Who would have thought it! A board game about growing trees and watching them die!!!
No farming involved...
No use as a resource...
Just grow, die and score points.
A rare thing in my arc of gaming is playing what is essentially an abstract game that has a sap dripping theme. Normally, abstracts are moving pieces or placing pieces to give a strategic win. Not here. You will start by placing a few small trees on the boarder of a forest. And that is where the abstractness ends. As the trees will then gain you energy, which you use as action points, if they are in direct line of sunlight.
Actions range from making your trees grow from one size to the next, laying a seed on another part of the forest and when trees have reached their full height, letting them shuffle of their mortal coil. Or they just fall over, leaving the space empty for another life to shoot. This is how you gain points. Ending the life of a tree in the center of the board will give you big scoring tiles while on the boarders of the forest, the scoring tiles are not so generous. And there lies the part of the strategy of the game. Having your trees grow in the middle to give you big point, but with the possibility of collecting the suns energy. Or vice versa.
Each round will start with a lager sun tile, moving around the outside of the board. Trees in the sun gain you a point of energy for their size. Small trees 1 point, 2 for a medium and 3 for a large. Although, each tree will cast a shadow, like sitting behind a big headed person at the cinema, you can't see the screen. If your tree is in the shadow of another tree, whether it be another players or your own, it gains no energy for you. The more energy you gain, the more actions you can preform on your turn.
And that's not the only thing you need to think of. Each player has a bank that holds their components (trees and seeds) and a reserve of trees and seed that are used to place and replace the pieces on the board. Energy is also used to pay for these items to be removed from the bank to be placed into your reserve. The bigger the tree, the more it costs. And the more of a particular size of tree you place on the board or into your reserve, the more they cost also. The cycle of life theme doesn't just end with the photosynthesis recuperated from the trees. Every time you remove a piece from the board, whether it was replaced by a larger one of felled, it goes back into the bank...as long as there is a space.
I will tip my hat to Hjalmar Hach for coming up with such an elegant playing and uniquely themed game that feels challenging but leaves you feeling calm, as if you have just had a picnic in that there forest. Find out more about the game by watching the video...
The game sounds easier than it look or than you think. But that is the great challenge about it. Being open minded and quick thinking in making chains words between the words on display.
Not particularly fun for the unimaginative as they will slowly work through the game while the quick witted will whiz through. So balancing the teams is important in the fun factor. But also, those unimaginative player will bring lots of laughter and light hearted-ness to the game.
From kid friendly Disney to adult not-so-friendly Deep Undercover
Technical score 7.5/10
Dull to look at / Great mechanics
My BGG score 9/10
Great fun to play / A little difficult to master
Combined score of 8.25/10
Fun themes are also crawling out of the wood work too, like in Booo!
I did get a chance to play this title early on this year and found myself playing game after game.
If you have family, you'll know the trouble of trying to get a bit of living space to yourself. In this game, it's the same thing...well, oh a bigger scale and involving the afterlife.
There is a Ghost in Blackrock Castle who just wants to be left alone. But visitor keep turning up and staying over night in one of the many luxurious room. This phantom wants them "geeeeeet oooooout!" and stay out. To do this, they will have to traverse the many halls and rooms of this marge castle to get to the room in which the visitor is staying. But there is a snag...
Each of the walls is made of different colors and the phantom can only traverse one color per visitor.
Also, this is not a cooperative game, but a competitive one. As soon a the annoying guest arrives, it's eyes down to find a route of one colored walls that the Ghost can walk through to scare the visitor away. Everybody will be concentrating on a drawing a line, like in a labyrinth puzzle on the back of a cereal box. Will it be Yellow? Will it be Green? Will it...
Too late. Someone has found the way through the myriad of walls and colors and frighten the guest away, gaining a point. What do guests make...points! If you scare five of the visitors away, you win the game. You shake your fist at this quick individual and swear that you will win next time. The next time happens 30 seconds later because the game is quick to set up and also quick to play. Therefore, you will probably knock out three or four games in less than an hour.
