Cardboard Clash

Taking a look at board games playable with either one or two players. Reviews written by the husband in a board game-addicted marriage with occasional commentary from his better, and far more strategic, half.

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Coming Soon: Worker Placement Months

David Wiley
United States
Waukee
IA
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Back in May I tried something new when I ran Solo Month. I had everything posted that month tie in 100% to solo gaming, which was a lot of fun and some of you reading now probably discovered me during that month. But I tried the insanity of posting a new post every single day, and fell spectacularly short. I flamed out at the end, but everything important was posted during that month.

In the midst of my excitement, I started planning ahead and reaching out to some publishers about my next themed month: Worker Placement. I got a small number of review copies. I received some promos to give away. I lined a few interviews up. And I've played a few new Worker Placement games in anticipation.

The thought was July or August to run the featured month, but I don't want to burn out again. So I am going to spread things across both months, making a 61-day period where the majority (but not all) of the content I produce will focus on Worker Placement games. I think it will be a lot of fun, and I hope to introduce you to some games that might not be on your radar yet. Some of the games are only on my radar, but haven't been played. Those will be overviews, where I share what I can dig up on the game and provide full disclosure that it isn't a game I have played...yet.

100% of the posts are being generated due to my own interests and pursuits. I'm not getting paid to promote a single one of these, this is simply a labor of love that will be repeated again in September/October for 2-player only games and in November/December for Deck Building Games (sneak preview!). There are going to be some fun giveaways.

Reviews for Worker Placement month will definitely include:
•Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia
•Raiders of the North Sea
•Keyper
•Argent: The Consortium
•Coal Baron: The Great Card Game
•Ex Libris

Giveaways will include (but are not limited to):
•Promos for Keyflower
•NIS Copy of Raiders of the North Sea
•NIS Copy of Ex Libris
•Digital Codes for Galaxy Trucker or Through the Ages apps

All of those Giveaways are going to be open to everyone. However, if I get to my first goal on my Patreon page ($30/month) I'll come up with a special giveaway exclusive to my Patrons that ties in with Worker Placement. It might be a promo. It might be a small game. Who knows?

(check out my Patreon page here: https://www.patreon.com/CardboardClash)

And, finally, I plan to also review one of the two massive-box Rosenberg games on our shelf. Here's your chance to vote: Caverna or A Feast for Odin? Comment below and let me know which you'd prefer to see a review about!
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Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:08 pm
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Digital Review: BattleCON Online

David Wiley
United States
Waukee
IA
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Today I’m going to do something a little different than usual. There is no denying that we’re seeing a boom in the amount of board games that are going digital. While I don’t prefer to play games in a digital format (I’d much rather have the human opponent at the table and touch/feel the components), there are a few that I do play more often than others. And when Brad from Level 99 Games mentioned I could review BattleCON Online, I wasn’t sure how that might fit in with my personal playing preferences.

Let’s start by saying this won’t be in the format of my typical review in the sense that I won’t be giving an overview of the game or how to set up/play it. Instead I’m going to dive right into some pros & cons for the Online version of the game and wrap up with my final thoughts. And look for at least one digital review to appear each month (hopefully) as I tinker around in the realm of apps or Steam-based versions for your games.

***

+++Note: You can look at my review of Trials and apply many of the comments on that game to the Online version. Rather than rehash those same things, I’ll focus on what applies exclusively to the Online version.

+ The game has built-in timers, both on number of rounds and some countdowns associated with how much time you get to make decisions. These both help the game move along and fall into that 20-30 minute range without overstepping to the 45-ish mark. I really enjoy the speed of the match itself when playing because it never feels like it runs too long.

+ The AI opponent option is a great thing to use when you just have a brief amount of time or if there isn’t an available opponent. Or to get better with a character (or even just familiarize yourself with them before using against someone else). This was a recent addition, and one I really like having in there. I just wish you earned coins by facing the AI, apart from getting those small achievement goals for bonus coins.

+ There are a good number of characters available, and a host of them that could still be added. I’m not sure how many are planned to be unlocked at the start, or which ones might be the first characters you can use (it recently changed to a new set of 4, which surprised me in a good way). But you gain the currency to unlock by playing matches against other people and/or accomplishing one of three current objectives (such as Spend 30 force, or Deal 60 Damage, or use a Specialist 3 times, etc.) to get bonus currency. As long as the characters remain “free” to unlock, this isn’t a bad thing. It’d be nice to be able to use any of them against something like a Training Dummy, just to know before unlocking a character whether you like their style, but you can see info about the character and their cards and draw some conclusions that way.

+ This game helps with some visual elements, showing you the combined stats of your cards being played and showing the spaces your attack could hit. This takes some of that guesswork out and helps you make sure you make better plays. It doesn’t always help me – I still make mistakes – but I believe I make fewer mistakes on that front. Most of the time. It also takes care of any upkeep you may have, which helps progress the game right along.

+ The music, the voices and sound effects, and the animations all make this game come alive. It feels even more like a fighting video game, but without the button-mashing or combo memorizing. This has a toe in both worlds, tabletop and video game, and will hopefully help unite players in both of those realms. Some of those themes will stick in your mind, and it is fun to hear how some of the characters sound.

+ The best thing about the Online version of BattleCON is the community associated with it. There is a really strong, dedicated core of players who are willing to play and, in many cases, provide some feedback afterwards on how to more effectively use that character. I recently got obliterated with my first play as Marmelee and got a significant set of recommendations on how to more effectively use her, which turned out to be much better when I put it into practice. If you have any interest at all in playing BattleCON Online (BCO), joining its Discord community is the best move you can make.

+/- Tying in with that, the most effective way to get a match is to hop on Discord and mention you’re looking for a match. This may change when it gets a wider official release, but just idly waiting for a match could take over half an hour. Pinging the Discord, though, could get you paired within minutes.

+/- But beware: finding a match could get you paired with someone about 100 tiers above your current skill level. There is nothing wrong with that – I am a firm believer in you learn through losing at games – but some people might get frustrated and/or put off from that experience. Especially when a match becomes one-sided. Add in the fact that certain characters do better or worse in specific matchups, and this could easily snowball if you are on the wrong end of the character matchup AND playing against someone with a lot more experience.

– A big thing I noticed with this is that it runs a little on the slow side. It might be completely on my own machine as the cause here, as I have a computer that isn’t designed for online gaming, but I suspect that at least the initial opening/loading screens and the Victory screen after a match are both slow outside of my own computer. It isn’t a deal-breaker, but the delay is quite noticeable. I also get random pauses during a match when selecting/revealing cards but it is brief and I suspect more a result of my own machine for those. Just know that it won’t be lightning-fast through everything like you’d expect from a PS4 game or anything.

Final Thoughts

I love BattleCON so much. I actually played this before I got a review copy of Trials, and the learning game and a match against the Training Dummy were enough to raise my excitement. So when I had a chance to also get a physical copy of the game, I had to pounce on that! The game does a great job of teaching the basics and managing those small details that are easy to be confused by or overlook in person for those first games. I like the speed of the individual matches, and as long as I plan in advance I can get the game loading early so it is ready when I want to find a match.

I’ll probably still always prefer the cardboard version of the game, but that is more of a “me” thing than anything. When I don’t have someone to play against in person, I have a really fun way to get some matches played. It lets me try characters I don’t own, which can help me decide upon the next set I want to try and pick up. And, since I believe this is still in Beta form and getting updated regularly, everything about this will continue to get even better.

Yet if BCO didn’t change at all from the form it is in today, it would still be something I would recommend to anyone who love BattleCON or is interested in the game. The music, the voices, and some of the animations really make a great game come alive in a new way that provides a fun and fresh experience. And the availability of playing with others around the world, of a variety of skill levels, makes this even better.

There is organized play for this which can help you to earn points. There is a sheet in the Discord for filling it out – I haven’t used it myself yet because I need to know my opponent’s number to submit the form. It hasn’t been important enough for me to try and figure that out yet, and some people won’t care at all about the organized play and possible rewards. I mention this to point out that it exists, and it sounds like a great thing to get excited about. I plan to figure it out on my own eventually, hopefully before the current season ends on June 30th, so I can possibly get the first tier of rewards between my plays of this and my teaching players the physical game…
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Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:58 pm
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Review for Two - BattleCON: Trials of the Indines

David Wiley
United States
Waukee
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(Originally posted at: https://cardboardclash.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/review-for-t...)


Thank you for checking review #59 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**A copy of the game was sent for review purposes. Opinions remain our own.

An Overview of BattleCON: Trials of the Indines

BattleCON: Trials of the Indines is a game designed by D. Brad Talton Jr. and was published by Level 99 Games. The box states that it can play 2 players and has a 10-45 minute play time.

BattleCON is a board game that brings the tactics, strategy, and ferocity of 2D fighting games like Street Fighter to your tabletop. Each BattleCON Fighter features a Unique Ability–a combat subsystem designed specifically for them, giving them a never-before-seen fighting style that you will have to master, and that your opponents will have to play around.

Trials is a new medium-sized box in the BattleCON series, containing 10 new fighters, each with a complete range of all-new skills and abilities.

Trials is the fourth box in the BattleCON series.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players



Each player selects one of the 10 fighters in the set and takes their tuckbox which will have their specific cards (including the base cards universal to all characters), the character’s standee, a reference card (which is given to the opponent), and any special token or card powers that might be unique to that character. Place the standee for each character on the board on the spaces marked with the red/blue dots. Players will then select a base and a style to go into their first discard pile and select another pair to go in their second discard pile (the cards have recommended ones marked for these!). Each player takes 20 life and 2 force and are ready to begin.

