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Designer: Dean Brown
Publisher: Dan Verssen Games
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 1
Playing Time: 30-120 minutes
The air exploded with flashes of light and sound as the 4th Fighter Group intercepted a swarm of German bandits. The bombers were close to their target, an airfield in France that acted as a staging ground for a host of the German Luftwaffe, including these fighters now engaged in combat with the Spitfires. Destroying the airfield meant eliminated at least one more squadron of German air support.
Anderson flew his B-17 bomber through the sky, unwavering against the exploding flak all around him. Fear was something for new recruits, and had since been driven out of his system after a handful of missions. The fighters skirmished nearby, but at least the Spitfires were keeping the Germans busy. Anderson had a payload to deliver, and it wouldn't do to be shot down before he could release his explosive gifts. His aircraft shook as a shell exploded too close for comfort.
Almost there, he thought as he gritted his teeth.
Approaching the target, he checked in with his crew. A few moments later, the bombardier let loose their bombs. The aircraft jolted with the newfound relief of losing all that weight, but Anderson kept her steady. As soon as the bombs were off, he turned his flying fortress around to head back to their base in the UK. As he banked his aircraft around, he looked down at his target and was rewarded with a large fireball that erupted from the airfield.
Anderson smiled for a brief moment, then readied his mind for the return trip home.
In B-17 Flying Fortress Leader, you take the role of Deputy Director of Operations for the Eighth Air Force, and are therefore responsible for reducing Germany’s ability to wage war.
B-17 Flying Fortress Leader is a strategic bombing solitaire game which, you will find upon reading my review, is a stellar simulation of what the war-torn skies of Europe might have been like. Because there is a lot going on in this game, the rules, setup, and gameplay sections are rather lengthy, so if you want to skip down to my actual thoughts, I won’t be offended. However, the rules, setup, and gameplay sections will help you on your journey as you learn how to play the game.
With that said, strap yourself in and get ready for an in-depth look at this wonderful strategy game!
Rules and Setup:
Your board should look similar to this once setup is complete.
To being, select the campaign you want to play and place the campaign sheet on the table in front of you. (The rulebook recommends using the Short: U-Boat Focus (August 1942) campaign to get the hang of things before jumping in to the big campaigns. I also recommend doing this.)
The Air War Begins campaign is another good one to start with.
From there, the campaign sheet will tell you specifics about set up, including any special rules, allied technology available (if any), and how many Luftwaffe squadrons to place initially.
Place the Year, Month, and Week counters on their respective year, month, and week on the game board (as indicated on the campaign sheet). The number of weeks depends on which month you’re in, and will say underneath the month on the board.
The campaign sheet will say how many initial Luftwaffe squadrons you place. Take that many Luftwaffe squadron markers and place them on the map (i.e. Display Sheet made of hexes). For each Luftwaffe squadron, roll two d10 dice and add up the values. Place the Luftwaffe squadron on that hex. Do this for all remaining Luftwaffe squadrons.
8 Luftwaffe squadrons were placed here.
Place the USSR and Mediterranean war theater tokens on their respective starting location in each war theater zone on the main board. Your bombers do not get sent to these locations, but these war theaters will affect the probability of how many additional Luftwaffe squadrons will be deployed there instead of in your flight paths.
Place bandit tokens (Bandit, No Bandit, and Flak) in a cup, bag, hat, etc. from which to draw during the game.
Next it’s time to buy your bombers using your initial Special Operation (SO) points (as shown on the campaign sheet), That number is found on the left side of the bomber and fighter cards (i.e. “Memphis Belle” of the 91st Bomber Group has an SO cost of 12). Remember, you may only buy aircraft that are available in your campaign’s year, so in a campaign taking place in 1942, any ship with the year “1943+” on the left side of the card may not be used.
One of my initial groups (already loaded up with bombs and a commander).
Also, you may only have a certain amount of groups (bomber and fighter) at certain skill levels, as shown on your campaign sheet under “Initial Groups.” When purchasing groups, you may bring them in at the various skill levels, and any additional groups brought in must have a skill level that corresponds to the group with the asterisk under “Initial Groups.”
You may also demote a group by one skill level to promote another group one skill level, or pay 4 SO to promote a group by one skill level.
Next, you may buy a Renowned Commander. Bomber commanders are blue tiles, and fighter commanders are red tiles. They also cost SO points (upper left corner), and are permanently assigned to one group of your choice. That group then gets the appropriate skill to use during missions.
Included in the game is a Player Log where you will record your groups, their current levels, how much experience they need before promotion, and replenishment points, if any. Throughout the game, you will keep track of which mission each group went on, how much experience they gained from those missions, and how many losses they have acquired.
NOTE: You may want to make a lot of copies of the Player Log before you start writing on it, as it only comes with one sheet, and that will only get you through two months in a campaign.
Place the red “Bandits Destroyed” token on the “Bandits Disrupted” track on the “0” place. For each bandit (i.e. enemy fighter) destroyed, move it up one. Once it reaches 5, remove a Luftwaffe squadron from the board.
Shuffle the Aircraft Factory Target deck and draw as many as the campaign sheet says under “Initial Aircraft Factories.” Place them along the top of the board. Do the same with Airfield Targets. Next, look at the Aircraft Factory Target cards “supply value & VP” number, and add a Supply token matching each card’s number on the “Airfield Factory track on the board next to the white 3 box. This shows how many new Luftwaffe squadrons will be deployed at the end of every month. Destroying Aircraft Factory targets will reduce this number, which will certainly help you in future missions.
Shuffle the Events deck and place it on its dedicated spot on the board. The special rules section on the campaign sheet will tell you how many of the various other targets to draw, such as U-Boats, ball bearing factories, etc. If your mission calls for Secondary Missions, sort through the Secondary Missions cards and select the cards whose active years match the campaign start year and month, Shuffle those and place them on the Secondary Cards box on the board. Flip the top card over and place it back (face up) on top of the deck, drawing any targets required by that card.
Shuffle the German Commanders deck and draw one, putting it on top of its deck face up. Add any tactics that commander brings to the fight. If the German Defense Commander has a technology associated with it, place the corresponding green technology token on the month track the indicated number of months ahead of the current month (i.e. Me-262 technology is placed two months ahead of the current month).
Commander Ehlers uses the Out of the Sun tactic, and also includes all Sturmgruppen FW-190 bandits to the cup for drawing. He also has the ME-262 technology, which you will put on the month track according to the number of months listed on the technology.
If the V3 Gun tech was being used, it would be put 2 months away from the current month. In this image, the V3 Gun tech token was placed when the current month was October.
Any special weapons are also added, including Special Weapon Target cards listed.
After all that, you’re finally ready to play!
Your board should look something like this (note that there is no Target for "Target 1" above the board because I already placed it on the Target section on the board).
This next session is pretty involved, but let me assure you that the gameplay itself is rather simple and quite streamlined. Once you play through a week a few times, everything will fall into place quickly.
Without further ado, here’s what it’s like to play the game.
Weekly Sequence of Play
Each week will see your bomber groups take on one or two missions. The week starts by receiving your Weekly SO points, as shown on the campaign sheet. Record these (and pretty much everything you do) on your player log.
If you have enough SO points, you may purchase one bomber or fighter group. Otherwise, you may purchase Renowned Commanders or Recon Assets (which is an optional part of the game, and you may want to hold off on this until you’re more comfortable with game play).
Once that’s all done, select a target from all available targets lined up above the board. Place your Mission counter (#1 or #2) on the card, and then assign groups to each mission. The target cards will show how many bombers are allowed to go on that particular mission, so make sure you don’t overcommit! You may also have a maximum of one fighter group per mission, although they aren’t required.
This target only allows for 3 bomber groups to be on the mission.
Unfit groups (those that exceed their Shaken status on the group’s card) are not allowed to go on missions.
(If you have badly damaged groups, you may also keep them from going on a mission. If any group doesn’t go on a mission, reduce their losses (Destroyed points) by 3.)
Now that you have your groups assigned, it’s time to spend the rest of your SO points on bombs. Each bomber has a Tonnage limit, and each bomb has a weight assigned to it (the number in green in the lower right corner). The SO points for the bombs are the number in blue in the top left corner. You may not have more weight in bombs than your bomber’s tonnage allows. If, however, your bomb weight is two points less than the tonnage limit, then that bomber’s range increases by 2.
My initial groups, loaded up and ready to go!
This 301st Bomber Group has two bombs weighing 6 tonnes (4 and 2 tonnes for each bomb), and the bombs cost 4 SO points total (3 and 1).
Next, purchase any equipment and technology that’s available to you in your campaign’s Available Technologies section on the campaign sheet.
Place any tactics from Renowned Commanders beside the Commander counter on your group’s card.
Move your first Target card to the Target box on the left of the board, and place the Mission counter on the UK base hex. Place the Target counter (the blue “bull’s eye”) on the hex of your target, as indicated on the Target card.
Then, plot your course. Using the arrows, place the “1” arrow adjacent to the UK hex in the direction you want to travel (usually towards the target is a good idea). Continue placing the arrows towards the target hex and then plot your escape route as well. Note that your fighter group may not be able to travel the whole distance. If this is the case, flip over the arrow token at the furthest point the fighter group can travel. The fighter group will go no further, and you won’t have an escort on the way home.
Some missions will be pretty smooth flying, with no Luftwaffe squadrons en route.
Other times, however, you might very well be flying through the thick of things!
Place your bomber tokens of the bomber groups going on this mission on the Mission section of the board, starting at the right-most square (just left to the Escort rectangle box), and placing the rest on the squares behind it. If you have a fighter escort, place the fighter in the Escort box, either High or Low (High negates enemy Out of the Sun tactics, but is more difficult for the fighter to choose its targets).
