Welcome to the future. And that future is now. Your table top has never felt so alive as it does now. With litalry things popping out from a 2D landscape to the third, tactile dimension. But getting there is not an easy road, as with anything adventurous and experimental as this. ArmPal sees you arm wrestling against an opponent, without your arm. And technically without “the wrestling.” Hydraulical controllers will manipulate a “wooden” robot Arms that will pick up objects with a claw, a pale or a magnet, in a race to do more or better than your opponent. But is a 10-15 hour investment in the construction of these animatronical trees worth it?
Let me start this off by reminding you that I am writing about a prototype of a game that is looking for public financing to be made into a reality. And so my thoughts and feelings do not reflect the final product, only the product at this stage of its life.
Build your own Ikea robot
This is an Ikea type game. So straight off the bat, this may deter some of you as there is a lot of construction involved before play can commence. But not me, as I like buying this Sweedish furniture and proving to my wife that I am better than her at at least one thing. In it’s modestly “Kemet” sized box, you’ll find lots of laser cut wood to punch. Screws. Springs. Pumps. Pipes. Instructions and an assortment of other tiny things. Oh! And some wooden cubes. Blisters and shouting are not included but may arrive at some stage. Neither are there tools, which you will have to provide yourself. Things like a screwdriver, scissors, wax to mention a few. One of the things that surprised me is that there were no rules! This is a game, right? What will I be playing after my time and effort was used in the construction of this high tech marvel? Well apparently, there are three game modes which were shown to me in a promotional video.
The three game modes include:
If you have gotten this far and can feel that there is a negative air to my words, you are not far wrong. They are about to get a little bit more negative as I go into the construction phase of this product. But I am hoping that by expressing myself like this, the publishers are made aware or are already aware of some of my concerns and are making changes to alleviate some of the problems I encountered in this prototype. One of those problems was the instruction manual, which they are aware of. Some of the images were unclear and the numbers for each individual piece were missing. Easy thing that they are currently correct. Something positive....the punching out was easy to do. There were no issues with the laser cuts, plus they include some spare parts for some of the smaller, fragile bits. A big bonus. Most of the construction went smoothly, but when it didn’t, that was another matter. A lot of what I am about to say depends on your temperament for being a handyman or woman, as things got a little tricky from time to time. Sometimes you were slotting pieces in between other pieces with very little work space. Fear of something snapping because you were using a little too much force to click an item into place or squeeze it between others constantly plagued us (yes, my wife helped immensely). This is definitely not something for those who have chubby fingers.
Then there are the pipes. Black rubber pipes that you have to cut to size and number...with a black pen! Not really effective. We tried stickering them, but they just fell off, although we did manage to muddle through and attach them in the right places. These were a nightmare as they had to be squeezed into small holes in small confined spaces (with chubby fingers). This tried my patience for a while. Forcing them into position was hard work. Also attaching them to the syringe like pumps. Have I put them on properly? As some could slide on easier and further than others. Leaving me with the sensation of nervousness, and wonder, will the water pressure blow them off?
The answer was “no”. Although, I managed to blow one of these corks off of the hydraulic cylinders. Mainly because I did push it on enough, a jet of water came flying out in one sharp spit. Good thing we did this outside. And lucky it was with water, as this part of the construction was a bit messy. Real hydraulic fluids would not have been fun. This is a two person job, even though I muddled through on my lonesome, I managed to inject water into the pipes and cylinders. On the table…. And on myself. There were moments of excitement as parts of the Arm or the controller started to move as the pressure of the water did its magic. Then larger moments of frustration as I discovered the calibration of each Arm reacted differently to the controls. This meant more time getting wet and trying to figure out why the Arm didn't turn right or didn’t go up as high as the second Arm. It was all explained in the manual how to resolve these problems, and I prayed that I didn’t have to resort to the final measure of taking the thing apart to find something not lubricated enough or a pipe too bent. Luckily not the case. So this added another hour or two to the construction time. With everything working and my family eager to play, it was time to go to the shops to buy some chickpeas and paperclips.
SkyNet in action
The game comes with a lovely roll out mat, that needs quite a bit of space or a large table. Indicated on this map are the positions of where the Arms go, and there are two choices depending on the game you play, and also the zones for cubes, beads, the scales and other items that will be manipulated around. So placing the Arms in position and the controllers nearby, we start to get a little excited. Everything looks cool as we place the Cubes into the centre area and attach the claws to the Arms. And then we have a little tinker to see how cool it moves. Only to find out that they don't move as well as they did a day or two ago. One Arm only rotated from the centre to the right while we noticed the other didn’t raise as high as the second. This is a simplish case of recalibrating the cylinders and the amount of water in each. Again, luckily we are playing outside so any water spilt is easy to clean up. This again takes a little time and removes a tad of pleasure from the experience, as we were hoping just to jump straight in and do some break dancing. By now I am becoming quite fluent in which cylinder syringes are connected to one another.
(Watch the video to see the game in action)
Off we go, taking our time trying to stack cubes into a tower between one another. Giggles and laughter can be heard coming from my opponent and then loud cheers as they successfully place the first cube on top of another. It's a very delicate procedure as you slowly get used to the controls. Little by little, the feeling of control over your extended appendage becomes apparent. While the flexibility and control is a little sluggish, it's the eerie creeks of the controller that gave me some concern. Was I being too forceful? Was the fear of losing stressing me, that I applied my aggression a little too much on the joysticks in my hand. Then “PING”, a trigger button flies off as I flick it out, all because I wanted the claw to close a little quicker. A jet of water follows the button onto the mat. Not a problem, it's only water. But then I have to attach it back and refill it, just so it functions correctly.
Onto another game.We attached the excavator buckets and chuck a bowl of pasta into the middle. Again, laughter can be heard but then it dries up as the game drags on and we struggle to achieve anything. Maybe the bowls in the wrong place? Maybe the bowl is the wrong size and shape? Maybe the pasta is too small or too big? All of these things affected our experience. By then, frustration started to kick in as we found the Arms were not moving as well as they did when we first started playing. Once more, one Arm was not pivoting all the way to the left side, which made it impossible to do the job that it needed to do. Some more tweaking ensued, then we carried on playing. We even swapped controllers and noticed that they had a different feel and movement. I then begin to curse myself, believing that it may be my fault that they are responding like this. Sadly, by then our enthusiasm had waned. Then came the part of putting the game away. The question was, where?
This is a game that won't squeeze back in the box. In fact, when constructed it's twice as large as the box, maybe more. This is one of the downsides of this product, the storage. Where do you put it? Most gamers like to get a game out, play it, then put it back in the box and on the shelf. This is not that. Ideally, this is something that you would leave out on your coffee table, workbench or if you're lucky enough to have a hobby room, somewhere on an open table. I know that there are gamers that own a Crokinole table or pool table that is constantly on display. This is a game that fits that category. Mine is sat in the garage and may only come out if we have a barbecue…. and some friends want to have some fun (you thought I was going to say “chuck it on the barbecue”).
This is a feat of technical magnificence and it is truly a beautiful thing. It's amazing to see this inanimate wood, plastic, screws and water, come to life. And I'm sure that if I had the technical skills and a bucket load of patients to get this aperture functioning correctly, this would be extreme fun. If not for me, but for my kids. In fact, one of them has just knocked on my door and asked me if they could have a go at stacking a tower again. This is a great and cool idea, that unfortunately won’t be for everyone. You don’t want your board games to give blisters, needs constant fine tuning and not go back into its box....If you manage to get past the hours of building and have fun doing so, then great. If you are a competitive player, you may be dissatisfied when you play and your Arm does not function as well as the other. This is something for those who are into wood building kits and have ample patience, plus are looking for a talking piece for your pool parties. A kind of hobby kit meets activity.
Do you remember the game Crossbows & Catapults?