During a turn each player will secretly select a base and a style card and place them face-down in front of them. Once both players have made this decision, it moves to an ante phase where (in turn order), the players can ante in some temporary boosts to power, priority (speed), or stun guard (and some characters also have their own unique special tokens or cards that can be anted at this point). Once both players pass consecutively, the players reveal their combinations and compare priority. The player with the higher value becomes the first player for the beat. If there is a tie, the players CLASH and have to select a new base to replace the current base card. If it is still a tie after that, the process is repeated until they are either out of base cards to play or until one player wins priority. In the case of the former case, the beat ends and they move to the end of the beat without taking their turns.

Starting with the first player, each player resolves any Start of Beat effects. Then the active player does any Before Activating effects, makes their attack (factoring in range), resolves any Hit effects, and then resolves any After Activating effects. Then the reactive player does the same thing so long as they did not get stunned. If you take damage greater than your Stun Guard for the round, then the reactive player loses their actions and does nothing for the beat.

Finally both players (in turn order) resolve any End of Beat effects. Then they cycle their discards, bringing the leftmost pair into their hand, shifting the remaining pair on the board over one space, and putting the cards they just played into the right-most space on the board. Each player will gain one force token (two if they have 7 or less life) and play proceeds to a new beat. The game continues until one player is out of life.

My Thoughts



The mechanics of this are simple yet the depth within the game makes it complex as well. You’re choosing two cards to pair together to try and damage your opponent, avoid their attacks, or boost power for a future beat. However, the dynamics within all of that space is mind blowing. Not only does that apply to the game in general, but every single character in this box is unique in ways that makes it so a one-size-fits-all tactic is difficult to execute.

Which is why there is a point here regarding the characters themselves. They are 100% unique in their gameplay. I have played, or played against, all ten of them in the box and it never felt same-y. The best feeling is, of course, finding that character that is YOUR character. I enjoyed seeing a buddy of mine find it when playing Burgundy XIII. I felt it myself when playing as Amon, which happened to be the same exact match.

The artwork on the characters is outstanding. I’ve instantly become a fan of Nokomento’s art, which happens to be featured in a good number of Level 99 Games titles out there.

The ante phase can be interesting, even though a decent number of times it might just be both of you “passing” to get to the reveal. You ante to boost your Priority, which tells me you really want to go first. Or that you feel like your number is a hair too low and so I could probably ante back to maintain my order. But you might also be trying to get me to waste my own force. This becomes even more interesting if you have two characters who have special things they can ante into play. This phase is just a step in the process some of the time, but I love the times when you feel like that decision to ante or pass really matters. And few things are worse than anteing up a ton of power and priority only to have them gleefully reveal that Dodge card…



The lore in the whole Indines universe wants to sweep my imagination away. There are nuggets to be found in the game, particularly the Character Guide book, but I really wish there was more. I would 100% read a novella about pretty much any one of these characters, or anything placed in that Indines world. There are tidbits dropped in the Level Cap podcast, but it’d be better if they did something similar to Greater Than Games’ The Letters Page, at least for delivering lore content. But this solidifies to me that I really want to write for Brad and his Indines world.

All characters have the same set of bases, plus one character-specific base. While the flavor shines through in the styles, I want to take a moment to appreciate those base cards. Even the long range characters have some smaller range attacks. Even the short range characters have long range attacks. They can all dodge. They all have ways to get Stun Guard, to play something with decent power, or decent priority. It prevents them from being forced into a sour situation where they simply can’t accomplish anything – so long as you account for the two beats where the cards are cycling.

And that card cycling system is perfect for this game. I can’t spam an attack over and over. I can’t dodge endlessly until I get enough force to drop my finisher. I can’t just sit back and blast you from across the board. I have to not only adapt to what I don’t have, but also plan for what I might want or need in a beat or two. The fact that a fighting game has long-term strategy that you can employ still baffles me in a good way. I love it, and having to account for it when trying to choose my cards.



Overall the rules for the game are fine and functional. However, there are omissions that could lead to some frustration. My first few games, I thought that the Character’s special powers that could be ante’d had to be paid for just like the tokens. It wasn’t until I played BattleCON Online that I started to question this and, eventually, learned the right answer. The component listing was also a little iffy, as I struggled to place a few of the tokens in the right place because nowhere in the book did it mention that the staff went with Kimbhe or that these four tokens I had leftover went to Lucida. And what about resolving a Clash? Do the cards you replace go back to your hand or do they cycle in the discards? 97% of what you need to know is covered, but it is those few instances, some of them not even specific to a single character, that are missing in here.

There can be quite the steep learning curve for the game, as you will benefit from knowing the character you are playing as and the one you’re playing against. This is a game, since there is no luck, where a skilled opponent should win the vast majority of the time over an unskilled one. If you dislike a game where there is a steep learning curve, and where you might get thoroughly thrashed for your first dozen learning plays, then you might be turned off by this aspect of the game. But if you can find at least one person of a similar skill level who is willing to play with you, both of you will benefit from that practice.

One player with Analysis Paralysis might make this game drag. Two players with it definitely will make it drag. The decision of the combination to play can feel so overwhelmingly critical, especially late in the game when both players are jockeying to finish off the other. The other thing that can make a match run long? Stupidity and/or miscalculations. I’ve been guilty of them both. I’ve made dumb plays that, as soon as I flipped the cards, I realized were really bad decisions. I’ve flipped cards thinking I’ll be in range and find out that I’m 1 space too close or far to pull off my attack. A few rounds of whiffing is funny at first, but it can make it feel like the game drags on a little too long. 20-30 minutes per match is the sweet spot, but far too often I’ve been involved in ones that creep up to that 45 minute mark.

Final Thoughts

I was never very good at the arcade-style fighting games. I was a button masher, because I simply had no patience to try and learn all the special combinations to execute the right moves at the right times. I could usually luck my way through some tough match-ups, but I would never get progressively better at the games.

Thankfully, there is no button mashing necessary in BattleCON. You get all of the wonderful elegance of those fighting games in tabletop format, and all of your moves are unlocked and available for use…apart from that brilliant “cool down” system in here. It levels the playing field, so to speak, and makes it more about being able to read and adapt to the board state as well as learning how best to function with each different fighter in the box.

This game is 100% fun right out of the box. Seriously, some of my best board game memories in the past month have come from this game and the laughter that can ensue. It is increasingly hilarious to state the names of your chosen combination in a fun voice, especially if you’re both getting into that aspect. It is fun to see both of your carefully-laid plans get foiled as you reveal cards and both move out of range so your attacks fail. It is epic to be beaten down to 1-2 life and come back to drop that last 10-12 off your foe to “steal” the victory when on the brink of defeat. Fun. Fun. Fun.

There is definitely a skill curve in this game, as you simply won’t know how to effectively pilot a character until you’ve played them a few times. Additionally, you won’t know how to counter a character until you’ve played them, or against them, a few times. And even then, you have to account for a person’s personal playing style. They might make choices you don’t expect because you’d play Combination X and they put out Y instead. This is a game of playing your opponent as much as it is playing your own game, and that makes it a brilliant design.

Had I played this game before my Top 25 was created, this would definitely have made an appearance on the list. It is in there right now, although I couldn’t tell you where or what game dropped off to make a place for this one. But this is a fantastic addition to my collection. Nearly everyone I’ve taught the game has expressed both a desire to play again and a desire to pick this game up for themselves. And with four boxes out, and a big release coming in July on Kickstarter, this is definitely a game to consider putting on your own radar.

Players who dislike direct conflict and the process of tearing down your opponent will not really enjoy this game. Nothing against Rahdo, but this is a game I don’t think he would play and that is a shame. Because as much as I like playing in a sandbox to build my own engine while my wife does the same in her sandbox, there is definitely a time and a place for a fun, beat-’em-up style of game. I can’t speak to others out there, but I played Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat and Soul Calibur growing up and this is everything I could want out of a game inspired by those. I’m beyond happy with the contents in this box, although I highly doubt it’ll be the only BattleCON title that will enter into my collection. Because while I don’t need more characters, I need more characters.

And that is a good sign for the game. I could play this box alone a hundred times and still enjoy using these ten fighters. But since they all play so differently, I really want to see who else is out there and find that one character that is so my style that I’ll play them like I play Fanatic when I bust out a game of Sentinels of the Multiverse.

***

Hopefully you found this review to be a useful look at BattleCON: Trials of the Indines. If you’re interested in providing support for Cardboard Clash so I can continue to improve what we offer, check out my page over on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/CardboardClash.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas
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Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:56 pm
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Review for Two - Herbaceous Sprouts

David Wiley
United States
Waukee
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(Originally posted at: https://cardboardclash.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/review-for-t...)

Thank you for checking review #58 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**A prototype of the game was sent for review purposes. Opinions remain our own.

An Overview of Herbaceous Sprouts



Herbaceous Sprouts is a game designed by Eduardo Baraf, Steve Finn, and Keith Matejka and was published by Pencil First Games. The box states that it can play 1-4 players and has a 20-30 minute play time.

A FLAVORFUL DICE GAME
Everyone has a green thumb when playing Herbaceous Sprouts. Unwind while enjoying this beautiful and thoughtful game of collecting seeds, using tools, and growing sprouts in the community garden. Gather your seeds and tools from the shed, but don’t take too long or your friend might become the Head Gardner first.

OBJECTIVE
Become the Head Gardener by collecting herb and flower seeds and using your garden tools to plant in the community garden and scoring the most points. Each round, gardeners take turns collecting herb and flower seeds (represented by dice) which they place and save in their wheelbarrow, as well as tools (represented by cards) which they use to plant sprouts. Players can plant quickly for low point spots, or push their luck saving their seeds for premier spots in the garden.

