Coming from a first Kickstarter in 2016, Rescue Polar Bears quickly found his audience. But very quickly, the game appeared to be suffering from some defects. In 2017 at Essen, a new version was published with adjustments making it even more pleasant. This is the version I will tell you about. Polar Bears Rescue: Data & Temperature is a game by designers Jog Kung (Cat Town) and Huang Yi Ming (The Deception of Antiques: 12 Chinese Zodiac Bronze Heads). It has been published by TwoPlus Games(Cat Box).
No surprises on the theme, the game is located at the North Pole. You are sent to head a rescue mission on the Arctic Ocean. Each player is behind the controls of a lifeboat. But who should we save? Polar bears of course!
The melting ice is accelerating and your team is responsible for recovering as much data as possible while preventing the disappearance of these adorable (but dangerous) hairy creatures. The recovered data will be used to raise awareness of the danger to the governments of the world (utopian?). You will therefore have to cooperate (with such a theme, what a surprise!) to carry out your objective.
For the set-up, nothing more simple. You take all the tiles, mix them, and install them face down on the board. Once done, we turn them over and remove the empty Ocean tiles. That's it, your playing area has appeared.
Among the available tiles, you will find three kinds: the ice banks numbered from 1 to 20 (where the bears can evolve), the empty Ocean tiles (which you will remove) and the tiles with a buoy (the tags can help you). We install the two bases, with the helicopters (essential), which will come to our rescue. We return a map position that allows us to define the location of the first data to be recovered. After putting the thermometer at 8 ° C, we turn over an alert token to know which number of the first ice sheet is in danger. Then install cute cubs and their parents. All that remains is to choose our boats and go.
Playable from 1 to 4 players, you can choose from five different boats. As in many of these styles games, each boat offers very different abilities. Several factors to take into account such as speed, the number of actions, the possibility of transport, power but also upgrades possible (two per boat). The initial choice is important. Each offers interesting possibilities and all are very useful in their own way.
Your rescue team can do its job. On your turn, you have three actions to perform from the possible actions (you can do the same several time):
to move : as many spaces as your ship allows;
collect a data / ship a bear : if you are adjacent to an ice floe, you can collect data or have a single bear embarked for each action (being careful of the available space);
land your bear cargo (also called "save polar bears") : if you are adjacent to a base, you can save ALL the bears in your boat for an action;
break the ice : does an ice floe prevent you from moving? No problem ! You are equipped for that. So you can go in, destroy it, which will remove the tile from the board. Positive effect: the temperature drops by 2 ° C (the water has cooled) / Negative effect: one tile less, end of game faster. An action to use sparingly so.
Of course, there are some specific actions for some boats, like finding more data, shipping more bears etc.
Once your three actions are completed, you slide into the breeding phase. It seems that polar bears are not aware of the danger. As a result, they continue to live normally. Which inevitably implies love between bears, and the potential appearance of new cubs because of the life’s miracle. But for that, you have to roll a dice 20 (ah, didn't you know that's how polar bears breed?). If the number of the die matches a tile in play, the miracle of nature does its job. If there is a male and a female, two new cubs are born. If there are only cubs, they grow (either in male or female). And if there is nothing, or there are not enough miniatures in the reserve or bears of only one sex, the temperature will go up by one degree.
Because yes, once the reproduction done, the heat continues to climb. So, we roll the temperature dice and increase the marker of the number indicated (possibly add the +1 bonus).
It is going to get more and more hotter in this part of the Ocean Arctic. And this is not the time to take a vacation. But what happens if the temperature reaches or exceeds the token of the tile where there is the alert counter? What it must scientifically do when the temperature is above the resistance of the ice ... the numbered ice pack melts and disappears. Positive effect: it will cool the water by 5 ° C. Negative effect: the end of the game approaches.
But what about the bears on it? Fortunately, polar bears have a minimum of survival instinct. It's like when a boat uses the icebreaker action or if after a birth, there are not more enough space on the tile. They will seek to move on the adjacent tiles that can accommodate them. Because yes, the ice is quite small. They can only accommodate three bears / cubs at a time. For those who unfortunately can not find a place, they find themselves in the water. It is known that polar bears are good swimmers. But actually not here. So, we have the chance to count on a helicopter team to come and save them. Phew. Except that we only have enough fuels for six flights (in the normal play), which is the rescue of six bears. After that... if by chance a bear drowns, your team would have failed in its holy mission.
The end of the game occurs if you win or lose. To win, one goal: to recover a sufficient number of data. To lose, it's even easier. If a single bear disappears or the temperature reaches 20 ° C, you lose.
Does it seem hard to win? It's because it is. The game is simple in its rules, but very hard in the possibility of a victory. It’s necessary to be vigilant, on the lookout for the least critical situation. Be careful, critical situation can often happen. You will have little respite in this excellent game. If you think you are saved, there is a problem that you have not seen. You can adjust the difficulty and add ice float tiles, which block the movement. The boats must therefore use the icebreaker action to move forward. In this case, the temperature does not drop. Behind a cute design, exceptional material, we are not in the simple family game. To win, you have to think and be ready to find the parry at the right time.
To help you, in addition to helicopters, you can win cards (limited number) by stopping on the buoys. These cards can save your life. But you will have to play them at the right time. Which upgrades to choose and for whom are also important things to consider.
Rescue Polar Bears: Data & Temperature is smart to talk about a vital ecological problem without being preachy. The two designers have found the perfect recipe to combine playful fun with awareness. The theme is ubiquitous whatever one does.
Even if it is indicated 8 years on the box, and that it is quite possible to play there in family, the game offers a challenge worthy of experts. To win, you will not only have to rely on luck. From the start with the selection of boats, any choice during the game will have a significant impact on the future and any error is expensive. Especially for bears. They are so adorable that we can only want to save them. The material is really exceptional. Resin bear miniatures are beautiful and cute as they should (even if they can slightly deteriorate rather quickly). The boat embossed cardboard adds a nice 3D side. Tiles and tokens are made of cardboard. Cards of good qualities. Everything is well thought out and ergonomic. We are far from the beautiful game that hides gaps of interest or replayability. This one is very important: set up always different, rise of random waters, choice of boats, appearance of data ... Rescue Polar Bears: Data & Temperature is a very good surprise. A game that deserves its place in any game library. A beautiful, intelligent, interesting game, carrying a strong message, while allowing to have fun great pleasure. A blow of heart certainly.
Technical Score 9.5 / 10 Exceptional gaming equipment, everything is at the service of the theme. Simple to set up, the miniature bear resin make their effect quickly. Perfect alliance between ergonomics and beauty.
My BGG Score 8.5 / 10 (Very good - enjoy playing and would suggest it.) A very good challenge, a theme omnipresent, huge replayability, fun and intelligent. A cooperative game that requires cooperation every moment. Short rules, well illustrated and easily understood.
Combined Score 9/10 And now it's over to you ...
Like any tale, it starts with a "once upon a time". The story I am going to tell you happened a long time ago. His Excellency, King Reginald the Gourmand, decided to embark on a huge project by developing unexploited land near the mysterious Grimm Forest. Far from thinking of the happiness and serenity of the inhabitants of the kingdom, the Lord imagined firstly to fill the coffers of the kingdom with the resale of these habitable lands. He therefore appealed to the legendary builders of the kingdom. Alas for him, the three little pigs, because it was them, have aged well since their last buildings. Their legendary abilities only seem ... legendary. From then on, his excellence was looking for replacements who can fulfill his wishes. This is how the famous title of Royal Builder is awarded in a competition.
By the greatest of chances, those who answered the call were simply the nieces and nephews of the legendary builders. Less stubborn than their parents, they embarked on the adventure. The first who would eventually build three houses on the land allotted to them, would prevail.
That's about the beginning of this tale. The rest is up to you to write or rather to live. The Grimm Forest immerses you in an enchanted universe of tales. The game of Tim Eisner (March on the Ants, Tidal Blades)offers us the opportunity to embody the competitors as Royal Builders. It was funded on Kickstarter by Druid City Games in 2018 and will be published in French later in 2019 by Lucky Duck Games.
