Crime zoom: his last card (2020) review
The game we are going to talk about today is part of directly in line with the games that are currently very popular. Small priced, small boxes that offer an investigation or challenges to be solved in a limited time. Do you know what I'm talking about? Yes that's right, all those games derived from Unlock! and Escape Games in general. Since the (deserved) success of this style of games, each publisher tries to release THEIR success and its series of works which will deviate from the beaten track and impose themselves in the circles of gamers. Among the whole wave of more or less successful Escape Game lookalikes, a new genre has emerged: minimalist investigation games. Minimalist because it is a complete set condensed in a small box with small components. Crime Zoom in which we are going to talk about here, is a perfect example.
In view of the zero replayability of the title and in the concern of not spoiling the game for you, this review will be a little special because in the images and in the text we have posted there is nothing that will reveal anything at all of all the content or the progress of the game's plot. In terms of images, we have chosen famous investigators. It's like that, it's a gift (will you be able to find them all?).
Crime Zoom: The latest investigation card game from Stéphane Anquetil is being published by the small French company Aurora Games. And the game is brought to life with the illustrations of Cetteilart, Julien Long and Christopher Matt.
In the box, you’ll find 55 cards and the rules of the game. Yes that's it. Minimalistic says it all. The challenge is the size: to come up with an interesting investigation with very little materials. Note that already 15 of these cards will be used to illustrate the crime scene. Mission accomplished ?
For the record ... You play as an American investigative team in the 80’s. One evening, you are called to go to the scene of a crime which took place in a small apartment in Brooklyn. For once, you are early, and you arrive before everyone else. The door is locked from the inside. Once you enter, the entire crime scene is in front of you. The body is still there and nothing has been moved. This scene, represented by a series of cards placed end to end to form a large illustration, is the start of your investigation. Now it's up to you to investigate ... to play.
Crime Zoom is above all an investigation / deduction game. No tests, no calculations, no puzzles are on the program. Here, deduction, attention to detail, logic and intuition will be required. Each crime scene card is double-sided. Behind the original illustration is information, potential leads or just zoom-ins on elements of the scenery that you have spotted or not. The detailed illustrations contribute to the general atmosphere of the game. Nothing is left to chance.
Crime Zoom is purely cooperative (although an optional variation exists to turn it into competitive). Your group should complete the survey together. Your mission ? Find the murderer (necessarily) but not only that ... you will also need the motive, the murder weapon and maybe the place where the murderer is to be able to stop him. But beware, here unlike other games of the same genre, it is important to remember everything. No guesswork, you will need the exact locations and number of the cards that led you to your answers. A good investigator must be precise in their answers. It would be a shame to blame the wrong person, right?
In Crime Zoom, there is no real game turn. You are free to talk among yourselves (it is even extremely recommended) and to decide collectively which card or which road to follow. Once the collegial decision is made, a player turns over the chosen card and reads aloud what is indicated. Sometimes you will have test results, sometimes there are leads to follow, sometimes nothing and sometimes false indications to waste your time. The end of the game comes when you are ready to deliver your verdict. So you can finish the game whenever you want. But be careful in the submission of the final questions which will determine your level in the investigative powers. This level is a means of scoring which will be done according to your answers and your speed in which you solve the mystery. You will earn stars that will give you a ranking. But I might as well tell you right away, the game being a one shot, it would be a shame not to savor it by rushing just to "win". Because in the end the salt of the game is the plot and its resolution and not whether you have two or twelve stars (I don't know if that's possible). You would lose a lot and miss not only the story but essentially the game.
The game plays roughly for one hour (a little less for us). The rules are short and read very quickly. Once started in the game, there is no need to double check the rules. The immersion is total. Everything is indicated on the cards, no mistakes, typos or errors. No interpretation of the rules. Everything is clear and limpid. On this, the game really plunges you into the investigation and gets to the point. It is very pleasant and enhances the pleasure of the game.
Crime Zoom is not a game that will make a difference in the world of gameplay. As you have seen, it's very simple and not necessarily original. But. Where the game draws its strength is in the investigation and its ability to immerse you in a plot with so little material and in such a short time.
The strength of Crime Zoom lies in its writing and well-constructed script. The investigation is well put together, the clues are logical and everything is well done. It will sometimes make you think of the master of the genre: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective less "successful" and faster, nec
I admit that I was very skeptical about the game, expecting yet another “narrative” card game. But very quickly, we were caught in the plot and in the simplicity of the gameplay which leaves a lot of room for pleasure and immersion. Even if it can be played from 1 to 6 players, in my opinion it is really good for two. In addition, the concern for the readability of the whole may arise. Solo, it is fully playable, even if you inevitably lose the multiple opinion’s voiced by the other players.
Crime Zoom is a game you can enjoy. Do not hesitate to study, look carefully at each card to best resolve the investigation. Sometimes it will take you to other locations, represented by other cards. Places that will also have to be looked at carefully because the clues are sometimes in the details of the illustrations. Once again, these integrate perfectly and provide a significant plus. Hurrying too much will make you miss out on a very enjoyable fun experience. Finally, it’s just that. Crime Zoom: His Last Card is consumed as any good thriller or a good investigative film. The kind of work that gives you the flexibility to follow the investigation and allow you to have your suspicions throughout the story just upto the resolution, maybe with unexpected twists or its final real reveal.
