The Second World War is a global event that has deeply touched the minds and souls. We find this represented many times in board games. Indeed, many games are released each year on this theme. The vast majority of them propose mechanisms close to Wargames, either with figurines or cardboard elements. Sometimes authors choose this period and decide to think outside the box at the level of mechanisms. This is the case of Clash Of The Ardennes.
First of all, I want to say that the game I had the chance to try is still what we can consider to be a prototype, even if it is already well done. Some things can still change after the Kickstarter. Because yes, this is a future Kickstarter scheduled for September 10.
Clash Of The Ardennes is a game by Elwin Klappe. This is a game based on the battle that took place in the Ardennes. It offers two players to compete for control of the territory. The game is scheduled to go out in stores in 2020. The Kickstarter will offer three different formats. The first is to be able to acquire the game as a deck of cards. For the second and third, during the Kickstarter and only for the quickest of clickers, a classic version and another wooden collector edition will be available. The classic version will be limited to 500 copies, while the Collector at 100 copies. The version we played was a wooden prototype, as you will see in the pictures, which seems to be closer to the classic version.
Clash Of The Ardennes is a game that wants to immerse you in the heart of the famous battle that took place in the Ardennes. Each player embodies one of the two camps: one will take the allies (and more specifically the Americans), while the other will take the Germans. Each player will have the same pieces, each corresponding to divisions of the army on the spot.
The game board is divided into seven rows. Each row is 18 slots long. A player wins the game if he takes three rows. For a row to fall into the hands of an army, the player must have his troops cross the battlefield and one of his divisions must touch the opposite side of the board. But it's not as simple as it seems to be. The fight will be fierce between the two camps.
Like any good war movie, before entering the thick of the battle, we must review the available troops.
There is no war without infantrymen. The soldiers of each army are represented by helmets. They occupy two locations once in play. They are themselves divided according to their rank. Indeed, you will have 6 soldiers and 3 officers. The more helmet on your character, the more the soldier is graded. You also find on the bottom their decoration (not always easy to distinguish especially among Germans).
The infantrymen will be supported by armored units (7 in number). These occupy three locations. Tanks are represented by tanks.
There will also be the possibility of installing mines on the battlefield (5). Mines occupy a single location and have a mine symbol is drawn on it.
But your regular troops will be helped by special divisions specifically dispatched for this battle. Each camp has the same. Special units have a color or symbol that distinguishes them from normal ones.
Your army has a general. This is represented by a pawn of five spaces. You can see a cap and helmets as well as his specific decoration.
You also have at your disposal a special tank. The latter, when it comes into play, will be able to shoot, not only in front of itself but also on the sides. This pawn has arrows to remind you. It occupies three locations like a normal tank.
In order to have effective firepower, your army is also equipped with a mortar. It occupies two locations. It’s ability is marked on it.
Finally, each camp has a spy. Stiletto heels for the American, suit for the Germans, both have a pistol. The spy occupies a location.
You will each have 21 standard and 4 special pieces. This is a totally symmetrical game. At the beginning of the game, both players have the same abilities and the same chances. Now, put on your thinking caps ... uh your weapons.
Each camp starts on its own side of the board. The goal is to bring one of your units to touch the opposite edge. For this, players in turn have four action points. The available actions are very simple.
You can call reinforcements. This is like putting a piece into play. It costs you 1 action point. No matter the size of the unit, it's the same price. The troop must be placed in an unconquered row and in the continuity of your own troops. You never go backward, always forwards. If for any reason there is a space in the back, but you still have troops further along that road, you must place them in front of those. Pay attention to the size of your divisions, to join the battlefield, your company should benefit from enough space to be deployed.
To make room, you can call a troop from the front lines for 2 action points. Attention, it must be a unit installed directly at the front, not between two other pieces. This division is returned to your personal reserve and is available again immediately.
To retreat a troop that is directly in contact with the enemy, in a situation of being, will you cost 3 actions. Yes it's expensive. But hey, to return a troop while it fights is not an innocuous action.
Finally, to save time, launch a lightning attack. It will you cost 2 action points. The lightning attack is simply to take the troop located at the back of a row and bring it in front that row. Being limited in units, this action allows you to delay and try to gain ground without spending too much on resources. But be careful, bring a unit from the back necessarily forms holes. And if you lose your available troops in front of you, you will start that row again.
The actions are pretty clear and everything is quite fluid once they are known. But who says war, battles or clashes. It is true that, for the moment, I have not spoken about it yet. I will not correct the shot.
The attack is a very simple thing in this game. No dice, no cards, no specific abilities. In fact, there is a bit of a “rock-paper-scissors” system. It's not as complicated as that. I reassure you right away, there is no room for randomness and we do not use our hands to do it. In fact, the soldier beats the mine but the mine beats the tank that beats the soldier. If two identical pieces are in contact, then both are destroyed. Exception to the same soldiers rule. As I told you in the troop review, the soldiers are not all identical. If two soldiers of the same ranks meet face to face then yes, they both die. On the other hand, if the two are of different ranks, then the hierarchical man survives and the other dies. When a troop dies, it simply returns to the player's pool and is immediately available again. Thematically this explains the fresh troops from the rear who come into battle.
There is also the case of special pieces that must be seen in detail. Indeed, they are a little special hence their names.
The general functions as a soldier in front of the armor but in front of another soldier it is the highest ranking necessarily. He survives, then.
The special tank acts in the same way as a normal one except that it also touches the infantry located to the left and right of the arrows.
The spy is the most powerful piece of the game. Like any good spy, it has not been unmasked. As a result, it is able to kill any other unit. It can only die by the hands of another spy (except a small exception). This makes it the most crucial piece to play at the right time and try not to get stuck without it.
The exception for the spy is the mortar. The mortar is the most strategic piece to play for it to be really effective. The mortar is activated if a soldier is at least two spaces away. I mean soldiers and not rank. If it is, then the mortar shoots. If on the second space it touches a simple soldier then it destroyed. It then carries on, destroying the pieces which were in front (if there was one of his camp) and that could be a mine or a spy. It's a not-so-easy unit to play but that can save you the day.
The fight is automatic, it does not cost actions. It snaps when a piece is placed in contact with another. But only if this piece is of equal or greater value. The piece destroyed then returns to the players reserve. Pay attention to the placement of your units. Indeed, the fights can become really deadly especially in case you have laid several units of the same type one behind the other. If a piece is destroyed by contact with another of the same value, it does not matter. On the other hand, if a division of superior force destroys a weaker troop, then all those of the same category directly behind are also destroyed. This forces you to pay attention and to vary the shots.
If I put an infantryman against an enemy infantryman both pieces are removed no matter what is behind. But if I put a tank in contact with an enemy infantryman then the soldier dies and the other soldiers placed directly behind him are removed too.
Another case, if I put an infantryman in contact with a tank, then the two pieces remain. This is a situation of blockage.
And blockages, there will be some. It is better to prepare because the game plays a lot on it. Blockages force players to change their strategy or change their way of seeing. These situations are very expensive, especially for those who want to unblock. So, the reflection will be more intense to push the other to make a mistake. The heart of the game will finally end up there. Clash of the Ardennes is a blocking game, an abstract game that is reminiscent of games like Chess. You will soon find yourself in contact and everyone will try to immobilize the other to be more free in their movements on other battlefields. Each line then embarks on a sort of trench warfare (which would have finally corresponded very well to the theme of the First World War). What may be interesting for some, may become frustrating for others.
On some games, we found ourselves launching light attacks, which were countered, then re-encountered, then canceled and then renewed and counterattacked ... These situations are especially true from the moment when the players start to have gained points from roads and that their available units decrease. Sorry ? Oh yes, I did not tell you. When a player seizes a road, all their units remain there until the end of the game. Impossible to recover them. So be careful not to lose your spy early, or spend too many troops just for your first point.
Composant level, it is difficult to give a definitive opinion since it is a first printing. We received what will correspond, in view of the photos, to the classic wooden version. It does not hide anything, playing with such material is very nice. The box is beautiful, the illustrations are directly laser inlaid. Light, the box contains all it takes to play. Everything is in it. We open easily and everything is ready to play. Just remove the pieces from the trenches. The pawns are handled well and everything fits easily and easily removed. The box is easily transportable and the fact that everything fits in offers a chance to play everywhere.
We could still criticize some things that may be improved later.
Already, for the more clumsy, to have small notches or locations within the trenches could be a plus, to prevent the units moving about and remove the fun to remembering where they were.
Then, it is sometimes difficult to pay attention to which road is taken or not. A flag or pawn system to be inserted at the beginning of a road to indicate a players point could be a good idea that would facilitate visibility.
Some might blame the readability of the pieces themselves, but after two games, there are no more worries. You will finally recognize who is who. By cons, for the box version, insert a small clasp on the outside could be a plus, especially for those who take their games with them in their transport. This could prevent premature opening of the box and the release of material in an untimely place.
Finally, having to fold the rule in two to put away the box is a shame. Although this is understandable in view of the fact that everything goes to the millimeter.
At the general graphics level, the game is fairly simple in terms of hardware. The rules, on the contrary, offers illustrations a little like the old American manuals for soldiers. It may be a bit confusing at first but it's pretty good and it works well. The rules are rather well written, even if there are some mistakes (or things forgotten) that will certainly be corrected in the final version.