Still with me? Almost there! You got this!
Now you’re going to roll for Luftwaffe response. Roll a d10 and compare it to the numbers on the German Defense Commander’s “Response” section. A roll of 1-3 is poor response from the Luftwaffe, meaning only two bandits will attack at each stop, and only in the hex you currently occupy. A roll of 10 means the response is All Out, and all bandits from your current hex, and each adjacent hex, will attack (good luck…). Of course, there are two more response levels, but you get the idea. Place the red Response token next to the commander with the appropriate side up, so you can remember what the response is.
With all that done, you’re ready to start your mission. In the words of Han Solo (and Anakin Skywalker), “This is where the fun begins.”
Playing a Mission
Draw an Event card and resolve the top-half (top-half is for target-bound flight, bottom-half is for your return trip) of the card.
Move Mission Counter 1 towards the target, following your numbered arrows. Stop in the first hex you come to.
Perform a formation check if instructed to do so from an Event card, or when a Bomber Group is dispersed.
Next, check for Luftwaffe interception using the Response to determine how many Bandits will attack, and from where. If the response was Average or Poor, then only bandits in your current hex attack. A High or All Out response will have Bandits from all adjacent hexes attacking, up to the limit shown on the German Defense Commander’s card (5 max for High, every last one of ‘em for All Out).
Now you’re going to engage in aerial combat.
Draw bandit counters from the cup/bag/hat/whatever for each squadron that is attacking. Determine bandit interception by rolling a die for your fighter escort (if present). If you can choose, then determine which bandits (two max) will be intercepted by your fighter group. Flak counters always attack bombers. For each bandit not intercepted, roll a die and use the first uncovered box next to your left-most bomber token as a reference for where to place the Bandits. Only two bandits may attack a bomber, so if a third would be placed, re-roll to assign it to a different bomber group.
If your bomber and fighter groups are dubbed as “slow,” or the Out of the Sun tactic is used by the enemy commander, then the Bandits attack first. Roll a d10 for each Bandit attacking a group. The numbers at the top of the Bandit token (i.e. 5/7/9) show what needs to be rolled for a hit. For example, if a bandit has the numbers 5/7/9 on top of the token, and a 5 or 6 is rolled, that Bandit does 1 damage to the bomber group in question. A 7 or 8 result is 2 damages, and a 9 or higher is 3 damage to the bomber group. Easy enough, right?
In order to destroy a Bandit, however, that bomber or fighter group needs to roll a 10 taking all modifiers into account. (The bandits will have a number in blue on the bottom right of the Bandit token. If it is a 1, then it has 1 Durability, meaning you need to roll an 11 instead of a 10 for it to take a hit, etc.. A -1, however, means a 9 will be enough to rid the air of this menace. Commander tactics, dispersed bomber groups, and equipment and technology will all affect this outcome.
This bandit does 1, 2, or 3 damages on a roll of 6, 8, or 10, respectively. It will take 2 turns, and has a Durability of 1, which means your attacking aircraft will need to roll a modified 11 or higher to destroy it.
If you destroy a Bandit, give credit where credit is due and give the successful group one experience on the player log. Then, move the Bandits Destroyed counter up by one.
Some bandits attack more than once (as shown by the number in the white or black box on the right of the token). If the fighter is in the same hex as your mission counter, then use the number in the black box. Otherwise, use the number in the white box. That number dictates how many turns it will attack for. For every Bandit roll, subtract your group’s Durability number (bottom of the group card).
At this point, any Unfit groups return to base (they still receive experience for the mission). Then, all Luftwaffe squadrons that attacked must rearm. Flip the red Luftwaffe Squadron tokens to the other side (with the numbers), and if the Luftwaffe squadron is in your current hex, put the “1” at the top. If the Luftwaffe squadron was in an adjacent hex, put the “3” at the top. This indicates how many turns it will take for that squadron to be ready to attack again.
Now you can move your Mission counter to the next hex towards the target. Once you’re over the target (and all Luftwaffe squadrons have been dealt with), it’s time to unleash your load!
Each Target card will have a “Flak” section, along with numbers reminiscent of those on the bandit tokens (i.e. Flak: 5/8/9 (2 Rolls)). It will say 2 Rolls, or 1 Roll, etc. following the numbers, indicating how many times that flak attack will happen. Do damage the same as you would for Bandits. This time, however, roll for each bomber group (do not roll for fighter groups).
Flak is rolled for each bomber group (not fighter groups), and a result of a 7 or 8 is one damage/loss, and a 9 or higher is 2 damages/losses. This target needs 11 or more damage to be destroyed.
If your bombers survive the onslaught, it’s time to drop some bombs.
Your bombs will also have numbers on the top of the tokens much like enemy Bandits and the flak you just encountered. Deal damage to the target the same way the enemy did damage to you. Once all your bombers have unleashed their payloads, check and see how much total damage was done. If the number of damage is equal to the lowest number on the damage track (i.e. Dmg: 4/7/11/16), then place the “Light” damage token on it. For values equal to the second number, place the “Medium (reduced)” damage token on it. Place the “Heavy (reduced) token on the Target card if the damage matches the third number. If the number is equal to or exceeds the last number, then the target is destroyed.
Now it’s time to head home.
Draw another Event card and resolve the bottom half of that card. On your way home, continue fighting off enemy Bandits as you did on your way to the target.
For Luftwaffe squadrons reloading, the number goes down by one after each combat phase, or hex moved if no combat occurs. Once it moves down from 1, flip the token over, indicating that Luftwaffe squadron is once again ready to fight.
When you reach the UK base again, you’re safe and sound and the mission is over.
To debrief, record your stats on the player log. Record group strength (i.e. record each group’s Destroyed/Damaged value), experience (1 experience if a group went on the mission, 2 experience if the target was destroyed), promotions, points for destroyed targets, and the like.
If you have a second mission planned, follow the same steps you took for this first mission.
And there you have it! You have successfully completed your first week. Check to see if your targets get repaired, and then move the Week counter to the next week. If it is not a new month, go back and do another week of missions!
If that is the end of the month, follow the Monthly Sequence in the rule book, which involves evaluating Secondary Missions, adjusting the war fronts, pulling new Luftwaffe squadrons, deploying those squadrons to the various war fronts (i.e. Theaters), and placing the new squadrons on the map. Also, now is the time to activate any German technologies, if available.
Roll a d10 to see if the German Defense Commander gets replaced. Roll a d10 to see if any of your groups get reassigned (if applicable). Remove damage from your groups equal to the number of Monthly Replacement points (as shown on the campaign sheet: 1 point removes 1 damage).
Adjust the Month, Year, Week counters, log everything on your player log, and go again.
If that’s the end of the mission, then tally your points, and give yourself a score based on your points, from Dismal to Great.
If that seems like a lot, don’t fret. There is a lot going on, yes, but the steps are rather simple. It’s just a matter of remembering to do everything in the proper sequence. That’s why doing a shorter campaign for your first one is a great idea. For the longer campaigns, I left everything set up on my writing desk in my office with the door closed and locked so my toddler wouldn’t come in and sabotage it while I wasn’t playing, so don’t feel like you need to complete each campaign in one sitting.
Theme and Mechanics:
Each campaign sheet has a brief history of the actual mission. Pretty neat!
The theme of B-17 Flying Fortress Leader is that of World War II, and what a theme it is! Everything about this game is historically accurate, including being able to use certain aircraft only during certain years. The campaigns actually happened, the targets were real, and the unpredictability of air-to-air combat was beautifully translated into a playable tabletop game. I can’t speak enough for the theme and the detail that went into making it shine.
At its core, the main mechanic behind B-17 Flying Fortress Leader is simulation. This is done through card crafting and, chit pulling, and rolling dice. This game is more tactical in nature. Yes, there is luck behind every roll of the dice, but air-to-air combat was anything but accurate during those times. When it comes to bombing targets, most bombs have a few different options for damage, which means even if you didn’t get a direct hit, there’s still a chance of doing at least some damage, which is nice, especially considering dice aren’t always the nicest. Certain tactics as well as promoted bomber and fighter groups can help mitigate the luck of the dice as well, which I appreciate.
Artwork and Components:
The artwork looks like it came from vintage WWII photos, and for all I know, they did. This adds a sense of realism to the game, which helped with my suspension of disbelief as the one in charge of orchestrating the campaigns.
The board is thick and the cardboard tokens and cards are also of sturdy quality. In regards to the myriad tokens in the game, some might think miniatures would be better for this sort of thing. Now, I do love a good miniature, but for this game, miniatures just aren't necessary (although you can upgrade to minis here). The cardboard tokens are perfect for what it is, and I had no problems with their quality or them adversely affecting the game.
B-17 Flying Fortress Leader sucked me in from the start. I love the theme. Likewise, the mechanics involved fit the theme so well that I began to wonder if I hadn’t jumped in the TARDIS and went back to the 1940’s to direct the affairs of the air war in Europe.
The sheer variety of playing options, from optional weather and intel to mini-game and Down in Flames cross over (a bit more on that below) ensures this game will never get old.
I’m a fan of games with a solo variant, but this was my first time playing one made specifically for solo players. Designed as such, it didn’t feel gimmicky like some solo-modes do. It was smooth, streamlined, and didn’t leave me wanting for another player.
The history and research that went into this game is deep, and that’s how a good themed game should be. It’s one thing to play a game with a theme pasted on, but it’s a riveting experience to entrench myself into a game and learn things along the way, all while wondering how on earth these pilots in real life managed to pull off half the things I’m attempting to do on a big, cardboard game board.
Last, but certainly not least, the mechanics and gameplay fit so well. I’m still not sure if I was at my table in my house or in a command center deciding how things should play out.
As you may have assumed, I love this game. But, that doesn’t mean it’s flawless.
