Phone bomb (2019) Review
Today we are going to talk about Phone Bomb. Bomb, not Game. No, I'm not going to give you a review of Joel Schumacher's film with Colin Farrell. Here, no phone booth. However, you will need your phone. One is enough for the entire player group. And no, it is not supplied in the box. Here it is ...
David Cicurel, the author of Chronicles of Crime, continues to explore the mix between board game and digital through the use of the telephone. Indeed, to play Phone Bomb, you will need to download an application, in addition of course to the material included in the box. First thing to know, the application is not greedy and can work very well with any smartphone (for example), as long as it has a touch screen (yes the 3310 will not work .. at the same time it's not a smartphone ...).
Without further ado, we will learn together to become a real minesweeper (raising this flag will be useless). But for that, here are some rules to respect, before accepting your mission.
1. You will have to be thoroughly prepared
Ah! yes. ... I reassure you, you will not need that much preparation. You can remove all that ... Finally, to play it, come as you are.
So to be able to play Phone Bomb, you will need a table, chairs, a telephone, a copy of the game and ... that's it. Originally, the publisher seemed to have wanted to include real bombs in the box, but the ephemeral side of a part and the final potential cost dissuaded them. It is for this reason that the application takes over. A decision certainly more classic but oh so much more logical.
The game application is easily found. Come on, because I'm nice, I leave you the link to it. You just have to click there. That's it? Okay while it's downloading, I'm going to take this opportunity to present the game to you. Note that once on your phone, the internet connection is no longer mandatory.
On its launch, you’ll arrive in a very classic menu. You then have the choice between the level of difficulty (Discovery or normal), take a look at the options (to adjust language, music, sounds ...), and you can even click on the credits to discover the designers, authors ... But this is for the most curious. Last but not least, you can start a game. Attention, once you click on play, the game and the timer starts directly (there is no loading count as indicated in the rule). Click only when you are ready to play, otherwise you will have to go back.
An ultimately sober application, but one that goes to the essentials. What is most important. No fuss (or Goku), we know immediately what to do and we don't waste time.
2. Read the rule beforehand and explain it to everyone
Now that the application is installed and loaded, it's time to move on to the rules explanations. It's actually easier with the app in front of you, even if you can start without it.
The rules of Phone Bomb are very clear and above all very simple. Each player has a hand of four cards. On their turn, when the phone is in front of them, they become the active player and must play two cards and only two cards. Depending on what is played, they will have to interact on the application then pass the phone to the next player.
The possible actions will depend on the icons on the cards. When the active player plays two cards with matching icons, then they can perform that action on the phone. If they do not want to or cannot play cards where the icons do not match, they must then pass. Whatever the players do, they must indicate it by clicking on the right space on the screen and then pass the phone on.
Once these two actions are done, the player draws two new cards. And that's all. Simple, right?
3. You will have to pay attention to the other players
Phone Bomb is a semi-cooperative game. You will have to face crisis situations together: in other words prevent the bomb from exploding before the end of time.
Cooperating is therefore a great way to survive, or rather to deactivate as many bombs as possible before they go off. But there will only be one winner at the end of the game. It will therefore sometimes be necessary to be opportunistic in order to get ahead or leave before it is too late. Pay attention to others. At any time, they may seek to pull the blanket towards them, at the risk of wasting your time. Beware of the most smiling colleagues ... they are sometimes the worst. Opportunism and a sense of timing will sometimes be necessary.
4. You will learn to master time management
At the start of a game, you have one minute to defuse the bomb. Yes, very little time. As much to tell you right away, time will pass at a crazy speed. You will have to watch it because you'd be lost in what you want to do, sometimes forgeting it ... and there is the drama. Phone Bomb, and especially its application, offers a very pleasant timing system. The real-time aspect is something that I really appreciate. This helps build up welcome pressure and sometimes increased stress which can lead to situations of tension or unexpected error. The chronometer is like a sword of Damocles, merciless and continuous.
Of course, depending on the actions chosen, it will be possible to influence the time. For example, it will be possible to add time, but also to waste it. In order to prevent a system which could become too calculating, and therefore less fun, these gains or losses will not always be the same in terms of quantity. This unpredictable side adds a little tension and an uncontrollable variable which enhances the fun of the game.
5. Add time to breathe
It is therefore time to see the actions in detail. We will start by adding time.
As I mentioned to you just before, time management is a very important concept in the game. But a minute goes by very quickly. To allow you to breathe and because you are pros, you can add time. For that, it is enough that the active player plays two cards representing a watch. Once done, the player must click on the "watch" icon on the control panel. This will add about thirty seconds to the group.
6. Think before you act
The bomb control panel has fifteen wires, five of each color (blue, yellow and red). The object of the game is to cut the three good wires among these fifteen. Of course, you can go head down and cut at random ... at the risk of losing precious seconds. Or think and reduce chance.
To do this, you can play two cards with an eye symbol. Once done, you will need to select an eye from one of the three colors on the application. Just below, once you have clicked, symbols will appear which will guide you in your search. These symbols will correspond to the chosen color and only to this color. Thus, you will be able to learn if among these wires there are any: trapped (skull), defusing (pliers) or neutral (which are useless).
The little welcome subtlety corresponds to updating this info. This information corresponds to the moment when you press the eye. They are only updated when you perform this action.
7. Wire cutting
After a while, it is certain that time is running out and that we will have to act. Courageous as you are, you therefore decide to choose a wire to cut. To do this, simply play two cards with the same color.
If I play two blue wires, I can cut one of the five blue wires still available. If I have found a good wire, a green light will come on. If it is a neutral wire, nothing happens. If it is a bad wire, the bomb approaches the explosion and a red light comes on.
Three green lights, the bomb is defused; three red, it explodes.
8. Do not forget to do forward planning
It is well known, it is thanks to you, and only to you, that the operation is a success. If you play two cards with the microphone symbol, then you will have the opportunity to take the time to think about your future interview in front of the cameras.
