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Blam!: Celestia – Review

August 2, 2016

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Publisher Blam!
Genre Press your luck
Number of Players 2 – 6
Play Time 30 minutes
Initial Review Date 7/18/16
Last Updated 7/18/16

This game is an updated version of the game Cloud 9. The hot air balloon theme has been given the steampunk treatment, turning the balloon into a steam-powered airship. In the game, each of you is a passenger on the airship and part-time captain. Since no one wants to get blamed for the trip going badly no one wants to be the captain and so you each take turns piloting the captain. If that wasn’t bad enough each of the other passengers have started taking bets on the current captain’s abilities. In the end, it’s a race to see who can reach the point goal first.

Setup

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Each location is laid out in a column progressing from the smallest value on the bottom and the highest on top. Next to each location a stack of point cards corresponding to that location are shuffled and placed next to the matching tile. Each player selects a colored pawn along with it’s matching character card which is placed in front of the player to identify their color. The airship is placed on the starting tile and all of the pawns are placed inside. You then select one player to start as the captain.

Game Play

On each turn, the current captain rolls the dice where everyone can clearly see the result. The number of dice rolled depends on the next highest value tile in the column and is shown by the number of white squares shown. The early tiles are easy only requiring two dice to be rolled, whereas the later locations require all four dice to be rolled.

Each die has 2 blank sides, a chicken, a storm cloud, a lightening bolt and a pair of crossed swords. In order for the airship to progress to the next location tile, the current captain must play cards from their hand that match each of the rolled symbols. Blank dice require no cards to continue.

Starting with the player to the left of the current captain before the captain plays any cards from their hand each player must decide if they think the current captain can overcome the current perils. Any player that decides that the captain will not overcome the challenge may get off the airship safely. Those who decide to get off may immediately claim one card from the pile next to the current location. These cards will be worth points based on their location. If there are no cards remaining at the current location then the player claims no cards when they get off.

Once everyone has decided to get off or stay the captain must either play every card required or ask for help. There are some cards that will allow dice to be rerolled. If the captain is able to play cards matching the perils then the airship moves on to the next location, leaving behind anyone that decided to get off. The player to the captain’s left becomes the new captain.

The player to the captain’s left who is still on the airship becomes the new captain. If after arriving at a location the captain finds that they are by themselves on the airship, they  have the option of stopping at their current location and collecting a card from the location or continuing on. However, so long as the captain is not alone, they must attempt to travel to the next location.

If the captain is unable to play cards to overcome the perils rolled then the airship “crashes”. This ends the current trip and all pawns are placed back in the airship, which is then returned to the start. The player to the left of the last captain becomes the new captain for the round.

Scoring

In general, you want to ride the airship for as long as possible before it crashes, since if you’re still on the airship when it crashes you get zero points for that trip. This means that while it is a “press your luck” style of game, it is often not your own luck you are relying on, but rather the luck of the other players.

At the start of each new trip, a player may announce that they have reached the point goal and reveal their cards. If multiple players have points equal to or greater than the point goal then the player with the most points wins.

Otherwise, point cards are kept hidden from other players.

Conclusion

This is actually a really fun and easy game. It’s also visually interesting from across the room, since you’ll see the airship with the pawns sitting in it. People will come over to ogle this game if they’ve not seen it before. If you like “press your luck games” this one makes a nice casual addition. If you hate “press your luck games”, you might find that this one isn’t so bad. Since even if you “always roll bad”, most of the time it isn’t your rolls you’re having to bet on. Plus, when you’re the one rolling the dice, to a certain extent you’re locked in. With the exception of a few cards you will already have a pretty good idea if you’ll make it or not and so there’s not much pressure. The pressure is really on the passengers who have to decide if you have the cards or not.

It’s worth checking out, even if you just use it as an icebreaker.

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Kosmos: Imhotep – Review

July 26, 2016

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Publisher Kosmos
Genre Block Placement via Queue
Number of Players 2 – 4
Play Time 40 minutes
Initial Review Date 7/11/16
Last Updated 7/11/16

In this game, you play as competing master builders that are trying to build various stone structures in Egypt. Each player is represented by the blocks that they place. Just be careful, because all of your bricks are delivered using boats and your opponent might mess you up by sending your perfectly arranged boat to the wrong construction site.

Setup

First, you lay out the 5 site tiles, which represent the different construction sites. You then select the set of round cards for the number of players you have. These cards are shuffled and placed in a stack. You also shuffle the market cards and put them on the market board in the open spaces. finally, each player selects a color (placing one cube of that color on the scoring track at zero) and then each player receives the corresponding stone sled.

