the grimm forest (2018) review
Like any tale, it starts with a "once upon a time". The story I am going to tell you happened a long time ago. His Excellency, King Reginald the Gourmand, decided to embark on a huge project by developing unexploited land near the mysterious Grimm Forest. Far from thinking of the happiness and serenity of the inhabitants of the kingdom, the Lord imagined firstly to fill the coffers of the kingdom with the resale of these habitable lands. He therefore appealed to the legendary builders of the kingdom. Alas for him, the three little pigs, because it was them, have aged well since their last buildings. Their legendary abilities only seem ... legendary. From then on, his excellence was looking for replacements who can fulfill his wishes. This is how the famous title of Royal Builder is awarded in a competition.
That's about the beginning of this tale. The rest is up to you to write or rather to live. The Grimm Forest immerses you in an enchanted universe of tales. The game of Tim Eisner (March on the Ants, Tidal Blades)offers us the opportunity to embody the competitors as Royal Builders. It was funded on Kickstarter by Druid City Games in 2018 and will be published in French later in 2019 by Lucky Duck Games.
Playable from 2 to 4 players, the game really interesting at the four player count. The goal of the game is to be the first to make three houses on this land, in the three different materials: straw, wood and brick (just like the little pigs did). Of course, each type of house requires different resources. And is played in two phases.
The first is the search for resources. There are four different places: the forest, the quarry, the field and the market (four players). Each player has a card of each location in their hand. They then secretly choose one place and everyone reveals it at the same time, then places their pig on the destination of the card.
This guessing phase works a little like the game, Crossing. If you are alone in your area, then you take all the resources present. If you are several, you share equitably between you (there is the difference compared to Crossing, where we did not win anything). Simple, fun and cunning but not too punishing.
The second phase corresponds to the stage of construction and expenditure of resources. During this phase, players have two actions. Among these actions a pig can draw a Fable card, or recover a resource of any type, or build. Here you will be able to start building your houses. By spending the proper resources, you will be able to recover pieces of a house. The house consists of three pieces: the foundations, the walls and the roof.
It's easy to be builders right? Whenever a piece of a house is made, a friend (these are cards) will join you to help. You can keep this fairy friend or send it to another player. Each friend brings you more or less important powers. But you only have enough room for one friend (it can be expensive to employ outside help). So, if your opponent has a powerful ally, it can be fun to impose a new one on them. It takes the place of that powerful one and without your opponent having a say in the matter. The door is always wide open after all.
I also mentioned the possibility of recovering Fable cards. These are one shots that will help you in your fight or your construction. These cards usually bring a bit of Take That to the game. And as soon as it's played, it's gone.
And that's all ... Yes the game boils down to that. It is not a complicated game, nor a game too long. The game plays between thirty minutes and one hour. The interest of the game will be wholly in the resource phase and from trying to guess where the others will go, while going to a place that interests you. Fable’s cards will also play an important role. Whether in our production capacity and our ability to progress but also in the fun of a game.
The Grimm Forest at first glance could pose as a childish game by its graphics, its theme, its relative simplicity. But it is not so. With short and simple rules, it manages to offer a slightly higher challenge comparison to a child's level. On the contrary, the game is too simple for expert players to not get bored (too) quickly. So there are the families left.
But the problem that arises at this moment is the price. The game is quite expensive. I’m not saying that it's not worth it (I'll come back to that soon after) but for a family budget, it’s a little high. The Grimm Forest has a rather strange place but it has happened to find an audience.
The strength of the game does not come from the theme or mechanisms. It should not be ignored, the most important interest and attractions come from the material and graphics. The illustrations by Noah Adelman (My Little Scythe), Lina Cossette (Brass: Lancashire), David Forest (Charterstone) are magnificent. They have done an exemplary job on this game. Everything transpires the theme and the magic of these tales. As for the material, from the opening of the box, it’s an eye full. The figurines are superb. They are detailed and quite impressive. Which is even more impressive (it’s a pity?) since in the end, some will be not enough used. The resources are easily identifiable and pleasant to handle. The houses fit together perfectly and the rendering is top. The cards are good qualities. Hardware level, there is nothing to say apart from there is nothing to fault.
