Star Scrappers: Cave-in (2018) Review
For several years, the authors of Eastern Europe have continued to distinguish themselves by games with original themes and refreshing mechanisms. At this level, the two people we immediately think of are Vlaada Chvátil and Ignacy Trzewiczek. But behind these two great talents, many other authors have managed to impose their styles like, Oleksandr Nevskiy (Mysterium), Adam Kwapiński (Nemesis), Michał Oracz (Neuroshima Hex!), Adam Kałuża (K2). And I'm not talking about illustrators who are more and more numerous and who also bring their own styles. Not to mention also the publishers who have found their places on the international scene as Awaken Realms, Czech Games Edition, Rebel, Portal Games ... As such, Poland is a country that tends to pull out of the game. Authors and creations are constantly increasing. And best of all? The majority of these games are good or very good. Faced with a current production that constantly seeks to renew itself, the contribution of these new visions offers a significant fresh wind.
I discovered the game I'm going to talk about today thanks to the Institut Polonais de Paris. For more than three years in particular, this institution seeks to highlight the board game made in Poland. And rightly so. Present especially during events like Paris is Ludique (French games festival), it is above all players who seek to share their passions playful. If like me, you like Polish productions, I can only invite you to get closer to this institution to discover more because the Polish ludique landscape deserves to linger and devote time to.
Star Crappers: Cave-In is a game produced with Kickstarter. The game is now finally available in 2018. Released to a bit of anonymity, this game made by Filip Miłuński (CV) and Jan Zalewski (Andromeda) is published by FoxGames and Hexy Studio.
As often in games from Kickstarter, the game has benefited from exclusive elements. My version being a "retail" version does not have this additional material. Some are only aesthetic as an improvement to the faction busts, but others are used in gameplay as new objective cards. It is difficult for me to judge their contribution and their interests without having played. That being said, let's get to the game itself.
Star Scrappers: Cave-In is a futuristic apocalyptic game. Fifty years after the last interstellar war, civilizations have found common ground and live in relative peace. The commercial war thus ignites the universe especially after the discovery of a new resource: Xendryd crystals. These resources offer power and influence to those who possess them. This is how many companies, coming from all different races, meet on the moon of the planet Cyrkon Prime: Corund. You end up at the head of a mercenary company. Your mission is to extract as many crystals as possible in order to impose yourself and sell to the highest bidder.
Enchanting, is it not? Well, as I have spoil the surprise immediately, once in play, the theme is quickly forgotten. There is indeed the desire to attach the mechanisms to the theme, but it is quickly forgotten in favor of the best way to manage his cards and score the most points of victory. Usually, I would say it's a very sad thing. It is true that the theme in a game is a very important thing. However, Star Scrappers belongs to a category of games where finally, this lack is not too disabling.
The installation of the game is fast enough especially if you ask the other players to contribute. Once done, each player starts by drawing three cards (one level 2 and two level 1’s). At random? Yes. Do not leave, not only is it a very small bit of chance but especially it is the only bit of chance in the game (except of course the pick at the resets, but hey, if you weigh on it we can not do anything anymore for you...).
Armed with your three cards, the game will begin. On your turn, you will be able to perform two actions. Sometimes, some cards will allow you to perform an additional action. The two actions are chosen from four available. With our normal actions, it is forbidden to do the same twice. But nothing prevents it if you have specific bonus actions. Example: for my first action, I extract a crystal. In my second action I can not do it again unless I have a card that tells me precisely "you have an action to extract more crystal". If so, I can do another different action with my second action.
The available actions are:
The main game engine is the management and use of its cards. Star Scrappers offers an interesting mechanism for this management. We are dealing with a mix of Splendor and deckbuilding. The cards recovered in hand will be played to carry out the actions. Cards recovered during a turn can be played directly after the action. The combo factor is therefore important in this game.
Here, no decks or picks. The cards played will be discarded face up in front of you and accumulate. Each discarded card is placed over the previous card. This is your base. The card visible, so above your stack, will become your leader. There can only be a maximum of seven cards in your base, which also corresponds to your maximum number of cards. This principle is very important to assimilate well in the game, but we will come back to this. Thus, each action will ask to use certain combinations of cards according to their colors or their numbers.
To recover new mercenaries, you have to pay the price. The mercenaries are divided into four levels. They form a pyramid, therefore you have more level 1 than level 4 cards for example. At the end of the round, if a mercenary has been recovered, it is replaced by another of its level. This feels a little like Splendor. Each mercenary has several values and informations to take into account. Already, there is its level which corresponds to a number going from 1 to 4. Then, one finds its color (depending on its race). Finally, each mercenary has a capacity that can be immediate or permanent. These three bits data are important depending on the action you want to take later. To recover a character, it is enough to pay his cost by discarding mercenaries from his hand. A level 1 requires only one action. A level 2 requires an action and a card (any color) with a minimum value of 1. A level 3 is an action and a value of two and finally level 4 is an action and a value of three (this can come from several cards). The choice of recruitment is important throughout the game. The chosen card goes directly into your hand and it becomes available right away. Discarded cards join your base.
Mercenaries in hand, can now go in search of victory points. The first way is the acquisition of artifact. These cards are face-up and can be purchased by all players. Their cost varies according to their importance. Each card is divided into two parts. Most often, the artifacts are a way to win victory points and has a power or a very interesting ability to help players (improved action, cost reduction, ...). The subtlety is found at the time of the purchase of such a card.
When a player acquires it, they must choose one of the two sides and position it under the card of their faction so that everyone sees only one of the two texts. It will match the chosen capacity and can not change for the rest of the game It has to be said that both sides are very interesting and that the choice is sometimes very difficult. To recover one of these cards, you must pay the cost with mercenary cards. Regardless of the color and the number of cards, it is sufficient that your total value corresponds to at least the number written on the artifact (you can discard for more). Artifacts are often expensive to buy but offer abilities or ways to score very important points. It is important to take those that best fit your way of playing and not necessarily leave them to other players.
After all that, maybe you will have to get a little work done. You're not there for sightseeing, are you? So you will be able to send your mercenaries to harvest the precious minerals. A little like the mercenary cards, the crystals are arranged in a pyramid on the other side. They correspond to four levels. Levels 1 are easier to acquire than Levels 4. To recover a crystal, you must discard mercenaries from your hand. The value of discarded cards must be equal to or greater than the value of the crystal. But that's not all. The color of the cards played is important. Indeed, all the cards discarded must be of the same color between them and of the same color as the wanted crystal. The crystals yield victory points shown on it. But beware, not all crystals are the same. Some have symbols that at the end of the game, will offer more significant points, depending on the different symbols obtained.
The last action focuses on your mercenaries. Each card has a special ability. These abilities most often allow you to circumvent the prohibition to perform the same action twice. But it can also be a bonus cost reduction during your turn. To benefit from a capacity of a mercenary, it is necessary to play the card for its power. Small exception for your leader, if it has a permanent power, it will be active all along when it is not covered by another card. At first glance, this action does not always seem the most important. And yet, it can allow you to make some pretty interesting combos.
We have gone through the normal actions available during a game turn. But, there is one that gives, almost alone, all the peculiarity to this game. This is the action "Attack a base". Attacking a base is an action that requires you to spend both your actions on your turn. In other words, unless you have an additional free action, you will only do this. Yes it's expensive, especially for a game where the concept of race for victory points is important. You are free to target any base. It can be an opponents or yours. Yes, you can attack your own base (I do not see thematic logic, someone explain please). But what can this serve? Besides the fact that it adds a little interaction, this action allows essentially more strategy. After choosing the targeted base, you automatically win. Obviously, they are too busy with their mining to protect their achievements. But being attacked is not so punitive.
Already, the defender recovers their leader into their hand. This card is never lost. This notion is very important during the discard phase of your cards when you are playing. Benefit from a permanent power or protecting another card ... The choice of your leader is in itself an important notion. In exchange, the attacker receives the leader token of the faction's color. Attention, not the player but the recovered leader mercenary card. Owning a leader token to a permanent reduction of 1 during the crystal extraction action on the same color. Finally, permanent ... until you no longer have the faction counter in your possession.
Then, the attacker can steal as many cards available from that base and fill their hand to their card limit. Remember that a base is limited to seven cards, and that the hand is also limited to seven cards. The hand can never exceed seven. If you have to draw a card while you are full, it's impossible, simply. Paying attention to your hand is a very important notion.
The action attack a base is one of the most interesting things in the game. Far from penalizing other players (especially that it is possible to target oneself), this action is very strategic game-wise. You have to know how to play it at the right time and maximize the gains it can bring you. At the same time, knowing this, you will be led to think more about how to play your own cards and especially when. Wait for the right moment, when the other players have well-filled hands to try to recover their cards the next round. Try to create an unattractive discard pile to prevent others from coming to you. But to do so means to deprive oneself of actions that can be powerful to you.