Playable from 2 to 4 players, the game really interesting at the four player count. The goal of the game is to be the first to make three houses on this land, in the three different materials: straw, wood and brick (just like the little pigs did). Of course, each type of house requires different resources. And is played in two phases.
The first is the search for resources. There are four different places: the forest, the quarry, the field and the market (four players). Each player has a card of each location in their hand. They then secretly choose one place and everyone reveals it at the same time, then places their pig on the destination of the card.
This guessing phase works a little like the game, Crossing. If you are alone in your area, then you take all the resources present. If you are several, you share equitably between you (there is the difference compared to Crossing, where we did not win anything). Simple, fun and cunning but not too punishing.
The second phase corresponds to the stage of construction and expenditure of resources. During this phase, players have two actions. Among these actions a pig can draw a Fable card, or recover a resource of any type, or build. Here you will be able to start building your houses. By spending the proper resources, you will be able to recover pieces of a house. The house consists of three pieces: the foundations, the walls and the roof.
It's easy to be builders right? Whenever a piece of a house is made, a friend (these are cards) will join you to help. You can keep this fairy friend or send it to another player. Each friend brings you more or less important powers. But you only have enough room for one friend (it can be expensive to employ outside help). So, if your opponent has a powerful ally, it can be fun to impose a new one on them. It takes the place of that powerful one and without your opponent having a say in the matter. The door is always wide open after all.
I also mentioned the possibility of recovering Fable cards. These are one shots that will help you in your fight or your construction. These cards usually bring a bit of Take That to the game. And as soon as it's played, it's gone.
And that's all ... Yes the game boils down to that. It is not a complicated game, nor a game too long. The game plays between thirty minutes and one hour. The interest of the game will be wholly in the resource phase and from trying to guess where the others will go, while going to a place that interests you. Fable’s cards will also play an important role. Whether in our production capacity and our ability to progress but also in the fun of a game.
The Grimm Forest at first glance could pose as a childish game by its graphics, its theme, its relative simplicity. But it is not so. With short and simple rules, it manages to offer a slightly higher challenge comparison to a child's level. On the contrary, the game is too simple for expert players to not get bored (too) quickly. So there are the families left.
But the problem that arises at this moment is the price. The game is quite expensive. I’m not saying that it's not worth it (I'll come back to that soon after) but for a family budget, it’s a little high. The Grimm Forest has a rather strange place but it has happened to find an audience.
The strength of the game does not come from the theme or mechanisms. It should not be ignored, the most important interest and attractions come from the material and graphics. The illustrations by Noah Adelman(My Little Scythe), Lina Cossette(Brass: Lancashire), David Forest(Charterstone) are magnificent. They have done an exemplary job on this game. Everything transpires the theme and the magic of these tales. As for the material, from the opening of the box, it’s an eye full. The figurines are superb. They are detailed and quite impressive. Which is even more impressive (it’s a pity?) since in the end, some will be not enough used. The resources are easily identifiable and pleasant to handle. The houses fit together perfectly and the rendering is top. The cards are good qualities. Hardware level, there is nothing to say apart from there is nothing to fault.
You'll understand, I love this game. I find the magical fairy side very appreciable. It exudes a charm due in large part to its artistic direction to small details. On the other hand, it is true that in terms of playful interest, the game will have difficulty finding its public. Even if it remains playable at two (the presence of a neutral player is a palliative to the lack of tension) or three, it is four that becomes really interesting. Below, the game loses its interest and especially its risk taking.
It is a game based on a race mechanism (first-come, first to build everything, first to win). For a family audience that is not afraid of exceeding playtimes of 45 minutes, the game can easily find a good home in the cottages. It remains a superb game, simple, interesting and very pleasant to play. Luck is of course present (as if luck was absent from the tales) in the decks of cards: Fables or friends. But it does not play a determining role in winning. The Grimm Forest is a bit like the tales of the Brothers Grimm, a good game with potential but not to put in everybody's hands.
Technical Score 9,5/10 The illustrations are superb. The cards are good qualities, just like the material. The figures are superb (too bad we do not use them anymore). The storage is really suitable (to be seen for the VF). The rules are clear.
My BGG Score 8/10 (Very good. play it and recommend it) A good game that has a special care for its content. We can regret a lack of challenge that can occur between players, but in families it works really well. Even if you find yourself immersed in a magical universe, the theme is less enchanting.
Combined Score 8.75/10 And now it’s over to you...
Rolling Japan is a small Roll-and-Write game published by Ozaku Brand and Japan Brand. This little game published in 2014 is playable from 1 to ... as many players as you want. From the designer Hisashi Hayashi (Yokohama, Isabiri), this game presents itself as a "multiplayer solitaire" dice game.
What’s in the box? First, you’ll find the most important thing : a block pad of paper. These sheets represent a map of Japan divided into six colorized areas, themselves divided into forty-seven "Prefectures". You’ll also find the on there a round tracker, three squares for changing color, a box for reminder of the number of X you have placed and a space with the possibility of registering your name, for posterity. Then there is a small purse (maybe too small) with 7 wooden dice inside. Finally, note the presence, rare in this type of games, several pencils. Yes! Pencils in the box!!! This is a very minimalist game.
Up till there, all seems like a classical style of game (apart from the presence of pencils). At the rule level, the game is very simple and can be explained in less than 5 minutes. In turn order, players will draw two dice from the bag. Each die has a specific color that corresponds to an area of the map of Japan. Six coloured areas so seven coloured dice ... oh wait ... Yes, there is an intruder. The seventh dice, purple in color, is a kind of joker. Players will announces aloud the result and the color of the dice. Everyone will have to insert these numbers on their map by respecting three important things:
There is only one digit per box.
The number in the area corresponding to the color of the dice must be entered. If you have a yellow 2, you have to enter my 2 in the yellow district.
You can only put a number next to another if the value is the same or +1/-1 of that value. In other words, you could put a yellow 2 in a box, if it is adjacent a 1,2,3, X, or an empty space.
This last obligation offers a small strategic dose, that requires quite bit of thinking. It forces you to make choices or take risks on the future. If you can not insert a number in the designated quarter, you’ll have to place a cross in one of the corresponding coloured boxes. You just can’t put anything in it. On the other hand, a space with a cross is like a void, giving the possibility of putting another number beside it.
To help you in your mission, you have the possibility to change the color (and not the number) of a die three times. Once done, you’ll check one of the boxes to indicate that you have used this ability (and they can go quickly!). You also have the purple dice. It serves as a wild color. You can enter the number in the neighborhood of your choice.
The end of the game comes at the end of the 8th round. A round ends when six dice have been drawn. These are then placed back in the bag and you start the next round. At the end of the 8th, everyone fills the gaps still present on their map with crosses. You’ll calculate the number of crosses present in all our Prefectures and … zap! you have your end score. The player with the least amount of cross wins.
Rolling Japan is a simple but not simplistic dice game. Quick to learn and fast to play. The material is not amazing, but very functional. The graphics of Ryo Nyamo are very austere, offering clear visibility. It will be noted with great pleasure the presence of pencils directly in the box. Chance is inevitably present and forces you to make sometimes difficult choices. But it can also offer you a chaotic path. The interaction between the players is zero. Everyone really plays in their corner, waiting for the results of the dice. It may not be the most original roll-and-write, but it stands out from the other games. Pretty clever, this little game is easily transportable and wherever you go good times will be had with friends or family. To diversify the pleasure, several variants of maps are available on the internet for download.
Technical Score 6.5 / 10 Nothing extraordinary, everything is functional. However, the pencils are included! Bonus
My BGG Score 6/10 (Ok game, some fun or challenge at least, will play sporadically if in the right mood.) Easy to play, easy to transport anywhere, for all types of players, smart and fast.
Combined Score 6.25 / 10 And now it's over to you ...
I very much enjoy perusing the shelves of a gameboard store. Searching, discover new games, admire the illustrations, seeing the content of a game, take my time ... And sometimes, in the middle of a shelving, I discover games to which I would never have stopped otherwise. This is the case for the game I'm going to talk about.