But this first test, despite its many qualities, is not quite perfect. As much to say it right away, these defects are in no way crippling to the game.
The first is inherent in this type of game. It's the one-shot side. Some may criticize and find fault with the mechanical choice. It is true that once resolved, there is no reason to go back to it. But like a good thriller, the game allows you to experience a unique investigation. A playful pleasure enhanced by a low price tag. At this price, you will be immersed in a well-crafted police investigation. And above all nothing prevents you from sharing it with your friends or family once it has been resolved. And all this for the price of a cinema ticket.
The second criticism that we can make (it must be) is the complexity of this first investigation in not that. If you're used to this genre, you'll quickly find what it's all about and it will find it easy to dismiss the wrong leads. From my memory, the demonstration version I played was a little more robust, so we hope that this will be a preferred option for the future.
Crime Zoom is a real good surprise. Small game, small box, small price but great fun. A successful cocktail. Clever, the game has a surprising depth for its category. I rediscovered the pleasure of a Sherlock Holmes scenario for a limited playing time. Open to everyone, gamer or the more family-oriented, Crime Zoom is a game that gives you great freedom in terms of time, but also in terms of choices. All in all, a freedom of intervention, leaving you free to carry out the investigation while reframing yourself so as not to get lost. Ideal so as not to waste too much time and prevent the scenario from getting bogged down. If you love investigative games, it would be a shame to miss this one. Far from being a simple clone, Crime Zoom starts from a simple and relatively well-known concept to make it a clever and easily shared game. Several other scenarios are currently in preparation and I admit that I can not wait to discover them. Aurora is definitely a small publisher to follow because of its choice of range and its production concerns.
Technical score 9/10
Easily transportable, this game offers you the possibility of solving this mystery anywhere and especially sharing it with your friends or your family. No mistakes, gripping illustrations, with simple and effective rules that immerses you directly in the game.
My BGG score 9/10
Excellent - very much enjoy playing.
A very pleasant surprise and a great pleasure to have played this game. It is easy to get caught up in the game and the investigation can be followed with pleasure. We would have liked a little more challenge but for a first try it is already very well done. The simplicity of the system makes it possible to play it with anyone for a very reasonable time and price.
Combined score 9/10
Now it's your turn ...
Copenhagen: Roll & Write (2019) review
Bonjour and welcome to this beautiful city of Copenhagen. Capital of Denmark, this big city has its own charm. Among the treasures it shelters, you will have the opportunity, during your strolls, to notably discover The Little Mermaid of Eriksen. This emblem of the city sits proudly in the port ....
Sorry? What do you mean? Have you ever read that somewhere? But that's impossible, this is a new game. I would not dare to repeat the same sentences and repeat the test. You want me too? Checked ? If you insist. So Copenhagen ... Ah. Yes indeed. We’ll forget all this and start again?
Right now, one of the game mechanisms that is all the rage is roll & write (in other words, " throw dice and write results"). These are simple little games to learn, playable anywhere and generally everyone having a huge success with. Many publishers or designers therefore decide to adapt their great classics in this format. This transformation is often done most often for the worse ... but sometimes also for the better.
Copenhagen Roll & Write is therefore an adaptation of the Copenhagen game. I had the chance to play the latter and I gave you a review some time ago. You can find it here.
For this new version, released during Essen 2019, we find the same team behind. The duo of designers Asger Harding Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen immerse themselves in the charm of this Scandinavian city and called on Markus Erdt for the illustrations. The publisher in charge of this game is also the same: Queen Games. There is no denying that we are on familiar ground. And that's just the beginning.
Indeed, after reading the rules, the game takes us back into this atmosphere. If you've played the board game, the version Roll & Write will be very familiar to you. We thus find our buildings, composed of columns, in order to create the façades as well as possible. The coats of arms are also there. The facade tiles will be used again to efficiently fill our buildings. But then it's the same game? Yes ... but above all no.
Roll & Write requires, the material of the board game gives way to paper and dice. Each player has an individual sheet. The large grid will represent the building (on the right) and new tracks corresponding to the colors of the facade tiles (on the left). Above each, there is its own score track. But that's not all. In the center of the table, you will have previously installed a Facade block. This block will simulate the façade tiles still available for purchase. Finally, exit these pages, making way for the dice. You have a nice set of five dice representing colors.
In Copenhagen Roll & Write, the goal of the game is to have the most points at the end. The game ends at the end of a round where a player has reached or exceeded twelve points. If you don't pay attention, it can quickly happen. It is important to keep this in mind. The game makes the racing side feel more strongly than its predecessor.
On their turn, the active player will roll the five dice. Depending on the result, they will be able to select one and only one facade tile to add it to their building. Of course to collect a tile, they must respect certain constraints.