This notion is finally quite new and little used, even if it is not non-revolutionary. These hesitations offer a quite fun experience. Because in the end, even if you steal the cards you have patiently accumulated, you can steal them at the right time. Without going through the system of bluff / counter-bluff, this system adds a little tension and some tasty moments of reflections. Not to mention that it is one of the main factors of the interaction of the game. A real good find this mechanism!
But how does it end? By dint of drilling everywhere, the stability of the moon is less and less assured. On some crystals, there is a cave-in symbol. When one of these crystals is extracted, the collapse marker is advanced one notch. This is also the case when one of the slots becomes empty. Once the marker reaches the number of players (shown on the central board), this is the last turn before the site collapses.
Star Scrappers: Cave-In is a surprising game. At first glance, the game seems to correspond to a kind of inverted deck building with a strong connotation of Splendor. Until then nothing extraordinary. But the addition of the choice of artifacts and the method of using them (goal point of victory or permanent bonus), the method of recovering crystals and the way to use cards make it an interesting game. I was not counting the fact of this adding a layer of pleasure. The Attack the Basics action gives the game a sizeable hint of additional strategy and optimization. And this, without necessarily complicating the whole or weighing it down.
Star Scrappers is indeed a fluid game. In turn, the number of available actions are not important, however each mistake can be expensive. Under its few aspects of game development and card management, Cave-In is a race. A race for victory points but also against time. You have to be able to optimize your choices so that everything works for the better. But it's not so easy. With a chance close to zero (except in the appearance of cards), the game offers a highly interesting challenge.
With its gaming system, it goes off the beaten path and offers an experience, not new, but different. With a relative simplicity of approach and mastery, the game offers significant depth.
But the game is not free of defects. You can sometimes blame it on it’s repetitive side when everything goes according to your plan. Finally, if you summarize it, roughly you could assimilate it to "I take a card, I get a crystal". "I take a better card and I get something else." But that would be to forget a big part of what gives the charm of the game. To make abstraction of the present tension and some, not so easy choices to realize.
Being a little picky, we can also blame a little lack of theme and similar illustrations too. Indeed, even if the work of Mateusz "Draegg" Stanisławski and Łukasz Witusiński is interesting and gives a certain atmosphere, it is regrettable that too many cards have the same artworks (method well known fans of FFG licenses). A little more customization would have added immersion. Especially when we see the talent, we want to have more.
Star Scrappers is unfortunately a game that has not had the success it deserves. I'm not generally fond of this kind of optimization game. And yet, the sauce really sticks well. Simple, fluid, accessible, it offers a very appreciable challenge. Unlike many games of this style, it brings through its mechanisms an interesting and welcome interaction. The world of the game is inspired by a miniatures game developed by Hexy. An interesting universe that deserved to be more highlighted.
The replayability of the title is present by the implementation and the fact that at each game the available factions are not always the same. Another good idea lessening the winning combo. I can only advise you to try this game and discover the system of "discard-building game" (that's what they call it, not me).
Star Scrappers: Cave-In is a game that can put you directly in the mood and competition. Simple to access, it offers a pleasant depth. It also benefits from a fairly soft price choice, especially compared to the pleasure it brings. Playable from two to four, it is pleasant to play in all configurations. A very good surprise for a surprising game.
Technical note 9/10
It is unfortunate in view of the artistic quality of the illustrators to benefit only to have the same cards with illustrations so similar. More variety and customization would have been a bonus, especially for immersion. The rule is well written and the iconography is clear.
My score BGG 8/10
(Very good, enjoy playing and would suggest it.)
For this style of play, Star Scrappers offers one mechanic and an interesting challenge. Not devoid of any defect, it tries to transform known mechanisms to obtain a rather original play style. Without renewing the genre,ise proposes a style of its own, fluid, simple and yet worked. A nice surprise to try without delay for those who like the genre.
Combined score of 8.5 / 10
And now it's up to you...
Bandido (2016) Review
Agents, we just learned that one of the most dangerous criminals is trying to escape from our prison. Nobody has ever escaped from here. This can not happen. We are counting on you. Take all the time it takes but you have to bring him back. I entrust you with shovels and flashlights to pursue him. Sorry ? To do what ? I did not warn you? Let's say the prisoner seems to have dug tunnels all over the prison. It's up to you to discover them and block all the possible exits. It will not be an easy task but I trust you. You are my best agents (among those who have not gone on vacation). You can not fail ... can you?
Bandido is a small card game in the "mini" range from Helvetiq. This is a game by Martin Nedergaard Andersen (author of Hippo, among others). Offering a cooperative, one to four player game, where they have to block the prisoner who is trying to escape from his cell.
First of all, you must choose the difficulty. It could not be easier. The prisoner is represented by a tile whose number of exits varies (from six to five). Once the meaning of this tile is chosen and positioned in the center of the table, the game can begin.
Each player has three cards in their hand. In turn, an agent must connect one of their cards to those already on the table. Then, draw a new card. That's all it is. The rules are indeed explained in a very short time and of course no need to return to the book. Simple is not it?
As much as the way of playing is extremely simple, the victory is far from being as simple. Each map offers different paths, openings going in all directions. A player is content to close an exit while another frustratingly finds themself opening three new ones. Because the difficulty lies in the fact that in turn, players must play a card. So, to do so with those in your hand is not always easy. We were often stuck in choosing the worst card, so as not to penalize our team too much.
All the salt of the game lies in this constant choice of the least worse. Of course, sometimes, plans are made on two pillars of thinking, effectively closing roads. Except that in the meantime, other players may have played new cards, completely upset your plan. Because even if the game is a cooperative, players can not show their cards. So, it is imperative to discuss between yourselves at the risk of being stuck.
The laying rule is simple. You must complete one of the tunnels by placing a card. This card can be positioned as you wish. It is just necessary that each part connected to the other card already in play corresponds perfectly. You can not, for example, create a path that leads to a wall.
To help you, some cards have flashlights. Torches can effectively close outlets. But it's not so simple. Already, they are not numerous and often, they do not completely close the paths, proposing for example another exit on it. You will have to think about when to play them and how to position them. These cards are clearly some of the most important of the game. Although it is possible to close a road without one. But this second option involves a more difficult and longer preparation (while being very dependent on the communication between the players).
Bandido is a clever game that theoretically does not take much space. Theoretically, because it is a small box easily transportable. The cards are also small. Except it's a card game. In other words, the cards will accumulate on the table and the tunnels will grow continuously. There is a little flaw because contrary to what you think of the box size, you will finally need enough space for playing to enjoy the game better. We then go to an easily playable game that can go anywhere, constrained by the available space. It will then make some concessions to enjoy the best of the game at any time. In this range, Bandido is perhaps the least practical game.
Thematic level, the game quickly finds its limits. You will be more likely to focus on what cards to play, rather than imagine running in tunnels in order to stop a prisoner. The graphics are also quite (too?) sober or dull. One can imagine that the choice was to privilege visibility at the expense of immersion. At this level, the game is very readable.
Small in size, Bandido is a pretty interesting game that offers a good challenge. Depending on the configurations and games, the game can be played very fast or continue until the end of the draw. Easily playable, it can suit any type of player and the whole family. The luck of the draw offers a very good replayability. A replayability that, for most players can be contrasted by the repetitiveness of the mechanism on several plays. In addition, with so much chance, the game sometimes becomes really uncontrollable, except knowing the cards by heart.
The youngest will find a good entry-level in the cooperative world. Easy to get out, easy to explain, with a fairly short game duration, Bandido can be an interesting challenge for the whole family. It also has a good price choice in relation to the content of the game, which is a not insignificant.
The cards are very readable. The game will require more space than the box can make you think. The rules are simple, clear and do not suffer from any questions. The illustrations are generic and sober which allows good visibility at the expense of immersion.
A good entry level in the cooperative game. Simple in the rules but with a good challenge, the game offers cheerfulness especially with the family.
Technical note 7/10
Unlike the size of the box, the game will require a lot of room to enjoy it (even if it is possible to move cards when placed). The illustrations are quite minimalist but everything is very readable. The rules are clear and easy to remember.
My BGG score 6.5 / 10
(Ok game, will play if in the mood)
Bandido offers a good challenge thanks to a luck of the draw. Ideal entry in the world of the cooperative, especially for the youngest, the game unfortunately offers its limits quickly. Sometimes uncontrollable, it can give the feeling of frustration when you can’t do something. For most players, repeatability can occur. Note that the game may be longer than advertised.
Combined score of 6.75 / 10
And now it's up to you...
