Papering Duel (2018) review
Released in 2008 was a small game called Papering Duel from Mandoo Games. You do not know this publisher? Who are they... Well, they are a Korean publishing house best known in Asia. But back here, especially through its presence in Essen, we are able to talk about them little by little. Most of their productions have themes, components or quite original mechanics. Papering Duel is no exception to the rule.
This is a game from Martin Nedergaard Andersen (I already told you about him and his Hippo game). What acts as illustrations is due to Agsty Im. Papering Duel is an abstract sheet placement game for two players (yes, there is the word duel in it).
The first thing that catches the eye is the components. Everything fits in a box of rather moderate size. You play from outside the box to inside this box. What acts as the game board is a cardboard sheet, that is thermoformed ideally. Each player will then have a deck of cards. But these are not normal cards. It is rather small sheets of transparent plastic. These sheets are divided into four squares of identical sizes. On these squares, there will be two full boxes and two empty ones. Some boxes will have symbols (dots, a square or a kind of star) and others will have colors (yellow, red or purple). Each symbol is accompanied by a color and vice versa. Do you follow?
The basic principle is that each player has a unique deck. A player will have a deck with filled boxes diagonally place while the other players has adjacent ones. The central plateau represents a grid of nine squares. Players will alternately place their cards on this main grid to perform tricks to win the game.
In turn, a player has the right to play one to three cards from their hand. The goal is to make combinations of three patterns either by the same symbol or the same color. If they do both, it validates two goals. Not bad, huh! Once the cards are played, you’ll check that the player has completed at least one of the objectives and that their opponent no longer has one. To help find your way around, there is a small cardboard tray next to the game. On this board, players announce current goals filled with small chips (black or white). This silly pest is quickly very practical but requires a little manipulation.
Players will superimpose their cards as the game progresses. This mechanism is visually quite attractive and is reminiscent of other games like Gloom or Edge Of Darkness (to name a few). But very quickly, everything can become a bit confusing, especially if an area has not been covered for a few turns.
But what is the purpose of this pile of cards on top of each other? The most noble way to win is to achieve three combinations in a turn. Immediate victory. Nothing to say again. That's class and something you can brag about it. But there are other ways to lose. You can also win if your opponent can not remove your current combinations during their turn or if they can not make a combination. And that's as simple as that.
Indeed Papering Duel is not a complicated game. There is also a variant with a few more cards for each player. These cards have gray boxes. These new colors allow you to add a new way to lose or trap your opponent. Indeed, if one of the players does not manage to cover a gray box of their opponent, they win.
Papering Duel is a little abstract puzzle game that works on the principle of associations of colors or shapes. A bit like Connect 4, but more thoughtful (not necessarily more complicated). Concretely, we’ll say it like this: “I play my cards... You play on top of mine... You pay attention and you're lucky... You do not pay attention *Bang* I have you trapped!” The games play quickly enough and everything can easily be transported and played everywhere. The game offers a cerebral challenge that can satisfy fans of the genre. On the other hand, do not look for a possible theme or to live a story. You’ll be facing a pure abstract game.
The challenge side is quite interesting and the initial postulate can give the impression of a very calculating game. But very quickly, one realizes that there are some elements which come to invalidate this sensation.
Already, luck is important. The cards are mixed and drawn in a completely random way. For an abstract game based on the anticipation of plays on several turns, this can be problematic. And at the same time, it allows a family audience to find their feet and play it without thinking too much.
Indeed, some might argue that for random drawing, but players have a hand of three cards. Except that the fact of being able to play all three in the same turn, lessened the strategy side of the game and favors the chance of the good hand. Again, this allows a family audience to have fun but can disappoint the player in search of cerebral challenge.
The game runs smoothly. After playing it several times, I think it's hard to define it’s real target audience. A bit too risky for fans of abstract games, too abstract for players in search of stories, too punitive for a truly family audience ... All that rests are the players who like to rack their heads but not too much, those who love games not too long but with a present challenge, the fans of the games with a beautiful components. As such, Papering Duel can satisfy their curiosity and their desires.
Far from being a bad game, it remains pleasant to play. However, we can ask the question about the long-term life. However, the part time coupled with a relatively short installation time allows to play quickly without taking the lead. Especially since the interaction is ubiquitous. No time to watch flies fly. You will have to pay attention to what the other person is doing at the risk of losing in style. Far from being frustrating, the game is relatively simple to access while having a certain depth. And finally, is this not the most important? Take pleasure in playing and work that little brain while having fun ... A game that will, without hesitation, find its place in some toy libraries without imposing itself as inevitable. But after all, was it its goal?
Technical note 8/10
The component quality is good. Thermoforming is well considered for both storage and playability. The cards are nice and the overlay side works well. Everything happens inside the box. There is an hourglass present in the box but no explanation of its use (Cooking eggs? Playing in Blitz mode? Time storage?). The rules are well written and you do not have to go back.
My score BGG 5/10
(Average game, will not please everyone)
I’m still a little hungry after this game. Not unpleasant to play, it will not leave you an unforgettable memory either. There is a part of this game that will satisfy you, while you play, but will not have this little taste to come back. Too random for the big abstract players, a tiny bit punitive for casual players, it has however pleasant material and ease of access.
Combined score of 6.5 / 10
And now it's up to you to play ...
50 clues (2019) review
50 clues is a game of investigation by Jeppe Norsker, using as a model the great mode of the moment: the escape game. The name of this collection, 50 clues, poses the genre since Clue in English relates to Cluedo (remember this game of inquiry that rocked your childhood and Colonel Mustard). In order to reveal the different events occurring in 50 clues, the players use an application. Not really an application, but a website ( https://50clues.com/index.php/en ) on which to connect the scenario to be able to investigate. It’s essential, but that does not take precedence over the game.
The rules of 50 clues are simple and is played on two playing cards. We begin an investigation with a card indicating the objective of the current plot. Each scenario box contains 54 numbered cards on their backs. Different interactions can be found in the deck of cards to reveal them. There are three ways to reveal new cards based on the progress of the scenario.
1. Some cards indicate a number (sometimes a bit difficult to see); you can then look for the corresponding card in the deck to put it into play.
2. Otherwise numbers may appear on a black or red background. The figures on a black background must be entered in the game application. It will then announce what happens in terms of game, an upheaval in the narrative arc, making the most often cases to bring new cards into play.
3. The numbers on a red background must be associated with another number on a red background. This combination of numbers will also trigger a progression of the investigation and the referral to a new card, and thus a new puzzle.
The game is structured in a succession of riddles to solve, with variable difficulties. While some seem really obvious, many others are really complicated and will require a lot of thought to overcome. Compared to other games enigma games of the genre, 50 clues brings a narrative side not uninteresting, in the sense that it tells a story, with the meeting of certain characters and sometimes provides slight interaction with them. An interaction that feels cold and is usually limited to associating a person with an object just to draw a new card with a few bits of dialogues on it.