So hard to talk about the card game version as I do not know at all what it will bring or how it will be played, even if I guess it's the same game. By cons, the wood version is very pleasant. Whether aesthetically or practically, this edition will appeal to fans of this style of game.
Clash of the Ardennes is finally a perfect abstract game for those who like to think and find themselves facing situations of blockage where the only way to win it effectively is to take advantage of an opponent's mistake. I advise you to play with people of the same level as you, at the risk of quickly finding yourself in a situation of imbalance. Not due to the game, but to your way of playing. Clash of the Ardennes is a game without chance. Everything is controllable. Suddenly, from one party to another, there can be no novelty or no surprise. All information is visible and known to all. It is a pure strategy game where everything will be based on the global evaluation in real time of the situation, the laying of the pieces but especially the establishment of long-term action plans. Plans that can sometimes be harmed by expensive blocking, but necessary for the slowdown of the enemy advance.
Easy to play, Clash is not less difficult to master. It is typically the game that will require several plays to begin to make those good decisions. I'm not talking about winning or grabbing lines but doing it the best way. Optimize your costs while taking calculated risks. It is a game that in a simple aspect can finally put off the less patient or those looking for a game that tells a story. Because even if sometimes we can imagine the attacks and counter-attacks of the time, the theme is just an accessory. An accessory that participates in the coating but does not allow for full immersion. I enjoyed playing it but it's not necessarily a game where you come out of a game saying "I had fun." Or in a calculating way (if such a fun can be measured), almost neural.
Clash of the Ardennes is a well-thought-out game that deserves special attention if you like the puzzle genre or blocking abstract game. Each part will put your senses and your capacity for anticipation and reflection to the test. The wood version is a big bonus (pay attention to the delivery date) undeniably. I admit that without this version, I'm not sure that I would have enjoyed it as much. But even if it's not necessarily my style of play, I enjoyed playing and replaying it. Easy to play, explain and carry, for those who like the genre go for it! You will find your pleasure.
Barry's First Impressions :
This is an original idea for an abstract game. The theme carries it in part, as technically it is getting from one side to the other, which is reminiscent of the other abstract game Quoridor. Simple in its idea and and elegant in the mechanisms of simply placing pieces in front of pieces but also having your opponent go head-to-head against you . Tie in the visual aspect of each piece being a different size plus each piece being part of a rock scissors paper system and you have some interesting combinations. Added to that are some unique pieces that can change up the game and immensely.
Although it does fall into the same trappings as other games of this ilk. Which is the stalemate scenario. Weather is a lot of to and fro, while competing for that final road. This is unless you're playing against an inexperienced player. This is a perfectly designed two player abstract game, which will please anyone in terms of its mechanisms. And also in terms of aesthetics, this could be a wonderful item to have on your coffee table.
Well not entirely true. If you have ever watched one of myBurky & Badger Board Game Babblepodcasts (or technically listened to it), it you would know so that occasionally we have special guests on the show. And we interview them in a fun game show style. So I've decided to tweak this format into something that I can do on my own.
This is the first of which I hope many such interviews which I tested live on Facebook.My guest, designer David Gerrard from Junk Spirit Games offered to be my guinea pig for the show. And this is that show show where we get to know David and talk about the games he's designed, likeBattle of the Bards.
I've basically taking the principals of the TV show Quantum Leap. Placing my guest in the roll all of Sam Beckett, who is uncontrollably being transported into the bodies of people throughout history. Having to make decisions for them to direct the history into a good and positive direction. But in our scenario, our Sam Beckett has control of who they jump into. Which can lead to some interesting and funny stories from the personal life of my guests.
What do you think of this format? Should be something to watch on Twitch or YouTube? And what guests would you like me to find out more about? Lights and comments and let me know.
It doesn't take much to make a board game. Some card, some dice and some players. But in this day and age, our board game hobby requires miniatures and tokens and glossy reference sheets to say the least. In fact, the more material that a publisher producers and fills their box with, the happier we are as consumers because we feel that we have a super game in our hands. Although that is not always the case. Dungeons and Dragons was purely paper pencils and Dice, and the magic of the game is in the imaginations of the players. Golden Egg Games have tried to produce some of that traditional magic in their latest game game Dice & Dragons.
1-5 players will be building up the heroic courage to take out all the troubling dragons in the land of Aqedia. In classic style, much like the aforementioned Gary Gygax game, each player will have a different role from Warrior, Ranger, Cleric, Rouge to Wizard. But all will be doing the same thing over and over again. Roll dice, Yahtzee style. Are you bored yet? Well you shouldn't be, as beneath the dull exterior of the box and the sheets of paper that are in the game, there is something addictive in this tweaked version of the 1950s dice rolling game.
To start with, this is a kind of roll and write campaign game with it’s own campaign book and accompanying story, players will be going from dragon to dragon, trying to eliminate them before they are eliminated themselves. First trying to take out a weak but bothersome dragon who is wreaking havoc in a nearby Village. Weaved into the book is an interesting story adventure that leads you on between kills. And with every dead dragon there is always a village with a store that you can buy items and upgrades. Plus level up at a tavern, just like in Dungeons and Dragons. It's this campaign that will keep you addicted if you can hack and slash this old style of game.
The bulk of the game is around the combat. Each player has a character sheet with a list of different attacks that they can perform. But to perform these attacks, the player has to roll a combination of results much like in Yahtzee. But instead of rolling three “1’s” or getting two pairs, the dice have icons designated to each of the five classes in the game. There are no colours on these dice, like to say that for the Wizard = purple or the Warrior = red. No. Just monochromatic black and white dice. Some of the icons are easy to identify, like the crossbow which belongs to the Ranger character. But before you lay your first dragon to rest, you would have already adapted to the icons and they became second nature from then on.
All the characters have the same I'm kind of results needed to do damage to the Dragon, i.e. 2 of their own icons to do 4 damage or 3 of their own icons to do 7 damage. But each have one attack that is slightly different to everybody else's. These can vary from I'm having two of your own icons plus 3 totally different ones, to having two of your icons and two of one other player's icons. On your turn you're going to be trying to produce these results to do damage the same way as most games with dice. With three rolls. Save the results that you want and reroll the rest. This can be a kind of a no-brainer sometimes as you will roll successfully sometimes. Other times you will have to rely on the probability of chance when deciding to save all or none of them. At the end, you'll see if you've managed to pull off one of your attacks and if so, you’ll cover it over with one of your tokens, meaning you will not be able to perform that attack again this round. Before passing the dice to the next player who will do the same. This sounds simple enough until you cannot perform one of your actions because you didn't get the results you need or you had the results of an attack that you've already exhausted. This is a miss. And to add insult to humiliation, you will still have to cover over one of your actions as if it were performed. This leans towards a bit of humour from the other players and also a bit of thinking from yourself as to which action you don't think you are going to fulfill next turn. Now I mentioned 5 of the sides of the dice but not 6th. And no, it is not a joker that you can use as any class of character, but it is actually the Dragon. And this is where the game stands a little head and shoulders above its older brother. If at the end of your third roll there are any Dragons revealed on the dice, this will produce a counter attack from your target. So yes, you may hit the Dragon but the Dragon may hit you back. And depending on the number of Dragons visible determines how hard they Dragon clocks you one. Another nice touch is at the end of your turn, the next player can save immediately one of your unused dice results. This adds a touch of strategy to the dice that you save and the actions that you try to accomplish. Because if you know that the Warrior is the next player and on your first role you have a bunch of their icons, should you save one for them? Another pause for thought.
Each player will have 3 tokens, so in effect everyone will have three potshots at the Dragon before it turns its attention to you (unless you've been unlucky to be counter attacked). Any player can take all of the 5 dice and roll them. Any dragon symbols are placed to the side while the rest of the dice are rolled again. After the third roll of the dice, all players will take damage from the Dragon depending on how many Dragon faces have been accumulated by the unnamed player. And these attacks are quite powerful, as the damage is not distributed between the players. It's just everybody takes the full whack of damage. If any of our heroes are alive, they collect their tokens and have another three potshots at the Dragon. Play continues until the Dragon is dead, at which point you'll go to the campaign and read the continuing story, visit the tavern and local store. Players can also run away if they feel that the dice have not been fair to them. Is basically resets their hit points as well as the Dragons, and you start again.
The fun of the game comes from developing your character. As simple as they are, it lends a pleasure that is suitable to this genre of game. You may pick up some positions that will restore hit points. Or level up your character giving them more hit points and a special ability. It may simply make one of your attacks do extra damage or you can learn a new attack and draw on your character sheet. Which is kind of hard as these icons are quite intricate to doodle, so you’ll make up your own. Yes, your character will become stronger and more powerful as the campaign evolves. As do the Dragons. They don't just get more hit points themselves, they also have different abilities, like being able to poison your character, regenerate their health, or even have an armour class. Choosing how to spend your experience points and your gold wisely is part of the problem solving that is required in the game. And in that regard it feels balanced. This is a light luck checking dice fest, but it's also an addictive one as you level grind together.
