Hello Chaps & Chapettes,
It's not every day that you get offered a game and get excited by it instantly. Now, I don't get bucket loads sent to me, like Rahdo or Vasel, but those that I do get are unknown to me. Hence there is a little mystery in discovering a game. Not having any expectations. And never sure of where the game wants to go, leaving me with mixed feelings. For example, a dungeon crawl is a dungeon crawl, which is a sensation I know well and can appreciate it. And a good one will make me feel that I am crawling in a dungeon. Where as game where cubes are moving about, card are being bought, but the game is about concurring the world, can give me the feeling of farming. Not concurring the world at all.
Last year, I had a game shoved under my nose, that was a war game...of movie star clones. And it didn't give me a war feeling, but was immense fun. Plus there was combat. Mental and physical. That game was called Badass Force and in one week, starting on Kickstarter.
The game has an air of Coup. Choosing an A-list action movie star, like Arnold, Sly or Bruce, in front of yourself. Then, either telling everyone that who it really is or blatantly lying about who you have, just to use another power from another character. That way, in no one calls your bluff, you can take down some of the other players at the table. Interesting stuff...
...But it's not all about bluffing. Which is good for those that have a dislike to these type of games. You can play honestly. Because there is more to this game than meets the eye. You can change out the character you have choose. On top of that, there are weapons that need to be loaded, before firing. There is a choice with the weapons. And the biggest bonus is, there is no player elimination. If all your stars have been wiped out, you get to collect them and reuse them...But in a Revenge mode. A mode where their powers are enhanced. So if you are bad at lying or just have bad luck OR are always picked on. You become a tad more powerful, striking a little fear in your opponents.
The game comes alive, very quickly after a moment of uncertainty that players get in the first round. Not only as they adapt to the rules and strategy's, but as they start quoting...
"I heard you were dead!"
“Go ahead, make my day.”
"That's not a knife, that's a knife."
"This is my BOOM STICK!"
"Hasta la vista, baby."
“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… And I’m all out of bubblegum.”
"Say hello to my little friend."
Man, I could go on and on...
This game is an enjoyable party style game. And I'm not just saying that because I am now the community manager for the KS. But because I do enjoy this game. The player interaction is high and made higher when one liners come out of other players mouths. Of course there is a bit of luck involved in the game. Calling bluff on a player you've never encountered before. But there is always the rematch, as you figure out their style of play. And there is a surprising amount of strategy hidden in the game. Should you bluff? Should you use your loaded weapon? Should you choose this character? Should you make their grenade, blow up in their face? Lots of choice and plans to formulate. But I won't ramble about it too much. I'll let you look for yourself. Below are some links to the rules, character powers and tips. Check them out and I will see you soon, with some videos.
Link to HOW TO YIPPEE-KI-PLAY (part 1)
Link to HOW TO YIPPEE-KI-PLAY (part 2)
Link to CHARACTER POWAA!
Link to WEAPONS TRAINING
Link to Facebook page
Every mornings, when I wake up, I think “I must go to work.” Unlike most people, this is something that puts a smile on my face as I feel lucky to be able to do what I do. After the struggle of squezzing a space into the bathroom and swigging a coffee with a traditional bowl of cereal, I make my way over to my ominous room. From the moment I switch on my computer and wait for it to chug into life, I start asking myself the same question:
“What is the point in being a small reviewer when there are bigger reviewers who are swamping the web with reviews, interviews, top tens and (worst of the worst) box opening videos?”
It's a questions that depresses and angers me. I feel like the small kitten mewing from the bottom of the well, hoping someone hears me. Yet I continue to do what I do. Not for the fame. Not for free games. And not because I am the best at doing it. But purely for the enjoyment I get after publishing a video or a blog. A satisfaction that I have done the game in question justice. To it's publisher and to those who would be interested in purchasing a game like it. As I believe that gamers should not just click, click, click and buy every trick but rather spend their money wisely. As someone who just wanted it all, this obsession caused lots of problems at home. And I am sure that those of you who are reading this may relate to my story.
