes up to a couple of hours. There are a lot of great looking pieces to this game. The miniatures are amazing and the artwork is fantastic. However there are some errors on some of the entity and scenario cards which cause some issues with the gameplay. The rulebook also has some problems with errors, as well as a lack of direction in covering the rules in a more linear way. The game is fun despite the many issues that have plagued it, especially with the appendix and updated rulebook that players can download. Even with the many problems, I still like the game. It looks amazing and can be quite fun if you can move past the errors. It's definitely a bit more gamer oriented than the first game was. Families and younger players should enjoy it, however it does ramp up the difficulty just a bit more. For us, we all enjoyed it even though it kicked our butts repeatedly. Personally I feel that if you loved the first game and you love the theme, then you'll most likely find something to like about this one. I would recommend giving this one a try. For me, I like it and plan on keeping it in my collection. It's got things that are both good and bad about it but the good definitely outweighs the bad. Now, who you gonna' call?
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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Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:36 pm
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Gaming Bits: Go7Gaming LEG-002 Insert for Marvel Legendary Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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Recently I was given the opportunity to check out a product from Go7Gaming's line of Heritage Inserts. That product was the LEG-002 Insert for Marvel Legendary. I received it in a flat rate shipping box with a big bundle of wooden sheets inside a large ziplock bag. After removing the sheets from the packaging, it was ready to assemble.

I would like to state that for some reason there were no instructions included with the insert. Of course this wasn't a major problem as I was able to go online using my phone to the Go7Gaming website to read over the Build Instructions that were on the product page. I will also mention that with only a few pieces to assemble, it would have been fairly easy to figure out even without the online instructions.

Now then, let me explain exactly what this product is and what it does. First off, this is an insert for Marvel Legendary. It will not work with Villains or any of the other Legendary line of games. Once assembly is complete, the insert makes it possible to keep your game organized and in one box. There's a whole lot of room so it's possible to add a lot of smaller and large box expansions. For me, I've included the following large box expansions; Dark City, Civil War, X-men and Secret Wars Volume 1 and Volume 2. I've also included the following small box expansions; Fantastic Four, Paint the Town Red and Guardians of the Galaxy. As you'll see from the pictures below, there are a lot of cards inside the box. There's still a little bit of room which will hopefully be able to hold at least 1 more small box expansion. In any event, let's get into the assembly process.

To start with you'll want to separate out all of the different wooden sheets. The pieces are all cut so that they separate fairly easily from the boards. I'd like to mention that when assembling, it's normally a good idea to dry fit the pieces together first so that you have an idea of where each one goes. It's also a good idea to use either glue or tape to hold everything together. Glue is stronger and more resilient but tape works fairly good too. Throughout this review I will not be pointing out when to use glue. Just be aware that if there are 2 pieces being connected together, it's probably a good idea to use glue on both. With that said, let's get to it.

This insert contains only 1 large insert for the main box with 4 channels for cards so it's fairly easy to figure out. The first thing you'll want to do is take the base of the insert and make sure that it fits inside the bottom of your box. If it does, then you've got the right insert and can continue. Next you'll want to take the 3 inner walls with the slots in the top and attach them to the base. You'll also want to fit the 2 outer walls onto the base making sure to fit the tabs into the slots of the outer walls. Once these are in place things should be fairly stable and should look something like this.



The next step is to attach the final 2 slotted outer walls, connecting them to the base and the other outer walls. When you're finished it should look like this. Now that you're finished, you can set it aside to let the glue dry.



Once everything is dry, you can place the insert into the box, like so.



Now you're free to add your cards and dividers to the box in what ever manner you choose. Here are a few pictures where I've added my cards to the box. As you can tell, I have a few things that I've yet to remove the plastic from. I've also left a space in the front right corner for the tokens from Guardians of the Galaxy. The last picture shows where I've placed the board on top.





