This is a preview of a Kickstarter.
come together, right now
Worker placement games are one of my favorite mechanisms in our world of fun. When done right, you feel like a real farmer that struggle to by successful in the 1800's (Agicola), lead your neiadathel buddy's through the trials (Stone Age) and tribulations of evolution or that you have lived an alternative life, collecting vinyl records and working as a comic book artist (The Pursuit Of Happiness).
Nētā-Tanka gives me the same sensation, only that it also makes you feel good because you've helped out the fellow players. No, this isn't a co-op game. You are competing. But you are preform tasks to help your fellow man around your Native American village. Feeding them, clothing them, housing them, all for generousness point. All these thing will make your people see that you are "The One" to become the next Nētā-Tanka. This is a game, that if you are really good to you friends and family, you will win the game.
Every building actions and job that you send your meeple out to do will generate generosity points. These are either in a spendable token form or just solid final score form. In the game, you'll be placing out you clan of meeples, one at a time onto spaces that give them a task. Then on your turn, activating the tasks that you sent them to do, before the cleanup and preparation of the next round. A fairly straight forward game of this genera, yes?
... Read on ...
you scratch my back...
The players small clan of helpers live within the same tribe as the other players. Each will be given a specific task to preform. Gather resources and building thing are the nature of most games of this ilk but this has a little twist. You may send someone off to hunt for buffalo, but are purely trapping the animal for the whole tribe. Another player may kill the beast, cutting up the meat and tanning it's skin while taking some of those skins. Yet another play may take the action of smocking the meat to take for themselves. Like chain-reactions, one thing will occur that will allow other things to happen. And what will you get?
Unlike the village idiot, you won't get suckered in to preforming that same old task from round to round, that helps all everyone get resources, apart from yourself. So your day in the sun will come if a player takes the "Elder of the hunt" or "Elder of the forest" action space. Those are powerful actions giving you a choice in what you do, either taking a resorce or preforming a build action. Choosing this space will commit that meeple on that space to going hunting for buffalo of collecting wood in the forest the next round. Therefore setting up more resources that now you can pick from.
what's the point?
You'll be collecting wood and mushrooms, building tepee's, smoking meats and building the tallest totem pole anyone has ever seen, if you wish. Or you could follow the instructions handed to you on your non-obligatory secret objective card. Yes, I said "non-obligatory."
You don't have to do what the card says, so you can go your own route. Make your own objective, without bonus points. As other players may get in the way of the actions you want to preform. Or because you miscalculated an action. For example, you have a meeple on the "Smoke Meat" space and player one just captured a buffalo, but player three is going to skin it and cut up the meat...
And your player two...
And there's no meat for you to smoke...
Better fine a pipe...
But this secret objective card is not a loss, as you can trade it in for a point of generosity that can be either spent on the "Offering" space or kept as a scoring point at the final. Making an "Offering" is one way to get resources that you want, plans to make Handicrafts. And also use a powerful tool..."Links."
join the chain gang
"Links" are scattered around the board, in between each action space. They function on your turn, if you have deployed your clan members on two spaces joined buy this "Link." A sort of area control. If you place the whole clan of your meeples in one area of the board, you will be able to activate multiple "Links" that give you bonus resources and actions. These links are important as they not only make your actions from the adjacent spaces more powerful, but also give you access to things that can be difficult to preform. Like collecting the rare animal skull to decorate your totem pole with.
That's not to say that you will have a hard time doing the things you planed to do each turn. Even though a large majority of spaces that can only hold one meeple, the game does not feel restrictive. There will always be a space or action that you want to do, open for one of you meeples. In fact, there will be rounds where every player gets the spaces that they want and some where they don't. One way around this is, as mentioned before, using the "Offering" space to pay to use the "Links." Another is by unlocking a special ability, which allows you to copy. Basically allowing you to place one of your clan in a space already occupied by one other meeple. Yours or another players. And BAM! your doing the action you wanted to do and maybe activating a "Link" too.