Spending money that you don't have or could have used to bring joy to somebody else, on a box of card and plastic that just sits on your shelf. Doing nothing. Just collecting dust. Or advertising to your visiting friends that you have “that game”, to make their jaws drop, is a waste in my opinion. For those of you that have buckets of money and more Ikea than Ikea itself, I am happy for you. Continue to do what you are doing, if it makes you happy. In fact, it is you chaps and chapettes that are keeping this industry alive, with every Kickstarter you back and every new game comes out from that great publisher, that you pick up. And I thank you for that. I hope this isn't sounding sarcastic because it's not my intention. I have friends that fit this category. They either go on to sell the games they don't like at a reduced price or give them away because they have been out dated within a few month. And that, I'm sure you'll agree, is great for their friends.
So back to my riddle. Why do I do what I do, when there is no chance of reviewing every game out there or making it a channel that everybody should watch...?
Simply, because I enjoy it.
a view from the deck in my office
I am not a journalist. I am not even a competent literal person either. I struggling to speak, let alone write in my own language. But I enjoy bringing new people into the hobby. I enjoy opening the eye of someone who hasn't heard of a game that is right up their ally. I enjoy bringing an approach that is different to other. I enjoy being honest. And I enjoy the interaction that I get back from those who follow or take the time to see what I am doing. Limited as it is, it is great. The best part of all the hard work. As well as helping you make that important decision... “Should I buy that game?”
So this is a thank you to you, who follow, subscribe or just in passing say “hello.” And to let you know that I will continue to do this thing I love, in my own time. As it helps you make that decision. I'm not saying that my word is final and you should like what I like. Always dip your foot in the pool at several locations as some parts may be hotter. Use me as a counter balance against those other reviewers, who don't like games because of art or review a game too soon, just for the clicks. Or those that like ass kissing because it fills holes in their Ikea. And the less I say about box opening videos, the better.
Regards and Respects
As the summer days were coming to an end, there was one more European open air festival to visit. One that I have never been to before and only heard about in the year proceeding. The Brussels Game Festival, that took place on the 24/25 of August in the Cinquantenaire Park in the capital of Belgium.
A section of the park was taken up by this free event, as joggers jogged by and mothers took their children and dogs for walks, gamers were gaming. Tents were set up in lines, publishers installed their games and the smell of fried chips filled the air. The weekend was a warm, yet windy one. A little sprinkling of rain made people duck in the cover of stand. But apart from that, a wonderfully calm vibe filled the tree covered area.
I was there on a purely observant level, not to play but to chat with publishers and friends about the festival and newness coming from their companies. So I'd thought I would document the event by walking around the stands and showing you a glimpse of what it was like. In the video below, you may see some Kickstarter projects that are coming, new games you never heard of, old games that have different publishers (as not all American games reach these shores) and you may see some beer too. Beer is an important part of the gaming culture in Belgium. It may be 10am, but you can crush your thrust with a fresh fruity flavoured beer...or a strong coffee.
There were lots of interesting things to see, although not as many new game release announced. With Essen just around the corner, editors were saving those releases for then. But there were a handful of stands demoing upcoming KS projects that were starting in October. From Badass Force, Zombie Social Club and After The End. Games to look out for.
This is an event that I will be attending next year. Not as busy as Paris est Ludique, but calm and dream like. Especially as I got to have a sweet weekend with my wife and taste a little bit of a different culture. Now I have wet my feet, that next time will have more news from me.
U.S. Telegraph from Super Meeple
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
ages 10 and up
Video review at the bottom
A different type of outlaw
We all love building things. And board games give us the key to construct marvels in a short space of time with just a little sprinkling of brain power. Spaceships. Empires. Cities. Farms. While you are building whatever it is your building, you'll be building a score, hopefully larger than the other's sat at the same table as you. It is very rare for this type of to have any other reason to build, but meagrely to get points.
But what about building to win a race...?
This is exactly what you will be doing in U.S. Telegraph. You are building an enterprise that is trying to be the first to connect two cities with your new technological innovation that will replace the Pony Express. No points. No scoring. Just a race to be the first. And being first will make you the winner. Simple, yes! The game shines with simpleness from it's rules, game play and theme. But does that simplicity help or hinder the game?