These cards played, in this case, remain in front of you. If the operation is a success, the player who has prepared their intervention best will win 1 additional point at the end of the round. Yes, it's as much a part of the job as putting yourself forward. But beware, nothing is free. Indeed, when you take time to think about what you will say, you will actually take time. In other words, the group will lose between 5 to 15 seconds over the final time. Be careful it goes quickly ... You will have to choose the right timing to embark on this type of action.
9. Courage to run away!
The life of a bomb disposal technician is a high risk job. Sometimes, time flies too fast and the bomb eventually explodes. If this is the case, nobody wins points (even for the interviews, don't dream either, losers are not worth interviewing ... though).
To overcome this small inconvenience, by taking your courage in both hands and burying it deep within yourself, you can choose to flee. But flee bravely.
Yes fleeing is not glorious, but it can allow you to get out of a difficult situation alive and victorious. When you play two cards with the symbol flee, you exit the round (click of course on the corresponding button). You no longer have an impact on the current round. You have technically left the place of the bomb. Potential interview cards played before no longer count for you. When you choose to flee, this gives some time back to your colleagues still in play.
If the bomb is defused, no luck, you left too early, suddenly nothing for you except bullying and mocking. On the other hand, if the bomb explodes, well done. Not only have you survived, but above all you will gain 1 point (and not those who stayed).
10. To do nothing sometimes is to do something ...
While the active player chooses to do an action or simply pass, the other players are not outdone.
Phone Bomb wants to be a communication game. For this, during the active player's turn, the others can freely exchange cards with each other. Of course in order to respect the altruistic nature of the game, the cards must be exchanged face down, without being shown beforehand and the agreements relate only to those who believe them (therefore in no way be obligatorily respected).
Even if it is true that during the first games, you do not necessarily think about it, this notion is quite well seen and occupies the players during the rounds. This occupation contributes to the fact of adding a bit of deception but also to distract the players from the current objective. This distraction can waste precious seconds without anyone realizing it. It is important to communicate well and find the right balance.
And now you know all there is to know to become a good minesweeper at Phone Bomb. At the end of a round, we count the points. 2 points for those who stayed and who defused the bomb, 1 point for the one who most prepared the best interview and 1 only for those who fled when there was an explosion.
A full game is played over five rounds. At the end, you’ll proceed to the calculation of all the points, whoever has the most wins the game.
The game offers a few variations including bonus cards. Very quickly, you will find yourself playing with this to spice up your games. These are simple goals that will allow you to earn an additional point on success. This adds a little more and even more distrust without weighing down the game.
Phone Bomb is a success in its genre. The components are simple, but everything is clear and easily readable. The rules are well written, and easily readable. The iconography is well thought out. Once the game started, no more feedback on how to play is required.
The rounds are linked quickly, the game is fluid and there is no time to be bored on the contrary. Without upsetting the codes, Phone Bomb offers a very pleasant experience for short games. The mixture of real time, cooperative pressure with the tension of betrayal that can occur at any time works perfectly.
There is mistrust and bursts of laughter are not long in accompanying the game, especially once the players are chaining blows. The game is very dynamic and there is no real downtime.
The application is simple but relatively well thought out. No superfluous, the symbols of the cards correspond perfectly to those present on the control panel. You don't waste time figuring out what to do. Everything is instinctive and above all it responds well to touch. No latency. Playable on many supports, the application adds a playful side to the defusing touch as in the movies. There are some sensations of video games like Keep Talking Nobody Explodes or Them Bombs! (in less pushed of course). In addition, the publisher has announced that the application will experience future improvements such as the appearance of missions. Interesting thing that deserves to be followed.
Bonus cards offer a little extra and renew interest after several games.
The game is nevertheless not without flaws.
It remains a party game. This means that the more players, the better. Playing it at two (variant included) has no interest, and even if it is appreciated by three, it in no way delivers its potential.
However, the application has certain limits. In terms of pure use, it is a shame to see small things appear which certainly do not prevent the pleasure of play but which slightly increase the handling.
Again, this doesn't take away from the fun of the game. In the end, these are just small details, but things that can be easily improved to increase the fun and ease of use.
If you play in good company (it is possible to see some playing anti-games by taking more time voluntarily to win), the game is a real nice surprise. An ideal aperitif game, simple, fun and lively. A tasty blend of flavors that works perfectly. Knowing how to juggle between saving the team or putting themselves forward is a relatively tasty thing. Not to be hated by others while trying to get out of the game puts you in a place not so obvious but oh so enjoyable especially that must be added to that the pressure of time. Not only does the game work well, it also offers a really well-thought-out hybrid experience with good quality hardware. Phone Bomb is a game that I can only advise you to play with friends, family, with younger children, between adults, between people you do not know .... in short with anyone, play there! After locating the sympathetic Topiary, waiting for the very good Rescue Polar Bears, Aurora offers us with Phone Bomb a very good aperitif game. It would be a shame to deprive yourself, especially since it is at an explosive price.
Technical score 9/10
Compared to its category, Phone Bomb is doing really well. Very easily recognizable iconography, clear rules, simple but effective application. The cards are solid and pleasant to handle.
A little further application adjustments would have been a plus.
My BGG score 7/10
The game is very pleasant. The mix of genres works really well. It's always a pleasure to play it. It's dynamic, deceitful, fluid, fun, accessible and fast. Besides this last point makes it possible to prevent repetitivity from settling down. We can't wait to see how the thing can be developed even more thanks to the app to vary the pleasures. A very nice surprise for a game that works really well.
Combined score of 8/10
And now it's your turn to play ...
Marvel Champions: The Card Game
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Queenz: To bee or not to bee
Queenz is one of the last games of the prolific author Bruno Cathala. For this new game, he is accompanied by Johannes Goupy and we find the excellent Vincent Dutrait adding his artistic hand. The game was released at Essen 2019 by Mandoo Games and is distributed in France by Blackrock Games.
Queenz is a game that gives you the chance to become a Beekeeper. You will have to place your hives judiciously according to your land and plant flower beds that cover them. Each flower, as in real life, offers the possibility of producing a honey of a color but especially of different taste. The more you have the ability to diversify, the more points you will earn. But do not forget that without bees, there is no honey. This is good because you can also opt to collect and position them onto your fields. But beware, a bee too far from his hive will not give anything. Dilemma and choice are at the heart of the game.