Coming to Kickstarter in June is a game called Walls of Scydonia. A peaceful realm with guilds, Gods and inhabitants that thought they were Gods and decided to prove it by destroying the other prominent rulers. I’m not going to dive deep into the lore and history of Scydonia because, like the game, this build up is not as fun as the action sequence. The fun comes from the dexterity part of the game, where you'll be flicking objects at an opponent's kingdom, in essence to reduce their guild towers to rubble. Although this concept may sound shallow and reminiscent of Crossbows & Catapults, there are some major differences to make this game stand out. Most notably, the components.
This version of the game that I have played is of a prototype, printed by the designer on his 3D printer. Apart from the fact that it is wonderfully colorful, exceptionally detailed and extremely large, everything has a designated place in its box. This was the first thing that struck me as I opened the box. The organisation and structuring of the insert. All of this already will put a vast majority of game publishers to shame, so a great first impression and preview of the dedication of the designer. And yes, this is a big box game which you can only find in a Kickstarter project. Not everything in the box will be used in every game, in the essence that there are three levels of game mode. From the apprentice to the journey man, and finally for the tactical gamer in you, and master mode. That is when you use EVERYTHING.
At its core, every mode is basically the same. Each of the modes removes certain rules and elements, right down to the apprentice mode that will probably be the closest that resembles Crossbows & Catapults. But basically it boils down to this. Players will roll out a hex mat on their side of the table (or floor) and place their 4 guild towers on spaces they deem the best. Then collect a selection of wall (tetris like) pieces, the number of wall chunks will vary depending on the mode played, as will the number of support pieces that come from the four guilds connected to your towers. Each beautifully rendered and painted support piece has a different form and weight depending on the guild. A pile of logs for the lumberjacks or ornate windows for the glazers. Players also get four wooden dice which are used as ammo for the catapult. And then there is the one amazingly sexy catapult (more about how sexy it is later). Other pieces that you may need to get ready are the tower upgrade, the supershots, action tokens, coins, city cards and strategy cards. As you can see, there is a bit of slow set up as you gather the bits from the box, but that is it. Once out, the action sequence starts.
Every game runs for 10 rounds and there is a D10 to remind you which you are on. Every round is broken into four phases, and that is relevant for each of the three game modes. Each is very simple and easy to understand, as they tie in with their names.
The object of the game being that sometime in the 10 rounds, one player would have destroyed all four of their opponents towers, making them the victor. The game has a mechanic to make the finale interesting and increase the chance of a definite winner. At round 8 and onwards there is a meteor storm, where players will then take potshots for free at the beginning of an attack phase with the supershot that looks like a rock. This is not an easy potshot, as you have to balance this uneven rock on the back of your hand and fire at the other players mat from over your own. Some slight skill is required, but this is a fun part of the game as it helps intensify the tension in the game and hopefully prevent a dull draw between players (there are tiebreakers).
The Apprentice mode is basically a build and reconstruct your walls before attacking and then removing destroyed pieces from the board. There are no cards or currency involved in this mode. More a survival of the best shot-ist. Where the journeyman mode introduces a few action points and currency to allow players to buy new bits of wall or upgrade their towers. As you can tell, the master mode will allow you to also include the cards, giving you all kinds of superpowers. So there's a bit of everything for everyone here. An inexperienced player can have fun bashing it out, whereas gamers can game it and introduce strategies with the cards of the same name.
Now, let me talk about some of the little details of the game before I blurt about how fun it is to destroy your enemies heart encapsulated constructions. If you are playing the master mode, this gives you access to the city cards. There are 16 in the proto that I have, each with a unique power for you, usable once per round. La-Rys gives you 6 wall pieces for free whereas Belyhn lets you use an action token from your opponent. All very powerful and disruptive to the other player. Each is linked to a guild, giving you the additional power of that guild. The strategy cards are the little “take that'' element to the game. Collected at random from round to round, or discarded as a currency to gain you a coin or a two for one swap on another card. These can allow an extra attack or some kind of movement in your kingdom. And there is a card that blocks the action of a previously played card, this is the reason that I say they are “take that”. But the fact that there is more variety, makes it not so annoying when someone plays a nasty card on you. They make you go “that’s cool”. These cards are well laid out, with some sweet artwork and icons that are easy to understand from their descriptions in the rule book. But I feel that the icons could be enlarged a little to make them not so eye squintingly hard to see.
The tower upgrades are an important part of the game. Number one, they create a more sturdy tower, as the base tower on it’s own is top heavy. Meaning a wooden die can easily topple it. Each upgrade, of which there are two, creates more weight at the bass and gives a large foot to its body, helping it stay erect. These upgrades are inserted into the tower, unseen but they are also sculpted and coloured. A nice attention to detail. The second reason the upgrade is important is when you fully upgrade a guilds tower to level three. This gives you the power of that guild to use it’s supershot item as ammo in the attack phase. The rock, anvil, window and log are bigger and heavier than the dice and make easy work of walls and level one towers. Their different shapes have an effect as they ricochet off the mat or buildings. And can be finicky when placing into the catapult. This makes for some interesting shots as a supershot might not leave the cup of the catapult in a straight line.
Keeping these towers alive in the game is a bonus as they help keep your kingdom safe. During the build phase, you’ll start with two support items from each guild. These can be used as walls or bolster your walls and towers. But losing a tower means you lose that guilds support. In the cleanup phase, if a tower is toppled or is not sitting on the mat squarely (and I mean even one edge a single millimeter in the air) it is destroyed. You remove it plus any support items belonging to that guild. These resources are a little more weighted than the wall pieces and therefore more reliable at surviving an attack. Their irregular shapes make them hard to stack or position sometimes and losing them is as a major setback as the tower itself. And the rules themself about what is considered “destroyed” are very clear. As mentioned, if it’s not sat squarely on the mat, it’s out. Plus, if wall pieces become detached from other wall pieces, they are out of there too. So you may find yourself spending some actions and coins just to build back up your defences. Whereas the support piece can only be brought back with the power of cards, making them quite valuable. This leads towards some of the strategies in the game, in regards to which towers you protect or upgrade, just for their supports or their super shots.
Luck raises its head in the form of the random card draw, but not too detrimentally. The other avenue that luck likes to walk down is dice street. This is where we get to the meat by talking about the fun and climax of the game… The Attack Phase. Apart from being rolled at the start of the game to see who plays first, they are used as ammo to destroy other buildings across the way. One face of that die has an icon of a coin. If during your attack, a die hits a tower or flys off the table, even pokes your friend in the eye and the final result is this face up coin, guess what! You get an extra coin. Bonus! It’s a one in six thing but can swing a game in the favour of one player if luck sits on their shoulder. An area where luck is at its lowest (unless you count a misplaced shot that ricochets at weird angles, destroying everything you made) is with the elegant catapult. There are rules on where you fire from and how to utilize this wonderful contraption, but at its core there is a pin that holds the angle of the shot. So you can get it to fire in a straight line or project it into space before it plummets down. And then there is a finely detailed power gauge, which is useful to note the force of your attack. You’ll pull this back and release to fire your shot. Simple and precise, as long as you hold the base in place, as the recoil on the spring is tightly wound. When the catapult “clacks” at its firing arc, this recoil will jolt your shot by a millimeter at your end, missing your intended target. But man, is it fun to use!!!! You bet.
And therein lies the pleasure of the game. Firing stuff to destroy stuff. I even activated one of my destroyed towers, through a strategy card, as ammo against my enemy. BOOM! It was pleasurable. You shouldn’t worry too much about getting hurt as if you are the player being attacked, you’ll hold the box lid (with a nice backdrop inside) behind your construction to prevent these flying pieces coming off the table and hurting people or destroying something that is not in the game. Again, the components are damn sturdy and solid. This prototype has had a lot of play before it got to me and everything still looks in top condition. Although there was one piece that needed a bit of glue before I got to play.