Thank you to Helvetiq for allowing us to discover the game
Kariba (2010) Review
Kariba clearly has a little air of Noah in it’s theme or in the approach of the period. But we are faced with two games that are very different. Kariba is a little Reiner Knizia card game from Helvetiq. Once again, we are in the range of small boxes from this publisher. Little box, little pleasure? That's what we'll see together.
Kariba plunges us into the animal world. In terms of material, one finds a kind of hexagonal track with encrypted sides from 1 to 8. Each figure corresponds to a type of animals which is found on the cards. For example, the 8 will match the elephant and the 1 to the mouse. In other words, all 8 value cards will be elephants. The rest of the components consists of a deck of 64 cards.
Kariba's principle is very simple. Each player has a hand of cards. In turn, a player must play one or more cards of the same species of animals. Be careful, the goal is not to discard cards but to have the most at the end of the game. But then, why play multiple cards? Will you tell me... I would answer that very good question, but you are a little fast since I haven't the heart of the game. Yes, it is true it was a trap, I will go back to my explanation ...
The cards played go directly to their section. If I play rhinoceros, which corresponds to number 7, I play it at this location only. Once the cards are placed, we check the number of animals of this type present. If there are three or more cards placed, then the animal in question scares its direct neighbor. For example, if there are three or more zebras in location 3, they will scare the meerkats (number 2). We do not take into account the number of animals that are afraid. Fleeing animals are collected by the player who has just played. Of course, if there are no cards in the direct neighbor, we continue to follow the numerical descending order.
We can then say that elephants being the largest number, they are afraid of nothing. But the author thought about it, reassuringly. Even the biggest animal is always afraid of the smallest. Remember the Disney movie, Dumbo ... Yes, mice scare elephants. But pay attention, they only scare these big pachyderms. So, if there are none and there are more than three mice when you add one, you do not pick up anything.
Kariba is a game of positioning cards but especially opportunist. You have to know how to play your cards at the right time in order to collect the most cards while trying to give less opportunity to your opponents. Do not hesitate to keep cards to play at the right time at the risk of benefiting the other.
This is a clever little game, easy to learn and play. For once, you can not only easily carry it, but also easily play anywhere. The graphics of the game are Felix Kindelan. This illustrator is a regular in this range. In order to correspond to the greatest number, especially to the youngest ones, the choice was to give a "cute" aspect to the animals. This is an interesting bias that does not interfere with the game, even if it may surprise.
Composant level, everything fits perfectly in the box. We can however a little quibble on the track. Indeed, once out of the box, by being bent inside, it is difficult to lie flat on the table. Perhaps it would have been better to make a puzzle cut so that everything fits better in storage. But that does not spoil the pleasure and the track remains an accessory. It only serves to indicate where to place the cards according to numbers.
For once, this is a small game ideal for holidays or for players who move regularly. Once the rules are read, you will not return. The game is explained quickly and we can easily chain games, especially for the short term. It is an ideal format for children.
Level gameplay, without being very pushed, Kariba still allows good little moments of reflection. We learn to manage our hand. Is it better to collect the cards now or wait until there is more, at the risk of seeing them pass under your nose? One can also choose to set up traps or play cards "breaking" the possibility of taking a lot of cards for an opponent. There is a little deceptinal side not devoid of interest.
Of course, the luck of the draw is an important element. However, given the duration of the games and the finally quite unpredictable system of laying cards, luck does not frustrate the players so much. In addition, it gives everyone the opportunity to win.
This little collection game is a nice surprise. Appetizer, aperitif game or holiday game, will easily find its audience. Even if it does not revolutionize the genre, it proposes a purified challenge. Aimed more towards a family audience, it will find its place for a moment even among the majority of players.
Technical note 9/10
Component level, apart from the track that we would have liked less bent, everything is of good quality. The illustrations allow everyone to play without being offended. Simple to carry, not taking much more, it makes it a serious competitor for all your travels.
My BGG score 7.5 / 10
(Good little game that is easy to play with family)
Kariba is a nice little card collection game. Without revolutionizing the genre, it offers proven, refined mechanisms that work with pleasure. Its duration is a big plus, to be able to easily get out with family (especially with the youngest, while allowing satisfaction for the adults too). A good pick in a small box.
Combined score of 8.25 / 10
And now it's up to you...
Hippo (2017) Review
During the holidays, we often look for a way to take the most games with us. Thus, when we have less space, we do not hesitate to mix boxes, using the largest to carry several other smaller games. A clever system, but that can sometimes be a bit problematic to navigate. It is true that the current trend for publishers is to make more larger game boxes without the content following. We end up with boxes sadly half empty or with thermoformages that hide miseries. In a context of lack of spaces, this notion can be used as motivation in the purchase factor or on the contrary, be a cause of non-purchase.
Helvetiq understood this problem in a new range of games. Here, we are close to the Japanese "minimalism" in terms of size and content. Small box, little material but a fast game that works and is not just there to make a tapestry. So I have decided to tell you about this range that surprised us pleasantly. The first one on the grill is the recent Hippo.
Hippo is a game by Martin Nedergaard Andersen to whom we owe especially the famous Bandido which launched this range. The few illustrations are from Sarah Bourquin who has already operated on the friendly Forest. You’ll be facing a fast game of around ten minutes, open to players as young as six.
The game consists of three dice, small cardboard buoy tokens in the colors of the four players, and twelve box-size tiles that act as pools. After taking the time to align the tiles in numerical order (normally it's not too complicated), you're ready to play. Each player has twelve tokens. The goal of the game is to be the first to get rid of all of these tokens. If that happens, it's an immediate victory.
On each players turn, you will roll the three dice. Once the three figures are obtained, the player whose turn it is will be able to try to get rid of their tokens. For this, they will be able to put them in the pools according to the numbers. So you can choose to put a token on the three numbers or combine the dice values to make stronger combinations (but in this case discard less tokens).
But beware, in the pool there are not enough places for everyone. On pools 1 to 6, you have three possible lines, each of which can accommodate a buoy. From 8 to 12, there are only two locations per digit. So when you have to put a buoy and there are no more places where you want to go, you just push everyone. In other words, the player whose chip is thrown out of the pool, retrieves it and will have to get rid of it again on a future turn. Simple but cunning.
As you have probably noticed, there is a number I did not tell you about: 7. The 7 is a special combination that gives the right to a special action. Pool 7 is occupied by Hippo. He decided to help you all. Thus, on his space, there is no expulsion. All buoys are welcome. But that's not all. Hippo to thank you for playing with him, even allows you to take another turn. And this, without limitation. In other words, if the turn after you redo a seven, you start again. And so on.
As you have probably deduced, Hippo is a little dice game where luck is important. It can happen that in a turn, a player gets rid of all or almost all their dice without the others to stop them. But Hippo is above all a simple, fast and fun game.
It's great accessibility makes it possible to play in families big or small without problems. This is one of it great strengths because you can easily play with the youngest. The rules are explained in a few seconds and the games can be linked quite quickly. The youngest will even see a way to learn the calculations without really feeling it. The little cunning side of the game is a real pleasure. Expelling another to settle a score will make you laugh through your little smile. We then witness a reversal of the environment factor situation.
Pool 7 provides a safe place for the youngest children, where they can make a roll feel safer and less likely to be excluded from a location. Although it ultimately makes the game easier, it also allows the game not to drag on. Which is a big plus for this type of game.
For the big players, as much as you prepare for it, you will finally have little influence on the game. The strategy is quite limited and the degree of action too. Repetitiveness can sometimes show it’s ugly head. This aspect is however counterbalanced by short and lively games.
It can of course be blamed for being too easy (I think in particular with the pool 7) or its buoys tokens being a bit below the quality of the rest. This remains quite minimal and not at all disturbing especially when compared to the proposed price. By cons, two players, the game loses its interest, the available space being too important to effectively benefit from the exclusion system. From three players, it works very well.
Very simple, quick to install and offering short games, it is ideal as an aperitif game or as a travel game. Easy to carry thanks to a very small box, the game is ideal to accompany you on vacation and to be played in any type of transport, especially with young. The turns are linked quickly, the game is dynamic and has no timeouts. In its category, Hippo will find his audience and especially entertain you.
Technical note 8/10
We can blame the cheap side of the buoys tokens compared to the rest of the components. The rules are simple and well written. The game offers a pretty cute look that can be easily apprehended by the whole family and any type of players. Its small size ensures a transportability difficult to beat.
My score BGG 7/10
(Good - usually willing to play)
Simple, fun, fast. We are clearly in a range of games studied to provide immediate pleasure. Hippo adapts to any type of audience (especially family and child) and allows to spend a short time without getting bored. Random allergic move your way. Its short duration clearly plays in its favor compared to what it brings in terms of gameplay and sensations.
Combined score of 7.5 / 10
And now it's up to you...