Queenz accessibility is one of its strengths. Indeed, the rules are really very simple. Each player starts the game without a parcel of land but with three unused hives of your color and "pots" of honey representing the possible future products. Plots of land are available for purchase and positioned next to the central plateau.
The central plateau offers a square of 6x6 boxes initially covered by orchids taken at random. The flowers care of different colors (5) and can also contain or not bees (one queen or up to three workers). Around this flower garden, a meeple gardener walks from space to space depending on the flowers collected by the players. This meeple occupies an important position in the game. Indeed, you will be able to choose to recover flowers only according to its position. On your turn, you will have the choice between two actions.
The first action is one of the most important: collect flowers. You will be able to take from one to three flowers depending on the position of the gardener. Indeed, it will indicate the row available to recover the flowers. And without being paid. What a nice gardener. Because yes, taking flowers in this game, it's free. And you will be able to collect up to three. But of course, there are conditions to that.
- If you choose to take only one flower, then you can take the one you want, whether or not there are bees on it.
- Do you want two? Go for it. But only if there are no bees on them.
- It is not enough ? Do you want three? Go because it's you, it's a gift. But, only take orchids of 3 different colors.
The flowers thus collected are stored in the personal reserve of the player. Attention, this reserve contains only six places. And when there are no more places ... you can not take flowers anymore. Gluttony has its limits and waste is not tolerated. The gardener then moves as many boxes as flowers taken by the player.
As you can guess, the central plateau will empty little by little. It will become more and more difficult to recover the desired flowers and especially the desired number. Especially since the flowers take time to grow, they are not replaced immediately. First come, first served. This will also play a role in choosing to take one to three flowers so as not to give too much opportunity to his opponent.
The other possible action is the construction or enlargement of his field. It could not be easier. The player takes one of the land tiles available for purchase. It's always free ... If it's your first tile, you simply place it in front of you. Otherwise, it must be added adjacent to existing tiles. Here too, there is a constraint. The tile chosen, once placed, must be filled with flowers from your reserve and possibly a hive. No empty spaces.
If by the time you finish placing your pieces, you have an area with at least two adjacent orchids of the same color on your land, then you produce honey of that color. Take your "honey pot" pawn of the corresponding color and place it on your personal tray. If you have all the pots of all colors, then you receive a distinction in the form of a bonus points. Be aware, the faster you are, the more points you will have (these diminish over time).
Now that you have placed your new land, it is time to see if it brings you something. If you manage to create areas of the same color, or if you enlarge an area already present on other tiles with at least two more flowers (of course with the same color), you will gain one point per flower belonging to these areas.
To note a small exception which I did not speak to you for the moment. When choosing to retrieve orchids from the gardener. You can take a flower with bees on it. If there are several, they will count at the end of the game depending on their promiscuity with a hive (pollen, honey production all that stuff). Queens work a little differently. Indeed, they allow to act immediately their taking of the garden. You then have permission to replace one of your flowers already laid by the one with the queen on it. The removed orchid returns to your reserve and the queen settles on your field. This ability is sometimes handy for increasing the connection of a colored area or for getting closer to a hive.
The end of the game occurs when a player places his fifth land tile in their playing area. The opponents of this player can then bloom a last field without the necessity of it being filled. The last chance to make points.
At the end of the game, we move to the count up of end points. First of all, look at the points earned during the game. Then add the end-of-game bonus points.
First the points indicated on the diversity of production token. You know it's the token gained during the game thanks to your honeys of five colors (yes, this was easy). These points range from ten for the fastest, to two for the slowest. Without necessarily making a big difference, it can still affect the final score.
Then you’ll review your hives. Hives that have attracted bees will earn you points. A good beekeeper knows how to take care of his workers. Each player will earn one point for each bee on their eight adjacent squares. Eight boxes, eight possible points, three hives, so it can go up to 24 boxes so 24 points. Not so bad is not it? For the most skeptical so far, you now see the interest of the capacity of the queens? It's a score that can make a clear difference. Especially if others have focused on the immediate points of color areas.
There you go. The one with the most points is judged by an incredible assembly of beekeeper recognized in the middle, as having achieved the best honeys and thus wins the game. Youpi! Hooray! Bravo!
The great strength of Queenz is its ease of access. Short rules, limited possibilities, the kind of game that allows you to dive directly into the game without resifting through the bow for the rules. This type of game is perfect for casual players who sees it as a present challenge and a possibility to play without taking the lead. It is true that the parts are nice.
The game is in tune with the times. In other words, simple rules but with a relative depth and a reduced playing time (count less than 30 minutes when you start to know the game). Despite the number of restricted actions (two), the number of possibilities and play patterns are quite important. This allows replayability and satisfy the players who are keen on this type of game. The game also has a variant to "complicate" the game adding a new bonus flower. An accessory, but nice.
Another strong point, it is possible to play 2 to 4 players, and it works well in all configurations. Said like that everything seems to work like clockwork, and we are far from having hives "buzzy" ... and yet. Honey may not be as good as wanted.
My first concern, that's why I’ll start with it, because in reality this is not one for many players, because of the theme. Or rather, it’s absence. It should not be hidden, and it appears very quickly, Queenz is actually a disguised abstract game. The idea of the hive, the honey, the bees, the flowers ... all that is superficial. You could definitely replace all that with something else and it would work just as well.
Let's move on to less forgivable things: the overall quality of the material. Unfortunately, the game is far from irreproachable. One oscillates between hot and cold during the depunching. While the flower tokens are correct, the field tiles and the trays (individual or central) are very thin and a lot of tiles of land do not fit together properly. It's nerdy when we want to make a nice display on the table. The size of the score pieces is also disturbing. These are slightly larger than the boxes of the dots. Which is ultimately quite impractical especially if you play four. Frankly, we remain in the field of non-crippling and that does not prevent us from having fun, but this lack of finish is regrettable. To be forgiven (?), You have Queenz token in quantity. There, I confess I have not yet understood their usefulness.