The start player then receives 2 stones of their color from the supply. Each player subsequently receives one more stone than the player before them. So the 2nd player takes 3, the 3rd player takes 4 and the fifth player receives 5 stones.

The first round card is flipped face up in order to reveal which ships will be used for the round.

Gameplay

On your turn, you may take 1 of the following 4 actions.

  • Take 3 stones: 3 stone are taken from your supply and placed on your sled. If your sled doesn’t have room for all the stones you are taking, the excess stones are lost and returned to the supply.
  • Place 1 stone on a ship: You may take one stone and place it on ANY empty spot on any ship. This is when you want to pay attention to what the different sites look like and place your stone strategically.
  • Sail 1 ship to a site: Each ship has a minimum and a maximum capacity. A ship can not be sailed until it is filled at least to its minimum. This minimum is indicated on the ship. It should be noted that you do not need to have any of your own stones on the ship you are sailing. This can be used to your advantage by sailing a ship to a poor location for its load, in order to intentionally mess up your opponents.
  • Play 1 blue market card: Blue cards acquired from the market are held, once played they are discarded. Generally, these cards allow a player to “break” the rules in some way. If a blue card and the rules contradict each other, then the blue cards take precedent.

Some of the build locations score points immediately, others score points at the end of the round and yet even others don’t score until the end of the game. In this way, you can either seek out short or long term goals or some combination.

When a round ends. The market gets cleared and new cards are placed in all of the spots (regardless if anyone claimed cards or not). The next round card is flipped face up and the new start player is the player to the left of the player who triggered the end of the round.

Since there are 4 ships and 5 locations, one location will be untouched each round. This does not prevent them from scoring. So, if an area scores at the end of the round each player will score it as normal regardless if a shipment of stone was sent there or not.

End of the Game

The game ends after 6 rounds. This means that one of the round cards goes unused. Players then add up points based on each of the end of the game locations as well as any end of the game bonuses they might have picked up from the market. The player with the most points wins. In the case of a tie, the player with the most stones still on their sled wins.

Conclusion

This game is very simple to learn, but it definitely is strategic. It reminds me of worker placement games, however, the delay between placing stones on a ship and that ship going to a location keep things very strategic. You need to pay attention to everyone and what they want to do, in this way you can either piggyback off of someone else’s desires or intentionally position yourself to block them. Just be careful not to over focus on just one player, since you might be able to foul them up but at the expense of letting another player slip past for the win.

Though, this isn’t a worker placement game as such. If you enjoy worker placement games you will probably enjoy this one as well. At the same time, the game is remarkably kid-friendly since there is very little text and what text there is can be read aloud without compromising the gameplay.


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Facade Games: Salem – Review

July 19, 2016

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Publisher Facade Games
Genre Card / Social
Number of Players 4 – 12
Play Time 30 minutes
Initial Review Date 7/11/16
Last Updated 7/11/16

In this game, each player is a townsfolk of Salem, but life has turned upside down now that everyone realizes there is a witch among you. Can you find (and kill) the witch before everyone dies? Just be careful, witch trials can be deadly and you just might kill an innocent instead.

Setup

Each player is dealt a card that represents who they are in the village. Additionally, each player is dealt a set of trial cards. Most of the tryal cards say “Not a witch”, but a few say “Witch” or “Constable”. These cards are placed face down in front of each player after the player has an opportunity to review them.

A blank token is then placed in front of each player, with the tokens that say “kill” and “save” in the middle.

The playing cards are then shuffled with two exceptions. The “Black Cat” card is placed to the side and the “night” card is placed on the bottom of the deck after it has been shuffled.

Finally, two playing cards are dealt to each player in order to form a starting hand.

One player must make the nightly announcements. This can either be a player involved in the game (called the town crier) or someone outside of the game (called the moderator). This player will then tell everyone to close their eyes. After everyone’s eyes are closed they will then tell the witch to open their eyes and select one player to kill.

The witch will then turn the kill token face down and swap it with one of the blank tokens in front of a player.

Once the town crier or moderator is satisfied that the witch has had sufficient time to do this they will then tell all players to close their eyes again. Then all players are instructed to open their eyes.

All players flip over their tokens in order to reveal the kill token. The player who received the kill token, has the black cat card placed in front of them instead of them being killed. Then the player with the black cat card becomes the start player.

Gameplay

On each of your turns you will start by drawing two cards. You must then play atleast one of these cards before ending your turn. Cards will be one of three types.