But before talking about them, a little detour on the facade block. This is divided into two parts. The part on the left, under the infinite symbol, corresponds to the tiles which are always available. On the other hand, those on the right, under the extended X symbols, are for single use. First come, first served.
Facade tiles are therefore the forms that you will use to fill your building. To use a tile, you must have the right number of dice equal to the size and equally that they are all of the same color. For example, if you want a red tile with four squares, you must have four red (or white wild) dice. In addition, the chosen tile must still be available, without it being crossed out. If the chosen tile is in the single use section, you must cross it out after, to indicate that it has been used.
Once you have made your selection, you will draw it on your building. You’ll find the rules of construction the same as the original game. You can orient the tile as you wish and you must draw it on the lowest available square or directly on top of another tile. After drawing, you must put an X (the walls) in one of the boxes of your choice and in the rest of the O (the windows).
You’ll find the same system of notations. If by drawing you complete a row or a column, you immediately score points.
Small subtleties, you may have to unlock a coat of arms by designing your facade. The thing is very simple, you just need to complete a row or column attached to a coat of arms. The coats of arms are fairly strong bonuses that will help you with your goal. Once a coat of arms has been validated, you must tick it to indicate it has been done. Each completed coat of arms gives you one action out of two:
So now is the time to tell you about this little novelty, the capacity tracks. The active player's turn at this time is over. But the others are not to be outdone. Among the remaining dice (therefore not used), and I insist on that, the other players can choose a dice and fill a box on one of their tracks according to its color. The tracks will allow you to unlock bonuses (the +) or capacities (the star) that can be used at any time. Bonuses are used to modify the results of the dice by increasing their number up to two (using up to two bonuses). Capabilities allow rules to be changed while they are in use. However, to achieve this, there must be dice to select ... If the active player uses everything, you can not check off anything. And that's all.
This is how the explanation of this little game ends. I must not hide it, the two games are very very close. One can even wonder about the interest of having created this version. The rules are almost the same, the way to play remains similar, the operating logic could come closer. Copenhagen and Copenhagen Roll & Write are a bit like playful twins. And yet.
Despite these very close resemblances, Roll & Write manages to offer different sensations. Certainly, you lose the interest of touching the pieces of the board game but you win the chance to roll dice, the stronger possibility of controlling it with the abilities. Surprisingly, over the duration of the game, the two games are announced as being identical. In fact, Roll & Write seems less sluggish, less repetitive or even more pleasant to play.
Transportable everywhere, or almost, the game remains limited to four players (maybe because of the length or lack of tiles). It is fun to play it in all configurations, and this time you can even play it alone (even if you lose a lot of interest).
Why “transportable almost everywhere”? Isn't that the advantage of Roll & Write? Normally, this is actually one of their advantages. This is also the case here ... but the sheets of paper are large. This provides undeniable visibility and playing comfort. On the other hand, you lose on the side "we’ll play in a very small corner" and take it anywhere. Even if it is true that there is always a way to mitigate that, the game is less practical than other competitors.
The idea of the facade block is really well instigated. While offering a rendering close to physically pocketing tiles, it accentuates the racing side of the game. The unique tiles can quickly melt in the sun if you take too much too think about them. Admittedly, filling your building with simple tiles greatly lengthens the construction time and further reduces the possibility of victory. But the important thing is to have the pen in the eye and the overview to succeed in beautifying this beautiful city.
It would be an affront if I didn’t talk about the theme, absent, or the fact that there are still no bags in the box (good ok here it is useless). Another unfortunate thing, the absence inside the box of pens or pencils. I always find it difficult to understand that for a game of this type, this kind of accessory is not provided. Japanese publishers do it well, so why not Western publishers?
However, I wanted to come back to one positive point: the size of the box. I already talked a little about it with Clash Of Vikings. Here, Queen Games has created an intermediate box size. This size is quite unique but has the big advantage of not offering anything superfluous. At a time when space is running out on our shelves, and being fed up of empty boxes, we are beginning to be heard. I don't know if this will be a new habit on their part, but if it is, I can only encourage it. Everything fits in the box and when opened there is no vacuum. Hope it lasts. In any case, a good point for Queen Games.
Replayability level, the game offers enough challenge and renewal to allow you to play it again and again. I would even dare to say that you get tired of it less than your elder. Which is quite strange considering the proximity of the two games.
Copenhagen Roll & Write is a good surprise for me. Far from being a simple true copy of the original, it offers different playing sensations. The little tricky side in addition allows you to try to catch the others. Even if it happens quite rarely in the end, it offers this welcome little pressure boost. If we lose out on the tactile tiles, we gain by handling dice and creating our own facade with our pen. This little Tetris side is always present for our greatest pleasure. The size of the box and the fact that it can be more easily transported make it an advantage. Even if the question of duplication is completely legitimate, as is the question of questioning the need for both.