The first thing I noticed was the sheer length of the rulebook. Diving into it to learn the game wasn’t exactly a simple process. All the information is there, but it was a tad confusing at first. Once I learned how to navigate the pages, learning the game became much easier (along with a few helpful YouTube videos). I feel like the rule book could be laid out a bit better, but again, once I started getting the hang of it, everything began falling into place.
Time is another issue. Board Game Geek gives a time frame of 30-120 minutes. For me, 120 minutes is a little on the short side (at least for my first campaign). The first campaign I played was The Air War Begins, and it took me three nights with seven hours total to play through it. Given, I didn’t mind the time it took, but for some, that might be a turn off. Before you run away, however, I would just like to say that that campaign was one of the lengthier ones, and there are other, far shorter campaigns to play through which are just as wonderful. And, once you get a hang of it, your turns won’t take quite so long. Just like any game, the first game usually takes longer than expected.
This is a small thing, but there are a lot of small tokens, and nowhere to keep them but the bottom of the box. Same with the cards. I solved this problem with 18 ziplock bags to keep various tokens and cards separated so future setups wouldn’t be so time consuming.
I love all things aerial combat, especially around the WWII time period. I’ve read books on the subject, watched documentaries, and have always been enthralled with the missions, tactics, and challenges that came with it. With that in mind, consider my hype when I found out I’d be reviewing this game. I was a little intimidated when I first opened the box and saw the enormity of the game, but once I started playing, I was hooked. B-17 Flying Fortress Leader did not disappoint.
I loved choosing my bomber and fighter groups, deciding which targets were in my best interest and which patch I should take to get there, and then fighting my way to and from the target. Over the target, landing hits was always satisfying, and I felt quite accomplished whenever I destroyed a target, especially ones that are particularly difficult to blow up.
From the various tactics used by both good and bad sides to the event cards and different aircraft available, each game and campaign felt different, and, just like in real life, was full of the unexpected.
The historical nature of the game blew my mind, especially how accurate everything was. Certain types of aircraft couldn’t be used in missions set in years prior to their introduction, certain targets were only available during certain years, and the benefits of destroying the targets coincided nicely in the game the same way it did during the war. Too many fighters to worry about? Take out an aircraft factory so there won’t be as many German reinforcements the next month. Even taking into consideration the other theaters that were going on at the time and having reinforcements send to the Mediterranean or USSR fronts were a nice touch and added even more flavor to the game.
Everything you do in B-17 Flying Fortress Leader matters, and every target destroyed—or left standing—will impact the game.
There are lots of campaigns to play through, a solo bomber variant, and even a mini-game to go along with it. Plus, B-17 Flying Fortress Leader can also be used in a crossover with another one of DVG’s games, Down in Flames. With all the play options and variable setups with aircraft, weather, intel, and the like, I don’t think this game will ever get old for me.
Players Who Like:
If you like solo games, air combat, or the World War II theme, I don’t doubt you will love this game. There is an RPG element as well, what with leveling ships, so those familiar with that may also feel right at home here.
I am giving B-17 Flying Fortress Leader 9 out of 10 super meeples.
See more reviews from Benjamin and EBG at http://www.everythingboardgames.com/p/reviews.html
Designer: Laurent Escoffier and David Franck
Publisher: Blue Orange Games
Year Published: 2014
No. of Players: 1-4
Playing Time: 15 minutes
Doodle Quest tests your memory and perception as players draw on a transparent sheet in hopes of completing the necessary quest when overlaid on the quest card. Sound easy? It might be…or it might be one of the most difficult (and fun!) things you’ve ever attempted.
Rules and Setup:
Each player takes a dry-erase pen (included), a transparent doodle sheet, and a drawing board (the doodle sheet goes on top of the drawing board for easier drawing).
Write each player’s name on the scoring sheet.
Randomly draw 6 quest cards and place them in a pile with your difficulty level facing up (yellow is beginner level, and black is advanced).
That’s it! You’re ready to play.
Game play is simple enough. Place the top quest card in the center of the table. I found it helpful for each player to get a good look at it right-side-up, so passing it around wouldn’t hurt. Once everyone has studied the quest card like a flash card the night before finals (i.e. fast), put your pen to your doodle pad and doodle away!
What you’re trying to attempt is to complete the quest without actually looking at it. Here’s an example of how that works:
First, study the quest card.
Take a good, long look.
Next, do your best to follow the instructions from the quest card by drawing on your doodle sheet.
Those look like the right shapes!
Finally, place your doodle sheet over the quest card to see how you did!
At least I hit a starfish!
Score your doodle according to the legend on the quest card. Remember, each starfish gives you one additional point, even if you completely bombed the quest.
Once everyone has scored their doodle and recorded their points on the score sheet, take the next quest card and start again.
The game ends once all six quest cards have been completed, and the player with the most points wins!
Theme and Mechanics:
Those shark teeth are spot on!
The theme is a basic underwater adventure, guiding a fish through obstacles or adding teeth to a shark. Nothing too outstanding, and yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As far as mechanics go, it’s a simple pen-to-doodle-sheet type of thing, relying on memory, spacial awareness, and perception. You may draw the line perfectly, but it could be just a half an inch off the mark!
Artwork and Components:
The artwork is fun and lively, with smiling starfish and bright-yellow submarines to give it a cartoony feel. The components are well-made—including fish stencils for some quests—and just right for the game.
Doodle Quest is a quick game for both kids and adults. In fact, my wife wanted to play again and again, and I was certainly not opposed. Due to the nature of the game, it’s even doable as a single player.
The difficulty ranges from easy to hard, and even some of the easy ones can be a bit rough (for me, at least). I like that, of course, as I love a challenge. And yet, they are simple enough that even younger children will enjoy doodling the quest.
There are a lot of quests included in the game, which adds a great deal of replayability. Even doing quests multiple times in a row doesn’t take the fun out of it.
Losing or damaging the doodle sheets and/or markers would make this game unplayable. Of course, you could always replace them with other dry-erase markers or transparent sheets.
(Obviously I’m struggling to find something wrong with this game. Really, for what it is, it’s awesome.)
Doodle Quest is a lot of fun. There’s not much to it, but the game play is still rewarding. This is one I’ll be bringing out frequently, especially to play with my kids once they’re old enough to draw straight (or wavy) lines.
Players Who Like:
If you like quick party games or testing your hand-eye coordination with a touch of memory involved, you’ll love Doodle Quest.
I am giving Doodle Quest 7 out of 10 super meeples.
See more reviews from Benjamin and EBG at http://www.everythingboardgames.com/p/reviews.html
Designer: Dan Verssen
Year Published: 2014
No. of Players: 1-6
Playing Time: 30-180 min.
In Warfighter, you will build a team, supply them with weapons, support, gear, and skills, and pray you don’t get killed. It’s a tactical, card-based war game with an emphasis on variety and realism. The base game has a staggering amount of options, but there are already nine expansions for this, each with more dice, plus 60 new cards featuring all new stuff, actions, and missions, but no new rules. Just shuffle the new cards into the various decks and play as normal. There are some really nice toys in these boxes.
I’m playing with expansions 2, 3, 5, and 7.
2- (Stealth) focuses on sneaky attacks. Stealth is an attribute that gets around having to roll for cover when you’re attacking.
3- (Support) adds things like drones and snipers.
5- (Speedball) gives you extras of the most popular guns and some really big ones.
7- (Russian Federation) adds things like AK-74s and Russian soldiers.
This plays from one to six players with no change in rules. This is basically a one player game that you can play with others if you want. Simply divvy up the individual soldiers among the players however you like.
Rules and Setup:
Setup takes at least 20 minutes, but there are a couple ways of looking at it. If you like a game where you simply put stuff in the designated areas and start playing, this is not that. Building your team and equipping them is a major part of this. If your team isn’t cohesive, they die. If they don’t have the tools they need, they die. It’s sort of deck building in the same way Mage Wars is deck building. You have access to all your stuff, but you won’t get anything else once the mission starts.
Once you know what you’re doing it’s a lot faster, but it’s still going to take at least 20 minutes. It’s not super-complicated, but there is a lot to consider when building and equipping your team. You’ll dig through all the cards to find the ones you want and then recalculate the math of what you can afford and who can carry what.
Full setup for one player looks like this:
The first thing you do is decide if you want to go after the Cartel in the Jungle or head off to the Middle East to fight Insurgents or Military targets. The cartel is the easiest and the Military is the hardest, but both have several Missions and Objectives to choose from, providing a broad spectrum of difficulty and play time. Each enemy has a location deck and a hostiles deck. After picking your enemy, you put the appropriate Hostiles in their spot on the board and shuffle the location cards for the area into the Action Deck. Place the action Deck on the spot designated on the board.
Each game revolves around two cards that make up your campaign. The mission you choose will determine how many resource points you can spend on your team, how many rounds you have to meet the objective, how far away the objective is, and how much you can carry. Sometimes they have other special rules. The Objective card will determine how many hostiles populate at each location and what your end goal is. It’s usually something like, blow up a chopper or rescue somebody. It will tell you what conditions must be met to do it. The cards tell you everything you need to know except for a few key terms that can be found in the glossary. There are also handy charts on the board to remind you of just about everything.
Next comes the “Loadout” art I mentioned before. Each card has a point value on the top right. Say your mission gives you 60 points of resources, you have to decide if you want a couple of Rambos or a whole bunch of weaker guys. There are a lot of soldiers, each with their own powers and cost. On top of that, there are three different types of soldiers (see Mechanics). Once you have your team, you buy your Player Characters the guns, equipment, and skills needed to complete the objective.
All the guns have different stats and amounts of ammo. Put the appropriate number of ammo tokens on all your weapons. If you have any resource points left you can buy extra ammo, but keep in mind that you can’t carry more points of stuff than your Loadout.