It is a small box, quite sober, which does not look like, and which, if it were not put forward, would seem quite somehow. This game, it's about The Mind.
The Mind comes from the brain of Wolfgang Warsch(Fuji, That's Pretty Clever). Wolfgang is a fairly recent Austrian designer. His first game arrived in 2015, Dream Team. A year later, he created Shadows Master. Then in 2018, he returns with no less than four games: That's Pretty Clever, The Quacks of Quedlinburg, Illusion and The Mind. And among these four, three are nominated for the Spiel 2018! Yes, you read correctly. That's Pretty Clever and Quacks for Kennerspiel, The Mind were potential Spiel des Jahres. The latter failed to win "the supreme title" against the Azul machine, but the The Quacks of Quedlinburg won the Kennerspiel. All this will tell you that this molecular biologist is an author to watch very closely. His latest game Fuji, released by Feuerland, and soon to be published in French by Supermeeple, has already received a warm welcome.
The Mind came out in 2018, published by Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag. Since then, many publishers have added it to their catalogs. In France, Oya takes care of its distribution. Right away, the game produces an effect. To tell the truth, it clearly divides the players and left no one indifferent. It’s success is unstoppable and already has a good track record with it’s Spiel des Jahre nomination and victory at the 2019 Cannes International Game Festival.
The box is small, and this is understandable because inside there are just a deck of cards. 100 of them, numbered from 1 to 100. Each card is unique. You will also have level cards, from 1 to 12, life point cards and shuriken cards (or “star” following the interpretations). And that's it (well there are also the rules of course, otherwise you must immediately notify your dealer).
Oliver Freudenreich's illustrations are clearly minimalist. Strange (does it look like a rabbit straight out of Donnie Darko?), but really sober and abstract. We could even believe that the art is a little too light. Yet, it works. After all, that's not why we bought this game. This almost non-existent illustration makes the readability better (to the detriment of a potential immersion).
Now let's focus on what interests you the most... How do you play it?
The rules are extremely simple and fit on a small sheet of paper included in the box. The Mind is played by 2 to 4 players and is a cooperative game. Everyone wins or loses together. A bit like a the game, “The Game,” you must play sequences of numbers in ascending order according to the cards you have in hand. There is no order of the turn per se, everyone plays when they think that they have the next card in this sequence. But beware, you can only play one card at a time. So, if you have twenty-two and twenty-three, you will have to first put one down, then play the other from your hand. Which of course can give another player time to play something else in between. At the beginning of a level, each player receives as many cards as the level value. In other words, in level one you will receive a card; level two, two cards... For now, everything is straightforward, nothing foolish or original.
When you are able to complete a level, that is when all players have managed to get rid of their cards, depending on the level, you will win a bonus: a new life, a new shuriken, or nothing.
Too simple? Ah, but I did not tell you about the specificity of the game. It is forbidden to communicate. Yes. No words, no gestures, no mimes, no foot movements, no blinking the numbers as you have (if you have the 100 it must be tiring I guess) ... No, nothing , Nada, Rien, you do not speak! Even worse than Hanabi. There, it is not funny anymore. Well, it can be funny, but in other ways.
You will have to be careful. Everything will be played with intuition, with sensation, with the gaze. It will not be easy I grant you. But when you get there it's so enjoyable.
To help you, you still have the right to use a shuriken. When all players agree by raising their hands (we do not speak I already told you!), they can use a shuriken. This allows all players to show their smallest card from their hand and discard it. Phew. Except that shurikens are like lives, they are rare and precious. To win, you will have to reach a certain level, depending on the number of participating players. Good luck!
To lose, easy, just lose all your life cards. When a player has played a card, if no one has a smaller number in their hand, everything goes well. Otherwise, the game is paused, discard all the smaller cards and especially a life card. It costs dear lives, so be careful.
The game is extremely fast. This makes it possible to override the defeat, following stinging, and to take pleasure to start over again and again. A kind of Die & Retry. Except that necessarily the conditions are never the same. You are clearly in an abstract game. Replayability can quickly be questioned. If you play always and often with the same group, then yes the game will seem quite limited and you will quickly leave it aside. On the other hand, with different groups or with the same but less often, the game continues to surprise, amaze and make you laugh.
With its ultra-simple rules, The Mind goes well beyond the game. And that is what will finally divide players into two camps.
Some see it as a game based solely as luck, without an interesting idea, and an easy to rule bend the difficulty. After all, it would just be enough to count the cards played, or memorise what numbers have passed and hope the following numbers would be easier to play. Yes, it can be if you have a very mathematically synchronized group. But that would be completely missing the point of game.
The goal of The Mind is not so much to win as to overcome this handicap, this imposed silence between players. It can be disturbing in your first game, you will be jumping, hesitant and surprised. Once the rhythm is taken, everything will become fluid, tense and fun. Because yes, getting past the potential frustration that can occur in many people, you will eventually let yourselves be transported by this playful other plane of existence.
Example of a turn: Level two, in my hand I have a three and a sixty-six. The round begins, I logically say that I must play the three very quickly. So, I put it on the table without hesitation. And “boom”, there is the drama. My partner had the two. We lose a life less. So now, I hesitate. I have just the sixty-six left. I tell myself that I have time. I wait. Nobody plays. The third player after a while launches the seventy, telling himself that because everyone waited, the numbers were necessarily high. And “boom”, a second life gone.
The Mind is a game apart. Certainly not the best game of all time, but for the party game category it has found its place and stay there for a long time. A fun experience open to all, young and old, players and non-players. Will you be lucky? Are you a budding telepaths? Will you be sure of yourself? Short games, contrasting feelings. What frustration it gives in not being able to control anything, but what a joy when everything goes together perfectly. And the crazy laughs when it goes into a spin. For some of you, you’ll take to the game right away. For others the magic will never work.
Technical Score 5/10 Nothing extraordinary, everything is simple but functional.
BGG Score 8/10 (Very good game) For me, magic has transpired. Fun, fast, simple. It's a pleasure to play with the right people.
Combined Score 6,5/10 And now it's over to you…
Barry’s first impressions.
This game is a giggle. It gives a sense of a team sport, where every player is trying to achieve this objective collectively. There is some blind luck and some blind guessing but all of that adds to the fun and enjoyment that comes from trying to divine when players are planning to play or not. And you will probably find yourself bending the rules a little bit as your body language starts to exaggerate your intentions. This happens generally when you’re playing with younger players.
I can see why this wouldn’t appeal to everyone, as it is a childish notion to put numbers in order. And I was guilty of that sensation when I first heard of “The Game.” But it is the simplicity of this game that makes it accessible to everyone, much like sitting around a table doing 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle together. Played it once and found it addictable and I now have my own copy.
Games on mountaineering's thematic are not that numerous. One of the most famous titles remainsK2. There is one that, without necessarily going unnoticed, did not necessarily have the success it deserved. Let me help you discover toSummit: The Board Game.
In 2016, on Kickstarter, launched a campaign to support the game Summit: The Board Game. It was a success and the game arrived on your doorstep in 2017 (if you backed it). The game for 1 to 6 players, published atInside Up Gamesand from first time designer,Conor McGoey(Vault Assault,Gorus Maximus). Summit invites you to live the rise of a cruel and dangerous mountain.
The first thing that surprises is the graphic choice.Jordan Danielssonoffers us here a rather bias and original view. With a mix between a cartoon style, with an abstract and dark look. It gives an immediate atmosphere to the game. As for the board, we can see an empty mountain that will appear to us as and when you progress your team of mountaineers. The mostly black mountain at the beginning of the game will gradually become covered with snowy white tiles. Starting from an abstract design, the final result is quite pleasant and representative of the certain madness of the game. Finally, graphics that really sticks to the game’s atmosphere. An original but effective choice.
The game offers to relive a deadly race climbing a famous mountain (put here the name you want). It is not one but three modes of gameplay that will be proposed to you. Before talking in detail about these game modes, let's focus on the gameplay.
On your turn, you will have to choose, from the three tiles you have in hand, one to place on the board. Each tile has important information and you have to pay attention to the details, like the color of the rope (watch out for the air holes), the number of knots (more takes you longer to move) and that everything connects the path well (everything has to be connected). We will gradually see the mountain develop before your eyes. Depending on what you choose, the climb will be more or less difficult.