Copenhagen Roll & Write is a clever, simple, transportable and easily playable game (the front block as well as the player cards still take up a little space). For once, given the low price, it would be a shame to deprive yourself. Unfortunately, the game arrived at the height of the, Roll & Write boom. Faced with other serious competitors, with better visibility, the game was put forward with a little less boom. It's a shame because it has real good ideas and interesting assets. Without being an essential in the field, Copenhagen has everything of the great games. It is part of this very pleasant family of games, but drowned in the mass of outings like it. And yet, it is with pleasure when the games are linked.
Technical note 9/10
For a game of this type, the components are adequate. Even if it improves the comfort of play, the size of the blocks and sheets is a little large to facilitate transportation easily. It looks like the game is between two worlds: the board game and the roll & write. The icons are readable, the rules well written and everything is explained quickly. A big plus: the size of the box. But no pencils inside ...
My BGG score 8/10
Very good - enjoy playing and would suggest it.
Relatively similar to its big brother, roll & write offers a little more fun. At a low price, you have great replayability and some light moments of reflection. We can however regret the lack of real novelties which would completely differentiate it from its elder and which would justify its existence. Without being "THE writing game", it deserves in any case more light than others in its category.
Combined score 8.5 / 10
Now it's your turn to play ...
Frontier Wars (2019) review
The second world war is one of the most discussed and used themes in any medium. Of course, in our playful passion is no exception. Infact, one of the first things that comes to mind when we bring up the subject, is the big wargames. You know, these games with lots of rules and pieces of cardboard as units. These games which make us relive the event for hours and which require a minimum of commitment. These games that ... oops sorry. Yes ... you know what I mean.
Our game creators are however very inventive on this theme. The mechanics used are quite varied from one game to another. If you take for example: Mémoire 44 , Blitzkrieg !: World War Two in 20 Minutes, V-Commandos, Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition or Hitler's Reich: WW2 in Europe, the five games talk about the same theme or rather the same context but their treatment is totally different. Finally, this period and this event in particular are sources of constant inspiration. I must admit, for our greatest pleasure.
The game we are going to talk about today takes you back to the heart of the Second World War. Frontier Wars is a Spanish Kickstarter game from the publisher Eclipse Editorial, in partnership with Draco Ideas. The author, Manuel Agustín Burrueco Pizarro, suggests that we head one of the four main belligerent nations.
But here, we are not fighting for control of a continent, we are not reliving the events of the Second World War. The scale chosen is much more limited and less historic. Frontier Wars is a zone control game on fictional maps that you have just constructed. You are free to create new "historic" missions or to build on what already existed. The basic idea is enticing: immerse yourself in an experience close to an RTS (such as Command & Conquer or Hearts of Iron). Attractive isn't it?
First of all, you will have to choose from the four factions available: USSR, Germany, Great Britain and the United States of America. Each faction has its own troops (represented by figurines) and especially its own individual board. Each of them has two sides. Both sides offer you different starting resources and life points for your headquarters. To know that each faction has different initial resources and capacities. The game offers a little asymmetry between the factions.
Once the destiny of your nation is in hand, move on to the general installation. You will need to prepare the three decks of cards according to their types: attack orders, defense orders and tactical orders. Then you need to install the tray. You have the choice to take a predefined scenario (your choice in the booklet depending on the number of players) or create one by yourself. You’ll prepare by placing the starting troops and draw the cards provided ... that the battle begins.
There are three ways to win the battle:
The game is divided into several rounds, themselves divided into several phases.
At the start of the round, you’ll check who has the initiative. Calculating the points each player has and the player with the most points becomes the first player. Attention, except for the medals, the points from territories are not permanent. If you lose them ... you lose the associated points. But everything is recounted only in this phase. It is also at this time that the players check if there is a winner.
Then, each player will draw a number of cards equal to 1 + the cities under their control. Players are free to choose which deck to draw from. Then comes the reinforcement phase. Depending on the buildings constructed or owned, players can recruit a troop in locations.
Now move on to the most intense phase: the action phase. You are free to do one or more actions, but the order of execution is strict.
You can play one (and only one) attack order card and apply its effects. These cards are powerful and must be played at the right time. However, as you have the possibility of drawing every round and your hand has a limit, be careful not to keep too much.
You can now move your troops. Each troop has its own movements, in other words the number of spaces it can cover. But be careful, as soon as a unit passes through a hostile zone (containing enemy figurines), it must stop to engage in combat. With the exception of planes that can fly over areas carrying troops (in total: two infantry / artillery).
If you are in an enemy-free zone, outside of a city or an airport or a marsh and there is not already a construction there, then you can sacrifice a troop to create a factory or a camp. Attention, for this structure to be active, you must have an infantry available on the tile. If there is none, not only is this building inactive (it earns you nothing and you will not be able to recruit on it) but in addition it does not belong to you. Each player begins the game with a limited number of structures. When you build a building, you earn a medal as a reward.
Once all this is done, you’ll move on to the resolution of the battles. Battles are initiated if new units enter a contested space. The attacker chooses in what order the clashes will resolve. For each engagement, the players will position their figurines on the battle board. Each type of troops has its location and its attack turn, which itself is different depending on whether you are attacking or defending. You start the battle with the unit having the highest initiative, then continue according to the table. Each troop attacks once and causes damage. The units are destroyed in order of priority (infantry first ...). The winner of the battle wins a medal (whether attacking or defending). For each confrontation, the assailant can play a defense card and apply its instructions.