On the level of difficulty, in case of really hard puzzles or being stuck, a help button is available in the application. Using it will give a simple clue at first. If you are still stuck, you can use it for a second and third last time, each time recovering a clue of more and more importance. Using this hint button will lower your rating. By interacting with the application, each resolute puzzle will give you a rating, in the form of a percentage, as soon as it is resolved. The use of the clues will simply decrease this rating; the resolution time will be the second factor of this score.
Rest assured, this system is not penalizing, it is quite possible to solve a complete investigation by taking all your time and abusing clues. The result will be the same, but in a fashion less glorious.
I will not go into the story itself, just tell you about the starting plot of the trilogy. You are Maria, a mother locked in a psychiatric hospital, who must find her son before Leopold. This former Tsar goes from body to body in order to survive through time, while plotting black plans of the destruction of the world. Well, as much to say it, the starting scenario is not very original and can sometimes even touch simplistic.
Let's go to the illustrations, from the author of the game. They are of a rather sober style. The tones are very greyish with few colors. Only red appears from time to time, giving everything a very dark, adult and sometimes even violent feel. The game not for those younger than 16 as some scenes can really be disturbing
The game comes in a trilogy of three boxes, telling the difficult start for our heroine Maria, and going to preparation for the final confrontation. Each scenario consists of a pack of 54 cards, and has a very variable life span depending on the players; it is easy to spend a good hour and a half for the shortest scenario. It is easy to " save " a game, since it is enough to put aside the cards in your possession and pick them up as soon as you want to continue the story. On the other hand, it is necessary to keep your session of game open game on the game site, under penalty of having to identify your game box again because each box has a game code, usable 30 times. So even if you can finish the game after several plays, pass it to friends, it is better not to have fun “burning” through these connections because I feel that the game then becomes obsolete.
Technical note 7/10
A game with a very uniform graphic style, sober, almost dull, lending the game a dark and adult atmosphere. The enigmas are linked with levels of difficulty that alternate, not giving the feeling of blockage that can sometimes be felt on other escape game. The rules are very simple and the cards are large for good readability. Scenically, everything is held with a mix of detective story, fantasy at the limit of horror.
My score BGG 7/10
(Good surprise for a type of game that I do not usually play)
I was surprised and taken by the game and want to go further in the adventure. By cons, the game aid is double-edged (especially for me); you can sometimes abuse it to go too fast and finish the game faster than you should. Its use may not have enough consequences. The limit of use of the application really annoys me, I do not like the idea that a game can become unusable.
Combined rating of 7/10
And now, it's up to you to play ...
Arnaul's Video review in french
Poule Poule (2019) review
Making a movie can be a difficult process of casting the right people to fit the story. Choosing the scenery and settings while keeping everything under control and stopping outside influences from strolling in front of your camera. Balancing the action scenes with the plot points, to keep your audience guessing and enthralled. Not going over budget and finally, remembering that someone else has to edit this footage into the final film.
Poule Poule takes all of this and narrows it down into a fun and mind stimulating family card game. A game where one player will direct the movie by revealing cards, while other players are the movie editors, poised to make a cut at the right moment.
This memory and slightly mathematical puzzle is played out with a deck of cards. The deck can be set up for a very simple basic game, involving very few actors and props. With increasing difficulty levels depending on the amount of extra characters, walk on parts and additional props you wish to add. The game also offers some blank cards for you to draw your own characters and create extra rules of your own. Getting back to the basics game, your constructive a deck containing 10 chickens, 10 foxes, and 15 eggs. And the gameplay is very very simple…
One player would take on the role of a Director, who is making a film about Poule Poule. They will take the deck of cards and shuffle them ready to present to the other players, who are the Film Editors. The Director only want to see 5 uncovered eggs in their film. These editors will then watch the film reel that the Director has captured, as they play their film by revealing the top card of the deck. This will then be followed by the next card, which is placed on top of the first card. This continues at the speed the Director wishes to flick through their flic. And what the Editors are looking for is a place to cut the film. This cut should be when the fifth uncovered egg is revealed. This, in itself is very simple, as the Editor will slam their hand on the cards and shout, “Cut”. At which point the film stops rolling from the Director. Before anything else happens, any of the other Editors could challenge the one who has stopped the film, if they believe that they have missed counted the number of eggs. But if there is no challenge, this Editor wins themselfs one of three points, which are made up of egg shells. Winning three points, or completing the egg, will win you the game. But there’s a little more to it than what it sounds…
Remember that there’s not only eggs in this deck of cards but there are chickens and there are foxes, each of them has a role to play in this film. Whenever a chicken is revealed, if an egg has been played before it arrives in the scene, this chicken will sit on the egg. If there are no eggs in the film already or the previous eggs have been sat on by other chickens, this one walks off set. Remember that you are cutting the film directly after a fifth egg is available. Yes, you may have seen seven egg cards during the films playing, but how many of them were covered by chickens. And that is where the fox comes in. If a fox comes along and no chickens have been seen, it goes on its way. But if there is a chicken or two sat on an egg, guess what…? Let’s keep this child friendly. The Fox chases away one of these chickens, revealing the previously covered egg. This can throw a fun spanner in the works, as your brain is trying to recount from memory. And before you know it, someone has already won a point or lost a point if you are playing with a variant. After which the deck is passed to the next player and they become the Director.
You can probably tell by now if this game is for you or not. But I will add that you shouldn’t pre-judge this game juuuuuuuust yet. I would say that this is not only a game for children, but adults too can have great fun (especially when playing with all variants). The game is a simple memory game of adding one or minusing one every time a chicken or a fox comes along. Teaching your young ones logic and simple math while being a cerebral challenge for you and your drinking buddies, as there are 7 extra characters to play roles in these films. For example, the dog, who will wait around for the next fox to arrive and then chase it away. The ostrich egg that counts as two eggs, and cannot be sat on by the chicken. Or the farmer, who will collect all previously uncovered eggs, resetting your count to zero. As I mentioned earlier, there are blank cards for you to draw and create your one rules and characters. On top of that you can penalize players who make mistakes with incorrect gases or failed to call the bluff on another. All of this will add complexity and extend the extremely short five minute playing time into and longer challenging party game.
With a very interesting color palette and unique art style from Pauline Berdal (Kami) that makes every character unique and stand out from the others. This all leads to gameplay that is smooth and the roles of each character easy to differentiate. The rules themselves are extremely simple but deciphering them from this very small rulebook can be head scratching. Although the text is written in a lighthearted manner that reflects the theme of the game, it is unfortunately in a shorthand that you need to have some background on before you can play. Or at least watched a video on. Charles Bossart (75 Gnom' Street, Stumblewood) has found some interesting combinations in memory games to create and interesting rapid past time. Although the theme is very present on the cards, and kind of reflects cell by cell movie reels as you reveal the cards, it doesn’t translate well into the game and is quickly forgotten.