MATERIALS
For this section I'll go over the packaging and materials of the insert. The materials all came inside a flat rate shipping box. Inside the box was a large ziplock style bag with the large boards and a smaller ziplock bag with the dividers. These 2 were shrink wrapped together. I removed the shrink wrap before taking the first picture. The wooden sheets were all thick and sturdy. Everything seemed to be of good quality. The pieces appeared to have been laser cut. Each one was fairly easy to punch out from the board. There was just the wooden pieces without any glue or tape to hold everything together with. You will need to supply those yourself. I didn't really have any trouble putting everything together. It was pretty simple and straight forward. When I was finished, it looked great and held a ton of cards. Overall I'm quite pleased with the look and feel of the product.
9 out of 10

INSTRUCTION
For this insert there were no instructions. I'm not sure if this was a mistake or if there actually are no instructions. In any event, I went to the website and read over the instructions online. Of course the insert is so simple to assemble, I could have figured it out even without any help from the website. The online instructions were fairly easy to understand. Like I said, I'm pretty sure that I could have done it myself. Needless to say, since there were no instructions with my insert, I won't give a rating to that aspect of this review.
----

CONSTRUCTION
The construction of this insert was fairly simple and pretty quick to put together. I honestly think it took more time to look up the instructions online with my phone than the actual assembly process. With only the 1 large insert to put together, it only took a few minutes. As you can tell from the pictures, it was easy. I was able to put all of the cards that I have for the game inside this one box now. That's 5 big box expansions, 3 small box expansions and the core game all inside the main box. Before I'd had to use one of the big box expansion boxes to hold a good chunk of the cards. That took up more of my precious shelf space that could have been used for other games. With this insert inside the box now, I don't have to worry about that anymore. The only problem that I could find about the insert was that when I placed the rulebooks and the board on top of the insert, it was not flush with the bottom of the box. That meant that when I placed the box lid on, it didn't go all the way down. Much like I've found with some other inserts, the box lid raises up a bit which could cause some damage. In this case, the board could be damaged. I might need to consider getting one of those mats that roll up. I think that for people that don't have quite as many cards, they might be able to place one of those mats inside one of the card channels of the insert. In any event, it was a bit disheartening that the lid didn't go down snug. Still, I've removed an extra box from my shelf and can now add something else to my game wall. Let me tell you though, with the insert inside and the box full, there's quite a bit of weight to this box now. I weighed it and it was a little over 15 pounds. I handed it to my wife and she almost dropped it because she wasn't expecting it to be that heavy. I will say that the dividers are nice and help to separate things a bit, but I'm not sure exactly how I'll keep them. I'll most likely need some cardboard dividers with the names of the characters on them so that I can find things easier. Of course that's not the insert's fault, so I'm not blaming it. Overall, I'm pleased with the final results and the look of this insert.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
The LEG-002 Insert for Marvel Legendary is a great way to store a ton of cards for the game. It has a lot of room to keep a lot of cards. I was able to store the core game, 5 big box expansions and 3 small box expansions inside the main box. I don't think that I'll be able to add much more but I look forward to trying. The assembly process was pretty easy, even without an instruction sheet. I'm still unsure if that was intended or a mistake. The insert is very strong and holds plenty of cards. The one negative that I can say is that the box lid doesn't go all the way down flush with the box. When placing the game board on top of the insert it causes the lid to raise up just a bit. That was a little disheartening for me, but being able to place as much material inside the main box as I was able to made me pretty happy. Overall, I'm fairly pleased with the look and functionality of the insert. I would definitely recommend it if you have anything more than just the core game and possibly an expansion or two. It's a good quality product made by good quality people. I think that you'll be happy with it, as well as the great customer service that you'll get from the people at Go7Gaming. Guaranteed.
8 out of 10


For more information about this and other great products, please check out Go7Gaming at their site.

http://go7gaming.com/
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Fri Feb 9, 2018 8:29 pm
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Gaming Bits: Go7Gaming KOTNY-001 Storage Solution for King of Tokyo or King of New York Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Birmingham
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Recently I was given the opportunity to check out a product from Go7Gaming's Value Line of inserts. That product was the KOTNY-001 Storage Solution for either King of Tokyo or King of New York. I received it in a flat rate shipping box with a big bundle of wooden sheets wrapped together in a large ziplock bag with some full color instructions explaining how to put everything together. After removing the sheets from the packaging and reading through the instructions, it was ready to assemble.