Sometimes, following clashes, buildings can be destroyed. They are not removed from the game but simply put on their ruined side. A player can decide to repair it by spending a troop on this space even if it is not the source of its construction. This does not grant them medals but it can use them normally and according to normal rules. This possibility is also available for conquered enemy headquarters (in a game with more than two players).
Last possible action, play a tactical order. Like attack orders, you can only have one tactical card per turn.
The last phase of a turn before "clean up", corresponds to the arms race. At this point in the game, you can choose a resource card from your hand face down under your board. Each card has a value ranging from 1 to 3. Generally, the higher the value, the more powerful the power is (therefore sometimes difficult choices). These added values give you your technological advancement. If it reaches the limit indicated in the scenario, you win immediately. Be careful though, the number of possible cards is limited by your number of medals.
Finally, one proceeds to the “clean up” of the troops in excess on the spaces and of the cards in excess in his hand. Then it's the next player. Continue like this until there is a winner.
Unfortunately, I missed the kickstarter and, to date, I only have a retail version. I admit having recovered this a little bit by chance. Big thank you to the one who gave it to me. As Frontier Wars is a real surprise, and a very good one above all.
Under the air of simple games, barely eight pages of rules, Frontier Wars offers a real challenge. Far from being a simple positioning and area control game, the game is a real race where each action counts, each card played can bring you closer to victory, but each bad decision or badly timed thing can make you fail. Simple in operation, it provides immediate pleasure. The game has great ideas, like the medals. These earn you permanent victory points, but only every two medals. Suddenly, you are a little forced to try to win, especially since the arms race also depends on them. So, you are forced to play with others to try to acquire them by fighting or building. Impossible to play alone in your corner. Especially since the map is generally small.
This constant pressure reinforces a pervasive interaction. You always have to be careful what other people are doing, where they are, what they are doing, the cards played, how many are there, etc. There may be welcome reversals. The choice to have made the majority of points won non-permanent increases this pressure. The technological race offers a round counter, which, if you are not careful, can hurt a lot. At the same time, thinking about the use of powerful cards to obtain it can cause long periods of hesitation. The choices are multiple and feel great when found.
The system of contested tiles is also very well thought out. You are forced to bring in new troops to try to conquer the area, or you must leave it at the risk of letting the other earn the bonuses. It can also be used as leverage to prevent a player from scoring points or receiving bonuses. As in chess, you have to know when to lose in order to win better.
Regarding replayability, it is very important. In addition to the available scenarios, the possibility of creating random maps, the choice of boards A or B, drawing cards, adding mini rules to make the whole more complex (such as fog of war, special tiles, trenches ...), the ability to play as a team and the weather, the game also has two expansions: trucks and new armies. Trucks were mini extensions available during the kickstarter. Unfortunately, I only have the rules and not the components. So, I haven't tried it yet. As for the real expansion, it adds two new factions: the French and the Japanese; new maps and some variations. Unfortunately (again), I can't find a copy and haven't been able to play it yet (but if you know a way I'm interested and I will hasten to make a return and I do not speak to you not buildings and ...). The slight asymmetrical side at the start also allows a bit of renewal.
Component level, I was at the start a little puzzled about the choice of tiles. But once assembled, it gives the stamp of an old war map. This looks really good and justifies the scale of the figures compared to the rest. Matias Cazorla and Jaime González García, the two illustrators, did a very good job. It is regrettable, however, that the individual trays as well as those of scoring and battle are too thin (which makes them a bit fragile). Only downside, because the rest is really good. The iconography is clear and once in the game, you’ll have no questions. As for the figurines, this is classic Risk.
Frontier Wars behind a mechanism that may seem artificial, is in fact extremely thematic. Even if it does not offer the possibility of reliving the great moments of the second world war (at the same time so many games do it already). On the other hand, it plunges you into the hell of the countryside with a lot of pressure, joy, frustration and sadness. Luck is relatively rare, except in the drawing of cards. Despite this, the reversals of the situation exist and the advantage of a good card can quickly diminish the next time.
Going completely unnoticed, the game offers a real challenge for 2 to 4 players(6 with the expansion). Do you want more? There is even a solo version and even the possibility of adding an AI during games with other players. And all this for parts of a relative but respectable duration. Big plus, it is very much fun in all configurations. It is sure that depending on the number you are going to be, the way of playing will be different. At the two player count, it’s more controllable, calculating and direct mode. In addition, your nerves will be even more put to the test and you will have to pay attention to the threat that can arise from everywhere. All of this offers delicious, controllable chaos.
As for the RTS side sold with the game, it's a bit like the fact that Scythe is sold as a 4X, in other words it is far from this reality. There are a few ideas that come close to that, it's true. But far from matching a video game of the same type and we are far from the richness of a real RTS. However, the possibilities of construction in progress offer interesting decisions to be made and being able to capture those of the enemies and to be able to use them, brings a little variety. The different troops with their own characteristics also makes it possible to make sometimes crucial strategic choices.