Once you know the rules, the gameplay is very very quickly. In fact, I've had some 5-minute games due to the fact that one player at the table was very observant and very speedy at cutting the film. Within 3 turns, they had won the game. This can sometimes destroy the morale of those who are not quick or retentive and put them off playing this game in the future. Sometimes while playing you will see these players slide out of the ambience of the game, leaving victory with a slightly sour taste in your mouth. So I can see this is probably just a fun game that adults can play to have a laugh. Or this is for adults who think that they are intelligent and can challenge each other with. But mainly I can see this game working with parents and their children. Possibly best with the parent playing the directing role throughout the game. Definitely a good laugh with 4 or more players. Anything less is a little drab, like being the Director and not being able to participate in a challenge or the count itself. The game states that it can go up to 8 players, although that maybe a squeeze around a table. But there's a good chance there's a lot of giggles and laughable arguments.
Oh, I forgot! I also was commissioned to create music for the game. You can find it on Spotify, Deezer and many more streaming sites.
Technical score 9/10
Sweet looking art, quality cards (with different coloured backs) and a small box that can travel anywhere. A good like insert for the cards but no baggie to hold the point making egg shells. The rulebook lets it down by using its own language and does not explaining these terms, that hinder learning the game.
My BGG score 7/10
Good - usually willing to play.
A game that pleases me and makes me feel clever. I am a sucker for this logical mathematical game. Enjoyable if you like challenging others with you reflexes and brain power (of counting 1,2,3…) Although, it's not everybody's cup of tea and playing with these players hinders the game. And again, the game can be unbalanced depending on the level of the players playing. A good quick filler game when you have a group of 4 or more.
Combined score 8/10
And now it’s over to you
Thunder Alley (2014) review
Thunder Alley, as the illustration of the box tells you, is a racing game. NASCAR race more precisely. The game exists only in English from GMT and is available as an import in some French shops. But nothing really discouraging, the French version of the rule book can be downloaded from the publisher's website, and a little help in the language of Molière is available on the Tric Trac website. This should not put off the driver in you, as Thunder Alley is a game that racing fans should not miss.
Taking the box in hand, the first good impression comes from the weight of it. There are two game boards, double-sided, folded in eight parts. Trays really big, and graphics very eye catching. So for, I guess, licensing concerns, the circuits do not carry the names of those of NASCAR. But this detail is quickly forgotten, we will fight well on the legendary rings of the American championship of car races.
As for the rest of the material, it's less glorious. Cars are represented by cardboard chips. Both sides are used because they show that a car has already been activated this turn. Other tokens materialize the damage and wear of vehicles, as well as the rewards earned by the runners at the end of the game.
At the bottom of the box, we only have cards left, the engine of the game. But we will come back to it a little later.
One of the peculiarities of Thunder Alley is that it's not just a racing game. The game does not stop as soon as a competitor crosses the finish line. No, each player is the manager of a NASCAR team. Their goal is not going to be to win the race (although it is still more glorious), but to rank as best as possible all the cars in their team. At the beginning of the game, depending on the number of players, each manager will play a number of cars. These are placed on the starting grid, the hostesses then leave the track, and then it’s on with the race!
A game is a succession of rounds during which each player will activate each of their cars once. For that, they will play a card and apply the different information indicated on it. The operation is simple, the largest number at the top left of the card indicates the number of movement spaces allowed. The second digit is to be used only at the exit the track.
The move is special since it tries to simulate as much as possible a NASCAR race. That is to say a group race of vehicles. Movements usually do not involve the movement of one, but of a line of vehicles. For this, cards are composed of 4 types of movement:
During the turn of the game, each player will have a card hand equal to the number of cars in their team, plus one. You will therefore optimize as much as possible all your movements, using the various movements to promote the advance of your vehicles while avoiding over-benefitting your opponents. This system forces to always have to adapt according to the position of all the other vehicles, to juggle between the cards at its disposal, the placement of the vehicles and the order of activation.
The majority of these cards have a wear icon on the top right. The car receives this token and will accumulate them as the race progresses knowing that the more chips collected, the more that vehicle will have technical problems. The first consequence is the reduction of the speed of the vehicle. To get rid of these bulky tokens, only one choice is necessary: the pit stop.
There are possible types of pit stop.
The normal stop, at the end of the lap, where the cars will stop on the side, go back five squares, then start again in the next turn with the smallest value indicated on the movement cards.
But there is also the pit stop following a stoppage of the race. At the end of each turn, an event card is drawn, and some trigger a yellow or red flag. A pit stop is then possible for all vehicles, the car squad is then reformed behind the Pace Car, the cars having made a stop placing in the order behind all those who did not stop.
And here too the choice is paramount: is it better to go up the rankings by keeping a car close to breaking, or change the tires, refuel, and start again at the back of the race.
The management of damage, wear, adapt to the vicissitudes of the race, try not to be outdistanced, these are all elements of the game to take in hand to win the victory.
Thunder Alley may seem random, grumbling on drawing cards that are not fair to everyone. Yet a balance is made by tokens of wear or damage. The most powerful cards give permanent damage to the vehicle, which even a pit stop does not fix. And of course the less powerful cards bring no penalty.
The players compete until the finish of the event. In the order of finish, the participants win a token indicating the number of victory points won. It may happen that a car is destroyed during the race, or that it is so far behind that it is removed from the game. Their Manager then gains the victory point token with the lowest value. The game continues until the arrival of all vehicles. Each Manager then counts all the trophies won by their team, then the big winner is proclaimed, raises the trophy and showering the other players with champagne.
So why is Thunder Alley, for me one of the best racing games in the world. Because it perfectly simulates a car race. The tension of the race is present. This famous card system that activates a whole group of vehicles makes it possible to create real racing situations. Escapes are created, and the mutual assistance to join the head of the race depends enormously on the cars composing it. If, on the other hand, cars go off without the help of other cars, they will have a hard time joining the pack. The order of activation of the vehicles is essential in this game where the cars are always on the brink of rupture, between the wear of the vehicle, and the will to push it a little further. A pleasant tension!
[small inset: the photos were taken with a customized version of the game. The cars were printed with the downloadable files on Thingiverse at a scale of 90%.
The rules, in French, are available on BGG or the website of GMT.
Finally, a game help very well done, with the translation of all cards containing text, is available on the card TricTrac.]
Technical note 7/10
The game boards are sumptuous, the rest of the material is more than light. Player boards are hyper thin, tokens microscopic sizes. 3D printing of vehicles is almost essential for better visualization of vehicles.
My score BGG 9/10
Excellent - very much enjoy playing.
A must-have racing game: a little fun, a zest of slipstreaming, a cloud of stress and a good laugh on the final sprint. Do not have a racing game in your collection? Thunder Alley will not disappoint you!
