In July 2017, the game publisher CoolMiniOrNot made a surprise announcement by offering on Kickstarter, A Song of Ice and Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game. This is not the first time that this publisher has offered a miniatures game, but the risk is always great, especially when we say that it is a niche market. Here, the risk seems diminished by the use of one of the most loved and prolific licenses of recent years: Game of Thrones.
The game takes place at the beginning of the "War of the Five Kings". The game is not linked to the TV series but directly to the books of G.R.R. Martin (hence the visual of the heroes). Moreover, the author has followed the project closely as a consultant. CMON, for the occasion, is associated with the company Dark Swords Miniature (which already has had experience in this universe) for the creation of the figurines. Many sculptors and artists have contributed to the project. On a rules level, we find Michael Shinall (Rum & Bones) under the supervision of Eric Lang (Rising Sun, Blood Rage, Arcadia Quest). In the basic starter, the players are at the head of one of the big revival houses: either the Starks or the Lannisters. To enlarge their army, they can recruit troops in other houses such as Tully, Bolton, Ombles (especially thanks to expansions). For now, the choice is focused on these two big houses. To see more ... Competition is tough in the world of miniature. So apart from the big names and the license, is it worth the interest?
Let's start with what is certainly the most important element in a game of this type, the miniatures! The starter contains more than a hundred (103). Like many games, they are hard plastic. The big advantage of this range is that they are pre-assembled. No need to know much about the game, or to spend long hours of assembling pieces. You open the box and you can start. There is no need to say that this is a large bonus especially when, without exception, the assembly are well done (no apparent holes, arms not aligned etc.). We feel that behind the scenes a lot of time was taken in preparing this. The miniatures are clean (no traces of casts). Some weapons or spears can be a bit crooked, but pop into hot water and everything becomes normal again. Size wise, they are on the 32mm scale. The level of detail is pretty strong. There is no telling, but there is a feeling of concern to do well. On a table, everything is really good, even unpainted.
Kickstarter campaign are a requirement at CMON, many things were in KS Only, including iconic characters like Ramsay Snow or The High Seneschal (and accessories such as grounds, playmat etc). Nothing essential, but always nice to find in the box.
For example of paintings, you are spoiled by choice on the cards, the illustrations of the rule book and the achievements of other players. In short, you can easily find your happiness with these examples. And again, even unpainted, the stuff is really beautiful. As for gameplay, this is a game for 2 players. The space required to play ideally is 120x120cm (or a big battle 120x180cm). It is a turn-based game with unit-by-unit activation in alternate activation. The duration of a game on a standard format is about 1 and 2 hours. It will depend on the game mode chosen and the number of recruitment points.
We are in war game territory and not skirmishes. Here, you’ll embody not a band of some miniatures, but an army with dozens of figurines. A little like Warhammer Battle or Saga but less complicated. You’ll also find the layout for your troops' plate according to their army corps. A troop does not correspond to a miniature but to a group of miniatures.
Before each game, according to the desired length, you will have a number of points common to each player. With these points, you will have to create your army to prevail over the other. Again, nothing too complicated. Points can be spent to recruit whole troops (who have their own cards with their own ability), captains or heroes (who will be added to your troop to strengthen it), solitary heroes (who serve as a troop alone, as the Mountain), or non-combatants or politicians (who will not directly act on the battlefield).
You can also recruit neutral troops but while keeping to a certain limit (yes, your army belongs above all, to a family, beware of interference!). Everything is well indicated and you’ll never feel lost in front of too much choice. But you can not take everything. Even if the temptation to recruit your favorite heroes is great, you must also take into account the objectives. Moreover, the game offers five game modes (which take the name of the novels): A Game of Thrones, A Clash of King, A Storm of Sword, A Feast for Crows, The Winds of Winter.
A Game Of Thrones is a mode that allows you to play with goals to capture and possess at the end of a turn to score the associated points. Each goal possessed also allows to gain an extra capacity. A Clash of King offers a more realistic side of the war. Even if there are still objectives, you will not start with all your troops. Reinforcements will arrive as the battle progresses. A Storm of Swords offers a mode that changes the most. One of the players is entrenched in a castle and must defend it at all costs. The other must seize it. A Feast for Crows simulates combat fatigue. Your troops will gradually suffer and more their moral decrease, more victory point the other player can win. The Winds of Winter adds secret missions that will have to be completed to score points.
Despite the variety of scenarios (very pleasant), the goal often remains the same. Be the first to win a certain number of victory points (depending on the size of the chosen army). You must not deceive yourselves, you are facing a war game between two armies. Beware of devastating or frustrating dice rolls.
You can also find the possibility of trying heroic charges, desperate attempts or even genius shots. To help you, each faction also has a deck of clean cards: tactics (basic cards with special cards depending on your captain). These cards used at the right time can change the course of a battle and hurt for those who do not pay attention.
I also talked about the possibility of recruiting non-combatant characters. We thus find the political aspect and scheming, very dear to novels. Indeed, these characters will not participate in the battle itself but will influence the policy of the King’s Council. Depending on where you choose to position yourself (and where the other will not go), you will get immediate tangible benefits or play cards that match the symbol.
The basic rules are really simple for those who have a dabbled, and a little more complex rules for neophytes. It's a placement and combo game that brings a lot of richness to the gameplay. The choice of possible actions is easy to remember but without falling into the ease. Once the rule are read, we did not return. On the other hand, each unit has its own characteristics. This may require some time to control them and not forget anything without touching the fluidity. Because yes, the game is very fluid. The towers are linked quickly. However, despite an apparent simplicity, the game is rich. Many aspects of a real battle are taken into account such as morale, injuries, displacement that can vary, type of terrain, speed ...
A Song of Ice and Fire is a complete game but not necessarily complex to take in hand. CMON has managed to create a simple game of figurines to make you want and allow neophytes to navigate, while at the same time being rich and deep enough to allow seasoned players to dig their teeth into and have fun there. I admit that when the game was announced, I was very skeptical. And I was wrong. At the end of my game, we just want to start again. Even if the different game modes are finally quite close, the small variations of gameplay allow a lot of replayability. But make no mistake, the heart of the game lies in the choice of your army. And here we have something to do. Especially that CMON seems to want to continue to live this range. The Night's watch faction and the Free Folk faction were recently released. And that's a great news. All factions are very different to play. It is really very pleasant and very thematic.
CMON continues to develop this game while respecting the license. We feel that there is a real love for the universe of the world created by G.R.R. Martin whether in the aspect of figurines, illustrations, but also in the choice of abilities. Everything transpires the theme and mood of the books. A very good surprise and a big crush for me. If you like the universe, it's clearly a game not to miss. One of the best games 2018 simply.
Difficult to make a real review of this type of games without first having tried all the factions or units available (unfortunately finances are lacking for me). I will therefore limit myself to this first impression which will bring you already a good content and a good idea of what it returns with this game. If I had to score it, here is what I could have put:
I'm not usually a fan of narrative games. Basically things can go bad.
The first thing that completely captivated me is the graphics of Greenville 1989. The works of David Sitbon is exemplary on this game. All images have many readings and have references from all the movies or series of horror (Friday the 13th, Freddy, It, ...). That's wonderful. It is a real pleasure to see the work done and especially to be able to escape fairy worlds. Here, forget the cute and the colorful. What a breath of fresh air! It's really good to see that a publisher dares to think outside the box and propose an adult universe. Congratulations!
To pass the discovery of the images, one passes to the discovery of the game. The theme helps, and I must say that I was really taken by the atmosphere of the game. To save the group is not so easy. But what it is is, horrifically pleasant to plunge into this dark universe. Florian Fay, the author, managed to offer a theme and a real story to a narrative game. The central mechanism, which seems simple, is a great idea and works wonders. The addition of the cooperative side brings the unit a unity and a tension that is well present.
Of course the game is not for everyone. If you do not like movies or horror series, or if you do not like to release images and tell stories then go on your way, this game is not for you. Yes, it is not enough to know Stranger Thing (the reference that you find in all reviews when it is not really THE reference of all cards) to find it all the time and allow the game to offer its potential. The importance of the atmosphere and getting out of the cards are almost essential. We are not in a Dixit or a Mysterium. We must go further. In terms of mechanical sensation, we are much closer to aFabula, for example. But more intense and more immersive.
Greenville 1989 offers an intense immersive experience, both fun and scary. But to make the most of it, you have to play with the right people. And here, the game makes sense. A success ! I have only one desire ... to return it and yet I can tell you that the places are far from fairy tales. Thank you for this very good game!
If you like storytelling, and you have a little bit of experience role-playing, you will gonna like this.