Walls of Scydonia is a stunningly beautiful looking game, due in part to the designers passion for this project. The different weights of all the projectiles along with the tactile feel, turn this game into something which we’ve never seen before. Elegant and fun. The precision of the catapult itself means that you get practically the results you want while you play this game. But it’s simplistic rules and climatic finale, make for a fun time at the table. Added with the various player powers and strategy cards which add gameplay, plus change the game slightly every time you play. Hopefully some stretch goals will add other mechanisms or guilds with their own special powers which will extend the diversity of the game. I say this as the longevity of the game might be too short for you. But then again, you may just be happy to knock down each other's sandcastles for some time.
Wargaming 4X Refined! by Syther Gaming
Area control, tabletop space warfare... with a twist!! It's wargaming 4X Refined!
Includes a unique utilization of cross-genre gaming mechanics generally un-used in wargaming such as drafting, engine building, worker placement and semi co-op components... all wrapped inside of a classic area-control wargame wrapper.
Visually stunning, 2 to 4 player gaming, with a 5th and 6th player via an expansion add-on.
All-new game mechanics such as zero-setup time, and brand new characters unlike anything in gaming that brings the story into the game and the game into the story in a brand new gaming way.
While you come to play "OverBattle: The All War" you leave with an experience that stays with you and drives an exciting level of replayability. Each game is unique and no two setups or experiences will ever be the same.
Over 1000+ pieces, Full color game mats and elements, 40xD12 & 4x D6 color specific dice, 4-Piece Modular Game mats at 30" x 72" total size via 4 sections (76cm X 183cm) for the full deployment, 30" x 36" for 1v1 play (76cm X 92cm). Modular system fits a standard US folding pop-up 6 foot table exactly.
Also utilizes the all-new, multi-tier / multi-dimensional 3D playing combat surface known as the "CASy: Combat Assault System".
But don't just take these words, listen to the explanation I got from the designer himself, in this interview...
Geodes (2020) first impressions
Coming to Kickstarter very soon is this family weight, tile placement game where players are going to be constructuring five different types of gems called Geode. With each gem that you complete you will collect a contract from a client that will hopefully want your gem, depending on the value /size of it, which will then boost you with your prestige points. This simple and elegant game can be explained in minutes and played very quickly, even in a large group. Reminiscent of games like Carcassonne, but more with a lighter feel. But is this something you should invest in? Read on...
One of the things I need to mention before we delve into this is the fact that I have played only a prototype of the game and therefore things may have changed or evolved since this copy was produced and arrived at my door. So I know nothing of extra tiles or bonus rules and expansions for the game. These are things that you should remember while reading this.
The game will see 2-5 players constructing a board, made of tiles that have two quarters of a gem. Whether they be Amethyst, Citrine, Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire, or even the white joker style Diamond. Each tile will have a combination of any of the two colours that represent these precious stones. Beware though, there are not as many diamonds as you think there will be. All of these tiles are stacked into two piles of 40. Each player will then draw a hand size of two tiles and the starting play then places a random tile from the stack to create the playing area, before laying one of their two tiles. Also, players will have a number of coloured chips, depending on the number of players playing. These are to mark gems that you have completed. They also indicate the end of the game when one player has placed all their chips out or when there are no more tiles to draw from the two piles. Once the endgame has been activated, the game will stop before the starting player gets to take their next turn. Meaning all players have the equal amount of turns.
So far so simple. One of the nice restricting features is that the playing area is confined to an 8 by 8 grid size, which adds a little tactical play to the game. There is a rule that will allow you to go beyond this size but only if a player is blocked and cannot place one of their two tiles out successfully. Each tile placed must touch another and all sides must have matching colours, which is simple to do as two sides will be one colour and the other another. Or even simpler, all sides will have the same. Making this an easy game for anyone to get a grasp of. Young or old. Again there is an exception to the rules if that is not possible to play a tile, and in the few games that I've had, this had happened. A blocked player that has nowhere to place any of their two tiles will place one of their tiles face up in front of them and draw another, thus ending their turn. If on another turn they can place this face up tile into a space, they will have to do so and then play a tile from their hand. Always before play passes to the next player, you draw up to your hand size of two. Which can be a little restricking for some players. More about that later.
When a player adds the fourth quarter of a gem, it is deemed finished. Each quarter of this gem will have numbers from 0 to 5. You will need to add up these four values to give you the total value/size of this gem. This is an important factor of the game as you can only score big if your completed gem is the same value as a contract you have. Having completed a gem you’ll place one of your chips on it to claim it as your own. You can then take a contract from one of the 5 piles available. Each pile has a number denomination of the gem values/size. They range from 4-6, 7-9, 10-14, 15-17 and 18-20. So in each stack there is a random gem value and two different scores. The higher of these two scores will be collected at the end of the game if you can match one of your gems to the value of the contract. Where as the lower will be given to a gem that doesn't match this value. All these contracts are kept hidden until the end of the game, when you do your final scoring. A nice touch is that the small and large size contracts have bigger point values. I have found that in the games that I have played, most of the gems created were in the 10-14 size range. This leads to players trying to make very high or very low value gems.
The first contract you will choose, of course will probably be in the realm of the value of the gem you have created. If you are lucky enough to draw exactly the contract value of said gem, this is a bonus. If not, you now have a target value to aim for. Say for example, can you create a gem of a value of 11. You draw a contract from the pile marked 10-14 and reveal a contract with a value of 10. You'll then be on the lookout to complete a gem with that value. This is easier said than done. Depending on the number of players, the tiles you have in your hand with their are different colours and numbers assigned to those colours, this can be a difficult feat to achieve. Four out of the five games I played were won by a player collecting as many contracts as possible to conquer your opponent's. Only one case had a player with slightly fewer tiles winning, but that was due to them drawing contracts that matched their gems. Lucky...Yes, yes randomness seems to be a killer here.
I can say that the experience of playing this family style game is very therapeutic and relaxing. There never seems to be any real stress to find a space to place one of your tiles unlike in other games of this ilk. But then again, you are kind of restricted to placing a tile either in one, two, possibly three or 0 positions on the board. This leads to giving your opponents the chance to score points. Only in a two player game does this “forcing” feel strategic. Playing a tile to make it possible to complete a gem, but only if your opponent has exactly the correct two coloured tile. And with that, if you have the opportunity to finish a gem, you will probably dive straight in, regardless of the total value of this precious stone. Then hope for the best that a contract matches the value of one of your completed circles on the board.
Talking about the board, there is none. Although there is a restriction on the playing area the game feels that it actually does need a playing board. The tiles in this prototype are quite large and because there is very little information on these tiles, the game could probably profit from having smaller ones. This could also nicely tie in with a small size playing board, probably of a 9 by 9 grid, where the starting tiles starts bang in the middle. There were many stops and start moments where the players would verify by counting how many tiles across or down, just to make sure their placement was legal. There is a nice feeling of not being restricted with a grid on your table, but this game feels like it needed it. Qwirkle is great because you can sprawl to the edge of your table and still score points. Whereas having a restricted area to play in makes the game more tactical, especially if you're trying to set up your second tile in your hand with your first. Creating corners or spaces in the middle of the playing area can sometimes work to your advantage, where you know that you have a tile that will fit perfectly and the chances of anyone else having the same tile are very slim. This is not the case, as I have found out. Too many similar tiles.
There are also frustrating moments when you draw tiles and the player before your next ture sets up a third piece of a gem and it just needs the fourth piece, but you don't have the colour or possibly the value that you wish. There were moments when I felt I was just passing the time helping other players as the restrictions on my tiles limited me to playing them in certain spaces. Again very restrictive if every time you draw a tile, both corners of the same colours. A double blue or a double green. Luck is extremely present in a 5 player game. One player brought the game to a very surprising quick end, while another player failed to score anything. You may find yourself only setting up the other players to score, while never having the chance to score yourself. And there were noticeable differences when playing with experienced players and newbies. In an expert game, the grid sprawled out like a spider because no one wanted to give away points, until the restriction of the grid or tiles in hand forced you to give points to your adversaries. Whereas the newbies would make the playing area slower, filling in spaces anywhere they could. A slightly different experience but all with the same ending. The winner was the lucky one who drew the lucky tiles.