Combined rating of 8/10
And now, it's up to you to play ...
Thunder Alley is a true playful wonder. Disturbing during your first game, it offers more than just a racing game.
The game perfectly combines luck, risk-taking, hand management, tactics, team management and ingenuity.
Mechanically very faithful to the theme and the operation of NASCAR, Thunder Alley offers a very interesting gameplay and very fun to play.
The winner is not the one who arrives first, it will be necessary to manage your team the best you can to hope to prevail. Every turn there's a management decision to be made in a game where a situation can happen at any time.
Far from being random, the game is a perfect combination of incredible playful and jubilant feelings. Playing it in season or championship mode is even more enjoyable.
The game material is very good. The trays are superb. A small regression for the individual trays which are a tad too thin and have a few errors of the first version. But nothing very disturbing once you’re in the game. Apart from that, you’ll find the usual cardboard pawns and cards well done. Note that the cars (solid cardboard) front and back make the game perfectly legible for all players. A nice GMT production, as they know how to do it.
Thunder Alley is a game that I can only advise to you. Playable from 2 to 7 players, it's a real pleasure every time. Beware of accidents or surprises that can occur, as in the real NASCAR. Nobody is immune... even your champion.
The game has two extensions: Thunder Alley: Expansion Tracks that adds new circuits and Thunder Alley: Crew Chief Expansion that adds even more strategies. Also note that the game is compatible with Grand Prix circuits from the same publisher.
wacky Races (2019) Review
Do you remember this old cartoon Wacky Races. No ? Ah, but that does not have to stay that way. You must rush out and discover this. So many childhood memories. And this is not new. Indeed, Wacky Races is an American cartoon created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. The cartoon was born in 1968! It even had a sequel / reboot in 2017.
If the title of the cartoon does not necessarily speak to you, the two main protagonists will be known to you. Dick Dastardly and his dog Muttley, during each episode, try to win the race by preparing traps to make the others racers lose. And like the Coyote, these attempts are constantly turning against them. But in Wacky Races, all shots are allowed for the eleven participants, all more colorful than the other.
What was a surprise to see was a game adapted from this license. And from CMON Limited in addition. So that's something that could potentially make us happy, or on the contrary, make us run away. The theme is not necessarily the easiest to adapt.
Wacky Races: The Board Game is a game by Andrea Chiarvesio and Fabio Tola. They created two versions of the game. The normal version is the one you find most easy to access. CMON made pre-orders for a deluxe version with pre-painted figures. This one (rather successful) is scheduled for the end of 2019. The version I got is a normal retail version.
To be honest, what made me crack was clearly the license. Being able to find all the drivers of my childhood and being able to play with them in a board game, it seemed very nice. The illustrations of Giovanna BC Guimarães are very faithful. They put you directly in the arena.
The principle of Wacky Races: The board game is very simple. Each player chooses a driver and takes their model and individual board. Also taking the four "abilities" cards that are placed on that board.
For the drivers, we have the joy of finding the eleven from the series:
Then you’ll create the circuit. This one is composed of map / tiles laid more or less randomly. More or less because the tiles are separated into two halves. At the end of the first half of the circuit (after 8 tiles), there’ll always be the gas station. Then, continue laying the remaining 8 tiles, being careful to add one special tile (choice of four). The number of spaces to finish the race is theoretically always the same (there is nothing prevents you from playing with everything). The normal circuit is composed of 18 tiles.
Each race participant is randomly placed on one of the starting locations. One character per tile, only six in each race (seven if you count the Mean Machine). The goal is to arrive first on the finish line. Logical, this is a racing game. The game announces a 10 to 15 minute per game and it does not lie. We are clearly in the game very fast.
The normal tiles are each a different landscape. Landscape that you’ll find repeated several times. They range from the desert, the forest, the meadow and the farm. Added to this are special tiles with obligatory gas station and another one to choose between either the marshes, the crossroads, the railway crossing and the ACME factory. Of course you’ll always finish at the finish line. Special tiles act as a joker for moving. It is important to know this because all the movement of the racers will depend on the type of tile which they are on.
Each player has three cards in their hand. Each card represents one of the landscapes mentioned. The first action of a player is mandatory. They must discard a card (any one) to move a tile. After this move, they can then discard another card that corresponding to the terrain they are now located on, to advance a second time. This can be repeated a third time (after inevitably the player has no more cards in hand, so their turn is over). The cards played must match (except the first one played) the driver's location to allow them to move one space. Each tile has two spaces, which can accommodate up to two drivers. If a third wants to move onto that space, it is automatically placed on the next free box ( not counting the tile full). Then the player draws back up to three cards.
Finally, at the end of the player's turn, Dick Dastardly and the Mean Machine are moved. This car participates in the race but in a particular way. Indeed, as in the cartoon,Dastardly and Muttly try to trap their competitors to win. Their car is placed on the tiles and not on one side or the other, like the players. It does not count in the limit of two cars and is not played by a player. For his move, look at the discard pile. The last card played indicates where the Mean Machine will go.
For example: a desert is on top of the discard pile. The Mean Machine goes to the next desert tile no matter the distance. If a wild tile is on the way, Dastardly must stop there (except for the Station Service tile because "refueling is for losers"). If there is no movement possible, then the Mean Machine runs out of gas and must give up (because without fuel "you may not be a loser but you can not win").
Fun little detail, if Dick Dastardly & Muttley lead the race, they take the opportunity to place a trap card. You then take the first card of the associated deck and put it on the tile. Thereafter, if the two cheaters must go through this tile, if there is still a trap, it does not count as a movement space. After placing a card, as it takes time, they fall back to last place.
With less than six players, there remains a last step. Indeed, all drivers who do not belong to a player, are considered neutral. They have their own way of moving forward. At the end of a round and just before the first player starts playing again, all neutrals advance one space. Then, you reveal the first card of the deck. If the terrain matches, the drivers involved advance one space. Again a second, then a third time. If a neutral racer reaches the finish line first, they win. In a game with two players, after the neutral stage, Dastardly plays again.
And there you go. Now to finish with the details ... When a player reaches a space with a trap card, the card is revealed and the trap activates. There are eight different types of traps: falling rocks, log, oil slick, false tunnel, broken bridges, sabotage, mud pool, false signam. There is also the possibility of falling on a plan that has failed (which is good for racers).
During the installation, I told you about cards abilities. Each racer (neutrals do not have one) has four cards. These cards can be used at any time of their turn. Just flip your card once used. There are ways to avoid certain pitfalls, the ability to pick or renew his hand, to advance faster, to invert tiles ... These cards can sometimes give you a good boost and sometimes counterbalance a capricious chance. To know that once the last driver has passed the gas station, all the players can reactivate all exhausted cards again.