The game comes with some nice weighty dice and a couple of pencils with inadequate rubbers (or erasers for those of a dirty mind). Two well written books, one with the rules and the other with the campaign. Listed in the book is the items you can buy from each shop and a table for leveling up, which should have been either on the back of the book for easy reference or on it’s own card. The paper sheets that you will doodle the Dragon and your own stats on are very limited. But there is an online version to print and play with. And limited is the feeling you will have when looking at all these bits. There is not much, not even a second campaign, with another adventure and creatures to fight. That is the only thing that is missing, a choose your own adventure to accompany this fun combat dice system. And with more players, there is a slight advantage, as you’ll be collectively having more jabs at your opponent or opponents...
Technical Score 8/10 Limited components, but everything functions well inside the game. Again, limited art, but that lends itself to the D&D cloning. And limited gameplay, like climbing a tree to see how high you can get up, fall down and start again.
My BGG Score 6/10 (Ok- will play if in the mood) I did have fun playing and leveling up my character, as did my daughter. The “push you luck” element is the only thing that kept us gripped, as well as the nice additions of the counterattack and saving a die for the next player. The system itself should be used in a ‘choose your own adventure” way. It makes combat really interesting, having goals to achieve to obtain hits. But that is all it is… A die combat system. A good one, by dry on it’s own.
Writers: Owen Duffy, Matt Thrower, Teri Litorco, Richard Jansen-Parkes Publisher: Clyde & Cart Press Written by Barry
Occasionally I get given items in the realm of board games that are not actually board games. And through this medium of video and articles, I have to transmit as much information about this item from a neutral standpoint as well as a personal point of view. With board games, I have gotten to the point where it is quite a fluid process. But with other items in this realm it can become a little more convoluted. Case in point is this article about a book on board games called “The Board Game Book volume 1” which was published with the support of many backers on Kickstarter.
Off the bat, I cannot claim that I have read the 259 pages of this attractive looking hard book and it’s 146 games, but I have perused over many of the articles from all the different sections. Sections about simple family games, strategy games to roleplaying and app versions of well known titles. Examining articles about those I have played, critiqued, as well as games I know about but I've never played and also those that I know nothing about. And that's a lot of reading for me.
So before I dive into the book itself, I want to take a short moment to talk about the cover of this hard book edition. Eye-popping, it definitely isn't. In fact, it took me a little while to uncover the resemblance of board games from this collage of components. Which worries me about who this book is aimed for. Inside the editor writes that this is a book to help those who have just started to dabble in the Hobby, and for those who want to learn a little bit more. And not to give too much away, it does that job. But when this book is aimed for beginners, how does that target audience know this book is for them when there is no evident clue in the artwork.
Carrying on with Owen Duffy’s editors notes, he says that the creation of the book is to help new hobbyist into the realm of board games while at the same time encouraging existing players to delve into a little deeper. Which this book seems to do and does it well. There are plenty of titles from many different publishers and designers, so don’t worry about it being a Bruno Cathala’s greatest hits. There is also a forward from Ian Livingstone of Games Workshop. But it seems detached from the book, as he just talks about his life and games entwined. Normally I found forwards to be a tip of the hat to the author and his works from renowned professionals, which I deem Ian as (grace of Fantasy Fighting books and HeroQuest that I grew up on). But it seems like I have read this all before and this is just a generic interview. No offence to Ian.
Jumping away from the superficial parts of the book and digging into the real meat and veg, “the articles”, the book is nicely divided into ever increasing levels of gaming. Starting off by talking about what gaming is and how it has grown before jumping into a chapter of games that you may be familiar with from days gone by (or at least in the past 10-20 years). It covers a lot of ground from casual and light strategy games, up to complex and storytelling ones. Role-playing and miniature wargaming is not forgotten. And catching up with the times, there is even a section about board game apps.
Each of the 146 games has a very elegantly written article, reminding me of all the wonderful words in our gaming vocabulary. They are all a very light dusting of about 500-600 words per game that give you a rundown of a little history, as well as some of the rules and some of the experiences you might feel while playing. Some of the bigger games like Gloomhaven or Twilight Imperium have double the amount of words said about them. But they are big games and deserve it. This works well with the family and casual party games sections as it covers all the bases about the game. But in the medium weight and higher level types of game, it barely reaches all of the interesting details within. When I say this, I'm talking about the games that I have played and know very well. The authors of each article, and there are no names connected to each giving a monotone continuity, do a good job of keeping things short and concise, touching on key points. Each of the four critics writing for this novelization, blur into one another with their systematic work, leaving a one note tone. And that one note tone, is to be informative. Reading these wonderfully crafted words remind me of the goal that I set myself as a critic (one day I will be as good as they are).
(I was born there too Alan)
Talking about the word critic, there is very little negativity in any of the articles. Which is not a bad thing because the book is trying to promote the Hobby and not scare people away from a particular title. Some of the harshest comments that you will find are things like “this game plays good with four but not with two”. Or it may mention the amount of luck in the game as a way to tell players that the game is very much “take that.” With a handful of images and information like playing times and number of players, each article gives you a rounded vision of the game. And to connect with that, most of the articles have an interesting, but short interview with the designer as well. Pointing out some of the design aspects and choices that they made while making the title, as well as some small facts about the designers themselves. Each interview that I read, left me wanting more questions answered, but maybe that's just my curious self. Well-known names and first-time designers are all in here, making a nice conglomerate of creative people.
The book includes and finishes with a lovely glossary on gaming terms, like worker placement or card drafting. Reminding me that this book has been designed as an entry-level for people who want to learn more about board games and not necessarily for people like myself. And for that, I think it's done it's job. The book covers a good portion of new releases and does so in a very friendly and well-mannered way. Each game can be read about very quickly and although the images used are sometimes not the images I would have assigned to a game, give a good representation of the basics of each title. Therefore I'd recommend this book to anyone who has 20 or less boxes of joy sat on their shelf. But for the vast majority of you reading this, who probably have hundreds of games stacked nicely on your IKEA shelves, you're probably better off reading someone's blog or watching a Dice Tower video. Reading this has not enlightened me or persuaded me to go out and find these wonderful new titles. Although some of the interesting back stories of how a game was designed are a delight to read. As not what all the board game designers are cut from the same cloth.
In the title of this book are those infinite words “volume 1.” Because this is going to be an annual release. Every year, another book will hit the shelves with more new titles and more friendly advice on what to seek out at your game store. Personally, I believe the Talent behind these words, printed on those pages, should be producing a monthly magazine, as well as producing a helpful beginners book like this once a year. Or even a “best of the year” book. There are very few magazines (Tabletop Gaming & Plato Magazine & Ravage) in this genre and I feel that they're writing could be put to good use in a more regular format and allowing each author to dig their teeth in, telling us more about these games
Technical score 9.5/10 A nice chunky read with eloquent and and helpful authors. Laid out in a gently progressive way. A great introduction into the world of board gaming with plenty to read about. More of a catalogue then a book. A little disconnect between the cover and the subject.
My BGG score (if this was a game) 7/10 A nice light read, but there is no meat in the articles about the game to keep me reading more. Although the interviews are very interesting and amusing, there is nothing to keep me or the avid gamer hooked.
Combined score 8.25/10 and now it's over to you, what do you think...?
While playing games, I forget that I am learning something. Maybe I’m being enlightened about a culture. Or maybe it’s about how to manage stock within boundaries. And maybe if I’m feeling really special, it’s about overcoming and escaping gravity. Games do a good job of hiding these little lessons. But here's a game that blatantly tells you that you should have played this in math class and possibly your exam score would have been higher.
Aimed clearly at the younger generation of app playing school kids, City of Zombies is a tower defence game with zombies, where players are using maths to fight off these hordes of undead. It all sounds exciting, doesn't it?
Getting into the game can be very easy by watching a tutorial video. Which is something that I should have done from the get go. As the rulebook is colourful and divided into lovely sections, but to read it is like examining a corpse that's been ripped apart by the Z's. There are bits of information here there and everywhere and sometimes you read the full breadth of the page while other times you read half of that all the way down and then go back up to the top. Again it's on a folded piece of paper, almost map like that makes it confusing a little. I would prefer a more straightforward page 1, page 2 etc, with the basic rules placed together and not miss mashed with the extra add-ons to make the game harder.
But apart from that, the game is relatively straightforward. The players are trying to protect a group of civilians at their camp. Just until the rescue plane arrives. The zombies will be approaching from the far side of the board and the players, in turn will have a chance to take pot shots at them by rolling three dice. So after the initial spawning of the zombies which again is done by dice rolling, each player will roll the 3 dice and you some math to take the zombies down. Each zombie card has a number on it which refers to the result you need to remove it from the board. These cards come in 4 levels, each level having harder zombies and possibly aliens to kill as well as different events that can help or hinder the team. Taking down a zombie can be quite easy with the level 1 zombie cards, as most of the values are 12 and below. Making easy math for the younger players.They may only have to match the value of one die to a zombie. Or do some addition and add the values of two dice together. With one exception. All dice must be used in the attack. If for any reason one die is left out, that player basically misses a turn. Once more for the younger players, this rule can be ignored. Bringing in a family fun air for the game.
After all players have had a turn at rolling the dice, any remaining zombies advanced by one space. Zombies that arrive at the safe zone will eat a number of civilians and clog up the barriers. This is bad but not in a way that you think. You could lose all of your citizens that you are trying to protect but that would not end the game, only give you a low score. As that is their only role in life. To give you points. When a zombie has had its fill of your civilians it will stay there until it is joined by 6 of its own friends. Basically once your camp is surrounded by zombies, the game ends and you loose.