But how is that different to Carcassonne or even Qwirkle in that case? With these games, you have more choices on your turn. Even if you are restricted by the size of the playing area at the beginning, as the game goes on, there are more and more possibilities. Even with the one tile in Carcassonne, there are many places to play it and to achieve different things. Extend your road. Try and steal a castle. Set up a big farm. Qwirkle gives you the power to play one or many pieces to either play cautiously or to cycle through your hand. Score big points from a single tile or set a trap for another player to give you a Qwirkle. Geodes doesn’t have this. There is a monotone feel as the game goes on. The unbalanced luck of the draw from either the colours and numbers you draw to the ever so important contracts fish, will leave you with the unpleasant feeling that you have participated in an activity. Building a colourful puzzle.
If you are looking for a game to pass the time with some non gamer friends, this could be a game for you. A 2 minute explanation will get anybody to play. A 30 minute run time at any player count is not too long to drive players insane. The gameplay is very fluid and very rapid, plus it’s colourful and pleasant to play. This game could be your gem. Especially if you like games like Uno (and you don’t score). If there were some tweaks to the rules (plus playtesting to make sure it feels more balanced) like, having visible contracts for players to aim for or a greater hand size or something else to remove the vast amounts of luck in the game, then I could recommend this to a gamer. Although everyone who has played enjoyed the experience and said that it’s neither a great game or a bad game, just “ok.”
Red outpost (2019) first impressions
(Remember, this is a first impression and not a final review. The game was played on a well rendered prototype, of an upcoming Kickstarter game. These words and thoughts are of a one-time play play with a 3 player count.)
If you're looking for a game with a unique theme and gameplay, here is a game that should pique your interest. Theme wise, Red Outpost is about the Russians winning the Space Race. And instead of going to the moon, they crash on another planet and start inhabiting it. Mechanics wise, this is a worker displacement, resource gathering and and Influence scoring game. Where are all the workers and resources are shared between all players. But this is no “co-op game” by any shape or means. Players are going to be scrambling to manipulate these workers for their own benefits and mainly trying to hold the others back from doing the same. Each, trying to keep their head about the water, at the same, submerging the heads of others.
The ruleset for the game is very simple. You’ll move an unused worker to a unique empty location, place one of your influence tokens on that workers image, possibly change the mood of that worker, before taking the action as indicated on the location. As simple as that. Although so your first game, you may occasionally forget to place out your influence token. This can sometimes screw up the game. Or at least your score, if you forget to do so. But that's an easy player error to make in your first game. Quickly forgotten in this very rapid, slick, elegant game. To help the game run smoother, it has its own simple to read, iconography at each location. This, players will pick up very quickly and make your gaming experience run very smoothly. But with all that being said, this game is easy to pick up and play (with a possible error...lol) but is no easy game to master.
The game is played over 2 rounds, which represents 2 days. Each day is broken down into 5 phases. Morning, first half of the day, lunch, second half of the day and evening. All of the six unique workers will start their day in the barracks, sleeping. Waking up from they're wonderful dreams and preparing for that hard but yet satisfying day of work. In the morning, lunch and evening phase, each player will be able to move a worker to a new unoccupied location. Whereas as in the first and second half of the day, players will activate all available workers until they have all been utilised. This may mean at certain player accounts, some players will activate two workers while others only one in this phase. Here there are some little thematic ideas that play into each of these times of the day. For example, any workers that are not moved in the morning phase will sleep in and instantly be satisfied, augmenting their mood level. That's true in the real world, yes? The kitchen space is only open at lunchtime, but you're not obliged to send a worker out there to elevate their mood. Again in the evening, the barracks is the only place that you can send a worker. And not all workers will go there, but any that do will have their mood increased.
To add a bit of variety to this, the game comes with 3 morning and evening tokens. These can be placed out randomly or in set locations, rendering them closed for that part of the day. Reducing the amount of locations during two phases of a round. This is not as restrictive as it sounds, although it will make a few players feel claustrophobic, as they become first play and have free reign of the board. But that one action they want to do is not available! But it will add a little more to your thought process from game to game. Plus with the restriction of only one worker being able to move to an unoccupied location, will consume a little bit of your grey matter.
Let's talk a little bit about these locations and what they do. Most of the locations will gather resources, like wheat from the fields or coal from the coal mine. A few of them will allow you to draw cards to see whether you collect resources, like whether you catch a fish from the lake. All resources are pooled together the storehouse. For each resource your worker collects, you will move your token on the production wheel. Once it passes a certain space, you're received two points and a crystal, which is its own unique resource. More about these crystals later. If at the end of your turn, you have added a third resource of the same type already stored there, you’ll score some additional points. This is an action that can be stolen from you by other players, so don’t try to think too far ahead. Two of these resources are removed while the other is placed on a resource score track. At first, this track will only give you one point. Over time, as more players contribute to this resource gathering, that score we'll go up to a level before caping itself to a solitary point. Making resource gathering important but at the same time only at certain stages in the game. As the game goes on, players may be forced to collect resources and add them to the pool, which in turn may lead to another player scoring off of that action.
Other locations may require the aforementioned crystals. Going to the beer house will allow you to spend a crystal that will allow you to manipulate the mood tracks of 2 of the workers. While going into the palace will allow you to drop off a crystal to contribute towards the construction. Leading to another way to score. If at the end of the game you have contributed the most, there are some bonus points up for grabs. Going to the storehouse will allow you to use the resources to manipulate mood or collect crystals. Going to the administration will allow you to move other players influence around. This all sounds great and well, but most of these locations also have benefit or malediction depending on the worker that is sent there. Again this ties in with the theme of the game and can lead to some interesting decision making.
Let’s say you send the minor to go mine at the mine (that's a lot of mines). This will benefit you with 2 coal resources and no penalty. As the minor is used to working in the mine and will not be upset with the working conditions. Send any other worker to the mine, and as they are not at proficient as the minor, they only collect one coal. And as they are not accustomed to working in the mind, and their mood will decrease by 2 to. Making them a very sad bunny. And that's how most of the locations work. They will give you something but they also may change the mood of the worker that you have used to do that task. Each space thematically ties in with the worker. Another example is the commissar, who will lose morale if they visit the beer house (dull chap) but will gain morale every time another worker goes to the palace to contribute to the construction.
So I have done a lot of talking about morale, moods and influence. These are all important at the end of each day, as they will also add points to your game. Or lose them! Once the workers have gone to bed, your tally each of your your influence markers that you have used on each of the workers. If you have the most or are joined for the most influence on one of these meeple, you will gain or lose points depending on their mood. This adds an entire heavier level of planning in regards to just sending “so and so” over there to do this or that. It also prevents a player from using the same I'm working over and over again, due to too many of the locations making them sad rather than happy. Added to that is the restriction of only six different workers, which will force players to play dirty. Maybe leaving behind the last worker for you to influence, knowing they are on negative points. Just like real life, if we are all contributing to make this world better, but stabbing each other behind their backs.
This influence and mood scoring track is probably the hardest ball to juggle in the game. Sometimes it feels just like luck that you have been left with a certain meeple to manipulate or a certain location due to others being occupied. But that's part of the give-and-take of the game. Using a character and figuring out how to get a special bonus in a special location but also penalizing yourself we'll have you head scratching for awhile as you search to see if it is beneficial in the long run. But this can be overthrown by another who is quicker or wiser enough to manipulate the workers moods.
Is this all sounds too simple for you, then don't fret. There are also some special cards that you can add to your game that will make your decisions a bucket load more interesting. At the beginning of the game you can be dealt two cards. One location and one worker. Each has its own extra benefit when you either visit that location or use that worker. This variant of the game that we played with, did make the decision making process of your action a hell of a lot more interesting. Adding an additional level of though as you want to use that power, but it may hamper other benefactory ideas further along. Also these cards are open knowledge to all the other players, they may deliberately occupy that worker or location, just say you can't benefit from your special powers. I would definitely recommend playing with this variant if you have a group of experienced gamers.