So what about this Wacky Races: the board game? From the start, we know what to expect. The game is not meant to be a complicated game. Its duration for one, its short rules, the possibilities of gameplay, it is a family game, easy and quickly. Wacky Races is a driving game for the family, very simple and possibly too simple. Compared to its price, one wonders if the publisher has paid too much on the license. Still, the game has good ideas.
Already, the respect of the series is a very appreciable thing. Thematically, visually, we are there.
It's a good thing to have eliminated Dick Dastardly & Muttley and made them an aggressive neutral player. The idea of traps is interesting, but quickly finds its limits. Already, this does not necessarily happen much in one game and can disadvantage the same player several times. The number of traps available is quite small, it does not allow for big surprises when discovering the cards and created a lack of variety which is heavily missed.
The game system is pretty good, but relies far too much on the luck of the draw. If you have the right combos at the right time, you will advance much faster than your competitors. It also plays on neutral management. Very good idea, but unique to each game, this system will create tension ... or nothing if the cards do not really allow them to move forward. We understand that the idea of making a simple family game was paramount, but the trouble is that in this state, it is limited like if we had rolled a dice, and that on the right number we advance (and again the die would be more fun). Cards can become very frustrating and very unfair. And it's not really the idea of abilities that will save things. On paper, that's fine. This allows for a slightly different and personalized drivers. In fact, the powers are very similar and with little variety.
The duration of the game, quite short, allows to reduce some feelings evoked without removing them. Rules for a championship mode (rather anecdotic) are included.
The miniatures are rather successful. A lot of details and we are plunged into this crazy world. On the other hand, the rest of the material is quite surprisingly poor. It is true that the publisher has accustomed us to good or very good. And there, see the cards / tiles very thin and not detailed, it surprises. The trap cards are very simple and do not have their own illustrations. The decor of the tiles is quite hollow, without relief and flavors. The cards capacities are at their limits ... The players boards are also very thin and their machine construction plans, which look strongly reminiscent of Victorian Masterminds (also a CMON title) could have been a little more worked. Except the miniatures, the rest leaves me really doubtful.
Moreover to return on the racers. It's a pleasure to know that there are eleven of them. But ... why are we so limited to only six players (so seven cars in play at the same time)? Why could they not have proposed more tiles to make longer circuits and thus incorporate additional drivers and make it more like the cartoon ??? No ... here you will only have the right to only have six drivers at the same time. What a disappointment. A few more tiles, a few more special tiles, that would clearly not have been luxury.
I am very annoyed with this game. I would like to love it, I would like to advise it, I would like to share with you my joy to play it ... But ... I can not. Deception would be a fairer word. I expected maybe too much. It happens sometimes. And yet, when the game starts and you are the required number, it turns out well. With children or family, it works. But between players, spent the discovery ... the atmosphere starts on a flat calm. Where is the fun? Where is the madness of the series?
The game is clearly not bad. But it really lacks something to make a good game. As it stands, the thing that can make you come back is the nostalgia side. The desire to plunge you back into this crazy world. To face Dick Dastardly & Muttley, to drive the The Army Surplus Special or the Compact Pussycat ... Finally, it did not need much more. More varieties in the powers, more variety in the traps, more varieties on the special terrain, more tiles, the possibility to play with all the drivers, more devious tricks to play, the possibility may be to lessen chance with a small side risk taking (and again it can pass thematically) ...
That's it, you know what to expect. To be honest, despite its many faults, I enjoy playing it. Even if I can not convince others to play another round. The game is still quite pleasant. Without necessarily leaving a playful imprint, it will satisfy you during this short period of time.
If you are a fan of this cartoon, you can even find your child's soul. The actions, the atmosphere stick thematically. But if you are big players and looking for a challenge, I can only advise you to think twice. A family run game, very well with children even as a game for an appetizer. But who misses the finish line because of road exits a little too frequent. Too bad, it really had potential.
Technical note 7/10
Apart from the cars that are very successful and the illustrations, the rest leaves something to be desired. Tiles too thin, not very detailed and varied. Fine cards and offering little variety. Player boards with little interest ... The rules read well.
My score BGG 6/10
(Ok game, only with the right audience)
My love of the cartoon stands out on my note. A family game that will not go down in history, despite interesting ideas and a very pleasant background. A disappointment compared to expectations. Quick and easy to play. To advise with children or with family.
Combined score of 6.5 / 10
And now, it's up to you to play ...
Tanuki Market (2019) Review
Before I start talking about the upcoming game, I'll remind you what a Tanuki is. It is a small carnivorous mammal that looks like a raccoon. In France it’s called a raccoon dog. The only canine to hibernate.
In Japan, it is known as Tanuki (bake danuki). This name is not insignificant because it is also associated with a Yōkai of the forest. Renowned master of disguise, it was in the Middle Ages that this spirit began to be mainly represented in the form of Tanuki. Symbols of prosperity and opportunity, it is a benevolent figure of Japanese beliefs. Represented very often with a giant scrotum called kinbukuro (money bags) or kintama (golden balls), a straw hat and a bottle of sake, the Tanuki is also sometimes a little mischievous, but always kind.
But why am I telling you about this animal? Simply because the game that follows puts you directly at the head of a team of five Tanuki. Indeed, in Tanuki Market, you will have to collect food to feed a group of this little jokers at the expense of Mamie Reinette. Tanuki Market is a little card game by Alexis Allard released by Superlude Éditions. It allows 1 to 5 players to compete to recover the best possible combinations of cards to feed their Tanuki.
The village market is in full swing. The stalls are full of food and other local products. Within this village, not too far from the forest, Mamie Reinette's famous grocery store is open every day. Mamie Reinette runs her shop with an iron hand but ... sometimes she has her back turned or becomes a little sleepy. When these moments occur, the Tanuki, not far away, benefit. Without waiting, led by a Polo the Pilferer who is in top form, they try to grab the crates of fruit into their trolleys, heading towards the forest and the good belly of these adorable little beasts with hair. Everything is going well until the return of Mamie Reinette. This one will have no pity and will chase them as fast as possible.
It is therefore in a childish atmosphere that the game will unfold. For the set up, each player chooses a color and then takes the five cards associated Tanuki group. These cards have panels numbered from 1 to 5. These represent the tables on which the fruits will be stored. Small detail, the numbers represents the order in which to display these cards but also the value of points that each card posed here will bring back at the end of the game (I will come back to this). Then you take as many trolleys as players. Mixing well the rest of the cards (having first place the Mamie Reinette card as indicated) and you are ready.
The first player receives the Polo the Pilferer card. They will have the heavy responsibility of starting and distributing the fruit. Begins with placing Polo on one of the trolleys available. Polo occupies one space in this trolly (yes, it's a bit strange). From the moment Polo is placed, the round begins and each player, including the first player, can at any time retrieve a trolley. A player can only take one.