This is not co-op Dixit, which I’m sure you will hear a lot, but more an RPG. Teenagers trying to get through a lovecraftian utopia which is taking over their small town. And all you need to do is tell the story of how you got from point “A” to point “B”.
One of the first things that you will be impressed and blown away by is the graphical presentation that is depicted on all the cards. This surreal art that has elements of Pop Culture horror films as well as some Cthulhu-esque elements, all screaming at you from every lavishly caressed paint brush stroke. Putting your own twist into what you see, will help the one player that is the guide for the round. It is their job to determine the next part of your adventure. After everyone has told their story of what is depicted on their card, which is their current location, the guide will have to draw a number of random cards and say, “ok this is where you're going.”
Giving your guide enough information, not only what is pictured in your card but also what your character might do. May they be terrified and mesmerised on the spot? Will they want to uncover what that thing is in the distance? Are they scared and they wish to run away through that exit over there? All these things will help guide the Guide, to choose the correct card for each player. Because all players have to do is correctly guess which card the Guide has picked out for them. Do this 4 times and everybody wins.
This is a fantastic and quick, role-playing game that put players into horror films. Of a sort. The more imagination you have, the more fun you will have and probably win easily. But this game may struggle with those players who may be stuck in a location because they haven't guessed where the Guide has placed them next. Therefore they will have to repeat everything that they have said previously, which can be dull to some. You’ll need to elaborate a bit more and put some feeling and thought into your story. And when I say that, I literally mean tell the guide what your feelings are and what your thoughts are have your character. As they may easily be able to choose your path because there is an element in the current location of a player which matches exactly the next image they have drawn. This is an easy way out, for example, if there were balloons in the location of the player and the next cards that are revealed have one image with balloons in it... This is probably where that character is going to go.
I would recommend this for players that like a storytelling challenge, as it this will bring out the creativity in players in a way that I have never seen in any other game apart from RPG’s. Inevitably players may get familiar with this cards and will be longing for more locations and more scary creatures to tell stories about. As this small game fits into a large box which has a little uninspiring player board that the players are trying not to fall off of. And some fairly simplistic tokens that characters can collect and use to help them out on this nightmare of a game.
All in all, I had a very good time exploring my imagination, as did the other players. I would definitely recommend playing with 4 or 5 other creative minds and see where these stories will go.
In the beginning, there was a series of books. The Reckoners is a trilogy of novels written by American author Brandon Sanderson. Steelheart (2013), Firefight (2015) and Calamity (2016)are the names of his three works. There is also a short story called Mitosis that takes place between the first and the second volume. I can only advise to you to read this very good trilogy. Sanderson has some fun with superheroes and turns them into our biggest fears.
It’s the near future. The story is in Newcago, ten years after a meteorite began turning anyone into superheroes or superhumans. Because of heroes, they have only the powers. The strongest superhumans have begun to share the world and no normal human dare resist them. The Epics, as they are called, give free rein to their lowest instincts. In Newcago, there is a semblance of life before thanks to the presence of one of the most powerful Epics that exist: Steelheart. He is known to be invincible and does not seem to suffer from any flaws. He runs the city with an iron fist. Nobody dares to resist him, apart from a small band of rebels: the Reckoners. This is a small group of humans who secretly study the Epics to find weaknesses. David Charleston, animated by an insatiable hatred towards all Epic and above all Steelheart, dreams only of revenge following the death of his father. Armed with his courage and especially one of the most important secrets in the world, he will try to join the Reckoners. Together, they will go in search of justice.
But why am I talking about this series of books? The reason is simple, besides the fact that an adaptation is planned for the cinema, a game in this universe has also been published. The Reckoners received funding on Kickstarter and was released in 2018 by Nauvoo Games. The story of the game takes place during the first volume of the trilogy. David joined the Reckoners and they fight together against Steelheart and his underlings.
The game is playable from 1 to 6 players. You will have the opportunity to play David, Megan, Abraham, Tia, Cody and Prof. Each character has their own ability and their own dice. Once you have made your choice, you will take three special dice (which correspond to your color) and three generic dice. The difference between the dice types comes from the dice faces. For example, Abraham will favor the direct attack on the Epics, Tia will have more search symbols, etc. Armed with your six dice, you will be able to go on a mission to save the people of Newcago.
There is not really a central game board. The available areas are represented as District Trays where you will find all the data relating to the Epic’s defending (life points, research points needed to find Epic weaknesses, power points...). There is also a small place available to place the miniatures that are currently in this area. You have at your disposal no less than thirty Epics all different. Steelheart has his own tray with his own abilities (we will come back to this later).
Once the setup is completed, it is the turn of the heroes. There are not really any player turns. Everyone is free to perform their actions whenever he wants. But beware, the game is hard, very hard. Cooperating and reacting according to your teammates is essential. The slightest mistake can be fatal. The dice system is pretty simple. You will be entitled to three throws. At each roll, you will have to block at least one die. You will not be able to reroll it. Once all dice are locked, you move to the resolution of the symbols. As previously explained, there is no turn order. Players must agree to perform their actions effectively. A player can play a dice and then another player plays thiers, going back to the first one. If you're not used to it, it can be disturbing, but it is effective in the balance of actions.
Except in special cases, each player can only influence the area of the city where they are. Among the possible actions, you will be able to:
earn money (each symbol pays a dollar),
activate powers or objects (this is indicated on the cards),
to launch you into research (each symbol makes you progress in the search for weakness),
attack the minions (each symbol corresponds to one less security officer),
attack the Epics (each symbol inflicts damage to the Epic, when possible),
decrease the power of an Epic (each symbol moves the power slider of the Epic one step to the left),
develop your talents (each symbol allows you to get a talent for the next turn, they are jokers representing a die of any face).
In addition to these actions, you can also sacrifice a die to influence neighborhoods where you are not present:
destroy an installed barricade (which prevents entry or exit of the area)
to move from one area to another.
As in the book, all Epics have their own ability. Some are invincible ... unless you can find their weaknesses. Every Epic has a weakness. The action Search allows you to advance on the associated track. Once this is complete, the Epic becomes vulnerable. The choice is yours to go in mode "nag" (faster but more dangerous and sometimes useless) or in "observation" mode (longer but more effective). Every choice will be important. In addition to adapting to what the dice offer you, you will have to face the danger of the city. Nothing is free. Everything is paid and sometimes very expensive. Thus, each player theoretically has six actions (sometimes more, often less). It's up to you to optimize them.
Once all players are finished, you’ll look to see if any rewards have been won. Killing Epics will not only serve to let off steam or show your strength. Each Epic will bring rewards once dead. Most of the time, they will give you valuable information about Steelheart, allowing you to advance on his research track (I'll come back to that later). You will then be able to spend the little money you have on objects and other essential capacities. This time is over for the players, now it’s over to the Epics.
At the beginning of the Epic turn, Steelheart checks that each quarter has a "Guardian Angel". If there were previously deaths, they are replaced by new Epics drawn at random. Each newcomer starts the game with a little power. Then, all the Epics are activated. In turn, starting with the one in the area of Steelheart, each Epic activates their powers from left to right. Some will favor Steelheart by strengthening his powers, others will go in search of your hiding places, others will go directly to the population, others will call for reinforcements, others will heal ... Following the actions, the Epic becomes stronger. Advancing their power marker one step to the right (or more if security agents are present). The more powerful an epic is, the more damage it will do, if you leave it alone. There is always one epic more than the number of players, do the math, dealing with everyone is impossible. You will have to be effective and go to the nearest danger without forgetting the others.
Once the henchmen have shown their skills, it’s the turn of their leader. Steelheart has a role to play in the game. He is at the heart of everything (sorry for the word game). He has his own game board. Steelheart is invincible. It is a fact. At the beginning of the game it's a certainty. Then, as you investigate, you will see that there is a defect in the armor. In the game, this is represented by a search track available on its board. This is of course more important than those of the other Epics. Your heroes will have to look for more information about the tyrant and quickly. The more time passes, the greater the danger. To find information about Steelheart, there are two possible methods: using dice with symbols to search or kill Epics. Once the Steelheart’s secret is unveiled, you will be able to try to kill him. He has a health point number value (such as the number of search points needed) depending on the number of players. But he will not let himself go. Steelheart will hit hard at his location. He will attack the population, then will conduct raids to find your hiding places (if this happens, you lose one die per hideout found, they can be redeemed at the purchase phase). After calming his anger, he will deploy new forces to stop you: first security agents and second, new barricades. And this, not only in the neighborhood where he is. You will soon be overwhelmed, but do not worry. Finally, he will move. Rolling his dice and advance his miniature to another neighborhood (he can very well return to the same place). Heroes can only act with Steelheart if they are in his area.