  • Red: Red cards allow you to accuse other players of being a witch. You play the card on the player. Each of these cards has one or more strikes on them. When a player receives seven or more strikes they are put on tryal. the player who played the card that put this player at seven or more picks one of that player’s tryal cards to flip face up. The card is then resolved as follows:
    • “Not a Witch” or “Constable” – If the player still has unrevealed tryal cards in front of them then they are safe. If the player has no unrevealed tryal cards then they are proven innocent with their death and they are out of the game.
    • “Witch” – this player has been killed and their remaining tryal cards (if any) are flipped face up. If all of the witch cards have been revealed then the non-witches have won. Otherwise, play continues.
    • After the tryal is resolved all of the red cards in front of the player put on tryal are discarded.
  • Green: These cards are played for an effect and then discarded
  • Blue: These cards remain in front of the player until removed by a green card or the player is killed.
  • Black: If it is the conspiracy card then the conspiracy round is triggered, if it is the night card then the night round is triggered.
    • Conspiracy: Basically two things happen. the player who drew this card selects one tryal card in front of any player with the black cat and that player is forced to reveal the selected card. Second, each player selects a face down card from the player on their left and takes it. In this way the witch card can possibly pass to another player. When this happens, the “old witch” remains a witch and the player receiving the card becomes a witch.
    • Night: When this happens then the moderator or town crier will instruct everyone to close their eyes. Then, as during setup the witch or witches will select a player to receive the kill token. Once sufficient time has been given to do this the witches then are instructed to close their eyes and the constable is allowed to swap one player token with the save token. Once the suffcient time has been given for this, all players are instructed to close their eyes. finally, all players are instructed to open their eyes. At this point, each player may “confess” by flipping one of their tryal cards face up in front of them. Once this is done players flip their tokens over. If a player who “confessed” received the kill token then they are safe from it. If a player who chose not to confess received the kill token  then they have been killed and all of their tryal cards are placed face up. The discard pile is reshuffled with the night card again placed on the bottom afterward.

Win Conditions

The game ends when either all of the witch cards have been revealed or all of the non-witches have been killed, with the respective sides losing.

Conclusion

This game is similar to games like Ultimate Warewolf and Resistance with regard to the social aspects. However, because of the high amount of structure the game enforces it’s much harder for someone to screw you over just because they don’t like you that day. Also, accusations end up flying around pretty evenly when no one has any concrete evidence. That is to say, when one person is sitting there with 1 card revealed and someone else has 4 cards revealed, that person with only one revealed card suddenly starts looking more suspcious to everyone.

If you have played games like Warewolf and Resistance and hated them because they lacked structure I would suggest giving salem a try. If you love those types of games then this will be yet another one you can add to your libary, espeically if you have friends that aren’t very enthuisastic about games like this.

On a side note, a VR version of this game is currently in development and I can see how it would improve it. since it would remove a little bit of the fiddlilyness involved with swapping the tokens in a way where no one can tell it was you.


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Board Game Bento -June 2016 (Party!!)

July 12, 2016

BGB_LogoThemeSite_June2016-copy

Announcement Month June
Unboxing Video
Average BGG Rating Standard: 6.9 | Weighted: 6.9
Est. Value $93.57
Base Price $50.00

Games

 pic2854264_md Info
BGG Rating: n/a | Est Value: $20.00
 pic2544623_md Info
BGG Rating: n/a | Est Value: $14.99
 pic1025429_md Info
BGG Rating: 6.3 | Est Value: $24.99
 pic2991047_md Info
BGG Rating: 7.5 | Est Value: $24.99
 deerlord_EN_renders_famgam.png Info
BGG Rating: n/a | Est Value: $14.99

Extras

Exclusive card for Deer Lord Est Value: $5.00
Board Game Bento Branded Invitation Cards x5 (same stock as info card) Est Value: $3.60

Information Card

BGB-Party Front

Front

BGB-Party Back.jpg

Back

 


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Calliope Games: Tsuro – Review

July 5, 2016

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Publisher Calliope Games
Genre Abstract Strategy
Number of Players 2 – 8
Play Time 15 minutes
Initial Review Date 6/28/16
Last Updated 6/28/16

In this game, each player takes on the role of a dragon following a path. The object is to avoid everyone and the edge of the board. However, collisions are imminent and sometimes running into another dragon is unavoidable. But, if you’re the last dragon standing you win.

Setup

Setup is relatively straightforward. Each player selects one of the 8 dragon tokens and places it on a line along an edge of the board. Then each player is dealt 3 tiles with the rest of the tiles forming face down stacks off the board, that are easy to reach.

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Gameplay

On your turn, you select one of the tiles from your hand and place it in front of your dragon in any orientation that you like. There are a few priorities however, that must be followed. You can not place a tile that causes any of the following to happen unless there is no play available to you that doesn’t cause one of these things.