Now then, let me explain exactly what this product is and what it does. First off, this is an insert for the either version of the game King of Tokyo, the original one or the newer version made in 2016. It will also work with King of New York, which is incidentally what this review will be based around. Once it's been assembled, the insert makes it possible to keep all of the different monster boards, monster standees, dice, tokens and cards together in one organized place. There's even a lot more room for extra monsters, dice and cards. For me, I added in a few extra monsters from some of the Monster Packs, as well as the Power Up expansions. There's even some extra dice from the Halloween expansion thrown in to boot. Of course you'll see what I mean in the pictures below.

With all of that said, let's go ahead and get right into the assembly. The first thing to do is separate out all the different wooden sheets. Every piece is cut so that they're fairly easy to punch out from the board. You need to know that when putting one of these inserts together, it's best to dry fit everything first so that you know how it's going to go and then break out the glue and fit each glued piece together. You can also use tape if you'd prefer, but glue will last longer and be more resilient. In the course of this review, I won't be pointing out each time you should use glue. Just be aware that if 2 pieces are being connected, you probably want to put some glue on them to hold them together. This insert consists of 3 different sections; the main insert, the token tray and the tile tray. We'll start with the main insert. You'll start off by taking the inner wall and connecting it to the 2 smaller inner divider walls, making sure to note the direction of the angled slots on the top. You'll also want to connect the open wall and connect it to the other side of the inner wall. What you should end up with is something like this.



Next you'll connect the outer wall to the small inner divider wall. What you'll have is something that looks like this. I've rotated the assembled pieces so that you can see the Go7Gaming logo on the inner portion of the outer wall.



Next you'll connect the 2 outer walls to the inner wall and the previously connected outer wall. This is what it should look like.



Finally you'll connect the last outer wall to the rest of the assembly. It should look like this when finished.



The next step is to glue in the small tray supports into the walls of the insert. There are 2 sizes so make sure that you put the right ones in the right place. If you're building for King of Tokyo, this first set of supports are the only ones that you need to use. These are placed in the upper right corner of the insert. Seen below.



Since I'm assembling this insert for King of New York, I needed to also place this extra set of supports into the lower left section of the insert. Seen below.



Now that the main insert is assembled, we'll move on to the token tray. To assemble this you'll start with the base of the tray. Next you'll take the 2 divider walls and connect these to the 2 longer outer walls. What you'll get is something like this. If you're going to use this for King of Tokyo, then the inner wall on the right of the picture would not be connected. You'd only need the one inner wall.



After you've got those together, you'll place the assembled piece onto the base and then connect the 2 shorter end walls. This is what it should look like when you're done.



The tile tray is only used for King of New York, so if you're planning on using this insert with King of Tokyo, you're pretty much done. For those of us King of New Yorkers, let's continue. You'll start off with the base for this tray. Next we'll attach one of the long walls to the base, along with the 2 short end walls. You'll finish it up by adding the other long wall to complete the tile tray. When it's done it should look something like this.



With everything completed, simply set them aside and let the glue dry overnight.





Once it has you can place the main insert into the box and put the dividers into place. You'll then be able to start adding all of the different components of the game into the insert. As you can see below, I've added a few more monsters, cards and dice that are not included with the base game. Here are some pictures of the finished product.



Here I removed the tile tray and token tray so that you can see the areas beneath these. Under the energy cubes and round tokens is room for the dice from both this set and the Halloween expansion. Beneath the tiles is a little bit of space for some of the larger monster standees to stretch out.



Here are the token and tile trays completely filled up.





With everything put back into the box, there's just enough room for the board to fit in nicely. I was surprised that even with King of New York's larger folded board, there's still enough space so that it fits flush with the sides of the box. With the lid closed, there's no bulges or raised lid.





MATERIALS
Normally I would cover all the different pieces and component of the game. What I'll do in this case is describe the packaging and the insert itself. Everything came packed inside a flat rate shipping box. The pieces were placed inside a large zip lock style bag and shrink wrapped together. The wooden sheets are fairly thick and sturdy. Each piece appears to be laser cut and is easy to punch out from the boards. Everything looked good and solid so there was nothing to complain about here. Of course there was no glue or tape included, you'll have to supply that yourself. Assembling the insert and trays was fairly simple. I really had no problems with it. Overall I'm very pleased with the start and finish of this project as well as the look and feel of the insert.
9 out of 10