But how do you win? Easy. You must kill Steel Heart. How do we lose? Even easier. You will lose if the city's population reaches zero. It goes quickly. I’ll say it right now, the game is absolutely not easy. As in the book, you feel the inevitable power of the Epics. They are more numerous, better organized, more powerful than you will ever be. And yet, desperate but proud, you start the battle with undisguised pleasure. Yes, the game is very difficult but this difficulty offers you a challenge more than appreciable.
Thematically it's a success. The designers of the game Brett Sobol and Seth Van Orden (Stockpile) have managed to bring alive the universe of the book. Whether in the actions or attitudes of the Epics, fidelity is required. Fortunately, even if you do not know the series of books (but what are you waiting for? Run to read it!) You can easily enjoy it. There is not really a spoiler and, even if there are references to the universe, there are no thing incomprehensible for neophytes. Illustrators Noah Adelman (Grimm Forest), Miguel Coimbra (7 Wonders) and Ian O'Toole (CO2 second chance) also did an excellent job. Even without real board, you’ll are immersed in this universe, this unique atmosphere. Some small references allow those who know to say "oh yes! Without ruining the immersion of others.
The game is not revolutionize by its gameplay. There are things used here and there. But the designers managed to fuse the whole thing together. Beyond the big box, the game is extremely simple to play and explain it. When you know how , the set up is not too long. The turn are linked relatively quickly and the choices are sometimes crucial. Every mistake can be expensive, so cooperation is essential to win. As often in this type of game, the alpha player effect can occur. However, with the presence of chance, a very strong replayability due to the number of Epics and different objects, this effect is a bit counterbalanced. Not to mention that the rolls of dice must normally be done simultaneously, suddenly the leader can theoretically not monitor everything (unless they is also an Epic?)
The difficulty is very important. This can put off more than one person. Defeating the Steelheart can sometimes be impossible. It seems that the more you are, the more you can get there. Let's say that the number of players can possibly counterbalance the negative effects that can be linked, very quickly (maybe too quickly!). With two players, this aspect can hurt a lot. But is it an evil? The duration of the game allows to play and chain games without much trouble. The challenge for a cooperative is, in my opinion, essential or we get tired very quickly of this type of games. A co-operative that is too easy comes down to a puzzle that is resolved too quickly that you leave out and do not come back. The Reckoners offers a good balance between impossible challenge and fun game. The game is very enjoyable to play. We have fun without problems. It really feels like being opposed to a titan. This aspect plunges us even more into the theme where our heroes seem completely overwhelmed by this surge of power. We suffer yes, but we suffer from pleasure.
The material is of irreproachable quality. I have the Deluxe version and everything is beautiful. In addition to the illustrations that have already been mentioned, the plateaux are well made. All parts and dice fit easily, it's convenient, well thought out. And in addition it's beautiful. The figures are quite well produced. In the pre-painted version, without being of exceptional quality of painting, they are pleasant to look at and pass very well once in game. The cards, like the dice, are good qualities and pleasant to handle. Everything seems really well thought out. It's very nice to see this concern for detail. It is however a pity that all the neighborhoods of the city are alike and are totally lambda. A little customization at the characteristic level (and not at the level of illustration) would have been a plus (but hey, we are in the quilting).
Is this game a rare pearl? In a sense yes. Rare, it is. It is very difficult so far to be able to acquire a copy of the game. It is a pity and certainly detrimental to its success. But fortunately, a second Kickstarter is planned soon, with the inclusion of an extension and reprint of the base box. When I see the quality of this game and the fun it represents, I am inevitably disappointed that it is not more available or put forward by its publisher.
The Reckoners is really a success. Whether in terms of play or material, it deserves to be successful. Simple but not simplistic. Easy to play but not easy to win. Fun but not devoid of reflection. Demanding but not complex. A lot of material but not too long to install. It's a real pleasure to play and replay there. A very good surprise, a very good adaptation, a very good game.
Technical Score 10/10 Abundant material and excellent quality. Everything is coherent. Everything is well thought out. Faultless (even if we could quibble for the neighborhoods).
My BGG Score 9.5 / 10 (Excellent, always have fun playing it) It's hard, it's simple, it's breathtaking, it's beautiful, it's fun, it's faithful to the universe. A success. Too bad it is not so easy to find.
Combined Score 9.75 / 10 And now, it's your turn...
Games that reflect real life, real circumstances and real consequences are kind of rare. Although, Dungeon Petz is far removed from reality in regards to its theme, it does have these three elements. It’s a work a placement game that puts you in the role of a shop manager. And if you’ve never been responsible for a shop then maybe you can relate to being responsible for your home and your kids. And maybe your partner.
Theme is bursting out from this box of delight. As the owner of a pet shop that sells demon spawn and all kinds of nasty little critters, you’re going to be seeking out and trying to attract the attention of the Dungeon Lords. These Lords require suitable little monsters that they can fill up their Hero ridden dungeons. Get them to buy your pets over that of your competition and boost your reputation higher than everyone else to win. With the help of your Imp workers, you’ll be directing them into various parts of the local market to pick up supplies, items and also newly hatched pets.
This is one game that stands out from every other work of placement that I have played, as it has an ingenious system for who goes first and the number of actions you can take. In every round you’re going to be sending your Imps out either individually or as groups. The larger the group, the larger the possibility you have of choosing which action you wish to take. Action Spaces are limited but also very unique.. In your home base, and behind a shield, players will be creating groups with their Imps. So you could send each Imp out individually and therefore take as many actions as you have Imps. Or place them in groups, which will almost guarantee the action you want. The larger the group, the more chance you have of going first. This idea adds a wonderful element of deduction and bluffing, in regards to what actions players will possibly take. You may desperately need a new cage to place a new pet into your store. But if you know the other players all need a new cage as well, you may be the player that misses out, unless you send three or maybe 4 Imps out this turn. Even just this small part of the game is a mesmerizing puzzle. Should you jump the queues in the marketplace or wait your turn.
Another nice thing is, when it comes to your turn to place out your Imp or Imps, and all the actions that you wish to do are taken, you can leave your some of your team at home. These little helpers won’t go to waste, as they can clean up the poop left by the pets that you have or maybe get themselves a paper around and earn a little bit of money. On top of that, it’s advantageous to have some imps at home just in case one of your pets get a little too aggressive and tries to escape.
As well as the typical tropes of the game like this (buy them, feed them, clean them, play with them), you also have some other thematic elements. Elements like, if you wish to buy a new cage you will need to send out at least to imps to carry the heavy thing back home. Or if you wish to buy a new pet, the Imp that you send needs to have some money. As I said this ties in with the reality and consequences of real life. Not planing correctly can screw you up. And even if you miss out on the actions that you wish to take in one round, it won’t affect your overall strategy because there are other options that you can take. I have never felt stuck in regards to being short of things to do. Although that may change if I played against a very aggressive player, as they would snatch spaces away from me just just stop me taking them.
Now I’ve yammered on and on about this worker placement thing and how different it is to other worker placements, but that is only one corner of the game. You’ll be nurturing these pets that you bought, conditioning them to win competitions and to hopefully sell them on to a loving and caring evil demon Lord. When all actions have been taken you will have to care of your pets on the next phase. You will collect a number of different coloured cards, depending on what is depicted on the age of your pets. These cards have a variety of conditions for the pets, whether they be hungry, angry, magical, or need to go to the toilet. You will then assign a number of cards, again depending on their age to each pet that you own. Then act out the consequences of those cards. For example, if you were sign food to one of your pets then they need to eat. And depending on their diet you will need to feed them that commodity. Otherwise they get a little sad. Same if you assign a play card to a pet, meaning they wish to be played with. Again if you have no imps at home to play with these pets, they get a little sad. Sadness is a killer, as if they become too sad, they will slip off their mortal coil, from depression. The pets can also get very angry and break out of their cages if you were assigned to many angry cards to them. They can also get sick from sickness cards if they’re in a cage with lots of poop. So balancing out all these cards becomes a nice little puzzle, especially when you have multiple pets at the same time. Which pet get which card.
And assigning these cards are very important in regards to the competitions and selling them pets to willing owners, that are then next phases. Competitions like the angry pet show or a talent show will require players to have a signed certain cards to a pet. Each card will give them points from the judges but they will also lose points if, for example, the judges are looking for poop or sickness or even mutations for magic. Doing well in the competition will boost your stores reputation. Selling a pet to a willing owner works the same as the competition, which means the card you’ve assigned will apply to the customer that enters the shop that round. Forward planning is essential in these instances and luckily due to a timeline on the round track, you can prepare for those customers that will arrive and those competitions too.