  • The path created guides your dragon off of the board.
  • The path created guides your dragon into another dragon.

After you play your tile your dragon then advances along the new path as far as possible. This means that late in the game a single tile play can cause your dragon to move from one side of the board to the other traveling across multiple tiles.

If your path takes you off the edge of the board then you are eliminated. If your path causes you to collide with another dragon then both of you are eliminated.

After your dragon moves, if your tile has created a path in front of one or more other dragons they then move along the newly created path as far as they can. If this movement causes the other dragons to collide or run off the edge of the board then they are immediately eliminated.

Any player that has been eliminated must turn in any tiles remaining in their hand back to a draw pile.

After you play a tile, if you were not eliminated you draw a new tile. If there are no tiles available then you receive the dragon tile. If the dragon tile is also not available then you do not get to replenish your hand.

If you have the dragon tile in your hand when new tiles become available you may draw a new tile to replace the dragon tile. Then in turn order, each player who is still in the game may draw a tile if they do not currently have 3 tiles. This continues until everyone has drawn back up to 3 tiles or the dragon tile has been drawn.

Play continues until there are 1 or fewer players left.

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Conclusion

This is a very easy game to learn that is surprisingly quick for how many players it can support. With most games, adding additional players makes a game take longer but that isn’t the case with this game. This is because lots of players can and will be eliminated quickly when you start with a lot of players. What’s also nice is because the game is so short eliminated players don’t have to sit around twiddling their thumbs while they wait for everyone else to finish playing. In fact, they will probably enjoy watching to see who comes out on top.

If you’re looking for a game that is quick and will be appealing to casual players without boring non-casual players this is a nice compromise. The only down-side to this game is that it isn’t very deep and it can be frustrating to have 3 tiles early on that all kill you no matter what you do. But if you find you don’t enjoy it, at least it’s short.


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Cryptozoic Entertainment: Spyfall – Review

June 28, 2016

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Publisher Cryptozoic Entertainment
Genre Card / Party
Number of Players 3 – 8
Play Time 15 minutes
Initial Review Date 6/27/16
Last Updated 6/27/16

This is a game of deduction. There is a spy in your midst and you have to ask each other questions to figure out who the spy is. However, be careful what you ask, because if the spy figures out where they are then they win.

Setup

A location packet is chosen at random from among all of the available packets. One player then carefully pulls out the spy card along with one non-spy card for the remaining players all without looking at the cards. These cards are then shuffled up and dealt one to each player.

The spy card simply informs the player that they are the spy and nothing else. The non-spy cards have a colorful graphic of the printed location everyone is at. Additionally, there is text that identifies who you are at that location. For example, if you were at the zoo you might be a child or a photographer or a zookeeper.

Then, whoever dealt the cards goes first.

Gameplay

On your turn you must ask another player a question. You can not however, ask someone a question who just asked you a question. You can ask them any question you like, but there’s some things you want to keep in mind.

The game has a timer and if the timer expires without the spy being revealed then the spy wins. However, the spy only receives half as many points as they would if they had guessed the right location. At any time, though any player may either accuse someone of being the spy or reveal themselves to be the spy. When someone is accused everyone votes if they think that person is the spy. If the vote is a majority then that person is forced to reveal who they are. If they are the spy then everyone but the spy gets points. The initial accuser however, gets a few bonus points. If it turns out that the person wasn’t the spy, then the spy wins as if they had correctly guessed the location. If the spy reveals them-self then they must guess the location they are at. If they do, they get full points, if they don’t then everyone else gets points (though only half as many as they would of had they successfully outed the spy).

If you’re not the spy, you’ll want to ask a question that relates to the location, that the spy might not be able to answer correctly. For example you might ask “do you know where the restroom is?”. If they tell you it’s below decks and you know that you’re in a zoo then you have them, since below decks doesn’t make sense in a zoo. However, you want to be careful that your question is too specific for the location like “Did you see the new monkey?”  Use your identity to not only help guide your questions but your answers as well. Imagine you are that person at that location, how would you answer?

If you are the spy, when you get your card don’t look at it sigh and then immediately put it down. This will let everyone else at the table know that you’re the spy. Next, you’ll want to try and base your questions on answers and questions others have asked. You will also want to try to be non-specific with your answers. If you are confidant enough about the location that you could give a specific answer to a question, then you should go ahead and reveal yourself and announce where you think you are. A non-specific answer isn’t an unreasonable response since it could come across that you’re simply trying to avoid giving any information to the spy.