INSTRUCTION
Instead of a rulebook for a game, this insert comes with a folded sheet of instructions. Everything was easily explained making it easy to assemble. The assembly process was walked through step by step so that there was nothing difficult about putting it all together. There were even some nice pictures showing how everything should look and where each piece should go. Thanks to the great instructions, I had no troubles at all. Overall I'm very pleased with the instructions. They are clear, concise and helpful.
9 out of 10

CONSTRUCTION
Normally I would explaing my thoughts on the game along with the basic principles of how it's played. Instead of doing that, I'll give my thoughts on the assembly process and the functionality of the insert. Thankfully this insert didn't take a long time. There were only the 2 smaller trays and the one larger insert for the box. As you can probably tell from the pictures, it wasn't that difficult either. Everything was fairly simple to put together. I will say that I needed to go onto the website to determine exactly what pieces went where, as there was nothing in the instructions about that. As I mentioned earlier, I was able to add some extra content from some of the smaller expansions to the box. Even afterwards there's still some room left over. Unfortunately adding the Cthulhu monster pack, I didn't have enough room for all the smaller square tiles so I had to sit some of them inside the bigger space where the monster standees go. You can see that in the pictures. I will say that I fully expected there to be a problem with the board, but that wasn't the case. The folded board fit perfectly on top of the insert allowing the box lid to go all the way down. The board sit's flush with the bottom of the box. That really surprised me. The box has a little more weight to it now, but it's a lot stronger too. I'm not sure what else I'll be able to add to the box, but I can't wait to find out. Hopefully there will be plenty of new products to fill out my box to the rim. The trays are great. They make setting up the game a lot quicker and easier. Overall, I'm very pleased with the finished product.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
The KOTNY-001 Storage Solution for either King of Tokyo or King of New York is a great organizer that works for either game. It's got plenty of room for keeping the core game along with several smaller expansions as well. The assembly process was very easy and didn't take a lot of time either. The instructions are very thorough and easy to follow. As I've already stated, there's lots of extra room which I look forward to filling. Overall I'm very pleased with the look and functionality of the insert. I would highly recommend it. It's a marvel of craftsmanship. You'll be happy with the insert and the great customer service that you'll get from the people at Go7Gaming. Guaranteed.
9 out of 10


For more information about this and other great products, please check out Go7Gaming at their site.

http://go7gaming.com/
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Fri Feb 2, 2018 9:41 pm
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Gaming Bits: Dynamite Nurse Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Dynamite Nurse is a game by Atsuo Yoshizawa, published by Japanime Games. It is for 3-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of nurses in a temple of healing set in a fantasy world. In other words, they're doctors in a hospital. Their main mission is to heal adventurers that have been stabbed, bludgeoned, shot, petrified, infected, poisoned, level drained or suffered any other number of horrible injuries while out adventuring. Of course their opponents may try to sabotage them along the way. If too many patients die, the player will wind up getting the infamous Dynamite Nurse moniker and be feared by all. However if they perform well, they'll become a respected doctor and cement their reputation as a great healer. In the end, the doctor...I mean player, that earns the most victory points will be declared the winner.