Now there are varying levels that you can adjust in the game, making it harder for your team of players. As well as adding stronger zombies, that are well into the 30’s and 50’s, and some of them will be prime numbers. Now you may be wondering what prime numbers has to do with anything. Well as I said this is a math game and in the rules it's not just addition that you can use but also subtraction, multiplication and division. Which are all wonderful things that I forgot about over the years, and I'm sure you did too. Coming up with ways to defeat a zombie numbered 37 with three dice numbered 5, 2 and 3 becomes a race between players to see who can do it first. And it kinda feels like I'm playing against Carol Vorderman in Countdown, trying to arrive at the designated number before my fellow team members. Which isn't too bad a thing when I'm playing with my daughter but more of a fun challenge when I'm playing with my adult friends. Sometimes a player will shock another buy arriving at a solution before the other players. Which is amusing. Or when one-player suggest taking out one zombie by doing some complicated math, while another player finds a way to take out two zombies with some simple math.
A die can also be squared or cubed which gives a lot more variety in your numbers. And playing with players who are good at math, the game never seems as complicated. As it seems there is no die wasted. Which is good. After struggling to succeed with my daughter, I now see the possibility of actually winning with her in the future. Due to playing with brainiacs.
And that's a fantastic part about this game, as it can be adapted to the group that you are playing with. Making it harder by having the zombies spawn closer to the base or interjecting the higher or weird values. And also adding some variant rules which also come in the game. There are hero cards which the players can be given, each having a special power. There are heroes to be saved from the main board, that in time if touched by another zombie, they become a zombie too. And a very tough one at that. And there's also an apocalypse mode which gives each zombie a special power. So many nice ways to tweak the game to fit your group. And what better way to play with a group of children. While stretching their thought process by using math.
There is a bit of an unbalance in the game depending on the number of players playing. Playing at a lower count means that you have less turns to pick off zombies before they all advance on your position. Playing a 1 or 2 player game, you'll have two chances of removing zombies. Whereas in a 3 player game, you guessed it, you have 3 chances. Which is not too bad if in the Spawning phase you roll poorly. Again, playing with four or more players, six zombies will always appear. Again, do the math in relation to the amount of turns versus zombies spawning. This isn't a big negative against the game but something that experienced gamers will probably pick out. As this is meant to be a fun family educated game, these rules can be tweaked by the players to make it easier or harder.
This game is being used in the national curriculum in England, which is fantastic. And there should be more like it. It's a fun and addictive way to exercise your mind in a numerical way. With its colourful cartoon artwork which is adorable, and it's iconography clear and well defined in size, as well as in the rules. There's even information on the card of, which numbers are divisible by others, as a visual aid. The components are nothing to write home about. Basic dice, poker quality cards and a sturdy board. But there's enough they're to make this game a recommendable one. That's if you're into tower defence games, Zombies, educational math, and zombies... this is a no-brainer.
Technical Score 8/10 A tidier rulebook would have been a bonus. The box could have been smaller, as it is only a deck of cards dice and a twofold board. A condensed fourfold board may have made this game more compact and portable as well as reduce the price. Great art and fantastic iconography make for a slick playing session. Plus the simple mechanisms are easy to teach.
My BGG score 8/10 (very good - enjoy playing and would suggest it) I want to give this game a higher score because I love the fact that it is an educational game, and an addictive tower defence game. Plus my family are big on zombies. Simplicity and clean mechanics make this an easy game to place on the table and have fun with, although there is not a lot of substance here for many gamers. It is a rinse and repeat game. But addictive for some. I am looking forward to playing more and adapting this as my kids get older. Combined score 8/10 And now it’s over to you...
Tetris is probably one of the most popular and well-known video games ever (baring Skyrim). It's a simple logic puzzle against the clock which has hooked many of us with it’s simple addiction. Luckily this formula has transferred into the board game medium very easily. Blokus is one game that uses this entrapment mechanism. Ubongo is another very popular one. But I grew up with Skirrid, a game that I didn’t learn to play until I read the rules, once every year, for ten or so years (until I understood them). Placing these tetromino pieces down so they connect and give out maximum scores. And like Skirrid, this game has been out of print for a while as well. But it is coming back to store shelves very soon from french publishers Super Meeple & Tiki Editions.
La Boca (no, I’m not going to talk about the buildings that inspired the title) goes one better than these 2 to 4 player titles, by offering 6 players the pleasure of moving cubes around to create patterns. Ok, that doesn't sound as much like Tetris. But for me, it's the same visual logical puzzle using cubic shapes and going against a timer. Another thing that this game offers which is different to many others is the fact that it is semi Co-operative but mainly competitive.
The object of the game is one each round, 2 random players to arrange these cubic cubes into a pattern. And in the quickest time possible. The quicker the time, the more points both these players will win. That sounds simple yes? The only problem comes from the fact that these two players will be constructing two patterns with the same cubes. As both players will be sat at opposite sides of the game board. Which just by chance happens to be the box insert. A very nice touch. There are two levels of difficulty in the game and these come in the form of cards. These cards depict the patterns that the players are trying to make. Once a card is chosen at random, it is quickly slotted into the box insert, cleverly stood on one end. So one player can see the front of the card and the other player sees the back. These patterns coincide with the structure that both players will need to build. Here communication is essential.
Both players are trying to build the same structure but from two different perspectives. And these perspectives both must match. By chance, each block is a different colour, so you have a good visual clue to what goes where. It’s just arranging it so it coincides with the other players plan. Due to the fact that neither player can see the backside of this piece of architecture, they will be communicating which colours they see and don't see. As well as pointing out structural points of interest. Against the clock, this banter will be hot and rapid. Tempers may rise and frustration make kick in when things do not go to your plan. But in the end, once you and your temporary partner are satisfied, the clock stops and the relief drains from your body. The other players who are not currently participating will then inspect your plan and construction to verify whether you have arrived at your goal. If doing so correctly, you gain and number of points depending on which time band you have completed your quest.
Once all players have partnered up at least once with every other player in the game, the conclusion unfolds. This is where you total up your score from the tokens you received to see who is the La Boca champion. And that's the game.
It's simple in concept and elegant in its execution. The system for choosing who plays against who is a very simple one involving tokens. And this guarantees that nobody misses a turn. As in a clockwise order, you will take a token that you have randomly in front of you to reveal which player you're playing. The graphic design on these tokens is a bit lackluster and I presume they are abstract images of window and shutters. And they kind of do their job because players are going to be moving around. Switching chairs as the main board will rest in one place. Therefore the tokens will be left lying around and sometimes players will confuse their tokens with another players as they sit in their space while the other is playing. An upgrade of individual sacks for each player with tokens placed inside may prove better but we shall see what the reprint will do.
I like Tetris and some of the other board game variants around, another thing that makes this stand out not only in complexity is the challenge of thinking in three dimensions. These cubic shapes can be rotated and rolled in more than one way. Some can lay behind others, hiding them from view for one of the two players. Shapes that you normally would stand up in one fashion may be played in a way that you would not recognise the form. Partially covering one shape with another. Giving you different ways to interpret the structure you need to create. Is the pink cube on top of the grey cube or is it stood up behind the great cube?
And it's this semi co-operative aspect which is really interesting. As you want to get the quickest time which will generate more points for yourself. But every time you play you will have an opponent play with you. And if they play badly or slowly, this will affect not only their score, but your own. So motivating less capable players is a fun challenge. And creating a language that you and all the other players understand when it comes to your turn, or maybe a unique language for each individual player is a nice way to show off your management skills. And at the same time, this pairing of every other player balances the game to a point. Everyone will get to play with the novice and everyone will get to play with the expert. Then the winner becomes the one who is the calmest cucumber in every situation. Although the novice player will be a novice player in each game and accumulate a not so great score.
I love playing this game and I would love to say that it is going down every time I have played it, but that is not the case. Sometimes you may be sitting on the sidelines waiting for your token to be drawn or your turn, and this can be tedious for some players. Unless you are involved at all times by spectating and verifying the active players to make sure they are not cheating, you may find this game boring. And a few games I have played have gone this direction. Waiting players have gone off and had their own conversations, forgetting they are involved in a game, not only slowing the game down by having to call them back to the table but also breaking up their conversation. This is a real drag for a game that feels like a TV game show and should be a TV game show, or at least an aspect of it. With the right capacity of people, this game is a stellar idea.
Technical score 9.5/10 Great production values that use the box not only to store the component but also to play the game upon. A super specialised insert that holds everything in place. Good quality tokens and cards as well as nice chunky wooden blocks that seemed indestructible. Simple to read and digest page of rules. Unfortunately a little heartless graphic design in places.
My BGG score 8/10 This is a game that I want to play and love more, but cannot due to not finding other like-minded players. Playing three players is quick and leaves me wanting more whereas playing 6 players is exciting but long-winded when you are not involved.
Combined Score 8.75/10 And now it's over to you...
We're living in an age where everybody collects something .Whether it be stamps, beer bottle tops, pictures of the Queen or board games. Museum curators have been doing it for decades. Relying on everything everybody did in the past to create a collection of assorted Nik Naks. And if this job interests you, you will have the chance to live this dream, in a game aptly named Museum.