Frontier Wars allows you, not to relive History, but to relive moments of war. Pleasure and immersion are really present. Behind immediate accessibility, the game conceals a very welcome depth of play which only needs to be tamed. Of course, we are far from the complexity or the correctness of a classic wargame, but the game conceals these little moments of decision making that are sometimes difficult. A very good surprise, a game that deserves to be played and shared. A tense game, well thought out and which has a great replayability. Too bad it is so difficult, here, to find the other components as the other factions. Frontier Wars deserves to cross borders (yes it was easy that one).
Technical score 9/10
9/10 Too bad the individual trays and those of battles and scoring are too thin. The overall finish is good. The rulebook is well done and reads quite well. The rest of the components are pleasant to handle and everything is very readable. Of course we can criticize the quality of the figurines, but they do their job.
My BGG score 9/10
Excellent - very much enjoy playing.
I really enjoyed the games I had the opportunity to play. Despite sometimes abstract limit mechanisms, the theme is very present especially if one delves into it. With two or four players, the game turns out really well and offers quite different sensations. Simple in learning, it remains deep and offers good deceitful moments or reversals. A war game in the big feeling for the race to victory.
Combined score 9/10
Now it's your turn to play ... (well, if you can find it)
Clash of Vikings (2019) Compte Rendu
Barely has the deconfinement started in France, whereas elsewhere the festivities resume. Indeed, far from home, on a small forgotten island of Covid, Vikings gather to confront each other in their annual fight. Barely recovered, mead flowing in their veins, these valiant cloistered warriors will join the arena. The rules here are easy, and the fights are intense ... but fast. So without further ado, choose your champion and your cards, ready ... play!
Clash of Vikings is a game from Anthony Rubbo and illustrated by Dennis Lohausen. For Anthony, this is far from being his first project in the gaming world. You can find his talent on titles like Hansa Teutonica, Merlin, Rajas of the Ganges... He has more than one title created from his pencil. His latest, Clash Of Vikings, is published by Queen Games. Please note: To date, it is not available in French.
Fighting against other players is not the only objective of this game. It is also ultimately the secondary objective, primarily collecting bracelets is the first, but in the long term, the use of force becomes necessary. It seems that dwarf blood (I know, “hello stereotypes” ) runs through the veins of our brave warriors. Because the ultimate goal is to collect the most treasures, represented here by bracelets. These twisted bracelets are made of three materials ranging from simple steel to gold. Of course, the values obtained correspond to the material, in other words the more precious the metal the more points you will earn.
The game board corresponds to the combat arena. It is a circular board of a moderate size to build at the start of the game. Rest assured, it's a two piece puzzle, so not to head scratching. It should be fine. On this central board you’ll randomly place bracelets taken from the reserve, onto specific spaces. Each player has a Viking token and an individual board (for the active player) recounting the possible actions. Add to this three bracelets of values 1,2 and 3 and a deck of cards. Each has an identical deck (only the color changes).
There it is ... Ready? Go!
Sorry ? You don't know how to play? Do not panic. I explain this to you over a horn of mead or two. Each player has a hand of three cards. The active player will have to play two, one after the other. For each card played, a sequence, which will ask the other players to follow, will be put in place.
The active player, whom we will call Björn (yes it came to me like that), will therefore play his first card face down. Each card corresponds to an action. When Björn plays this card, he will announce the action he wants to do. Then, he puts it face down in the column of his individual tray which potentially corresponds to the action mentioned.
Potentially? Yes, because the salt of the game is here. You don't have to tell the truth. What? Yes, Yes. You can bluff. In other words, the action indicated on your card is not necessarily the action that you announced out loud. Of course, faced with this possible lack of honor, the others can respond. Finally, only those who are fashionable and who already have a bracelet. Nor should we exaggerate. A viking who has the right to speak is a viking who has taste. Houlà, it seems that I am getting lost. Only one other player can question Björn's word. But it doesn't have to be the case ... Isn't Björn someone who deserves our trust?
If nobody talks about the right to bluff, then the active player performs their action without revealing their card. Otherwise, verification is required. If Björn did not bluff, he steals a bracelet (face down) from the one who unjustly accused him and performs his action normally. But if he inadvertently lied, the other player takes a bracelet from him and his action is lost.
And we repeat this sequence for both cards. Then it's the other player's turn. At the end of his turn, Björn draws up again to have three cards in hand. Simple, right?
As far as actions are concerned, you’ll be on familiar ground:
Finally, there is one last action that is played in response to an attack. These are the shields. The Shield can be announced in the same way as a normal card following an attack (except against slam). Why announce? Because it works like a normal action, you can bluff and not actually have shields. The active player can therefore call a bluff or not. If the person was not bluffing, the player loses their action and the defender steals a bracelet from them. Otherwise, the defender loses a bracelet and the attacker performs their action.
