Pairs Review

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With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, I thought that I’d bring a game review to the table today that was sure to stuff you full of fun.  Enjoy!

Pairs is a game by James Ernest and Paul Peterson, published by Cheapass Games. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players will be drawing cards until someone gets a pair or folds. When this happens they will score points which is something that you would usually want to do. However in this game, points are bad. They’re real bad. As a matter of fact, there is no winner to this game only one loser. Players will be trying their best to not be crowned the loser.

To begin, shuffle all the cards together then discard the first five into a face down pile in the middle of the play area. This pile is the discard pile. That’s it. Play now begins.

Each round begins with the dealer dealing one card face up to each player. The player with the lowest card then goes first. On a player’s turn they can either fold or hit. If a player folds the round is over and that player scores points equal to the lowest card in play not just from their pile. That card is kept by the player to keep track of their score. If they decide not to fold they can hit and be dealt a new card. If the player gets a pair, two cards of the same rank, they score that many points and the round is over. One of the paired cards is kept face up to track a player’s score. Once either of these happens the remaining cards are discarded face down into the discard pile. A new round then begins. If at any time the deck runs out of cards, the discards are reshuffled, the top 5 cards are discarded and play then resumes.

This keeps on going until one player reaches the target score. That score is dependent on how may players are playing, from 31 points with 2 players to 11 points with 6 or more. The player that reaches the target score is the loser.

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COMPONENTS
This games consists of only a deck of cards. The cards are very well made and the artwork is very bright and colorful with fruits and vegetables of every kind. Everything comes nicely packaged inside a small tuck box that fits in your pocket quite well. The cards are easily shuffled and they hold up really well. Apart from that, there is nothing else to really say. These are good quality cards.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rule book is a folded up sheet of paper. It’s double sided with a picture of an example game. Everything is easy to read and understand. The rules are laid out really well. There are rules for ties for having the low card, rules for using a cut card, along with a variation of the game called “Continuous Pairs”. There are also hints for dealing and a very detailed example of play. It’s really simple to follow and takes a very short time to read. Everything is really nicely done.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
The game is super simple to learn and play. It has a little bit of strategy to it and it doesn’t take a long time to play. It can be played in about 10-15 minutes. It’s really light and can be played almost anywhere. It’s family friendly even though it calls itself a pub game. I can see where this could be played as a drinking game or something of that nature. It could be used to see who washes the dishes or cooks dinner. I’m just throwing out suggestions. In any case, the game is fun and is a great little time wasting filler game.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Pairs is a light card with tons of variations. This game is super simple and as I just said it literally has tons of different variations available. First off, the version that I played is the Fruit Deck. There are 11 different versions of the game available from Pirates and Goblins to Barmaids and Steampunk. As a matter of fact, each different version of the game has at least one different variant included with it. You can even download the Pairs Companion pdf that has every different variant available. I’ve only played the basic game so I can’t comment on how the other play. Needless to say though, I have plenty of variations to keep the game relevant for quite some time. It plays great with any number of players. It’s rather short and usually lasts no longer than 10-15 minutes. Fans of games like Phase 10, UNO or other classic card games like Poker will probably enjoy this. It’s small enough that it can be carried anywhere. It fits right inside your pocket. It’s family friendly and can be played at the bar. I recommend you try out one of the many different decks or you can just get them all if you’re a completist like me. I’m positive that you’ll enjoy the simplistic fun of this game.
8 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Cheapass Games at their site.

http://cheapass.com

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Falling Review

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Falling is a game by James Ernest, published by Cheapass Games. It is for 4-8 players. In this game, players have been dropped from a plane, pushed off a building or some sort of action that has caused them to be rushing towards the ground, hence the name, “Falling”. The players will be playing cards as they try to be the last one to hit the ground. The player that does this will be declared the winner.

To begin, one player is chosen as the dealer. They will not be one of the falling players. Instead they will be controlling the pace of the game, following the riders instructions and basically refereeing the game. In the basic game, the dealer separates the Ground cards from the deck, also removing the Anvil, Chute and Goggles. The remaining cards are then shuffled and the Ground cards are placed at the bottom of the face down deck. Play now begins.