There is a "how to play" video lower down
This is the first “in house” game from publisher Holy Grail, designed by it’s co-owner Olivier Melisonand a colleague designers and historian, Eric Dubus. And it won't be the last, as they have already designed and successfully Kickstartered “Dominations.” And if this game is anything to go by, then this is a pair of designers to look out for if you love beautiful-looking, Euro style games with a historical background.
So let's start off by talking about how gorgeous this game looks. Most of that is down to the wonderful art of Vincent Dutrait, who's work seems to stand out in the world of board games. His work shines through on all of the 180 individual relectcs and items cards in the game. And the only reason that items get put in a museum is because they look beautiful. And in fact, some this art should be on a wall in a museum, somewhere. It’s these cards that are the heart of the game. As you are set collecting. Items, objects, inventions and locations from 9 Civilizations around the world are depicted on these cards. And not just with these two. All colour coordinated on your card to make it easy to collect the sets... supposedly. When you have two civilisations that have almost the same name (Polynesian & Phoenician in this case) and they are two different tones of blue, you may find yourself collecting the wrong set. And it has happened, not just with these two.
But it won't be only Civilizations that you'll be collecting. You may be collecting domains like pottery, Warfare will navigation. Sometimes you may be doing a little of both. Depending on your patreon that you choose at the beginning of the game. You will choose this patreon from a small hand of cards which are objective cards that will give you a bonus point for the collections at the end of the game. And there are quite a number of them in the game. Which is good, although there is the possibility of being dealt the same type of objective, which gives you little choice apart from collect one type of colour. In a two player game, choosing the wrong one will bite you in the butt. More about that later. But there's more to it than just having the right objects in your Museum. I'll delve into that bit later too.
There is a third important piece of information on the cards, which is their value. Values range from 1 to 5 and they work twofold. Firstly, when installed into your Museum, the value is Victory points that you score immediately. The second is as currency. And this is where some of the fun puzzling can be had. You'll start with and start collecting objects from around the world into your hand, to add it to your Museum from your hand, you'll need to discard another object or objects of the same value or higher to pay for this. Don't worry, you won't be sacrificing anything to a bin but rather a discard pile, which I like to call the warehouse. Every player will have a warehouse of their own, which could put some of your objects at risk, as if another player see something they like on their turn they can buy it from you. And you cannot say no. This adds a the little interaction to the game. Because set collection games can normally be a solitary experience. Putting your blinkers on and looking solely at what you've got in front of you. Cards of a value of 5 are called Masterpieces and will gain you a Prestige point. You may be tempted to just fill your Museum with nothing but these items of antiquity, although they won't guarantee you a victory.
Filling your museum and scoring points will be the action that you'll be performing the most on your turn. There is a second action that you can perform which is to do an inventory check. Simply enough, you just collect all the cards in your warehouse and place them back into your hand. A sweet action if played at the right time. Playing with two players, you're probably perform this more times than normal. This is due to the circulation of cards which materialized from your Indiana Jones explorers around the world. Yes, on your turn, you’ll be relying on Dr Jones to bring something back, to go into your Museum. But other players can also collect items on your turn. Which leads to a nice trade off. They may see an object for their collection which they need, or a Masterpiece, but will they justify taking it knowing that they will give you a prestige point. Prestige points are points at the end of the game and currency which players can spend instead of placing items in their warehouse. Or they can do a bit of both, because no one like paying 5 to place an object of 3 in their Museum. Again this part of the game really shines with 4 players, because of the deliberations of either to take a card and give one player extra points is a key part to some players strategy. Plus this moves along the cards quicker from their retrospective decks, meaning you will see more Civilizations and Domains during a four player game rather than a two-player game. If the cards are not moving in the centre of the table, this can stagnate someone strategy. Possibly screwing up their chance of getting bonus points from their patreon. Giving two slightly different feels the same game with different play accounts. But it is not a problem as there is always another strategy or way of squeezing points out of this game.
And there you have it, a very simple game. Add a card from your hand and possibly get some points if other players had a card to their own hands. Then either fill your museum full of objects or empty your warehouse back into your hand. Although there is a deeper aspect to the game. I should say it aspects.
One of them comes from the positioning of your Museum pieces. End of game scoring will have you scoring bonus points for the Civilizations and Domains, as long as they are in adjacent rooms in your Museum, a 5 by 5 grid. So it's not just a typical collect the same colours or saying image type of card game, as once you've collected it you need to appropriately place it on a two-dimensional map. Which can be easy or it can be hard. As each Museum has a double-sided map for players to play with. The hard map doesn’t have corridors linking to all adjacent rooms, meaning your collections maybe snaking from space to space. Like a Labyrinth. This adds a super high level of planning. But not only can you just score points from your layout and collections, there is also special rooms that, if one Domain or Civilisation is contained within all, you get extra points. And if by chance you fill every single space in your Museum, even more points. Does this sound like a point salad?
There are ways to lose points at the end of the game too. In the four decks of continent cards, there will be a number of public opinion cards. At the beginning of the game, players can choose how many of these cards are placed into each deck. I suggest using them all for more fun. They pack a punch in a four player game, whereas in a two-player game, they only sting for a bit. These cards are the negativity from these continents. You are taking their cultural stuff away from them after all. They don't mind that you are trying to show the world their history, but if this stuff of theirs just sits in a warehouse at the end of the game…! There will be consequences. Yes, they will remove a number of points from your score for each of their items stuck in a box and not on display. The more times these cards arrive, the more devastating their sting becomes. Meaning you will be watching what you throw away.
And that is the basics of the game. A little bit economy, a little bit placement, and a little bit of set collection, all from card drafting. Now there are other things that will happen like the headline cards which will change from round to round. They basically effect the continent cards as they arrive or maybe block them from being collected. This adds a tad of laughter, as you see a card you want, but no. Can’t get it this round as there is an embargo. Then there are a favour cards which are helpful to the player playing them and gives them a little boost. Very random in their powers and some seem to be a little more powerful than others. You’ll start with one and gather more every 10 points you score. Incentive to score quicker! And then the experts, that can be purchased and mainly give you an end of game scoring boost. These are just other things outside the main game, but they can change the experience depending on if there is a power on that expert or if they just boost your collection for final scoring. All these cards add a random luck to the game, mixed with the 180 base card and you patreon card, your be adapting your end goal as you play. Nothing is straight forward unless the cards revealed work in your favour.
So in regards to gameplay you have a solid set collecting game, that has a different air to it, due to its theme. There is not a lot of waiting, as you are involved from turn to turn. There are plenty of decisions and choices to be made during the game. This is in part due to the objectives and the final scoring. The scoring is important but not like you think. The game will end when one player passes the 50 point mark. This can happen quite quickly if one player just fills their museum with whatever they have in their hand. And it also adds to the strategy of how much should you play and how much should you hold back. As normally players will be racing to get the highest score, but maybe not here. Being first to cross that line in victory points doesn't guarantee you Victory as with all great games, there is the visible scoring and the end of game hidden scoring. And the 50 point limit does make for quite a short-ish game.
Gameplay is fluent and very self explanatory. This is a game that will appeal to the family gamer, and has enough complexity and depth for an experienced gamer. The great thing is you can dumb the game down by removing the public opinion cards and playing only with the basic Museum layouts or just chuck everything in for a fun time. Again, if playing with kids, let them use the easy map while you use the hard one.
There are 5 expansions for this game, none of which I have touched. Plus some Kickstarter goodies and extras, again untouched. So therefore I cannot comment other than give my opinion on the base game and speculate what the expansions add. For one, there is an automaton player, so you can play solo or bump up your two player game to a three player game. There is fifth player game expansion. A black market, which gets you a illegal goods. A Cthulhu that gives you cursed objects from an illegal god. Another which allows you to add items to a grand show. And another that let you hire multiple Dr Jones's to get you bonuses. In time I will play these and report on them when I do. But in the meantime I am very content with the base game which feels on par to other games of this ilk, like “Ticket to Ride” and “New York 1901.” Although this game has a little deeping gameplay to it.
I've already gushed about the wonderful art but what about the rest of the components. A superd rule book which explains everything and is specially laid out with all its wonderful artwork and it's appendices. The Kickstarter version has some nice sculpted player tokens which seemed oddly reminiscent of the ones inMonopoly.The card quality seems a little plastified and not your traditional card stock. It feels a little strange in your hand but the colours and text still pop from them. Talking of text, all the artefacts have an interesting bit of history about the object themselves. This will obviously submerse the historical geeks a little more deeply into this game. The main boards are solid card and although a little brilliant in colour, maybe a little distracting, function very well. And the players museums are on a thinner card, obviously to lower the weight and size of the box. All these boards and pools of cards will take up a large amount of space on your gaming table, so beware board game cafes. The tokens and nice and chunky although I recall having a little trouble punching them out. With all these components, there is some downtime setting up the game, mainly shuffling cards. This is helped along nicely courtesy of the box insert. The insert has plenty of space for those who like to sleeve their cards or maybe those who wish to place the expansions inside.