—description from the publisher

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players



Each player takes a Wheelbarrow Mat and the 15 Sprout Tokens of their color, along with a reference card. Place the Rival Sprout tokens by the gameboard. Put all dice in the Seed Bag and mix them up. each player takes 2 dice, rolls them, and puts them on the die spces on their board. Shuffle the tool deck and remove 10 cards back to the box without revealing them. Finally, place the Lemonade Card and the Tool Card Deck near the board.

Reveal 3 tool cards from the top of the deck, pulling dice and rolling them for each card and placing them in the appropriate space.

Regarding gameplay, I honestly can’t put it better than they have it listed on the game’s description on BGG:

GAMEPLAY
Herbaceous Sprouts is played over a series of rounds, each with a different Lead Gardener. When the last Tool Cards are used, the game ends the final score is tallied.

Each round has three phases:
•Phase 1: Preparing the Tool Shed
•Phase 2: Picking and Planting Seeds
•Phase 3: Clean Up

PHASE 1: Preparing the Tool Shed
This phase is performed by the Lead Gardener of the current round. They set up the Tool Cards and Seed Dice for the round.

PHASE 2: Picking and Planting Seeds
In this phase, all players take turns picking resources from the shed and planting in the community garden. Starting with the Lead Gardener and moving clockwise, each player takes a turn.
Each player performs the following steps, in this order:

A. Take a Tool Card & Seed Dice from the Tool Shed
B. Add Seeds to the Wheelbarrow
C. Perform Special Actions
D. Plants Herb and Flower Seeds

PHASE 3: Clean Up
Players set up for the next round, or proceed to End Game scoring.

—description from the publisher

With 2 players, the final unchosen card each round will dictate where a Rival Sprout token is placed. It will show an area of the board and a numerical value to indicate where that token is placed. If there are multiple spots of that value shown, it is placed in the one worth more points.

Changes for a solo game

Setup is the same as a 2-player game, except in addition you Take the Gardener card and shuffle the deck of 9 Rival Cards. You get 10 turns, and each turn the Gardener card alternates between the Master Gardener and the Assistant Gardener. During the Master Gardener turns (the odd numbered rounds) you draw a die from the bag, roll it, and put it in your wheelbarrow. Then at the end of your turn, you place Rival Sprouts tokens on both spots indicated at the bottom of the two cards you did not take.



During the Assistant Gardener turn you start by revealing a Rival Card to show which card they choose and place the Rival Sprout token according to that card. Then, tuck the Rivals card under your playerboard like a Sprout Pot. Finally, take your turn like normal.

If you score higher than the Rival, you win.

My Thoughts

My first play of the game was solo and it started off on the right foot for me with the Rival Sprouts and how that populates the board as you play. This was not only a clever solo mechanism, but it also applies to 2-3 player games to help fill that board faster and to block those premium spaces over time. This solitaire version of the game is 100x more interesting than the one in standard Herbaceous (which isn’t a bad solo mode for that game, but rarely one I would reach for) and it really impressed me with what they executed here. This isn’t a game that plays 2-4 and you can kinda play a tacked-on solo mode. The solo play in itself is worth the investment.

The dice in the prototype box were standard sized dice, but I hear that the actual final product will have Star Wars Destiny-style of dice in there. If that is true, then this becomes a huge boon for the game as those are fun and chunky dice to roll. Some people like different things, but if you like rolling dice at all you’ll enjoy those dice. Regardless, the dice in this game never really felt like they imposed a ton of randomness upon the game. Partially because they are almost always useful, partially because there are plenty of reroll possibilities to obtain, and partially because there are actions that can change die sides. My biggest fear in the game turned out to be a nice aspect rather than the dreaded random factor to negate any skill.

While this game is very different mechanically from Herbaceous, you’ll still find some comfort in the familiarity of the artwork, and the need to collect pairs, sets of the same herb, and sets of different herbs as you go through the game. You just are collecting dice with those faces rather than herbs, and selecting said dice off a tool card rather than flipping a card at a time off the top of a deck.



Tool cards are fantastic in this game. They range from having no special actions (but 3 dice) to having a horde of special actions and no dice. I appreciate that there is one additional card available each round, so that the last player to select isn’t stuck without making a decision. I also love that the card not chosen will be used to place a Rival Sprouts token on the board (except in a 4-player game), adding an extra layer of consideration when taking a card (almost like the decision on what dice to draft in Seasons). The player actions on the cards range from outstanding most of the time to situational, yet they are all important at certain points in the game. Did I mention the tool card deck is also the game timer? Oh yeah, it is…something I also like seeing.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the artwork here. It is Beth Sobel art. That sentence alone should be enough to tell you it is going to be good. Seriously, she’s easily one of the Top 3 artists in the industry right now and her work always blows me away.

This game scales extremely well, thanks to those Sprout Tokens. This isn’t some fancy automa system, but its simple elegance works. It is easy to operate, takes no additional time, and no additional thought on the part of the players. Without those Rival Tokens, the board would be too wide-open and you could take your time storing up for that perfect high-score combo of sprouts. That pressure of knowing the deck could place a sprout there first is a nice added tension.



The turns in general are fast, the action selection simple, and the game doesn’t present many opportunities for Analysis Paralysis to rear its ugly head. I like the fast pace, the quick play time, and the ease of setup and teardown for the game. There is elegance in simplicity, something that the original Herbaceous possessed and this somehow maintains, even with the addition of layers of depth and strategy beyond the original game.

The flowers are a tough thing to pin down my feelings on. A single flower can be potted for 2, 3, or 4 points. There are 3 different types of flowers in there. To do that, though, you need both the flower and a trowel tool at the same time, or two matching herbs and a watering can tool. Both of these are situational, requiring two circumstances to be true in order to use them, which makes a tool card or a die with the trowel or watering can either VERY desirable or a trash action, depending on the current board state. The points in here are small, yet it feels like it takes a lot more to make this align for those points at times.

There is a lot of dice rolling. You’re pulling out dice as the setup for each round and rolling them, then placing the dice on the cards. Some people might love it, some will hate it, but most will fall in between. If there are a lot of dice spots on the cards, especially with a higher player count, this can feel like it takes a while. Plus, it is extremely easy to bump a die on accident, either while placing it or while retrieving it. Or even while trying to grab a different card. Those big, chunky dice may help, but they could also make the problem worse by being easier to bump. It isn’t an issue often, but some might find it to be a detriment and wish for those boards Scythe spoiled us with…



There isn’t a score track, which would be really helpful. Whether that is a shared track around the outside of the board or if it is printed on the reverse side of the Wheelbarrow Cards, this is one thing more than anything else that I think this game could benefit from.

Do you want to know how many players used a reroll in a 4-player game I taught? One, me. Twice, and that was only to see if I could get lucky and not have to use my pot. I appreciate the abundance (or at least appearance thereof) of opportunities to roll those dice again, allowing you to perhaps shift your luck when stuck with garbage. But so far, in practice, that ability does not get used very often with the people I’ve played with. So I kinda feel bad for the person who gets stuck with a tool card granting 2 rerolls and one granting 3 rerolls, especially if his board is already empty of dice. Which leads into…

Hate drafting can totally be a thing in this game. Especially because you can usually see what other players are aiming for, and take that die they need or that tool they need, even though you don’t really need it right now. This isn’t a problem for some gamers, but I know it might be a deal breaker for others. Be aware of the play style of who you’re going to play with if this is something you really dislike in a game.

Final Thoughts



My wife likes Herbaceous a lot. Way more than I ever did. But when they announced the dice version of the game, I knew it would be a hard sell for her. The hatred she holds for dice games can never be overstated. They are the epitomy of evil in board games to her, and so I initially wrote this off as a game we’d never want to play.

Big mistake.

I’m beyond relieved that I had a chance to get the prototype version of this game because it was able to easily exceed my personal expectations for the game. Herbaceous is a light press-your-luck filler with small room for strategy, but Herbaceous Sprouts is a much more interesting game with much better decisions to be made over the course of the game. Not only did the game itself surprise me, but the solo mode for the game equally impressed. It is clear the designers took some of the core of the game of Herbaceous and tried to come up with a really fun and clever game that is uniquely its own game. This isn’t Herbacous with dice. This is Herbaceous Sprouts. It is fun and exciting and everything I would want this 20-30 minute game to be.

And, honestly, there isn’t more I need to say about the game. If you want a game that is borderline filler with some great and interesting decisions, set collection, and dice rolling fun then this will do a great job of filling that niche on your shelf. If you want something more press-your-luck like Herbaceous was, or a brain-burning game than this game probably isn’t going to satisfy you. But it still sounds interesting to you, then I definitely can recommend this one.

***

Hopefully you found this article to be a useful look at Herbaceous Sprouts. If you’re interested in providing support for Cardboard Clash so I can continue to improve what we offer, check out my page over on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/CardboardClash.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas
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Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:20 pm
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Top 25 Games: #25-21

David Wiley
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(Originally posted at: https://cardboardclash.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/top-25-games...)

I'll likely be making videos to correspond to this as well, going with a more off-the-cuff approach to explaining what I like about these games and why they make my list. So if you'd rather watch than read this, be sure to hop on over and subscribe to my YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeAEROIm_6EVd5MHbR5XRGQ).

The reason to do a Top 25 is simple: there are a ton of great games outside of my Top 10. I haven't played enough games to merit doing more than 25 (yet), and there are many games I want to play a second (or third) time to really nail down where they belong on the overall list. These rankings were determined about two weeks ago, and already there feels like there could be some fluctuation. This is a fluid list. The difference between #25 and #15 is, overall, marginal at best. The real jump in rank doesn't come until around #5-6, with those being the absolute elite games for me. And, as I play more games (I've gotten to just under 250 unique games so far) that range might expand to the entire Top 10 and beyond.

