Is he a Cool Mini or Not? Peter Shirey is here to talk about being CMON's Play Manager and Retailer Relations Coordinator. Or Not? ...
This is an interview show where I have taken the idea of the tv show “Quantum Leap”, and put our guest in the shoes of Sam Beckett. Time traveling into people's bodies, in our case people we know. And finding out one of two things. If our Sam will walk in that person's shoes, absorbing a character trait or admiring their life. Or if our Sam will change something in their life, for better or worse.
Who will he jump into? And what is coming from CMON in the future? Maybe some Zombicide 2nd edition? Watch and see...
wacky Races (2019) Review
Do you remember this old cartoon Wacky Races. No ? Ah, but that does not have to stay that way. You must rush out and discover this. So many childhood memories. And this is not new. Indeed, Wacky Races is an American cartoon created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. The cartoon was born in 1968! It even had a sequel / reboot in 2017.
If the title of the cartoon does not necessarily speak to you, the two main protagonists will be known to you. Dick Dastardly and his dog Muttley, during each episode, try to win the race by preparing traps to make the others racers lose. And like the Coyote, these attempts are constantly turning against them. But in Wacky Races, all shots are allowed for the eleven participants, all more colorful than the other.
What was a surprise to see was a game adapted from this license. And from CMON Limited in addition. So that's something that could potentially make us happy, or on the contrary, make us run away. The theme is not necessarily the easiest to adapt.
Wacky Races: The Board Game is a game by Andrea Chiarvesio and Fabio Tola. They created two versions of the game. The normal version is the one you find most easy to access. CMON made pre-orders for a deluxe version with pre-painted figures. This one (rather successful) is scheduled for the end of 2019. The version I got is a normal retail version.
To be honest, what made me crack was clearly the license. Being able to find all the drivers of my childhood and being able to play with them in a board game, it seemed very nice. The illustrations of Giovanna BC Guimarães are very faithful. They put you directly in the arena.
The principle of Wacky Races: The board game is very simple. Each player chooses a driver and takes their model and individual board. Also taking the four "abilities" cards that are placed on that board.
For the drivers, we have the joy of finding the eleven from the series:
Then you’ll create the circuit. This one is composed of map / tiles laid more or less randomly. More or less because the tiles are separated into two halves. At the end of the first half of the circuit (after 8 tiles), there’ll always be the gas station. Then, continue laying the remaining 8 tiles, being careful to add one special tile (choice of four). The number of spaces to finish the race is theoretically always the same (there is nothing prevents you from playing with everything). The normal circuit is composed of 18 tiles.
Each race participant is randomly placed on one of the starting locations. One character per tile, only six in each race (seven if you count the Mean Machine). The goal is to arrive first on the finish line. Logical, this is a racing game. The game announces a 10 to 15 minute per game and it does not lie. We are clearly in the game very fast.
The normal tiles are each a different landscape. Landscape that you’ll find repeated several times. They range from the desert, the forest, the meadow and the farm. Added to this are special tiles with obligatory gas station and another one to choose between either the marshes, the crossroads, the railway crossing and the ACME factory. Of course you’ll always finish at the finish line. Special tiles act as a joker for moving. It is important to know this because all the movement of the racers will depend on the type of tile which they are on.
Each player has three cards in their hand. Each card represents one of the landscapes mentioned. The first action of a player is mandatory. They must discard a card (any one) to move a tile. After this move, they can then discard another card that corresponding to the terrain they are now located on, to advance a second time. This can be repeated a third time (after inevitably the player has no more cards in hand, so their turn is over). The cards played must match (except the first one played) the driver's location to allow them to move one space. Each tile has two spaces, which can accommodate up to two drivers. If a third wants to move onto that space, it is automatically placed on the next free box ( not counting the tile full). Then the player draws back up to three cards.
Finally, at the end of the player's turn, Dick Dastardly and the Mean Machine are moved. This car participates in the race but in a particular way. Indeed, as in the cartoon,Dastardly and Muttly try to trap their competitors to win. Their car is placed on the tiles and not on one side or the other, like the players. It does not count in the limit of two cars and is not played by a player. For his move, look at the discard pile. The last card played indicates where the Mean Machine will go.
For example: a desert is on top of the discard pile. The Mean Machine goes to the next desert tile no matter the distance. If a wild tile is on the way, Dastardly must stop there (except for the Station Service tile because "refueling is for losers"). If there is no movement possible, then the Mean Machine runs out of gas and must give up (because without fuel "you may not be a loser but you can not win").