Technical score 9.5/10 Solid components (maybe too solid to punch out), all layered in Dutrait’s magical icing. Bizzare card text that I hope lasts as long, or if not longer than standard cards with all the shuffling and handling you’ll do. Storage is spot on, as is the rule book.
My BGG score 8/10 (very good - enjoy playing and would suggest it) A grandiose family game that stands out with its theme and what you do with your set collections. With a delicate structuring of strategy that will make you play it differently each time. Again, player counts change how the game unfolds and how you play. Best with 3 or 4 and not to long of trek
Combined score 8.75 And now it’s over to you...
how to play
The first thing that hits when you look at the game is the incredible work of Vincent Dutrait. We can not hide that it is also what gives the strength and interest of the game. All the illustrations are different. On this, the game has kept its promises. The game material does not give the same satisfactory. The cards are very thin and seem fragile in the long run. Player boards are only thin sheets, we could have had thick cardboard.
Now, let's tackle the gameplay. First of all, I want to say that I did not have the opportunity to try the extensions. My opinion is therefore only about the basic game. The installation is done fairly quickly and logically enough. There are quite a few modules that can be removed or added to vary the gaming experience and its difficulty. With the luck of the cards, the replayability is quite important. The rules, even if they are badly written and they offer a few moments of blur, are quite simple. Once understood, or adapted, the game is explained quickly. At first glance, this is clearly a family game that can become more complex.
The game is nice, simple to play and the rounds are connected rather well. Depending on the number of players, the experience will not be the same. A two, you can find that card decks do not turn enough. Some variations exist to make the experience better. The interaction is quite present without being aggressive. The event cards bring a little unexpectedness that is rather interesting. Museum has good arguments and good ideas (sometimes not quite well exploited).
However, the game seems to suffer from a relatively limited mechanical replayability. Even if at the material level and component, you can have a large replayability and more and more important discoveries, at the level of pure gameplay, the game is quite repetitive if you chained the games back to back. In addition, unless you have participated in KS, the cost of buying the extensions is quickly expensive just to boost interest.
Thematic level, you’ll quickly forget the museum aspect to focus on the collection aspect. Yet some points in tring to hang on to it through the explanations of the objects (who read them all honestly?), Or the plan of your museum (you’ll quickly focus on how it brings you points, that something else), or the events. Symbols or colors will naturally attract your attention more than managing a museum and rekindling the crowds with your finds. As a reminder, you are still a wealthy owner plundering all civilizations in search of their historical treasures to gain world renown ...
The game is clearly not bad, but it will not leave you with an unforgettable memory either. However, once installed, you will usually spend a good time around the table. If you like this style of play, you will not be disappointed. It's simple, easy going, beautiful, with a wide variety of effects and cards.
Technical Score: 8/10 What is added to the score is Vincent Dutrait's exemplary work on illustrations. There is clearly a problem of detail and finish with regard to the components.
My BGG score: 6/10 (OK - will play if in the mood) A good family game, easy to install. But there is a feeling of repetitiveness, a mechanics that takes the theme and some rule flaws (and that can be equal to some cards?). To be tried with the expansions to see if the score remains ... Combined score: 7/10 Now it's your turn.
The first time I playedGravity Superstar, it was on the proto. A game for two, in full festival, a free table, a quick game, never heard of before ... I must admit that the magic did not take at the time. I had retained a memory of the nice mechanism but with some disappointing play or even a little boredom. When I was offered to play again, I thought “yes, why not”, just to see what the game really gives in it’s finished form. So is this article confirmation or a surprise?
Gravity Superstar is the latest Sit Down! Games, first published at Essen 2018. This rests in the family game range. Gravity Superstar is a game by Julian Allain. It offers you to dive, not in an adventure, but in a race to pick stars. Yes, it may seem strange. But the goal of the game is to pick up as many stars as possible. Armed with your spacesuit, you will go through this area of space from where the stardust comes. Do not be fooled, stardust brings points.
The principle of the game is both very simple but also quite original. The boards are constituted of squares. You will have to make travel actions with your little cosmonaut. Once the trip begins, you will not necessarily stay on the chosen square. Your character will be pulled down until they reaches a platform. Gravity does not leave you alone in this strange world. This concept is simple but really solid. It adapts very well to the mechanisms.
The game tiles are six in number, as are the number of players. Next, depending on how many playing, you will create the board with a specific number of tiles. Each tile is unique as well as double sided. The combination and variation of the game is quite important, which greatly promotes replayability. Once the Space tiles are selected, you will draw from a bag, the different coloured stars that you will put into play. For each game, there will not necessarily be the same colors and the same number of stars. Even more replayability. Stars have defined locations on the board. One last manipulation, the "open door" pawn is put on one of the random doors locations (each tile has one drawn) and here you are ready to play. Simple, effective. The installation time is very fast.
The first player takes their little astronaut and places them on the open door. On your turn, you can perform one of three actions available.
Play a card face up. There are four different cards. Each has its own movement. These special movements will allow you to perform complex actions. When you play one of these cards, you have to take the whole movement. If you do not want to do it entirely or if you can only do part of the move then you can not play this card. The cards once used remain in place, in front of you. You can only recover them by doing the specific action or when you have used your whole hand (this recovery will be done automatically and for free). There is also a fifth card that is a joker. It allows you to redo one of four complex movements of your choice. This can be a long jump, a high jump, a fall, or especially a 90 ° or 180 ° rotation to your character.
Play a card face down. Each card can be played face down. You can then perform an identical simple action for each card. This is a lateral displacement of a space. Again, when you play a card, you leave it in front of you.
Recover your cards. You can choose to take all the cards in front of you for an action. This action may seem expensive but can save you the stake.
There you go. Simple no? That is where the game is clever, it is in its system of displacement. As I told you, the gravity is very strong in this remote corner of the galaxy. So, when you move, you will be pulled again by your cosmonauts feet to the nearest platform. Even if it will take you through a good part of the board or sends you off the board and make you reappear on the other side (as PacMan does). Watch out for unexpected shots. The position and orientation of your cosmonaut are essential.
So yes we walk, it's nice ... but what's the point? During the installation, you’ve set up the stars. The goal of the game is to pick up the most. Or more exactly, try to recover pairs of stars of the same color. A star will bring you a point, two stars of the same colors a bonus point. To get these stars, do not worry, it's automatic. When you move or fall (towards the next platform), you will recover all the stars you pass. But that's not all. Sometimes you go through empty space or spaces with a small pink symbol on them. Good when the box is really empty, nothing happens (surprising? Not actually). On the other hand, the small pink symbol corresponds to the big disks that you have prepared next to the board. These discs once in your possession, either will bring you a point at the end of the game, or will allow you to replay a new turn (once a maximum per game). Smart. The end of the game comes according to the number of stars that remain in play at the end of a turn.
The first thing that catches the eye once the game is installed is the components. It's colorful, enjoyable to manipulate, pretty.Gyom's illustrations are in a rather childish style but it works with the rest. The cards are very sober, abstract but it makes the actions defined very clear. One could ask the question about some graphical choices like: why are they creeping plant for the platforms? Or, why medieval doors? But you’ll move on quickly. The rules are well written and the whole iconography is practical and easily understandable.
Once the game begins, the turns follow each other fairly quickly. Depending on the number of players, you will not necessarily think the same way. A three, but especially two, will feel closer to an abstract game. Your choices will be more thoughtful and optimization more important. This is closer to a game like Booo!or Ricochet Robots. On the other hand from four players and up, the game takes another mood. The interaction is stronger and the race is both more tense and more fun. You will then be even more tempted to pursue the others. But why do such a thing? The reason is simple. If on your way you meet another player, you expel them from the board. They will reappear through another open door. Icing on the cake, you can also steal a star. Who said that the race for the stars was something of fairplay?
Adaptation is essential to this game. From one turn to the other, everything can change, especially during games with more than four. You are in a game of atmosphere with a small dose of optimization. But do not imagine that your plans will necessarily unfold without addiction. Oh no. Especially if you play between other adults. But children are not left out. In addition to the pseudo educational aspect that the game can bring (representation in space, left and right, displacement), the game is very accessible and very fun for the younger kids. From 7 years (below there may be the risk of being a little lost with the gravity system), young and old can meet around the table and chain games.
Gravity Superstar is finally a nice surprise. Simple to explain, quick to install, it allows grouping young and old around a table with a good ambiance but with the possibility of having a lot of cunning. It's really a game to advise from four. Below it remains playable, but loses a lot of its initial interest (it becomes more abstract and potentially more computationally). The editing work is very good, the material chooses immediately attracts the eye. With its little PacMan side and super-smart attraction system, the game can entertain you for a multitude of games, especially between or with younger players. Between adults, the game will be fun, it's undeniable, but you may move on quickly. The system of choice of action based on played cards can also serve as a learning to the youngest in the management of their hand and its proper use at the right time.
Gravity Superstar is a surprising game. Very nice to play, it gives a chance to any type of player. Even if there is no real luck in the game, the system is made in such a way that anything can happen. The possibilities of travel are sometimes so unpredictable that one can be led to see their strategy reduced to nothing or to be ejected from the area without realizing it. This aspect is really nice, especially if you play with younger players because it can put the odds on a par and allow everyone to have fun without feeling down or being too frustrated.