So this game has a lot of interesting and thematic ideas in tangled inside it's small framework. And left me with the sensation of playing a kind of Mediaeval Academy meets Outlive hybrid. Even though the artwork and theme were reminiscent of Scythe. And a game does seem to be a cold logical puzzle, where you are having to adapt to what is available and whatever the other players are doing. Saying that, one detractor from the game is the luck factor.
There are two small decks of cards located next to the lake and the spaceship. Going to these locations is a bit of pot luck, as some of the cards don't contain resources, but a whopping big red “X”. Meaning there is nothing there and you have practically wasted an action. This can definitely sting you. And players adapted to this by not going to the spaceship or they use the fisherman and only the fishermen to go fishing at the lake. This guaranteed a resource. And then there's the nasty action which a player can take. Sending the bureaucrat to the administration office. Or spending crystals to create mood swings,not only to the workers, but also the players. This then just blatantly let's them move one of your disks of influence from a worker that will probably get you lots of points to another that's going to give you negative points. This can sometimes feel like a real kick in the nuts action to take. Even if it costs a crystal. Points win the games, while crystals can also contribute.
Apart from that, this is a real solid and interesting euro game. It seems well balanced in how you get points. Either from scoring from resource collecting and crystal depositing. To the influence and mood scoring. Though some players may have trouble trying to manage this second part of scoring or losing points, as it is player dependent. Plus it's a mechanism that is not frequently used, worker displacement and influence. Have to play with the leftovers of other players feels refreshing and also a little confusing. Possibly not everyone's cup of tea.
Even for a prototype, the components are very well realised for a euro style game. The rule book was very easy to digest, with a few added corrections and clarifications, it is near perfect. And the footprint of the box itself will not eat up a lot of shelf space. But saying all that, some of that is subject to change depending on the Kickstarter. There may be other components that add to the size of the book. Other rules that will add to the replayability or upgrades. These we will see in time. But if you're looking for a different type of solid and fluid euro, that has you thinking in a different fashion, as well as being fantastic themed, this is one you should be clicking on.
Starting on the 10th of September, is a Kickstarter based on a war that took place not far away from where we live. The Ardenne.
During one of the toughest battles fought in World War 2: the Battle of the Bulge, you face the difficult task to conquer three important roads in the Belgian city of Bastogne.
Clash of the Ardennes is played by 2 players, facing each other. The game board (+/- 20 x 40cm or 7.90 x 15.75 inch) exists out of 7 roads, which are empty at the start. Each player has 21 units and 4 special units at his or her disposal.
Each player takes turns. Each turn consists out of 4 action points. You can place a unit (1 action point), retreat a unit (2 action points), retreat a blocked unit (3 action points) or move a unit forward (2 action points). Eventually you will make contact with your opponent (clash) and need to decide what to do. Attack, block or retreat.
After different clashes on different roads, someone will eventually conquer a road by hitting the end of that road. He or she has 1 point. 2 to go...
Beware of a few things. Try not to use all of your units in the beginning, because at the end you will need them even more! Use the strength of your special units, they make a big difference. AND watch out for the spy!
(la version française est ci-dessous)
Everybody’s gaming experience will always be different. Due to the type of game played, who you're playing with, the facility of the games rules and whether you win or lose. This list could go on and on with other little points. But all these things contribute to whether you have a good or bad time sat around a table with others. But have you ever wondered if the table your sat at makes any difference!
The mode at the moment is to get a top quality game table. There are lots of companies out there now making custom-made tables for your classical board games, role-playing or even Warhammer. Having the space in your home and the money to afford one of these life-changing pieces of furniture, is a problem that a lot of us gamers have. Luckily, I am here to talk to you about a product that might be suitable for you. As it won't cost as much and does not take up as much space as one of these other luxury items. I'm talking about a Gamer Topper.
The Game Toppers were successful Kickstarter back in 2017. Unfortunately they were only available in the States. But guess what? They're coming back to Kickstarter. And this time they're is European distribution. The Game Topper was an idea thought up by my podcasting buddy Kevin Burkhardsmeier (Burky & Badger Board Game Babble). It's a cost-effective approach to having a gaming table in your home by simply sitting it on your existing table. Kevin has been generous enough to give me one of these Toppers to test out, and that's what I've been doing for the past 8 months. So let me delve into what this experience has been like.
So let's start with the game topic itself. It's two pieces of wood and aluminium, that are crafted in a way that they will lock together simply and create a sturdy table top. The aluminium created the frame for which the wood base forms the play area. On the underside of each piece are strips of this special rubber that grip to your existing table. And when I say grip, I mean it. Even with the table topper assembled, when I shake the Game Topper or try to slide it, the only thing that moves is the actual table that it is sat on. And that is impressive. It also does not leave a mark on my very expensive dining table or my very cheap plastic folding table.
On the aluminium frame there is a small groove that runs all along the topside.This is used as a card holder or token holder. And is set just far enough back that you can still place your elbows on and look at your cards. There is also another groove, slightly larger army outside of this rail. This is used to clip in accessories for the Game Topper. Such as Cup holders, component holders, writing trays and many other little things soon to be announced. These are very practical, especially as drinks holders will keep drinks off the table and security locked in. Although the version I have does not accommodate for cups of tea, (this is something that will change in the next version) it does hold every other type of glass and bottle. Another thing that the real will hold is a dice tower, made by Daedalus Productions. These are a nice addition to your game night, although you have to position these so the dice do not disrupt your game.
Finally there are the game mats. There are selection available, all with different designs. And they are neoprene. The 3mm thickness makes them slightly bouncy for your dice and make picking up cards with no fingernails, a doddle. Having a different colour map or a different themed mat adds a little fresh air two games that you've played many times. Choosing the right that also makes your game top of the table a little bit more. And they are also ever so easy to clean with a damp cloth. And talking about cleaning...
My Game Topper was delivered to me at the Essen spiel, where it was used as a demo table. I brought it back home to France and have used it many times with my friends. It has also been used as a demo table at the UK games Expo. That's a lot of travelling and a lot of grubby hands touching my stuff. But looking at it, you could not see that history. It still looks new and pristine as if it would just been purchased from the shop. A lot of that might be welcome to the wonderfully padded carry case that was given with the Topper. The two parts sliding quite easily although carrying it by yourself is quite a chore. But luckily it comes with two side handles so two people can transport this with ease.
I think that's about all I can say about it. So in summary, is this an accessory everybody should have?
(a new wood engraved trim)
Well let me tell you about my experience. For me, the top-up is a comfort as well as a luxury item. Adding an air of Elegance to every game that I have played on it. It definitely transforms my plastic table into a god. And I can't imagine playing without it. It looks graceful and it feels cozy and relaxing.Because of its extra height that it gives to your table, you'll be sat a little bit more upright. And the rounded corners, although cold to the touch due to the aluminium, do not annoy me like the hard edges of another table. I could rest my arms there all day. On the downside, whilst sat on my folded table, the top of itself actually concaves with the table. This leads me to worry that there may be some damage to it later on in his life. Although there is not the moment, which is good. Another bummer is the cup holders not holding mugs or tea cups, but as I said this is something that has been addressed with a new and improved cup holder. And last of my third world problems is where do I put my mats when I am not using them! Again, a storage solution is being looked into for the next Kickstarter.
I would say that this was something that you should invest in if you are looking for a gaming table. Also if you're a game publisher. As these make great little demo tables for your conventions and festivals. But don't just take my word for it, let's see what Arnauld and Guilou say:
Look out for the Kickstarter out which is starting on the 25th of June.
When Barry told me about the first time of the project, I was pretty puzzled. I imagined it more as a gadget for people who, like me, do not have a big budget. A table that "does the job" but does not have the charm of real one. Then he showed me (the table huh). I must admit that I was blown away.
