Jurassic snack (2018) review
2 Player abstract games are games that my daughter and I enjoy immensely. Most of the time, my wife is too busy or too tired to play games with us, so my daughter and I get out something like Onitama or King & Assassins. After being given a copy of Jurassic Snack from Blackrock Games at Essen last year, I thought my daughter would fall in love with this beautifully presented game, as it fits in with the criteria that we normally like. But she was not enamored. She was a little bored of it after a few plays. But I was…
Please read on.
This is another Bruno Cathala game, and there seems to be more and more popping up from the woodwork every year. He seems to be throwing out titles here, there and everywhere. And the majority of them have high praise, much like another dinosaur title called Raptor, some years ago. But is this herbivore chomping game one of them? Well, it’s presentation seems to fit that category of excellence. It’s cartoony and colorful art will attract the eye of the young and old, but also when displayed on a table, the 3-D dinosaurs will blow anybody's mind with it’s cuteness.
Each player will have four Diplodocus of their color scattered on a four map tiles, surrounded by a lush vegetation that they can eat. In turn order, players will take two actions which are tradition, in the fact that they are movement actions. Moving one of you dinos orthogonally across open spaces until it reaches the end of a tile, or bumps into another dino (down Dino, DOWN!). More importantly are the bushes. Moving up to one of these allows you to eat it. Eating a bush means you reveal a power depicted on the underneath that token, that at the beginning of the game are randomly places and take up 95% of the tiles. Meaning the start of the game is restricted in movement options, until a bit of space has been cleared. Thus opening up the possibilities for tactical movement and cornering the market of your dinos snacking.
When revealed, the token goes by your side and will score you points depending on the type of token it is. It could be some tasty grass which will earn you two points , or it may reveal something else. There are six other types of effects that can either, give birth to another one of your dinosaurs or give you the ability to look at multiply tokens effects on one tile. There is a volcano that will remove two random tiles from play and there is the surprise of a Tyrannosaurus Rex landing in the game. And finally there are the flying tokens that can whisk you Dino out of harm's way, or greener pastures and the other that whisks the T-Rex to any locale. Maybe to save your own skin or put pressure on your opponent.
When one of these monsters arrives, the game changes a little. As the T-Rex will eat any Diplodocus it meets. The arrival of this beast gives the players a choice to either move their own dinosaur to move this one. Like any good abstract game, the extra rules are the same in regards to the movement for this predator. Moving up to a Diplodocus mean that it is removed from the game. Eaten. Dead. Another level of planning is need when one of these arrives. And when the second one comes…(Oo-oh) It offers a moment of reflection as you try to position your pieces into places to make it easy to get points and not so easy to get eaten. The balance between either moving your dinosaur or the T-Rex is even more intriguing as every token that you pick up will gain you a certain amount of points. After the last token is removed, it’s game over and you count the points. The player with the most wins, unless... All your dinosaurs are eaten by the T-Rex meaning the other player has automatically won. Again, this is a wonderful turning point in the game, should you go for points or elimination.
Players can have a great time playing this game in a light fashion, even though there is a nice level of strategy and planning to be add in positioning your pieces. But unfortunately some games can be unbalanced if you have the misfortune to find both T-Rex’s. They jump out from the bush and eat your Dino’s, so you're at a disadvantage. Two less Dino’s than your opponent, and then they manage to hatch extra dinosaurs giving them the upper hand of the game. All they have to do is eat your two remain one to win easily. Yes, luck can spoil this game for one player (even worse when it's a crying child). Which is a shame as it is as I said, strategically deep abstract with simple rules and fun to play. On top of that the tactile feel of the game created from these wonderfully smooth plastic plating pieces makes the game elaborate and fantastic.
Every game can feel the same, so to shake it up you can the position the tiles in different formations. You’re not limited to just creating a 4 x 4 board, you can create an L-shaped map, rectangular one or even a O-shaped one. This also adds some different playing styles and calculations to the game, to make it work in your favor. May be getting to one bush will take you three actions this time while another dinosaur can do it in two. All these mental calculation that are simple enough for a child are fun. But it is when your child starts calculating what action you will do next and they do their best to make your life hard by snatching a bush that was right next to you or placing a T-Rex in you line of movement, forcing you to detor. That is when the game becomes magical.