At the limit of the party game, this game of atmosphere will offer you your moment of glory following a well placed shot. The strategy will vary depending on the number of players and will gradually be replaced by opportunism and the possibility of a better overview. Chaos can easily grab the game for your greatest joy. It is possible to achieve good combinations of movement if you know how to be patient or that others let us do. The replayability is quite important thanks to the variation of the positioning of the tiles and the arrangement of the stars. Gravity Superstar is a game to put in all hands. Player or not, in the space of one game you will have a lot of pleasure. And maybe you'll be asking for one again without hesitation.
Technical Score 8/10 The material is pretty, pleasant to handle. Visually, it attracts immediately. Cards even if they have very (too) sober illustrations are easily understandable. The illustrations may be too childish or too smooth. For the rest the tiles are good quality.
My BGG Score 7/10 (Very good, fun to play and advise.) Simple in the rules, quick to install, cunning, with a simple mechanics but really well thought out, the game offers a strong replayability and good times of fun especially to many.
Combined Score 7,5/10 And now it's over to you ...
Barry's First Impressions
I was captivated by this game simply by it's design and mechanisms. It had a feeling of a turn based computer game, a bit like Jet Set Willy meets Pac-Man. And with its very quick explanation and simple rules set, I was easily invested in the game. Which was a lost cause because I was playing against Guilou, and he always wins. But unlike him I enjoyed my first playthrough at a festival and found it something that my family could quite easily demand to play again and again. Although I have reservations about the replayability. This would only come from the challenge of the other players. Or maybe from an expansion which will include a jetpack that thrusts your cosmonaut a few spaces further but comes with a limited supply of fuel.
Having not seen the full final version, I could not tell you much about the components, as with all prototypes the quality of cards and the stars were ok for demoing. I am eager to replay this, purely for the reason of having fun with my family and maybe introducing it two friends who don't play board games.
What can I tell you about Batman: Gotham City Chronicles that you don't already know. I've already told you that it's a Kickstarter from Monolith, who have produced such epic games like Mythic Battles: Pantheon and Conan. As well as the recent Claustrophobia 1643. I've already given you my first impressions after playing a game with the designer Fred Henry. And I've giving you my 10th impressions after playing the game 10 times and demoed it more than 20. So why am I here to talk about it today? Because I have a final production copy on my table with more than one scenario and many more figurines. Some alternative modes. A Rulebook and final art.
So let me run over very quickly what this entails. Batman: Gotham City Chronicles gives you the chance to play out some of the highlighted scenes from the graphic novels. Whether you are battling in the Ace Chemicals Warehouse against the red hood gang. Which was inevitably the demise of their leader, who possibly falls into a vat of acid, transforming into the possible Joker. Or defending Wayne Manor against the armies of The Owls. Preventing them from entering the Batcave and putting an end to Bruce Wayne's carree. With 23 scenarios in the base game alone, there is a lot to play through.
Talking about the base game, unlike many others, it comes in two very large boxes. Each one holds either the villains or the heroes, plus all the boards, bits and books. Which is far better like this than in previous Kickstarters, where all the stretch goals were in one box and the base game with another. Everything was all mixed up and you didn't know how to put two and two together. Here, each box contains a figurines for one of the sides, all nicely decorated on the exterior to show you which character goes where. This benefits the setup process of the game, making it quick to lay everything out and find. Plus it always helps when the characters cards look like the Miniatures. Big bonus points here. Although the tokens and tiles do not have a designated base that hold them, you will quickly improvise with a baggy and place them in the nearest convenient hole.
Setup of a game still does take a little bit of time after, but not as much if the organisation was not this good, once you’ve chosen a scenario. But some of this slowdown comes from the choice that the hero players can now make. Scenarios will give players the options of several Heroes to choose from, all related to the storyline of course. And as well as their choice of heroes there is also the choice of which items they will pack in their utility belts. Well, those from the bat family anyway. Other characters will have pre designated tools and weapons. The hero player board is practical and visually stunning to look at, with its recessed areas for energy cubes and space for the character cards to slide in and out of. And they contained a bio of the character, so if you are unfamiliar with batcow, you can read up on her. While the villain player has a cool plastic command console to install their troops and cubes. Yes, this is a One vs many strategic combat game. But it also has a one on one mode which I will talk about later.
With setup complete, you'll need to then learn how to play the game. Unfortunately this is not as easy as it should be. I did enjoy watching Batman in the 60s and 70s but one thing that I did not enjoy reading this rule book, that seems to have come from the same era as well. The format of the instructions is a very cold and old numeric paragraph system. Lots of flow charts and lots of repetition. Yes, I know it’s trying to be like a Bat-computer readout, but it doesn’t work. I have a Babylon 5 board game on my shelf which I cannot play due to this system of writing. And it is possible that this game will sit on players shelves collecting dust as well, due to the unfriendliness of the layout. But the good news is that all the rules are inside. And once you get to grips with the game, any problems you run into can be resolved quite quickly by referring to this tablature of information.
Now there is a steep learning curve for this game. That's due in part to its ingenious resource management system which you don't really find in a game of this ilk. Once you understand that, there is then the chore of remembering what all the icons do. And there are a lot of them. The only way to find out what they mean is to dig up the rulebook, something you’ll be doing continuously at first. Then searching for the icon, as they are all alphabeticalized instead of associated with an action. Which would have made it quicker defined a power associated to punching for example, if they're all on the same page (this has now been updated by Monolith in a PDF). So expect a rough ride for your first few games as you adapt to the new system and the iconography. But once you get going you're in for a roller coaster ride like no other.
Scenarios will see the hero players teeming together to thout the villain player's plans. While the heroes have the possibility of creating their team with characters and Bat-gadgets, our villain player will be stuck with their lineup and objective. As I've said many times before this game brings a lot of communication between the hero players. They will have to work hard together to defeat the enemy. While the villain player will have to use their brain power and economize there energy spending to slow the heroes down. And although there is quite a lot of dice rolling, which players may find to random for the strategic planning they have prepared, it's this randomness that leads to the excitement. Obviously being a good calculator of chance, will help you defy the odds. As there will be times when every dice roll seems to be against you, but that doesn't mean that you'll be down and out. Either side has a bucket load of opportunity and options to still achieve what they need to do. Changing your strategy slightly to adapt to these minor pitfalls is always suggested for either faction. Although, speaking from experience, not selecting the right tools for the job can impede your success.
Let's talk about the versus mode which is totally new to me. This mode let's 2-players go head-to-head in a scenario based skirmish. Each player will have a control panel, the second one is provided in this Vs expansion. Once again you are given the opportunity to create your teams, with a slight restriction, as you can only have two main characters. One will become the Leader and have a new special power applied to them. While the other is their General. The other spaces of your command post will be taking up by level 1 and level 2 troops. Setup the skirmishes is very rapid once you know the base game rules. Plus there are a few tweaks due to the fact that the hero characters are now on tiles and their special abilities are limited to 3 things. Going back to not selecting the right tools for the right job, this did apply in my playthrough other scenario, which cost me dearly. Giving my daughter an easy Victory. But it was still refreshing to playthrough. Added to the normal command post rules is a new set of energy gems. Everytime you activate a tile from your river, you'll spend the same amount of these new energy gems as the amount of tiles you've already activated on your turn. Plus the amount of normal energy for the position in the river, as in a normal game. Giving you two resources to manage. It balances the control panel perfectly, meaning players won't constantly be activating their cheapest units turn after turn. This mode definitely beats playing a two-player game where one player will be controlling multiple Heroes. It's the same game but in a slightly different light. Maybe a dark light!
So far my experiences of Batman has been pleasant, exciting and totally fun. There is a real sense of being in the Gotham universe, not only when Robin has been pounded to smithereens by a group of Thugs and it's Batman that swings into the rescue. But from the get-go of reading out the scenario, that comes from the mouth of Jim Gordon or Oracle or someone else. I was transported into the pages of some of these crime fighting, multi-millionaire, dynamic duo shoes. My daughter enjoyed Conan, but loves this. With its strong female character list, she enjoys assembling a strange team to beat the snot out of me. Not really a Suicide Squad. More about daddy beating squad.
Technical score 9/10 Although there is some slightly bent based minis this game is visually stunning and perfectly put together. Everything fits nicely back in the box, with the little help from baggies. Unfortunately letdown buy a slightly unfriendly Rulebook.
My BGG score 10/10 (outstanding - will always enjoy playing) I love playing this game. The mechanisms are so different and so much more realistic in my eyes, for how a character can and should act in a game. If only dungeon crawling to take a page out of this game. Plus, this is Batman. My family needs are well met. If only there was some real puzzles inside for the detective in me to solve, this would be an 11/10.
Combined Score 9.5/10 Now it's over to you...
Batman Gotham City Chronicle is the new nugget of Frédéric Henry. Promised, I'll do a short review, Barry having already done a good one. This is often considered a Conan 2.0. When I saw the game and read the rules, actually the two games are very close. But Batman is an improved and refined version.
All the little defects of rule or understanding that could be found in Conan were erased. All points of contention have been improved. The material has been greatly monitored at the level of its production and it shows on the realization. The figures are very effective. The apprehension of the choice of the plastic or the variety of colors has disappeared. The details are present. The different colors according to the camps allow a quick for visibility on the board. The command board is much more optimized and pleasant to use. The art is superb, these boards stuffed with small details.