The game has no turns, rounds or phases as players will be playing cards at their own pace. The game begins with the dealer dealing cards face up into a stack in front of each player. As the dealer deals, the players are able to pick up the top card of their stack to play on themself or another player. However they can only pick up one card and can only play the card in their hand. It can’t be sat back down.

There are several types of cards that can be played. The first type are riders. These cards have the word, “hit”, “split” or “skip” on them. Hits allow a second card to be played on a player’s stack. Splits create a new stack of cards that must have cards dealt to it as well as their starting stack. Skips tell the dealer to deal no cards to that particular player.

The next type of cards are action cards. These cards affect riders. These have the word, “move”, “stop” and “extra” on them. Moves allow a player to take another player’s rider if they have none or to give their rider to a particular player that doesn’t have one. Stops have two abilities. They can be used to discard a rider or to put a Ground card back onto the deck. Extras modify riders. If combined with a hit, two cards are dealt to a player. If combined with a split, two stacks are created instead of just one. If combined with a skip, then no cards are dealt to the player and the player’s skip card remains.
The last card type is the Ground card. If a player receives one of these then they are out of the game. The dealer will deal no more cards to that player. The game continues until only one player is left. That player is the winner and gets to become the dealer for the next game.

The game also has some advanced rules for permanent rider cards. These cards are not swept away and removed like the normal rider cards are. They can be moved and stopped like any normal rider though.

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COMPONENTS
The game consists of only a deck of cards. The cards are really well made and the artwork is really quirky and fun. Everything comes packaged inside a small tuck box. There’s not really much more to say. There are lots of really hilarious images that will make you laugh. The cards are easily shuffled and seem to hold up pretty well.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rule book is a folded up sheet of paper. It’s double sided with a couple of pictures on it. There’s a good picture of the set up for the game that shows how everything should be laid out. Everything is easy to read and understand. The rules are laid out really well from both the dealer and player’s perspectives. There are extra rules for the advanced game cards as well. It’s really simple to follow and takes a very short time to read. This gets the job done quite nicely.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This can definitely be described as a real time game. It can be played really fast or really slow depending on how the dealer deals. The first couple of times playing the game, you will probably want to go slow. As players get more used to the cards, you can speed it up. That’s where this game really shines. It’s a hilarious free for all that will drive you crazy. It’s really frantic and you will find yourself laughing quite a bit. The kids really like the silliness of it all especially the artwork. It’s a really fast game that can usually be played in a matter of a couple of minutes. It’s a great filler game that can be played virtually anywhere that has a flat surface.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Falling is a light card game of frantic fun. It’s a fairly simple game to learn and play. It’s great for 5 or 6 players but is best with 4. The cards are quite humorous and fun. The game itself is quite short with most sessions lasting only a few minutes. This leads to lots of repeated play. Fans of real time games and crazy fun will love this. It’s family friendly and a great game that can be carried anywhere. It even fits inside your pocket. I recommend you give it a try. You might just find it to be a big HIT with your family and friends.
8 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Cheapass Games at their site.

http://cheapass.com

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Hoyuk Review

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Hoyuk is a game by Pierre Canuel, published by Mage Company. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players will represent a clan of people in the Neolithic period. They will be working to build a village using different types of buildings, ovens, shrines and pens. The player that is able to build the best settlement and score the most victory points will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player chooses a color and receives a set of house tiles and a player counter in that color. The tiles are placed in front of them while the counter is placed on the number 0 of the score meter on the board. Depending on the game mode chosen, whether basic, medium or advanced, certain catastrophe cards will be shuffled together to form the catastrophe deck which is placed face down on the board in its place. The construction cardboards are placed face down on their space on the board. Shrine, pen and oven pieces are placed on their areas on the board as well. 10 aspect cards are dealt face up onto the 3 slots on the board. 5 of the construction cardboards are removed. The remaining 10 are shuffled and placed facedown on the proper space on the board. The first player is decided and play now begins.