Fun little detail, if Dick Dastardly & Muttley lead the race, they take the opportunity to place a trap card. You then take the first card of the associated deck and put it on the tile. Thereafter, if the two cheaters must go through this tile, if there is still a trap, it does not count as a movement space. After placing a card, as it takes time, they fall back to last place.
With less than six players, there remains a last step. Indeed, all drivers who do not belong to a player, are considered neutral. They have their own way of moving forward. At the end of a round and just before the first player starts playing again, all neutrals advance one space. Then, you reveal the first card of the deck. If the terrain matches, the drivers involved advance one space. Again a second, then a third time. If a neutral racer reaches the finish line first, they win. In a game with two players, after the neutral stage, Dastardly plays again.
And there you go. Now to finish with the details ... When a player reaches a space with a trap card, the card is revealed and the trap activates. There are eight different types of traps: falling rocks, log, oil slick, false tunnel, broken bridges, sabotage, mud pool, false signam. There is also the possibility of falling on a plan that has failed (which is good for racers).
During the installation, I told you about cards abilities. Each racer (neutrals do not have one) has four cards. These cards can be used at any time of their turn. Just flip your card once used. There are ways to avoid certain pitfalls, the ability to pick or renew his hand, to advance faster, to invert tiles ... These cards can sometimes give you a good boost and sometimes counterbalance a capricious chance. To know that once the last driver has passed the gas station, all the players can reactivate all exhausted cards again.
So what about this Wacky Races: the board game? From the start, we know what to expect. The game is not meant to be a complicated game. Its duration for one, its short rules, the possibilities of gameplay, it is a family game, easy and quickly. Wacky Races is a driving game for the family, very simple and possibly too simple. Compared to its price, one wonders if the publisher has paid too much on the license. Still, the game has good ideas.
Already, the respect of the series is a very appreciable thing. Thematically, visually, we are there.
It's a good thing to have eliminated Dick Dastardly & Muttley and made them an aggressive neutral player. The idea of traps is interesting, but quickly finds its limits. Already, this does not necessarily happen much in one game and can disadvantage the same player several times. The number of traps available is quite small, it does not allow for big surprises when discovering the cards and created a lack of variety which is heavily missed.
The game system is pretty good, but relies far too much on the luck of the draw. If you have the right combos at the right time, you will advance much faster than your competitors. It also plays on neutral management. Very good idea, but unique to each game, this system will create tension ... or nothing if the cards do not really allow them to move forward. We understand that the idea of making a simple family game was paramount, but the trouble is that in this state, it is limited like if we had rolled a dice, and that on the right number we advance (and again the die would be more fun). Cards can become very frustrating and very unfair. And it's not really the idea of abilities that will save things. On paper, that's fine. This allows for a slightly different and personalized drivers. In fact, the powers are very similar and with little variety.
The duration of the game, quite short, allows to reduce some feelings evoked without removing them. Rules for a championship mode (rather anecdotic) are included.
The miniatures are rather successful. A lot of details and we are plunged into this crazy world. On the other hand, the rest of the material is quite surprisingly poor. It is true that the publisher has accustomed us to good or very good. And there, see the cards / tiles very thin and not detailed, it surprises. The trap cards are very simple and do not have their own illustrations. The decor of the tiles is quite hollow, without relief and flavors. The cards capacities are at their limits ... The players boards are also very thin and their machine construction plans, which look strongly reminiscent of Victorian Masterminds (also a CMON title) could have been a little more worked. Except the miniatures, the rest leaves me really doubtful.
Moreover to return on the racers. It's a pleasure to know that there are eleven of them. But ... why are we so limited to only six players (so seven cars in play at the same time)? Why could they not have proposed more tiles to make longer circuits and thus incorporate additional drivers and make it more like the cartoon ??? No ... here you will only have the right to only have six drivers at the same time. What a disappointment. A few more tiles, a few more special tiles, that would clearly not have been luxury.
I am very annoyed with this game. I would like to love it, I would like to advise it, I would like to share with you my joy to play it ... But ... I can not. Deception would be a fairer word. I expected maybe too much. It happens sometimes. And yet, when the game starts and you are the required number, it turns out well. With children or family, it works. But between players, spent the discovery ... the atmosphere starts on a flat calm. Where is the fun? Where is the madness of the series?
The game is clearly not bad. But it really lacks something to make a good game. As it stands, the thing that can make you come back is the nostalgia side. The desire to plunge you back into this crazy world. To face Dick Dastardly & Muttley, to drive the The Army Surplus Special or the Compact Pussycat ... Finally, it did not need much more. More varieties in the powers, more variety in the traps, more varieties on the special terrain, more tiles, the possibility to play with all the drivers, more devious tricks to play, the possibility may be to lessen chance with a small side risk taking (and again it can pass thematically) ...