This town ain't big enough
Every player takes control of a telecommunications company in the old wild west, as marked on their chosen coloured player board. Plus a number of building tokens, that are shuffled and placed in four stacks, face down. All players have the same building tokens that correspond to the images on their player board, which are grouped in different conglomerations of various amounts. Like four building connected to the railway industry or two buildings that relate to farming. None of that has any reference to the game, so having a ranch will not effect the blacksmiths business. It's merely there to create a chaining combo for those groups when built.
Each of the buildings of your colour connect your telegraph wire across the vast deserts that filled John Wayne's career. A number of hexagonal tiles, depending on the number of players, are placed in the middle of the table. With a number cities placed around the outside of this dust filled plain. These cities are the objective for the players, creating a continues line of their coloured buildings that connect one city to another.
How the west was built
Each building is going to require resources before they can be constructed. Some are scattered around the tiles that were places randomly. Other resources will come from a deck of cards, that players will receive in limited quantity, depending on the turn order. More cards can be gain in the game by sacrificing parts of your actions. There are two of these to chose from on your turn, making game play fast and fluid, like your favourite gunslinger. Due to the limited choices, the game is simple for the average player to slip into, like drawing your weapon. But knowing how to and when to use it is the dilemma in the game.
To draw or to construct are the choices available. It may not seem like much but as the game goes on, every action has consequences for you and the other players. The beginning of the game is a calm affair as you will be mainly drawing from your face down tiles, to see what you can build. This you can preform up to two times. If you decide to draw less than this amount, you get to draw a resource card. For example, you draw a tile and a card or you don't draw a tile but draw two cards. The latter is not really a good idea with this action, that you will see later...
The moment you draw a tile, you'll have to place it either on your player board in the allocated
area or you build it. Building requires you place it on an empty space, paying the resources from either your hand of cards or more practically, from the resources marked on the board adjacent this building. This is the start of your settlement and the commencement of your telegraph road. Starting a settlement somewhere else on the board will be a little more expensive, as you have to pay an extra wood, brick or whatever you wish, to do so. Connecting is cheaper and maybe free. If you build your viaduct (tile 61) next to your already constructed bridge (tile 60), you pay nothing.
The second action is to build. This is where you can place building that have already been revealed and placed on your player board, onto the main board. Again, resources will be paid or not, depending on the buildings you build and where you build them. A simple arrow system on your board shows the flow of which building can be built for free if place next to them. And this action you can preform three times on your turn. Which make more sense with the draw resource card option that I mentioned earlier. You could build one building and draw two cards for the actions not completed or simple play the wild card and take three cards straight up. And every time you build something, you'll place a marker down on it's image on your board, like playing Bingo. Completing a collection of the same group of the same coloured buildings will give you a worker to use on your turn to extend you actions. Utilizing a worker when you want will allow you to draw or build more times than normal. Playing them at the right time can be a life saver that will keep you in the game or help on the final sprint to finish the game.
wanted dead or alive
You will make enemy's in this game as they steal that space you wanted, while you block entry to a city, so they have to go around. If possible...
There will be times where there is a Mexican stand-off. The map has been divided into slices as you route of buildings start a one city but can't make it to another. This can be frustrating at times, as you have lined up a row of building that you could have placed on your next turn, but a border from another player cuts off you chance. And with the main board being one size, space becomes limited quickly, forcing decisions you didn't want to take at that moment of the game. But there is hope.
If on your draw action, you remove the last tile from a pile, you immediately get to add a hex tile to the main boards. Placing it wherever you wish, creating a trail that will permit you to build around this road block. Making the map bigger and giving other more growing space too. Strategically placing your buildings or settlements and joining them up at the key times to win is a trick that everyone is trying pull off. Because of the nature of these hex tiles, they fit nicely together like a tiled mosaic. Until you realise that the cities are a small space that creates a connection problems, like a horse shoe in a line of wagon wheels. Trying to build around the back of a city becomes interesting when the tile doesn't connect symmetrically but obscurely. Leave only one space touching another, limiting the route into the city. Creating another puzzle for you to solve. Timing and placement locations are part of the fun, but you won't be able to stop being get drawn into the Bingo frenzy. Drawing tiles until you have a full set of buildings, then gaining a worker. Helping to get your route complete.