To begin, the cards are separated by type and then set out into face up piles. The Patient cards are shuffled and placed with their critical condition side face up. Each player receives one of the starting nurse cards with a red star by their name. Any remaining starting nurse cards are returned to the box. The other nurse cards are shuffled together and placed face down. The event cards are removed from the action cards and are shuffled together and placed face up in a pile. The regular action cards are separated into face up piles, giving each named type of card it's own pile. The piles are then grouped together by color. Each player is given the duty markers that match their starting nurse's color, which are placed in front of the player. Any remaining duty markers are returned to the box. Each player is also given 5 Examination cards and 3 Simple Surgery cards. These cards along with the player's starting nurse card are shuffled together into the player's starting deck. The deck is placed face down in front of them. Any remaining Examination or Simple Surgery cards are returned to the box. It should be noted that the middle of the play area where all the shared cards is located is known as the "Town", while the area in front of the player where they place their own cards is known as their "Hospital". The piles of cards are set up in the Town as diagrammed in the rulebook. The patient cards are turned over with the critical condition side facing down. The kill mark cards are placed in order with the 15 card on top and the 1 card on the bottom. The 13, 14 and 15 cards are returned to the box if only 3 players are playing. Each player will now draw 4 cards from their deck to form their starting hand. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played with each player taking a turn. On a player's turn they will follow 4 phases; main phase, transportation phase, admission phase and cleanup phase. The first phase is the main phase. In this phase, the player can take one action and they may play cards from their hand one at a time, as many as they would like. These can be done in any order. When a card is played, the text box takes effect immediately. Both action cards and nurse cards may be played. Action cards provide bonus points in the form of treatment points or gold. Treatment points allow the player to treat one patient. This may be through operations or care. Operations are performed by the player paying the amount of treatment points equal to the large severity icon's value on the card. Once healed the patient is healed and discharged. It should be noted that a patient must first be admitted to a player's hospital with a duty marker on it. Once the patient is discharged, the player removes their duty marker and places the patient in their victory point stack to be scored at the end of the game. They also take a card of their choice from the nurse pile, placing it face down in their discard pile. Providing care is when the player pays the smaller severity icon on the patient card. In this case, the patient is not discharged but is flipped face up taking them out of critical condition. The other action that may be taken instead of treating a patient is using gold to buy an action card from the Town. This is done by paying the amount of gold on the chosen card and then placing it in the player's discard pile. It should also be noted that a player may chose to buy an event card. They may either chose the top card or the card beneath it. However they aren't allowed to look at it before buying it. Even if the player is not able to pay for the second card, this still counts as a purchase action.

The next phase is the transportation phase. In this phase the player will transport a patient and assign duties. To transport a patient the player takes a patient card from the top of the Dungeon and moves them to an ambulance. Any patients already there are moved down away from the Dungeon and are arranged in a row. The patient farthest from the Dungeon is the lead patient while the one closest to the Dungeon is the trailing patient. It should be noted that if the Dungeon runs out of cards, the game ends immediately. Once transportation is completed, the player will then select a player, including themself, to take charge of that patient. Once selected, the player places their duty marker on top of the patient card. It should also be noted that their is a limit to the number of patient cards that may go into an ambulance. That limit is equal to the number of players. If the number of patient cards in the ambulance reaches that limit, then transportation is not completed and one of the patients in the ambulance enters into critical condition. Starting with the leading patient, the chooses a patient that is not already in critical condition and flips the card over to it's critical condition side.

This takes us to the third phase, which is the admission phase. In this phase the player can select one or more patient cards in the ambulance that have their duty markers on them and move them to their hospital. This is an optional action. If the player chooses to do this, they will move the card into their hospital, moving up any cards after it closer to the Dungeon. After a player has completed admitting a patient, even if they chose not to, thy must now check to see if any of their patients wind up in critical condition. Each player's hospital only has 2 beds or spaces. If a player has more patients than they have beds or spaces, then a number of patients will enter into critical condition. That number is equal to the amount that exceeds their hospital's number of beds. The player may choose which patients are affected but may not choose the same patient to be affected more than once. It should be noted that sometimes a patient card that is in critical condition will be forced to go into critical condition again. When this happens, the patient dies, moving the card to the Town's graveyard. Any duty markers on the card are returned to their owner. That player will then receive a kill mark card, placing it in their hospital. If the last kill mark card is taken, the game ends immediately. When a player has more kill marks than any other player, that player receives the Dynamite Nurse card.

The last phase is the cleanup phase. In this phase the player will discard all the cards that they played, as well as any cards remaining in their hand. However the player is allowed to keep one card from their hand if they choose. The discarded cards are placed into the player's discard pile. The player will then draw 4 card from their deck to refill their hand. Even if they choose to keep a card, they will still draw 4 cards. Play then passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues until one of the two game end conditions is met. If the pile of kill mark cards runs out or if the dungeon runs out of patient cards, the game ends immediately. Once the game is over, players add up their victory points from patient cards that they have acquired, for patient cards that have been admitted to their hospital and from play cards and nurse cards the player owns. They will lose victory points based on how many kill mark cards they have. The player that has the most victory points is the winner.