Once a tile is placed, the player can move their mountaineer. Depending on how they are loaded, having a light or heavy backpack, will give a different displacement rule. You’ll climb or go down, following the path of ropes. The more knots there are, the longer the path will be. Watch out for traps and air holes that can waste time, oxygen or life (because yes, you can die!).
Finally, you roll two dice. The first is the weather dice. It will play a fairly important role in the ease or difficulty of the climb. If the weather is against you, the need to eat will be felt even more. The mountain has a magical side and especially unhealthy for the players. From one turn to another, the weather can change quickly. The second is the presence or absence of an event that you will draw. Before drawing your hand size back to three tiles and it goes to the next player.
Simple, isn't it? Yes, but that's not all. As I told you, there are three game modes.
Do you want to beat each other happily? So try the competitive mode. The goal of the game is to survive the climb and return to base camp. If there is more than one player, it will be they with the most victory points, that wins. Points are earned during the game through cards and actions. An element is added in the competitive version: Karama. You will have cards related to this Karama. Each player can play cards from their hand whenever they can. The more good Karama you have, the more bonus points you will earn at the end of the game. Being nice is cool. And conversely, the lower your Karama, the less you will gain from losing it. But who wants to hurt others ... What is this Karama for? As I told you, you have cards in hand. These cards allow you to do good ... or bad actions. The good ones favor your opponent but in return you earn Karama. The bad ones slow down the others (maybe even worse) but make you lose. It will be necessary to judge what is the right moment to help or hinder your opponents. In this version, the game becomes happily deceitful, unpredictable and dangerous. Death can happen unfairly at any time. Beware of the mountain but also the smile of your neighbor. What it gives you at one time, can prepare you for worse at another. The competitive mode is very fun, it must be admitted. Be careful though, as between the draw of tiles, the cards in hand and the role of dice, it is necessary that you like playing with luck. Because yes, it is quite present. After all, you are not in a game of optimization, and thematically, this chance fits well with the madness and magic that operate around this mountain.
The second game mode will allow you to climb to the top of this damn mountain. Together you are stronger ! In this cooperative mode, you’ll forget Karma and its magic. The goal is to reach the summit and then go back down to base camp. And no matter if there are deaths on the road, you are a team, as long as one of you comes back alive, your glory will shine. In this mode, we add two new tracks: Sherpa and Time. So you will have the main opponent, Time. You will have to act quickly and correctly to win. Sherpa is here to help you get vital resources. But beware of new violent events that may occur.
The last mode is for those who like to play alone. Solo mode works like cooperative mode except you can only rely on you.
The game, unlike the size of the box, is not a big "expert" game. The rules read pretty well (even if the mix of modes can disturb on a first reading) and the game is easy to learn. The duration of games vary depending on a lot of factors like the choice of the game mode. The role of chance is quite important but not omnipresent. Moreover, it participates a lot in the vast replayability.
At first glance, it's the graphics that attracted me to this game. This abstract, cold, spare side pays tribute to the theme of the mountain. There is a lack of life (the absence of pupils in the eyes for the characters) that reinforces the survival side of the game. The « minimalism » of illustrations plunge you directly into the atmosphere. An atmosphere that will not leave you throughout the game. The competitive mode remains the most fun mode to play. Here, no mercy. All shots are allowed to survive as long as possible. The idea of Karma is very well founded. This forces you to make choices over the course or long term. However, the cooperative mode remains appreciable by offering a challenge and an idea, close to the realism of such an expedition. At the character level, the game offers an asymmetrical setup. Everyone does not start with the same physical abilities. From one party to another, it forces you to adapt and prove that you are a survivor. The strategic choice of the game seems quite simple: find the shortest way to get on and off by staying alive. But it is not so simple... Replayability and the fun of playing are very important. Knowing how to best manage own resources and objects becomes crucial to survival. The placement of the tiles, a little like inCarcassonne, makes the mountain appear step by step, like a "fog of war". It's very well thought out. For each game, the board will be different and the way up also. The games may be a little long but we did not see the time pass (except in cooperative mode because we were fighting against the game, haha). Mix between a party game and a game for players, Summit stands out. It’s ease of gameplay, replayability, fun, difficulty to win, choices, graphic bias are all points that make it a very enjoyable to play and replay. The designer offers us an original game and certainly one of the best on this theme.In the snow, no one will hear you fall ...
Do you find the game too realistic? You want a fantastic touch to it and more? Beware the legends are sometimes true... The game is released at the same time as its expansion:Yeti (Beware the legends are sometimes true…). This small expansion offers a new non player character : the Yeti. This mythical creature (will someone say real?) will be as guardian of the mountain. During the game, it will follow you in your expedition and when you do not expect it, it will go so far as to trap you ... fatally. But kept calm, the Yeti does not take sides, it attacks everyone. It's a good … beast ? Very well thought out, this expansion does not add too many rules and fits well overall. On the other hand, it offers a slightly offbeat side and a uncertain presence. But the Yeti meeple is so classy ! Without forgetting that if you survive the Yeti AND the mountain, your glory will be even greater. A good expansion, a little empty, but well brought and pleasant to play. I recommend it. No doubt.
Technical Score 8.5/10 The cardboard is good qualities, the graphics are sober but are in line with the theme. The rules are clear and well detailed. For individual trays, it is possible that some tokens do not fit easily, too bad. My BGG Score 8.5/10 (Very good. Enjoy playing and would suggest it.) A very good game, the best on this theme. Maybe sometimes too easy but leaves very good feelings. Several game modes for even more fun and replayability. Combined Score 8.5/10 And now it's over to you...
To be exact, the theme leans more towards building a zoo with dinosaurs inside. Yes, as the title of the game suggests, Well played! After choosing your director (your color), you’ll take the direction of your future zoo. Now, we will have to get to work on bring as many visitors as possible.
A game is played in three rounds. Each round is divided into two parts.
The first is to choose cards, by drafting them. This is where you will previsualize the cards that will have the joy of being part of our future zoo. The public loves beautiful things, so choose well. To please them, you have the choice between several constructions. You have at your disposal, attractions (ideal for children or the big child in you). For fans of vegetations, you can plant and sculpt topiaries (must decorate your zoo, no?). Everyone loves monorails, so you can connect all areas of your park with your pieces of track. And the highlight of the show, of course, you have the pieces of dinosaurs enclosures (to allow your dinosaurs to live in good condition). Yes, I did say pieces. It's not easy to create a zoo. You thought you were going to have everything on a map? Apart from the topiaries, which are self-sufficient, the rest of the buildings will need several cards, depending on the difficulty to construct. The choice becomes quite important. Being careful to take the cards that bottoms can match and top, right sides that connect to left sides, so the two parts of an herbivorous or carnivorous enclosures can be closed ... It’s work, I tell you. Since this is a draft, the others will be hoarding the best cards as well. Sometimes, you’ll just have to do with what has been left. Once all the players have created their starting hand, you’ll go to phase two.
You will mix your eleven carefully chosen cards during the draft. Once done, you will randomly create a grid of 3x4 that will form the site of your future zoo. But there's a hole, say you? Yes that's right. I would say even more, but for now, it's normal. At this point, your future zoo does not look like much. You will have to work to make it attractive. For this, take the second sand time provides in the box. When everyone is paying attention, you turn it to begin the assemblage. Everyone plays at the same time. In very limited time, you will have to drag the cards from your zoo from the hole, like a sliding puzzle. And with one hand. Yes, it's a sliding puzzle. Smart, isn't it? You will have to go as fast as possible to connect the parts together, extend the capacity of your monorail, find the right location for all components of your park. And time passes very fast. No time to pause to think, we must act. As we know, speed and haste are good ... oh wait! That's not true. Then, good luck. Once the time is up, you take your director's card and place it in the remaining hole (ah, that’s what the hole is for!). Everyone then scores points. Mix the cards up. Start again a new round. You’ll do this three times and the one who has managed to get the most points wins the game.