So without further ado, here we go! Come back every Friday for another batch of games:

#25 - Harvest, Published in 2017 by Tasty Minstrel Games. Designed by Trey Chambers. 2-4 Players.

This is my one and only audible I've called on the list since its creation. I enjoyed Harbour enough that I was immediately interested in this game since it was set in the same "world", but I was assured the two games were nothing alike beyond that. And boy, did that turn out to be very true. This is a small box worker placement game that has so much fun, depth, and replay value that it blows my mind thinking about it. I love this one so much that it has temporarily worn out its welcome with my wife, and that is saying a lot for a worker placement game. I clearly like this one way more than she does, and I'm okay with that.

What convinced me to audible this in here happened last night, actually. I taught four new players the game, which sadly left me out of playing it. But I enjoyed teaching it and hearing them all talking about it afterwards. They all enjoyed the game and wanted me to bring it again in the very near future to get a second play of the game. So much is packed into five rounds (with only two workers!) that it seems like it should be impossible to accomplish as much as you do. The action cards, the initiative cards, the buildings...all of these things work well together to make one of the best farming-themed games out there. Go ahead and tell me I'm wrong. If you haven't tried this one, you need to. For the price of this game, it is hard to find a better value out there.

#24 - Viticulture: Essential Edition, Published in 2015 by Stonemaier Games. Designed by Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone, with the solo Automa by Morten Monrad-Pedersen. 1-6 Players.

This game blew me away with just how much I enjoyed it. Sometimes a game comes along where the theme is so embedded into the mechanics that they flow well together, and this does it better than any other worker placement game I've ever seen. This is a tough one for new players - it really takes a few years of play to see how your early actions synchronize to allow you to harvest grapes, make them into wine, and then sell them as an order to gain regular income. Once it all clicks, though, this becomes a game that is easy to enjoy and get behind. The visitor cards can feel swingy, but they all can feel that way depending on your situation. I love that it is possible to win by focusing just on wines, and it is also possible to win by not filling any orders at all.

This happens to be one of the worker placement games that I do well at, which isn't a common thing to say. This game rewards planning ahead as well as being able to adapt on the fly based on the cards you get into your hand. I've played once with the Tuscany expansion and, I have to say, it is going to be a must-buy for me. It'll add even more complexity and depth to an already fun and enjoyable game, and after some time playing this with the expansion it will likely be a climber on this list.

#23- Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King, Published in 2015 by Mayfair Games/Lookout Games. Designed by Alexander Pfister and Andreas Pelikan. 2-5 Players.

This game effectively made it so I never need to play Carcassonne ever again. Not that it is a bad game, but rather this adds so much more meaningful decisions along the way in the same amount of play time. This is one of the few games in our collection that really plays a lot better with more than 2, but still works fine as a 2-player game. I love the integration of building your own little kingdom (and I do mean little!), bidding on tiles, and shifting scoring objectives. It is Carcassonne meets The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, the latter being a game I really love and it is one of two games that I truly regret removing from my collection. This game put the designer, Alexander Pfister, on my radar as one to really watch. It turns out that I really enjoy all of his games that I have played. And no, I haven't played Great Western Trail...yet.

This is the best of the tile-laying genre of games for me. Having to set your pricing right to either keep the tile(s) you want without overpaying or to price it just right to get every penny you can for it makes the game really interesting. This game likely has a forever spot in my collection, and is a go-to grab if we need a game to play in under an hour with 4-5 (as long as we aren't playing with someone who has serious A.P., which is something this game can really encourage...)

#22 - Aeon's End, Published in 2016 by Indie Boards & Cards and Action Phase Games. Designed by Kevin Riley. 1-4 Players.

When my wife says she likes a co-op game, I take notice because that is about as uncommon as her liking a dice-rolling game. I played it a few times, hitting solo, 2-player, and 4-player games of this and my initial reaction was lukewarm. It was a fine game. I liked the deckbuilding and how it never shuffled (even though a few times I caught myself shuffling out of habit!). This was a game that needed to soak in.

It has climbed up steadily based on memories of the game and a desire to jump back in again and experience it more in-depth. I've faced down two of the base Nemesis bosses. There are more to face, and a ton of expansions to try out. And boy, I want to try them all. I love a deckbuilder game and this is one of the better ones I've played. It was also the hardest one to place here. The first time I ran through PubMeeple's ranking system I did every game I played, and somehow this one landed at #7. That stuck out like a sore thumb. It didn't seem right. A game I didn't own, and hadn't played in months, being that high up? It was enough to make me take notice, though. I think this ranking is probably closer to where it belongs...at least until I get the game into my collection and can explore it at greater length...

If you like cooperative games or deckbuilders, this one is unique and interesting enough to merit some serious consideration.

#21 - The Castles of Burgundy, Published in 2011 by Ravensburger Games. Designed by Stefan Feld. 2-4 Players.

Remember the remark above about dice-rolling games? Yep, this one shocked me when she proclaimed she liked the game. We got it from the guy who taught it for $20, and it has been worth every penny. It is a game that has gradually grown on me, much like Aeon's End needed to. But I've come to not only enjoy the game, but want to actively try and play it.

Some say this is best with 4 because you'll see so many more tiles, making it easier to plan for what will eventually come out. I feel it overstays its welcome at that player count. The sweet spot here is 2, as it comes in at about an hour to play the game. I love the various paths you can take to victory, and that there are alternative sides to the player boards. They really alter how you approach what is available, and that makes this even more fun and replayable. I want to look into those mini-expansions, at the very least getting the new player boards into the collection. This is one of those best work night games, to bust out after the little one goes to bed, because it taxes the brain enough while also being quick enough with 2 players. There is a reason so many people talk about this game, although I wouldn't say it is my favorite Feld game...



And there you have it! The first five games. Were there any that surprised you? Feel free to discuss, either in the comments here or over on a thread designed for discussion of this Top 25 over on BGG (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/29176192#29176192)!
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Fri Jun 1, 2018 5:40 pm
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Solo Game Spotlight #2

David Wiley
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Welcome to the post with the least-helpful title in the series! I called for designers to reach out to me and let me know if they had a solo game they designed, and there were plenty of answers to that call. Some of them, such as Dungeon Crawler, have received their own little entry due to providing more information that just a link to their game on BGG. So these three posts (this one, #1 posted back on the 10th, and #3 on the 30th) will be sharing some of the games out there that you may not have heard about when it comes to solo gaming. Some are published, some are free to print and play, and one I’m including here because I am oh-so-excited for it and it is on Kickstarter right now.

If you have a solo game and want to appear in #3 this month, it isn’t too late to email me at: cardboardclash7@gmail.com

***

Nemo’s War by Chris Taylor

Jules Verne’s classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea tells the story of Captain Nemo and his astounding ship, the Nautilus. The second edition of Nemo’s War, Victory Point Games’ popular solitaire offering from designer Chris Taylor, is a greatly enhanced offering featuring mass-production printing and amazing Ian O’Toole art and graphics throughout.

Set in year 1870, you set sail in this amazing electric-powered submarine, assuming the role and motive of Captain Nemo as you travel across the seas on missions of science, exploration, anti-Imperialism, and War!

With this supercharged second edition of Nemo’s War, prepare yourself for the adventure of a lifetime!

Complexity: 3 on a 9 scale

Solitaire Suitability: 9 on a 9 scale

Scale: Time is measured in Action Points which represent approximately 1 week of real time; each encounter is with 1 major ship (its crew and contents) and each area is 1 Ocean.

Purchase link: https://www.victorypointgames.com/nemos-second-edition.html

***

Charlemagne, Master of Europe by Tom Russell

At the age of twenty-nine, Charles I became sole ruler of the Frankish Empire. What he did with that power over the course of the next forty-plus years is the stuff of legend. His unparalleled achievements in warfare, diplomacy, administration, and culture led to the sobriquet Carolus Magnus: Charles the Great: Charlemagne, King of the Franks and of the Lombards, and Emperor of the Romans.

In this solitaire strategy game, you assume the Frankish throne, and seek to duplicate – or exceed – Charlemagne’s singular genius, while hopefully avoiding some of his mistakes, such as the famous defeat at Roncevaux (immortalized in the Song of Roland). As you conquer new territory and incorporate it into your empire, you’ll need to contend with rebels and palace intriguers. Building public works and patronizing the Carolingian Renaissance will increase your prestige and wealth. Along the way you’ll need to win the support of the papacy, buy off Viking marauders, convert the pagans in Saxony, contend with incursions from Al-Andalus, build a powerful army, and maintain detente with the Byzantine Empire.

Gamers who are familiar with the game Agricola, Master of Britain will find many similarities between it and Charlemagne: Master of Europe, though this is a longer and more complex game, with its own nuances. The core mechanism of cup adjustments is of course alive and well. Chits representing enemy units reside in one of three cups representing how they feel about your rule: Friendly, Unfriendly, or Hostile. Chits are drawn from the hostile cup and placed on the map, manifesting themselves as overt challenges to your rule. Every action you take will subtly change their stance, blindly moving chits from one cup to another.

Purchase link: https://hollandspiele.com/products/charlemagne-master-of-eur...

***

Cobras by Chris and Suzanne Zinsli


Cobras are overrunning the village, so the authorities have put out a bounty on them. Seizing the opportunity, you have secretly begun breeding cobras for the extra income. However, your scheme won’t go unnoticed forever, and when the authorities cancel the program, any cobras you’re left with will bite you.