At the gameplay level, the game is fluid, fun, very well thought out. The interaction is ubiquitous. As the “good guys”, you’ll pay attention to what the character is thinking and try to keep the focus on the goal. As a villain, you’ll try to distract the other players while trying to knock them out. The middle ground is hard to get and it's very fast. Every shot is important. The number of scenarios is quite important and seems to be open enough to have good monitoring (in terms of quality and quantity). The balance of scenarios has been revised and for the majority of scenarios, it becomes very tense and imposing. The pleasure is tenfold. Playing the role of the “bad guys” or the “good guys” are two extremely pleasant things. Once the game is over, you’ll just want to go back for more. Another positive point, each scenario offers the possibility for the “good guys” to choose their heroes from a selection. It changes the given powers freely (or almost) allowing you to use the figures that you desired. It also offers a very welcome replayability and variety in the stories.
It must be admitted that the Batman license plays a lot into the immersion. Batman: Gotham City Chronicle is a game with hybrid mechanisms. You will find the epic moments and the dice rolls to be Ameritrash and the optimization and meticulousness side closer to the German games. This crazy mix works perfectly here. Where, sometimes, Conan was more mechanical than thematic, in Batman immersion takes precedence. You will live the adventure. The license certainly plays an important role but the effect is there.
Another very positive point is the addition of the new game mode: Versus mode. As much to tell you that this way of playing justifies itself in the purchase of the game, if you play often as two. It's a real treat to select your team, prepare it and play with your characters. The system works perfectly.Bravo Fred! By taking the same mechanisms, this mode almost makes it possible to play another game. Another way to do, to see, to feel pleasure, to vibrate to the sound of Kapow!!! and Bam!!!, to laugh or growl following successes and failures. These parts are very tense. It is often difficult to predict a winner before the end, except big mistake during the game. The Versus is really the icing on the cake.
But is Batman: GCC a perfect game? Unfortunately no. It has a lot of positive points, it is certainly part of the inevitable, but …
The rule of the game are very indigestible for the those who does not know. There is not really a lack of or fuzzy moments in the book, it’s just badly presented and quite heavy (especially for the video generation). Two booklets presented in the manner of the majority of FFG games could have been a good idea. The YouTube video-rules are good, but it's not worth a good written explanation, neither easily or quickly navigate in case of doubt (and everyone does not like having to go on a screen to learn a game ).
The whole game is based on iconographies. This notion is interesting ... from the moment players have something to navigate. This is not the case. The tiles of the villains are sometimes a little confusing especially during the first games. The back and forth in the rule eventually damage the pages. Even if after several plays, we got our bearings, the fact that there was not originally a game aid or memo on separate sheets, this is a big oversight (although Monolith has reacted very quickly by offering to download a game aid on their site).
The scenarios are very generic. If one can understand the will behind this choice, it can still take the player out of the immersion. The absence of a campaign mode is also a bit unfortunate. There was so much to do (possibly a rights issue, they maybe could not).
It's a shame that Monolith did not think of a specific storage for all the figurines, you’ll have to walk with all the boxes each time (even if the illustrations are beautiful). Another unforgivable point, you can not play as the BatCow in Versus mode! What? Nobody cares? Pfff!!! ok I'm the only one ...
Batman Gotham City is a very pleasant surprise. Since I received it, it rarely leaves my table. The versus mode is an excellent innovation and a big plus to a game that already had serious advantages. Even if it is not free of defects, it would be a pity to miss this game. The Dark Knight's world is very well presented and at the same time, it offers enough freedom for a players who are having more trouble with other licenses, to enjoy playing. The game manages to mix the mechanisms while offering an immersive experience. Having played a lot, it is clearly the best Batman board game that exists. If you like the license, go with your eyes closed. If you like fun, you can go here too. If you do not like Batman, you have no taste it's a fact, but you can still enjoy this game. In the genre, Batman: Gotham City Chronicle has serious arguments to prevail as a playful reference.
Technical Score 9.5 / 10 Everything is almost perfect. I feel that there has been a time and work invested behind the illustrations, figurines, trays, command boards, character cards ... Too bad a few details spoil a near perfection.
My BGG Score 10/10 (Outstanding - will always enjoy playing) It is possible that the license plays a very important role but the game is really very good. The versus mode brings a touch of extra pleasure. Batman Gotham City Chronicle is a perfect mix of genres. Simple, fluid, captivating, tense. I have only one desire, to replay a game.
Combined Score 9.75 / 10 Now, it's your turn to play ...
Some good things do come in small packages. Baby's for one. Individually wrapped sweets for another. Board games?
In the palm of your hand, this game will take you out of the realms of reality and into a head scratching gameshow. Escape rooms are all the rage at the moment and there are more and more popping up on your local high street. Taking the place of old retail units and giving a group of punters a run for their money. It's the new fashion, replacing the murder mystery weekends with a 1 to 2 hour, group solving, puzzle adventure. And there are many of these turning up in board game fashion as well.
Deckscape is probably the smallest and cheapest version of this experience that you can buy and play in your own living room. It's literally a deck of cards that are stacked numerically and you have to work your way through them in the quickest time possible. No instructions needed, as as soon as you open the box, the first card tells you “not to look through this deck or shuffle it.” Like a choose Your Own Adventure, your start reading through the cards one by one. Within a matter of minutes you will understand what you have to do and how to play, which is a blessing for a game. And if you've played one of these before you won't even have to bother reading this guide.
The short rules are followed by a very light story, that is introduced by a cartoon character drawn on a card. In regards to Time Test, you are the guinea pig of a professor and his time machine. AndThe Fate of London puts you in a Sherlock Holmes mystery, where you will have to stop a bomb from destroying Big Ben. You need to grab a scrap of paper and a pencil and some form of item that works as a stopwatch. And away you go...
The first thing that you need is someone to read out the text on these quite large and very clear cards. Especially if you are playing with many players. This is one of the advantages of a game like this, and that is, technically any number of players can join in the fun of this game and even drop out. The illustrations are beautiful, basic and easy to interpret. And that's a bonus for young players, who can quickly get to grips at what you're looking at. This also helps, as most of the puzzles are visual, while there are a splattering of logical puzzles mixed in. Some puzzles are very simple, like the matchstick types and you may have seen them before on a smartphone game. Even while playing, you may see patterns in the types of puzzles that are presented and therefore you will start walking down a logical path that the designer has laid out. Occasionally a puzzle will send you asque, and you'll have this horrifying moment of admitting you are stuck. But don't worry too much as the puzzles start very simple and then they branch out. When I say “branch out”, I mean that the deck gets divided into 3 or 4 decks, so you will have three or four puzzles that you can solve at the same time. Some of these puzzles are interlinking and can't be completed until another one from another deck is done.
But help is on hand for those times when you hit a brick wall. There is a reference card with some cryptic clues, written backwards, to help you get through every puzzle. Which is kind of cheating, but at the same time there is nothing worse than having an unfinished crossword. These clues will help you crawl out from those corners that you get pushed into, so no one can see your stupidity. Playing with larger groups means that you have more minds at work giving you a better chance of not even needing this reference card. Playing alone or with a handful of children, these our god saves. One default of playing with a large group is that, players may wish to inspect a card more closely. Picking up a card from a deck reveals the next puzzle, which can be seen as cheating. On top of that, if the card is lifted to high, other players can see the results.
Emotions can run high while playing. The exhilaration of the stopwatch will have your heart pounding, as you try to do these puzzles as quick as you can and get through all of the cards. The sensation of solving a problem before any other player at the table is so fantastic that you will almost jump and fist pump the air. The team building feeling when one player suggests the answer is “a”, while you suggest it “b”, then another says “a + b = c”, and they are correct. It’s wonderful. They will be patting on the backs for everyone. And occasionally there is an argument to be found while playing. This game is one super thrilling roller coaster ride. And when it's over there, the sigh of relief is a wonderful tension releasing sensation. But like chewing gum, once you taken it out your mouth it's never the same when you put it back in.
If this all sounds very vague, and you’re dishearten that I have shown many images, that is because, once a puzzle is solved...It’s solved (there are spoilers). The one drawbacks is that it has a very short life span. That’s typical of games that are a deck of cards for instance. Or with a small collection of tokens and boards. They, of course, can be fun, but only for a period of time. Some examples you'd like? Timeline. For Sale. Star Realms. The Resistance. I could go on, but these are games that you play, have a good time and then pack away and play in a months time. Where as Deckscape, you play once, you put it away and you hope that you forget how to play it. The older you are, the easier this is to do. In fact, I believe in a year's time I will be able to play these games again without remembering their solutions fully. But do I really want to keep a game that I have to stop myself from playing it due to this fact? I think I’d rather own games that I can’t wait to play again...Maybe next week.
Technical score 9/10 Great substitute for a real escape game. Good size study cards and well presented puzzles. Clear and concise text that leads to smooth gameplay. Small and portable. Great for any game night or party.
My BGG score 5/10 (mediocre- take it or leave it) Disposable games are not something that I wish to own, although I may have a great time playing (and I love Sudoku) I will not deliberately go out and look for a game of this style. In the world of board games, I want something that I can play again and again and have the same experience again and again. I don’t think board games can pull this off.