The game has several different levels of play. I will mainly be discussing the basic game. This consists of several rounds that are each divided into 4 phases; construction x2, catastrophes, aspect, and end of round. Each phase is played in turn order before beginning a new phase. The first phase is the construction x2. In this phase, players will use the construction cardboards to build with. Each player is dealt one construction cardboard which is placed faceup in front of them. The players in turn order will build the elements on the cardboard. When building, houses must be built where their sides match. Pens can not be enclosed on all 4 sides and the arrow points to the house that owns it. Ovens and shrines are placed on top of houses but can not both be on the same space. Housing blocks can be created and second stories can be built. Once all players have completed the first step and built one cardboard, those are discarded and new ones are drawn. Players then build a second time just as before.

The next phase is the catastrophes phase. In this phase, the first player draws a card from the catastrophe deck. It is read out loud and then it’s effect is applied to each block. Those catastrophes can be anything from drought and fire to tornadoes and earthquakes. This usually ends up with loss of houses or other destructive events. Once the card has been resolved it is placed on the bottom of the catastrophe deck.

The third phase is the aspect card phase. In this phase, each block is examined to determine which player has the lead in each of the 3 aspects. The leader is awarded an aspect card. The first player chooses which block is inspected first, followed in turn order by the other players for as many blocks as there are. No rewards are given if there is only one player represented in a block.

The last phase is the end of round phase. In this phase, aspect cards are replenished. Any aspect cards used during the round are placed face up below any card that remains in that slot. The first player then gives the first player marker to a player of their choosing.

Aspect cards can be used to build additional elements or score victory points. They can only be played at the beginning of each of the 4 phases. One aspect card can be played for each family that the player has built in the village. These cards are played face up in front of the player to keep track of how many have been used. To build, the element that is represented on the card is what can be built anywhere on the village. Players may alternatively use a group of cards with the same aspect to score between 1 and 12 points, depending on how many of the cards have matching elements.

This all continues until a player builds their 25th house. Players finish up the rest of the round before ending the game. Scoring then takes place. Unplayed aspect cards net 1 point each. Each block is then inspected and the largest family in each block is given a point. The player with the most victory points after all the points have been added up is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game is extremely nice with lots of great pieces. The cardboard house tiles as well as the pens have great artwork that feels like its from that ancient time. The construction cardboards are made of cardboard as well and look nice too. There are lots of different wooden meeples for ovens, shrines, cattle, villagers and the shaman, as well as player counters. All of these are brightly colored and look really nice. The shaman, cattle and villagers are used in the more advanced games. The aspect and catastrophe cards look very nice and the artwork for these is really great. I love how detailed and nice they are. The board draws you into this ancient world really well and it has lots of great artwork on it. I’m really thrilled with the look and feel of every piece. This is another great component game that was really well thought out.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is high quality just like the components. There are lots of great pictures and examples. Everything is explained really well and it’s easy to read through. There are some great explanations of each of the catastrophe cards and how they work. There are rules for medium and advanced play. There are also rules for using cattle, villagers and the shaman as well. There are explanations of the different clan powers as well. Also included are a couple of pages of frequently asked questions for a little more clarification. Everything is extremely well designed and the artwork is very thematic. I really like how nice everything looks.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really great game that is simple to play. The more difficult games are a little bit more involved and therefore are harder but aren’t so bad that they can’t be played. There is quite a bit of strategy from placing your pieces to how to spend your aspect cards. The different variations on game play are really nice. I like using the shaman and cattle variants. The shaman is really great to keep your house from being destroyed during a catastrophe. The cattle on the other hand are just fun to play with and look really neat on the board, plus they give a victory point for having the most in a block. I like that the game can be ramped up as you learn the different levels of play and make for a much more difficult and more strategic game. There is quite a bit of player interaction through the control of majorities. You really have to watch what the other player is doing and keep an eye on what they’re building in each block. The game takes around an hour to play and with the more advanced difficulties it takes a little longer. The game plays really smoothly and is a great ancient city building game.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Hoyuk is a great village building game that adapts to several different levels of difficulty. The play time for this one is average with most sessions lasting around an hour. The artwork and components are really nice and fit really well with the theme. Fans of civilization games or ancient history style games like Stone Age should enjoy this one really well. Everything is really easy to learn and it ramps up with the difficulty really well. There are plenty of variants and difficulties to make every level of player from the newbies to the veteran gamers happy. There is a lot of player interaction and a lot of replayability. It’s a really good game that is a lot of fun. It has a lot of strategy to it and might provoke some analysis paralysis but I didn’t notice that very much. All in all, this is a really great game that most players should find enjoyable. I definitely recommend it.
9 out of 10