Lots of possibility's for ways to get them chores done. And when their done, it's off to the next. As there are may ways to get those points of generosity to come your way. Not only do you get scored on the height of your totem pole but a bonus for each skull and two parts wood constructed. Object give the marked points but creating sets will give additional. Point city, or should I say point village!
more than just a pretty skin
The strange sensation that you are left with at the end of the game is one of "I could have done more," even though you did get to do almost everything you'd set out to do. And the next time you play, you will do more. The game is of a family lite build with a little bit of conflict for the actions spaces. Lightly twisted around the Maypole with the area control style links and friend hugging, working together (but not really working together) theme.
Of course, there are a lot more things to talk about. Like how timing is important and how becoming first player gives you a helping hand and how to actually build a tepee!!! But those are questions that will be answered in the video below
Look out for the game when it hits Kickstarter on June the 5th
Now watch "how to play"
"This is the voice"
Yes, Chaps and Chapettes, welcome to the finals of THE VOICE. Where we are searching the finalists for that one perfect, loudest song in all of the forest. And all we have to do is coach them, hinder their rivals and bet on them to win, to win yourself!
So, will it be the Red Robin? The Mountain Bluebird? The Green-Finch? Or the Long-Tailed Tit?
It's you that decides in Songbirds ...
Songbirds is a small, compact classical style card game that can play up to four players or even solo. With a premises so simple, anybody can understand. Back the bird that sings the loudest.
But even with this simple game, players stumble over the first obstacle...How do I play to win?
The game is simply playing a card from your hand into a five by five grid. Your card needs to be adjacent the starting card in the middle or another played card. On the outskirts of this grid (the forest) are some randomly placed score tokens. There is one for each line horizontally and vertically. These you are trying to win for your bird by having the values of that coloured bird being higher than the other birds in that column.
It's simplicity in game play, a math game where each suit of card is added together to see how has the highest score, is actually quite difficult in a few aspects. Difficult to teach so players see the objective and difficult for players to see a strategy that will win them the game.
But coming from a card playing background and when I say that, I mean of the 52 deck variety, players should find it a walk in the park. Your dealt a hand of cards and you play them to the best of your ability's, in competition with the other players. Same as a trick taking game. There is card counting and math...
There are many things you can do with your cards. Playing a card that will help one of the suits have a higher total in a column is one. In the image above, Red win 12 points with a total of "8".
But also playing a card that make the totals of the highest suit equal the same, will cancel these two suits out of the chance of scoring. Imagine the Red "1" was Blue. Blue and Red would be eliminated from the running's of winning the 12 points, so it falls to the next highest suit. Which in this case is a number "2". But both Green and Grey have a total of "2" meaning that no suit wins the 12 points. As I said, mathematical. And done on a 2D grid, so your not just effecting one column with your card, but two.
On top of that, you need to be calculating which suit is in the running's to win lots of points, keeping a card of that suit in your hand. But do you keep a high number, giving you more points or do you play the high number which gives a better chance of winning points.
Decisions, decisions...and all in a small little card game.
With some cute, but non essential art and a few variants for solo play and team play, this is a board game for all those who like small little classical style card games. Not really my "cup of tea," but a game I don't mind playing.
Technical score 8/10
My BGG score 6/10
Combined score 7/10
I have just gotten back from a little last minute break with the family. Something that we haven't done for a handful of years.
Do I like holidays...?
Well, not really. Sitting by a pool. Looking at other city centers. Exploring old buildings. Trying to find somewhere nice to eat! Not that I hate all of that, but doing it every day, for a week! Phew!!!! And all the while I am doing that, I'm thinking of all the other things I could be doing, at home. Music. Videos. Playing with friends. Removing weeds.
But I will say, I enjoyed the food and drink. And of course, the chance to be with my family.
I am somewhat sidetracked. I should be talking about games. Well, I'm just getting to that.
Just before leaving for this vacation, I prepared in my head a small list of games that would slide into our baggage. Small games that squeeze into small spaces (due to player 4 being a baby and more luggage then everyone else) and be squeezed into those small pockets of time that happen while away (before lunch, before bed). I also wanted to take games that hadn't seen the light of day. We are so use to playing Quirkle, Codenames, Splendor and Timeline in our everyday lives, change would be good.