Now there is a little bit of downtime as you refresh the board from round to round, adding new pets and placing out food on market stores. And if you’re playing with less than four players, you’ll be moving drone imps that block certain action spaces from round to round. But again a lot of this is thematic. When you replace pets from the main board, any older than three years old will be taken to the abattoir and their reminding flash will be put into the meat market. So it’s not just a case of “it’s the end of this round we need to remove these cubes and move out there”, everything has a thematic reason for why it is moved, taken off the board, added to the board and you will even find yourself commentating and maybe even talking to your pets and your Imps as you play.
The whole game is rounded off with some stunning artwork and some neats little components. For example, the eggs when placed face down and shuffled will become the pets. Turning these over will reveal random pets with a little disc in the interior. This moving disc will show the age of your pet and the older your pet gets, the more its value increases as well as the number of cards that you will draw. Having more cards for a creator we'll make them more troublesome. This can lead to some funny storytelling as creatures may have very strong magical powers which new take them and teleport them to another dimension. Or they just become pooping machines that your poor Imps have to clean up behind. And the of variety of special powers and different needs as well as the possibility of multiplying your score are all available in different facets in the market. And there is no end to the amount of fun that can be had even just naming your pets.
Now you may have noticed that in all my writing here I have not mentioned that players do this or players move that etc. This is because the rules of the game are in the theme and vice a versa. And you'll find yourself forgetting things like the market phase and replacing it with your own catchphrase like “let's go shopping.” But the game is not on rainbows and butterflies, as we are dealing with pets which will grow in a dungeon. You may find yourself getting lost in your first few games. Everything you see in the game is of images and icons which will guide you through. Meaning that you will have to pull up the rulebook from time to time to double check things, as the iconography takes a while to digest. And while there are a majority of very large chunks of Rules that are easy to retain, there are also some tiny rules of slightly insignificant things that you will need to keep checking. But eventually you will pick it up and play will start streaming fluidly maybe on your third or fourth playthrough.
This game is the ultimate worker placement game of all time. It's funny as well as fun with its humorous and well-written rulebook. Plus the really cute and slightly sadistic artwork which accompanies the dungeon Lords and the pets. The components comprise of different materials from a wooden score me pool two plastic imps and standard tokens and cards, but everything looks stunning on the table. We love this game so much that we slightly upgraded it with some special tokens that resemble poop instead of brown cubes. And I have already invested in the expansion, Dark Alleys but have never gotten around to playing with it. Although we have added the adorable pets in the expansion into our base game. Maybe one day …
Technical score 9.5 out of 10 Stunning visuals, fantastic theme, excellent strategy and bags of laughter, all in this one box. I can only fault some of the components that are used to attach the disc to the egg, as they were missing. The upgraded components, if included in the game would make this a 10 out of 10.
BGG Score 9 out of 10 (excellent - very much enjoy playing) This may be unfair as I have only ever played this game 14 times and only with two players, but every game has been a challenge and a barrel full of laughs. Even young children will pick this up with some storytelling, due in part to the thematic ideas attached to the mechanisms. And every game was a memorable experience with my daughter.
Combined score 9.25 out of 10 Now it's over to you...
"Dungeon Petz is a super original game, both in its theme but also in its mechanics. After the excellent Dungeon Lord, Vlaada delivers us once again a true nugget. Be careful not to be fooled by the cute illustrations and his Tamagotchi theme. Dungeon Petz is a challenging game. You will need to play several times before you start to master the beast.
Chance holds an important place but goes well with the quirky and offbeat theme. You’ll feel affection for the small critters and almost regret selling them to the highest bidder ... or make them unhappy for lack of good care.
Passing the discovery of omnipresent humor (whether in the game or in the rules), it remains a game of management, rather sturdy but with an unpredictable dose of luck. Luck that can be more or less controlled when you start to know the game. Dungeon Petz is an excellent game that has suffered from the comparison with his big brother Dungeon Lord at its release. But the two are quite different. The theme is extremely well done. Making animals happy while respecting buyers' demands is not easy.
A very good game, a Vlaada title from his great era, a challenging game but very pleasant."
I was waiting until everything was 100% complete before sharing this information with you. Yes, the Claustrophobia 1643 has now officially wrapped for me. The soundtrack complete, not only as a downloadable MP3 but also as an app version, thanks to Syrinscape.
What does that mean? Well let me explain in this video…
So now I am done with music, I will go back to doing board game reviews and board game videos. Just until the next soundscape comes along…
here are some links to places to get the soundscape
Do you know Richard Garfield? No ? Shame On You ! You need to go and find information on him! If there is an author who has stamped their mark on the world of the board games, it is him. This man is none other than the father of the revolutionary card game : Magic The Gathering (yes just that!) and the excellent Netrunner. He also tackled different styles of board games (not just card games) including the very fun Roborally, the very original Filthy Rich or the very addictiveKing Of Tokyo. And more recently, we owe him for the very excellent Keyforge. Yes, there may be a little too much superlative, but with him it is never enough. As you can see, he is not just anyone. Everything he touches (or almost) turns into a true playful pleasure. Suddenly, when a game is named after him, the anticipation grows. This is the case with Bunny Kingdom.
In 2017, with Iello publishing and Paul Mafayon (Earth reborn, Loony Quest) illustrating, Bunny Kingdom was released. The game for 2-4 players, proposes to revisit the card drafting system by combining it with a zone control. The games are announced between 40 and 60 minutes.
Each play embodies a Rabbit Lord and his army. They must fight to take possession of virgin territory in the name of King Lapinot. The best Lord will have the title of “Great Ears.” Well... ok! Saying it like that, the theme is not a dream. But you play badass rabbits anyway! They are warriors and they fight for carrots, but not only and ... Ok. It's better that I stop here? So yes, the theme is not the most exciting thing at first. We can even say that it is something that we did not expect necessarily from the imagination of Richard Garfield. But let's admit why not.
To help us get in the mood, the game has great illustrations. There are many cards with unique designs. There are also a lot of reference here and there. It's colorfully beautiful. One could even say that it is sometimes a little childish in it’s style. This is also a misleading aspect of the game because behind it’s childish looks, it is quite a deep game. Apart from the cards, which represent the central mechanism, you’ll find a plateau and dozens of figurines. Your rabbit army is represented by small bunny miniatures of your color. There are also castle figurines, with a number of towers corresponding to the evolution of the city (one tower for level one, two towers for level two, three towers for level three).
These miniatures are small but the rendering is good and on the board they fit perfectly. I had the chance to play with both editions. Indeed, the first edition of the game suffered from a problem of poor graphical choices. The board was too small which made reading the game, especially the counting victory points very calamitous. Iello reacted very quickly and in the second edition corrected a lot of problems. The publisher has made a larger tray for better readability, boxes for the score that can accommodate several rabbits, reworked some colors, inserted a plastic insert. A good job of catching on and improving. With the fairly important material, once set up, we must admit that it looks very nice on the board.
The main game system is the card draft. Depending on the number of players, each will receive an identical amount of cards: 10 to 4 players, 12 to three. The game for two is slightly different. Each player chooses two cards and passes the rest to their neighbor. You play these two cards, you’ll then choose again two new and continue until the deck is depleted. With two players, there are four piles of cards as in a game for four players. Whenever you have to choose cards, you draw one from a neutral pile. You will always choose two but you keep one, another discarded. You continue like this until we have no more cards.
There are several types of cards.
You will find the terrain cards have a corresponding letter and a number. When you play one, you take control of that terrain by putting one of your bunny on it. Each terrain is unique. If you have for example, the A1 no one else can have it.
Then you have the building cards. These cards will allow you to add castles, mine resources on one of your fields at the end of a round. In the meantime, you take the figurine or the corresponding token and leave it on the card.
You will also find a cards power to apply immediately. Just read what it says.
Finally you will have the scrolls. These cards will remain in front of you face down. They will earn bonus points at the end of the game based on what you have achieved.
Once the draft is finished, you move to the construction phase. This is where you can put your tokens or castle figurines on the board in a field that you own or want to own (example with the camp). It is also possible to link two cities between them with the air relay or to produce new resources.
When everyone has decided to finish the construction phase, you’ll go to counting points. Nothing to complicate. You count for each possessed fief, the number of tower on them, multiplied by the number of different resources. You advance your token on the score track. A fief is one or more adjacent rabbit set of your colour, with at least one castle and one resource. You’ll do this four times and then look to see who wins.