Distribute Soldiers to players however you like.
Put a numbered token on each soldier card and its twin on the Mission card. The Mission is your first location. There are also beige tokens that determine which soldier Hostiles attack during their attack phase. Put the numbers that correspond to all the soldiers on this mission in a cup or bag. They will be drawn randomly as Hostiles spawn.
Give each solder action tokens. The cards will tell you how many.
Draw cards equal to the health of your Player Soldiers (see Mechanics) and see if you have any locations. If you do, you can play it in the slot next to the Mission card and populate Hostiles based on the Objective card’s chart. If you don’t have any locations, you have to discard and draw until you get one to play. You can discard as many as you want, then draw back up to your hand limit, but each time you do it costs one of your two action points. Be sure the deck is shuffled well.
Now, you’re in the proverbial poop. Go get em, soldier. Their kids’ll be better off without them.
Warfighter is supremely thematic. In the first game, I had a team of 6 guys rolling through the Jungle splatting the cartel guys before they could fire on us. Hostiles didn’t even get a shot in. The Military was another story. Everything was chugging along fine, until location three. Ten enemies popped up at once. The entrance cost increased by three. Some of the most powerful ones couldn’t be hit until the riflemen were dead. One guy even popped up behind us. We got lucky, though. Only one guy got wounded, and we were able to patch him up. When we got to our objective, we had two rounds to shoot down the enemy helicopter, and we couldn’t hit it until all eight Hostiles had been killed. It came down to the last shot of the last round, but McGrath put one right through the fuel tank. Mission accomplished. Go us!
The logic behind the card structure is bulletproof. Everything is detailed and well-balanced. For instance, there are three firing modes, semi-automatic (1 die), short bursts (2 dice), and full auto (3 dice). The more dice you roll the more likely you are to hit, but it also increases your chance to have to reload (mostly on a roll of 1-2).
If you have bandages, you can fix a wounded soldier up, but only a little and never good as new. There are no magic potions on the battlefield. Once you’re shot, you’re injured for the rest of the mission.
There are three types of soldiers that seem to represent rank, but they’re called Player Characters, Non-Player Characters, and Squads.
A Player Character does more shot-calling than shot-making. They are the only ones who have action cards. PCs have two action tokens, but their job is mainly to draw and play action cards that help other soldiers move around, avoid damage, or shoot more accurately. You’re constantly having to make tough decisions about what to hold onto and what to use for movement. Player Characters have the highest health (which is also your hand limit, usually 5-6). Equipment/weapons/skills must be bought for them. They have a loadout value that tells you how much they can carry, an unarmed attack value, and sometimes a special ability.
NPC characters are your seasoned vets. They’re cheap to hire and come with specific gear that doesn’t cost extra supply points. They usually start with 2-3 actions but lose actions when they are wounded. Some of them have a movement discount or a special trait like +1 to ranged attack rolls. They don’t have cards but work the same way as your PCs.
Squads are cheap and simple. You can’t equip them with anything, but they also don’t run out of ammo. They generally have 2-3 actions, but all they do is move and shoot. Like NPCs, they lose actions when they are wounded and sometimes have a movement discount.
I can’t begin to cover all the detail. It must have taken an army to design this game.
The Ammo tokens took it a little too far. Each gun tells you what kind of bullets it uses and how many tokens it gets. There are probably ten to fifteen types of ammo used across about a hundred guns. It would make sense if the Hostiles dropped ammo, but they don’t. Generic Ammo would have saved me a lot of time and itty-bitty baggies. Some appreciate that level of detail, but I’d rather not do all the extra sorting. I just use the same bullets for everything.
On the Soldier Turn, each soldier can take as many actions as they have tokens. The order is up to you.
The actions are:
Remove a suppress
Play a location that has an action cost (most do not)
Discard and draw
Attacks generally require you to roll one d6 and one-to-three d10s. Each gun has a chart on the card that tells you what they have to roll on the d10 at each range in order to kill a target. The d6 is the Hostile’s attempt to dodge. Each Hostile has a number that you have to meet or exceed in order to hit. If you succeed on either the d10s or the d6 (but not both) you have suppressed the hostile. Basically, they miss their turn because they had to jump behind something. Regardless of whether you kill or suppress a hostile, guns can run out of ammo on a low roll. If this happens, flip the top ammo token to its empty side. The gun can’t be fired again until an action has been spent to reload. No matter how many dice you roll, you can only ever apply one Kill/suppress/miss result to a hostile. Some cards have multiple hostiles on them.
Remove a suppress. If a Hostile suppresses you on their turn, you have to spend an action to get rid of the suppression before you can fire.
Movement costs one action, and the player controlling them must discard action cards equal to the entrance cost of the location minus the soldier’s movement bonus.
Discard and draw is a much bigger part of this game than you’d expect. Your hand limit is equal to the health of your PCs, but each PC has a separate hand associated with them. As an action, a soldier can discard as many cards as they want then draw up to their hand limit. This gets hairy when your hand limit is 5 and you have to move four guys to a location with an entrance cost of 4.
To Reload, use of one action to remove an Empty Ammo token from the top of your stack.
After the Soldier Turn, there is a Hostile turn. Hostiles do these actions in order:
Reinforce – Draw the top card of the Hostile deck for each location containing a soldier. If its value is the same as the reinforce value of the location, it spawns.
Attack – All non-suppressed Hostiles roll a d6 and a d10 and apply wounds/suppressions as specified on their chart.
Close Range – Hostiles who are not in range to attack move one location closer.
Remove suppress counters – suppressed hostiles remove suppression markers.
Move timer forward
Hostiles are spawned when a new location card is played. The more supplies you start with, the more Hostiles will spawn. Each Hostile has a number in the top right corner. Draw them one at a time until you have met or exceeded the Hostile Value listed on the Objective card chart. There are all kinds of enemies and events in this deck. Example: you can have a Hostile value of four, but then draw a 0, 0, 0, 2, 1, 3 and each card might have multiple units that have to be killed separately.
Artwork and Components:
War is ugly, and so is this game. They obviously spent a ton of time researching, developing, and play testing this. With this many unique components it would have added significantly to the cost, so I see why they didn’t/couldn’t use higher quality art. The pictures on most of the cards are pretty good, but the soldiers look grainy. The board is covered in generic lines that make me think of sci-fi more than war, but it doesn’t detract from the play. This game is all about function, rather than form.
The components are high quality. The tokens punched easily. The board is heavy duty. Cards are a little thin, but I’d still give them a 7 out of 10. There was no extra room in the box. With four expansions, I have to group the cards in short stacks to get the lid on, even after trashing the insert.
The many combinations of mission cards and objectives give players complete control over game length and difficulty. Every combination plays differently. It’s like having a whole series of games in one box.
Tons of replay value. The nine expansions ensure you will never run out of options.
There’s an incredible amount of detail.
It’s very thematic.
It’s a deck builder, a tactical war game, and an RPG rolled into one.
It has the feel of a simulation game, but it’s complexity isn’t annoying. The rule book is 27 pages with large print and pictures. There are several play through videos on YouTube if you want to skip it altogether.
Bullet-shaped dice seem to like me better than their polyhedral colleagues.
Setup time is long.
The rule book could be structured more smoothly. It’s not bad, but it could be better.
It’s not presented well. A little polish could have gone a long way. Take the name. It tells you exactly what you’ll be doing, but it’s a little too on-the-nose.
There is an unnecessary amount of different ammo tokens that add minutes to setup and breakdown if used as prescribed.
The charts on the cards aren’t lined off, so it takes a little while to get used to reading them.
It can be fiddly.
Warfighter seeks to capture the feeling of being a modern American soldier to the same degree This War of Mine does with the experience of civilian life in a war-torn land. Whereas TWOM is a moralistic struggle for survival that will try your soul, Warfighter is a no-nonsense tactical gauntlet. You have your orders. You have a budget that corresponds to the difficulty of the task. Choose a team. Buy equipment. Go to this place. Do the thing. If they shoot at you, you shoot back. Do not get shot. Being shot is bad. I could see Nick Offerman doing a great promo video.
This is an objectively great game that some will love and others will hate. It depends on what you’re looking for in a game. I love deck building and games with tons of options, but I’m not a fan of dice or point to point movement. If I’m rating this based on my taste, it would get a 6. I respect this game, but it didn’t enthrall me. The bones of this thing are adamantium, though. I can see why so many people love it.
Players Who Like:
Beefy but straightforward simulation games.
Push your luck
It doesn’t remind me of anything else I’ve played.
I am giving Warfighter a 7 out of 10 super meeples.
See more reviews from Stephen and EBG at http://www.everythingboardgames.com/p/reviews.html
Designer: Scott Martin, Todd Medema
Artist: Chris Gebhart
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 1-6
Playing Time: 20+ minutes
WARNING: This is a preview of Expedition: The Horror, an expansion to Expedition: The Roleplaying Card Game. My review of the base game can be found here. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.
Your group of adventurers has returned to the blacksmith who sent you on your first adventure. He seems anxious, but he sends you out to deal with a group of bandits in the woods. Only when you arrive at the abandoned camp, you're met by horrible sights that shake you to your core - unimaginable monsters that defy logic and reason. After escaping with your life, you return to confront the blacksmith, only to find an empty workshop with a hastily scrawled note that reads, "I'm so sorry." It appears this may not be over yet...
The first expansion to the breakout roleplaying card game, Expedition: The Horror brings with it new elements, enemies, and opportunities. Persona cards add an extra touch of characterization and allow for additional bonuses and penalties, while the new Influence ability cards affect gameplay by using your persona as bargaining chips. But beware - the horrifying abominations that you'll face will use your persona against you in an effort to destroy your spirit and take your life.
