"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
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
If board games could be made into films, I would want this one...
Not that the game has any deep story, just purely because the character art looks so profound, you can believe that they each have a great backstory.
But I am getting beyond myself. What is Rising 5?
It's a simple co-op game where players control a team of space-fairing heroes in a quest to stop a evil villainous monster, coming into their dimension through a portal. Exciting, eh?
At the beginning of the game starts with a scanning of the "Rune Gate." Yes, in true Start Trek fashion, you will get out your Tricorder and scan four runes placed in the center of the board. And yes, this game requires an a smart device.
Afterwards, the app will tell you if these runes are in the right place or the wrong place, or that they shouldn't be there at all. Sound familiar? Well it should. this game resembles the Parker Brothers game, Mastermind. In which you are trying find the matching colors to the ones set up by the "Mastermind." In this case, the app. But there is a twist...
The app displays the response in the form of astrological star signs. So another puzzle for you to solve is, which star sign represents which rune. The only way to deduce this is to scan a different arrangement of the runes. And that is where the other part of the game comes in. Your characters are going to have to do some foot work to collect some Silk Cubes on the planet. Only when you have obtained four and placed them on their alters, you can re-scan the Rune Gate.
Some of the allies and enemy's you encounter on the planet will give you those Silk Cubes. Going over to meet them or attack them will give you the chance to collect this precious items as well as some relics and artifacts.
A hand of cards is all the players need to preform actions on the planet. Moving, Encounters and Sealing the Gate. You play a set of one type of hero card, for example three Eli cards give Eli three actions. Or one card, one action. Move, encounter and scan up to those limits before ending your turn and redraw more cards. Drawing cards is a timer mechanism of the game. Obliged to draw at least one card at the end of your turn keeps the game tense and flowing. As well as the chance to draw a card that works against you...The Red Moon card.
During set up, you will add a number of these cards to the draw deck depending on the level of difficulty you want in game. Adding more Red Moon cards makes the game challenging. For once one is reveled, at the end of the next turn, all enemy's attack. Or something to that effect. The other thing that is working against the heroes is an eclipse. Marked on the board, each combat lost or big attack forced by a Red Moon cards, pushes the sun behind the Red Moon. If this eclipse happens it is also "game over."
With all these odds stacked against you, you may think that this game is extremely hard. But what are heroes with special powers. Each character has the ability to do something cool when activated. Eli can pull back the sun, preventing the eclipse. Nova can attack monsters anywhere on the planet without the consequence of bring the eclipses closer. And most importantly Orakl, who is the only one that can switch runes in the Rune Gate (a very important responsibility).
The game is aimed at family's and plays very quickly, which is great for kids with short attention spans (and adults). And is quite easy to beat, so everyone is a winner. The game encourages team work, collecting items at the right moment, puzzling out the runes and dealing with combat. As combat is a luck of the dice thing, there are ways to bolster the attack, giving more chances to be successful. Placing another hero in the same area can help as well as players sacrificing cards of the same active hero.
The nature of the co-op game makes it susceptible to "Alpha Gamer Syndrome" but at the same time, is a great gateway game for those new to the hobby. Playing openhanded and also being taught while playing are great advantages. And if you have no friends...you can play solo.
All in all, a fantastic production (10/10) from a Holy Grail Games Kickstarter.
But lacking a little in replay-ability, even with 11-12 mini expansions.
This is a game for almost everyone...and their inner child.
Get more information about the game in this video
Being a shrew business person doesn't come easy, unless you are just playing a card that will make you shred. In fact, most board game will convince you that you'd probably be a great business person due to the difficult decisions that you handle easily on your turn. And in Chartered, it's no different.
You'll be establishing warehouses in Amsterdam, contributing to the city that will grow to become the wealthiest city in the western world. You can become the best merchant, build chartered enterprises and purchase stock to profit from their expected growth. Your goal? Profit and wealth.
This is one of those "easy to learn and difficult to master" type of games. Where the rules give you only one of two actions to preform each turn. Buy a plot of land or construct a warehouse. And by the time it is your turn, you will have already decided what to do...fast paced decision making each turn.