In terms of gameplay, the game actually offers a lot of possibilities. But finally these possibilities can be summed up in two main axes of scoring : to leave the fastest on the diversity and the bees (thus seeking to accelerate the game) or to realize larger areas of the same color. After several games, we found ourselves limited in these two ways of scoring points. For the general public, this feeling will certainly not appear, but for most players, you will see there a possible limit to playfulness. A limit that necessarily negatively affects the replayability and willingness to return to it.
Finally, focusing on the illustrations, we are starved on this front too. Normally, I really like the work of Vincent Dutrait. In addition to being one of the most prolific board game illustrators, he is above all a person with great talent and in many ways. On the other hand here, outside the box, I had a sense of "minimum union" for the rest of the material. It's colorful, it's not devoid of interest, it's visible (even if the flowers are very similar) but, at the same time, it's relatively "cold". Finally, one could even say that it is abstract as are the mechanisms. A sensation difficult to explain but, visually, the game will not remain in the annals. However, I am fully aware that art is purely subjective and I do not doubt that others will find this game superb.
Very inspired games like Patchwork or the series of Cottage Garden, Queenz finally fails to offer enough originality to win. The proposed mechanisms are known and without real risk taking, even if effective for those who love this style of play, it remains a simple game to access with pleasant mechanisms, and for optimization accessible. It will easily find a place in the family toy libraries. Far from being demanding, it will offer you a certain challenge and will entertain you, but for a short period.
Some technical errors that unfortunately ruin the experience. The game is simple, the rule more or less well written. Once understood, no reread needed. It's colorful, visually clean but maybe the whole lacks a bit of soul.
My score BGG 6/10
(An ok game, to play from time to time if it is proposed to me)
A game that unfortunately offers nothing original, but based on proven and recognized mechanisms. A game in the format intended for the family audience or higher. In this context, the game works pretty well, to discover the optimization. Before moving on to something more solid ...
Combined score of 6.5 / 10
And now, it's up to you to play ...
Freshwater Fly (2019) review
Bellwether Games is a publisher who gained recognition with the game Coldwater Crown. A game rather interesting and perfect about fishing. They are now back with a new Kickstarter, this time, Freshwater Fly. No surprise, it rests in the theme of fishing. While the first game was intended to plunge you into a world tournaments, the second offers a more intimate approach, more solitary. Indeed, in Freshwater Fly you go fly fishing in a slightly mountainous area, with friends. Just that, your whole program. Indeed, I like games that offer original themes. This one is one of those. However, I have to admit, not being a fisherman myself, I have not mastered the jargon specific to this passion.
Freshwater Fly is a game of Brian Suhre. All the visual was done by Darryl T. Jones. The game was available in small quantities at Essen 2019 and sometimes in a few shops. But the stock quickly melted. Hard to get your hands on now. The theme played a big part in the success of the title, especially in a current production that is struggling to renew itself. But what about the game itself?
Freshwater Fly invites you to play as a fisherman. Here, no religion. No, a real fisherman, with his rubber boots, his overalls, his gloves, his bucket hat... In short, all you need to not catch a death by cold from facing the currents. With your fishing rod, you and your friends decided to start a small competition. The subject of the competition: angling. The goal: to get the most points at the end of the game. Simple, basic. Fishing rod in hand, let's go.
Me, I dig my saplings, to go fishing, musette on the shoulder, sausage, cold beer. (french song "LA PÊCHE À LA LIGNE" - RENAUD) Settled in my little corner of paradise, I'm ready. First thing to do, choose my fly. There are six flies available, each corresponding to a color, which itself corresponds to the hatching tokens. It is important to study the game board in order to choose a color that corresponds to your target fish at the risk of telling the story of how the big fish got away. Each player, in the order of the turn, will prepare their rod carefully.
In Freshwater Fly, there is no lap count. You have the time, as this requires practice. Although ... the first to catch their seventh fish, will end the game. It remains a race. Monitoring the progress of others and catching up is a good idea. Just be contemplative and enjoy the water and clean air.
Each player has an individual board representing their abilities and reel. This is not a simple accessory that challenges but represents a real pretty ingenious and well inserted in the theme. The central board corresponds to the whole accessible end of the river and gives you a visual of the catchable fish. And essentially with which bait to catch them.
At each round, you will roll a number of dice based on the number of players. The dice are at the heart of the game. In turn order, you will choose one of the dice still available and perform a force action equal to its value. There are three main actions available: casting, reel or finesse +2.
First of all, you'll need a target, a whipping fish (no Igor, put that whip away!). For that, nothing more simple. The chosen die will show you a column on the board. In this column, you will be able to choose a position among those available (paying attention of the rocks). But for your prey to be attracted, you must have a fly of the same color as the hatching token at the bottom of the river. If this is the case, you must go to the second step: catching your fish.
For him to bite the hook, you will have to show skill ... not in fact, it's more luck but in a controlled way. There is a small deck consisting of four cards. Among them, is a card "fish caught". You mix this deck, and if you have a hook of the same color as a hatch, you draw one. If this famous card is drawn, bravo you can go to the next step. If you missed your fish, do not panic. Concentrate. Do you see your fineness level on your personal board? If you have any, you can spend one (you slip your token one step to the left) to take another card. Still missed? Decidedly, this fish is tough. You can even do it again, if you really lack luck (perseverance is a good virtue).
But what happens if you miss your fish? The current will move your line will drift one step to the left. If you were already in zone 1, too bad for you, you will have to retry your luck on your next action. In other cases, if your hook corresponds to a hatching token you can try again to hook a new fish. Take back the cards, shuffle them and ... this time you do not shoot one but two cards. Yes, it is like that. You want this fish! If, after this second chance, you have not succeeded, your action is lost.