The player, who place out Polo, is called the pilferer during this round. The pilferer must draw a card from the deck. Drawing and looking at one at a time. Two choices are then available:
Whether the pilferer has taken a cart or not, they continue to fill others by renewing this action. If they have already taken a cart, they can only draw and directly put the card on one of the trolleys still available. If they can not put the drawn card down because the trolleys are already full and they have already taken one, they must then rest this card on the top of the deck without showing it to others.
But aren't there games like this already? Unlike other that use this system for example Coloretto or Zooloretto, Tanuki Market opts for real time. Indeed, from the moment Polo is laid, a player can collect an available trolley, whether it is full or not. Sometimes you'll be able to steal a cart from the pilferer before they can pick it up. The author has incorporated a (light) system of the speed mechanism, to what is already a little deceitful game. This small subtlety give another interesting aspect to this little card game and differentiate it somewhat from its "playful predecessors".
Once a player has recovered a trolley, they are out of the race for that round. But now that they have brought a trolley back to the forest, they’ll need to display the fruits on the tables. Always starting by filling the leftmost empty table. On each table, there can only be one type of fruit. As said before, the table number also corresponds to the value of points that each card will bring back at the end of the game.
For example: if I have three cards on table 1, each card will score 1 point.
I already have a strawberry on my table 1 and a watermelon on my 2. I just picked up a fig, a strawberry and a banana. I have the choice to put my fig or my banana on the table 3 and the other on the 4. My strawberry will necessarily be on my table 1 with the other. Each table has only one type of fruit and each fruit needs to be placed on a table already holding that fruit.
Once each player has chosen a trolley, it's the end of the round. The trolleys are returned to the middle and the player who has picked up the Polo card becomes the Pilferer of the new round. Play continues like this until the appearance of Mamie Reinette (which happens to be the sixteenth card from the end). Mamie Reinette perceiving that fruit is being stolen, will end the game at the end of the round of her appearance.
You count the points and ... no, that's not all. The fruits are not all identical. Some cards have small subtleties to them. Some have immediate effects.
This is the case of the moving of fruits. When such a fruit is added to a table, all the contents of the table must move left or right. If there was already one type of fruit, you swap the two types. It is mandatory. Sometimes it's good, sometimes ... we do it anyway. There are also effects that do not engage at the end of the game.
You must then pay attention to the types of fruit that players recover but also their abilities at the risk of being trapped. Turning a 5-point table into a 3-point table hurts the final score. This idea adds a lot of replayability and welcome tension. The scoring of the points is done according to the collected cards and tables, as well as bonus of three points for whoever holds the Polo and Grandma card during the last round.
For players looking for something deeper, an expert variant exists. This replaces the basic trolleys with special ones having each one of their own peculiarities. Each special cart is double-sided, thus offering different limitations. We can’t lie, once we understood the game, we played with this variant to increase the pleasure and replayability.
As a fan of “Push your luck”, I was curious about this game that uses a system that I like a lot in Coloretto. Without necessarily renewing the genre, Tanuki Market offers very nice, small additions that spice up the game. The game is very family-friendly and it is not the beautiful illustrations of Naïade (Xavier Gueniffey Durin) that will make you think otherwise. Very colorful, quite childish, very cute, the illustrations put you in the mood of a sly sneak thief.
Level iconography, everything is clear. Once the rules are read, you will not return and everyone easily enjoys playing without the difficulty to understand. The powers of the cards are visible and easily decipherable. The game can be played relatively everywhere (taking up a little room on a table but it can be more or less compact).
A solo version exists. But just like the two player version, this remain anecdotal. Indeed, the more of you there are, the more interesting the game will be. With less than three, you can do whatever you want and even at three it remains light. Which seems logical enough for this type of game.
Without necessarily taking big risks, the game has trouble finding it identity. On the other hand, for those who do not know its predecessors, Tanuki Market offers itself as a good little family game, fluid and cunning. Simple to play, visually appealing, it can easily bring together young and old for fun and short games. The choice of special trolley cards offers the game a lot of replayability. The interaction is very present especially with many playing. The open ended side, to choose a trolley when you want can surprise in the first game but soon you’ll take your bearings and pay more attention to what you want, what others want and what to avoid. But sometimes speed will deceives you and make you trap yourself.
Tanuki Market offers a good colorful family entertainment. Simple to get out and explain, a mix of collection mechanisms, risk taking and real time will find its place and delight for the young and old. A card game to put place in anybody's hands assuredly. Beware of your neighbors, maybe one of them is a disguised Tanuki. I invite you to play a round with the soundtrack of the excellent Pompoko (studio Ghibli).
Technical note 9/10
The iconography is very clear. The game installs quickly. It is easy to access for young and old. The illustrations are effective and childish.
My score BGG 7/10
(Good game, usually willing to play.)
The game offers quite well-found ideas even if it is difficult to emancipate from its playful predecessors. Simple and fast, it offers some moments of fun. The real time may surprise but once you get used to it, it adds interest to the game. The trolleys available in the variant allow good replayability.
Combined score of 8/10
And now it's up to you
Misty (2019) Review
It's raining again. A real deluge … We can not go outside. What are we going to do? Oh, what ... On my window, the mist seems to be forming something. And if I added that ... and that. Ah yes, it's starting to look like something. Oh, the cool car. And there, a rocket. And there, oh no, a monster that attacks the plant! My window is turning more and more into a real story.
Oh, the pleasures of being a child. These moments where our imagination allowed us to travel while staying at home, thanks to our "talents" of imagination. These talents, which, it must be admitted, were in fact very far from resembling what we believed. But what mattered was the fact that we believed in them and that it made us travel far. Well, our parents were laughing less when they had to clean the windows behind us, because of the traces left. But what memories.
It is with this approach that Misty was born. Misty is the latest game (at least as I write this article because, game designers never stop) from the designer Florian Fay. An author who derives from already known and proven mechanisms, sometimes improbable ones, creating a new life with this mixture to a perfectly well working game. Games like Apocalypse Chaos, Greenville 1989, Mesozooic or WonderZoo are all perfect examples. With Misty, the author revisits card drafting and programming by simplifying it and allowing as many people as possible to discover it.
Misty was released at Helvetiq in 2019. This game fits straight into the range of small boxes from this publisher. This is probably close enough to the minimalist "Japanese" small box games.
Inside, a fairly short game rule, 54 cards and that's it. The cards are of a format adapted to the box (but not necessarily to sleeves for the most addicts of you). Easy to carry, easy to play.
A bit like Mesozooic, Misty offers an original experience. In the end, each player will have twelve cards with which he will have to create a window. On the final form, you do not have to choose from the beginning of the game. Your window will come alive as the game progresses. At the end, it must form a rectangle of:
At the end of a round, players win points. Whoever has the most wins. The goal is to win two rounds. The first to whom it happens, wins the game.
Now that we've seen how we win, it's time to find out how we play. The game is played in two phases. In the first, each player will receive six cards. Misty is a real time game. In other words, there is not really a turn. Each player plays at the same time.