The expansion brings 51 new cards to the table, and the box has plenty of space for them!
Rules and Setup:
The rules and setup are the same as the core game; using the app, players are led through a campaign wherein they encounter enemies, gain loot, and level up. The only major difference in terms of rules and setup has to do with Persona cards, which I'll dive into further later on. As always, the companion app dutifully guides players on what cards to draw and how to manage them during gamelay.
The expansion includes five types of cards, one of which is a new type (Personas).
Theme and Mechanics:
Obviously, the expansion adds more of a horror theme to the game, and it pulls this off surprisingly well. I've always had an issue with RPGs that market themselves as "horror games," because more often than not, they confuse gore, perversion, and impossible consequences with horror. Expedition: The Horror gets it right. The prologue mission introduces the new concepts well, with the enemies turning your persona against you, and the subtle story cues game me genuine chills down my spine.
Enemies range from the lowly Acolyte up to things like Shoggoths and Deep Ones.
The major mechanics are identical to the core game, with one major addition: personas. Each character gains a unique Persona card, each of which is based around a unique personality trait, such as innocence, paranoia, or greed. Each player's persona starts at its base level, but it can be lowered or raised during gameplay. At its max level, a player's persona grants them a bonus during combat; at its minimum, it forces a negative consequence on you. After either of the persona modifiers take effect, a player's persona resets to its baseline. The new Loot and Influence ability cards included in the expansion also can modify your persona to give you an advantage against the new Horror enemies, all of whose surge abilities either affect your persona or cause damage based on your persona score.
Each persona is also considered "dark" or "light," adding an extra layer to roleplaying opportunities.
Gameplay during the horror prologue was very similar to other Expedition quests, but it became apparent pretty quickly how important keeping an eye on your persona was. The bonuses were very helpful in taking out the threat, but trying to avoid letting it get too low was just as important. The new adventurers each have Influence abilities as part of their starting abilities, giving them an extra advantage over regular adventurers when it comes to horror. (However, each adventurer gets one extra Influence card when playing expansion games, so even adventurers from the core game can still hold their own.)
Who doesn't love the occasional pop culture reference?
Artwork and Components:
The expansion has largely done well to stick to the core's design elements, so it doesn't feel like the core is outdated all of a sudden. However, there are two design elements worth mentioning that I liked. Each of the Horror enemy cards has its own unique design, which is exactly what I'd hoped for with the core game. It's great that they've implemented it here, and the designs are equally beautiful and haunting. Each card also has a small symbol on it to mark its inclusion in the expansion, meaning that there's no worry of getting the cards mixed up and having difficulty separating them up later on.
Personas are the major focus of the expansion, but there are still plenty of ways to take on your enemies.
The 51-card expansion contains new Influence ability and Horror enemy cards, each of which contain as many as the core's different types of ability and enemy cards (twenty and ten, respectively). Twelve new Persona cards, five Adventurer cards, and four Loot cards round out the deck, and the cards maintain the same physical quality of the cards in the core game. There's also ten new plastic clips included, which is useful if you're running low, but their potential to bend the cards is still an unfortunate side-effect.
Expedition: The Horror adds new and interesting mechanics to an already-fun game, cool new artwork to accompany the Cthulhu-like entities, and expands upon the roleplay opportunities by giving characters unique personalities through their personas. The app has also been updated since I reviewed the core game, adding music to combat for an added bit of intensity.
Aside from the plastic clips, which I fully understand are a necessary evil, the only thing that I disliked was the lack of more horror missions. Aside from the prologue, there didn't seem to be any other official expansion missions. Thankfully, the fan support had plenty of opportunities for us, and the expansion's cards can still be used with the original quests, but more expansion-specific quests would have been a cool addition.
A fitting expansion to an already-expansive game. I'm excited to see what expansion they come up with next!
Players Who Like:
Fans of the original Expedition game or of horror RPGs like Call of Cthulhu will want to pick this up.
See more reviews from David and EBG at http://www.everythingboardgames.com/p/reviews.html
Designer: Seiji Kanai
Artist: Noboru Sugiura and Christophe Swal
Publisher: Blue Orange Games
Year Published: 2011
No. of Players: 2
Playing Time: 15 minutes
Two cheese loving enemies meet on the field of battle to wage war. These clashing clans will stop at nothing to win the day. You control the army you control the war! Are you ready to fight?
In brave rats, players will take command of a band of fierce warrior rats which includes princes, generals, assassins, and musicians...? Well even soldiers need some down time. Who will lead their army to victory?
Set up is super simple as each player will take one deck of eight cards into their hand. Yep, that is it.
To play each player will choose a card from their hand and play it face down in front of them. Once each player is ready the cards will be turned face up. The player with the highest number wins, but wait each card has a special power. Players must take each power into account while determining which card is the highest.
Once a winner is determined the cards are discarded with one being placed face down as a reminder of who won the round. The first player to achieve four victories wins!
Example of play. Player A plays her Prince (power 7), hoping her opponent doesn't play his Princess winning the game automatically with it's special power. Instead, he plays his Musician (power 0) nullifying this round and making the next round worth two victories. In the next round she plays her Wizard (power 5) nullifying her opponents special power on his Spy card (power 2) and takes both rounds. Up two nothing she plays it safe with her General (power 6 with a plus 2 to next round's card) however Player B drops his Assassin and takes the round with the lowest card. She now plays her Spy hoping to catch her opponent off guard, but he plays his Ambassador (power 4) which counts as two victories. He is now up three to two. This time she plays her Assassin and takes out his General. Now whoever wins this next round will win the whole game! Her opponent has most likely been saving his prince for a time like this, but he might also realize that she will probably play her princess. What will she choose, what would you choose?
This is a co-review of Brave Rats that I did with my ten year-old son, DC. We both played it and wrote our thoughts. His will be highlighted in red.
Theme and Mechanics:
Brave Rats could easily be any theme you would like that fits in a war/battle setting. The use of rats dressed in Scottish garb (i.e. Braveheart) was very clever and works well with the mechanics. Speaking of which the mechanics for Brave Rats is the old tried and true highest card wins. What makes this version more interesting is:
1) You can choose any card from your hand
2) Each card has certain powers that effects the outcome
3) Your opponent knows exactly what cards you have left in your hand
The game play is very quick, simple and straight forward. Games take less than ten minutes and younger players can easily understand and excel at it. If your youngster can read, they can play. Heck my five year-old enjoys playing this one.
Artwork and Components:
DC: This game has fun playful art artwork, which really helps you get into the game. Each character has it's own artwork (even from the red to blue team). This was one of the things that really drew my kids (and me) to this game and keeps them coming back for more.
DC: It's a good after-dinner game that we can play quickly before bed. It is also a great game to get kids interested in gaming and have them start developing logical thinking skills.
DC: There is only one problem with Brave Rats and it might surprise you. It's the tin! I like stackable games and this one just doesn't stack! I have the same complaint, I hate tins. The game also can get a bit repetitive, however if you only break it our every once in a while it can keep that same fresh feel.
DC: Out of all the quick filler two player games I’ve played this one is in y mtop five for sure. I love trick taking games so this one is right up my alley. Although it is not in my top five two player fillers I do enjoy playing this one with my kids and watching them try so hard to beat me.
Players Who Like:
DC: If you like trick taking games like Treasure Hunter, Dwarf King or Heroes and Tricks you will most likely like Brave Rats. I will add if you like the game of War you will definitely like this one.
Check out more reviews from Dane and EBG at http://www.everythingboardgames.com/p/reviews.html
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 3-6
Playing Time: 20-30 minutes
In Super Mario Level Up!, join Mario and his pals as you advance them up the Mushroom Kingdom while challenging other players to gather the most coins and reach the castle at the top.
Each player starts with a unique line-up of characters that they are trying to score the most points with. Players take turns moving any character up the board until a character gets to the top.
Once a character has advanced to the top board, players vote to see if the character stays or is kicked off the Mushroom Kingdom. It takes only one NO vote to get them off the board, and players should use their NO votes wisely, as each player only has two NO votes in their hand. The round ends when the character is unanimously voted to stay at the top.
Score up your points and play another round. Game ends after three rounds.
This game reimplements King Me!, designed by Stefano Luperto.
It's-a me! Mario!
If reading that made you grin and hear Mario's little voice in your head, then this is probably the game for you. Thirteen cardboard standee characters from the Mario universe make their way up and down a 3-D game board, competing to reach blocks first to gain 1-Ups, knock others down with turtle shells, gain Power Up cards, and more. Super Mario Level Up! is dripping with Mario.
Learning the Rules and Setup:
The Super Mario Level Up! rule book is very well laid-out, with cute introductions from the characters and a special section for "Set Up" followed by a clearly marked section for "How to Play." The rules are easy to follow, with helpful illustrations on every page, clearly titled charts, a large font, and several key words in bold or marked with different colors.
The actual 3-D board is really cool - that's what all the kids said when they saw it the first time, with a hushed awe in their voices - but it is very fiddly to set up and really needs to be handled by an adult. The places where the cardboard joins fit snugly but are prone to splitting the cardboard ends if you're not absolutely precise in your movements, and the lips that kick down to make the front of the steps don't actually stay at a 90-degree angle, making it common for little hands to catch a player piece under one of the lips and flip it up or bump a whole section of the game board.
I found myself trying to think of a place where I could keep the game board pre-assembled and superglued together to avoid those problems, but that kind of space is hard to come by in a room already overflowing with games.
The rest of setup is a simple matter of shuffling and dealing cards and tiles and having a score sheet for everyone (pens or pencils not included - this is a good use for those Mario-themed pencils from your last birthday party goody bag!).