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For more information and this and other great games, please check out Mage Company at their site.

http://www.magecompany.com/index.htm

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12 Realms Review

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12 Realms is a game by Ignazio Corrao, published by Mage Company. It is for 1-6 players. In this game, players will become one of the heroes of legend as they work together to defeat the Dark Lords from invading their realms with a horde of minions. Along the way they must claim a powerful artifact if they hope to vanquish their foe. If the players are able to defeat the Dark Lord of each realm, they will be declared the winner.

To begin, players will decide which realms they would like to use in the game. They must then gather all the different components for each realm that is to be used. Players then will separate the Realm cards removing all of the ones with the Lord of Darkness symbol on it. Players then choose one for each realm. The Lord is placed near it’s corresponding realm along with it’s token. Players then choose their Hero card in turn order. The Hero miniatures are placed on the town area of their chosen realm board. They also receive the required amount of talent tokens to place on their Hero card on the talent symbols. The realm cards are shuffled together for only the realms that will be played excluding the town cards and previously mentioned Lord cards. These are then placed face down next to the play area. The town cards are then shuffled together and placed face down on the table. Players then gather all the tokens that correspond to each particular realm in play and place them next to the board. A randomly chosen artifact is placed on each board on the VI area. Treasures are placed on the I and II areas. The invasion marker is placed near the invasion track at the bottom of each realm. Play now begins.

The game takes place over 3 phases; invasion, perform actions and refresh. The first phase is the Invasion phase. In this phase, the Invasion markers for each realm are moved forward one space for each invader token on its board. Certain invaders powers are then resolved such as curse, marauding or summon. Players will then draw 2 cards per realm plus 1 extra card. If there are invader cards drawn, the area die is rolled and the corresponding token is placed on the matching area of the realm board. The card is then placed in the discard pile. If a treasure is drawn, a treasure token is placed on a random area on the board. If an artefact is drawn, the corresponding token is placed on a random area of the board. These are required to defeat the Dark Lord of that realm.

The next phase is the perform actions phase. In this phase, starting in turn order, players are able to have their heroes perform actions as long as they have enough tokens of the right kind to be able to do it. Players can move their heroes from one area to another. They can confront an invader by using the corresponding tokens that exploit the invader’s vulnerability. They can claim treasure if they are in the same area as the treasure token and can exploit its weakness with the correct tokens. They can also claim artefacts the same way. Players are able to trade artefact tokens and gold coins if they’re in the same area. They can also visit town by exploiting a swiftness token, drawing two cards and keeping one if they are able to pay the required amount of gold. Players can travel between realms by traveling from one town to another.

The third and final phase is the refresh phase. In this phase, players will refresh all their exploited talent tokens making them available to be used on the next turn.

The game continues until the invasion marker moves over one of the red marked spaces. At that time, the Dark Lord enters play. Players must have 3 artefact tokens before they are able to confront the Dark Lord of that realm. To defeat them the corresponding tokens must be exploited just like any regular invader. When a Dark Lord dies, all the invaders in that land die as well. If on a future turn invader cards are drawn for that particular realm they do not summon any new invaders of that kind. When the last Dark Lord is defeated, the game is over and the players are the winners. However, if the invader token moves over the last track’s space, the players have lost and the game is over.