COMPONENTS
This game comes with a fairly large stack of cards. There are several different types of cards some of which have duplicates of to be used in the Town. The artwork on these is designed with an anime/manga style look to them. In many cases there is a good bit of fan service in regards to the designs, some of which players may find a bit over the top. I would say that if the players are comfortable with games such as Tanto Cuore or Kemomimi Panic then these cards won't bother them either. For the most part, it's just something to be aware of, especially for those with younger players. The cards themselves are well designed and I especially like the look and feel of the cards. There's a bit of iconography that takes a little getting used to, but nothing that's too difficult. The game also comes with some cardboard duty markers in several different player colors. These are brightly colored and pretty thick. I really like the quality of them. There are also some dividers included in the box to keep everything separated and easier to find what you're looking for. There's plenty of room for more stuff including expansions in the box. Overall I like the look and feel of the game. Just be aware of the excessive nature of some of the cards.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is very reminiscent of the ones that you'll find in games like Tanto Cuore. They're all in black and white and are about the size and width of the box. There are plenty of great looking pictures yet the black and white quality leaves you wanting more. The book has a few examples and some really great details on each of the different card types and how they work. The rules are detailed out quite nicely so that everything is fairly easy to understand. The book also has a section devoted to different game terms, as well as a great section of frequently asked questions about the different cards. Overall the rulebook is pretty good. It covers everything quite well and looks pretty good too. I simply wish that there were some color to these pages as it just looks so drab an uninteresting.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
As I mentioned in my preview review of this game, this one takes an interesting spin on the deck building mechanic. It uses some of the same ideas on game play as are found in games like Dominion or Tanto Cuore. The game starts off with lots of different card types that are available for purchase, including patients to cure. It's what you choose to do with what you draw that determines what options you have available to you. If you only draw a hand of Consultation cards, you'll only be able to buy cards. No need worrying about treating a patient this turn. Of course the balance of treating patients and adding cards to your deck is key. You also have to keep an eye on the patients in your hospital and those in the ambulance. Too many dead patients and you'll wind up with the infamous Dynamite Nurse card, which you really don't want to keep, especially at the end of the game. I think that that game has a really fun and humorous style to it. I think that most people that enjoy deck builders like Dominion and especially Tanto Cuore, will get a lot of enjoyment out of this one too. I have to say that I do like treating the patients, especially since this is where you get the majority of your victory points. However it's a bit more than that. I like that it kind of gives you a feeling of accomplishment. It's a really neat aspect that makes this game different. I still wish there was a 2 player option for the game, maybe even a solo version for the ever alone players out there. As it is, I don't know of any work on either of those variants but would love to see it happen. As I said, I think deck building fans will really enjoy this one. I know that I do. I also think this one will appeal to anime and manga fans as well. This is a game that I would highly recommend. It's a lot of fun and appeals to my inner otaku.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Dynamite Nurse is a deck building game that is based in an anime/manga style hospital. The game isn't too long. Most game sessions last around an hour. The game is really well designed and the cards are great. The artwork in some cases is a bit over the top and may not be suited for younger players. Just something to be aware of. However if Tanto Cuore and/or Kemomimi Panic don't offend you then the artwork for this game shouldn't either. The rulebook could use a bit of color but overall is pretty well thought out and covers everything nicely. The game itself is quite fun. I like the unique take on deck building while still incorporating some of the same styles as Dominion and Tanto Cuore. Fans of these games should enjoy this one as well, especially if they like anime or manga. I still am hoping for an eventual 2 player or solo variant for the game, but nothing yet. I think this game was just what I thought it would be...great. I highly recommend it. It'll cure what ails you.
9 out of 10


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

http://www.japanimegames.com/
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Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:32 pm
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Gaming Bits: Kemomimi Panic Review

Jonathan Nelson
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Kemomimi Panic is a game by Masayuki Kudo, published by Japanime Games. It is for 4-8 players. In this game, players take on the role of beast-eared citizens of the town of Mokemoke. They will be trying to keep their valuables safe from the infamous thief known as Crescent Moon. They will need to uncover the identity of the scoundrel before their treasures are taken, forcing them out of the town forever. In the end, if the citizens are able to master their powers of deduction and find the culprit before all of them are eliminated, they will all be declared the winners. If not, the criminal Crescent Moon will sneak back into the darkness to steal more treasures from unsuspecting citizens.