That's it, you know what to expect. To be honest, despite its many faults, I enjoy playing it. Even if I can not convince others to play another round. The game is still quite pleasant. Without necessarily leaving a playful imprint, it will satisfy you during this short period of time.
If you are a fan of this cartoon, you can even find your child's soul. The actions, the atmosphere stick thematically. But if you are big players and looking for a challenge, I can only advise you to think twice. A family run game, very well with children even as a game for an appetizer. But who misses the finish line because of road exits a little too frequent. Too bad, it really had potential.
Technical note 7/10
Apart from the cars that are very successful and the illustrations, the rest leaves something to be desired. Tiles too thin, not very detailed and varied. Fine cards and offering little variety. Player boards with little interest ... The rules read well.
My score BGG 6/10
(Ok game, only with the right audience)
My love of the cartoon stands out on my note. A family game that will not go down in history, despite interesting ideas and a very pleasant background. A disappointment compared to expectations. Quick and easy to play. To advise with children or with family.
Combined score of 6.5 / 10
And now, it's up to you to play ...
Hate (2019) review
At the origin of the game, there is a book. Hate: The Chronicles of Hate is a graphic novel published by Image Comics from the imagination of Adrian Smith. In a universe all in black and white, the author / illustrator plunges us into dark fantasy pure and hard. With very little dialogue, we follow the misadventures of Ver, a character without much charisma or stature who through a hazardous choice will become the champion of Mother Earth. This one will do everything to release it. While accompanying him, we will discover a gloomy world where Man lives only for war and violence. In this primitive side, the woman is nothing but a vulgar object, almost invisible.
Despite a somewhat (too?) classical scenario, Adrian Smith depicts a dark world (some would say too much because of the strong presence of the black color), a violent and ruthless world. The absence of dialogue "forces" us almost to study each square of this graphic novel well to understand the history. War, violence, witchcraft, charismatic characters, monsters of all kinds are on the program and all with beautiful illustrations.
This book is a cult book for any fan of Dark Fantasy. Even if he does not reinvent the genre, he offers a very tasty black and white adventure, as well as colorful characters.
Adrian Smith was famous for his participation in the Warhammer 40000 universe, notably by illustrating Dan Abnett's books and role plays. For a few years, he has been working closely with the game publisher CoolMiniOrNot (since 2017 he is also the main artist) where you will also find his talent in games like Blood Rage, Rising Sun, The Others.
It is therefore logical to find Adrian Smith’s illustrations behind the game Hate. He is assisted by Edgar Skomorowski (Solomon Kane, Rising Sun). Hate is from a Kickstarter. It's even unique to Kickstarter. Indeed, judging this project too mature, CMON decided to make it an exclusivity of this platform.
To adapt the universe of the book as a board game, CMON has called on several designers. Raphaël Guiton (Zombicide), Jean-Baptiste Lullien (AT-43), Alexandru Olteanu (Kick-Ass) and Nicolas Raoult (Massive Darkness) had the heavy task of making a game like the book. This is not the first time they work together especially with regard to the three French authors (including the former excellent publisher Rackham).
Hate is a skirmish game that traditionally pits two players against one another. But not only that ... No, you can play up to six players, as the box suggests. But how is this possible? Hate offers a campaign that allows you to chain clashes according to the number of players. Each clash is composed of two battles. Each battle corresponds to a scenario chosen by the attacking player. Each clash opposes two players, so two tribes because each player embodies a tribe. In the first battle, one player becomes the attacker and the other the defender. In the second battle, we reverse. Each scenario has its own goals, its own battlefield and possibly its own rules. Also note that there are scenarios that offer you two players against one, two against two, everyone for themselves …
So back to the campaign. The campaign offers you a follow-up of your successes or failures. The tribe with the most victory points at the end of the required number of clashes (for two players, the campaign is five clashes) will prevail. This tracking is found using a sheet representing a map of all available territories. At the beginning of each fight, the attacking player indicates which territory they wish to seize. It must be connected to a region that they already have. If the territory is virgin of all tribes, they chooses their defender. If there is already a tribe installed on it, it is this one which becomes the defender. The winner of this first fight takes possession of the territory. They indicates the name (or that of their tribe) on the map. Then, during the second fight, it is up to the defender to become an attacker and thus choose their destination.
The map is composed of several zones: the outer circle, the inner circle and the capital. Each zone offers different bonuses but above all the available scenarios are not all the same. The choice is therefore important according to these two bits of data. The bonuses of a territory are usually used at the beginning of a clash or the first fight. Each territory possessed offers a number of victory points, more and more important at the end of the game, according to whether one approaches the capital or if one moves away from it. But for that, you still do to have them.