But the west was not won just this way. Sometimes a stalemate might make you switch tactics to the second way to win the game. By being the first to build all of your buildings, filling your boards, like a Bingo card. Doing this makes the game a little longer and not always the first path to victory that is viable, but it's there.
Lucky Luke and the Dalton's
The drawing of tiles, some may see as a big luck factor. Considering that everyone will be drawing at the same time, the quick draws of matching groups can pay off. But it doesn't take much to take that lucky player off their tracks with just one well placed building. And the more players there are to gang up on that leading player, the more chance you will hold the reigns on their horses. Again, you may have to sacrifice an action ahead of it's time due to pressure place on you and you alone.
In fact, more players leads to a more intense race, as players are planing routes to different cities and you're never sure which they are. The free resources get eaten up more quickly and players settlements sprawl everywhere. Leaving a lot more of information for you to deduce their strategy and hiding route that you didn't see. The keen observers in the group will flourish.
Get off your horse and drink your milk
So, we have simple rules that lead to interesting and sometime difficult choices. But it's not all plain sailing, even with rules that are this straight forward as these, errors can happy easily as well. Forgetting to cross off your already constructed gold mine could cost you your game. Forgetting that have chosen the draw actions on your turn, because you build directly and therefore continue your turn as if you had taken the build action. These types of little error happen frequently with new players and, time to time with experienced players too, throwing the game into debatable territory. Or just making you win or lose in a non satisfying way, so a rematch is scheduled. Not that it's a big problem for most players, but disgruntled players may carry a chip on their shoulder until one of you gets to Boot Hill.
Not seeing your coloured tiles on the main board is another bug of the game, as the drab tile colours do nothing to pop out on the sandy tiles. Blue and green tiles are more distinct than the red and brown ones, that also share the same pallet as the buildings on these tiles. Where other games get around this by using bright, non thematic colours and 3D components that help locate you pieces, this feels like a missed opportunity. As this is just a re-theming of an older game Attika, and it looks like the same game. Although there is an art overhaul.
All in all, with those minor quibbles of easy mistakes players can make that could upset your game, it's a smooth and fast fun racing game. Without the racing theme. A family game that will have you replaying because you were so close to winning the last game. Simple in it's execution of actions but with a diverse number of choices for you to make after your third or fourth turn. Not only do you have to out-smarting your opponents, but be a “down right, dirt player” at the same time. 2 players is just a back an forth rodeo. You stand on their toes, they stand on yours. Where more players bring out a more interesting challenge. And as your pulling tiles off your piles, that sensations that your surrounded by hundreds of elderly ladies, with their heads down in silence, only to be broke by you, shouting “BINGO!”
the video review
Technical score 9/10
My BGG score 8/10
Combined score 8.5/10
I was invited to Gen Con by the generous chaps at Monolith. To demonstrate Mythic Battles: Pantheon where Greek God wage war on each other. Batman: Gotham City Chronicles, re-enacting the greatest moment from the na-nah na-nah na-nah na-nah Batman comic books. And also present their next big Kickstarter, Claustrophobia 1643.
Our team of four were kept on our toes from dusk till dawn as the booth filled up. Which is great because it would make the longest day fly by. Players seem to really enjoy their experience and gave positive feedback.
For more info and images from the show, check out the video below...
Apart from spending the trading days with a great team of guys (David, Ken and Matt...a real pleasure...let's do it again) I got to have wonderful evening wondering in the city heat, looking for somewhere to play. And there were plenty of places to play. All hotels were hot shot places to find whole areas designated to playing games.
Board Game Geek hosted a large room in one of them. Everywhere I looked, there was someone I knew. Lance Myxter, Joel Eddy, Rodney Smith and a bucket load of others (sorry if I forgot you). Played a few game with the shiny Keith Collins and attentive Forest Bower and the golden voice charmer Anthony Racano .
We played games like Gizmos, Dinousaur Tea Party and I presented an up and coming game, Badass Force.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. But I will always look on the bright side of life as this was a great big convention that holds many memory's. Opening the door of new games to gamers and meeting strangers, fans and people I respect, is something that will stay with. As well as rest in this matrix.
more storys from gen con here...