Your probably saying to yourself, "I'm not that smart." Or, "I'm not that quick. I'll never win at this game." Yes, it is a speed game and I myself am not a fan of this type of game. But the game has a balancing mechanism that will iron out any imbalances between players, quick and slow, young and old. If you spot the route through the walls before the others, you get to take a token of the color that you used to get the Ghost from A to B. As long as this token is in front of you, you can not use that color of wall. The more walls you get right, the less possibility of scaring the visitor there are for you. But you can still will this way too if you collect four wall tokens.
The board is made of modular tiles to change things up from game to game. Also there are some tokens that you can place to make the game easy or harder. Including a Pac-Man style, trap door and a portal to make a transition between colors.
All of this leads to a great way parents and children can play a game together or mind boggle your gaming buddies with this frighteningly fun little game.
here is a "How to play" video
and an IN DEPTH "review"
with player 3 and myself
"this is the story of the curse of the dark souls"
I had my car break down. I had a windows update that went wrong. I had a memory card give out after filming, loosing an hour of recordings. I had a new memory card that made an unreadable file. And the worse was I had a very ill Player 4, who I had to babysit for over a week. Then I fell ill for two days. On top of that, I broke a nail.
So little by little, I have been working on this video (which is in two parts) trying to get it finished for you. And now that it's done, I can crack on with other (hopefully shorter) videos. Plus some interesting Kickstarters...
Yes, I have a habbit of getting frustrated. For example:
I play a game and I mange to get 60% of the way through. Cool.
I play the same game again and I get 70% the way through. Excellent.
I play the same game once more but get stuck around the begging 20%. What the fudge!
Something is not right. From now on, I can't jump to a platform or kill a mini-boss that I found easy before. The game has not changed. The player has not changed apart from he should be more experienced than before. Something is not right! Hench a control gets it's pilots licence.
Therefore I didn't pick up a copy. Although I did watch may reviews that praised the game for capturing the difficulty of arcade games from the 80's and 90's.
The board game does capture the same feeling as the video game. It is hard...
and sometimes too easy.
Your team of heroes will be waltzing around a practically straight line dungeon. Fighting programmed enemy monsters, who will charge at you in one turn. Then ONE of your heroes has the chance to charge back. Before the monsters make another charge at you all. This is where the difficulty comes in. As the game is designed to be hard. But if you have a great puzzle solving team, you will predict the actions of the enemy's, therefore prepare in advance your strategy. Choosing which of you will be the one to take all the damage and which of you will sneak in the back and sting the pesky monsters.
This is a strength of the game. Puzzle solving and advanced planning. And when you get to the Mini-Boss or (for those of you who like to spend 3-5 hours playing the same game) the Main Boss, this puzzle becomes more interesting and even fun!
You have to do, what in RPG terms is called "grinding." This is doing the same action, over and over again so that your character becomes better and doing those same actions. Something that doesn't work with me if you look at my video game experiences above.
This game rely's on that. The more rooms you clear of monsters, the more souls you collect. The more souls you collect, the more items you can buy. Problem is, each item is not bought from a selection...It's bought from the top of a lager deck of cards. Cards that you will be drawing and saying, "That's too powerful for me, I will need to level up 6 times." Or "another attachment, but none of us can attach anything!"...Frustrating.
In a game that has a timing mechanism that puts pressure on the players as they loose their lives, much like an arcade game, randomness is either your friend or not. There is dice combat. That could screw you over. You could encounter a room of monster and traps that are too powerful for your team and that too, screws you over. The only thing you can rely on being the same is the proclamation of these creatures. Who move in the fashion each time and deal the same damage each time.
Once you know how to clear a room of these pesky beasts, if you ever come back that way again and you use the same actions, it's a walk in the park. Again, if luck be with you, you have been blessed with wonderful arms and armour, you will clean a room out like a hotel maid cleans the dust from a hotel room.
Now I shouldn't moan too much about a game that was designed to be hard, because that is what it's supposed to do. If you wish to find out some of the great things your money will get out of this game, check out my video review...
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