Cobras is a trick-taking game that is played over a series of rounds. The players who do not win a trick divide up the cobras shown on the cards that were played; the player who won the trick turns in their cobra tokens for points.

If you have any cobras in your basket when the round ends, you lose 1 point per cobra.

Add up your points from round to round. When a round ends with one or more players at 100 points or more, the game ends and the player with the most points wins.

Purchase link: https://cardboardedison.com/cobras/

***

Of the Woods: Lonely Game of Imagination by Brie Sheldon –

Of the Woods is a collection of six single-player lonely games. A lonely game is a game of questions to tell haunting, introspective, and quiet stories. The original game by Brie Sheldon, Locked Away, inspired the subsequent games by Kimberley Lam, Moyra Turkington, Meera Barry, Chris Bennett, and Adam McConnaughey, the last of which involves a tarot card mechanic. When you play a lonely game, you tell a story no one else has told – to keep locked away, or to share with others who are lonely, too.

Purchase from: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/209823/Of-the-Woods-Lone...

Other games can be found at: https://auramakesgames.itch.io/ and https://briecs.itch.io/

***

Death’s Door by Paul Ott


DEATH’S DOOR is an extremely challenging, semi-cooperative dungeon crawler with asymmetric objectives, dynamic stat engine, modular hex-grid board, and full character progression in one sitting. No GM required.

Number of players:

1-3 players for the Basic Edition game, and

1-6 players for the Deluxe Edition.

Time to play:

2-4 hours

Ages:

12+ (due to strategic elements)


The long version is:

Do you ever wonder where the very idea of werewolves and
trolls came from? Well, dear friend, allow me to illuminate.
No matter where, or when, you are reading this, surely you
know of great pyramids–every corner of earth has these
ancient remnants of the past. Tombs? Oh, how simple and
ignorant people of the past always seem to be. Tombs, yes,
but only for the archaeologists that discovered the hidden
stairs leading deep into the underground darkness. You see,
what is above ground is as the tip of an iceberg. Beneath
the ground these structures continued for leagues.

Created by civilizations still unknown to us today, these
grand pyramids are not tombs but prisons. They house the
worst–absolute evil–spirits and monsters. Infused with,
shall we say, magic, the labyrinthine dungeons allow the
world above to live and prosper without concern for zombies
and goblins.

Famous, powerfully driven adventures now find themselves
drawn down the hundred thousand dusty steps. As they
descend their very flesh and bones morph and mutate into
creatures of lost lore. At the bottom are three doors that
lead into a nightmarish dungeon that changes each time
new visitors arrive. Some work together to attempt to
destroy the terrifying evil within, while others seek eternal
glory through their own story.


The game is aimed to fill the niche of those who want strong character development and tactical combat in a fantasy setting, but in a non-campaign package. There’s tons of great fantasy games that are campaigns. Most of the one-offs either leave you feeling like your character is incomplete (if they even allow character development), or their target audience is kids due to the simplicity of play.

We have:

– Multiclassing. Add two classes to your character as you play allowing for many combinations and styles of play. 24 classes total, although they will be divided between the core game and the expansion.

– Unique objectives. Each player has their own individual objectives. They can work together, or not. Everyone wins if the Final Boss dies, and if they fail then the most points wins.

– Cutthroat scenario. An optional Cutthroat scenario without the “Everyone wins when Final Boss dies” win condition, where only most points wins.

– Hex grid. As other strategy games have shown, a hex grid allows for more fluid and natural movement and positioning.

– Modular board. Players freely build the board as they play, deciding where they want to explore, if they want to team up or go solo.

– Depth. Varied and position attacks, soul-crushing traps, diverse monsters, and three extremely challenging Final Bosses.

Since it is a non-campaign game, we’ve worked hard to make the game intuitive enough to be picked up and learned in one sitting. And, based on feedback from the two conventions we’ve demo’d our prototype, we’ve hit our target.

The target audience is:

– People who like fantasy games (tabletop, video games, board games, and card games)


– People who like challenging games (like Dark Souls)


– People who like competitive games (including wargames)


– People who like strategy games (including Civilization)

– People who like solo games

– People who like miniatures


For solo games, the player picks two characters and tries to defeat the Boss, which is extremely hard. Additionally, each time you rest there is a 50% chance of adding either a monster or trap to the Boss’s room. So you have to play as carefully as possible, which means analysis paralysis is not only fine, but encouraged and a big part of the fun. I spend lots of time dreaming up combos.


The website, facebook page, and general promotional materials are currently in development, but here is where they will be:

http://8d-art.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DEATHSDOORGAME


***

The Abandons by Michael Blascoe

Have you ever felt like someone was calling you but nobody was there? A voice deep within the crevices of your mind that you typically give little attention. You felt that voice this morning, but this time, it was clear – it was calling you! The voice became loud enough to gnaw at your sanity yet it’s manageable enough that you’ve been able to bury it.

Time seemed to move in slow-motion, mostly due to the eerie voice. What is it saying? It can’t be real. Frustrated, you keep working. Even with the lingering storm clouds ready to unleash a torrent of rain and thunder over the land, you fight that possibility and continue.

Towards the end of the day you hit a breaking point. You need to clear your head. The storm clouds are passing, it looks like a great time for a walk to the countryside. You run to your home and grab your satchel, which contains some odds and ends. As you start moving west towards the setting sun, you turn around to face your home, possibly for the last time. You don’t care. The need to escape is too much. The need to escape the voice is even greater. Yet, the need to follow the voice is consuming! You’re ready for an adventure. You’re ready for the unknown. Little do you realize, you may end up alone. Welcome to…THE ABANDONS!

The Abandons is a press-your-luck game of exploration meant to be played alone. You will traverse the twists and turns of the labyrinth in the hopes of making it out alive. Be careful, your next turn may be your last – and you shall forever be abandoned!

The goal of The Abandons is to make it out of the maze alive by reaching the exit before you’ve reached too many dead ends and have no way out!

—description from the publisher

***

The Prime-Minister by Ippokratis Gnostopoulos

In the game you act as the Prime-Minister of Greece. During a 4 years loop you take actions to solve crisis, develop your cabinet and implement you policies. Your work is depicted in 10 different scales (Corruption, GDP, Left voters, Right voters, USA/Russia affiliation, Balkan peace index, Party support, Security, Syndicates, European Union, Media control). The loop ends with the election day: if you win, congratulations! You continue in office for another four years! If you lose, the game ends and you score a combination of your years in office and the state of the country. You can compare your outcome with the current world leaders and check your ranking against the 80 most advanced countries according to the world happiness index. Some of the game mechanics are deck building, hand management, push your luck, card drafting, action point allowance and modular/modifiable board.

There is a Legacy – campaign mode, where, starting from 1964, you lead the country through the opportunities and the difficulties of the last 50 years. In this mode each election loop has its own modified rules and conditions that are known to the player only for the next 4 years. The front page of a newspaper on the next of the election day guides you through the rules, as well the political environment of the coming era.

The game is still in the early stages of development and my next goal is to finalize the rules and give it for external playtesting. Future goals include Legacy modes for other countries (USA, Great Britain, Germany).

***

Quest: Awakening of Melior by Andrew Wilson

For as long as anyone remembers, Melior has been a mundane, magicless medieval world, but crystals have been falling from the sky, and a year ago, a pale moon appeared, alighting the crystals and the world with rippling magical energy.

Face encounters in the Meltwood Forest—once a normal patch of woods now reshaped by a melting rain that fused animals, plants, people, and everything it dripped on—Glowmount—a massive crystal that fell from the sky and was carved into a castle by dwarves and then taken over by humans, now glowing with the new magic and twisting its denizens into crazy, crystalline beings—and the Shadow Caves—a sinewy series of passages shaped by memory and imagination, dark with the fears of the world but strangely accommodating and cathartic.

Quest: Awakening of Melior is a single-player expandable game of cards, dice, and adventure. Play as a character against Glowmount, Meltwood, and Shadow Caves encounters, using Combat, Survival, and Intellect statistics against the encounters in order to defeat them and continue your journey. Roll dice to complete combos for both you and the encounters you face, altering those statistics. Before each encounter, an event card comes into effect. The deeper you delve, the more likely an event will be a Quest—complete a QUEST, and you gain the glory and win the game. Be wary of the Diamond Knights, the Meltwolf Packs, the Agony Bats, and more—when an encounter defeats you, it reduces your hit points. Run out of hit points, and you lose the game.

Variants offer gameplay options for multiplayer play as well, either cooperative or competitive.

From the designer: The game is technically available through distribution in the U.S. through PHD, though their stock is kind of low. (Hopefully they’re restock at some point!) I’ve also been selling copies to people who’ve contacted me through email. The MSRP is $25, and I sell PnP files for $5.

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Wed May 23, 2018 6:52 pm
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Interview with Giles Pound from Both Sides of my Table

David Wiley
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(Originally posted at: https://cardboardclash.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/interview-wi...)

Today we’re shifting gears a little and having an interview from a guy in England who only covers solo gaming on his blog. That’s right, I managed to corner Giles Pound from Both Sides of My Table for a few minutes to get some insightful and interesting answers out of him. He definitely has a unique style of writing that can be entertaining and enlightening at the same time, so be sure to check out what he’s up to (links at the end of the post):

***

1. The industry is full of content creators who try to grab and review as much content as they can. What inspired you to focus solely on solitaire play?