Once installed, the game Topper looks like a real playing table. And not just any. You quickly forget the table below. Everything works and is well thought out. The ability to change the mat according to the game, the ability to change for accessories to facilitate the comfort of the game, in fact, nothing will ever move once inserted. The edges can give the impression of a plastic finish but eventually it works well and the inserts fits well overall. It's really a pleasure to play on it. On the other hand, if you do not leave it installed all the time, the question becomes, where do you store everything. Once in it’s carry bag. Especially since it comes in different sizes, it is possible to adapt it to your budget and your available location.
The materials used in the Topper are easily transportable. In addition, installation is done fairly quickly and rather simply. It's very nice. Same for accessories, everything is easy to clip. I was a little afraid to put objects a little heavy like a mug or a booklet on the supports, but everything holds and doesn’t move. Not to mention that despite the weight, there is neither a trace of damage on the "normal" table below. The system is pretty impressive.
If I could choose a table, without hesitation, I would crack for the Game Topper. It is a very good compromise between beauty, accessibility, comfort and practicality. As a player and lover of beautiful things, I can only recommend it.
The first time I saw the Game Topper, I was more than stunned. I had come to spend a night playing at Barry's house, and this table caught me by surprise. And he told me that he had brought back from Essen ... Impossible! At first glance, I didn't even see that the game topper was placed on his usual game table, I thought it was the table! Already interested in overpriced beautiful game tables, I confess to have been blown away by the finish: a beefy metal, a black paint; classic while being classy.
For players, it's true that playing on the Game Topper is super nice. The table does not move, it is at the right height and finally, covered from domestic accidents of the bottle or glass that spill over the game. The shelves are really multi-purpose: it holds cups, cake packages or chips, phones, rules of the game ... For comfort, the groove of the game topper that can hold the cards or tiles without having them in hand. Personally I have not used it, but on a game like Hanabi, it's downright awesome!
The game topper may appear as a gadget, but to have tried, it is really a table that brings a great comfort to play. The mats are customizable according to the desired mood, the accessories are practical and well thought out. With a folding table, it adds a magic touch, both at home and conventions, for a size that is not excessive in view of the final effect. Really a nice product that does a very good job, especially given the value for money!
win (gagner) a game topper
L’expérience de jeu d’une partie sera toujours différente selon les individus. Par exemple, elle peut dépendre du type de jeu joué, des personnes avec qui vous jouez, de la facilité des règles, du matériel et aussi du fait que vous gagniez ou perdiez. Cette liste de raisons pourrait continuer encore et encore. Toutes ces choses contribuent au final à savoir si vous allez passer un bon ou un mauvais moment assis autour d'une table avec d'autres joueurs. Mais vous êtes-vous déjà demandé si la table en elle-même avait un impact sur votre plaisir de jeu?
La mode actuelle consiste à acquérir une table de jeu de qualité supérieure. Il existe de nombreuses entreprises qui fabriquent actuellement des tables sur mesure pour vos jeux de société classiques, vos jeux de rôle voire même des jeux de figurines comme Warhammer. Il faut l’avouer avoir la chance d’avoir une de ces tables changent la vie. Mais ce n’est pas facile pour beaucoup de joueurs: manque de place, coûts trop importants... Heureusement, je suis ici pour vous parler d'un produit qui pourrait vous convenir. Une solution qui coûtera moins cher et qui ne prendra pas autant de place qu’une table de luxe. Je parle ici d'un Gamer Topper.
Les Game Toppers ont remporté un succès sur Kickstarter en 2017. Malheureusement, ils n'étaient jusque là disponibles qu'aux États-Unis. Mais devinez quoi? Ils reviennent sur Kickstarter. Et cette fois, c’est pour la distribution européenne. Le Game Topper est une idée imaginée par mon ami podcasteur Kevin Burkhardsmeier (Burky & Badger Board Game Babble). C'est une approche intéressante pour avoir une table de jeu dans votre maison, en effet vous l’installez simplement sur votre table existante. Kevin a été très généreux pour me donner l’un de ces Toppers dans l’optique de le tester, et c’est ce que je fais depuis huit mois. Alors laissez-moi vous plonger dans ce que cette expérience m’a procurée.
Commençons donc avec le Game Topper lui-même. Il s’agit de deux pièces de bois et d’aluminium conçues de telle manière qu’elles se verrouillent simplement entre elles et créent un plateau solide. L'aluminium a créé le cadre dont la base en bois constitue l'aire de jeu. Sur le dessous de chaque pièce se trouvent des bandes de ce caoutchouc spécial qui s’adapte à votre table existante. Et quand je dis grip, je le pense vraiment. Même lorsque le plateau de la table est assemblé, lorsque je secoue le Game Topper ou que je tente de le faire glisser, la seule chose qui bouge est la table sur laquelle il est assis. Et c'est impressionnant. Cela ne laisse pas non plus de traces sur ma très chère table à manger ou ma très bonne table pliante en plastique.
Sur le cadre en aluminium, vous verrez une petite rainure tout du long sur le dessus. Elle sert de porte-cartes ou de porte-jetons. Ce petit espace est plutôt bien situé, à tel point que vous pouvez toujours placer vos coudes et regarder vos cartes. Il y a aussi un autre creux, légèrement plus grande et en retrait. Ceci est utilisé pour clipser des accessoires pour le Game Topper. Tels que des porte-gobelets, des porte-composants, des bacs d'écriture et bien d'autres petites choses qui seront annoncés prochainement. Ces accessoires peuvent se révéler très pratiques, ainsi par exemple les buveurs garderont leurs boissons hors de la table. C’est une sorte de sécurité en plus non négligeable pour le bien de vos jeux. Bien que la version que j’ai ne permet pas de poser des tasses de thé, (c’est quelque chose qui changera dans la prochaine version), le porte-gobelet est valable pour tous les autres types de verre et de bouteille. Vous pouvez aussi y insérer une tour à dés, surtout celle réalisée par Daedalus Productions. C’est un ajout intéressant lors de votre soirée, bien que vous deviez bien les positionner afin que les dés ne perturbent pas votre partie.
Enfin, il y a les tapis de jeu que vous poserez sur le Game Topper. Il existe une sélection disponible, tous avec des conceptions différentes. Ils sont en néoprène. L'épaisseur de 3mm est parfait pour faire rouler vos dés sans trop de bruit et permet de ramasser ses cartes facilement sans utiliser ses ongles, un bonheur. Disposer d’un tapis en forme de cartes ou de couleur différente ou un tapis thématique suivant le type de jeu ajoute un peu de variété supplémentaire à deux jeux auxquels vous avez joué plusieurs fois. Choisir le bon à chaque partie peut augmenter le plaisir de jeu et le plaisir visuel de votre Game Topper. Sans compter qu’ils sont aussi très faciles à nettoyer notamment avec un chiffon humide. Peu importe les traces, tout se retire facilement et reste propre…
Mon Game Topper m'a été livré lors du Spiel d’Essen, où il a servi de table de démonstration. Je l'ai rapporté chez moi en France et je l'ai utilisé plusieurs fois avec mes amis. Il a également été utilisé comme table de démonstration à la UK Games Expo. Je vous laisse imaginer le nombre de voyages et de mains sales qui l’ont essayé ou touché. Mais en le regardant, vous ne pourriez pas vous en douter. Il semble toujours aussi neuf et vierge, comme s'il venait juste d'être acheté dans le magasin. Une mallette de transport merveilleusement rembourrée est fournie avec le Topper. Les deux parties qui le composent glissent assez facilement à l’intérieur, même si le transport par soi-même peut être difficile. Mais heureusement, il est livré avec deux poignées latérales pour que deux personnes puissent le transporter facilement et sans que cela soit trop lourd.
Je pense que c'est à peu près tout ce que je peux en dire. En résumé, est-ce un accessoire que tout le monde devrait avoir?