So I packed four games that I wanted to play because they hadn't been played much or not at all. This list consisted of Harald, Kenjin, Elder Sign and Songbirds (which I was in the process of reviewing). But when they were put on the table to be played, my family had difficulty understanding the rule (maybe because they had their holiday, relaxing heads on) or they were not interested in playing that type of game... They stated that the would rather play Splendor or Qwirkle. =(
Both games got a lot of plays, in those quiet moments of the day when we weren't at the pool or wondering around a tourist attraction.
You're probably asking yourselves, "Barry, was this a cunning ploy on your behalf to get more games?" To which I will honestly say "no." But I will probably use it in the future if I feel the need to get hold of some new games.
***What is "the Monthly Video?" 0:20
***A Review of Reviews 1:39
Burky & Badger: Micro-mania
Burky & Badger Spoiling Storytelling
***First and the Last 8:12
***Question Time 15:33
What games to take on holiday?
***The Monthly Giveaway 20:02
After the recent Kickstarter success of Batman: Gotham City Chronicles, Monolith held a "Thank You" party for those of us that helped spread the word, before and during the campaign.
And I was one of those 80 bloggers, painters and demonstrators to go along.
It was held in a quiet farm house, out on the outskirts of Paris. A weekend event of eating, drink, babbling and playing with the team of Monolith. Headed by Frédéric Henry the designer and co-founded of the company. Hand shakes and kisses were the first order of the day, as tradition in France. Yes, I kissed men on the cheek! (No Con-Crud ensued)
Although I was only there a short time on the Saturday, I got a taste of the world behind Kickstarter. Also, this article will probably shorter then what it could have been if I stayed the whole weekend. I will try my best to fill in the spaces with photos and videos. =)
Inside the farm house was a small display of the prototype components. Large prints of the maps, on paper. Box art and comic books. Plus the miniatures...and a BIG Batmobile
A look at the artwork used in the game
The miniature seemed like the final product. Although they weren't. They were stunning in detail and easily recognizable from the graphic novels, even if you hadn't read them. And that was the thing that struck me. In most games, when you get a ton of figures. You hone in on a few that you find appealing to the eye and get to know their names quickly. These become your favorites. The characters you use in every game.
A table full of astonishing minis and a cool looking Batmobile
But it was not all pancakes and pats on the back.
A majority of my time there was spent talking to the other bloggers and playing games. I did forget a lot of names, even though everyone had a badge, so apologies if I don't mention you. You were all a pleasure to listen to. Anecdote and story's of things that had happened in life. All in French too. And "NO!", there was no conversations about boobs and bellybuttons!!! In fact, most of the topics were about normal things. Weather, holidays, where you come from and accents. And a little bit of board games mixed in.
I spent most of the day with my good friend Mr Petitjean and also caught up with Barbi, my fellow demonstrator at the UK Gaming Expo. He came down, all the way from somewhere around Huddersfield for the event. And there was even a couple that came from Scotland. And I had a little chance to speak in my native tongue before enjoying the company of other in my now second tongue.
A table full of astonishing minis and a cool looking Batmobile
In among the eating and talking that was going on around me, there was also some gaming. I sat down and played all three of Monoliths titles. Conan, Mythic Battles: Pantheon as well as Batman. Some of the group had brought their own copies of their games. Blinged out and painted with astonishing detail.
There were of course many other games there being played. Great Western Trail, Lisboa, Secret Hitler and other published titles that hit the tables as well as some prototypes. One in paticular was the next, up and coming game from Monolith...Claustrophobia 1643.
This new version, which is still headed by Croc, will be to the same scale as the original, but will be like a new base game. Monolith haven't official announce that they will be supporting the 2009 version of the game, but knowing that they like fan created content, I'm sure there will be mission for this on their Overlord site in the future.