Each space on the board has a number allocated to it. There is one card of each number in the deck and you will have a handful of ten cards, or plots of land to start the game. Buying another does nothing but give you more possibility's on your successive turns. As there is no hand limit, you are only restricted to the money that it costs to buy a card. Also restricted by your conscience, as you know that at the end of the game there is a penalty to pay for each remaining card in your hand.
Building a warehouse is a satisfying action to take. If you construct in the the middle of nowhere, you create one of the nine enterprises in game. Placing several of these "LEGO" like bricks on the board and stacking a HQ of that enterprise on top. Giving you some revenue and the chance to buy some stock, if there is any available. If you construct next to an existing enterprise, you make it larger, increasing the value of it's stock. Or joining two enterprises together, forcing a merger and a liquidation of stock.
It's not until you buy the right to become the owner of an enterprise that things become doubly interesting. Not only is your stock worth four time the amount to you, but also watching as other players either help you grow bigger or play elsewhere. Or worst of all, swallow your enterprise with their own, when they merge them.
All in all, with it's simple set collecting and area control, this is another game along the lines of a Ticket To Ride or New York 1901. Building in three dimensions and preconceiving the rises in the stock market (or manipulating them). A family style game with a heavy economy element, because it's all about the money. If you have the most after selling all your stock, guess what...You win!
Find out more by clicking the link to Kickstarter below or watch the video.
Immortal 8 is the latest game from Moonster Games, who gave us such great such as Crossing, Imagine and Miniville, (Machi Koro) that are proudly sat on my shelf. All of those are light, fluffy family games, but their latest game is aimed more at the hard core gamer.
what's my name?
In Immortal 8, you are in fact an immortal God. One of 8. You will be dealt your role at random and regard it in secret. Only you and you alone know your power and secret scoring ability for the end of game.
You will then construct a civilization, from nothing. You won't be needing any wood or clay to build the temples, treasury's, market or war machines. They just come into being. You are a God, are you not...?
Everything that is built has an action and sometime a bonus, that will give you civilization tokes of either the Military, Science or Chaos. Building that are built by you can be used by you. Building that others have built can also be used by you. At a cost. But your not restricted to building just buildings. There are the eye catching and elegant Wonders that can be used by all players, granting them some God like powers.
And Heroes. Every Greek God had heroes, why can't you. Create one that works for you. Make them in your image or not. Throw the other gods off on who you are. The last thing you need is for them to know what your objectives are. Because they will hamper you, burden you,
call you funny names.
a god's game
So each player will be a God and have two rounds in which to get as many points as they can.
Each God has their own way to score points as well as common path of victory points. Each round is made up of a draft phase, kingdom phase and supremacy phase. So not a lot of time to generate a victory.
In the draft phase, players will have five cards to draft from. But only a maximum of three can be constructed. The other get turned into different values of currency, depending on the card drift turn. Some constructions will give you civilization tokens that will be used by certain Gods to gain more points. This is a good way to get "found out" by the other players, as to which God you are.
In the second round there are only four cards, of which only two can be constructed...
In the kingdom phase, you get to active and use the actions of the buildings you have built to give yourself more civilization tokens and money. Money is used to use the buildings of the other players at the table. Don't worry. They won't rob you blind. Unless you are on the opposite end of the table. The further away the building you with to use is, the more it will cost. Luckily, they don't collect your money, they just gain some culture, in the form of a 1 pointed token.
A pool of Wonders will lay in the center of the table for everyone to use. Only once can you activate one of these and they grant tremendous power. Even the possibility to collect diamonds, a very rare provider of points. On top of that, if you have a Hero, they can go and do some dirty work for you too. Like give tokens to others or destroy buildings for fun.
Finaly, there is the supremacy phase, where the owners of the most Military and Science tokens will receive a four pointed, Supremacy token. Big points that are added at the end game.
"I am he"
The end game is the moment of great intensity. As one by one, the Gods reveal themselves and score their points. A nerve wracking event as you thought they were someone else and they score big points on your behalf. Building a building next to a player that profits off of it can be a huge mistake, although it gains you culture points. Maybe they shouldn't have use your building because they gave you enough culture to win.
The game becomes even more intense if one of the players is Tomorrow. They can score big if they can divine every players God.
All in all, a very deep and tactical drafting game that plays quick, doesn't flood the table with too much information and has you double guessing everybody's agenda. Check out the How To Play video below.
Or click the buttom below to find out more about the Kickstarter