(une nouvelle garniture gravée sur bois)
Eh bien, laissez-moi vous raconter mon expérience. Pour moi, le Topper est à la fois un produit de luxe et un produit de confort. Cela donne de l'élégance en plus à chaque jeu joué dessus. Cela transforme définitivement ma simple table en plastique en un dieu ludique. Et je ne peux plus imaginer jouer sans. Le Topper donne un air gracieux, classieux. De plus, il est confortable et relaxant. En raison de la hauteur supplémentaire qu'il donne à votre table, vous serez assis un peu plus droit. Et les coins arrondis, bien que froids au toucher à cause de l'aluminium, ne me gênent pas autant que les bords durs et souvent pointus d'une autre table normale. Je pourrais reposer mes bras dessus toute la journée. En revanche, assis sur ma table pliée, le dessus du Topper suit le mouvement de celle-ci. Cela m'amène à craindre qu'il ne soit endommagé plus tard dans sa vie. Pour le moment, ce n’est pas le cas, ce qui est plus que bien. Un autre inconvénient provient des porte-gobelets. Les anciens ne pouvaient pas accueillir de mug ou de tasses à thé, mais, comme je l'ai dit, c'est un problème qui a été résolu avec un nouveau porte-gobelets amélioré. Enfin, le dernier de mes problèmes du “Tiers-Monde”, c'est: “où dois-je mettre mes tapis quand je ne les utilise pas!?!” Là encore, une solution de stockage est à l’étude pour le prochain Kickstarter.
Je dirais que le Game Topper est un produit dans lequel vous devriez investir si vous recherchez une table de jeu. Si vous êtes éditeur de jeux, cette table peut aussi vous faciliter la vie. Les Game Topper font de très bonnes petites tables de démonstration pour vos conventions et festivals. Mais ne vous fiez pas uniquement à ma parole, voyons ce qu’en disent Arnauld et Guilou:
Ne ratez pas le Kickstarter qui commence le 25 juin.
Lorsque Barry m'a parlé du projet la première fois, j'avoue que j'étais assez perplexe. J'imaginais ça plus comme un gadget pour les gens qui, comme moi, ne disposent pas forcément d'un gros budget. Une table qui « fait le boulot » mais qui n'a pas le charme des vrais tables. Puis, il me l'a montré (la table hein). Je dois avouer que j'ai été bluffé.
Une fois installée, le Game Topper ressemble à une vraie table de joueur. Et pas n'importe laquelle. On oublie rapidement la table en dessous. Tout est travaillé et bien pensé. La possibilité de changer le tapis en fonction du jeu, la possibilité d'ajouter des accessoires pour faciliter le confort de jeu, le fait que rien ne bouge une fois que tout est bien inséré. Les bords peuvent donner l'impression d'une finition plastique mais finalement ça fonctionne bien et ça s’insère bien dans l'ensemble. C'est réellement un plaisir que de jouer dessus.
Par contre, c'est sûr si vous choisissez de ne pas la laisser installer tout le temps, il faut prévoir un endroit où tout stocker. Même si, une fois dans sa mallette, la place requise reste relativement réduite. Surtout qu'il y en a des différentes tailles, pouvant ainsi s'adapter et à votre budget et à votre place disponible.
Les matériaux utilisés rendent le Game Topper pas si lourd et facilement transportable. De plus, l'installation se fait assez rapidement et plutôt simplement. C'est très agréable. Pareil pour les accessoires, tout se clipse facilement. J'avais un peu peur de poser des objets un peu lourd comme un mug ou un livret sur les supports, mais tout tient sans faire bouger le reste. Sans compter que malgré le poids, il n’y a pas de traces ou de dégâts sur la table “normale” en dessous. Le système est assez impressionnant.
Si je pouvais choisir une table, sans hésiter, je craquerais pour le Game Topper. C'est un très bon compromis entre beauté, accessibilité, confort et praticité. En tant que joueur et amateur de belles choses, je ne peux que le recommander.
La première fois que j'ai vu le game topper, j'ai été plus qu'étonné. Je venais passer une soirée jeu chez Barry qui m'avait fait la surprise de cette table. Et lui de m'annoncer qu'il l'avait ramener d'Essen... Impossible ! D'ailleurs au premier coup d'oeil, je n'avais même pas vu que le game topper était posé sur sa table de jeu habituel, je pensais que c'était une table ! Déjà intéressé par les belles tables de jeu hors de prix, j'avoue avoir été bluffé par la finition: un métal bien costaud, une peinture noire; classique tout en étant classe.
Pour des joueurs, c'est vrai que jouer sur le game topper est hyper agréable. La table ne bouge pas, elle est à la bonne hauteur et surtout fini les accidents domestiques de la bouteille ou du verre qui se renversent sur le jeu. Les tablettes sont vraiment à usage multiples: on y pose les gobelets, les paquets de gâteaux ou de chips, les téléphones, les règles du jeu... Au confort, la rainure du game topper qui permet de tenir les cartes ou les tuiles sans les avoir en main. Personnellement je ne l'utilise pas, mais sur un jeu comme Hanabi, c'est carrément génial!
Le game topper peut apparaître comme un gadget, mais pour l'avoir essayé, c'est vraiment une table qui amène un grand confort de jeu. Les tapis sont customisables selon l'ambiance voulue, les accessoires sont pratiques et bien pensés. Avec une table pliante ça fait un sacré effet aussi bien à la maison qu'en convention, pour un encombrement qui n'est pas excessif en vu de l'effet final. Vraiment un beau produit qui fait très bien le job, surtout au vu du rapport qualité/prix !
Are you a "quoter?"
I am that player, always referencing line from films while thinking that I'm going to win. And what better way to do that than in a game that encourages it.
What is your favourite film to quote?
Mine is Ghostbusters (you'll be surprise what games it works with)
Badasses is finally here...well, not here...Kickstarter
"In an alternative near future, Badass Force is the name of the most popular live show of the ultra-net. Like The Ninja Warriors before it and Big Brother before that, contestants go into a battle arena, not as themselves, but as someone else. Before the show became a household name, historical leaders were pitted against one another. All due to the holographic projects suits the contestants ware. Yes, holographic technology is here and over the course of many years, many players have gone head to head, taken on the looks and skill of Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Vlad The Impaler and even Cleopatra.
But after a large fire, all historical documents were lost and data destroyed. And the show runners had to find something else to reference. Now, our culture is now limited to the action movies of the end of 20th century / early 21st century and many of those recordings have deteriorated. And it is these distorted figured that are now used in the arena. As well as "Guns, Attitude and Bluffing." This week you have finally been selected and it is your turn to fulfill your destiny and prove you are the most Badass in Badass Force!"
Bluffing & deduction are key...but laughs are too
Here is a short, abbreviated version of the rules I did for the Funky Sheep team.
And here is a play-through that brings a tear to my eye. Yes, this video is side splitting demonstration of how the game plays. With jokes a plenty. And, you'll notice that I'm not at my usual office, but at the Holy Grail office.
You'll get to see that cool hammer with the unpronounceable name, plus Jamie Johnson and Owen Hermsen. Big thank you guys for a great game.
Join in on this movie fun and on the Kickstarter by clicking the link below.
Racing games are one of the core mechanics that you are introduce to when discovering board games as a child. From Snakes and Ladders to Pachisi. And the many other knock off, cheap crappy games that are aimed at the kids market. Dice are attached to these games as a way to gain speed. Luckily, we have moved on in the regards of this basic Roll n' Move system, that haunts many a memory in gamers. One racing game that stands out and that I love in particular is Jamaica. In fact, it's the only racing game I own.
Less than 10 years ago, I saw this other racing game that looked right up my ally. Being a bit of a Rally fan, (not the real thing but of the Playstation titles) I was tempted to pick up this game, called Rallyman. A game where one player would create a course. Then traverse that course in the quickest possible time, without damaging the car or coming off the track. Then do it again, to try and beat the previous time. And again. And again... I never did get it. Then it sold out! It was a great success and still to this day, has a devoted fan base.
Well, the wheel has turned and the game is coming back. To Kickstarter. And I finally got a chance to test the game, even though it was in prototype form. And I am content with what I saw and how it played. I will not be giving a full review here, as so far, I have only played it once. That will come a little later, so watch this space.