New feature, that you can see in the video below, include; Creature player has new actions board. Less actions than before, but more profound.Human player can collect cards that can be played as special actions or to change the result of a dice roll.
Prototype version of the new Claustrophobia 1643
This proto was in heavy use all the day, so I never got chance to play and compare how it plays against the original version (which I played once and admired it damage system). So I will have to probably wait until September, like you, to see how it works. Again, this will be another Kickstarter, so if your a fan...start saving your penny's.
All in all, it was a delightful day, not only with a very sunny and hot, April sun. But also because of the company that was there. The charming Monolith team, the friendly fellow bloggers, amazing painters and Batman comic book fans. Thank you all.
Talking of Batman, if you missed out on the Kickstarter, you can still get a chance to grab a copy. As of the 3rd of May, you can go to the late pledge manager...
This is a simple game of moving your coloured tokens from one tile, on the Tic-Tac-Toe grid to another, to create a stack of three tokens. Hopefully with yours on top and with a bonus of scoring a point marked below on that space...That's all!
But there are many benefits that make this game stand out from the dullness of that previous paragraph. Take the the amazing playing pieces:
Your playing pieces, apart from being big, chunky and cute are thematic Tiki's. These Tiki's are used to create Totem Poles. As a God, you are trying to influence the villagers on the tiles by making them worship you and give you the fruits of their labors in a offering. And when I say fruits, I mean "fruits." Pineapples are your fruit of choice, and the first to collect four of them will win.
Each village/tile has a different number of pineapple that you collect if you manage to influence them. From 0 to 2. There is even a village that has a -1, which means that one pineapple will go sour and rotten. If you manage to make the tribe there go wild for you and you have already collected a fruit, it goes bad and you have to flip the token over to show it. That's one less point in the game for you and your opponent. As if you didn't have any, one pineapple from the reserve spoils.
Like all classic abstract games, the rules are simple and not complex. The complexity of the game comes from what you do with these actions. Tiki, is no different. You can either place one of your coloured Tiki's into an empty village or more a Tiki of your colour one village adjacent. Or if there is another Tiki under your own, you can move to two other villages, dropping off the lower Tiki in the first before resting your own in the second.
This is how you stack the Tiki's into a Totem. Every stack of two, with your Tiki on top is one that you control. So it is possible in a round that you have the only movable pieces on the board. But if after moving, a stack of three is in a village, that tribe is active and makes an offering to the God who has the influence. This meaning, if your Tiki is on top...you win some fruit (or maybe not!)
This Totem is remove and the game continues until a winner is found.
The game is about cold calculating your actions, forcing your opponent into a corner and make them move where you need them to, giving you the win you need. Two expert player will go head to head for a good 10 to 20 minutes, until someone slips up. While people like my self, who play fast and loose can knock out two or three games in the same time. So if your looking for either of those in a, this is for you.
It's colorful nature and sweet tactile feel gives the game a family vibe. And kids will pick up the rules easily while twiddling the Tiki's between their fingers like a professional poker player.
If your thinking that this is just a one shot game, a thing to remember is that these villages are tiles and can be moved around. Creating a slightly different lay out that will give you a slightly different way of playing. On top of that, there is a variant in the box that changes some of the villages into a swamp. Where the Shaman lives.
Getting influence in the swamp mean that you can place the Shaman between two villages, blocking the route. No movement can take place between these villages and you will have to make your way around.
If you are lucky enough to grab a Kickstarter version of the game, you will find four (technically three) more variants in the box. Two sets of different village tiles that let you move villages or swap Tiki's around. Plus a BAD Tiki that acts like your own, if you have control over it. And then the forth variant is to mix the villages as you wish. Quite a bit of reputability if you own this edition.
All in all, a very simple, two player, abstract game. A quick playing, light, fun puzzle with great production values. Although it is in a box that is slightly bigger than you'd like to pack in your holiday bag, so you can play it on that golden beach you are heading too. But well worth it when it is too hot to do anything else.
Technical score 10/10 (although missing the KS variants rule book)
My BGG score 8/10
Combined score 9/10
Check out the video for more