In case your hook does not match the hatch token, it's a little less convenient. If this is your first run, your line drifts down a notch. You can only try your luck if your hook matches the hatch token. If it still does not fit, you still drift one step to the left. With each drift, you have the right to try your luck to catch the fish. But be careful, after the second drift or after the second attempt, your turn is over. Small bonus of a drift, it is not one but two cards that you will draw. Sometimes, going farther can be a good strategy.
Once your fish is hooked, you have it at the end of your cane. It took the fly, which may tend to annoy it. But expert as you are, it's not a problem. So you take the corresponding fish and position it on your personal board according to its color. Each color corresponds to a step in the capture. The more difficult a fish is to catch, the more points it makes. You also take the hatching token (which will serve at the end of the game) and of course you place a fish in the space of the one that your caught. If by chance you have caught it next to rocks, draw the first card from the pile. These are bonuses that will help you greatly during the game. Finally, the reel is positioned on its starting space.
Which brings us to the second possible action. Play the reel to tickle this stud. In short, bring the fish to the surface. Your reel has five spaces. Each corresponds to a specific action:
- Breaking the fish by decreasing its strength to 0 (put the correct token on it)
- Win an available bonus tile, if you already have one, your flip it on it’s back
- Gain a fineness (one step on the right)
- Depending on the resistance color of the fish, you will move one space back or forward. If it is green: you advance one space; if it is yellow you retreat.
- The starting space makes it possible to bring the fish closer to the surface. When you stop or go past this, you do not collect € 200 but you lower the resistance of your fish one step to the left. If it was already on the green box, bravo you captured it.
To use your reel, you will have to select a remaining die. You decrease the value of the die by the resistance strength of the fish and you advance your reel by that many spaces. Once this is done, you can use the power indicated on the space.
There remains a third and last action available, focus. You can take any dice and regardless of its value, to move your fineness slider two notches to the right. This is the best way to ensure future success or desired power.
There are also bonus actions that depend on your rock cards (permanent but once per turn), your speed tile (one-shot) or your situation on your ability (lower your fineness by one step to the left). These actions can be done in addition to the main action.
The end of a round occurs when there are no more dice available. To determine the first player, you’ll calculate the value of each die you used, the smallest total is prime. Being first can be important. This is also one of the ways the author tries to convince you not to just take the big numbers.
The end of the game comes at the end of a round where a player fishes their seventh fish. You’ll then count the points. Starting with the fish, then public goals and after private goals. Finally, the points from rock cards are added and the one that has the most wins.
Contrary to what it seems, Freshwater Fly is not a complicated game. Everything seems quickly logical and the rounds are linked in a rather important fluidity. In front of the small choice of available actions, the wait between turns is quite limited.
Thematically, the game is really exemplary. Everything breathes the theme. That it is the material but also the mechanisms. Special mention to the idea of the reel. We found ourselves with the impression of raising fish at the end of our lines. A little cricket singing in the background, relaxing music with water streaming and you're there.
The rules are in the majority quite clear and the components is relatively correct (some problems may be on some material). You’ll quickly identifies your objectives and the fish that you wishes to catch. Moreover, the idea of having personal boards with asymmetrical objectives is excellent. Everything is well indicated and it is not necessary to go back in the rule book.
The duration of a game is not very long. I must admit that it is sufficient. Longer, the game could have become quite boring. Because yes, it is not free of defects.
Already, the game seems pretty scripted. This feeling finally agrees well enough with the theme, but we quickly feel forced. One of the things you need to do first is hook a fish. When you do not have fish, the rest is impossible. Then, once you have one at the end of your line, you will have to go back up, so you will do almost this action. And so on. Finally, you take a dice, you take a fish, you spin your reel. However, this repetitiveness of actions and especially choices fits perfectly into the theme. How else would you have wanted it? To have wanted to stick too close to the theme, the author may have forgotten that this is a board game and that playfully non-fishermen could quickly get bored.
Luck is present. But it is relatively discreet and most of the time controllable. Once again, you could have liked unforeseen events (fish snaps the line, the wind reverses the current, etc.) which would have broken a little this playful monotony. The dice, in turn, play a role that is ultimately rather minor. The game will sometimes be a race to the one who will be able to take the strongest dice first (hence the interest of being the first player). Collect dice of small values quickly finds its limits.
The replayability of the game is theoretically good. However, it can quickly become a problem if your resistance to do more or less the same is low.
The game offers a solo mode that has the merit of existing and remains interesting. Not convinced by cons, once realized, we return with great pleasure.
I was really attracted to the theme that was off the beaten track. I would have loved to love this game. It is pleasant but unfortunately far from what had sold me, at least in my imagination. Maybe I was expecting too much? Far from being a bad game, it is not unforgettable either. If it had not had its original theme, would it have been so successful? Nothing is less sure.
Freshwater Fly is a pleasant game with a refreshing theme and incredible thematic respect. But even if it has interesting mechanisms, the game suffers quickly from gaps. Shortcomings that will be quickly forgotten if you are fans of fishes, or that will be important if you search more than a theme. This points race could finally be compared to a long calm river. A known place, relaxing but not surprising.
Many good things in this game. The graphics, the material (even if some things are disproportionate or just below the rest), the rules, everything is clear, clear and thematically respected. The reel is a small gadget that has its charm. We hoped for a finish on some elements, for a little less generic look.
My BGG score 7/10
(Good likes from time to time play)
The strength of the game is its theme, rather its thematic respect. On it, the work of the author is remarkable. However, when you touch such a special passion, you have to know how to balance. Focusing on it alone can quickly knock out those who do not have this fiber. Paradoxically therefore, the game suffers from the thematic omnipresence that prevents it from coming out of the currents. A current sometimes too linear.
Combined score 7.5 / 10
And now, it's up to you to play ...
Red outpost (2019) first impressions
If you're looking for a game with a unique theme and gameplay, here is a game that should pique your interest. Theme wise, Red Outpost is about the Russians winning the Space Race. And instead of going to the moon, they crash on another planet and start inhabiting it. Mechanics wise, this is a worker displacement, resource gathering and and Influence scoring game. Where are all the workers and resources are shared between all players. But this is no “co-op game” by any shape or means. Players are going to be scrambling to manipulate these workers for their own benefits and mainly trying to hold the others back from doing the same. Each, trying to keep their head about the water, at the same, submerging the heads of others.