You will choose a card among the six in hand. You will put it face down in front of you and you will pass the rest of the cards to your neighbor (right or left, following what you all agreed at the beginning of the game because we do not change on the first six cards! No, I said. We must follow strictly ... sorry, I get carried away ... Hum resume ...). Once each player has chosen their card, you reveal it together. This is the principle of the draft.
Now, you will have to play this card to form your window. If it's the first time it's simple you put it where you want. On the other hand, for the following ones, it will be necessary to place them adjacent to another one (vertically, horizontally or diagonally). This can be done in height, length but within the limit of the maximum final size of your window. Not always so simple.
You’ll do this five times, the last card is also added to your window ( this one you do not have the choice necessarily). Once the first six cards are in front of you, your window begins to come to life. Yes, that's right. There will be holes, especially to form the twelve locations. So guess what? Yes, you’ll receive six new cards. And this time, you have to fill these holes. It is also better to change the direction of the draft.
Once the twelve cards are laid, it's the end of the round. The draft is finished. Now it’s time for the resolution of the programming, and for me to explain the second part of the game. The draft is only one of the gears of the game system.
Indeed, on each card you will find different symbols. Sometimes it's going to be arrows, like on fire trucks or rockets. Other times ways to score points, like on smiley or plants, or you can find other indications to lose. Each card has its own way of working and scoring points.
Once the card laying phase is over, we move on to the activation phase. At this point, you will have to activate all your cards. Fortunately, you will choose which order. Without being complicated, the choice of your activated cards will become important. For each card with an arrow, it moves a "space" on your window or outside (if it was placed on the edges of your window). Each uncovered monster goes greedily towards a plant. The others remain in place.
Displacements are important. It will be well to visualize the best way to position your cards and the order in which to activate them. At the end of a round, you’ll move to the scoring phase.
It should not be hidden, Misty is a game intended primarily for a family audience. Simple to play, fast, and especially transportable everywhere, the game deserves its place in your library. It offers a mix of clever mechanisms that allows you to discover the wonderful world of programming in strong beautiful ways.
Felix Kindelan's illustrations work perfectly with the theme. The childish side and fogged images puts you directly in the mood. The choice of drawings alone is a return to childhood. The indications are also very clear and the fact of putting them in the direction of laying cards is a very good idea. This allows a simple and effective reading direction. Players quickly learn how the whole thing works.
The game offers an introduction to drafting and programming for 6 years olds. I admit I did not have the opportunity to try the game with a child of that age, but as it stands it may seem a little complicated. Or you must accompany your child with each turn. It may also be practical to leave two unused cards, face down and in two different directions, in front of everyone, to give an example of the window templates. This can avoid mistakes and make it easy.
In its aspects of child's play, Misty managed to confront you with a game system very fun, but not so obvious, in a simple way. Offering some moments of reflection, Misty offers a beautiful playful time, especially for three players. Indeed, a game with two offers less challenge, which does not allow the game to have any interest.
Easy to carry, the game requires a little space once installed. But I assure you it is not excessive. It is relatively easy to take it out. By cons, forget the plane or the train or even the car. No it will not support that. Could be the boat! ... But then ,a big one ... though ... oops I get lost sometimes.
The designer offers us a first approach of the game of programming coupled with a system of draft, sometimes a little deceitful (but finally too rarely in the majority of the parts), ideal therefore for those of a small appetite. A game that takes little time. The rounds are fluid. The choices are logical in most cases. For the less experienced, it is possible to take a little more time to better plan future acquisitions / positioning. As time goes by, this time will be lessened.
It is true that for expert players, the game will quickly find its limits despite an "expert" variant. But at the same time, Misty is not necessarily meant for them. Playing it is a bit like abusing good treats for others, a little guilty pleasure but very pleasant.
Misty is a game that feels very nostalgic. Nostalgia for those carefree childhood moments. From those steam drawings that amused us so much. And this time, we do not fear the reaction of our parents, on the contrary, we drag them with us into this little crazy world. Some will even go so far as to be able to train their kids or their family to bring out their good old RoboRally ... With such an interesting "training ground", would they be wrong to deprive themselves ?
Technical note 9/10
Everything fits perfectly in the box. The iconography is very clear. The rules are pretty good and the drawings display the theme well. Even if it is quickly forgotten.
My BGG score 8.9 / 10
(Very good, enjoy playing and would suggest it.)
For this style of play and the intended audience, Misty passed the test. Simple, fast, easy to transport, install, explain and play, everything is a big plus. Perfect entry into drafting but especially for programming (especially because it is not so common), it will convince young and old. To try it is to adopt it.
Combined score of 8.95 / 10
And now it's over to you...
Cupcake Empire (2018) review
It’s not very often I get inspired by a board game, which immediately after playing, I wish to do what I did in the board game. In this case, I immediately wanted to make cupcakes after playing Cupcake Empire (and eat them too). But in no way do I wish to run a chain of stores .
This colorfully attractive game uses dice as workers. So expect a bit of a random play as you roll the dice and allocate them to their specific numbered jobs. Of which there are five professions which use those numbers of the dice. If you’re dice workers turn out to be number 1’s, they will help in the production of the sponge bases which forms your cupcakes. Number 2’s will produce the icing while number 3’s will help you construct outlets. Building outlets on different streets will allow you to make deliveries in that street, which correlates with the number 4’s, that will do your deliveries. 5’s represent the manager and has some managerial actions like, hiring new staff which will give you extra dice, building bakeries and the possibility of performing any of the other actions already mentioned.
Each of these actions get more and more powerful the more dice there are in that column. So for example you could create a nice simple sponge base by having three number 1’s. Having five number 1’s will allow you to create a special sponge base. And finally having six will allow you to produce a simple and a complex sponge. Considering you only start with eight dice, what are the chances of you rolling six number ones to perform that special and action. Don’t worry, as you’ll have five experts with you.
Each of the different jobs don’t only have a number allocated to them but they also have a color too. Therefore five of your eight dice will be colored to correspond with the five actions, while three dice are grey. These colored dice are experts in their field. Having your expert dice in the right action column will allow you to perform the action superior to what you can perform with your dice in that column. For example, going back to sponge base making, if you have three number 1’s in the column, this will allow you to create a simple sponge, remember! But if one of those dice happens to be the expert purple dice, this will allow you to perform the action above that, which normally requires five dice. So you’ll be able to create the special sponge. And if two of those three dice are purple, you’ll be able to perform the super action of getting two sponges. The manager, which is the pink die, is an expert in every column, therefore boosting every action. But wait a second, you’re probably saying that the chance of rolling the dice and getting these experts into their correct column is very wild. The good thing is there are lots of ways to mitigate the dice in the game.
