City of Zombies (2013) review
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...
La Boca (2013) review
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...
Museum (2019) review
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 Melison and 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 in Monopoly. 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.
Gravity Superstar (2018) Review
The first time I played Gravity 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.
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.
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