But how to score points? This will depend on your ability to choose the right cards during the draft, but especially on how you assemble them later. There are two types of enclosures: herbivores and carnivores. Each is composed of two cards. The herbivores are placed horizontally, the carnivores vertically. If you manage to close an enclosure, it will bring you six points. Visitors will be able to see your dinosaurs safely. * Attractions only earn points if you have maintenance trucks nearby (your manager card, for example has one). An attraction pays two points per adjacent truck. * The topiaries are there to plug the holes. Easy to install, they bring in one point no matter where they are placed. Placing greenery, always pleases tourists. * Finally, nothing like a little ride in monorails to make the most of the park. Each connection between two tracks is four points in the pocket. Easy, isn't it?
But is that all? For a normal game, yes. And that’s not a bad thing. You will have had already a lot of fun. But if you want more challenge, it is possible to insert some advanced cards (replacing normal cards). These cards offer other ways to earn points based on their location. Some variants are also given to increase or decrease the difficulty of a game to prolong replayability.
When I read the rules, I was not necessarily convinced. In the first game, we took our cards a little at random during the draft. But once the first game finished, we only want to play again to improve our score. The sliding puzzle has a limited mode, but is a great idea. The pressure is really constant. Its cute design makes it look child's play. In reality, the game hides an excellent family game. Quick to play, quick to explain but smart enough to keep adults hooked.
The interaction is not very present. Even in the draft, we found ourselves trying to choose cards that would try to annoy others at the table. The sliding puzzle phase is clearly solitary. This lack of interaction (which might seem negative) is counterbalanced by the very short game duration.
The two phases of games fit together excellently and a bad choice in the draft necessarily impacts the construction of your park in the puzzle phase. It is possible that you jump quickly straight into the expert cards to increase the diversity of what is available. Like this, you have a good replayability. Sadly, the theme is quickly forgotten. The interest is more in creating your perfect square than creating your dinosaur zoo. Although it is always a plus to be immersed, for this type of games, it is not penalizing.
Its small size makes it easy to transport. But beware, the game once installed takes a little space. Each player having their grid of 3x4 cards in front of him. The intended audience is clearly family. It works great. Even, if it is taken as a means of discovering how to draft. Children and parents will find themselves enjoying this around the table. And it's not always the adults who win. For fans of the puzzle, the game can diversify the pleasure with its real time element. Icing on the cake, between players it can work well as a filler game between two expert game. A pack of cards, an sand time and a score pad, that's enough to have a good time. Florian Fay gave us a very nice surprise with this smart and fast family game.
Technical Score 7/10 Nothing extraordinary but everything is functional. Design maybe too childish. Rules are clear. (Not pencil in the box!)
My BGG Score 7/10 (Good game, usually willing to play.) Easy to learn, easy to play with a good challenge. Smart and fun.
Welcome to the world cup of the intergalactic universe's most brutal and violent sport!!! No, I do not speak of Blood Bowl ... No, here comes the time of Kaosball!
Presented as a mix of rugby, American football and violence, Kaosball is a game that tells you about a unique sport. What? Don't you know it? To tell the truth, it is rather normal because it received a rather mixed reception and was quickly shunned by the players. But why so much hatred?
Coming from a 2013 Kickstarter campaign, the game was released in 2014 (wow! that does not rejuvenate me). The designer of the game is the brilliant Eric M. Lang (Rising Sun, Arcadia Quest, Blood Rage), who made his first big collaboration with the publisher Cool Mini Or Not (CMON). At a time when the giant Blood Bowl was no longer published, Kaosball tried to establish itself as the new fantasy sports game.
The game offers three ways to play: * The head-to-head, which opposes two players against each other. * In alliances mode, where four players compete in teams, two vs two. * In Maximum Kaos, where three to four players compete at the same time against each other.
The first big originality of this game is the possibility to play up to four at the same time. And that's pretty cool. Imagine very quickly the general chaos that happens in the arena.
During the campaign of the game, we were promised a sport game that was easy to get out, balanced, fast to play and very simple. But what is it really?
Kaosball is a sports game that places you into intense matches divided into four quarters with a break at halftime. The goal of the game is to score the most points. Until then, nothing abnormal. There many ways to score points, and most of the time without the ball. Yes, you have read that correctly. Score points "without the ball." Kaosball is not a difficult game to learn from the rules. There are actually very few actions available.
First, you need a team. That's good because with the Kickstarter, there was no shortage of teams available due to the stretch goals. In the basic box, there are only four: the Götterdämmerung Fangs, the Mt. Clobberton Ogres, the New Purgatory Daemons and the Templeton Amazons. Oh, did not I tell you? We are in a fantasy world. We will find all the archetypes of this kind but that's not all ... In all, this is not less than eighteen teams that are available in all. Each team is made up of 13 players and a bust that represents the coach which only serves as a score tracker. Among the players, there are two categories: Runners and Bruisers.
The Runners, represented by minis with round bases, are there to play the ball. They run fast, can recover the ball and especially mark other characters. The Bruisers, represented by square bases minis, have other things to whip. Even though they can carry the ball, they can not score. They are only there to protect and block spaces. It's not the ball that interests them but the opponents characters ... especially those who can bleed. They can therefore tackle and attack.
Each team has its own abilities and its own way of playing. As much as to say that for a first play, it can be difficult to know all the teams and all their powers. Besides the different amount of life points, you will also find they have different powers, movement and and attacks ... The asymmetry is great. But sometimes, we get quite significant balancing problems. In the base box, the Amazons are clearly stronger than the other teams. So do not expect to have the same chances playing against them.
To bring a little more fun at the expense of slight balancing issues, before each game there is an auction phase. But what are we going to buy? Will you tell me? ... Well we will bid on two things: permanent team powers or player abilities and Ringers.
Ringers are the third category of characters that can be found in Kaosball. Like MVPs at Blood Bowl, Ringers are the stars of the sport. Represented by hexagonal bases, they are unique characters up for auction. In addition to their own abilities, the Ringer has those of their team. They also have the abilities of the Runner and Bruiser. Just that. We do not laugh with these stars. They are very interesting mercenaries. But I assure you, you can only have one Ringer per team, per game.
Once the bidding phase is over, we prepare for the match. This time, we are still not laughing. The sport of total domination will be able to begin. At the beginning of a player's turn, you check to see if any points have been scored (according to the positioning of your players). Then, you can choose a possible action between two.
The first is to play an Energy card. You apply the power indicated on it. Playing such a card replaces the activation of a figurine (unless it explicitly states otherwise). The card thus played remains in front of the you until the end of the quarter. The second is to play a miniature of you team, that is not stunned. Again, depending on the type of character, the actions are a little different.
If it is a Runner: it can sprint (and try to get the ball either on the ground or from an opponent) and ... that's all. If it is a Runner: it can sprint and take the ball on the ground, but not from an opponent. Tackle or attack an opponent at a distance of three spaces (the field is composed of square). Remember: Ringers can do anything.
The difference between the tackle and the attack is the finality. If successful, a tackled player is unavailable until the next turn. An attacked player loses life points and if he dies he leaves the game as a trophy for the attacker.
Of course, the defender will be able to react before. This is called the reaction (original, yeah!). When a character enters the killzone of a player, before any other action, they can make a reaction. Whether during a fight or during a reaction, we will proceed to a contest. Instead of a traditional roll of dice, the contest is a clash of cards. So be careful, here is one of the most complex but also the most original and intelligent things in the game. Normally, you choose a card from your hand, and simultaneously reveal and add the abilities of the team. The highest value wins. Simple. Yes, but it's not all that. Before looking at the result, you will first look at all cards accumulated in front of both players. Remember, I told you that when you play a card, you keep it. This is also true with this contest. If by chance, inadvertently or due to bad luck, the card that you just revealed is of the same value as a card already present before you, it simply becomes dead. A dead card is lost to the player who played it. Sad huh. If two dead cards are returned then we still resolve the contest and the cards will be worth 0.
Are you already starting to see the breakaway side of the game? There is a lot of pretty important guessing, but also a bit of luck in the deck of cards.