And that's all. The game is not complicated at all in its rules. As often in this type of game, the more you play, the more you will know the cards and the more fluid the game will be. The turns are played quickly. The game flow nicely. There is no waiting around. On the other hand, luck is an integral part of the game system even more than in a classic draft. With two players, it is a little more strategic because you have more control. By cons, at three or four players, you’ll be fighting not only against the other players but also against the luck of the draw. There is also a decrease in large fiefdoms depending on the number of players. That can be felt in the final scores. The theme is quickly forgotten. Rabbits or something else would have worked just as well. As for the interaction, it is more indirect and light. In the first play, player will clearly play in their corner. Then gradually, will try to block the others by taking the cards they wants. Even though it's easier in the two-player setup, it can be done more with more players. But the cost will be more important because by doing that, you sacrifice your strategy. The interaction will therefore be more on an issue of land use and situational opportunism.
We can not keep from compare the game to the master stallion of the genre that is 7 Wonders. In terms of learning difficulty, Bunny Kingdom is slightly less complicated. The rendering during the game is more concrete because you see the tray fill up as and when. By cons in terms of games, it will be longer. It will also be more risky in the strategy. We are much more dependent on the drawing of the cards and where the other players will be placed. Finally, even if the main engine is the same, the two games are downright different. Whether in the sensations of games, but also in the fun.
Behind a childish aspect, Bunny Kingdom is a game that has a certain depth. Simple in these rules, it can quickly become strategic while taking into account the important aspect of luck. The counting of points is perhaps one of the black spots of the game finally. It can be seen as unnecessarily complicated. Fortunately, Iello has redone a larger board which makes it possible to identify each icon much better. With the first edition, it was pretty bad. Once we got used to it, it is not as binding as before, even if it always takes a little time. Seeing the evolution of the board and its personal evolution is a pretty important thing. Bunny Kingdom is about having long-term vision. Even if it is important not to go empty headed, the closer you are to the end, the more points you’ll make. So, for seasoned players it may be easier to anticipate. Try to define the objectives of your opponents, prepare a trap and isolate, leave a camp at the right time ... Where finally, the family player will only play their cards to do something good. Again, this type of opportunity proves the intelligence of the game. It can be played between different types of players and with just as much fun. The game offers several playful readings and several methods to win.
The game has an extension, available at Iello, which has just been released. Bunny Kingdom: In the sky authorizes to play five and offers a new board with new resources and cards. (I have unfortunately not had the opportunity to try it yet).
Playable in all configurations and appreciable in each with different degrees of strategy, Bunny Kingdom is a surprisingly, very good. Another victory for Garfield. We have the impression of a concrete evolution marked by the change of the board as the game progresses. Whether played with friends or with the family, this works really well. Beautiful, nice, simple, full of humor, accessible but nevertheless strategic, this game has it all. Not to mention the fact that it has most importantly replayability, due in large part to chance. From one game to the other, everything can change which prevents THE syndrome “one-way from winning”. Would you like a little carrots with that?
Technical Score 8.5 / 10 The cards are beautiful (can be a little thin). The game is full of humor and winks. The miniatures of rabbits and castles (a little brittle) are well made. The whole thing may still be a little small (we’re get old) but the improvement of the material compared to the v1 are a real plus. We recognize the serious work of the publisher.
My BGG Score 8.5 / 10 (Very good, fun to play and I recommend it) A success. Rules are simple but the game is very smart. More you play, the more fun you will have. Big replayability on the menu. A game without headaches but offers a good challenge. Little regret at the level of an almost nonexistent interaction.
Combined Score 8.5 / 10 And now, it's your turn...
2 Player abstract games are games that my daughter and I enjoy immensely. Most of the time, my wife is too busy or too tired to play games with us, so my daughter and I get out something like Onitama or King & Assassins. After being given a copy of Jurassic Snack from Blackrock Games at Essen last year, I thought my daughter would fall in love with this beautifully presented game, as it fits in with the criteria that we normally like. But she was not enamored. She was a little bored of it after a few plays. But I was…
Please read on.
This is another Bruno Cathala game, and there seems to be more and more popping up from the woodwork every year.He seems to be throwing out titles here, there and everywhere. And the majority of them have high praise, much like another dinosaur title called Raptor, some years ago. But is this herbivore chomping game one of them? Well, it’s presentation seems to fit that category of excellence. It’s cartoony and colorful art will attract the eye of the young and old, but also when displayed on a table, the 3-D dinosaurs will blow anybody's mind with it’s cuteness.
Each player will have four Diplodocus of their color scattered on a four map tiles, surrounded by a lush vegetation that they can eat. In turn order, players will take two actions which are tradition, in the fact that they are movement actions. Moving one of you dinos orthogonally across open spaces until it reaches the end of a tile,or bumps into another dino (down Dino, DOWN!).More importantly are the bushes. Moving up to one of these allows you to eat it. Eating a bush means you reveal a power depicted on the underneath that token, that at the beginning of the game are randomly places and take up 95% of the tiles. Meaning the start of the game is restricted in movement options, until a bit of space has been cleared. Thus opening up the possibilities for tactical movement and cornering the market of your dinos snacking.
When revealed, the token goes by your side and will score you points depending on the type of token it is. It could be some tasty grass which will earn you two points , or it may reveal something else. There are six other types of effects that can either, give birth to another one of your dinosaurs or give you the ability to look at multiply tokens effects on one tile. There is a volcano that will remove two random tiles from play and there is the surprise of a Tyrannosaurus Rex landing in the game. And finally there are the flying tokens that can whisk you Dino out of harm's way, or greener pastures and the other that whisks the T-Rex to any locale. Maybe to save your own skin or put pressure on your opponent.
When one of these monsters arrives, the game changes a little. As the T-Rex will eat any Diplodocus it meets. The arrival of this beast gives the players a choice to either move their own dinosaur to move this one. Like any good abstract game, the extra rules are the same in regards to the movement for this predator. Moving up to a Diplodocus mean that it is removed from the game. Eaten. Dead. Another level of planning is need when one of these arrives. And when the second one comes…(Oo-oh) It offers a moment of reflection as you try to position your pieces into places to make it easy to get points and not so easy to get eaten. The balance between either moving your dinosaur or the T-Rex is even more intriguing as every token that you pick up will gain you a certain amount of points. After the last token is removed, it’s game over and you count the points. The player with the most wins, unless... All your dinosaurs are eaten by the T-Rex meaning the other player has automatically won. Again, this is a wonderful turning point in the game, should you go for points or elimination.
Players can have a great time playing this game in a light fashion, even though there is a nice level of strategy and planning to be add in positioning your pieces. But unfortunately some games can be unbalanced if you have the misfortune to find both T-Rex’s. They jump out from the bush and eat your Dino’s, so you're at a disadvantage. Two less Dino’s than your opponent, and then they manage to hatch extra dinosaurs giving them the upper hand of the game. All they have to do is eat your two remain one to win easily. Yes, luck can spoil this game for one player (even worse when it's a crying child). Which is a shame as it is as I said, strategically deep abstract with simple rules and fun to play. On top of that the tactile feel of the game created from these wonderfully smooth plastic plating pieces makes the game elaborate and fantastic.
Every game can feel the same, so to shake it up you can the position the tiles in different formations. You’re not limited to just creating a 4 x 4 board, you can create an L-shaped map, rectangular one or even a O-shaped one. This also adds some different playing styles and calculations to the game, to make it work in your favor. May be getting to one bush will take you three actions this time while another dinosaur can do it in two. All these mental calculation that are simple enough for a child are fun. But it is when your child starts calculating what action you will do next and they do their best to make your life hard by snatching a bush that was right next to you or placing a T-Rex in you line of movement, forcing you to detor. That is when the game becomes magical.
There are actually two sizes that the game comes in. I have the regular edition, but there is an extra large edition with bigger figures and pieces. And it looks just as fantastic. I only hope that it all fits in the box, as my regular version is going to require a removal of the insert. I can not sit the lid on the box with it inside.
There will also be a second edition of this game that will have different dinosaurs for players to control. The purpose of this is so that you buy the two different versions and add them together for a four player slaughter. This could be very interesting, as games with luck are not much fun with two. But add some more players to balance out that luck. Form silent allences, create bigger maps, add more T-Rex’s or remove some, could all be a bonus for this game. Thus leveling the playing field a little or adjusting the level of difficulty for younger players. I’m up for that and will keep hold of this version of the game until then.
Technical school 9.5 out of 10 Fantastic colorful art, elegant playing pieces and sturdy tiles that are unfortunately a tad too big to fit back into the box without removing the insert.
My BGG school 7 out of 10 A wonderfully elegant to play or abstract game that is affected largely by luck.