The ruleset for the game is very simple. You’ll move an unused worker to a unique empty location, place one of your influence tokens on that workers image, possibly change the mood of that worker, before taking the action as indicated on the location. As simple as that. Although so your first game, you may occasionally forget to place out your influence token. This can sometimes screw up the game. Or at least your score, if you forget to do so. But that's an easy player error to make in your first game. Quickly forgotten in this very rapid, slick, elegant game. To help the game run smoother, it has its own simple to read, iconography at each location. This, players will pick up very quickly and make your gaming experience run very smoothly. But with all that being said, this game is easy to pick up and play (with a possible error...lol) but is no easy game to master.
The game is played over 2 rounds, which represents 2 days. Each day is broken down into 5 phases. Morning, first half of the day, lunch, second half of the day and evening. All of the six unique workers will start their day in the barracks, sleeping. Waking up from they're wonderful dreams and preparing for that hard but yet satisfying day of work. In the morning, lunch and evening phase, each player will be able to move a worker to a new unoccupied location. Whereas as in the first and second half of the day, players will activate all available workers until they have all been utilised. This may mean at certain player accounts, some players will activate two workers while others only one in this phase. Here there are some little thematic ideas that play into each of these times of the day. For example, any workers that are not moved in the morning phase will sleep in and instantly be satisfied, augmenting their mood level. That's true in the real world, yes? The kitchen space is only open at lunchtime, but you're not obliged to send a worker out there to elevate their mood. Again in the evening, the barracks is the only place that you can send a worker. And not all workers will go there, but any that do will have their mood increased.
To add a bit of variety to this, the game comes with 3 morning and evening tokens. These can be placed out randomly or in set locations, rendering them closed for that part of the day. Reducing the amount of locations during two phases of a round. This is not as restrictive as it sounds, although it will make a few players feel claustrophobic, as they become first play and have free reign of the board. But that one action they want to do is not available! But it will add a little more to your thought process from game to game. Plus with the restriction of only one worker being able to move to an unoccupied location, will consume a little bit of your grey matter.
Let's talk a little bit about these locations and what they do. Most of the locations will gather resources, like wheat from the fields or coal from the coal mine. A few of them will allow you to draw cards to see whether you collect resources, like whether you catch a fish from the lake. All resources are pooled together the storehouse. For each resource your worker collects, you will move your token on the production wheel. Once it passes a certain space, you're received two points and a crystal, which is its own unique resource. More about these crystals later. If at the end of your turn, you have added a third resource of the same type already stored there, you’ll score some additional points. This is an action that can be stolen from you by other players, so don’t try to think too far ahead. Two of these resources are removed while the other is placed on a resource score track. At first, this track will only give you one point. Over time, as more players contribute to this resource gathering, that score we'll go up to a level before caping itself to a solitary point. Making resource gathering important but at the same time only at certain stages in the game. As the game goes on, players may be forced to collect resources and add them to the pool, which in turn may lead to another player scoring off of that action.
Other locations may require the aforementioned crystals. Going to the beer house will allow you to spend a crystal that will allow you to manipulate the mood tracks of 2 of the workers. While going into the palace will allow you to drop off a crystal to contribute towards the construction. Leading to another way to score. If at the end of the game you have contributed the most, there are some bonus points up for grabs. Going to the storehouse will allow you to use the resources to manipulate mood or collect crystals. Going to the administration will allow you to move other players influence around. This all sounds great and well, but most of these locations also have benefit or malediction depending on the worker that is sent there. Again this ties in with the theme of the game and can lead to some interesting decision making.
Let’s say you send the minor to go mine at the mine (that's a lot of mines). This will benefit you with 2 coal resources and no penalty. As the minor is used to working in the mine and will not be upset with the working conditions. Send any other worker to the mine, and as they are not at proficient as the minor, they only collect one coal. And as they are not accustomed to working in the mind, and their mood will decrease by 2 to. Making them a very sad bunny. And that's how most of the locations work. They will give you something but they also may change the mood of the worker that you have used to do that task. Each space thematically ties in with the worker. Another example is the commissar, who will lose morale if they visit the beer house (dull chap) but will gain morale every time another worker goes to the palace to contribute to the construction.
This influence and mood scoring track is probably the hardest ball to juggle in the game. Sometimes it feels just like luck that you have been left with a certain meeple to manipulate or a certain location due to others being occupied. But that's part of the give-and-take of the game. Using a character and figuring out how to get a special bonus in a special location but also penalizing yourself we'll have you head scratching for awhile as you search to see if it is beneficial in the long run. But this can be overthrown by another who is quicker or wiser enough to manipulate the workers moods.
Is this all sounds too simple for you, then don't fret. There are also some special cards that you can add to your game that will make your decisions a bucket load more interesting. At the beginning of the game you can be dealt two cards. One location and one worker. Each has its own extra benefit when you either visit that location or use that worker. This variant of the game that we played with, did make the decision making process of your action a hell of a lot more interesting. Adding an additional level of though as you want to use that power, but it may hamper other benefactory ideas further along. Also these cards are open knowledge to all the other players, they may deliberately occupy that worker or location, just say you can't benefit from your special powers. I would definitely recommend playing with this variant if you have a group of experienced gamers.
So this game has a lot of interesting and thematic ideas in tangled inside it's small framework. And left me with the sensation of playing a kind of Mediaeval Academy meets Outlive hybrid. Even though the artwork and theme were reminiscent of Scythe. And a game does seem to be a cold logical puzzle, where you are having to adapt to what is available and whatever the other players are doing. Saying that, one detractor from the game is the luck factor.