For one you will notice that I haven’t mentioned what happens to the number 6’s! Whenever you roll a 6, that worker is tired and will go and take a vacation. Vacations will give your staff a chance to have a good idea, which is actually a token, of which you can collect a maximum of three. The bad news is that this vacating dice is kind of out of play, as it takes its holiday. Other bad news is that it gives the other players a chance to have a good idea as well. Each player has a track on which a cube will move along every time someone put a dice on holiday. Although you yourself will immediately get a good idea, whenever this cube passes a certain point on the track, those players could possibly have a good idea as well. These good idea tokens can then be used in all manner of different ways. Spending a maximum of one good idea on your turn can sometimes lead to some interesting decision-making, as the things that these good ideas can do are quite powerful. And if circumstances don’t go your way, you may be led to make tough decisions on how to spend this one good idea per turn. You may have more than one worker on holiday, which limits the amount of actions you can perform. But spending a good idea token can bring them back from holiday. And what’s better news is that you don’t even need to roll them to tell them what action to do. You just place them in whichever column you want. Which is a great advantage if you have an expert dice on holiday, as you can place them directly into their designated job, therefore boosting that action to a more powerful one.
Other things good idea tokens can do include, buying a power up or shifting a dice from one column to another. Again, these are two powerful actions that can change the outcome of the game. Moving an expert into their designated column so you can perform a more powerful action then you have lined up, is a bonus. But on top of that, buying a power up, that can be activated when you perform an action is a super bonus. Each player will start the game with a random power, which they will allocate to the beginning of one of their columns. Every time you perform that action and use the dice next to this powerful token, you get to activate it. These powers can be chained to an action, three at most. Or you can spread them out so you are always performing a special power on every action that you perform. These powers will allow you to gain victory points immediately, to building an outlet or make a small delivery. And also help speed up the process of getting good ideas and acquiring sponge bases and icings for your cupcakes.
Winning the game couldn’t be simpler. As every round you are going to score points. Once someone score more than 70, the game comes to an end. Every player has a cooking skills of level of two and in economy of level of one. At the end of your turn, you are always going to score the number of points depending on which of these tracks is the lowest. In other words at the beginning of the game, every player is going to score one point at the end of their turn, due to the fact that their economy track is on one. Unless on your first turn you manage to raise the economy by either building an outlet. Delivering cupcakes is one of the major objectives of the game, as there is a separate board with all your bakeries and outlets laid out next to streets, where clients are waiting for cupcakes. These clients come in the form of Meeples, beautifully decorated in the same colors of the cupcakes that they wish. For example one meeple has brown trousers and a red top, meaning that they want a chocolate-based sponge with a strawberry icing topping. And there are many different combinations of these meeples, as there are four different icing flavors and two different sponge base flavors. An important thing to take note of is the distance that they are away from your outlet or bakery. The further away they are, the more powerful your delivery action will need to be. Not only that but the further away they are, the more they boost your economy and possibly give you victory points at the same time.
You’re cooking skill track will go up every time you create a cupcake, combining a base and a topping. Basic toppings and basic sponges will make this track augment by one per article. Where as the more complex sponges and icings will lift it by two each. The great thing about this is the simplicity of creating a cupcake. Not only is it just combining two beautifully delicious looking tokens together but also, once that recipe has been made, you can continually sell that type of cupcake to any client who demands it. And as these client Meeple are randomly placed out on different streets at different distances, this is where the puzzle solving lies of what you are going to cook and when are you going to deliver it.
And that is basically the game. Turns can go by very quickly as the action are very simple. On your turn, you choose the action you wish to perform. This takes mear moments. Then you roll the dice that were used in the action and allocate them to the corresponding column. Before finishing off by scoring points from your lowest track. Play them passes to the next player. These mechanisms are very very quickly picked up by new players. And you may find a game for two players ending in 30 minutes. Which shows you how light and family-friendly this game is. In fact the game looks more complicated than it really is. And I was a little disappointed as I thought there would be more time to invest in the game, building and developing your business. But like all good games, it ends at the right moment, leaving you with that sensation of, “if I had one more turn I would do this.” Always a good sign of a good game in my opinion. And making you want to come back and play more.
With plenty of options on your turn, although at the beginning, you may feel a little restricted depending on what you have rolled, this is a medium weight fun game. With the addition of random bonus objectives, this is a racing game to score the target points before the other players. And even them, you may not have won... Players can then calculate ways to boost their final score. There are many routes to success. You don’t necessarily have to go all out and deliver, deliver, deliver. You can also use the power ups to give you the advantages in certain actions to push you ahead as well. Or just carefully balance your economy and cooking skill track, as you will gain a constant amount of points each turn.
There is some interaction between the players as there are limited resources, in this case the flavors of icing. There is also a limit of spaces to build your bakeries and outlets, which can sometimes and very rarely lead to territory wars. As you can remove someone’s bakery outlet to place your own. This then has an effect on that players economy and cooking skill track, making them step back a bit. And the finishing touch is that even though there is the random dice rolling, you will never feel really stuck on choosing which action you want to do. There is a fair amount of dice mitigation. Even if you feel screwed over at the beginning of the game, you can sacrifice your starting five victory points to move dice or collect good idea tokens.
On the aspect of production, this is a very colorful and attractive looking game. With chunky player boards and beautiful cupcakes that you combine together. This game will leave you hungry. The Meeples, with their different colored trousers and tops is a subtle but effective visual aid to the game. And I kind of wish that they were used more often. The packet of dice that you get in the game are of very good quality, with nice rounded corners. The colors on them make them look very edible as well. But on the other end of the spectrum, there are the player pieces which, number one; come in some very strange and unattractive colors. Which is understandable as you would not wish to confuse your playing pieces with the generic playing pieces of the game. And number two; are a little bit small and finicky. They are easily dislodged from their spaces whenever the table moves, which can be annoying. But again the production has a way around that, as everything on the boards is indicated with numbers and colors. So even if you do knock your playing board and you can’t remember where your cubes and pieces go, you can reference to something to re-calculate your scores. And the other small tokens which are finicky are the power tokens, that don’t look or feel so special. On a side note, these are a tad annoying to organize at the beginning of the game, but that’s a minor gripe.
Technical score 8.5/10
Mechanisms and rules are simple to pick up and well explained in the book. The components are a mix of solid and gorgeous looking, while others are too small, fiddly and seem like they are from another game. Icons and actions are simple to digest. Plus fantastic look, app style graphics.
My BGG score 7/10
Good - usually willing to play.
A nice family game with some interactions and a smidgin of nastiness. Personally, I thought the game was deeper, but it’s lightness lends itself to a larger audience. Great theme that is not so much about making the cake, but business building. Plays in less than an hour with very little time taken between your turns. Works well with two players but shines with 3 or 4, as you battle for space and recipes. Plenty of room to move and adjust your strategies to push you score, even with the luck of dice rolls.
Combined score 7.75/10
Now you need to test it...
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