Combined score 8.25 out of 10 Now, it’s over to you...
The game Crows Overkill is inspired by an old Japanese song. "Sanzen-sekai no karasu wo koroshi, nushi to asane gam shitemitai". It means: "I'd kill all the crows in the world to sleep with you in the morning". These words are said to have been uttered by Takasugi Shinsaku, a central figure of the early Meiji Restoration. This man loved passionately to frequent the red-light district. This song is like a declaration of love. He assumes that when a raven caws, he must leave his geisha. So, he wants to kill all the crows in the world to enjoy a moment of privacy. Taking up the idea of this old popular song, the designer Roy Nambu (Kaichin) created the game Sanzen Sekai: I'd kill all the crows in the world to be with you a little longer. We agree it's too long a title. In the latest edition, the name was changed to Crows Overkill when published by EmperorS4 (Round House, Planet Defenders) in 2017.
Playable from 2 to 4, each player role-plays a guest who has comes to enjoy the charms of a house located in the red-light district. Unfortunately, very quickly, many birds come to try to break the magic of the moment by singing under the windows. The goal of each guest will be to enjoy moments of happiness as long as possible. The player who will stay the longest will win the game.
So, you will have to fight not only against noisy crows, but also warblers, roosters, bats and owl. A real barn! This menagerie of feathered fiends will come to gather as you play and time passes around your windows. The slightest cry, and “bingo” you have to leave the place. To leave means elimination from the game. You will have to do your best to silence these birds of misfortune. To help you, you will have equipment represented by shamisen cards to help you stay.
The game consists of two types of cards: birds and shamisen. Upon installation, you start with three bird cards in front of you and two shamisen in your hand. At the beginning of your turn, you’ll draw three new birds cards and two extra shamisen cards. This step will come back to you every turn. The birds, like in the Hitchcock film, will keep coming back.
Once this is done, you will do your best to stay in the game and arms of your love. Depending on the time of day, it will be more and more difficult to prevent a type of bird from screaming. The closer we get to the morning, the less chance there is to stay in play. So you are free to play as many Shamisen cards as you want to protect yourself at best. The abilities of the cards are indicated on them. You can also sacrifice a card without applying its effect to simply kill a bird (and those of you with the RSPB will probably want to look away at this stage).
When you think you're ready, skip to the end of the turn. Then, check if you have respect the conditions to prevent the birds from singing you out. If so, play moves on to the next player. Otherwise, you must leave the building, which means your elimination.
The change of hours is done using special cards, the bells that are hidden in the birds deck of cards. The longer the time, the more difficult it will be to stay in play.
I’ll just tell you right now, Crows Overkill is a game that will not please everyone. It's a pure game of luck and "take that." Here, there is no real strategy, just pure opportunism. From one turn to another, everything can radically changed.
Thanks in particular to the magnificent illustrations of Amayagi-do (Hyakke-Yagyo), the game exudes a certain charm. The traditional choice of illustrations works perfectly. The immersion is only greater in this struggle of every moment, facing the injustice of the arrival of the birds at your side rather than at the other around the table.
The game offers very simple rules, making is easily assimilated. The ubiquitous luck can frustrate more than one player, not to mention the final elimination of a player in the game. Fortunately, the duration of the game is very short. It takes about fifteen minutes, if all goes well. I say fortunately, because even if you are unjustly eliminated, you will not have wait long to replay (or set up another game).
The "take that" is (maybe too) important to the game. We sometimes even feel like using and abusing this power. But hey, we're not here to make friends. If you do not like being persecuted or another player infringes on your freedom of action, it is better to play something else. No alliance, no friends, no mercy. We must do everything to save ourselves, even if we send everything to the other players. After all, our happiness comes before the neighbor's, doesn’t it?
The theme is very well exploited. The quirky side is well transcribed by the graphics and mechanisms. Mechanisms that are simple but effective and in adequacy with the transcribed universe.
So we find ourselves praying for these cursed devils to fly to another window, other than our own.
If you are looking for a little party game, nasty, cunning and ruthless then, Crows Overkill may be right for you. The more players there are, the more interesting the game will become. With two players, we are in each others face, where finally only luck will really separate you. A little game with an original theme and a pleasant atmosphere. But a game not necessarily to put in all hands. I have warned you. The happiness of the moment demands sacrifices.
Technical Score 7/10 Cards are beautiful and well-made.
My BGG Score 7/10 (Good game, usually willing to play.) Easy to play, beautiful, nasty, fun and fast to play.
On this Saturday, March 9, 2019, your mission, if you accept, will be to go to Epinal to discover the fun festival and come back with game reviews. Confident in our abilities, proud to receive this quest, we set out on a fun adventure. For the first time, I went to the festival Jeux et Cie d'Epinal, in France. Fortunately, to help me and support me in this heavy task, Barry (second time at Epinal) accompanied me and guided me in the pouring rain (as well as play the role of chauffeur).
After several hours of driving, we arrived at the site: the Congress Center. Easily found, rather well located when you come from far away and with plenty of available parking spaces, the mission seemed to be starting on a good track.
This is a free festival, which offers you the chance to discover new or old games in a good atmosphere and for all tastes. That's what the poster promised us. Once inside the room, we actually find ourselves in a family atmosphere, dare I say zen. The stands were quite spaced out, a lot of tables available, people were smiling, even very welcoming. On site, besides the games we found some service in terms of restoration (although I found the thing a bit expensive), games to bring back (wide choice in the local game stores). As for the types of games, the target audience is still family and children even if, here and there we did find games a little more focused on the expert public. The demonstrators and volunteers present were very good, friendly and quick to explain the rules with joy and good humor. A nice surprise for a festival this size. It is regrettable that some publishers did not make the trip or bring protos to test, while others were just not present. Overall it's really nice. Too bad it is a bit far, (a 3 hour plus car journey) if not with pleasure I would go back (especially in such a charming company). Especially since the festival only lasted for three days! Wow.
As for our original mission ... So we tried no less than thirteen games. Here are these titles with a (very) short summary and opinion. Plus we pick out our top 3 gaming experiences of the event.
Attention, these opinions are first impressions within the framework of a festival (noise/fighting for a table/rules not explained correctly/fatigue from continuous playing), as always in this type of events. These opinions can change by playing the game in other configurations, like at home or different player counts or after watching a Rodney Smith video =).
Being a big Splendor fan, this game is the next evolutionary step in this genre. From each player taking their individual roles which will grant them a bonus resource every round to the large array of options for things you can acquire, this game does everything in big steps. You are mages each with your own small deck of cards that you will cycle through and either use to protect yourself against attacks or spend resources to put these items in your persons. Not only are they resources but there is also gold which is hard to get hold of. This makes the game a little bit more interesting in the fact that everyone will find different ways to get to different things. Whether it be monuments, creating items, or becoming the lord of the places of power. There is a lot of choices and decisions to be made in this resource fest. There is also a lot to get your head around and many different combinations of items to collect and build. This is definitely a game that I want to reply now that I have a little bit of knowledge on how everything fits together.
A game by Thomas Lehmann never goes unnoticed. For the occasion, we had the pleasure of playing with a third person, whose name I unfortunately forgot (sorry). The theme makes you incarnate magi in duels without mercy. This is a point-based points race game based on resource and card purchases. The big originality is that we play with a hand of cards, defined at the beginning of the game and we do not receive others during the game. Simple, fast, little thematic, clever. Clearly the type of games to deepen.
I’ve already done a first impressions article for Space Gate Odyssey which you can find here. But after a second play, I still want to play this again. And with a larger play count. The game is still a nice brain puzzle of efficiency, where you’re creating a maze for your ants to run around in. And then hopefully give you the points that you need when they arrive on planets. Even playing a slightly altered strategy, I’ve found other things that I want to try afterwards. Although surprisingly light in mechanisms, this game is enjoyable and a little head scratchy as players try to complete actions without giving the other players benefits.
I finally got my hands on this new game by Cédric Lefebvre (designer that I appreciate a lot, humanly and playfully). This space game invites you to build your station to be able to send your settlers to take possession of untapped planets. A mixture of several mechanisms that work. It's simple, the material is nice (even if the icons are too small). Thematically, I did not feel the basic construction and spatial exploitation side. It stays in a semi-light game world but with some subtleties.
This is a kid friendly game about balancing and sliding. Inside the box is a specially built platform that is held in place by four levers, each of the four edges of the base box. It is these levers that players will be lifting and dropping to make the main board tilt. There are a variety of maps that are put onto this platform which depicts a route, a start and finish space, and some obstacles, which are inserted into holes to give a 3-D effect. From then on, the players place a hero and the starting zone and use the levers to make him roll (he has a ball bearing inside) along the path and complete different objectives. Like push bandit into holes or move dynamite next to a monster. All very simple, just like in Loony Quest. But it did not hold my interest. Possibly because there were no kids playing with us. Definitely a family game, but not one I found myself having fun with.