It's not complicated enough? So you also have cheat cards. These cards will also be added to those in front of you. They can often be played anytime. They have various effects such as canceling the result of a fight, adding values, withdrawing them, ... But the power they bring is not free. They may cost you victory points at the end of the period. Cheating is bad, you see.
A quarter will end when a player, at the end of their turn, has at least nine cards in front of them. Players then proceed to a small clean up phase where you'll calculate your points. If you have some, you can try to corrupt the referee by using your teams gold (that that you didn’t use in the auction phase) to remove cheating cards accumulated by a player. Then, a new quarter begins.
The halftime and after the fourth quarter are a little more special. In addition to the small clean up, you will be able to score or lose points based on the deaths that have transpired and the number of times cheating has occurred. And if at any time you can not return up to five players onto the field during a quarter, you are directly eliminated.
It's okay ? I did not lose you? Well. Now, we need to know the most important and thematic information. How do we score points? In the field there are two marked areas. The first, located behind the opponent's starting zone, will give five points to a player who is positioned on it but also at the beginning of each round. The other is in the center of the field and will earn as many points as the number during the quarter-time at the start of each round. But for that, it is necessary to be still in possession of the ball and not KO'd. These two areas can be won only with a Runner. A sports game with goals that earn points makes sense. But we can also earn points with the most death. Whenever there is a death, the miniature is kept by the attacker to tally their score. At half-time and at the end of the game, whoever was most murderous gains bonus points. For example, at four players, six points are awarded in the first half and twelve at the end of the game (up to eighteen points) for the deadliest team, and all that is without touching the ball!. As we saw we can also lose points if we cheat too much.
At the end of the match, the team with the most points wins.
Kaosball is far from being a simplistic game. It is not as complicated as it may sound, but it is more subtle than one would have thought during the kickstarter campaign. In my opinion, what has served the game a lot is the way it was presented. It's a fun game, undoubtedly. By cons, it is a game that requires a minimum investment. Master your team, adapt to others, juggle between positive and negative cards, know how to position yourself ... It's a game with a good learning curve. Learning that has not been brought to light. It's a shame because, under it's obscure aspects, hides a very original game and very pleasant sport.
As is often the case with CMON campaigns, KS attendees have a big advantage over those who picked it up in the shop. Those who wanted to complete their range by taking teams will pay a steeper price. Especially when buying a team, you did not know what it really was compared to others. This is because the game has a real imbalance between the teams. Some are much stronger than others. Even though this offers an additional challenge for those who are optimistic and like that quality. The satisfaction of winning or losing can sometime leave a bizarre taste, leading to lots of people running away from this game. Luck also occupies a prominent place, which can frustrate players who never get good card hands. The one who accumulates dead cards will have difficulty going up this slope. Even if with seven cards in hand, the luck can be moderated.
I also think that people were expecting a faster game where you could score a lot of points with the ball. However, the bonus of killing a character seems too important compared to the difficulties of scoring. Even if this is true during the first few games, when you start to get to know it well, you quickly notice that leaving a player in the major scoring zone can be much worse. But yes, it's not a game where you will easily score points. There is also the team play aspects that can be found in other sports games with eg. long passes, incredible breakthroughs in the defense, etc. Without being too cerebral here, reflection is always present to choose your shots. But luck is here as well and your choice depends on what is drawn into your hand.
Even if the total domination remains undone, the game has so much to give, but you need to give it a chance.The components, you will not be disappointed with, as the figures are beautiful. The universe has been picked from a bit of everything you know and goes in all directions. Cowboy, Samurai, Ninja, Amazon, Goblin, Steampunk, Pirates, Hellcats, Valkyrie, Werewolf, ... anything goes. Madness is assumed, as the art is cartoonesque (when we see some Ringer, we understand quickly). The two artist, Andrea Cofransceco (Arcadia Quest, Super Dungeon Explore) and Mathieu Harlaut (Arcadia Quest, Zombicide), seems to have taken a lot of pleasure referencing other mediums.
Board and cards are good quality and the individual trays with the magnetic side can slightly warp but remain pleasant. It puts you quickly in the mood. I would have liked a special box to contain everything. That would have been easier to store and transport (but that's something most publishers almost never think of).
Kaosball clearly comes from traditional sports games. It is more strategic than it looks and it's a game with a learning curve. CMON believed in it, even creating special rules to create a league. But the game was quickly forgotten by the community and the publisher. Too bad. Even if the total domination remains undone, the game has so much to give, but you need to give it a chance.
Technical Score 8/10 Minis are beautiful, composants are good. It is difficult to carry everything (if you backed everything, like I did) because of a lack of storage. The team’s board can warp.
My BGG Score 9/10 (Excellent game. Always want to play it..) Easy to play, easy to learn but not so easy to master. The game is very fun if you don’t take winning to seriously. Combined Score 8,5/10 A good score for a good game. And now it's over to you...
* Warning : all the components presented in the photos of this review come from the KS version, the retail version may be slightly different. *
Who hasn't dreamed of being able to manage a park of living dinosaurs? To be able to play with DNA while offering its visitors an intense and magical experience ? Dinosaurs were for dreamers, then Spielberg pushed the concept even further with his movie Jurassic Park. Since then, there has always been this desire to find a game with a gameplay equivalent that could take us back to this wonderful adventure. Strangely, few games with this theme have emerged. There was an old MB game that came out many moons ago, but we were far from the possibility of managing a Jurrasic style park. License costs are certainly very high, fear of attacking this well loved monument, or simply a lack of interest ... The reasons are certainly varied to why a game like this never came to market. Since the release of Jurassic World, licensed games have emerged. Aimed at the family audience and not necessarily the gamer, who wanted to control the management of the park itself. In 2017, an "expert" game came to Kickstarter and surprised us, with this thematic flavor:Dinosaur Island from Pandasaurus Games.
The first thing that was surprising in this game was the art. Everything is very flashy (maybe too much?) Illustrators Kwanchai Moriya (Catacombs), Peter Wocken (Dead of Winter) and Anthony Wocken, had free rein to their madness and offered us unique and surprising visuals. A breath of fresh air in a world where production tends to be more and more standardized. This art gave a unique cachet to this game. Clearly, from its aesthetics, it can be cutting.
The designers Jonathan Gilmour (Dead of Winter) and Brian Lewis (Titan of Industry) offer us with their game, the opportunity to be at the head of a company that embarks on the exploitation of dinosaurs to attract tourists into their amusement park. Does it remind you of anything?
Everything is there. Creation of dinosaurs (thanks to the recovered DNA), creation of enclosures, levels of security, booths of goodies, food stands, attractions, specialists, dinosaurs, ... Even the rules offer a lot of tributes and funny references. We are in a game as faithful as possible to the monument that is Jurassic Park without having the film footage and stepping on any rights.
In Dinosaur Island, the goal is to make your park lively as possible. Playable for 2 to 4 players (you have also a solo mode), each is the head of a scientific corporation. Your park is represented by an individual player board, on one side is the possible locations, on a kind of grid and on the other the actions that your workers can do. The game is played in several phases.
The first is the specific resource search. You are going to send your scientists to bring back DNA, to find dinosaur "recipes" (yes I do not know what else to call it), or to transform them into mundain workers.
We are in a fairly conventional job placement. The choices are represented either by dice or by locations, as is the case for dinosaurs. Moreover, there are two types of dinosaur"recipes": Herbivores and Carnivores. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Herbivores are easier to create and generate fewer problems but they attract less visitors. On the other hand, Carnivores are the opposite.
The taste of danger brings back more people. With Carnivores, you have two types : small and large (which are more difficult to create). I take the lead and I answer you right away ... Yes, there is the Tyrannosaurs. Each species of dinosaurs is represented only once. So if you like this one especially, buy it immediately!
During the second phase, you will be able to recover equipment, build buildings and recruiter specialists to improve your park. No, you can't find John Hammond, Dr. Grant or Ian Malcom ... Though, if you look a little closer, maybe...
So you can get goodies, attractions or food stalls, each of which yield different benefits. The equipment offer you new actions for your workers. Specialists are there to give you bonuses during the game. Be careful, all places are limited and it costs money. If nothing interests you, it is possible to recover DNA instead. Each player will have the right to two purchases. Apart from taking the tile that interested the other players, the interaction is low.