This new, sparkling edition is being brought to us by Holy Grail Games, who gave us "Rising 5" earlier this year. It will feature a new way to play the game. Competitively. Yes, you will be racing on the track against other players, as well as the solo, time attack mode. It also has a new modular board system, so circuits can be made, as well as “point A” to “point B” routes. Lots of new art and probably a lot of new cars to race with. But at it's core, it's the same system.
To play, racers will be given a turn order to play, based on their current speed and position. Then, one by one, they will plot a trajectory with speed dice and then with those dice used, roll them. Either “flat out,” rolling all at the same time. Or steadily, one by one. You'll be trying to avoid the hazard signs, marked on the dice. Rolling too many of these will cause you to damage your car or come off the track. That's it. Simple. But there are also some little detail that will lead to compelling and competitive races. Details like, your tyre choice and the weather conditions. And of course, the course itself. Obstacles and bends will have you changing lanes and slamming on the breaks. All for the glory of crossing the line in first place.
As I said, the game is coming to Kickstarter. You can check it out on the following link.
Here is a rules video that will show you how easy the game is to learn.
a grime world
Zombie board games can be found everywhere. It is one of those subjects that are a recurring theme in our hobby and they don't show any signs of stopping. There are one's that feel like your taking part in a Night of the Living Dead. Other that make you feel you are in 28 Days Later. Some that sink you into the deaths of the worst B-movies of this genera. But this little card game has the feel a little TV show called the Walking Dead.
In that respect, Rick Grimes is always putting a team together and holding up in some place until the hopeful end of this plague of zombies dies out. But every time, his house is given a 'once over' by an outside group of survivors, that will brake up his team or kill a few of them, but most definitely bring an attack of those walkers into the mix as well. And that is what you'll be doing too. Creating a team of like minded characters, use their ability's to your advantage, maybe score some points. Then another player will steal one of your team. Or leave your door open, so the horde walks straight into your camp, slaughtering your friends, leaving you alive to witness this massacre. Just like the Walking Dead, the zombies are the backdrop. The real enemy's are sat to the left of you and the right.
This is all done in a very light humoured, quick playing card game fashion. Everyone will be given a hand of cards that, at the beginning of the game will be drafted with the others players at the table. Each person taking one card from that hand, to form their own deck, before passing on the remains of those cards to the next player. This gives everyone at the table a chance to analyse what cards are available at the beginning of the game, as there are several types and you may wish to collect a certain set. There are a scattering of zombie cards. Some event cards. And a large chunk of survivors from four different factions and some that belong to none.
On your turn, you'll recruit characters from your hand into your camp. These need to be of the same faction, so no mixing of Hippies and Punks is allowed. Although the neutral characters can slide into any camp without causing a fuss. Each faction has strengths and weakness, plus all of the three ability's that the game has to offer. But all of these are in different moderations. Hippies have more chance of manipulating. Survivalists are more violent with attacks, where as Economists, Punks and the Neutrals have their own holes and forces. This makes choosing the faction you want to use and important stepping block. Although you may have in your hand, three Survivalists that can search but have no other ability.
reinforce those walls!!!
Having characters in your camp means that you can use these ability's as actions, but within boundaries. Having placed those three search worthy Survivalists, you can only search with one of them. If you had characters with the attack and manipulation action, you could also preform those. One of each of course. Having diverse characters that can do a bit of everything is a bonus, as they can do their secondary action instead. Having this limit puts pressure on the player as they puzzle out, who does what. Added to that is that once a character has activated, it is exhausted and laid on it's side and will only stand back up at the beginning of your next turn. Where as those that are not used are left standing. Technically, they are standing guard of your camp. If any intruders come along, they are your first line of defence and will die in the line of duty, if attacked by the zombies. Or even worse, another player. You will feel the pinch of pressure as you decide, who is expendable and who is useful, every turn.
There is a bonus to having a great number of people in your camp, as you can transform four characters into one victory point. That sounds easy, yes? And it is easy. Plus, using their ability's before hand is big bonus as once this is done, they are removed from the game, leaving your camp empty and your hand a little thin. You'll feel a little naked and unprepared for an attack. Mind you, it probably wont be the zombies that come after you, as they have their own objective. It will be the other players. If you have no one defending your camp, they may attack to make you discard a card from your hand. If that card is the last one in your hand, you are neutralised and have to also hand over one of your victory points to them. Nasty humans!
must eat cardzzzzz!
That bonus of having a great number of cards to do almost anything and everything you want, has a down side. If at the end of your turn, the player with the most cards, in their camp and hand, will become an automatic target for the zombies attack. This doesn't happen once or twice...no, no! This happens every players turn. Now, you may be lucky as there may not be any zombies in the Downtown area of the game, which is the centre of the table. But that will be more than unlikely as zombie will amass when a character defending a camp, is killed. Or when players decide to discard cards zombies from their hand to deplete the likelihood of being the automatic appetiser for the horde. You can also discard and survivors from your hand to Downtown. These stay as survivors that anyone can recruit on their turn, with a bit of manipulation. You'll do all of this, just to avoid being attacked by the horde. But is it worth it. Sometimes it's better to be picked on by the zombies than the other players. What do “THEY” want? To see you defenceless! Or see you have your potentially good cards given away!
This back and forth of eyeing up your opponents and judging whether certain risks are worth taking, are what this game is about. It is a real “Dog eat Dog” world. Of course, players could work together to keep the horde at bay...But that wont happen.
let the zombie win
Event cards are also in the mix and can be played at anytime. You may be worried that they can mainly be used to knock over other players sandcastles as “Take That” cards. Fret ye not! They are more defensive. Diverting a zombie attack or give you a few more cards. They even helping cull the numbers in the horde. So, not so Munchkin like as it looks. In fact, the amount of brain strain you will get from this game is quite high. Every card has a variety of uses, not just to keep your score or count the number of zombies. Balancing out your actions by the amount of cards you play, trying not to be the target of the zombie, while at the same time painting a target on your chest, is difficult. There is a lot of ducking an diving, playing lots of action then playing none. It may be a bit back and forth for some players, never feeling like your advancing in the score department. But it is a intense, player dependant and interactive game. The fact that there are different ways to play, are a bonus. You can tweak the game to your suit your level, making it harder or easier. I have only play tested the normal version and therefore can not comment on how these extra ways to play feel. I will say that I do like the idea of the size of the horde as the zombie victory point on the casual mode, in comparison to the zombies having an independent score pile. Coz the zombies can win as well...
this ain't no munchkin
Talking of that, a draw back is the fact that the game uses nothing but the cards. They are your VP's, the zombies VP's, the horde and of course, the characters and events. This can sometime get a little confusing on the table and in the aftermath of an action. As you can mistake the horde for their score or even when discarding a card from your hand, does it become a VP, zombie or go straight to the graveyard. Some other components would have been nice. Tokens, markers or a score board to register all this information. Even just a play mat to represents Downtown would benefit the game, indicating where everything goes...Maybe a stretch goal!
The art has a layer of dark comedy behind its grim and bleak cartoon designed. The zombie, well, they all kind of look the same. But the character art is very distinct for each person. You can even tell which character is which from across the table, thanks to the colour pallets used and the shapes and forms of each. On close inspection, you with see lots of in-joke, mainly movie references on the mashed up survivors. For example, Claude-San is a mix of The Bride from Kill Bill and Walter Sobchak from The Big Labowski. As in Munchkin, this humour only traverses the first viewing of each card. After that, it's just a face.
All in all, a game that has teeth and looks that are deceiving. Not so Munchkin as you think. Although the actions are simple, you can accidental mix up rule sets, causing a little confusion at the table. And as simple as those actions are, you will be scratching your head for a while, when your turn comes around. A very, in you face, small and quick playing game that does a lot with minimal components. Playing with fewer player can be very aggressive, as I found in a three player game. More players, I believe would be more fun, as there would be time for you to breath in-between turns, a chance to regroup your camp and your thoughts. You will feel hot and clammy after playing this, just like Rick does after thing turn to crap. And maybe you'll end the game with a splash of blood across your face.
Me, of course!