One other thing to keep in mind. Most of the locations have an individual that will come across as sketchy. For example, there may be a stowaway on the ship, or a pickpocket in the park. So, if someone is being evasive they might not be the spy, they may just not want to be noticed. So, try to figure out if they are being evasive about everything or just things that might reveal their identity.

Conclusion

This is a surprisingly fun game. While it is a party game, the deduction aspect makes it feel much less so. Additionally, people can’t “gang-up” on you or otherwise pick on you if they just happen to be feeling surly that day.

So, if you like party games, this will be a nice addition to your collection of games. If you typically don’t enjoy them, I would suggest giving this one a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

What’s also nice about this game is that you can set how long you will play for before you even start. Since each round goes for a set amount of time you can agree ahead of time that you’ll play say five rounds and immediately know how long you’ll be playing for. Allowing the game to be as long or short as your group wants it to be.


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Kids Table BG – Food Fighters (Review)

June 21, 2016

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Publisher Kids Table BG
Genre Boardgame
Number of Players 2
Play Time 20-30 minutes
Initial Review Date 6/9/16
Last Updated 6/9/16
 Rules PDF

In this game, players lead an army of food to do battle with another army of food, in order to claim dominance in the pantry.

Setup

Each player picks one of the two factions to play as. Each player takes a set of 9 unit boards, 3 faction specific upgrade cards, 3 cracker tokens, 2 spoon tokens and 1 frying pan token.

The 9 unit cards are shuffled and then laid out into a 3×3 grid. The two grids should be separate but clearly facing one another.

Gameplay

On a player’s turn, you start by choosing one of 3 possible actions, Swap, Roll for Beans or Attack.

Swapping: This is very straight forward you may swap the position of any two of your units with each taking the other’s position. Because two units must be involved you can not use a swap action to move a unit into an empty space. After you swap the two units you receive one bean from the supply.

Rolling for beans: This gives you a way to quickly build up beans, which are  used as currency. You take the two dice and roll them. If a die shows a result other than beans you re-roll that die. You continue doing this until all dice show a bean result. You then gain a number of beans equal to the amount shown.

Attack: This is the primary action you will be taking most rounds. Each member of your army is thinking about a specific unit from the opposing army. This is the enemy type that particular fighter can attack. If a matching unit is adjacent to it you may have it attack. You do this by rolling the dice. Any splat results shown count as a hit. Unless a unit has been enhanced in some way a single hit is all that is required to capture the enemy fighter. Additionally, you collect a number of beans equal to any bean results that come up. This means that if you completely miss (fail to roll any splats) you collect beans as if you had just chosen to roll for beans.

Enhancements

There are different items you can buy in order to enhance your army. Some items only assist a single fighter, while others benefit the entire army. For the most part, these items are only single-use. So, you are forced to purchase and re-purchase items that you want to use repeatedly. However, in order to prevent abuse, you can not buy an item that you used this round using the attack option.

Faction specific cards are just that, faction specific and so they may only be purchased and used by the relevant faction. The rest of the items are a bit more universal but only the red die is actively shared. Each army has their own supply of crackers, spoons and frying pans which it buys from and when there are no more to buy in your army’s supply that item is simply unavailable for purchase.

The universal items are as follows:

  • Crackers – This item gives a fighter one additional hit.
  • Spoons – Allow a fighter to attack enemies that are not immediately next to them. The fighter may attack any enemy that a straight line can be drawn to.
  • Pan – This allows a fighter to attack any unit instead of just the type it is thinking about.
  • Bonus Die – This extra die features a double splat result, meaning you not only get to roll an extra die but you have a better chance of capturing cracker protected fighters.

Winning

This game is actually a sort of match 3 game. In order to win all you have to do is collect 3 units that are the same type (eg. 3 chickens). This also means that when a fighter is eliminated you physically take your enemy’s fighter and place it in a stack off to the side. it also helps keep the game short since you don’t actually have to eliminate every single fighter in order to win.

Conclusion

This game is definitely made with children in mind. It has very cartoony artwork and for the most part, the dice determine the winner. The abilities help a little but really they are just there to help counteract the occasional bad die roll. Unfortunately, because the only way you can eliminate or capture enemy fighters is by rolling splats, the game is heavily dependent on luck. It doesn’t matter how many beans you collect and abilities you gather if you can’t ever roll any splats you will lose.

Overall, this is not a bad game despite it being luck dependant. Additionally, it’s easy enough for young children to learn and lack of skill won’t hurt them as much as it might in other games. So, if you’re looking for something with a bit more meat than traditional children’s games, this one is definitely a good choice. But, if you’re looking for a game for you and another adult to play, you might find better options.