You'll understand, I love this game. I find the magical fairy side very appreciable. It exudes a charm due in large part to its artistic direction to small details. On the other hand, it is true that in terms of playful interest, the game will have difficulty finding its public. Even if it remains playable at two (the presence of a neutral player is a palliative to the lack of tension) or three, it is four that becomes really interesting. Below, the game loses its interest and especially its risk taking.
It is a game based on a race mechanism (first-come, first to build everything, first to win). For a family audience that is not afraid of exceeding playtimes of 45 minutes, the game can easily find a good home in the cottages. It remains a superb game, simple, interesting and very pleasant to play. Luck is of course present (as if luck was absent from the tales) in the decks of cards: Fables or friends. But it does not play a determining role in winning. The Grimm Forest is a bit like the tales of the Brothers Grimm, a good game with potential but not to put in everybody's hands.
Technical Score 9,5/10
The illustrations are superb. The cards are good qualities, just like the material. The figures are superb (too bad we do not use them anymore). The storage is really suitable (to be seen for the VF). The rules are clear.
My BGG Score 8/10
(Very good. play it and recommend it)
A good game that has a special care for its content. We can regret a lack of challenge that can occur between players, but in families it works really well. Even if you find yourself immersed in a magical universe, the theme is less enchanting.
Combined Score 8.75/10
And now it’s over to you...
The “Choose Your Own Murder Mystery Adventure” has landed and as well as crossing two game genres,(choose your own adventure & murder mystery) it also crosses two gaming mediums (board game, app game). It’s called Chronicles of Crime, and rightly so. There is a crime that has been committed and the clock is ticking. You’ll be investigating crime scenes, interrogate suspects and drawing your conclusions as quick as you can. Do this well and your team will get a high score. Failing slightly or terribly means that you can replay to see if you can do better. Or just look at the solution.
As you can tell, this is a team game or a solo affair if you wish. Both experiences make a little difference. Play on your own and you’ll be 100% engaged, but may miss certain clues or not be able to think out of the box. Playing in a team, your engagement level is as high as you want it to be. The more you participate, the more you get out of it. Being timid may leave you on the sideline, wishing you said “yes” to TI4 instead. And the more minds there are, the better the chance of succeeding at this puzzle. As this is what the game is. A tangled puzzle of what he said, she said, this clue, that clue and “I think it was…”
At the start of the game, after choosing a scenario, you’ll be given very limited information about a crime. Either a murder, theft or a disappearance. And away you go. If you have ever been on a Murder Mystery Weekend, this game will be very familiar. Instead of going away with some friends, to a hotel and dressing up in period costumes, you’ll be sat around a table, trying to decide what to do and where to go. And instead of bumping into character actors in the dining room or hallway, to get their accounts of what they saw and heard, you’ll have a deck of beautifully drawn character cards, with QR codes to scan. Scanning a card will be like talking to these actors.
But as I said, you will start with just one location or one character. By interacting, you will open up new locations and other characters. The game comes mainly from a very smart app that you will have to download to play. It holds a selection of stories for you to play and there are more in the works. Where as the table will hold a board, that houses locations, clues and characters. Everything has a QR code that you’ll scan into your smart device. A very intuitive system, where if you want to go to a location, you scan it and voila, your there. To talk to someone, scan them and they are now talking to you. But they need to be in the location that you are in. Ask someone about something, scan that person then that item. Scan, scan, scan. There is a lot of scanning in the game. More so at the beginning of the game, as you are collecting evidence and clues to a story you know not much about. There’s so much scanning, you may forget that this is a board game.
Talking of scanning...
If you have an older device to run your game on, you may like I, have trouble running the app. Or find that it freezes while searching for clues. Or it may struggle to scan codes, sending frustration through the group as you wait for a response from your number one suspect. Where if you have a brand spanking device, the game will run seamlessly. And fun will be had.
I’d say that around 70% of the game is on the device, the other 30% is at the table or in the imagination of players, trying to piece together this mystery. The game tries to get everyone at the table involved in the form of a light virtual reality, search the crime scene segment. One investigator will be given the app and using it, look around the location, calling out thing of note to the rest of the team. While the team will be flicking through a deck of clue cards, trying to find cards that correspond to what the investigator is seeing. The cards are vague in substance. Stating “bags” or “decorations.” The vagueness works well as player can discuss and debate whether it was a clue or not. It also leaves this items open for use in another scenario, as they could be shopping bags, hand bags or luggage bags.