I liked Loony Quest ... but this new title is clearly for the even younger ones. The materials are interesting, the basic idea is nice but the game is much less. No real challenge, the look is very childish, replayability seems limited. I am disappointed.
A two player, out thinking, abstract a two player game. Where one player will have seven ronin to protect a village. While another player has a horde of ninjas ready and waiting to attack the village. Players will place their heroes and warriors on locations behind a screen before revealing to see which zones they attack and defend. Each Ronan has their own special power which they will used to try to illuminate the ninjas. Before any unhampered ninjas get to perform special actions depending on the area of the map that they approach the village from. It takes a little while to get use to colours, powers and actions, but it surely worth replaying to get into the theme and strategy layed out in the rules. An elegant to play, back-and-forth abstract game that requires lots of coffee and some ESP to win, but not necessarily to have fun.
A game of bluffing and tactics in the Japanese feudal world. Very minimalist in its material (and yet really beautiful), the game is very pleasant and offers a good challenge. It will take a good blow of bluffing, but also a lot of luck to prevail in this asymmetrical game that works really well.
Soon to be reprinted by Super Meeple, this is a racing game based on the American Queen Steamboats that were used to transport passengers along the Mississippi. Each player’s boat has an engine which can change up and down gears, which adjust the speed and number of spaces it can move. And each has X amount of coal, that can be used to change the speed a little bit quicker. Mechanically interesting as the random generated river winds left and right, with passengers to collect en route. It felt like a light racing game for the family and is lacking something to make it a bit more intriguing. Hopefully this is something that will be added in the (probably deluxifier) reprint.
This is the proto of the reissue of Mississippi Queen. Racing motorboat game where you have to juggle speed and use of coal to take passengers and arrive at the destination first. Difficult to issue a final opinion especially that the two-player configuration. A small novelty, not necessarily the most interesting. The game is nice but the advanced tiles will soon be indispensable.
I fell in love with this puzzle game that uses Tetris pieces as it’s core. Player all have the same playing board, which has scarabs depicted on random spaces that when collected give you points. And rocks that block the placement of your Tetris pieces. This is a synchronized puzzle game to see who can best manipulate their pieces to divided their board to get the most points. As one by one each player will take the same piece and lay it to enlarge their camp, leaving the scarabs uncovered in groups of two. With very simple rules (even though I messed them up several times), this was a simple pleasure where the replayability comes from the challenge against the other players. Something my family will love to play but may quickly be forgotten due to it being the same repetitive game.
barry's #1 game of the festival
A little game by Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc. We are on a tetris tile set with a handicap. We’ll pass on the theme that is not present, and we end up with a simple and fast game. The goal is to surround scarabs in spaces up to four squares. The scarab still need to visible in this space and will bring you as many points. The tile to be laid is defined by a map. All players play at the same time. It's a solitary game in a group. Family style, replayability can be quite important as long as you adore the concept.
Exploring a temple Indiana Jones style is what this game promises. But it doesn’t deliver this experience due to the fact that the main mechanic is an auction. Yes, you’re going to be bidding for tiles to add to your player board. These tiles have paths that you can follow to take you to treasure that is allocated at the edge of your player board. Your cards, which have two functions that include, values of sticks (that are like dice) for the auction and powers that you can use if these stick like dice roll blank. This stick dice is a great idea but a little lost in this game. Again the construction of paths to take you to treasure is a nice idea but is lost entirely in this bidding war that you and another player will have. Some nice ideas, some fantastic artwork, but it didn’t convey the theme I thought the game was implying.
Another game by Bruno Cathala but this time with Théo Rivière. We recognized immediately the graphics of Vincent Dutrait. A game for two players (again a forgetfully theme). The objective is to be the first to recover 25 victory points with the help of treasures or relics that you will be able to unlock, thanks to tiles in your temple. The material is nice but the game is pretty average. It moves, but it is clearly missing the little slice that makes me want to come back. Yet there are good ideas inside.
A polar bear race where they will be swimming, running and surfing on floating ice. For something that looks like a young child’s game, Ice Team has a lot of depth and strategy to it. Cleverly eliminating parts of the track may hinder your opponent in this two player, for polar bears per player race can help you. Or it may help your opponent, as swimming can make traversal of large open areas a rapid way to catch up. With a random course set up to the change the layout of icebergs, players will have a handful of replayable experiences. As it’s not about being the first across the line but it is also about how many fish you can pick up. Or steal. With some really nice ideas like freezing fish to stop players stealing them and sliding ice blocks, plus disintegrating ice all add up to a fun experience. Although only for two players.
barry's #2 game of the festival
I'm not necessarily a fan of this range, which I find a little too young for me. Once again, a game from ... Bruno Cathala (he is everywhere) but this time with Matthew Dunstan. I must say that I was really pleasantly surprised. Besides the really nice look (they have class polar bears), the game has very good ideas (surfing on the ice or frozen fish). Young and old can find this enjoyable. A good game, light but nice. And in addition presented very beautifully with a giant version is very nice! (not retail)
An interesting bag building game and the first of its kind that I have played. Drawing different ingredients at random from your bag to add to your cauldron to create the most powerful potions. With a high push your luck factor, as you do not wish to make your potion explode with the wrong ingredient, but also make it the largest potion possible. This benefits you in points as well as being able to buy better ingredients to add to your bag. Lots of choice and replayability in the ingredients that you can collect and I believe it adapt well to all types of playing styles. I can see how this won the Kennerspiel des Jahres, but I found it a tad repetitive, as I longed for the last round. I want to play it again, but with a shorter playing time and maybe 3D ingredients…!
The First game I had to read the rule (it was late at night and the demonstrators had gone, but not their games). Well we must say that we could not miss the chance to play this Kennerspiel. Especially since I had heard a lot of good things about it. You are healers who have to find Potions recipes to sell on a market. But finally what a cold shower. Yes the game works, it moves, but ... that’s all? It's a mix of bag-building with some original and well-found ideas. A family game at it’s base, to which one has artificially added mechanisms to become more for player. Too much manipulation, a lot of chances, not really smooth when discovering it, little choice, very repetitive, very little interaction, each player plays in their corner without looking at the other cauldrons. A real disappointment (and yet we were in very good company).
Many moons ago I played this game as a Prototype. At that time it felt like a roll and write game as it was rolling dice and writing on paper. You’ll allocate at least one of your results to one of three charts to try to get superiority there. This final version has rune tokens and dice, with some exquisite Viking card art. The mechanisms have not changed but there are more ways to gain points in this version of the game as you collect cards. Whether you have had the highest value of saved dice or the highest collection of the same number, these will give you the first choice from a selection of cards in the zone. So, more of a set collection game where you will be collecting cards for the color or their panoramic view that you can complete. As well as individual scores for each card and special powers on some. This is a nice medium white dice rolling set collection game that will have you pondering for a while but never leaving you swimming for options.
barry's #3 game of the festival
A game that immerses you in the Viking universe. The goal is to plunder Europe and bring back wealth. A collectible game where you will have to try to win on several tracks to recover fresco cards or objectives to fill. Several ways to score, a lot of replayability, a strong interaction, the presence of chance (but can be lessened), fun and deceitful. I really have the desire to play it again. My favorite of the show! (and in addition the large version on the demo table was awesome).
Yahtzee for kids who are into zombies. That’s all I can say about zombie bus. It is a simple game for a family audience, where on the players turn they reveal a Zombie and roll some dice. The dice have various body parts depicted on them as well as the zombie cards. Having results that are the same as the zombie card means that you can damage that zombie. If you managed to tick all the boxes, that zombie is dead and you score points for them. But also at the same time, in the middle of the table is the bus that the game is talking about. And on it is a group of cheerleaders that everyone has to rescue. The dice also have other results, like the star and joker. Collecting a certain amount of stars on your turn can be used to rescue a cheerleader. Rescue all the cheerleaders will deplete the deck of zombie cards the game will end. Yes this is a cooperative game we are a family can work together to kick some ass before the zombie kick yours. Or eat the cheerleaders.
I love zombie games and I am generally good bate. But that did not take. Still, the atmosphere is there. Cheerleaders, special zombies, the second degree, the presence of dice ... But we are faced with a game where ultimately the choice is obvious. We did not feel like doing things, we let ourselves walk through the game. The zombies for, the vast majority are almost all the same. There was not really any epic or fun moments. We threw our dice without really thinking. And we watched the time pass. Too bad.