Here in the third phase, each player will use their workers to develop their park. It is at this moment that we will create our dinosaurs for example. What's the point of a park without dinosaurs? To come into the world, these charming creatures need a type of DNA according to their "recipe". They will bring you victory points at the end of the game but especially points of interest, that's what makes the audience come. They will also need a large enough enclosure. Apart from the joyous aspect of genetic transformation, it is at this stage that you will be able to improve your security, your money (advertising costs) and your paddocks. Here, everyone plays at the same time.
The fourth phase is the fastest. We check each park one by one and the doors open. We draw a number of tourists equal to our fame. But beware, some tourists are not there to just visit. But pose more problems, than profits. In front of all that are the crowds and is your security sufficient to protect them? Because if you have been too greedy or unscrupulous, your dinosaurs can, for a very short moment, break out of their paddock and have fun with your visitors. Nothing serious. After all, some deaths do increase the fame of a park, no! ... No? Ah! ... So you will lose a few victory points based on these unexplained disappearances. But rest assured, they had still paid their entry before their death. Also, since the world has a short memory, the next turn, your park will reopen. You'll adjust your score and start again.
The end of the game will come when all public objective have been won. These randomly chosen goals at the beginning of a game can be modulated to increase or shorten the game. There is also a “first come first serve” race between the players.
Dinosaur Island is a game with simple rules. You explain and understand everything quickly, without having to go back to the rule book. Games can be more or less long and none are really alike. I'll admit it, I love this game. And yet, let's be honest, it's not perfect. Besides its design (pink dinosaurs!), one of my first critiques is that it appears to be a solitary game. Indeed, apart from a little pressure on the objectives or which dice to choose in phase 1, the interaction is very weak or non-existent. Players create their park in their own corner and then occasionally look at where other players are. Usually, this is something that bothers me.
But, I admit that I let myself be so transported by my imagination in this game that it does not remove my pleasure. And, it always makes you smile to see another player forget the importance of security. In general, game does not offer a very difficult challenge. It is rare to be really stuck and we always end up doing what we want... almost. For players looking for complexity, you will be disappointed. Another point more anecdotal, the customization of the park is also a little limited especially by meeples dinosaurs that closely resemble the others (but hey, it would have been much more expensive to have different meeple dinosaurs for each species). There is no such thing as a specialty or a specific thing to watch depending on the dinosaur taken. It's pretty generic.
In spite of all that, I continue to love this game. I dreamlike feeling transports me into the game. Its simplicity makes it easy to take out and play. No need to go back to the rules at every game.
The replayability is present by the choice of public goals, the choices during the game and what the dice offer ... The material is very nice and quite neat. I see myself at the head of an entertainment company, choosing my dinosaurs carefully, develop my park, protect (or not) my visitors ... This game really has a magical aura. I think the relation to Jurassic Park is not insignificant. If the game was talking about something else, with the same mechanisms, I'm not sure it would please me as much. The theme and the nostalgia therefore occupy very important places in my appreciation of the game. The first player token, a visitor's bracelet for the KS version, puts you directly in the mood.
Dinosaur Island is a particular game. The choice of graphics, the choice of the gameplay, the choice of theme, everything has been carefully worked for our greatest pleasure. We can of course expect more. After all, with such a theme, our imagination is racing very quickly. More customization, more differentiation, more challenge, more choice ... But then we would have a different type of game. Finally, is not it the will of the authors to have created a simple game but not too simplistic. A game open to all and playable by the vast majority, while keeping a strong identity and an ounce of difficulty? In any case, I can only recommend this game, which even if it does not invent anything and remains fairly traditional (a mix of mechanisms), makes you plunge into of your childhood dreams . A success simply.
Note that following the success of the game, an expansion has been realised. Totally Liquid offers the possibility to play up to five, new types of dinosaurs (sailors), new paddocks, new specialists ... A new experience that I will review soon. At the same time as this expansion, they released a special version for two players, Duelosaur Island. If you are interested, I could also review that for you?
Technical Score 9/10 The components of the game are very good quality. The boards are hard cardboard, very resistant. The meeples are funny. The rules are well written and everything is installed quickly. The graphics and the choice of colors can disorientate or even run away. Yet this daring choice brings a breath of fresh air into the current production.
BGG Score 9/10 (Excellent game. Always want play it.) A game with simple, catchy rules that makes you relive the adventure Jurassic Park. An excellent game to spend a good moment of reflection between players or with you family.
Combined Score 9/10 Great Score for very good game. And now it's over to you...
Barry's first impressions
The game does capture the essence of building a theme park. With so many tiles to buy, cards to collect and different Dinosaurs to play with, there is a lot of replayability. But with that come a big load of boards. A board for each phase, is a little too much for a coffee shop to play with, but everything is thematic and interesting. I did enjoy playing the game although I felt it was unbalance with this “short term memory” world. If a visitor died tragically at a theme park, there would be a bit of bad press and the loss of income or point. This game captures that. But a massacre at a park should be devastating to a park owners score...not here.
Many people spend many hours connecting tiny pieces of cardboard together to complete one image. My wife and daughter have just started doing one right now. A 1000 piece puzzle of London landmarks. Eventually this puzzle will be glued together and then hoisted up and mounted on a wall somewhere in our house. Hopefully out of my sight. This is something that I think we are all addicted to as children. If fact, this pastime has been turned into a board game, called Puzzle Battle. Where players are racing to complete their puzzle before the others.You can check out a review I did here.
The natural progression was then the slide puzzle. A plastic or wooden framed toy with an image, broken into many squares and left with one space in which to shuffle the pieces into the correct order. This too has been transformed into a board game.
In Globe Twister, players are trying to put their memories of their holidays back together. The game comes with five unique individual images for five players. And one universal image on the back of these double-sided tiles. Again it’s a race to finish your puzzle before the other players but unlike puzzle battle, it’s not just a one on one affare, plus you can adjust the difficulty level for each individual player. And on top of that it is a logical programmation game.
Players will have a handful of cards and each card will have an action depicted on it. For example one card will have a rotate a tile 90° left,while another card, 90° right. There are cards that will make you switch the positions of two tiles, either adjacent or on the opposite side of this 3 x 3 grid. The other neat twist to this concept is the fact that you’ll be placing these cards in an empty frame that represents the 3 x 3 tiles of your image. The position that you placed your card in this frame will corrisponde to a tile, dictating its action. Each space can only contain one action card. So as soon as you have placed all the actions that you can possibly do or are a little out of actions that you need to do you can stop.
So you'll be racing to use your logic to get these tiles into the right spaces. Each card that you have has one unique action whether it be a rotate or a move. And placing each card in its correct space becomes very important when it comes to your turn to carry out your programmation.
Your puzzle will be given to you at the beginning of the game from another player who will be shuffling the tiles before hiding them behind an image of the final photo. Sometimes your puzzle will be handed to you, and a majority of those tiles will need rotating. Where as the puzzle you shuffled for another player may just need them to place their tiles in the right space is, without rotating. This is where the only technical bug of the game lays. In its unfairness of the shuffling, may require one player to do more programming than another.
Where this could be great is where adults are playing against children and the adult gets the harder puzzle. It’s not really that big bug as it only affects the generic image that has only one orientation. Where as the unique images can be made any way up, the puzzle becomes which way is the quickest to complete.
If you are the first player to finish programming, you will place your image over your puzzle and turn the sand timer. This gives 30 seconds for the other players to finish playing cards before the end of the round. Then players will, one by one act out their programmation. And this is where the fun begins.
The programmations are carried out in reading order, meaning that the first card in the top left hand corner of the frame activates first. After it has activated or there is no card there, it goes to the next card to the right of that. And all the way down to the bottom right hand corner. Fun you say! Well yes, sometimes you will move a tile to a different position where you have a rotate tile. And if you have not correctly thought this through you may rotate the tile that didn’t need rotating. This can lead to giggles from your children if you are playing against them. Or banging your head against the table when you’re playing against your friends.