There are actually two sizes that the game comes in. I have the regular edition, but there is an extra large edition with bigger figures and pieces. And it looks just as fantastic. I only hope that it all fits in the box, as my regular version is going to require a removal of the insert. I can not sit the lid on the box with it inside.
There will also be a second edition of this game that will have different dinosaurs for players to control. The purpose of this is so that you buy the two different versions and add them together for a four player slaughter. This could be very interesting, as games with luck are not much fun with two. But add some more players to balance out that luck. Form silent allences, create bigger maps, add more T-Rex’s or remove some, could all be a bonus for this game. Thus leveling the playing field a little or adjusting the level of difficulty for younger players. I’m up for that and will keep hold of this version of the game until then.
Technical school 9.5 out of 10
Fantastic colorful art, elegant playing pieces and sturdy tiles that are unfortunately a tad too big to fit back into the box without removing the insert.
My BGG school 7 out of 10
A wonderfully elegant to play or abstract game that is affected largely by luck.
Combined score 8.25 out of 10
Now, it’s over to you...
Globe Twister (2018) review
Many people spend many hours connecting tiny pieces of cardboard together to complete one image. My wife and daughter have just started doing one right now. A 1000 piece puzzle of London landmarks. Eventually this puzzle will be glued together and then hoisted up and mounted on a wall somewhere in our house. Hopefully out of my sight. This is something that I think we are all addicted to as children. If fact, this pastime has been turned into a board game, called Puzzle Battle. Where players are racing to complete their puzzle before the others.You can check out a review I did here.
The natural progression was then the slide puzzle. A plastic or wooden framed toy with an image, broken into many squares and left with one space in which to shuffle the pieces into the correct order. This too has been transformed into a board game.
In Globe Twister, players are trying to put their memories of their holidays back together. The game comes with five unique individual images for five players. And one universal image on the back of these double-sided tiles. Again it’s a race to finish your puzzle before the other players but unlike puzzle battle, it’s not just a one on one affare, plus you can adjust the difficulty level for each individual player. And on top of that it is a logical programmation game.
Players will have a handful of cards and each card will have an action depicted on it. For example one card will have a rotate a tile 90° left,while another card, 90° right. There are cards that will make you switch the positions of two tiles, either adjacent or on the opposite side of this 3 x 3 grid. The other neat twist to this concept is the fact that you’ll be placing these cards in an empty frame that represents the 3 x 3 tiles of your image. The position that you placed your card in this frame will corrisponde to a tile, dictating its action. Each space can only contain one action card. So as soon as you have placed all the actions that you can possibly do or are a little out of actions that you need to do you can stop.
So you'll be racing to use your logic to get these tiles into the right spaces. Each card that you have has one unique action whether it be a rotate or a move. And placing each card in its correct space becomes very important when it comes to your turn to carry out your programmation.
Your puzzle will be given to you at the beginning of the game from another player who will be shuffling the tiles before hiding them behind an image of the final photo. Sometimes your puzzle will be handed to you, and a majority of those tiles will need rotating. Where as the puzzle you shuffled for another player may just need them to place their tiles in the right space is, without rotating. This is where the only technical bug of the game lays. In its unfairness of the shuffling, may require one player to do more programming than another.
Where this could be great is where adults are playing against children and the adult gets the harder puzzle. It’s not really that big bug as it only affects the generic image that has only one orientation. Where as the unique images can be made any way up, the puzzle becomes which way is the quickest to complete.
If you are the first player to finish programming, you will place your image over your puzzle and turn the sand timer. This gives 30 seconds for the other players to finish playing cards before the end of the round. Then players will, one by one act out their programmation. And this is where the fun begins.
The programmations are carried out in reading order, meaning that the first card in the top left hand corner of the frame activates first. After it has activated or there is no card there, it goes to the next card to the right of that. And all the way down to the bottom right hand corner. Fun you say! Well yes, sometimes you will move a tile to a different position where you have a rotate tile. And if you have not correctly thought this through you may rotate the tile that didn’t need rotating. This can lead to giggles from your children if you are playing against them. Or banging your head against the table when you’re playing against your friends.