The virtual reality that the game uses is like a 360 degree image that the investigator can either scroll through with a finger and zoom. Or if you have purchased the Kickstarter addon of the 3D glasses, you can slip these onto you screen and look around the interior of a bubble image. A very nice use of technology in a board game, as it inserts the player right into the world they are playing in. A time limit is added as well, meaning you will frantically be shouting out all kinds of things, in vain hope that your team can find the right clue cards. This adds some of the tension to the game, because as the titles states, you are up against the chronometer.
Every action you perform with the app, costs “in game” time. Your case may be on a time limit, were every minute count. As a team, you’ll be talking back and forth about what to do and what questions to ask. Every question, location change and search of a crime scene costs a different amount of in game time. Before you know it, it’s the evening, in game that is. And each character has a real life in this virtual world. Bob may be found in his Camden Town office during the day, but at night, he is at a little bar in Soho. And because of the way the game is written, Bob may be happy talking to you, up to a point. But asking him about one particular thing may result in him taking a dislike to you or maybe not wanting to see you at all. He may disappear entirely from the game. And that’s a hat tipping moment of the game, to the writers and programmers. You feel this world is alive.
The scenarios and dialogue are top notch. Nothing overwhelmingly complicated but still intriguing deep and perplexing. When characters speak, it’s not pages of exposition. It’s short, sweet, to the point and laced with clues. The language is not overly elegant like in Doyle’s Sherlock, but more in the realm of a TV sitcom, meaning everyone will understand what is being said. And everything that is said will make you go, “oooh!” In the scenarios I have played, there always seems to be a myriad of possible suspects or interwinding connections between the cast. The more you learn from the world, the more the path becomes clear. And before you know it, you are debating with your fellow detectives, that your account of the story is the correct one. Once you’ve persuaded them to take you to the station, to file your report to the chief, your in end game mode. You’ll answer a collection of question about the scenario, scanning the appropriate responses. Finally, you’ll get to see if your deduction skills have paid off, with a final score. This score will be made up from the correct answers plus the time that is took you to complete the story.
Each story will, after a time of discovery, get conversations started at the table. You’ll be recounting the events, drawing lines and connections between all the suspects. Laughing, arguing and brainstorming all the possible events that have come to pass, that have lead you to your conclusion. A real team game, where you may be making notes, taking names and placing bets on the outcome. You’ll soon forget that you are sat around a table will a smart device in your hand. You’ll actually feel that you are in New Scotland Yard, with Inspector Morse, Columbo and Jessica Fletcher.
Once you have completed a scenario successfully, it’s gone. You can replay it if you wish, but you’ll not be surprised by anything. Even if you play with a different group, months later. Something will trigger a memory and the answers will come flooding back. You could hold your tongue and let the others discovery the wonders of the game, but there’ll be nothing in it for you. Making replayability null and void. Although, replaying a scenario you failed at miserably, is a little more rewarding. But like the Choose Your Own Adventure book, when you die and restart, you’ll be zooming through the starting pages of text because you already know it. Until you get to that branching point in the story were you find something you didn’t see before or get a different response from a character. It is still satisfying when you finally get the correct conclusion. But again, unplayable after. A nice touch is that if you do fail, there is no obligation to replay, as there is an option to see the solution. Clicking on this option and you’ll get the who did it and why. So if your friends can’t come back next week, they have some closure to the story.
One other bug from playing a set in stone story is that, sometime you may miss a clue, not shown the right clue to the right person and feel that you have walked into a dead end. Not sure of where to go and what to scan, you do this frantically until something falls into your lap. Or not. The game does try to help you in the form of, if you pass a certain amount of in game time, you’ll receive a text from the chief of police. This will inform you that maybe someone else has been killed, and you need to get your ass to a location to interview someone. This puts pressure on you, but also help the story move forward. But if you are prudent about your scanning and not wanting to waste time, you may pass a lot of real game time, look blankly over the table, retracing your actions. What did you miss? Luckily, there are four, on hand experts that you can call on, who deal with forensics, medicine, data information and phycology. Always a phone call away. Another nice feature in the app is the ability to go back through the history of your scenario, reading everything that was said and done. A great feature if you have to stop playing for lunch, to recap “previously on…” And useful if you are all clued out.