Bastille (2018) Review
The French Revolution is a period rich in events of the History of France. Yet, quite surprisingly, this is a subject that has not been too emphasized in the board game realm. Worse, the majority of the games dealing with this period come from foreign authors. A lack of interest or imagination for it ? Not enough good mechanisms to approach the best of this atmosphere? A lack of interest in this period? A difficulty to treat this event playfully? I admit that when I saw that the theme of the game Bastille was about this period, neither one nor two my curiosity was peaked.
Bastille therefore offers to dive a few weeks before the events of the capture of the famous French prison (and the shift from a society led by royalists to a society led by the bourgeoisie). Each player embodies a revolutionary faction that is preparing for this famous day. But for that, you will need support, weapons, money, recognition of the land. Bastille is a game released in 2018 by Christoph Behre published by Queen Games. The arts are by David Cochard. He shows us that he can have a fairly wide range of art styles.
The game's turns are played in two stages.
At first, each player has four influences tiles. Everyone will play their tiles on the different places available. Each location can only accommodate a certain number of tiles on the locations indicated above. Once the spaces are filled, no one can no longer settle in this area. Each slot can only receive one tile. As soon as all the players have played their tiles, you’ll move on to the second phase.
The second phase corresponds to the resolution of the actions. This is done in the order of the spaces. Then, depending on the power of the tiles influences present and in case of a tie, it’s the leftmost tile, the players will perform the actions indicated on the different places. Queen Game takes the opportunity to make you travel through a revolutionary Paris.
You’ll start with the Bank of Paris. This allows you to make money based on the power of your played influence tile. The first player to resolve the action receives the right to become the first player.
Continue with the Notre Dame de Paris. This area helps to improve a tiles influence for the players. The tile played on it is replaced by a tile of higher level. This action is essential and knowing how to use it at the right time without spending too much time can tip the game. The bonus for the highest token is a victory point.
Heading this time Versailles. Here, at each turn will appear tiles offering two possible bonuses to the players who have settled there. The first player will choose first, the second will take what is left. Each bonus varies depending on the tile revealed.
To infiltrate the capital, nothing better than to prepare for an invasion from below. The "visit" continues therefore through a forced passage of the Catacombs. There are only two slots available. The first player to perform the action will put two henchmen in a bag, the second will put only one. These goons occupy a special place in the game and will be used during the scoring. Neglecting them can make you lose the game.
Place Louis (named after the french "good king") is a zone of perpetual conflict between the various factions. It is here that you will recruit influential characters found in the form of cards. The characters are divided into three groups: peasants, soldiers and nobles. Each card has different characteristics but also a purchase cost which is more or less important. To recover a card, you have to pay for it in gold. This value is lowered depending on the influence tile played. Example: You play a tile worth 3 to buy a soldier with a gold cost of 7. You will then pay only 4 gold to acquire him.
In addition to the number of flags, diamonds, crowns and victory points, the characters have a weapon box. If it is white, the character is already armed. If the box is red, you must acquire a corresponding weapon before the end of the game at the risk of losing points. There are also monks who will serve as a joker in the composition of groups. The choice of characters is important especially to best resolve the objectives on mission cards. Recovering the right cards before others can quickly becoming crucial.
To finish the visit of the Paris of the time, we propose to you come to the main location and recover weapons within the Bastille itself. Capital building but mostly symbolic, this royal prison is full of ways to arm your faction. But the places are expensive. The first to resolve the action will move their marker the same number of its influence tile plus a bonus space. The second will advance only the amount of the influence expended. The further a player is on the track, the more victory points they will score. Giving them the priority on the choice of weapons available. Apart from the last player (who will collect only one), the others will win two weapons among those visible. The positioning on the track of the Bastille is very important. Neglecting can cost you the game.
But that's not all. There remains a last place to visit. Center of power after the king, the States General where the wealthiest members of the three orders of the Kingdom gather. This place allows players to collect mission cards. These objectives resolved at the end of the game will more or less guide you during the game, especially in the choice of recruitment of character cards. Fulfilling its objectives brings you a lot of non-negligible points. But it's not so easy. Each mission is in duplicate. Thus, the competition will be even more enraged between the players, especially in the choice of buying characters.
At the end of a turn, players check who has the most flags. These are present on the character cards. The player with the most number of flags will win the end-of-round bonus. The second player with the most flag wins the second prize. Without changing the course of the game, the flags are absolutely not to neglect. If you let a player recover all the bonuses alone, it will give them a significant advantage. Always be careful not to get too far behind.
The game is played over eight rounds. Half way through the game, so at the end of the fourth round, you’ll proceed to a first scoring round according to the characters and their icons on your possession. Five henchmen will also be taken from the bag. The player, whose color matches, has the right to choose a bonus from those still available. Players also collect weapons based on their position on the Bastille track. A second count will take place at the end of the game, ie at the end of the eighth round.
To be honest, I was really pleasantly surprised by this game. Mixed between the game of influence and placement of workers, Bastille is a surprising game that hits the mark. When you read the rules, you have the impression of being faced with a basic game. And yet, once inside, one quickly realizes the constant tension. Every decision is important and the timing to achieve it is paramount.
It is necessary to know how to moderate each action, without necessarily arriving too late, because speed is a key notion in the game. For example, Notre Dame is an important zone in order to increase the value of your tokens of influence. But if you perform this action too often, you will only waste time. You need to know how to juggle the need to increase your capacity for action without unnecessarily losing action in other places on the board. Having the biggest is not always the best way to win.
As you can see, a lot of actions are needed. But of course, you can not do everything. You will try to balance your choices to achieve as close a possible to a perfect route.
The choice of your recruitment is one of the most important mechanisms of the game. Guided by your mission cards but also the desire not to distance themselves from the flags, not to mention the fact of winning victory points, the choice of cards will be done drastically. Choosing first becomes the important thing, but it will not be so easy. Places will quickly become expensive. Do not forget to equip your characters well. Getting into the Revolution without being armed can be very costly. Indeed, you will lose points based on the number of unarmed characters you have at the end of the game. And the negative amount increases very quickly.
Bastille is not a game that invents or reinvents its style of play. However, it works particularly well. The game has easy-to-understand rules that read very quickly. Once read, do not go back. The iconography is extremely clear. Everything is indicated on the board precisely and efficiently. Everything is fluid and the rounds are linked precisely.
The game manages to create a special atmosphere, a constant tension between the players but also between themselves. The choice of actions seems simple but is rather complex in the sense that everything is important. Players must not leave large margins for others, try to respect your initial plan while adapting constantly to the evolution of the game. The interaction is ubiquitous. At any time, a place where one thought to be immune in the choice of its action can switch following the choice of an adversary having a stronger value of influence.
One can regret finally, as often in this type of game, the absence of a strong theme. The illustrations, and the way the game unfolds, try to get as close as possible to this period and get us into it. Unfortunately, we are still a bit too close to the German style gameplay. However, this does not spoil the fun. This is thanks to a dynamic and steady pace from the beginning to the end of the game. The number of players also limits the possibility of the release but for the more adventurous, a variant two players exist on Boardgamegeek.
Bastille offers a non complicated game at the level of rules but with a hidden depth that is strongly pleasant. There are several ways to score points, several ways to play, ensuring strong replayability. The game does not seem to script and varies a lot from one game to another depending on the situation. It mixes well known mechanisms while managing to keep the players in suspense. More than a nice surprise, a real success for its category that I can only advise you.
Technical note 9/10
Everything is legible and everything is clearly indicated on the board making everything extremely fluid. The rules are short but well written. The material without being exceptional, fulfills its role well. However, we regret the lack of plastic bags or efficient storage in the box.
My score BGG 8/10
(Very good, enjoy playing and suggest it)
A very nice surprise. A game that despite a classic coating offers constant tension. The interaction is ubiquitous. The game manages to provide an effective mix of mechanisms while remaining fluid and simple. A family / family+ game more than deserved to benefit from more exposure. We can regret the fact that the theme passes a little in the background despite an obvious willingness and high level illustrations.
Combined Rating 8.5 / 10
And now it's up to you to play.
Horticulture Master (2018) Review
Horticulture Master is a game I discovered by pure chance during Essen 2018. It must be said that the visual does not leave me indifferent. And the game was quickly sold out at the show.
Horticulture is the art of cultivating gardens, growing vegetables, but also everything related to shrubs and plants. It is therefore no surprise that you will be brought to develop your garden plot a way similar to Cottage Garden. You’ll also find the mechanism borrow from Tetris, with tiles of different sizes and shapes. But Horticulture Master pushes the concept further.
The game comes from Taiwan through the publisher MOZI Game. It's a pretty productive little publisher. Its designer Lin Yen-Kuang delivers his first published game. I am, however, quite surprised at the fact that there is no mention of the name of the illustrator (or at least in English). This is a shame because, for once, this is what attracts immediately in the game..