After everyone has carried out their programmation you start again. Just until one player has completed their image, ending the game.
This is a perfect game for a family or for people new to hobby gaming, due to the fact that it is relatively simple. You are doing a picture puzzle and everybody can relate to that. I just think the adjustment of the difficulty level is an added bonus. As there are two powerful cards that can be removed for experience players. These allow tiles to move anywhere that you wish and rotate at any angle you wish too. A major rule with these cards is once they are used they are removed from the game. But if you see fit your children could keep these cards and carry on using them throughout. Also the images reflect the varying degrees of difficulty. The five unique images are very colorful and very mixed with their design. They are also very much like a fish lens image going all around the outside of the puzzle. Where is on the backside of the universal image, has a horizon.
Gameplay is relatively quick and within 10 minutes, your puzzle will be complete and you'll probably play again with a different image. Unfortunately it lacks more images that could add to replayability. Maybe down the road they’ll be a new version with a 4 x 4 grid and more picture postcards for you to complete.
The art is jolly and colorful and the components are of good quality. The rulebook does and exceptional job at explaining everything in good detail, from each of the different cards powers to how the programmation works. It also has some suggestions on how to play without the timer or without the frame. And there is even a solo mode, where you will have to complete a set puzzle in a set amount of turns. This could be very interesting when playing with experience players. Either as a group logic puzzle cooperatively. Or as a competition to see who can complete their puzzle the quickest. It’s all packed into a nice small size box which makes it a nice game to take away on holiday. There is enough game play here for young children. And with the imagery of different cultures from around the world will give them something to talk about as they play. I do enjoy the logic puzzle aspect of the game but it gets a little old, too quick.
Technicals score 9/10
Small and portable. Simple and well presented. Colourful and easy for anyone to play.
My BGG score 7/10
(Good - usually willing to play)
A good logic puzzle that is 10 minutes of fun, then sadly forgotten.
Combined score 8/10
and now it's over to you...
Finding fun games for the young players in your house to play and also be accessible for yourself, use to be a chore. But that is no longer the case, thank Vasel! There seems to be more and more seeping like ectoplasm, through the wall every year.
If you have family, you'll know the trouble of trying to get a bit of living space to yourself. In this game, it's the same thing...well, oh a bigger scale and involving the afterlife.
There is a Ghost in Blackrock Castle who just wants to be left alone. But visitor keep turning up and staying over night in one of the many luxurious room. This phantom wants them "geeeeeet oooooout!" and stay out. To do this, they will have to traverse the many halls and rooms of this marge castle to get to the room in which the visitor is staying. But there is a snag...
Each of the walls is made of different colors and the phantom can only traverse one color per visitor.
And guess what?...You don't play the visitors, but the Ghost! Everyone!!!
Also, this is not a cooperative game, but a competitive one. As soon a the annoying guest arrives, it's eyes down to find a route of one colored walls that the Ghost can walk through to scare the visitor away. Everybody will be concentrating on a drawing a line, like in a labyrinth puzzle on the back of a cereal box. Will it be Yellow? Will it be Green? Will it...
Too late. Someone has found the way through the myriad of walls and colors and frighten the guest away, gaining a point. What do guests make...points! If you scare five of the visitors away, you win the game. You shake your fist at this quick individual and swear that you will win next time. The next time happens 30 seconds later because the game is quick to set up and also quick to play. Therefore, you will probably knock out three or four games in less than an hour.
Your probably saying to yourself, "I'm not that smart." Or, "I'm not that quick. I'll never win at this game." Yes, it is a speed game and I myself am not a fan of this type of game. But the game has a balancing mechanism that will iron out any imbalances between players, quick and slow, young and old. If you spot the route through the walls before the others, you get to take a token of the color that you used to get the Ghost from A to B. As long as this token is in front of you, you can not use that color of wall. The more walls you get right, the less possibility of scaring the visitor there are for you. But you can still will this way too if you collect four wall tokens.
The board is made of modular tiles to change things up from game to game. Also there are some tokens that you can place to make the game easy or harder. Including a Pac-Man style, trap door and a portal to make a transition between colors.
All of this leads to a great way parents and children can play a game together or mind boggle your gaming buddies with this frighteningly fun little game.
here is a "How to play" video