If at the end of a round, a bracelet space that ends up without a bracelet or a viking on it, gets replaced from the reserve. The end of the game comes when there are no more bracelets in the reserve. Whoever has the most points wins. Thank you Björn you can return to sit down.
As you can see, Clash of Vikings is by no means a difficult game. It is also announced for 8 years and up. Even if the game mechanics could be considered for younger children, the principle of bluffing and its use generally starts from this age. Also marked for 2 to 4 players. Suffice to say right away, it's mostly a game of 4. Three is playable, two is avoidable.
Regarding the theme ... is it really necessary to talk about it? Vikings who are fighting in an arena to recover bracelets ... Well ... So uh ... Why not? Shall we go on?
As for the board, there is a front / back side. The placement of bracelets and puddles is different on both. This brings a slight bit of replayability. It is true that I did not tell you about the rivers and the central hut. For the latter, it's simple, it's a place where you can collect more bracelets by starting your turn on them. Some spaces on the board are covered with water. These boxes prevent movement and can engulf the unfortunate bracelets which may have the idea of falling into it. No luck. So be careful where you throw your bracelets ... unless ...
Clash Of Vikings is reminiscent of some bluff party games like the Perudo but with a notion of moving on a set. On paper, the idea can be attractive. Unfortunately, once in play, you go around in circles quickly and sometimes the rounds can last without having valid reasons. The first part can be fun. The following is a little less. There is an official variant that offers to bring even more bluffing into the game. Indeed, this way of playing brings new life to the game. But it will not make you last for hours.
On the other hand, it can be considered as a little bluffing game for the youngest to learn. The rules are simple, well understood and the explanations quick. The iconography is clear, the graphics are pleasing and the material is pleasant to handle without being exceptional.
The box is a bit special format. It is not a big box or a small one. It’s an in-between size. On the other hand, it is of sufficient size for all the components. There is no loss of space. Even if there are still no storage bags, I must salute Queen Games for having the initiative to use this template.If you are like me, tired of seeing big boxes filled half empty. Seeing this game will remove that syndrome, it feels good. An initiative to be repeated more often.
It is therefore a shame that the playful quality is not on the same plateau as the basic idea. Halfway between the ambient game and the short board game, Clash Of Vikings does not really manage to convince most players. However, during a few games, the youngest will find their feet (as long as they play four). Quick games, an omnipresent bluffing (maybe too much?), an interesting action system based on cards, everything is not to throw in this little game. But it’s clearly missing the little something that keeps you coming back, which amuses you and renews your games. Maybe it needs real mead?
Technical note 8,5 / 10
The rules are clear, everything is read quickly and retains well. The boards are good qualities and the thickness of the cards does the job. Big plus for the size of the box, adapted to the content. Without being exceptional, everything is functional and easily understood. Always regret the absence of a bag, but the size of the box compensates for it.
My BGG score 5/10
Mediocre - take it or leave it.
Unfortunately the game is not at all up to the expectations it could give. It is relatively simple, fun and easy to get out with anyone. These positive points are quickly offset by the repetitive side of the game and its lack of challenge. Far from being bad, the game could serve as an introduction to the world of bluffing for the uninitiated or the youngest.
Combined score of 6.75 / 10
And now it's your turn to play ...
Points Salad (2019) Review
Hello, please take a seat. On the menu of the day, a salad of points. Just that. Here is a 100% Vegan approved game ! (yes the joke must have been made thousands of times)
Point Salad a game from Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin and Shawn Stankewich and first published by Alderac Entertainment Group, and now in France at Gigamic in the metal box range. Because yes, it is a small deck of cards.
Here is the recipe for a good point salad.
Depending on the number of players, you’ll remove a certain number of cards of each type.
Once done, mix everything you have left. Do not hesitate to insist on the mixture. It is important that all the cards are well shuffled to avoid any residue from the previous games.
When your mixture becomes homogeneous, divide your cards into three piles, face up. Please note, the cards are double-sided. Each side is important. On one you will have the vegetables, which will be necessary to achieve your goals and on the other, the recipes that indicate how you earn points. It is not necessary to count the cards of each of your piles as the distribution of each pile is done quickly by measuring.
Take two cards from each of the pile previously made, and put them directly below the respective piles.
The preparation phase is now complete. We will be able to move on to creating the dish.
On your turn, you have the choice between two actions. Once this is done, it is the other player's turn and so on. Point salad is a dish that can be enjoyed by several, from 2 to 6 players.
The first possible action is to "eat" food. Take two cards face up and put them in front of you. Your turn is over. Before the other player starts, replace the cards taken with the top card from the respective deck. This means that the recipe that was previously visible will turn into an ingredient and a new recipe will be available. Keep this information in mind.
The second action is even simpler ... for a dish to be successful, you must follow a recipe. You can then choose to take one, and only one, recipe card instead of two ingredients. The recipes are the objectives of the game. They will tell you the combinations to complete to hope to gain points, but watch out for those that make you lose them. Everything will depend on the ingredients that you manage to recover during the game.