Oooooh…starting with the most trixy of questions…it was almost by chance that I chose solo gaming. By that I mean that pretty much all the games I have are, in some way or other, solo games or solo variants so it was inevitable that this would be my focus. It really all started when I did a write up for Hall or Nothing’s Gloom of Kilforth landed on my table last October (2017) and I felt compelled to share the game experience. I hadn’t set out with any goal or focus…and although there are numerous reviewers, both written and video, that I have followed for several years, I didn’t think of this as a conscious attempt to be one of them…it was something that emerged from my meandering narrative.

2. What lessons have you learned since your first blog post?

I’m mot sure I have learnt any lessons…not that I am arrogant and think I know everything…more along the lines of me continuing to make blunders. There are internal battles I have to learn to overcome such as the vast number of games coming on to the market and, having almost zero gaming budget, knowing I can never keep up with the ‘new’. Sadly this means that I have to accept that I will never be a ’current’reviewer. I mostly write about games I feel inspired to write about on that particular day and waffle on in my own way (some folks enjoy that, which is great, and I have listened to what little feedback I have been given to improve things, but being a solo gamer and very much an outsider of a very large, established network of gaming types, I find my self just muddling along in my own way.

3. What is your favorite thing about solo gaming? How about the solo gaming community?

Solo gaming is the only opportunity I have of finding sensible conversation…no that’s not strictly true…me, myself and I frequently break down into heated discussions over even simple things like which game to actually play next. Playing solo firstly means I can play where, when, for as long and as often as I get a gaming urge without the need for travelling great distances (I live in a rural area and 20 odd miles away from the nearest gaming meet up) As I like solo variants of multiplayer games, I get to experience that multiplayer game without the fuss of organising meets ups with people who want to play the same game. As for the community…sadly I have mixed feelings here. i have experienced some unpleasant, very Alpha gaming attitudes on the likes of kickstarter comments sections and especially on BGG (this latter shocked me because I thought joining the player guild would be a fun experience…I was mistaken and rarely visit BGG there days unless I go to a game’s page to find out info)…but the solo gaming type people I have come to know on witter, of all places, are lovely supportive people so it is not all bad.

4. What are some of the games you’ve played that blew way past your expectations? What was it about those games that bumped them up a few notches on that die-roll rating?

I get a great buzz from many games and get so many different experiences from the fairly broad range of games I own. The first that blew me away was Gloom of Kilforth. So many elements coming together perfectly for my tastes. Superb art from Ania, High end fantasy, very much a sandbox exploration adventure experience, ease of play and story telling. Oh and having met Tristan couple of times along the way to the projects journey to fulfilment, ade it a more personal game…absolute top bloke…oh and Mrs Ninjadoerg too, Francesca Hall’s amazing OST…I just love games that have their own sound track. There has been a similar feeling with frank West’s City of Kings…a very different game but still a great experience. I was impressed by Rise to Nobility but I am saving that for a later answer. GMT games have several that are just a wonderful experience to play too. These, however, are somewhat ponderous in the undertaking. Liberty or d=Death and Labyrinth Awakening are heavy going but brilliant…and the Bot action flowcharts really present a difficult opponent…mustn’t forget Fields of Fire. A proper solo wargame at squad operation level…a minefield of. Rule book but a game that actually plays very well. I die so many times but still come back for more (although I have not intentionally, not written a less than positive review on any game, this is down to the fact that there are only 3 game purchases I have been disappointed with…none of which have a solo variant and 2/3 have already been dispatched to a location other than my shelf…I am quite selective, thorough in researching a title before I buy)

5. If someone is newer to solo gaming, what are some first games you would recommend they try? This could include PnP games, published games, etc.


New to solo gaming…eeeek. I am not sure how to advise without knowing what the player wants from solo gaming. PnP is a cheap option if someone is happy crafting their own components…I have a shed load of PnP from simple card games to several of Hollandspiel Games titles to a giant playtest of Gandhi (upcoming COIN game).. if they are not new to gaming I would suggest looking for a multiplayer game that has a good solo variant so that id solo is not for them, at least there is a game that can be taken to group night but again actual titles would be very much dependant on then level of complexity they would be looking for. Have I skirted the question sufficiently without committing myself? The Exiled:Siege, Zephyr Winds of Change (Portal Dragon), Robinson Crusoe Cursed Isle (Z Man), Tau Ceti (Outer Limits), Liberty or Death & Labyrinth Awakening (GMT), Dwarves:The Saga (Pegasus Spiele), Gloom of Kilforth (Hall or Nothing) 21 days (Erik Winkelmann) and Tuscany(Stonemier Games) all excellent solo variants. Pure solo games I think Nemo’s War (VP Games although this has an added , slightly contrived co-op variant), Fields of Fire (GMT) and Charlemagne Master of Europe (Hollandspiele) are great examples.

6. Who are some of your favorite solo designers that you’d recommend other solo gamers go and stalk? Let’s raise some awareness about the excellent work they do!

I don’t really have a particular favourite designer as such. I would not go and buy a game just because a particular name is on it. The game needs to fit first and foremost. That said, I would recommend stalking Tristan Hall….no don’t do that…appreciate his work but I would never suggest stalking…mind you I do at cons he is attending…lol. Frank West is a great guy, very accommodating and worthy of attention as is NigelKennington (designer of Carcosa…A Cthulhu like carcasonne game but with a great solo variant that, in my view is actually better than the multiplayer original)…a great chap to chat to at cons. Andrew Harman of Yay games (not really solo but still worthy of a mention), the delightful folks at Estonian 2d6EE Games are producing some great smaller scale games many of which are soloable or, after I put some pressure on them, have introduced solo modes to their up and coming Dwarven Traders) and Laurie Philips (designer of the COIN Tribes’ Revolt that gives a GMT COIN game experience in just nine cards… is currently working on Bots to make this fully soloable)

7. Let’s talk mechanics for a moment: What mechanics, such as worker placement or deck building, are guaranteed to catch your interest? What ones might have a harder time convincing you to try them?

What catches my attention? Often a theme or art style grabs me first…then I have to scrutinise it with a fine scroot…to see if the concept/gameplay is something that would appeal to my inner gamer…so there is no particular system/mechanic that instantly draws me in. A good use of mechanics to help consolidate a theme helps bring a game to the top of the ‘notice me’ pilea. I do so hate, with a growing passion, a standard, dull, mediocre mechanic that has some glossy franchised veneer pated all over it to sell a mundane product with out any consideration made for creating a real link between the theme and how the game plays. I generally don’t like deckbuilders. I don’t object to an element of deck building/manipulation but, and as popular as Dominion is, I am not a huge fan. I regret trading it now, but I used to like Rune Age with the expansion…I think, perhaps, because it had more than just building a deck to score VP’s…and I do like that whole Rune world the created. (Not on a solo gaming theme but I am not a huge word game fan but have been impressed by Paper Back (bought for Mrs P who is a massive word game fan)….aaaaaah! I like a wordy deckbuilder! I will be tossed into the firey pit of damnation for such a crime!…Length and Wit (Tinderbox Entertainment) is also a wordgame I like, using laser cut wooden tiles and letter dice….sooo tactile. Very much a push your luck affair but no down time) Aah! I just remembered I hate auction/bidding but fortunately that doesn’t find its way into solo play much…but that would be the area where hard sell would be required to win me over. A bidding solo!

8. What sort of experience do you look for in a solo game (such as a beat-your-high-score, etc.)? Why?

Hahaaaa! You said those ‘hateful’ few words. Beat your Own Score. What a completely pointless wast of cardboard. I most definitely require a purpose for playing a game and beating my own score just isn’t the incentive to bring me back for a second play. Rise to Nobility (Final Frontier) has simply but cleverly introduced a way around this in their worker placement game. They have a deck of random solo win objectives. There is a varying in total to achieve but also certain criterion set down to enable victory. Now there is a purpose. Each game plays very differently as the goals are different with each play. They are very difficult to achieve but do force you to use different parts of the gameboard you might otherwise avoid in multiplayer. The Automa in Tuscany is really a basic blocker mechanic added to the beat your own solo game but it has been so well constructed that it really messes with your strategies and the whole game is complex, think on your feet a race against the ever increasing VP score of Automa (it nicely introduces a difficulty scaling too) So what do I look for in a solo game? A- Purpose. Why am I doing what I am doing? Are the mechanics relative to the theme? B- Theme. I like a coherent theme that links to A (if it is a purely abstract game, then let it be purely abstract and be gone you pretentious glossy veneers) C- Excitement/Adventure. A narrative or story telling. By that I do not mean as part of the game/role play but the gameplay itself tells a story D- A sense of achievement. I don’t want a game to be so easy that it doesn’t challenge me but also not so incredibly complex or difficult that success is nigh on impossible. A challenge that when it is finally overcome, fills me with a feeling of deep satisfaction.

9. Finally, since you are a fellow content creator, what are some other reviewers, etc. that solo gamers should go and read/watch/listen to that touch upon solo gaming?

Off the top of my head I would recommend Beyond Solitaire & Shiny Happy Meeples for both video & blog ’must’ viewing. As for blogs themselves Single Handed & jambalayaplaysgames. For Video playthroughs Catweazel is most entertaining, Rolling Solo, Solomode Games, Solo McLaughlin, One Stop Co-op Shop and obviously Sir Ricky of Royal- Box of Delights

10. Where can people find Both Sides of My Table?

Both Sides of My Table is in the most rural of deepest Shropshire, UK…but is much easier to find at https://bothsidesofmytable.com and there is a facebook page/group where notifications of new items are announced https://www.facebook.com/groups/1796626697310269/https://www.facebook.com/BSoMT.2018/

***

Thank you so much to Giles for his time answering these questions. Be sure to check out what he’s been doing over at Both Sides of My Table, as he’s covered a pretty extensive number of solo-worthy games in a short span of time! And if you appreciate his work, be sure to check out his Patreon page as well: https://www.patreon.com/bothsidesofmytable
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Wed May 23, 2018 6:33 pm
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A Guild for Cardboard Clash!