The game puts you in the shoes of a gardener. You’ll have a small piece of land and you will have to arrange it as efficiently as possible. To do this, you can collect cards to exchange for these tiles that are filled with flowers to plant (like cabbages).
In addition to the individual board, there is a central board with all the tiles you can buy and animal markers associated with them. You will also find the area dedicated to collecting the cards for gardening. This area is going to be the heart of the game. To be able to recover tiles to layout on your plot of land, you will have to discard cards with the matching symbols. The cards have some very nice illustrations as well as one or more symbols used in the game (slightly larger icons would have been a good idea).
Each player must choose between two main actions: collecting a tool or elements cards, and planting flowers by acquiring garden tiles.
To collect cards, a player must have a hand of less than five cards. If they already have five, they will not be able to pick up any cards. By choosing this action, a player still has the choice between five other possibilities. They must take one of them. This action phase is played with the Source zone located on the central board.
Once equipped with element cards, you can embark on the decoration and put your green fingers on. By discarding the resources indicated on the garden tile, you can acquire it. Once in your possession, you can add it to your garden. While respecting the rules of laying of tiles, you will arrange your garden as best as you can. Some tiles will give you a capacity, others only serve to plug the holes. If you are the first to take a tile type, you will also earn the associated animal marker directly. This marker pays a victory point at the end of the game.
If your piece of land is too quickly filled when you want to plant a larger tile, it is possible. You pay the cost of the new tile and choose its location. The old tiles are then removed and especially you regain the resources spent. As a result, they can help you pay for your new construction. But they are not discarded. You return them and place them next to your individual board. Of course, if one of them gives you an ability, it is lost. These tiles are not completely lost, they will bring you a point at the end of the game, per tile. This action can sometimes be very useful. But it must be used wisely so as not to waste too much time.
Finally, we go to the traditional reset phase. The seasons advance and the main board fills up again. The cards move downwards according to the green arrows and you fill the spaces in numeric order from the draw deck. It is at this moment that the incidents will happen. Holes below a winter card are not filled and the winter card stays in its place. When it comes to summer fires, it's a little different. On the board, everything always moves down (unless it is at the end of the track) and carries with it the element card. Fire consumes everything. Thus, if the players do not sacrifice themselves to take them, the main board area can quickly become limited.
The end of the game is triggered when three types of garden tiles are exhausted or a plot of land is full. This player takes the Horticulture Master pawn (it's a cat) which will earn them three points at the end of the game. Everyone has a final turn before the counting of points.
Horticulture Master is a game apart. In the vein of Cottage Garden or Bärenpark, the use of Tetris tiles works well. But here, this mechanism is coupled with card management making the game more strategic and less linear. This is a very pleasant surprise. The tools occupy an important place in the game and to own one necessarily favors you against the players who don’t. They become very interesting to seek and equip it. In addition, unlike many cards, once purchased, they no longer count in to you hand limit.
The rules are quite clear and the whole is quite coherent. However, you’ll quickly forget the theme in favor of a desire to fill your allocated area as quickly and efficiently as possible. As Westerners, the relationship between garden areas and animals is sometimes strange, but eventually it fits well.
Although I still find it strange not to have mentioned the illustrator, the work done is really superb. The cute animals quickly find their place in the middle of all these colors and lush vegetation.
This is a tile placement puzzle game to which a hand management has been added. This is not the most difficult hand management to master but it adds a non-undeniable interest and works pretty well with the appearance of tiles. The larger the garden tiles, the more points they will earn you. But there are limited places. So, the choice will soon arise. Especially since some tile placement restrictions are not going to make life easier for you as an apprentice gardener. The idea of adding the animals is rather interesting because it forces you to go to look for any type of tiles to pick up some points.
Finally Horticulture Master is a set of small game elements that, once merged work very well together. Far from renewing the genre, I find it more enjoyable to play and having a bigger challenge than its direct competitors. It is a shame that the game has not been brought into the spotlight.
I’ve played mainly two players, even if the game is far from being at its optimal configuration. Playable upto five, I recommend it all the same for three to four if the players are fast. At five, the game becomes a little too long for the pleasure it provides.
Unfortunately, as is often the case in this type of game, the interaction is very weak. It might have been thought that the card system has more influence on it, but ultimately no. There is no real blockage. When a player plays to advance the deck faster, the other players may find themselves stranded after replacing the newly drawn cards. Even indirect, the interaction is less. It will be especially at the level of the limitation of the garden tiles or the first one which collects an animal or finally the one who will collect the card first. But it's more related to what you want to do on your board than to really try to annoy the other. So, sometimes it feels like playing in your own corner. This is especially true at four or five, the choice of cards changing significantly between two rounds.
Of course this is not perfect. It can be blamed, during some parts, of slowdowns. In which linked events minimise the cards available and no one sacrifices themselves to take them. One can also question the interest of the action "to reset a whole line" which often arranges the cards better more the neighbor. It is usually used as a last resort in the hope of finding the card we absolutely need. Otherwise, the action does not seem so interesting. But the game has a certain charm.
2018 saw a lot of play based on Tetris placement. Horticulture Master pulls away from these games and presents itself as one of the most interesting games on this system while remaining accessible to all. Simple, refreshing, this family game will captivate you with its flowery graphics and overflow of colors. Even if you do not speak English (because an English version exists), the game is based on simple icons to understand. The rule is quite short and relatively simple. A game that deserves to be found even if it has less advertising than many other games where publishers have more resources.
Technical Score 8/10
The material of the game are of rather good quality. The illustrations are very beautiful but sometimes a little too prominent. Some icons would profit from being more prominent or detached from the art. The animals are cute and replace simple victory point tokens. It gives a 3D side, not necessarily essential but does not interfere. There is no thermoforming but enough baggies.
My BGG Score 7/10
(Good - usually willing to play)
This is not the game of the century but it easily stands out from the games in its category. A mix of hand management and tile laying, Horticulture Master voluntarily chooses to limit its difficulty to remain accessible to families or novice players. A nice game, easy to explain and get out. Even if there is a lack of interaction and a certain lack of dynamism which is a bit detrimental in the long run.
Combined Score 7.5 / 10
Now, it's your turn to play ...
Franchise (2018) Review
Franchise is a game that attracted me by its box. The old school visuals reminiscent of the 60s was immediately fly. On top of that, I could believe that it plays a bit in the style of Food Chain Magnate naturally more light. And that's a bit of an idea.
The game puts you at the head of a franchise of (put a random product of your choice here) and you have to grow it as well as you can in this, good old 60's America. The whole caboodle is it not? Your company is represented by an individual board of your color, that has no other function than to help you play. Moreover, the board is large enough, leaving room for an illustration worthy of the box, and the game aids are ultimately pretty small. Each tray has its own illustration which is rather pleasant. The bonus chips of the players are in the same line.
The problem we encounter quickly is the opening of the box. Not only is there still no plastic bags (yes I know this remark becomes recurrent with all Queen Games games), but most of the material loses its identity. Exit the pretty 60’s illustrations of Ian O'Toole. The material is very sober, very cold, very ... eurogamous. The map of the United States, on discovery can even be a little scary, with the sight of all these lines that go in all directions from these big circles. By the way, the cities are not better, simple discs with numbers. It is clearly not the actual visual of the game that will attract you. In it's defense, I think the focus has been mainly on the accessible and clear aspect. On that, it succeeds. Once the rules are known, all the material (even the cards) is easy to read. It leaves no questions, we did not return to the rules. This side is a success. Even so, it is always more pleasant when the ease of understanding is coupled with a visual pleasure. As in the end, the illustrations participate in immersion, especially in a game of this type.
Each player starts the game with a little money, some great 60s tickets (no, I'm kidding, it's just cards that resemble tickets). You will try to expand and impose yourself on the product market (insert the name you want) across the USA. The installation of the game is fast enough, except using the proposed variant, the board always remains the same. Each player will play the five phases of a turn, then play passes to another. Being an active player is important.
In turn, you will begin to receive your income. That will depend on your location in metropolises (big disks with numbers). You add up all the visible numbers where you are installed (one franchise is enough) and then you look on your income table and the amount you will touch (with a minimum of $ 1) Simple, effective.
Your dollars in pocket, you are going to conquer America, this beautiful country. There are two possible destinations in the game: a city or metropolis.
The city is a small peaceful place but has only one space. First come, first served. It does not earn revenue, but allows you to move more easily, more efficiently and earn a victory point at the end of the game.
The metropolis is the heart of the game. To be able to settle in a city, you must have an empty space and not be there already. Development is increasing your network and not your presence.
Wherever you choose to go, you'll place your development marker (a pion straight out of old Monopoly by the way). But be careful, traveling along roads is not always free. The place where you want to grow should be connected to your network by a road or path. When you go there for the first time, you have to pay the cost of the route, which can be $0 to $8. Yes, highways are expensive. Of course, you have to go to the first city or metropolis crossed, you can not pass through them. Your customers will not forgive you.