Technical score 9.5/10
The presentation of the game is extremely well put together. From the wonderful (slightly to big) box insert to the simplistic rule set. And the artistic palette used in the locations and characters is pleasing to the eye. Cartoonie, but relatable. The fact that everything can be reused in another story and be something different. Like the characters, who are like actors. In one story, character 52 is a gardener and in another story, the politician. There are even linked stories that continue off from the previous ones. With the same roles designated to characters and seeing the repercussions of you solving a case. There is infinite stories that can be told with just this base box, as long as there are more available for download later on. And the app handles really well. Any bugs that crop up are cleaned up quickly, thanks to the quick response from the team at Luck Duck. Although the app lacks one small thing that will help immerce the players into the game further. Sound effect. The music is good (yes, I’m kissing my own ass as it was me that did it) but very repetitive. Many will just switch it off. Shame!
My BGG score 8/10
This is why we get around a table. To debate, discuss and have fun. And that’s what this games does. Although there is a long period at the start of every game of silence and scanning. Are real detective game that feels like a detective game. Just needs either a random element or a bucket load of scenarios to play...right now! =)
This game is my cup of tea
Hello Chaps and Chapette,
So many things have passed in the past month. More positive and upbeat. Let's start with the finish of a game that I have been helping promote by demoing, reviewing, blogging, chatting and even providing voices for. That is Batman: Gotham City Chronicles. It's not long finished on Kickstarter with a whopping $4.4 million dollars, making it the sixth highest funded board game. And the 24th overall KS.
On top of that, if you missed out, you'll be able to jump on board with a late pledge later in May.
There was also a few other Kickstarters that I was involved with:
Immortal 8 by Sorry We Are French
Chartered: The Golden Age by Jolly Dutch Productions
Chronicles of Crime by Lucky Duck Games
You can find out more these games by clicking the links above, their publishers name in the Shortcut menu to the left of watch the Blog video below.
What is "the Monthly Video?" 0:20
A Review of Reviews 1:32
Chartered: The Golden Age
Chronicles Of Crime
First and the Last 11:52
Mythic Battles: Pantheon
Clank: Sunken Treasure
Catch The Moon
The Monthly Giveaway 30:45
Have you played any of those games? What did you think of them?
And what do you think of the new look BGES? (better that looking at my ugly mug)
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Have you ever wanted to play detective?
Where you ever let down by the shallowness of Cluedo?
Do you watch too many TV cop show?
Well here is a game that you should be looking at...
Team play and communication is what is needed to bring in the criminal. You'll be interrogating suspects, regarding crime scenes, evaluating evidence and getting expert help from Doctors and Psychologists. And all this is done through your smart phone.
The game comes with several decks of card, containing people and items. These people are like actors, playing roles in your cop drama. In one mystery, Joe may be a dodge drug dealer while in another the brilliant scientist. Each character in a story will will have a past, a present and possible future in the game. You will be taking everything they say and compile it into reality, making sure the liars don't slip through your net.
Getting around and communicating with these NPC is done simply with a quick scan of a QR code. The app takes card of the rest. Noting who is about, what they are up to and whats around.
Most importantly, there are some locations that can be explored and examined. In a 360 degree world, as displayed in the app, one player will be able to look for clues. Shouting out what they see, while other player collect cards that represent those items in the real world. These items can be then scanned to verify if they are clues or trash. Show them to the suspect and see if they wince, spill their guts and give you the last piece of the puzzle.
The game is hyper thematic, with a profound story and head scratchingly fun. Although there are those of us that dislike using phones and tablets in our gaming area, this is a necessary evil of the game as it generates in depth discussion between players.
It's an escape room on your table. It is what Time Stories should have been. It is a living breathing world were NPC move around and get on with their lives. This is the murder mystery game to end them all.
watch my first impression video