David Wiley
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I have a guild now over on BGG! Drop by and say hello. While you're there, check out the interviews I have coming up and feel free to chime in with some questions you'd like me to ask them! https://boardgamegeek.com/guild/3307
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Tue May 22, 2018 7:55 pm
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Review for One - Sprawlopolis

David Wiley
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Thank you for checking review #54 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

An Overview of Sprawlopolis

Sprawlopolis is a game designed by Steven Aramini, Danny Devine, and Paul Kluka and iss published by Button Shy Games. The listing on BGG states that it can play 1-4 players and has a 15-20 minute play time.

Jackhammers chattering, trucks beeping, engines roaring, the sounds of construction are everywhere. Sprawlopolis is growing and YOU are in charge of it all. The last team of planners couldn’t cut it, so the city turned to your team, the best of the best. If anyone can turn this tiny town into a thriving civic center it’s you.

In Sprawlopolis, 1-4 players work together to build a new city from the ground up. Using only 18 cards and a variable scoring system, the game is never the same twice. Each turn, players will play 1 card from their hand to the growing city, trying to score as many points as possible. Players will have to communicate and plan without revealing their own cards in order to most efficiently develop large areas in each of the 4 zone types. Watch out though, the city hates paying for road maintenance so each road will cost you points in the end. When all cards have been placed, the game ends and player see if they have met dynamically generated minimum score for their game. Can you meet the demands of the officials, work with your fellow planners and build the ultimate urban wonder? It’s time to find out!

-description from publisher

Setup and gameplay for 1 Player



The game is hilariously simple in both aspects, yet mind-numbingly hard to win. If that appeals to you, read on!

Shuffle the 18 cards and randomly draw 3 to put face-up on their scoring objective. These are the unique ways you can score points (in addition to the standard ones, outlined later). Deal yourself 3 cards to form your hand and then place the top card from the deck in the center of the table to form the beginning of your city.

On your turn you place a card and then draw a card. This pattern is repeated until all cards have been drawn and played (essentially, you play 14 cards). The card can only be placed horizontally, so you can’t turn it sideways. A card can either be placed so that at least one zone is orthogonally adjacent to an existing card , or it can be placed with at least one zone covering an existing card’s zone. You cannot tuck a card, nor place it so that it is only diagonally adjacent to another card.

At the end of the game you get 1 point for each square of zone in the largest grouping for all 4 zone types. You lose 1 point for each new road. And then you score based on the 3 special scoring conditions. If your score is higher than the sum of the 3 scoring objective numbers (they range 1-18) then you win!

My Thoughts

Variability is king in this game. You wouldn’t think that a 10-15 minute game with only 18 cards total could be so variable, but there are literally hundreds of variations on what three scoring factors you will use in the game (816, according to the Kickstarter). That is an amazing number to consider, and that means you could play this game twice a day, using a different combination, every day for a year and still not play each possible combination. Mind. Blown.



Those ******* roads. I don’t normally curse, but nearly every game I find myself losing 6-8 points from the ineffective way I built my city. While I hate them in the moment, I absolutely love that you lose points for them and, therefore, need to find a way to juggle making longer roads and large zones and the three scoring objectives. It is nice when said objectives work well with those aspects, but they don’t always.

The rules on this game are simple and straight-forward. One quick skim through the book was all it took for me to be off and running. As much as I don’t mind slogging through a 15-20 page rulebook to learn a game, sometimes it is nice to be able to open and start playing a game within 10 minutes of getting it.

You have meaningful decisions along the way thanks to the hand size of 3. Decisions would be agonizing if you could play any remaining card at any time. Decisions would seem pointless, at times, if you only had 1 card in your hand to play. Even when your cards don’t align with your long-term goals, it never feels as though you’re restricted by the gameplay. It helps being able to play over parts of existing cards, allowing you to set up for a future play.

This is a “beat your own high score” done right. That is normally a solo game experience I dislike, as I prefer competition against something. And it gives you something: a number to beat. It could be as low as 6 or as high as 51. I saw someone mention they beat the game using the highest three numbers and then lost against the lowest three. That shouldn’t even be possible. This is a unique solo puzzle, and for that it merits a place in any collection for a solo gamer.

This is a player issue, not a game issue, but it can be easy to be blinded in this game. I do the same thing in Kingdom Builder sometimes: you have 3 objectives that score points at the end and they change every game. I pour 100% into one, about 40% into a second one, and usually the third one I remember with about a turn to go. I am horrible at both games, no surprise there, yet I really enjoy them both a lot as well. If you tend to get caught up in progressing one area to the detriment of others, you might experience this as well.



Functional is the best way to describe this game. There is variety in the scoring, sure. And each card is unique…sort of. They all have each of the four zones. They all have roads running through the cards. There are no special ones that are longer zones, or even interesting problems to work around with the roads (there is some variety in having curves, but nothing especially tricky in there). There is a lot of repetition in here that causes them all to blend together after a while, which is a shame because the initial reaction is that this is a great-looking set of cards.

I know this is a microgame. It is designed to use as few things as possible. And yes, there are a ton of scoring conditions that change from game to game. Yet, at the end of the day, there is a lot of repetitive sameness in the game itself. If you like pursuing new strategies or competing against a friend, you’re out of luck here. This game excels at what it tries to do, but there is a limit to what it accomplishes because of the microgame format.

Final Thoughts


Let’s not mince words here: this game is a frustratingly fun and elegant design. It reminds me of playing SimCity on the PC, a game I was never very good at but also enjoyed playing. The same could be said right now for Sprawlopolis: I enjoy the game in spite of my terrible skill level. I’m pretty sure I am the worst Spawlopolis player on the planet, having managed only a single victory in all of my plays. Yet there has never been a time when I wasn’t having fun during the process of building my little 15-card city.

The variety in this game is mind-blowing, and I love the variance in both scoring and objectives that comes with every play of the game. They are both the best and worst part of the game: the best because every session feels different, and the worst because they can easily detract you from the static scoring conditions. My personal Achilles heel is trying to form blocks of 4 (in a square) of the same type of zone. I have had this appear, shockingly, on 50% of my plays. I’m yet to come close to winning any of them when this is in the mix.

As a solo gamer, I’m not usually one for games that task you with just trying to achieve a high score. However, this game does things in such an interesting way that I can’t see that ever getting old. Your score threshold to even win is going to change with every game, moving every time you get a new set of objectives to chase after. The bar is always shifting, making you try different approaches to building your little city with every play. Even after playing several times in a row, this game doesn’t wear out its welcome as a solo game. It is incredibly fast to setup or reset that busting out a few games is easy to do in an evening or even as a before-bed routine.

This won’t go down as the best microgame I’ve ever played, but it is definitely high up there. This was my first exposure to a Button Shy game, but it definitely won’t be the last. In terms of value for the price you pay compared to the experience you get, this game is off the charts. The gameplay in this package is worth many times more than the cost to purchase this game, making it a no-brainer to pick up for a solo gamer. If you enjoy cooperative games, this should also hit all of the right spots for you and your play group. If Circle the Wagons is even half as good as Sprawlopolis, then the picking these two games up will be the best $20 you can spend on board games. Period.

***

Hopefully you found this article to be a useful look at Sprawlopolis. If you’re interested in providing support for Cardboard Clash so I can continue to improve what we offer, check out my page over on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/CardboardClash.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas
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Mon May 21, 2018 10:23 pm
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Interview with Scott Allen, Designer of Pocket Landships

David Wiley
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(Originally posted at: https://cardboardclash.wordpress.com/2018/05/17/interview-wi...)

If you missed it, yesterday I did a highlight of just some of the games that Scott Allen has designed. Be sure to check those out, as they are all available to print out and play! He was also kind enough to answer some questions for me, and so here is our interview:


1. What inspired you to design games playable only as a solitaire experience?

As I think back, I have to credit Todd Sanders for designing so many great solo print ‘n play games. I think sort of subconsciously, he probably inspired me, or at least demonstrated that a game designer can be successful by designing primarily solo games.

In addition, it was sort of following a natural flow:
•Most of my game designs are for Boardgamegeek.com contests. For those contests, solo games are easier for people to playtest – since they don’t need to recruit other people to play some unknown game they just printed out. This means in most contests, the solo game designs get played more.
•As a designer, it’s easier for me to playtest the design if it is a solo game.

2. You’ve done several 9-card nanogame designs. What do you enjoy about designing for that format? What are some of the unique challenges that come from having only 9 cards?

Four things I enjoy about the 9-card nanogame design contests are:
•The design constraint. As a designer, I struggle with a wide open “canvas” of no design constraints. I think putting constraints on a design is a good thing. And maybe (as I think about it more), it’s sort of a defense mechanism too. If I can only use 9 cards, you can’t expect me to design the next Gloomhaven, or Scythe, or Spirit Island, or whatever. So, in that way, I can design a game with less pressure of it being compared to a “real” game.
•The ease of modifying your own game as the design progresses. I’ve designed one larger board game (Highlands, with a game board, a player mat, and 2 decks of cards), and as you are designing a game like that, at least once you get past the hand written prototypes, making changes takes a lot of effort, and that may discourage you from making changes you know you should make. In a 9 card game, the whole game fits on one sheet of paper, so there is very little effort in changing the game.
•The ease of playtesting other designers games. I want to be a good “citizen” in the design contests, and that means playing other designers’ games. With only 9 cards, that’s easy to do, so I am able to playtest a lot more games than in some of the bigger format contests.
•It’s a very well run contest (run by “Kingspud” Joseph Propati) with a very good community of designers participating, so it’s just a pleasure to spend time with those folks and help them with their designs as they help me with mine.