Keeping your pet satisfied while doing your errands can be a handful. That’s what Honga is about. A very stunning looking have a game where players will draw cards at random and then play them on to the board at a certain angle that will allow them to one stroke the sabertooth tiger and to collect a resource or perform an action. A simple mechanic that will make younger children very happy and very angry when the sabertooth gets no affection and eats their resources. With plenty of paths to scoring points and some beautiful cartoon art components, this game is sure to please the young family and teach responsibility as well as management skills.
Hard to do better than Karuba (which I like a lot in style). Honga offers nice material, and the idea of Honga that comes to attack you if you forget it, adds a constant pressure. And yet, the game struggles to convince. The chance of the cards dictates the way you play and the most profitable actions appear on their own. Really not convinced. Children can find their account but for how long? To try again can be …
A basic “roll and write” game, which means that a player will roll some dice and then players can write down the results on their sheet to tick some boxes. As simple as that. Although each color die has its own area to be ticked. Some of these areas just accumulate into points. And some areas create columns, that when once filled will allow you to tick another box somewhere else. I simple idea about taking boxes like playing bingo. But proving you are best at it by either rolling well or checking off the right areas at the right time, is not much of a game. For me it’s a little something and nothing.
Another game by Wolfgang Warsh. This time we are dealing with a little game dice super clever. The thing is very simple, we have a grid to fill, we throw dice, we choose and next where we check if we can unlock bonuses. The game offers good ideas with different scoring areas. Fast, simple, clever and can be deceitful. The choice of the dice for the first player will determine the choice for the following. A success.
guilou's #3 game of the festival
And there you have it. All the discoveries we made and fun we had playing. Plus it was a good laugh in our company and those we encountered. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comment, write them below.
Coming from a first Kickstarter in 2016, Rescue Polar Bears quickly found his audience. But very quickly, the game appeared to be suffering from some defects. In 2017 at Essen, a new version was published with adjustments making it even more pleasant. This is the version I will tell you about. Polar Bears Rescue: Data & Temperature is a game by designers Jog Kung (Cat Town) and Huang Yi Ming (The Deception of Antiques: 12 Chinese Zodiac Bronze Heads). It has been published by TwoPlus Games(Cat Box).
No surprises on the theme, the game is located at the North Pole. You are sent to head a rescue mission on the Arctic Ocean. Each player is behind the controls of a lifeboat. But who should we save? Polar bears of course!
The melting ice is accelerating and your team is responsible for recovering as much data as possible while preventing the disappearance of these adorable (but dangerous) hairy creatures. The recovered data will be used to raise awareness of the danger to the governments of the world (utopian?). You will therefore have to cooperate (with such a theme, what a surprise!) to carry out your objective.
For the set-up, nothing more simple. You take all the tiles, mix them, and install them face down on the board. Once done, we turn them over and remove the empty Ocean tiles. That's it, your playing area has appeared.
Among the available tiles, you will find three kinds: the ice banks numbered from 1 to 20 (where the bears can evolve), the empty Ocean tiles (which you will remove) and the tiles with a buoy (the tags can help you). We install the two bases, with the helicopters (essential), which will come to our rescue. We return a map position that allows us to define the location of the first data to be recovered. After putting the thermometer at 8 ° C, we turn over an alert token to know which number of the first ice sheet is in danger. Then install cute cubs and their parents. All that remains is to choose our boats and go.
Playable from 1 to 4 players, you can choose from five different boats. As in many of these styles games, each boat offers very different abilities. Several factors to take into account such as speed, the number of actions, the possibility of transport, power but also upgrades possible (two per boat). The initial choice is important. Each offers interesting possibilities and all are very useful in their own way.
Your rescue team can do its job. On your turn, you have three actions to perform from the possible actions (you can do the same several time):
to move : as many spaces as your ship allows;
collect a data / ship a bear : if you are adjacent to an ice floe, you can collect data or have a single bear embarked for each action (being careful of the available space);
land your bear cargo (also called "save polar bears") : if you are adjacent to a base, you can save ALL the bears in your boat for an action;
break the ice : does an ice floe prevent you from moving? No problem ! You are equipped for that. So you can go in, destroy it, which will remove the tile from the board. Positive effect: the temperature drops by 2 ° C (the water has cooled) / Negative effect: one tile less, end of game faster. An action to use sparingly so.
Of course, there are some specific actions for some boats, like finding more data, shipping more bears etc.
Once your three actions are completed, you slide into the breeding phase. It seems that polar bears are not aware of the danger. As a result, they continue to live normally. Which inevitably implies love between bears, and the potential appearance of new cubs because of the life’s miracle. But for that, you have to roll a dice 20 (ah, didn't you know that's how polar bears breed?). If the number of the die matches a tile in play, the miracle of nature does its job. If there is a male and a female, two new cubs are born. If there are only cubs, they grow (either in male or female). And if there is nothing, or there are not enough miniatures in the reserve or bears of only one sex, the temperature will go up by one degree.
Because yes, once the reproduction done, the heat continues to climb. So, we roll the temperature dice and increase the marker of the number indicated (possibly add the +1 bonus).
It is going to get more and more hotter in this part of the Ocean Arctic. And this is not the time to take a vacation. But what happens if the temperature reaches or exceeds the token of the tile where there is the alert counter? What it must scientifically do when the temperature is above the resistance of the ice ... the numbered ice pack melts and disappears. Positive effect: it will cool the water by 5 ° C. Negative effect: the end of the game approaches.
But what about the bears on it? Fortunately, polar bears have a minimum of survival instinct. It's like when a boat uses the icebreaker action or if after a birth, there are not more enough space on the tile. They will seek to move on the adjacent tiles that can accommodate them. Because yes, the ice is quite small. They can only accommodate three bears / cubs at a time. For those who unfortunately can not find a place, they find themselves in the water. It is known that polar bears are good swimmers. But actually not here. So, we have the chance to count on a helicopter team to come and save them. Phew. Except that we only have enough fuels for six flights (in the normal play), which is the rescue of six bears. After that... if by chance a bear drowns, your team would have failed in its holy mission.
The end of the game occurs if you win or lose. To win, one goal: to recover a sufficient number of data. To lose, it's even easier. If a single bear disappears or the temperature reaches 20 ° C, you lose.
Does it seem hard to win? It's because it is. The game is simple in its rules, but very hard in the possibility of a victory. It’s necessary to be vigilant, on the lookout for the least critical situation. Be careful, critical situation can often happen. You will have little respite in this excellent game. If you think you are saved, there is a problem that you have not seen. You can adjust the difficulty and add ice float tiles, which block the movement. The boats must therefore use the icebreaker action to move forward. In this case, the temperature does not drop. Behind a cute design, exceptional material, we are not in the simple family game. To win, you have to think and be ready to find the parry at the right time.
To help you, in addition to helicopters, you can win cards (limited number) by stopping on the buoys. These cards can save your life. But you will have to play them at the right time. Which upgrades to choose and for whom are also important things to consider.
Rescue Polar Bears: Data & Temperature is smart to talk about a vital ecological problem without being preachy. The two designers have found the perfect recipe to combine playful fun with awareness. The theme is ubiquitous whatever one does.
Even if it is indicated 8 years on the box, and that it is quite possible to play there in family, the game offers a challenge worthy of experts. To win, you will not only have to rely on luck. From the start with the selection of boats, any choice during the game will have a significant impact on the future and any error is expensive. Especially for bears. They are so adorable that we can only want to save them. The material is really exceptional. Resin bear miniatures are beautiful and cute as they should (even if they can slightly deteriorate rather quickly). The boat embossed cardboard adds a nice 3D side. Tiles and tokens are made of cardboard. Cards of good qualities. Everything is well thought out and ergonomic. We are far from the beautiful game that hides gaps of interest or replayability. This one is very important: set up always different, rise of random waters, choice of boats, appearance of data ... Rescue Polar Bears: Data & Temperature is a very good surprise. A game that deserves its place in any game library. A beautiful, intelligent, interesting game, carrying a strong message, while allowing to have fun great pleasure. A blow of heart certainly.
Technical Score 9.5 / 10 Exceptional gaming equipment, everything is at the service of the theme. Simple to set up, the miniature bear resin make their effect quickly. Perfect alliance between ergonomics and beauty.
My BGG Score 8.5 / 10 (Very good - enjoy playing and would suggest it.) A very good challenge, a theme omnipresent, huge replayability, fun and intelligent. A cooperative game that requires cooperation every moment. Short rules, well illustrated and easily understood.
Combined Score 9/10 And now it's over to you ...