To begin, it is recommended that for a group of player's first game, a certain set of character cards and role cards should be used based on the number of players. For more information on this, please check the rulebook. For later games, the rulebook notes other character options that work well together that may be used. Once character cards and role cards have been chosen, a Facilitator is chosen. They will be overseeing everything to make sure the game runs smoothly. The Facilitator will then take the selected character cards and shuffle them together. Each player is then dealt one card each. Each player then looks at their card and then shows it to the rest of the players. The card is then placed face up in front of them. The Crescent Moon role card is removed from the deck and replaced with a Citizen card from the box. The deck is then shuffled. A random role card is then removed and placed back in the box. The Crescent Moon card is then placed back in the deck and the cards are shuffled again. The Facilitator will then deal a role card to each player including themself. Players take a look at their role card and place it face down in front of themself. Each player is then given a Decoy card by the Facilitator, which is placed face up on top of their role card. The Facilitator will then give the Moon card to the player to the left of the Detective Shamrock player. They place this card face up in front of themself with the Crescent Moon side up. The Target card is then placed in the middle of the play area. Play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds which are divided into a Day and Night phase. Before this though there is a Game Starting phase. In this phase, the Detective Shamrock player chooses another player. Everyone but that player and the Detective Shamrock player will now put their head down and close their eyes. The chosen player must now honestly take one of two poses. If they are a citizen, they must make the OK sign with their fingers. If they are a thief or informant, they must cross their arms to make an X. Once this is done, the Detective Shamrock player will tell everyone to raise their heads and open their eyes. The player with the Moon card becomes the leader for the first day. This actually starts the game and begins the Day phase. In the Day phase, the players will talk amongst themselves, discussing who they think the Thief is. It's suggested that this should take around 3 minutes and that the Facilitator should keep track of this. After the time ends, the leader will now choose a player, naming them as the Suspect. This is done by the leader saying, "You're the suspect!" and then point the arrow on the Target card toward them. A vote is then held with players saying "Aye" if they believe the suspect is the Thief. If more than half the players vote Aye, then the suspect is confirmed. That player will now lose their Decoy card if they still have it. If not, they must turn over their role card. This eliminates them from the game. It should be noted that each character has a special ability and that the timing for this ability should be taken into consideration. If the eliminated player is the Thief, the game ends. If not then the game continues into the Night phase. Also if less than half of the players vote Aye, then nothing happens and the game continues into the Night phase as well.

The Night phase is the second phase of the game. In this phase, the Thief will attempt a burglary of one of the other players. This only happens if the Moon card is on the Crescent Moon side. If it's on the Full Moon side, then nothing happens. For the Thief to burgle, first the Target card is placed in the middle of the play area. All of the players will now place their right hands over the Target card in the middle of the play area without touching it. The Facilitator will then have everyone to shut their eyes, including themself. The Facilitator then goes through a small script, telling everyone that it's night time and dark outside. That everyone is asleep and that the great thief is awake. The Thief is then told to open their eyes. They open their eyes and are told that they have 10 seconds to sneak into someone's house. The Facilitator will then begin to count. The Thief player will move their hand just enough to turn the Target card toward the player that they wish to target. Once the Facilitator counts down to 0, they announce that morning has come and for all the players to open their eyes. All of the players will now open their eyes and move their hands from the center of the table. The player that has the arrow pointing toward them was burgled during the night. If they have a Decoy card in front of them, it is now lost. If not, they are eliminated from the game and must flip their role card over. If their was an effect that takes place at this time due to their role card, it activates. Once this is completed, the day is over. The leader will now flip the Moon card over to the other side and pass it to the player on their left. That player now becomes the new leader. A new day now starts with a new day phase.

The game continues until one of two things happens. If the Thief player is eliminated, the game ends. If this happens all the Citizens are winners, including those that were eliminated. If there are only 2 players left, either because of voting or burglaries, the game ends. In this case, players must now check the role cards of the final 2 players. If they are a Thief and a Citizen, then the Thief wins. If the 2 roles are a Thief and an Informant, then the Informant wins.