There are two small decks of cards located next to the lake and the spaceship. Going to these locations is a bit of pot luck, as some of the cards don't contain resources, but a whopping big red “X”. Meaning there is nothing there and you have practically wasted an action. This can definitely sting you. And players adapted to this by not going to the spaceship or they use the fisherman and only the fishermen to go fishing at the lake. This guaranteed a resource. And then there's the nasty action which a player can take. Sending the bureaucrat to the administration office. Or spending crystals to create mood swings,not only to the workers, but also the players. This then just blatantly let's them move one of your disks of influence from a worker that will probably get you lots of points to another that's going to give you negative points. This can sometimes feel like a real kick in the nuts action to take. Even if it costs a crystal. Points win the games, while crystals can also contribute.
Apart from that, this is a real solid and interesting euro game. It seems well balanced in how you get points. Either from scoring from resource collecting and crystal depositing. To the influence and mood scoring. Though some players may have trouble trying to manage this second part of scoring or losing points, as it is player dependent. Plus it's a mechanism that is not frequently used, worker displacement and influence. Have to play with the leftovers of other players feels refreshing and also a little confusing. Possibly not everyone's cup of tea.
Even for a prototype, the components are very well realised for a euro style game. The rule book was very easy to digest, with a few added corrections and clarifications, it is near perfect. And the footprint of the box itself will not eat up a lot of shelf space. But saying all that, some of that is subject to change depending on the Kickstarter. There may be other components that add to the size of the book. Other rules that will add to the replayability or upgrades. These we will see in time. But if you're looking for a different type of solid and fluid euro, that has you thinking in a different fashion, as well as being fantastic themed, this is one you should be clicking on.
Papering Duel (2018) review
This is a game from Martin Nedergaard Andersen (I already told you about him and his Hippo game). What acts as illustrations is due to Agsty Im. Papering Duel is an abstract sheet placement game for two players (yes, there is the word duel in it).
The first thing that catches the eye is the components. Everything fits in a box of rather moderate size. You play from outside the box to inside this box. What acts as the game board is a cardboard sheet, that is thermoformed ideally. Each player will then have a deck of cards. But these are not normal cards. It is rather small sheets of transparent plastic. These sheets are divided into four squares of identical sizes. On these squares, there will be two full boxes and two empty ones. Some boxes will have symbols (dots, a square or a kind of star) and others will have colors (yellow, red or purple). Each symbol is accompanied by a color and vice versa. Do you follow?
The basic principle is that each player has a unique deck. A player will have a deck with filled boxes diagonally place while the other players has adjacent ones. The central plateau represents a grid of nine squares. Players will alternately place their cards on this main grid to perform tricks to win the game.
In turn, a player has the right to play one to three cards from their hand. The goal is to make combinations of three patterns either by the same symbol or the same color. If they do both, it validates two goals. Not bad, huh! Once the cards are played, you’ll check that the player has completed at least one of the objectives and that their opponent no longer has one. To help find your way around, there is a small cardboard tray next to the game. On this board, players announce current goals filled with small chips (black or white). This silly pest is quickly very practical but requires a little manipulation.
But what is the purpose of this pile of cards on top of each other? The most noble way to win is to achieve three combinations in a turn. Immediate victory. Nothing to say again. That's class and something you can brag about it. But there are other ways to lose. You can also win if your opponent can not remove your current combinations during their turn or if they can not make a combination. And that's as simple as that.
Indeed Papering Duel is not a complicated game. There is also a variant with a few more cards for each player. These cards have gray boxes. These new colors allow you to add a new way to lose or trap your opponent. Indeed, if one of the players does not manage to cover a gray box of their opponent, they win.
Papering Duel is a little abstract puzzle game that works on the principle of associations of colors or shapes. A bit like Connect 4, but more thoughtful (not necessarily more complicated). Concretely, we’ll say it like this: “I play my cards... You play on top of mine... You pay attention and you're lucky... You do not pay attention *Bang* I have you trapped!” The games play quickly enough and everything can easily be transported and played everywhere. The game offers a cerebral challenge that can satisfy fans of the genre. On the other hand, do not look for a possible theme or to live a story. You’ll be facing a pure abstract game.
The challenge side is quite interesting and the initial postulate can give the impression of a very calculating game. But very quickly, one realizes that there are some elements which come to invalidate this sensation.
Already, luck is important. The cards are mixed and drawn in a completely random way. For an abstract game based on the anticipation of plays on several turns, this can be problematic. And at the same time, it allows a family audience to find their feet and play it without thinking too much.
Indeed, some might argue that for random drawing, but players have a hand of three cards. Except that the fact of being able to play all three in the same turn, lessened the strategy side of the game and favors the chance of the good hand. Again, this allows a family audience to have fun but can disappoint the player in search of cerebral challenge.
Far from being a bad game, it remains pleasant to play. However, we can ask the question about the long-term life. However, the part time coupled with a relatively short installation time allows to play quickly without taking the lead. Especially since the interaction is ubiquitous. No time to watch flies fly. You will have to pay attention to what the other person is doing at the risk of losing in style. Far from being frustrating, the game is relatively simple to access while having a certain depth. And finally, is this not the most important? Take pleasure in playing and work that little brain while having fun ... A game that will, without hesitation, find its place in some toy libraries without imposing itself as inevitable. But after all, was it its goal?
The component quality is good. Thermoforming is well considered for both storage and playability. The cards are nice and the overlay side works well. Everything happens inside the box. There is an hourglass present in the box but no explanation of its use (Cooking eggs? Playing in Blitz mode? Time storage?). The rules are well written and you do not have to go back.
My score BGG 5/10
(Average game, will not please everyone)
I’m still a little hungry after this game. Not unpleasant to play, it will not leave you an unforgettable memory either. There is a part of this game that will satisfy you, while you play, but will not have this little taste to come back. Too random for the big abstract players, a tiny bit punitive for casual players, it has however pleasant material and ease of access.
Combined score of 6.5 / 10
And now it's up to you to play ...
The Girl and the Robot: The Card Game
(2019) first impression
It all started in 2013 with a successfulKickstarter campaign for the video game The Girl and The Robot. It took three years of development to see the light of day on PC and consoles. A video game based on the puzzle / exploration game that immerses you in a universe that recalls some tales.