To help you in your quest, once per turn, you can also transform a recipe (and I did say a recipe and not food!) Into a vegetable. And this definitely! No turning back , choose well because you will lose the recipe on the other side and the points it brought you.
You’ll continue like this until all the cards in the game are collected by the players. If during one turn, one of the three piles empties completely, do not panic, it is enough just to divide the largest pile remaining in two. And so on. When there are no more cards, we go to a tasting.
The tasting corresponds to the final counting of points. Each ingredient can be used for any of your recipes. Please note, each recipe will be counted only once, however each ingredient can be used on several recipes. You don't spend your cards to meet your goals. A carrot card can be used for several recipes.
Thus, each player counts the gains or losses, collectively or not, of each recipe card they have. This will give you your final score. Whoever has the most points wins the game.
On the recipes, you’ll find points by type of vegetable, by set of specific vegetables, but also even or odd numbers. There are also majorities on specific vegetables or minorities ... And finally you can lose points if we have recovered certain types of ingredients. There are a variety of recipes and ways to score points.
Point Salad was released at GenCon 2019. Immediately, it knew how to find its audience and made a little buzz. So much so that it was located fairly quickly. Highlighted by a lot of youtubers or players, I was quite curious to try it.
Point Salad is a quick and easy card game. Simple in its rules, as you saw earlier, it can be explained in five minutes, watch in hand. There is no return to the rule, no questions of rules or points of contention. Everything is clear right from the first play. You take the cards, you settle in and you're ready to play. Fast because indeed, one can easily have a tendency to chain games together, encouraged by the fact that each one of them is very short. Allow fifteen minutes (or less) to finish one.
The possibility of making choices allows you to think a little about your way of playing and imposes certain decisions that are not always easy to make. As I pointed out to you, it is sometimes difficult to choose between taking a recipe or ingredients that tempt us at the risk that the recipe that we wanted will disappear.
However, the importance of chance makes this pseudo strategy disappear relatively quickly. We no longer find ourselves playing in a “mechanical” way without necessarily having a long-term vision of the game. We find ourselves more looking for the right opportunity. This is especially true for more players where there is so much change that it is relatively impossible to predict anything. The two-player game, although limited and quickly redundant, may offer a little more control over how to play.
The installation of the game could also have been a little faster. Removing the cards of each type according to the number of players requires you to carry out some slightly superfluous manipulations. Even if the idea is certainly to allow a limited game time, ultimately we come back to wonder why not play with everything since the game remains short all the same. Even if you play (for example) often in pairs, you will have to repeat this manipulation regularly. Why ? It’s simple. The recipe cards are not the same behind the ingredients. Thus, to avoid falling into the excessively redundant side between each game, it is important to re-sort the cards randomly.
Level of graphics, there is not really much to say. It's colorful, you can see big vegetables ... The game is neither ugly nor beautiful. But it is illustrated effectively and the iconography is well thought out and very understandable. Each card is read very quickly and even if there is text on some, it is a keyword very easy to understand.
The game is fluid, the turns are linked quickly. In addition, the game offers ubiquitous interaction. Even if it is not a direct interaction, you have to be careful what the others choose and how you can possibly slow them down without being penalized too much. The game is never mean. And the fewer mistakes that can be made can be repaired or at least reduced in a fairly simple way.
Depending on the players, the game can also be transformed into a calculation game. All the choices can trigger positive or negative points. So if you play with people who like to calculate everything and find the best way to score, the playing time may increase and the pleasure (especially if you are not one of them) decreased. Where one of the strengths of the game resides is in its important possibility of scoring but also in its fluidity. If we turn it into a slightly longer game, I’m not sure that the interest remains intact. On the other hand, it is not a "fun" game as you’re locked in a game where you have to think (as much as possible) and where the goal is just to make points. Despite its format, it is not an atmospheric game.
Point Salad is therefore a very accessible little game. You can play it with friends (gamers or not), with family, family and friends, between adults, with children, between children,… you will understand, the game can turn in all hands. And if in addition, your children can learn to recognize vegetables, it's even better, right?
Point Salad is therefore still a good pick for Gigamic, which offers a very simple and refined collection game here. No fuss, you are right in the thick of it. Accessible, fluid, fast, easy to learn, playable everywhere, a small price, the game seems to have everything on its side to let itself be tasted and savored. Especially if it's your style of play. As a reminder, you are not in a trick taking game but a family collection game with a pinch of optimization. Between two meals or accompanying stronger games, Point Salad will keep you entertained. After, you’ll see if it can last the test of time ...
Technical Note 9/10
Even if the graphics are not extraordinary, "they do the job". The iconography is very well thought out and the rules are clear. The small metal box format is very suitable.
My BGG score 6/10
Ok - will play if in the mood.
The game is not without charm and is played relatively quickly. Very accessible, it will allow you to add a dose of optimization in your playful learning. Chance is very present and it is sometimes difficult to anticipate things. Replayability may be affected. However, the durations of very short games allow you to qualify everything. Ideal for many.
Combined score of 7.5 / 10
And now it's your turn to play ...
Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game