Participating in a campaign allows for a very interesting experience. Besides the map that will change according to your victories or defeats, there will be a constant evolution for your tribes.
Each player has a leaf associated with their tribe. This leaf represents your village. There are buildings like the torture chamber or forge, that will serve you during your games. It is possible to upgrade existing buildings and unlock new ones by recovering resources or completing missions (depending on rewards). Villages will evolve based on your successes and actions during a game. They are mostly used during a campaign. The more your village grows and develops, the more it will help you in your battles.
The game proposes to put us at the head of one of the available tribes. There are eleven, all different.
Each tribe is composed by miniatures of a prince (the leader), a champion, a shaman, six warriors (two of whom have different postures) and two young bloods (the novices who are identical). Each figurine has a colored base to better locate it according to its battlefield. The Prince, the shaman and the champion are unique figures. Each tribe has its own character-design. No tribe is like another. Each miniature is associated with a card that represents it’s abilities: number of attack dice, defenses, displacement value, powers (innate or won). In addition to this, each tribe has its own improvement cards (8 in total). Finally, note that some tribes have a capacity of clans.
To vary the pleasures, you also find the presence of mercenaries. These figurines, all unique, are really strong. It is possible to recruit mercenaries during specific missions. But the task is not easy. Once a mercenary has acquired your cause, he joins your army and can be engaged during a battle. He replaces then a warrior or a young blood of your tribe (this one is not dead but will remain in the village). But for this, you will have to unlock your Hall of Heroes, present in your village. You will only have a maximum of two mercenaries (if you have room for). Once one of these warriors dies, they leaves your tribe. When they die, they die.
At the end of each battle, what is called an "intermission" takes place. Prisoners can be eaten or tortured at this time. These acts are not insignificant because they bring you resources or hate and more. The resources (which can also be recovered from the trees during the scenarios) allow your village to improve. Hatred can unlock new improvements, whether general or specific to your tribe. It is also at this time that players update the campaign but also and especially the attribution of the scars of war. Each character knocked out during a scenario and not captured (or released for lack of space) must make a roll of three dice. Depending on the result, they will receive, or not, scars (loss of an eye, hand cut ...). This passage, and especially the way these wounds are described, is very second degrees and rather well brought. A scar is ok, a second and it's death. At the end of the intermission, you move on with the second battle or redo a new clash.
Be careful, a captive that is tortured or eaten, dies. A dead person in a first battle can not participate in the second (if it's a new clash no problem) and at the end of the campaign there is a loss of points. A dead character is reset. In other words, we remove all its scars but also its improvements. Sometimes it can hurt. Especially near the end as you’ll attach yourself to your warriors. It can be frustrating to see your favorite, a survivor of all battles, die and become a mere novice again.
Improvements like scars are represented by cards. Each character is supposed to have sleeves (pity there are only a dozen that are included, not enough for all). The changes are slipped into these card protectors. Your character has updated info in real time. And from one game to another, nothing is easier to see your evolution in the campaign and especially to keep it up to date. It is unfortunate that these cards are a bit fragile and that mixing them may lead to damage (that's what happened to me).
The fights propose very simple resolutions. Each character has an attack and defense value. This value represents the number of dice to throw. Added bonuses are available (forging, support of other units, cards). The number of successes is the number of injuries. The defender does the same and you’ll compare. If the attacker touches at least once, the defender is knocked out. If the defender equalizes or exceeds, nothing happens. A knockout figure is not dead yet and stays on the board. Among the available actions, a warrior close to a KO figurine (friend or foe) can capture it. It is then put on their character sheet. They stay there until the end of the battle or until the warrior in question is also knocked out. During an intermission, these captured figurines can be eaten or tortured. So be careful, there is no friendly neighborhoods in this wild world. A young blood can as well kill a veteran Prince if luck is on his side.
On the dice, there's the traditional face "hit", "defense" but also a joker face. There is also another, the skull. This one corresponds to savagery. Normally, except for some tribes, they get five savage pawns per turn. These are the pieces that allow you to activate your miniatures. Except for Princes and mercenaries who ask for two, a savage pawn activates a miniature. Dice with savage sides will add new pawns to your supply. Each model can only be activated once (except forging power or cards). You’ll leave these pieces next to, to show that they have already played. An activated character can make a movement then an action (and not the other way around). Among the available actions, it is possible to: harvest resources (if you finish your move next to a tree), try to loot a hut (you have to finish moving in a hut), do nothing, fight or pick up a body.
Looting a hut can be profitable but dangerous. Some have warriors ready to defend themselves against the invader. Others, on the other hand, offer no resistance.