COMPONENTS
This game comes with a deck of cards packaged inside a tuck box which is packed into an insert with 2 spaces for tuck boxes. I have to say that I like the idea. It keeps everything from sliding around inside the larger box. It also makes room for an expansion that could be placed into the other tuck box slot, if one is made. The cards themself have a really nice finish and are easy to shuffle. The artwork is designed with an anime/manga style that I really like. Most of the cards have a very cute, sweet and innocent look to them. However there are a couple of cards that go WAY over the top and get a bit too revealing. For the most part the cards have these sweet little beast eared girls that look so sweet and cute. Some get a bit revealing and show a little whisp of underwear, which is completely fine. It's those few cards that really reveal too much and move well past the minor fan service that is acceptable. For adults, the cards are completely fine. If you have kids, especially youger ones, those few cards are going to be a bit too much for them. Even for my older son, I feel that those cards are a bit too provocative. If you choose to play without those cards, the game is completely fine. I'd also say that if those types of things don't bother you, then those few cards won't either. In any event, it's something that needs to be noted and that parents should be aware of before playing the game. Overall, I'm mostly fine with the cards. I do wish that the art style had stayed more in the line of cute and fun, instead of too revealing.
7 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game, while small, it is fairly thick. Most of this is due to the very detailed section that explains each card in the box. This section alone consists of 10 pages. Mostly what this does is repeats the same information that is printed on each card. There are also 2 pages of character options, one of which is for first time players and the other is simply a bunch of different options based on player count. The rules themselves are fairly simple and are easy to read through. However each step and phase is explained in great detail so that the game is very easily understood. There aren't really any examples of game play and the only pictures consist of the 10 pages of card explanations. Overall I think the book does a good job of explaining the rules and it looks pretty good too. I'm pretty pleased with the overall presentation.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
The first thing that most players will think of after reading through the rules for this one is how it compares to the game Werewolf. Yes, there are a lot of similarities between the 2 games. For one thing, both games are centered around the social deduction mechanics of gameplay. For those unfamiliar with the term, social deduction games are those where the goal is dependent on figuring out information that isn't readily apparent and that involved discussion among players as one of the mechanics. Thank You Ted Alspach for explaining the definition so beautifully. The thing is that this game has a lot more about it then most games of the genre. For one, the original Werewolf is fairly simple and at times can be a bit boring and lackluster. This game provides a lot more depth than just simply voting someone out, as if they were a castaway on a liferaft. Each character has a special ability that provides a bit more life to the character. It's these aspects of the characters that I really enjoy. There are even different types of Citizen cards, so that if a citizen is eliminated they may have a special ability that kicks in at that time. All of these different elements help to add a bit more to the game and provide a lot more life to it. I really like how it all melds together and makes for a pretty interesting and fun game. Of course, as I've mentioned earlier, the cards are a bit hard to overlook at times and this tends to affect the game a bit. Still, if you can get past the artwork the game itself is pretty solid. I also have to say that I like the idea of the decoy cards. I like how that you don't automatically get kicked out if you lose a vote or are the target of the thief. It takes 2 times, giving you an opportunity to play a bit longer. Fans of social deduction games like Werewolf should really enjoy this one. I like it and would recommend it. However the recommendation comes with the caveat that you're ok with the card art and don't mind a few half naked women on your cards. For me, we might have to do some artistic improvements with a sharpie.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Kemomimi Panic is a Japanese anime/manga style game of social deduction that involves lots of cute and sometimes underdressed beast eared girls. The game isn't very long. Most game sessions last around 30-45 minutes, that is unless you let people talk and discuss the voting part of the game for too long. The cards have an anime/manga style artwork to them that I like. However some of the designs are a bit too provocative and show too much skin, especially for younger players. Parents should take note of this when deciding on if this game is acceptable at your table or not. For more mature players, this will most likely not be a problem. It's just something to be aware of. The game itself improves on the social deduction mechanic and adds lots of cool powers that keep the game replayable. I like this a lot more than games like Werewolf. Fans of Werewolf will most likely enjoy this one a great deal. The game is pretty simple and easy to play. This is a game that I recommend, however only for those comfortable with the artwork. I can't recommend this for younger players or families, not without removing or fixing a couple of cards. Overall the game mechanics are great but the game may not be suitable for everyone. Use your own judgement on this one. With the right group, it's really good. I like it.
8 out of 10

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

http://www.japanimegames.com/
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Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:35 pm
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