The Girl and The Robot follows the adventures of a little girl released from prison by an old man. She then tries to escape and in the process, bind a medallion to a Robot, who will become her bodyguard. This is the beginning of the video game. Of course, in the card game, you learn more about the story.
The little girl is actually the princess of the kingdom (of an unknown name) and the daughter of the king. The king was a good person and concerned about his subjects. Along with his wife, he allowed his people to flourish and be happy. Unfortunately, one day, a strange illness seized the queen. This queens health would deteriorate little by little. Desperate, the king finally accepted a pact with a demonic presence to save the soul of the queen. Once the pact was sealed, the kingdom fell into a strange silence. Several years later, a rumor spread that the kingdom fell into the hands of a demonic queen and an army of robots. In this kingdom, living out of sight, locked in a prison, the princess grows up. One day, the doors that were closed, open. The little girl then undertakes an adventure in order to escape from this cursed kingdom. But the demonic queen does not want her to escape. She will then do everything to recover the little girl (the why is not explained). During her escape, she will make friends with a robot who, strangely, does not obey the Queen's orders. Both will then oppose demonic hordes to regain their freedoms.
As you can see, the universe is not necessarily original and takes a lot of things in what is known. This does not prevent you from enjoying it and it has the merit of existing. Especially that it must be admitted, the presence of the theme is not necessarily the highlight of the game (I'll come back to that).
At the time of writing, the game is currently being running on Kickstarter. It has just reached his funding. A French version is potentially under way too. The volume in terms of text is quite limited. The Girl and the Robot is a little card game drawn from the video game. The game created by Salim Larochelle and illustrated by Ayaka Nakamura, is published by Flying Carpets Games.
Depending on the number of players, the game play is slightly different. The two-player mode is a face-to-face clash. At four, it can play in a team of two, head to head. There is also the possibility of playing three, with two against one.
The game system is quite simple. Each player starts by choosing a character. For the two-player mode, the demonic queen will be opposed to the little girl. With three players, this will be the girl with the robot facing the queen. Four players, the girl and her sidekick will be opposed to the queen and a robot of her army. Each player then receives a basic sword card. Everyone starts with a weapon. You then receives a hand of cards and go.
Cards are divided into three categories: actions, objects and abilities. There is a fourth kind of card, the demons, which are not going to be directly used by the players but which will correspond to the permanent threat of the end of the game and the game over. When your turn comes, you can play as many cards as you want.
Actions are, “one shots” that once used join the discard pile. Actions allow you to anticipate threats, better prepare, avoid drawing cards, recover used cards, go after your opponent directly, help your teammate (in team mode).
The objects will be positioned (face up or not) in front of you. They will serve you to defend against the demons. The objects remain in front of you until they are used, unless another player steals them. These cards are among the most important. Having several guarantees you a lot of advantages against your opponents.
Each character has their own abilities. To activate these abilities, players must use the enabled cards. These cards correspond to numbers: from 1 to 3. Each capacity requires a different cost that must be paid by discarding the correct number (whether in one or more cards). A used capacity at the right time can save your life. It is also true that some are more interesting than others. Unused bonus points are lost at the end of a turn.
In turn, you can play any number of cards and in any combination. Collecting new cards is not a simple thing and can be double-edged. So be careful not to reveal too much at once. At the end of a turn, the active player draws the first card from the deck. If it is not a demon, they keep the card and play continues with the next player. If it's a demon, then there are two possibilities. If the player has a weapon in front of them, they sacrifice it to repel the demon. The demon card is then put back into the deck, face-up at any position desired by the victim player. If they have no weapons, they are then possessed and the game ends. The player or team that falls victim of the demon, loses the game.
A reading rules, I will not hide that I thought that this was a duplicate of Exploding Kittens. Everything is there or almost. The use of the Russian roulette system, the “take that”, the cards that can protect you ... But are they the same game?
With two players, the two games are relatively close and the sensations are very similar. The durations of games are very variable. It can be played in less than 10 minutes, but it can last around 30 minutes. This time is explained by the speed or not the appearance of demons, the presence of weapons. Because yes, the luck of the draw plays a key role in the game. The strategic side is often put forward. However, with two players, it is the luck factor that occupies an omnipresent place. Basically, if you have the right cards you win. But it's quite inherent to games that use the Russian roulette system. It can easily appear to have a sense of injustice in the face of repeated bad luck. One can also end up just drawing, without playing anything and waiting for the announced death of the other. Even if it is playable at two, this mode is clearly not what gives the charm of the game
The four-player mode is the more interesting version of the game. Players do not play in their corner, but must consult, act together and help each other against the opposing team. The tension is not the same. The possibilities are a little more important and fun is here. Notably because the game may have time to build up. Of course, this is the same game. The importance of luck is always there, but it is lessened by the distribution of the bad luck side. Being able to help each other allows for good combinations. Turns can last a little longer. As a team, the game has a different interest and can keep you indulge a little longer.
The theme is, for its part, is abundantly absent. You end up just playing your cards while trying to escape the card that will end the game for you. Besides, why would demons want the queen to lose? Has not she succumbed to their powers? Yes, I may be pushing the interpretation too far. But when you try to embed a game of this type with a theme that potentially holds the road (without being original), why not stick to it? Moreover if we push the thing even more. What is the relationship between demons and robots? Is it a metaphor that technology is evil? A priori, the video game does not answer these questions either (or no one has looked at them). In short, I’m go astray.
Graphically, the game has a real charm. The cards are clean. The illustrations, while being cartoonie, offer a very pretty pastel tone. The whole thing is trying to plunge you into this magical world and would get there if the gameplay followed. For her first work on a game, Ayaka Nakamura makes you want to follow her future visual productions. In terms of quality, cards are good quality and pleasant to handle. The rules are pretty well presented but not always very clear.
The big highlight of the game and on it, they did not lie to us, is the ease of learning. The game is explained in a very short time. The understanding of how to play is also very fast. From the first part, you know what to do and pray that you do not fall on demons while trying to take on others.
If you are convinced by the potential of the game, you can already pre-order the game on Kickstarter (the French version seems to depend on the success of the campaign) or wait for its availability in store in the future.
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