When a character is knocked out, the attacker gains a hate. Hates are one of the two resources of the game. They allow, as we have already seen, to benefit from improvements.
At the end of the number of clashes required, according to the number of players who participate, you’ll move to the counting of points. During the campaign, you’ll evolved on two tracks. The first is the resources, the second the hate. To know how many points you have, you take the one you have the least of. This is you base point score. Victories are added to the battles, the dead are taken away from your tribe. And there you go. Whoever has the most, wins. So you have to be careful not only to try to keep your warriors alive for as long as possible, but also to strike a balance between resources and hatred. This condition to gain points (found in many other games) is very clever. It prevents focusing only on the murder aspect or only on the gathering of resources.
With Hate, component quality level, CMON sets the bar very high. The 32mm figurines are awesome. They are without imperfections (even if some players have had breakage following the transport). They are teeming with details. It's really the most beautiful I've seen in the world of the board game and they largely equal to those that can be found in the world of the figurine. The chosen scale makes the thing even more pleasant. On the board, the rendering gives a really good look. The box is full of components and yet everything is simple and quick to install.
The huts, the trays and the trees in 3D, available only during the campaign (and that I did not take this….sniff), make it possible to add relief to a deserted landscape.
The illustrations are beautiful. Little more with the figurines that look like the illustrations. The graphic universe is respected (which seems logical). Nothing is watered down. The dark, gloomy and crooked atmosphere is there. By its theme, it’s an adult game.
In a concern for detail and especially perfection, some black spots could occur with the components. For color-blind people, the possible lack of ease of visibility (the color stands can not necessarily be adapted).
The principal board is too sober, but this side is ultimately in line with the installation mechanics scenarios. Since landscape content can change with each battle (and not the landscape itself), this lack of original customization works perfectly.
The difference in height zones can be a bit difficult to spot. But we end up getting use to it.
Still in the details, the Feast token are a bit hard to see compared to the rest of the plastic components.
Finally, the inserts for upgrade can be fragile (I have some damaged) and it is a pity that CMON did not supply enough to protect all cards characters (it lacks a dozen).
As for the mechanisms, they are simple. There are good ideas, even very, very good ideas, all in the service of simplicity. The parts are fluid. Possible actions are logical. Zombicide managed to simplify the board games, Hate managed to simplify the skirmish games.
No complex actions, no movements to take cover, no measure of distance ... This is all very simple. But not simplistic. The reflection is present. The choices are sometimes Cornelian. On the other hand, those allergic to luck, I can only say to you: “FLY, YOU FOOLS !” Luck is omnipresent. At once, everything can switch around. I really like the possibility for a weak character to kill a strong character on a single stroke. It reminds you of the cruel side of this universe and the fact that no one is safe. But it's clearly not going to please everyone. Heroic actions are present. The reversals of situation also in a battle but even more during a campaign.
The diversity in the scenarios offers a variety of pleasant situations. Even though there are only a few, their choice will depend on the areas to attack, so you can easily avoid the fact of constantly replaying the same way. Not to mention also that it is possible for players to create their own scenario (we have begun to try this).
The duration of a game is pretty amazing. Sometimes it can go very fast. On average, battles can go up to an hour, but war a lot longer. The system of savagery to activate our figurines forces us to make choices, and to regain them makes it possible to surprise the others.
The campaign mode is very pleasant to play. The evolution of our characters is simple to perform. But even here, the choice is important. The intermissions are fun to perform and the scarring system is very fun. The tracking on the map is a small bonus. We find ourselves telling stories, to follow our characters and get attached to them.
Hate is more than a very nice surprise. It's a game with simple rules and extremely fun. It's also a really beautiful game. Just the illustration on the box is amazing! I really like what Adrian Smith does, so when combined with incredible figures. Wow! It is a real pleasure to dive into again and again in this gloomy, violent and addictive universe. I didn't really expect it. And yet, I find it really great. Not in the complexity or in the reflection that it could generate, not in a potential puzzle to solve. No, Hate is pure fun. Simple, brutal, violent as the universe it lives in. If you like skirmishes a little bit, I can only advise this to you. For me, it is clearly an essential game for those who love the ameritrash.
Technical Score 9.95 / 10
The miniatures are awesome! The cardboard quality is good, the cards are nice. This is close to faultless, as some minor defects however prevent it.
My BGG Score 10/10
(Exceptional, still wants to play it)
Maybe not the most strategic, nor the most tactical, but it is clearly fun in the pure state. Simple, easy to set up, a well done campaign system. A success.
Combined Score 9.975 / 10
And now, it's your turn…
a song of ice & fire miniatures game