Game Play and Mechanics:
To begin Super Mario Level Up!, each player is dealt a LINE UP card, which gives a list of six out of the thirteen possible characters who can score for you. Players take turns adding the characters one at a time to Levels 1-4 of the game board, trying to position the characters on their LINE UP card well - without being too obvious about it. Extra characters get added to Level 0, and no characters go onto Level 5 or the level just above it, Level 10.
Once the characters are on the game board, with no more than four characters per level, [?] Blocks are placed on each spot on Levels 1-5 that does not have a character.
Players take turns moving one character up the board one level, trying all the time to bluff their way into advancing the characters on their card.
If a character moves up onto a level that has a [?] Block on it, the player draws that block and takes the action - moving characters up or down, drawing a POWER UP card for later use, scoring end game points, etc. POWER UP cards give even better advantages and can be saved until you need them.
When one Super Mario Level Up! character is moved to the top, Level 10, it is time to vote. Each player has one YES card and a certain number of NO cards (based on the number of people playing). Do you want the character now on Level 10 to be the Champion, and to score now? If so, play YES. If not, play a NO card. If even one NO card is played, the character is removed from the board.
Players get their YES cards back but forfeit the NO cards played - meaning at some point in the round, you may only have your YES card left and must vote YES to any further votes, so vote strategically! You may even choose to put a character you don't want as Champion up to Level 10 just to play a NO card and get that character out of the game.
Once a Champion gets all YES votes, it is time to score. Each character on your LINE UP card scores a number of points equal to the level they ended on. Total up your score for the round; then, play two more rounds to finish the game.
There's also an option - making strategy a little more interesting for older players - that is basically "Shoot the Moon": if you take zero points for your characters in the third round, you get a perfect score of 33 instead. So far, no one has gone for that, but we've been tempted.
Artwork and Components:
The artwork is solid, colorful, and above all, classic cartoony Mario and his friends. Bright colors and familiar faces draw the kids to the game, as does the eye-catching 3-D game board.
The characters are made of thick cardboard, with the image on one side and the name on the other (which is helpful in case anyone playing the game isn't familiar with all the characters; however, the font is a little small). They fit snugly into their plastic bases. The cards and tiles are good, standard quality.
As I mentioned earlier, I am concerned that the 3-D game board is difficult for kids to set up and will not hold up to repeated assembly. In addition, real fans of the game will rip through the score pad quickly, and may want to make copies, laminate a set, or just wind up using scratch paper to keep score.
The 3-D game board for Super Mario Level Up! is a huge wow factor and draws kids over to find out how to play. The rules are laid out well and easy to learn. The social bluffing and positional strategy aspects are fun, and the quick votes hold a good amount of fast-paced tension. The [?] Blocks and POWER UP cards give some variable bonus powers that can change game play from one round to the next. Once the board is set up, this is a nice social filler game.
Unfortunately, the biggest wow factor for Super Mario Level Up! - its game board - is also its biggest detriment. Young kids are likely not going to be able to successfully assemble the board without smushing or tearing any of the cardboard joins, so it takes a calm adult hand to prep the game. Having put it together for just a handful of games, I'm also already seeing that the cardboard joins won't hold up to repeated play, even when assembled by adults, and that is enough of a problem that it drops my rating for what would otherwise be a decent filler game.
This might be a good fit for Mario fans who have the shelf space to leave the board assembled somewhere and don't need to weaken it by putting it together and taking it apart repeatedly. I'd also suggest laminating a set of score sheets before you go through the whole pad.
The fun of the characters and themed cards makes Super Mario Level Up! a draw for the younger gamers. The positional bluffing, quick voting, and special abilities make this a solid and slightly thinky filler game for older Mario fans. Unfortunately, the fiddliness of setting up the board and the inability of the cardboard to hold up over time drops the game's overall rating for me from a 6 to a 4.
Players Who Like:
Super Mario Level Up! will be a hit for players who have already enjoyed King Me! or one of its variants or similar bluffing/positional games like Tiki Topple or 13 Dead End Drive; it is also a good choice for fans of the Mario universe and its many games and characters.
I am giving Super Mario Level Up! 4 out of 10 super meeples.
See more reviews from Alexa and EBG at http://www.everythingboardgames.com/p/reviews.html
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-6
Playing Time: 45-60min
tl;dr: Yahtzee meets Cricket (the darts game, not the days-long version played with a bat) in this dice-chucker with a couple of fun twists.
Getting to the Game: Learning Rollers Deluxe is very quick, especially if you're already familiar with the turn structure of Yahtzee or King of Tokyo. The rules fit on a single double-sided sheet, with helpful examples of strategy and mechanics.
Setup is as simple as grabbing one of the six player boards and all the cardboard tokens of a single color. Each player also gets 55 coins (10 tokens of 5 value, and 5 tokens of 1 value), which are used to pay off players who lock down dice rolls you haven't gotten to yet.
Playing the Game: The object of Rollers is to be the first player to earn 5 points. Points are earned in one of two ways - either be the first person each round to open and close all 5 dice values on your player board, or have the most money when the round ends. Your strategy in this game will come down to picking a direction to go after your first couple of turns each round. Like other dice games you've probably played, Rollers asks you to roll all 6 of its custom dice up to three times. You're allowed to set aside the dice you like from each roll, attempting to whittle down your final outcome to the required number of values on your player board.
Like Cricket, you're going to score by "opening" the dice values with a single 1, two 2's, three 3's, etc. When you end your turn, you will place a token over the values you've opened, needing only a single additional die of that value to then "close" it. If you're the first player to close all 5 values on your board, the round is over, and you get two points.
Once you've closed a number, any time in the round you roll that number again, you force other players who have not also closed that number to pay you for each die of that number you keep. For example, if you've closed 4's, but neither of your two opponents have, for every four you roll, each opponent is gonna toss 4 coins your way. At the end of the round, whoever has the most money gets a single point.
Once a round ends and points have been awarded, everyone clears their board (saving their points earned), money is redistributed, and play begins again.
Overall, Rollers is a mechanically solid game. There aren't any confusing powers or dice manipulation to get in the way of the pure satisfaction of rolling dice and seeing them all come up exactly the way you want. On the flip side of this, it's a game solely about rolling dice and keeping the good ones, so randomness reigns here. The coins provide a nice way to balance some of that out in the early turns - if you're not rolling what you want, odds are you're rolling enough to close out some of the easier values, and you're making some money from those who haven't yet.
Additionally, Rollers provides a couple of cool mechanics on the dice themselves. The player boards only go up to 5 for the dice values, and you're playing with six-sided dice. The face where the 6 would normally go is replaced with a star on the 5 green dice, which acts as a wild. This helps mitigate some of the randomness associated with just throwing dice around. The singular red die doesn't have a wild face, replacing it's "6" face with a lightning bolt. Rolling this "zap" means that you can't keep any of the dice you just rolled (dice already set aside from a previous roll are still safe.) One of our players rolled a zap in their first two rolls of the dice, meaning they were forced into keeping their last roll as-is. Again, your tolerance for variance is going to dictate whether you can laugh that off as unlucky, or whether it will sour your whole round.
The only problem we ran into during our games was length. It takes 5 points to win the game, and only 3 points are distributed every round. A perfect round would be over in 4 turns, and in our experience it was between 5 and 6. With 3 or 4 players, this feels about right, as someone is going to score in two rounds pretty quickly. We played with 5 and 6 players, and nobody was consistently lucky. A 6-player game could go as many as 13 rounds at the worst, which would in fact be pretty terrible. The game play is fun, but doesn't keep its sheen past more than a few rounds. Rollers Deluxe expanded the player count to 6, which is great if you have a larger group that wants to stick it out. 3-4 players feels like the sweet spot for this game, and for a typical family of four that's looking to vary up game night, Rollers certainly delivers.
Artwork and Components: The artwork on the player boards has the wood-and-felt feel of a casino, and with the addition of the coins, it certainly feels like that was the intention. The issue is that the game doesn't really deliver on any kind of gambling mechanic. There's no press-your-luck elements here, as you're capped at three rolls. You're never going to lose your coins on your turn, so there's no tension apart from willing those dice to come up on the side you want.
The components here are serviceable, but not outstanding. Our player boards came out of the box slightly warped, and the cardboard tokens used to cover up the dice values came in non-reusable plastic baggies (a huge drawback for this reviewer - resealable component bags should be the norm). The dice, however, feel very nice and look great. It was mentioned during our games that the coins should be actual poker chips, come in more varied denominations, and the player boards would feel great if they were slightly thicker. These are minor quibbles, though - what comes in the box feels good to play with, and overall the game is priced very well for what you get.
The Good: Rollers is a fun way to spend time throwing dice around, and has the added benefit of not needing to be strictly paid attention to. It's a fun family night game, and if you have kids on the younger end of the age recommendation for the game, it's a perfect way to introduce light strategy with some really fun elements.
The Bad: Length can be an issue at larger player counts, and there's not a lot of depth. Dice mean randomness, which can be a turn-off for some.
Score: Rollers does exactly what it sets out to do, and does it very well. For a Friday night, family-game-night game, this deserves a spot in your rotation. I'm giving Rollers Deluxe a score of A Good Bet.
See more reviews from Nicholas and EBG at http://www.everythingboardgames.com/p/reviews.html
Designer: Gabriel Leow
Artist: Ping Ting Sim
Publisher: Play Nation Studios
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 25-35 min.
Dream Catchers is a cooperative casual game for 2 to 4 players. Players are dream catchers who visit children in their sleep to collect sweet dreams and remove nightmares to help them sleep tight for the night.
Play power cards to catch a sweet dream for the sleeping child or remove a nightmare to prevent them from attacking the poor kid. Players may trade cards with each other to help in their task.
Monsters appear throughout the night to attack the dream catchers and dreamer. If three monsters are hiding under the bed, they wake the child up and the game is lost!