To increase your influence, growth is not the only option. As explained before, the action to develop allows you to conquer new markets. But to strengthen those in which you already are, you can increase your market share. This only works in metropolitan areas, cities being limited to one space. To do this is a very simple thing. For each metropolis where you are already present, you can add $ 1 to add one new franchise per metropolis. This one is put, like the development marker, in the middle of the circle.
Now you can build. In a city, it's simple. You replace your pion with a franchise. For a metropolis, you remove your development marker and add a franchise in the first available box. You do the same with the franchises you added by paying $ 1. Except that in this case, logically, you simply move your house on the first available space. At the end of this phase, if you obtain the absolute majority in a metropolis (ie your presence is greater than half available), or if the metropolis is full, we pass to its evaluation. As a good boss, it's important to know how the market is going.
For this count, there are two possibilities. If you have the absolute majority of franchies, you automatically earn as many points as indicated in the center of the metropolis. If there is no absolute majority, the one with the most franchises wins half of the points. Do you see the deceitful side? If there is a tie, the player who first opened thier franchise wins. Then remove the metropolis, the one who scores the points removes all their markers and places one. The others remain in place (which gives them access for their network). If it is the first metropolis in the region to be evaluated, the active player (not necessarily the one who scored the points) places one of their buildings on the space in the region (they will receive a bonus in the count of the region in case of tie).
Finally, we move to a final check with the end of the round. Players look at whether a region needs to be evaluated or not. If all cities are franchised and all metropolises are evaluated, then the region is counted. The thing is very simple, calculate the number of franchises of each player in this region. The one with the most wins the region's highest score. The second goes to the second (except for two players). If other players are present, they all win the smallest number. Once this is done, the active player places the region tile on the "evaluated region" track and earn as many points as indicated. Another advantage to make assessments when you are the active player.
The end of the game occurs immediately when a region token covers a red box of the "evaluated region" track. You'll then proceed to the final count. Each player then earns points for their presence in the cities, for every $ 3 and unused bonus tiles.
Each player has four bonus tiles at the beginning of the game. In turn, you may choose to discard one per turn to apply an ability. Bonus tiles give you the ability to do three things in addition to your normal actions:
These bonuses are very useful during the game but not using them can earn a lot of points at the end of the game. The choice is not always obvious and you must think hard before using them.
To be honest with you, apart from the graphics, the game did not attract me more than that. I still decided to try the experience without having a specific opinion on it. Well, I took it. It is ultimately a very good surprise and at the end of the game I wanted to go back. The game is much smarter and cunning than the rules appear.
One can without context reproach this for it’s lack of theme. Finally, franchises, buildings, fast food, whatever you want could have been used as justification for the game. It's a shame, it takes a little more to allow added immersion. But no mistake, we are facing a pure Eurogame. Franchise really lacks an identity of its own.
The game works very well. Even if one quickly forgets the fact of being a boss of a franchise, one begins to think, to calculate (slightly), and to see what could bring us back while, if possible, to penalize the other players. More than penalize, I would rather downgrade the other. The game is rarely naughty. Of course, you can go straight to the strategy of other players but you can not make them lose the game. Good news for players who do not like to be directly attacked in their game.
Replayability is present even if the board is very static. The placement variant is quickly essential to really renew each game. With two or three players it is playable, but it is four or five that takes the game to its cunning and interactive dimension. Below that, the players can very well end up playing in their own corner, losing the fun that makes the game. You can also blame it for some aspects, like being monotonous and repetitive. This is often the case with this kind of game even if I find that this one is doing pretty well on this side.
Because yes, apart from its austere and calculating aspects (slightly), the game is very pleasant to play. Without being too complex, it offers interesting choices to make. The interaction is very present and it can always be tempting to sacrifice your strategy to try to block the other. The game is relatively fluid from round to round.
Franchise is not what we can call an original game. On the other hand, it manages to use mechanisms that work very well together. A mix of route building but also the majority, you have to pay attention to the choices made because a small amount of neglect can capsize the clay feet of your franchise company. It will be necessary for example, to favor a good income over the detriment of a winning points from easy victory or points of victories in the metropolis over the detriment of a majority in the region ... The choices are subtle but appear quickly and are rather well thought out.
The author of the game Christwart Conrad succeeds in creating a game, at first cold and austere by making it competitive and above all with a lot of interaction. You can not concretely play in your corner without taking care of what others do if you want to win. Franchise is therefore easy to impose while offering an interesting challenge and a well-attended interaction. I could wish for a little more personality and originality or even more variety between each game. But the game offers a good challenge, several choices and the pleasure of being a good game. This re-release / enhancement of the Medieval Merchant game works better than the original. If you have the opportunity, do not hesitate to plunge into the 60s and the fierce competition of franchises.
Technical Score 7/10
What a disappointment when opening the box. This loss of identity is a pity. Of course the choice to highlight the visibility is quite commendable, I can not blame them. As for the rule, well written, you’ll never re read during the game.
My BGG Score 7.8 / 10
(Good game. Enjoy playing and would suggest)
I was really pleasantly surprised. The game hides a deceitful and devious side rather appreciable. It is fluid, simple to explain, pleasant to play and has good interaction. All of which can be played with players without necessarily being expert players. A good pick that deserved some improvements to become unavoidable.
Combined Score 7.4 / 10
Now, it's your turn to play ...
Camp Grizzly (2013) Review
We are in 1979. As every year, the Grizzly Camp opens its doors. You do not know the famous Grizzly holiday camp? It’s picturesque wooden cabins, lake, fun activities, Jody and his guitar, the serial killer, ... wait what? But that's not on the brochure? Ah yes anyway, I will have to look out for that next time I want to send my children on vacation ... Good ... Good luck children. Dad believe in you!
Camp Grizzly immerses you right in the heart of the most famous Slasher and the ubiquitous references of Friday the 13th. The game was financed by Kickstarter in 2013. It was created by Jason Topolski and published by Ameritrash Games. Because of the theme and the general atmosphere of the game, this is not a title directed towards the youngest ones.
Camp Grizzly allows you to embody monitors of the famous colony. While everything seems to be going well, a mysterious teddy bear killer (yes, you read that right) is here. Nobody seems to be able to compete with him and no one is safe. He kills his victims indiscriminately, whether they are monitors, visitors or charming children. Fortunately, you will be able to try to fight against him thanks to ingenious plans, straight out of your imagination (horror films you know, no?). During the game, you will have to make some choices to try to survive as much as possible. In the face of a relentless killer the best survival is often to think of your own survival. But will you sacrifice the others for this?
This is a cooperative game. You win together or you lose together. You will have to act in harmony to succeed, at best, in repelling the incessant attacks. If unfortunately some of you disappear (it's sad ... but you must see the bright side of things), it will open up more spaces and with luck, Otis (the name of the killer) will be slowed down.
The installation of the game is done fairly quickly. Each player chooses a monitor. Each monitor has the same number of health points but different abilities. Camp Grizzly is proud of its instructors. Let me introduce you to our team: the beautiful Jody and his guitar, C.J. our local sports champion, the beautiful Tracy who is ... Tracy, Kevin the lifeguard, the nature specialist Sherry and the talented Karen. With them, your children will have a summer they will not forget. Here, there are no figurines. The characters are represented by standees. Each player also starts with Survival cards.
The principle of the game is simple. Four ideas are available to you. To survive, one must succeed in bringing one of these to fruition. Final cards represent the plans of the ideas.You can choose to escape to a Van, take the boat, call for help at the Ranger Tower or hide in the barn. Each plan consists in first finding specific objects that are scattered throughout the camp. Of course, you do not know exactly where they are. You have only a vague idea but there is always the possibility that it is something else. It's up to you to find them.
Once you have found the three required tiles, you start the second phase of the game: the final step. Just like in a movie of the genre, you thought you won but the evil is everywhere. Once the objectives are in hand, you then return the chosen card. The finale gives new activities to complete in order to really survive this night. It is only at the end of these new goals that you will know whether you have won or not. Not so easy to escape the horror.
The game starts with the monitor. Starting with the first player, each instructor performs their turn normally before moving on to the next. The first thing you can do is move yourself. The number of possible spaces is indicated on your profile. You can of course move where you want if you can. For example, you can only go to a locked bungalow if you have the key. Or if you go through a box with Otis, he takes the opportunity to try to hit you. Not nice the ugly sir. But movement points are also used for actions. You can also, during your turn, pay a travel point to pick up objects, equip weapons, save campers (if it is possible), move you in the side roads (faster but it is at the risk of your losing).