After everyone has carried out their programmation you start again. Just until one player has completed their image, ending the game.
This is a perfect game for a family or for people new to hobby gaming, due to the fact that it is relatively simple. You are doing a picture puzzle and everybody can relate to that. I just think the adjustment of the difficulty level is an added bonus. As there are two powerful cards that can be removed for experience players. These allow tiles to move anywhere that you wish and rotate at any angle you wish too. A major rule with these cards is once they are used they are removed from the game. But if you see fit your children could keep these cards and carry on using them throughout. Also the images reflect the varying degrees of difficulty. The five unique images are very colorful and very mixed with their design. They are also very much like a fish lens image going all around the outside of the puzzle. Where is on the backside of the universal image, has a horizon.
Gameplay is relatively quick and within 10 minutes, your puzzle will be complete and you'll probably play again with a different image. Unfortunately it lacks more images that could add to replayability. Maybe down the road they’ll be a new version with a 4 x 4 grid and more picture postcards for you to complete.
The art is jolly and colorful and the components are of good quality. The rulebook does and exceptional job at explaining everything in good detail, from each of the different cards powers to how the programmation works. It also has some suggestions on how to play without the timer or without the frame. And there is even a solo mode, where you will have to complete a set puzzle in a set amount of turns. This could be very interesting when playing with experience players. Either as a group logic puzzle cooperatively. Or as a competition to see who can complete their puzzle the quickest. It’s all packed into a nice small size box which makes it a nice game to take away on holiday. There is enough game play here for young children. And with the imagery of different cultures from around the world will give them something to talk about as they play. I do enjoy the logic puzzle aspect of the game but it gets a little old, too quick.
Technicals score 9/10 Small and portable. Simple and well presented. Colourful and easy for anyone to play.
My BGG score 7/10 (Good - usually willing to play) A good logic puzzle that is 10 minutes of fun, then sadly forgotten.
plays 2-4 players 13 years and up 90-120 minutes
written by Guilou
A Handful of Stars is the latest game in a "Deckbuilding" trilogy by designer Martin Wallace. This trilogy was initiated by A Few Acres of Snow and then followed by Mythotopia. As often with this designer, the classical mechanism is transformed into a rather interesting mix. In this series of games, Wallace has fun with deckbuilding. We start with a mechanism that we know but we will quickly end up with a gameplay quite different.
A Handful of Stars is a very playable game even with 2 or 4 players. The story is set in a science fiction universe where a very strategic confrontation will take place. You’ll embody a faction, an alien race and our goal is to conquer the galaxy. A Handful of Stars is a game that does not forgive, especially with only two players where the conflict is even more brutal. At three or four players, the forces involved can balance out and unofficial diplomacy plays a non-trivial role.
Aesthetically, the board and the overall rendering is beautiful. It sounds stupid to say that, but Wallace games are not famous for their graphics especially those edited by Treefrog Games (of which this was the last). But rest assured, we plunged into the "normal" when we talk about the tokens spaceships.
Each player starts on their native world, chosen among the choice in our hand. We embody one of seven alien races available. Each being asymmetrical. When set up, the planets that make up the galaxy are randomly placed. This ensures tremendous replayability, as even roads that connect planetary areas can be blocked by black holes. The initial arrangement of the board will only rarely be identical. This will also affect how the players start the game. Indeed, from one game to another, you may be lucky and begin with an advantageous start ... or, if you don't, pretty disastrous one. But you’ll have to deal with it. You don't become Emperor of the Galaxy without challenge.
Every planet under your control brings you cards. These cards will be your deck. Do not forget that this is a deckbuilder ... with an integrated 4X system ... or the other way around ... The more you will spread in the Galaxy and conquer systems, the more you will be present on the board. But the bigger you get, the bigger your deck will grow. The need to purify your deck or draw THE ONE card you need, will therefore diminish according to your warlike appetite. This aspect, thematic level, is reminiscent of an Empire lost in the middle of bureaucracy and its inertia due to the amount of planets controlled.
The concept of deckbuilding is quite important in the game. But not in the traditional way. Indeed, here no rivers of cards to buy. The cards that will form your deck will come from your conquests or your ability to invest in technology. With six cards in your hand per turn, you can play as many as you want. At the end of a round, you only draw until you have six cards again. Yes, we can keep cards from one turn to another. You don't have to play all your hand during a turn. But the more cards you keep, the less you renew your hand. In order to plan future actions or put aside cards until the right time, we find the action , thanks to Wallace, to "Reserve." In A Handful of Stars, on the individual player board, we have two "Reserve" slots. The first slot stores cards based on its capacity limit. This is one of the possible actions that gets rid of your hand or your deck while keeping the ability to play them later. The second slot is for some special cards that will have a permanent effect as long as they are visible. This is a very important notion in the game and above all very useful. With the help of the resources present on the cards, we will gradually build our civilization. Each card can have several resources, but only one is used when played. The choice can sometimes be difficult. There are four resources available. Developing your research, allows you to acquire new technology cards. Recovering energy sources allows you to move. Acquire a special kind of material that will be used during spaceflight. Finally, capturing or pacifying populations will allow to settle on new systems.
The possible actions are quite numerous: put cards in reserve, move, recover cards technologies, play cards technologies, create front posts, settle on habitable planets, create your troops, remove a single card, discard one card or pass. To be honest, the last two actions are not useful in this game. Among all that, we can only choose two per turn. One of the important points of the game is the fight. To become Emperor, peace is beautiful but it does not last forever, especially when others have the same goal as you. Suddenly, it poses a problem quickly. We realize that the Galaxy is not so big and that if someone could disappear, it would not be as annoying. The attacker will therefore go to the neutral planet or one belonging to another player. For this, they must spend energy to move their ships or bases. Each having it's own fighting force. We then have two possibilities. If the target is neutral, we look at its strength on the token. If the attacker has at least +1, they win. They can stay to eventually later settle down on that planet. If it's a player, the fight can become bloodier. Once the attacker has moved, the defender has the opportunity to do the same (also paying with energy). Players also play potential technological cards. They compare their forces, then half of each of the armies are slaughtered (rounded up or down depending on who wins). The winner remains, the loser flees their home (otherwise they perish). It's a violent game. Those who do not like to suffer or to be attacked, look away NOW! In space, the law of the strongest reigns supreme.
But how does this fierce struggle end? Again, Wallace has created a pretty clever system. The central mechanic is deckbuilding, therefore each player has their own deck to build. Once their deck is empty, they shuffle it. So far so good. Except that once a player (anybody) shuffles their deck, the turn token is moved one step further. When it reaches the end of the track (depending on the number of players), it's game over. Management and speed with which one will or will not play their cards, will count enormously. If player play too fast, or someone's deck is too small, the game will move much faster.
A Handful of Stars is an extremely clever game. Wallace has once again create a unique game in its mechanics while drawing heavily on what exists elsewhere. The tension is ubiquitous. The game is nasty, brutal and doesn't forgive much. The replayability is enormous due to the random set up, the choice of its race, and the way of playing ... The interaction is very strong. You must constantly monitor the others. Their place in the universe, their ability to move, the number of times they puts to mix his deck. Many factors to consider for a game that ultimately is not so calculating. With this game, I feel that Wallace has reached the end of his approach : transcended and transformed the essence of deckbuilding to make it even more intense and concrete. Be careful, the duration of the game is quite important. A game that will not leave you indifferent but that will require several plays before it can be tamed.
This game also has a small taste of bitterness. Even though it is very good, it will always have this little end flavor. Indeed, this was the end of Wallace, not to create games fortunately, but the adventure of his company, Treefrog. It may be anecdotal but it counts for me. This game is a little unnoticed as of its release and continues to be hard to find. Maybe it's a bit of that ... Anyway, if you like the 4X system and the deckbuilding go for it, you're in front of an excellent game.
Technical Score 7/10 You either like or don’t like old school graphics of this game. All components are correct without being extraordinary. Rules are very minimalist in their design but are ok.
BGG Score 8/10 (Very good game) A very good mix between 4X and deckbuilding. Naughty and ruthless, the war is raging and will leave no one indifferent.