Collect the required power cards and catch the nasty monsters. However, some monsters are cunning and may escape if you lose the die roll!
At the end of each player's turn, time passes and dawn draws near. Help the child get a good sleep before the night is over and do it before the monsters wake the dreamer to win the game!
NOTE: This is a preview of Dream Catchers ahead of its January 2018 Kickstarter campaign. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.
The first glimmer that caught my eye for Dream Catchers was their very well done, thematic, animated trailer. If you haven't seen it yet, you can find it on the main page of the Dream Catchers site. It does a great job of setting the stage for the theme and tone of the game!
In Dream Catchers, you and your cooperative group of friends or family (2-4 of you) are acting as adorably illustrated animal fairy protectors - dream catchers - who are responsible for stopping nightmares and seeding good dreams in children. The theme is exceedingly well played out through the illustrated components and through gameplay itself.
Learning the Rules and Setup:
The rulebook for Dream Catchers is a full size, 20 page booklet with a large font and lavish full-color illustrations throughout. It is easy to read, clear, and well-laid out. It's quite easy to pick up and teach yourself the rules in just a few minutes. In addition, the game comes with a two-page fold-out leaflet titled, "Setting Up for Your First Game." This makes set up very clear and easy to understand!
Dream Catchers does need a bit of shuffling and dealing to set up, but is fairly quick once you are familiar with which cards are which. The main playing area, the "Dreamscape," is a grid of Dream/Nightmare Tiles that you will try to collect or vanquish. Beneath that is an oversized Bedroom Tile which, with the help of adorable wooden monster meeples, will help you keep track of how well the child is sleeping (how many dreams and nightmares) and how close the night is to ending with the dawn.
Each player draws a Character Card, which gives you not only a cute picture of a fairy panda or other cuddly fairy animal, but also a special ability during the game, and a hand of Power Cards, which have icons to match the icons on the Dream and Nightmare Tiles.
Game Play and Mechanics:
Dream Catchers is a cooperative hand management, set collection game. Each player's turn consists of a Dream Catcher Phase, where you can perform two actions, followed by a Night Phase, where you must advance the time marker, bring out monsters, and refill the Dreamscape with more Dream or Nightmare Tiles (drawn from a single deck).
Your choice of actions on the Dream Catcher phase is simple and easy to understand. You can trade a Power Card with another player (easy to do since all hands are kept face-up on the table); turn in a set of Power Cards with appropriately matching icons (representing some combination of Love, Treats, Fantasy, Discover, Courage, or Strength) to either catch a Dream or a Nightmare; or turn in cards and roll a die to try to get rid of a Monster from under the bed. Having two actions allows you to trade and then catch a dream, or to catch two nightmares, etc.
Each dream caught advances the dream mover on the track on the Bedroom Tile, and some allow you to draw a treasure card which can help you further. Your goal is to fill the sleeping child's head with dreams before dawn, without letting her succumb to nightmares or the fear of three monsters beneath her bed.
The Night Phase of Dream Catchers is when you need to advance those bad things that could ruin the night for your sleeping child. You advance the wooden sand timer marker along the night track: if it would need to advance beyond the last space - dawn - and your child's head is not full of happy dreams, you lose.
Some of the spots along the night track have monsters on them: when the timer reaches one of these, you pull a monster tile from the stack and add it under the bed. If at any time there are three monsters under the bed, you lose.
Finally, you'll refill the Dreamscape, filling spots that were left empty when you caught dreams or nightmares. When you pull a new nightmare tile, you check to see if it shares matching icons with an adjacent nightmare - if it does, then you discard all matching tiles and advance the nightmare mover one spot for each discarded tile. If the nightmare token gets to the end of its track, you lose.
If the nightmare tile doesn't match an adjacent tile in its first placement, you move it in the grid according to the arrow on the tile, and check to see if it matches adjacent nightmares in its new location. This move-and-recheck rule was the only rule in the game that felt complicated for my 11 year old daughter and was the only thing we had to double-check in the rules because it wasn't immediately intuitive. It does result in more matches, though, making the game more challenging than it seems at first.
The overall game play of Dream Catchers is easy to understand and lends itself to diving into the theme. The cards are all uniquely and adorably illustrated, so you can incorporate the items or ideas you're using to take care of a nightmare or furnish a happy dream into a brief tale of your success.
Balancing the ease of learning to play and actual mechanics, Dream Catchers includes a set of five different Bedroom Tiles, each of which has its own challenges, and you can choose which bedroom to play based on how much challenge you want to face during the game. This gives the game a good dose of replayability, as my daughter has already suggested replaying the game until we're able to beat each of the five bedrooms at least once.
Artwork and Components:
Oh, the artwork! Dream Catchers is filled with sweet, almost cartoony fantastic images of flying cats and two-headed dragons, giant pizzas and candy trees. The bedrooms are richly detailed (and each comes with its own short backstory in the end of the rulebook) and full of interest. My family was immediately drawn in by this unique, eye-catching artwork and we feel it really helps give the game a strong thematic presence. Each card is like its own little story.
The components for Dream Catchers were well done, too - we fell in love with the little green monster meeples and the other wooden movers. The cards have a sturdy linen finish, and the bedroom tiles are pleasingly solid, with rounded corners. Even the die - large, glittery pink, and translucent - fits with the tone of the game.
The only issue we had with any of the components is that the actual rulebook is 1 or 2 mm too long to fit easily into the box - we have to bend it just slightly each time to get it back in the box. Hopefully that sizing issue can be fixed with the Kickstarter print run - but even if it's not fixed, it's not a big enough issue to detract from the game.
Dream Catchers is a lovely game with a unique theme, imaginative artwork, and easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master mechanics. We love cooperative games at our house, for all ages, and this game was a really solid fit for us right now - my 11 year old daughter in particular adores the artwork and the theme. She loved the image of herself as a fairy panda giving a child sweet dreams full of flying carpets and roller coasters.
I was very pleased with the components, the rulebook, and the selection of tiles to change the level of difficulty. We were surprised that even though the game play is fairly simple, we still couldn't win the game with the easiest bedroom on our first several playthroughs - that means we'll get more table time for this one than we may have thought at first glance.
Dream Catchers is a lighter game - it takes between 20-30 minutes for a game once all players are familiar with the game. The strategy isn't too deep and the game play isn't complicated. I know for many game players, that's something that would keep you from choosing a game, and this probably isn't something we'd take to a game day at our FLGS. It's a good fit in our home, though, because we play a lot of fillers and lighter games on weeknights with the kids.
The only component drawback was the sizing issue with the rulebook; the only drawback I can see to game play overall is maintaining interest in the game once we have successfully completed each bedroom a handful of times.
Dream Catchers draws you in with the fantastical artwork and the endearing theme; the rules and layout are simple, but avoiding the nightmares and monsters turns out to be much more challenging than it appears! Dream Catchers is a solid family cooperative game that will keep us coming back for more in the hopes of filling every child's head with sweet dreams.
Players Who Like:
Dream Catchers will appeal to players who like lighter cooperative games, such as Forbidden Island or Escape; set collection games like Sushi Go or Lanterns; and also to players who are drawn to adorable themes, such as Strawberry Ninja or Kodama.
I am giving Dream Catchers 8 out of 10 super meeples.
See more reviews from Alexa and EBG at http://www.everythingboardgames.com/p/reviews.html
Designer: Trip Gauntt
Artist: Benjamin Seyler
Publisher: Houseplant Games
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 2
Playing Time: 20-30 Minutes
WARNING: This is a preview of Shoudo. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.
Rules and Setup:
In Shoudo, players assume one of four clans, each with three armed forces: Daimyo, Heir, and Samurai. Players use these armies to wage war against their opponent's forces or to burn enemy territory, which decreases their opponents strength. The game ends when a player successfully attacks and burns their opponent's Daimyo Castle or beats all of the opposing team's armies in combat.
Samurai, Daimyo, and Heir army pieces.
Play begins with players selecting, competing for, or being randomly assigned one of four clans: Uesugi, Mori, Tokugawa, or Shimazu. Each of the four clans is equipped with a different special ability that can benefit the player throughout the game.
Uesugi, Mori, Tokugawa, and Shimazu clan cards.
Once the clans are chosen, the 40 double-sided (unburned and burned) terrain cards are used to create a 5x8 grid. The terrain cards come in three varieties: Castles (twelve total, three for each player and six neutral castles), Shrines (four total, one for each player and two neutral shrines), and Territories (24 total, six for each player and twelve neutral territories).
Unburned Uesugi territory cards (left and right) and shrine card (middle).
Castles are the embodiment of each different army and serve as the army's starting point. Castles should be protected; when a castle goes down to an opponent's attack, the correlating army is destroyed with it. Shrines are the morale of all of a player's armies, and losing a shrine to an opponent decreases the strength all of your armies. Territory cards give a strength bonus in combat but are the easiest to be burned by an opponent.
Unburned Uesugi Heir, Samurai, and Daimyo castle cards.
After the grid is prepared, players have the option of swapping the location of their Daimyo castle (and Daimyo army with it) with one of their other castles.
Once the grid is prepared and the castles' locations decided, each player is given army tokens representing the strength of their three armies. The Daimyo is the strongest, receiving five strength tokens, followed by the Heir (four strength tokens) and Samurai (three strength tokens). With the disbursement of strength tokens, setup is complete and game play can begin.
Players alternate turns, spending three movements (shared between the three armies) and three actions (one per army). Movements and actions do not follow a specific order (i.e. actions can occur before, during, or after movements). The movements can be used entirely by one army, or spread out among the three. Movement can only be vertical or horizontal.