Once your movement point / action quota has been spent, you will need to draw the first Cabin card. Sometimes it's good things like weapons, objective pieces or objects to better heal or defend yourself. Other times, these are not always favorable events. Otis can sometimes take the opportunity to break in and eat you (uh!) or attack you. Once the card is resolved, we move to the end of your turn. You may be able to equip items or weapons that are in your backpack, pick up things on your space, or trade with other monitors.
Then, once all the heroes have played, comes the turn of Otis. Otis is a good guy. Very resistant, very sporty, very muscular, very many things but he is clearly not nice. Nobody really knows who he is, but he is not there to butter the sandwiches. Otis has only one goal: to make a massacre and exterminate you. Of course, his primary target is the animators of the colony. But if by the way, some children slide on his blade, it will not disturb him too much. He's like that Otis. A good guy who does not speak much but who acts quickly and well. Otis moves the number indicated on his reference card. Sometimes he will be hidden in the woods and may come to a place where no one is waiting for him.
Otis still has some ethics. He primarily targets spaces with the fewest people. Then, in case of a tie, the space with the monitor who is most scared (which happens ... often). Still equal? He then heads for the most wounded. After that it's random. He does not waste time scratching his head. If by chance, he goes through another players space, he stops and tries an attack (sacrificing a child or a cameo to slow him down and all that ...). Once he has played, you'll start again a turn, if there are any players surviving. Otis does not worry about locked doors, he smashes everything if necessary.
I often told you that Otis was trying to make an attack. Indeed, it is not necessarily automatic. If the killer stops on a box of a cameo, well there no contest, he goes directly there. By cons, if a monitor is in the corner he can try to protect everyone in the household. A monitor has the choice to fight Otis or run away while panicked. If the facilitator has a weapon they can try to push Otis while fighting. For this he rolls a die, and another player rolls a die for the teddy bear killer. If the defender's number is higher, the attacker is pushed back. Otis disappears in the woods. If not, all the characters in that cabin take damage. If a monitor becomes panicked, not only do they take as much damage as Otis's strength, but they also have to run as many squares as their panic value. The teddy bear is invincible and immortal, you have no hope to kill him.
There is another thing to note about this surprise guest, Otis. The more people he kills, the more powerful he becomes. The sight of blood seems to have an invigorating effect on him. As the number of dead on the corpse trail increases, Otis will become powerful. He can increase his movement and his attacks with more and more effective dice (d4-d10). If the number of victims reaches thirteen, you have no hope. The game ends with a beautiful defeat.
The game components are not consistent. On the other hand, everything breathes the theme. Cards, ambient black humor, illustrations, texts, abilities. Camp Grizzly plunges us with pleasure directly into a Slasher style films. This is also one of the reasons why the game should not be put in all hands. Violence and sexual allusion may be present throughout the game.
Otis is relentless. You can not kill him, just run away. And again only if you can do that. Weapons are scarce and time is running out. This constant pressure is really well transcribed. At every moment the fear of failure invades us. The play area is ultimately quite small. Nobody is safe and there is no hiding place. Otis can also arise at any time. As a result, your decisions will have an impact on the future. And at the same time, this desperate atmosphere allows players to embark on heroic actions. Sacrifice for the common cause or play individually and increase the risk of dying faster. There too, you can make groups of one and separate yourself with each new death.
The ability to choose between the different plans is a good thing in terms of replayability. Even if in the first part of the game it comes down to not necessarily finding the identical objects, in the second part the final stage changes completely from one mission to another. And of course, you'll find all the "ingenious" plans that young victims try, as a last resort. A treat for those fans, with references and winks dissimilated everywhere in the game.
The game is very heavily based on its theme. You have an allergy to randomness? Flee right away. Dice, cards,tokens face down, luck is everywhere.
The game is however clearly enjoyable in its mechanics. Simple, there is no need to return to the rules, the explanation is done quickly like the immersion. The idea, for example of the choice between moving on longer safe roads or trying the adventurous shortcuts at the risk of getting lost is excellent and adds to the pleasure of the theme.
Even if Otis is not played by a player, his performance is really well done. Simple, not superfluous. But it allows to feel the tension related to the chance of his appearance or his destructive force. You can very well say that you have time to spare, letting him move slowly and kill some NPCs on the way, thinking that it gives
you time. However, remember that the more he kills, the more powerful he becomes. And the more powerful he becomes, the more he becomes unmanageable.
Of course, do not expect a game with a huge dose of strategy. We are clearly in the Ameritrash style of play. Replayability is quite important as the game is hard to win. By cons, for those who are less fan of the theme, a certain repetitiveness can be felt once the main missions tried. For fans, you will enjoy playing and replaying.
Camp Grizzly is above all a tribute to films of its genre. And with it, it's a success. Everything is there. Finally, one of the biggest faults is that it is very hard to find. I do not even speak of expansions. It's a shame because in the genre, it ranks among the best.
Technical Score 8/10
The material of the game is functionable but nothing extraordinary. The atmosphere is well transcribed and there is a lot of winks or references to the genre. Everything has clear iconographie, despite a rule a little vague at times.
My BGG Score 8.5 / 10
(Very good, enjoy play and would suggest it)
The theme is omnipresent. Otis puts pressure on players who are constantly trying to escape death. The game is simple to play, easy to explain. Replayability is important if you love the theme. The difficulty is present, which is even more pleasant for a cooperative.
Combined Score 8.25 / 10
Now it's your turn...
Skylands (2018) Review
When you see the cover of the box, you could almost believe that you were back in the world of Avatar. Here though, the inhabitants are green in color but moreover it is not at all the same story. If that's not the introduction that’s completely outside of the subject ...
Okay ... Skylands is a magical world apart. Unfortunately, following a cataclysm, this world has been completely destroyed. Up there in the sky, if you really care, you can see floating fragments of islands here and there. The inhabitants of Skylands have not all disappeared at the same time as their territory. They managed to regroup on a huge island. As always, they divided again into caste: blue, green and purple. Together they try to recreate new islands and provide energy to their cities. For that, they will use their magical powers coming directly from mountains, forests or crystal mines. But the people of Skylands are not necessarily what we can call a united people. Each player will take charge of one of these "tribes" and help it to rebuild their own archipelago.
Skylands is a game of Shun and Aya Taguchi. These two authors also worked together recently on Little Town. Skylands is a game that released during Essen 2018 with Queen Games.
Composant level, the box is rather busy. Many tiles, meeples, a central tray to simply mount, some pawns, a scorecard and individual trays. Yes, Skylands is generous enough. The installation of the game is done fairly quickly. The longest is to separate unused tiles according to the number of players. And once again, the publisher has chosen not to put a few more plastic bags. Too bad it could have facilitated storage and installation time.
Each player starts with an individual board in front of themselves. This plateau represents the space allocated to the archipelago that you will have to create. The trays are double-sided. On one side, three spaces are already occupied by three fragments of islands. These starting layouts are all different for each board. Each player therefore starts with two islands already formed (ie closed or complete) and two "openings". On the other side, it is a totally untouched area. This side is used for a variant that allows to start with a little more customization.
Each player also has a token associated with their color. This piece is positioned on the central board and will be used to indicate which action the player chooses. It can be quibble by reproaching the fact that the board is large enough compared to its use, but it does not interfere in the gameplay. Attached to the island welcoming all the inhabitants, which serves as a general reserve, you’ll find the four boards of action. Each is different in terms of graphics but also in its use. Each of them has a great illustration and a smaller reminder of the action of that board.
In turn order, the players will have to move their pawn onto one of the four actions. Once chosen, all players will benefit from this action. But, a bit like a game like Puerto Rico, the active player will receive a bonus, as a thank you.
The first possible action is the discovery of new islands. The active player will draw as many tiles as players + 1. If you are three, you will draw four tiles for example. These tiles are placed face up and in turn each player chooses one that they add to their individual board. You are free to put this new tile where you want as long as it respects the positioning rules. Be careful to choose well to avoid blocking yourself. You can also decide to take nothing and pass. The active player, once it comes back to them, can take a second tile as a gift.
The second action available is to bring people to your home. When you go to enlarge your archipelago, you will reform independent islands. When this action is chosen, you will select a complete island, except for one city, and place residents of the color corresponding to the city on each empty square. The active player can populate two instead of one. These characters are taken from the general reserve.
The third action will be to be able to use its inhabitants wisely. During the installation, you formed a reserve of special islands. These islands with special configuration or special powers can be bought by sacrificing inhabitants of the indicated color. Once purchased, the tile joins your archipelago and your "exhausted" inhabitants join the main reserve. These tiles have immediate, permanent, end-of-game powers or simply serve to fill your board effectively. Their cost varies but their interest is undeniable. On some special islands, you’ll find in the costs a white character. This corresponds to an inhabitant of any color to discard. The active player does not have to pay this.