The unique challenge is the obvious one – how to fit a fun, engaging game in only 9 cards. So, it usually leads to double sided cards, multi-use cards, and other inventive solutions. It forces the designer to be creative, and I think that is a good thing.

3. What about the Mint Tin design contest, which you’ve done a few times now as well. What do you enjoy about designing for that format? What are some of the unique challenges that come from having such a small footprint for components?

The answers are probably the same as the 9 card contest: design constraint, ease of modifying the small footprint game, ease of playtesting other games, and a well run contest by “R4D6”.

The interesting constraint is balancing components: more dice means less room for cubes, or cards, or whatever. So, it’s a constraint the designer has more control over, which makes it interesting. If I want 40 cards, that means I’ll only have room for a few cubes and probably no dice. If I want a lot of dice, I will have to limit the number or size of the cards.

This contest also is special for me because it was the first BGG design contest I participated in back in 2015.

4. Falcon Master was a game that caught my attention from the title. What inspired you to design a game around falconry? Did you have to do a lot of research in the process of designing that game?

The original inspiration for the game was actually another entry in the same contest (the 2016 Solitaire PnP contest – which is another of my 3 favorite design contests on BGG, expertly run by Chris Hansen). The game is called Artisans, by Chris Alton “The Painted Goblin”. In that solo game, the player collects materials, then builds items for victory points. I wanted to take that one step further somehow – collect material, build an item, then use the item to score points. I bounced around a few ideas, then settled on falconry. I am not a falconer, but have always admired that hobby/sport/lifestyle from a distance.

fALCONI didn’t HAVE to do a lot of research, I GOT to do a lot of research while designing this game. In other words, it wasn’t a chore, it was very enjoyable. For example, one source was the “Book of Saint Albans” from 1486 which lists a hierarchy of falcons based on the falconer’s social status – from a priest to a poor man to a young man to a squire, etc. So, I used that hierarchy to rank the falcons used in the game.

5. I understand you’ve signed your first game, Pocket Landship, to get published. Walk us through that experience of finding out your game was going to get published.

Pocket Landship (a 9 card contest game) has sort of struck a chord with a lot of people, and that is very flattering to me. Last time I checked, I think people from something like 22 countries around the world have rated the game, commented on the game, or recorded plays on BGG.

When I saw that a new game publishing company, Side Room Games, was looking for games to publish, I figured that of my game designs, Pocket Landship probably has the best chance of success. My thought process specifically with submitting to Side Room games was just “They are just starting out, and I have never had a game published before, so maybe we’ll be a good fit for each other.” Pocket Landship is a small game, so I thought working with a smaller publisher would be a logical way to go.

So, I submitted the game to Side Room Games in early December. From there, it wasn’t all of a sudden I got signed, it was more gradual. Dustin Culbertson made first contact with me through e-mail. We had some good discussions about the game, then he introduced me to other members of the Side Room Games team. They took the time to get to know the game, and poke and prod, and ask questions, and suggest improvements, which I appreciated.

In early January, I received sort of a verbal commitment from Dustin, then a few weeks later we had both signed the agreement.

It’s been great working with Side Room Games to improve and expand the game, and I’m sure my involvement will continue in the months ahead.

6. What can you share with us about the design of the published version of Pocket Landship (name, setting, changes from the PnP version, Kickstarter date, etc.)

The base mechanics from Pocket Landship are definitely still the core of the game, but we’re adding in some ship/player powers as well as some new enemy types. The original Pocket Landship game was 9 cards, then I made an expansion, “Pocket Landship: The Second Front” that added 9 more cards. I would guess that the published game will be in the 25-35 card range, and we are planning on larger tarot size cards with professional art and graphic design as well. The solo game is shaping up as 3 player cards versus 9 enemy cards.

Another planned change that I am looking forward to is a 2 player co-op mode – two player vehicles (3 cards each) against probably 12 enemies.

When I started designing the original game, I was thinking of a World War 2 tank theme. But, as I was searching for public domain art to use for the game, I stumbled on World War 1 tank art by Muirhead Bone. So, it was sort of by accident that the theme (and name) of this game is related to World War 1. But, Pocket Landship is not a historical WWI game. It’s not Great Britain against Germany, it’s not based on a specific battle. I read that in total, Germany only deployed about 20 tanks in World War 1, so tank battles during that war were not common. So, in a way Pocket Landship has always been set in sort of a fantasy or alternative reality. So, we are planning on continuing that a bit.

I enjoy some steampunk styles and art, but I think it’s a setting that is getting pretty saturated. So, we basically just continued down the timeline: What’s after the steampunk era and World War 1? Dieselpunk – think of it as an alternatives 1920s – 1940s where internal combustion engines have replaced the steam power from steampunk. So, our plan is to have the game set in a dieselpunk style world with the player commanding an airship (or aership, or aeroplane, etc.), and the enemy as some sort of automatons, robots, etc.

There’a a bit of a risk with this plan, right? We can’t call the game Pocket Landship anymore, since there won’t be landships in the game. And, if the main draw of the game was the theme, we’re changing that as well. Side Room Games and I believe that there is more to the popularity of Pocket Landship than the setting, so we hope the gaming public sees that as well and enjoys the new theme, vehicles, and enemies.

The working title for the to be published game is “Pocket Airships”, although that is not finalized.

There is not a firm Kickstarter launch date, but Side Room Games is planning for this fall.

7. Highlands is a game that, according to its description, was inspired by Scythe. What aspects of Scythe do you feel this game captured? How did you decide to use Chess game pieces as part of the design? Beyond those who love Scythe, who else would be the intended audience for this unique game?

Scythe is my favorite board game, and what I like most about it is the combination of:
•Simple choices each turn (move, build, upgrade, etc.), but a lot of depth in the decision making by the player
•The tactile satisfaction of moving the miniatures around the board, and even moving a cube from the top part of the player board to the bottom
•Multiple paths to victory

So, those are the main parts of Scythe that I tried to capture in Highlands.

In my opinion the biggest (maybe the only) drawback to Scythe as a solo game is its size and set up time. All those cool mechs and cubes, and bits, and 5 decks of cards, and coins naturally take a while to set up. That’s not a big deal in a multiplayer game, but for solo, it’s more than I prefer. So, for Highlands there are only 2 decks of cards: one is like the objective deck, and the other is like a combination of the encounter deck, automa deck, and combat card deck.

Ever since I stumbled upon the Lewis chessmen, I have been fascinated by them: made my Vikings or descendants of Vikings probably in the 1100’s, discovered in Scotland in the 1800’s. So, I couldn’t resist using them to get that tactile miniature sensation in a PnP game. And, since they were discovered in Scotland, I thought that setting the game in 1100’s or so Scotland was a great choice.

In Highlands, the King piece is like the character piece in Scythe. The Queen and Bishop are more similar to buildings (immovable, un-attackable), the Knight and Rook are similar to mechs in Scythe, and the Pawns are like workers.

My original design was actually played on a chessboard, and I still like that idea. I imagine bringing a deck of custom cards and a player mat on vacation, and if your destination (bed & breakfast, AirBnB, Aunt Edna’s, etc.) has a chess set, you are all set to play a game.

8. The Count of Nine is part of the current contest running for the 9 card microgame contest on BGG. You’ve designed a game that is definable as a eurogame with just 9 cards, no other components, and is a solo game. Tell me more about the idea to make the game and the struggles to do so with just 9 cards and nothing else.

It comes back to that word I’ve used a lot: constraints. Before the 9 card contest this year, there was a lot of discussion on expanding the number of components allowed (which is fine), but I just decided to go in the opposite direction. So, I just piled constraint on top of constraint: a solo eurogame seemed like a fun challenge, then on top of that, no components.

The struggle was fitting a whole euro game onto 9 cards. I did it by using both sides of the cards, and splitting each side of the card into 4 sections: 2 structures and 2 resources. So, on the front sides of the cards, there are a total of 18 structures to choose from and 18 resources available to build them. Then, when a card is discarded, it is flipped so the player has access to the resources and structures on the back side of the cards too.

9. What advice would you give to someone wanting to try their hand at designing a solo game, especially for one of these great BGG contests?

If you want to participate in BGG contests as a designer, start now as a playtester. There is almost always at least one contest going on. So, go playtest a few games, give feedback. You’ll be helping other designers, but it will also help you see what’s all involved in the contests: designing a game that works, that’s fun, that people want to play, art, graphic design, writing rules, answering questions on the forum, etc.

Specifically for solo games, the designer usually has to make sure to design in tension. In multi-player games, the other players typically provide the tension. In solo games, the designer needs to add in the tension. That could be some sort of timer (a certain number of turns), or some sort of AI (artificial intelligence). For example, in Highlands, the enemy moving in to surround your castle provides the tension while you as the player is trying to move around and earn victory points.

10. Finally, where can people go to find out more about the games you’ve designed, to get updates on Pocket Landship, and just to find you on social media in order to keep up with what you’re working on next?

The easiest place to find my games is Boardgamegeek.com. My designer page that contains all my finished designs is at: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamedesigner/85262/scott

Boardgamegeek members can contact me directly via “geekmail” (private message).

I don’t have a social media presence for my game designs, since up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t need one. So, I will just point you to Side Room Games:

www.sideroomgames.com

@sideroomgames

https://www.facebook.com/sideroomgames/
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Mon May 21, 2018 7:38 pm
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