Players cannot move an army to a card occupied by an opponent, nor can they end their turn on a tile occupied by one of their other armies; however, they can move through their own armies as long as the movement doesn't end on the same card. The other movement restriction is that players cannot move through a castle that does not belong to their clan unless that castle is first burned.
Each army is allowed one action per turn. These actions include burning, attacking, and restoring shrines.
Burning: An army located on an enemy territory card can burn the territory, flipping the card to the burned side. When the territory is burned, the corresponding army (identified by iconography on the card) loses one strength. If an army burns the shrine card, all of the opponents' armies lose one strength. Castles cannot be burned as an action and must be defeated in combat. When defeated, the castle is immediately burned.
Attacking: A player can attack an opposing army or unburned castle on an adjacent card. This combat is fought over three rounds, with each player rolling a combat die and adding any strength bonuses associated with their army. The highest total roll wins the round. The strength bonuses are determined by the number of strength tokens for the specific army, plus the terrain bonus of the card the army is on. For example, if the Daimyo have four strength tokens, are located on a territory card with a bonus of two, and the player rolls a one, the player's combat roll would be seven. Round ties are considered draws. If no player wins two of the three rounds, the combat ends without a victor, and play moves to the next player.
Castles use the strength of their corresponding army and individual terrain bonus to avoid being burned during the attack. However, if an enemy castle is bested in combat and subsequently burned, the army associated with that castle is also destroyed and out of the game. Burning a neutral castle gives players the ability to move through the space.
The loser of combat loses that army and must continue the game with their remaining forces. If no armies remain, the game is over regardless of whether or not the Daimyo castle is unburned. The attacker may retreat any time before combat is over by moving to an adjacent tile as long as the player has at least one of their three movement remaining. However, if the adjacent tiles are occupied by opposing armies or unburned castles the player cannot retreat and must continue the fight.
Restore Shrine: If a player's shrine has been burned by their opponent, they can restore the shrine by moving an army to the space and flipping the card back to the unburned side. Restoring a shrine allows the player to regain a strength token to each of its remaining armies.
The first player to either burn the Daimyo castle or defeat each of their opponent's three armies wins.
Theme and Mechanics:
The theme is heavily influenced by Japanese culture, specifically the Sengoku Jidai era of Japan. I admittedly know nothing of Japanese culture or history, so I will not comment on the accuracy or authenticity of the clan names, kanji, or any of the other iconography, nor will I pretend that a quick Google search would make me an authority on such things. However, I will say that I have seen games that are Asian themed for seemingly no other reason than to just add "Asian stuff," not giving a second thought to what Asian influences were being used or what it represented.
I do not think that is the case with Shoudo. There appears to be, at the very least, a familiarity with the iconography and historical significance of the theme. I could be wrong, but Shoudo appears to be more of an homage than a parody.
As for mechanics, Shoudo is an area control, action point allowance filler game with a dose of push-your-luck dice rolling during combat. The game may be light on components and play time, but I would not describe it as light on strategy. The amount (and usefulness) of your strategy is related to the skill level of your opponent, but the push-your-luck aspect during combat still keeps things balanced. I enjoyed facing the need to be offensive and aggressive to win, while still needing to be patient and defend the castles. The mechanics fit the theme, and the push-your-luck aspect can quickly turn what appears to be a rout in the making into a close game.
Strength tokens and combat dice.
Artwork and Components:
There are not many components in Shoudo: 44 cards, 24 chits, two dice, and six player tokens. The cards are quality stock but would probably still benefit from sleeves. The other components are solid enough to withstand several trips to the table.
The artwork is nothing like I normally like, but for this game, I love it. The art is simple, black-and-white drawings relying on shading and shadow, rather than vibrant colors; to me, it is perfect. The only colors on the card are to designate the different clans (the different clans are also differentiated by iconography, so color-blind players should not have difficulty distinguishing between the clans on the cards). The difference between a burned and unburned card is clear without it being distracting. The artist struck the perfect "same but different" balance between the the two.
Burned Uesugi territory cards (left and right) and shrine (middle).
Shoudo is a a quick filler that is easy to learn and easy to teach. The game has a luck element in the combat phase, but the luck factor can be mitigated by good strategy throughout gameplay by a careful combination of offense and defense. The game seems well balanced so that a player cannot solely rely on luck.
I appreciate the timing of gameplay, not only in terms of time spent from setup to completion but also the minimal downtime between turns. Shoudo seems to be good introduction into the movement-into-combat genre for those that would bristle at a similar game with a much longer play time.
The game also seems to have better than average replay ability as game play is changed each time by the layout of the cards and the special ability of the clan.
While the designer was careful to make the cards easily distinguishable to those with color blindness, the same cannot be said about the player tokens. One set of player tokens is black, while the other is gray. I do not have any visual impairments, but I still had trouble distinguishing between the two colors at first glance. I imagine that for someone who had trouble distinguishing grayscale, differentiating between the player tokens would be a challenge.
There is one clan whose special ability seems to be less beneficial as the others. The Uesugi are allowed to switch the location of a castle with their shrine prior to the start of the game, and that is it. The rest of the clans' abilities continue on throughout game play and add bonuses that impact combat and end-game conditions. I could see someone feeling slighted for getting stuck with the Uesugi when the other clans seem to offer more in terms of a bonus.
For the game type and introduction into the genre, I think Shoudo is great. It is mechanically simple yet visually and thematically satisfying. Gameplay is generally quick and does not require remembering a list of bonuses to add during combat. I think this would satisfy a player's desire to play something in the genre that did not want to invest two or more hours on a heavier roll-for-combat game. However, someone looking for a replacement for the genre rather than a lighter version is going be turned off by the limited actions and quick gameplay.
In short, if you want a roll-for-combat filler, this is great. If you are growing tired of Risk and looking for something that will fill that Risk-sized (and, more importantly, duration) void, this is going to seem too light. But at only a $20 price point for the game, you may want to pull the trigger anyway. I would.
Heir army approaches the Daimyo for battle.
Players Who Like:
Risk and any similar area control/roll-for-combat games.
I am giving Shoudo 7.5 out of 10 super meeples.
See more reviews from Nick S and EBG at http://www.everythingboardgames.com/p/reviews.html
Ready to strike it rich and stake your claim? Can you be the first to become an Expert Prospector? Maybe you are ready to Roll 4 Gold. Pull up a chair and let’s see who’ll be the first to hit the mother lode.
Roll 4 Gold takes a little bit of Poker and slams it into Go Fish (kinda) and adds dice so that you have a little luck thrown in. Roll 4 Gold is a reimplementation of Roll Out, the designer’s first game. But where Roll Out was much more of a Poker style game, this one is much less so and seems to be more accessible. Let’s see how it looks:
So how do you play?
Your goal in Roll 4 Gold is to get rid of the 3 cards in your hand each round. You do this by matching your card to the value of the dice rolled. Roll a 7 and have one in your hand? Great, discard it. You’re now one step closer to winning the hand. Don’t have a 7? You could discard a Wild Card. Don’t have either? Well now each other player can discard their 7’s.
Once everyone has had a chance to roll the dice, the round ends. Everyone must now decide if they want to keep going trying to win the hand. If they do want to stay in, they need to ante up again by putting another gold nugget in the pot. You can also fold if you think there is no way for you to win the hand. There are wild cards which are special cards that allow you to discard them on your turn and keep luck from being the only winner. The game is played over a series of hands which also allow you to rally against bad luck.
There are also two rolls which will immediately change the round. If anyone rolls a 2 (snake eyes) while rolling two dice, they are automatically out of that round.
But, if they roll a 12, they automatically win the round. Rolling only one die is definitely safer because of this, but you can’t get rid of the higher value cards without rolling two dice.
You play until one player has 65 gold nuggets or if you want a much quicker game, you play 5 rounds and the player with the most gold wins.
So, what do we think?
First, this is not a game for the serious gamer. Fans of Euros or in depth strategic games will find this wanting, but there is definitely a place for this one among fillers and light games.
At its heart this is a very simple game. Roll the die or dice then discard a card of that value or a wild card. If you don’t /can’t discard a matching card, then the other players have the opportunity to do so. Run out of cards first and win the hand (and all the gold).
The decisions come in when you have to choose to roll one die or two, and to know when to “fold” and when to keep “digging” and stay in the game. They are simple decisions for sure, but knowing when to give up on a hand is a neat skill to develop.
The theme is rather loosely tied in, but that’s ok. We made it a little bit more theme-y by using gold from our Karuba game instead of the gold tokens.The 5 yr old really liked this since they were actually gold nuggets that she could play with as we went along.
The artwork is cartoony and campy which fits in nicely. The components are basically a deck of cards (4 suits numbered 1 to 11), a bunch of gold tokens and 2 Dice. The cards do have a mining theme with pickaxes, gold and dynamite, so that’s neat too.
We definitely went with the shorter game play. Playing to a certain total felt too long and even with just 5 or 10 rounds of play, you could sometimes already see someone gaining a huge lead and others having no real chance of winning, so no real reason to keep at it. I was also surprised at the number of times that rolling a 2 (snake eyes) or a 12 (box cars) led to the end of the hand, it really occcured quite frequently.
I think that it works really well as a game to teach kids some simple decision making and weighing their options. I was worried at first that it might be too much like poker for me to be comfortable teaching it to the younger ones, but without the betting system, it worked out just fine. The only time they risk spending their gold is when they decide to stay in or not, which actually taught some risk/reward thinking as well.
This isn’t a game that is going to take all night to play, nor would you probably want to, but if you want a quick filler or a game to introduce new or young gamers, this one definitely will do you right. It’s definitely quick and simple enough that it can easily become a part of family game night. So grab those dice and see just how much gold you can collect prospector.
See more reviews from Jeremy and Everything Board Games at http://www.everythingboardgames.com/p/reviews.html
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