The fourth and last action available is energy conversion. In terms of gain points, this is one of the most interesting actions but also sometimes one of the longest to achieve. Each player chooses a complete island consisting of crystals (blue) and a complete city island. Then each player fills the city squares with the blue inhabitants of the selected island. Once in the city, the inhabitants sacrifice themselves and disappear (return to the general reserve). In exchange, they offer a victory point for each square in the occupied city before the disappearance. These points are taken from the Victory Point Pool you formed at the beginning of the game based on the number of players. The active player they can choose to convey inhabitants from two blue islands into an island city or vice versa. In addition, they will earn two bonus points. This is one of the most interesting actions especially if you have managed to create a big island of crystals.
I told you that you had to change actions every turn. There is still an exception. Each player receives at the beginning of the game a tile of their color. This tile has 2 victory points on one side. If it is not used, it will pay this amount at the end of the game. At the beginning of you round, you may decide to use it to stay on the same action space and redo the action from the previous turn. This can sometimes be very practical even if this ability can only be used once per game.
The end of the game comes from the moment at the end of a turn, the reserve of victory pieces is exhausted or a player has only one place on their individual board. You’ll then move on to the final counting of points.
Starting by subtracting two points per empty square, then adding one point per pair of inhabitants still present on the archipelago, one point per island complete, the points of the special islands and finally the points tokens recovered in the course of the game. Not to mention the player marker if it has not been used. Of course, the player with the most points wins.
Skylands is a very colorful game. Patricia Limberger's illustrations honor this magical world. Depending on taste, it would please or tend to rebouter. But it is clear that this gives a particular charm to this game.
Skylands is not really an original game, but is exactly what is asked of it? It borrows many mechanisms known and proven by many games, including the most respected. It finally makes a mix with no real surprises but works pretty well. This allows the player to quickly make their mark, making a return to the rule useless. You will sometimes have to make long-term choices and those choices may be important. The game does not suffer from any downtime and the interaction is ubiquitous. So yes, you can not directly influence the choice of others or you can not directly attack the neighboring archipelago, but the choice of one inevitably affects the choice of the others. A real good idea of this title being, to combine the fact that all perform the action with the construction side which is in itself quite individual.
The game is simple to set up. Everything is clear about the iconography. This makes it a perfect family game. You can get it out easily with family but also with new players. In particular, it can serve as a stepping stone to more complex tile placement and resource management games.
Not without interest, Skylands offers you the opportunity to play in different ways and try different strategies from one game to another. This allows a fairly appreciable replayability at this level.
Playing can be quite short. One of the big bonuses of the game is the fact that it forces the players to keep an eye on the game all the time because even when it's not their turn, they still play through the choices of others. Chance, quite present, can be counterbalanced by the choices of strategy offered to the players.
However, it must be admitted that the expert players will quickly find fault with the depth and replayability. On the other hand, with an adequate public, Skylands will have its place in a toy library and especially on the tables of the players. A good family game that deserves to find its audience.
Technical Score 7.5 / 10
Skylands offers a fairly abundant material in style but still no extra storage bags. Tiles are good qualities. The rules are clear. The iconographies do not ask questions. You'll quickly enter the game.
My BGG Score 7/10
(Good game. I play it with pleasure)
A simple family game, easy to set up and explain. Skylands suffers no downtime and actually mixes playful mechanisms that have proven themselves. A good game of discovery in the universe of tile placement and resource management.
Combined Score 7.25 / 10
Now it's your turn...
Newton (2018) review
Newton was available in VO at the Essen 2018 show. It is edited by Cranio Creations, an Italian publisher, to whom we already owed the excellent Lorenzo il Magnifico. The game was sold out after a day and a half, usually a good guarantee of quality. Cranio has taken over Lorenzo's graphic charter. I like the idea that a publisher standardizes its material from one game to another to facilitate the understanding of iconography.
For the love of discovery
In Newton, oh surprise, we play scientists in the age of Enlightenment, eager for knowledge. To win the game, you have to get as much knowledge as possible. Various places are available for that, represented by 3 different board. And yes, just that, Newton is not a game for apprentice gamers, but for the big lovers of games that sting the neurons.
A plateau to discover
One of the boards represents the map of Europe. Scientists will travel there to visit many cultural sites. Travel that maintains youth, but is expensive. Some routes ask to pay a toll, you should never venture without having a few tickets in reserve, otherwise you will get stuck. These trips allow you to visit universities, old cities and even ancient wonders. In passing, you’ll place cubes in your color, less poetic than postcards, but visible traces of your passage.
A platform to search
While your scientist is walking all over Europe, he has left behind some homework to his students. These poor souls will have to do research on the technology platform: a tree, formed one-way paths. At the beginning of the game, a single sidekick is at your disposal, but you’ll quickly hire others because the task is huge. By exploring the different branches of this tree, bonuses are recovered and especially the top of each branch is a real well of science: a box with access restriction (knowledge in the form of color books) to win points at the end of the game. Many points.
A plateau to read
Finally, all this knowledge must be archived. For this 12 books are available to store on the shelves of your library board, an individual board that also allows to play the action cards of the game. Each shelf indicates a prerequisite to place a book. These restrictions are linked either to the different places visited on the map of Europe, or to the colored books available on the action maps. The books are stored in 4 piles of 3 tokens, and emptying a stack brings an instant bonus, more and more powerful.
And cards too!
Each round consists of playing 5 cards, then slipping one permanently under your individual board. These cards have icons corresponding to the action of the game. The power of the actions will grow according to the number of identical icons on the cards played by a player. This twist is really well discovered since as the game advances more and more, there will be more and more cards under the board. And therefore more and more powerful actions.
Actions that correspond to the tracks of the different game boards. You will therefore be able to advance respectively your scholar or your apprentices a number of spaces, corresponding to the number of compasses icons or notched wheels visible. On the same principle, there is a monetary track, punctuated with bonuses, on which you advance with the icon of a square. Money, as in almost any management game, is a rare commodity and lacking it can block your character's travels on the map of Europe. Another symbol, the book, allows to put tiles on the shelves of your player board. It takes one to store on the top shelf, two on the second and three on the last.
Finally, the last action, with the icon of a students hat, allows to recover new cards to diversify the way of playing. There are three card powers, which can be recovered according to the number of symbols visible on its line of action. The cards are all the more interesting than the starting ones. Their choice is therefore essential because they will quickly replace your initial cards that you will sacrifice step by step at the end of each round.
And then crush their scores
I saw in Newton only two possible paths of victories. They both use maximising the technology board.
One of the strategies is the total exploitation of your library. You must then create a Victory Point Revenue Engine. The start is sluggish, but the end-game count is really important, and usually allows you to go to the target tiles.
The second axis passes through a maximum of movement on the plateau of Europe, and the purchase of cards whose actions generate victory points. This starts fast, it's a strategy that creates a big difference in score, but that pays almost no points at the end of the game.
One can worry about seeing only two strategies (I could miss), but that nay. The game has a crazy replayability since all the tiles of the game boards are randomly placed, and not all are used. Newton is a game where observation and optimization are paramount. For the cards to collect and those that should not be left to the opponents. But also for the position of the bonuses on the different boards and the easiest way to get them.
Newton was my best surprise at the Essen 2018 show. It has some negative point, the illustrations are far from original, they are ultra classic and unglamorous. The game boards are not good (no flap on the side, just the cardboard) and some players had some that were very curled. When the theme, as most often, is completely absent from the game.
But the game is excellent. It is one of those games that may seem dense, but it has a simplicity and a rare fluidity. Simply five game actions, without micro rules that come to complicate things. A quarter of an hour of explanations, a little round of gameplay, and the players are conquered.
A game that I almost missed on the show in Essen. The game was pre-booked until Friday 1pm. Something I had forgotten. My wife kept telling me "We have to get Newton! ". And I answer her nonchalantly "We have time! ". Then I look at my sheet, which tells me that I only have five minutes left to get it. Then follows a frantic race in which I pass in front of the queue of the players who waited for the fateful hour. Buy the game, there remained only 74. The 75th purchaser of the tail had to curse me. I just remember that I did well to hurry, this game is a pearl.
Technical Score 8/10
Newton is remarkable for its simplicity. Few actions, all operating on a similar principle. The rounds are fast and you do not see the time pass. A beautiful mechanism for a great success.Congratulations to Cranio, a publisher who, during the last shows in Essen, published some very good games. I unfortunately withdraw 2 points for the quality of the material and the lack of graphic modernity.
My BGG Score 8/10
(very good - enjoy playing and would suggest)
A game that does not disappoint me. It rubs for me pearls like Puerto Rico, Terra Mystica or Great Western Trail. It deserves my Cup of Tea, it was the game that excited me the most parts for more than 6 months.
Combined Score 8/10
Amateurs of games a little capillotracted, go for it!