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COMPONENTS
This game is a masterpiece of beauty and design. All of the different cards, tokens and miniatures draw you in to the fantastical worlds that have been created here. The cards are gorgeous with lots of great artwork. The tokens have lots of nice designs. They are nice and thick cardboard and are really nice to look at. The dice are great and quite unique. The coins are made of plastic and the invasion markers are made of wood. Both of these simply add to the quality of the game. The boards are very sturdy and are like looking at a beautiful painting. The hero boards are fabulous and have great character designs. Of course the star of the whole game is the miniatures. These are outstanding. The detail on each one of these is simply amazing. I’m blown away at how nice these look. There was no expense spared at making sure that this was a quality looking and designed game. I love every single piece and can tell you that I already want to add the extra miniatures and cards to complete the game. That’s how amazing this game really is.
10 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is just like the components, top quality. From cover to cover, there isn’t a much better looking book. There are so many pictures and examples that it’s easy to get lost in the beauty. Everything is explained really well and is quite simple to read through. There are break downs for every piece from heroes cards to Dark Lords. There are explanations for the hero boards. There’s a great suggested setup for every number of players as well as a great layout of how everything should look. There’s a detailed area for invader powers as well as advanced rules for adding in various pieces and parts such as the Black Fortress. There are rules for using buildings and trade as well as the Dark Player variant where one player controls the Dark Lords and their minions. There are lots of different variants including the Crab, bonus town cards and promo invader cards. There are a couple of pages on clarifying the rules on certain things that might seem a bit fuzzy. There’s a great component checklist as well as several pages detailing each of the town cards. Finally the back cover has a great player aid for symbol interpretation to help you understand what each icon means. All in all, this is one detailed and well thought out book full of information and beauty.
10 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a fairly straight forward and easy game. It takes a little bit of time to get used to what the different icons mean but thankfully that’s made a bit easier with the player aid on the back of the rules. It does have a little bit of strategy and some mild player interaction but that’s mainly from the trading of gold and artefacts. There’s a lot of different ways to play the game thanks to all the different variants in the rules. I like that the difficulty can be ramped up or adjusted for easier games depending on the level of play you’d like. It’s easy enough that my 4 year old can play it. She loves the art and the miniatures. It’s a simple thing of helping her to use her talent tokens on the right thing. That’s another great part about the game being co-op instead of versus. In any case, the game takes a rather long time, usually about an hour and a half. That’s a bit longer than my 4 year old’s span of interest. In the end, I have to finish the game by myself. I’m hoping that as she gets older, this will be one that she sticks around to finish. For now though, the game is really good and one that we like quite a bit.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
12 Realms is a great fantasy themed game that adapts well for every level of difficulty. It’s a bit of a long game with most sessions lasting around 90 minutes or so. The artwork, theme and components are all beautiful and they will pull you into the game rather well. Fans of fantasy and fairy tale games should really enjoy this one. It’s very simple to learn and play, however the iconography takes a bit of time to get used to. The player aid on the back of the rulebook helps out quite a bit. There are lots of great variants and changes that can be made to the game to make the replayability of the game very high. This is a rather good game that is rather fun. It doesn’t have as much of a co-op feel as I’d like and the strategy isn’t that deep but that’s the only minor flaws in the game. All in all, it’s one that should appeal to a very wide range of players. I definitely recommend it.
9 out of 10

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For more information and this and other great games, please check out Mage Company at their site.

http://www.magecompany.com/index.htm

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Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends – Everfrost Review

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Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends – Everfrost is an expansion for the Tash-Kalar base game designed by Vlaada Chvatil, published by Czech Games Edition. It is for 2 players. This expansion introduces players to a new faction of frozen adversaries as well as updating some components. For a full review of the base game and how to play, follow the link below.

http://jlnelson73.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/tash-kalar-arena-of-legends-review/

Just like in the base game, when playing with the new faction, the player receives the 18 cards and a set of cardboard pieces. Also included is a scoreboard for the death match melee.

What makes this faction different from the others is that many of the cards have what are called frozen effects. These can be stored for later use. These effects are preceded by a snowflake symbol. These effects don’t happen when the being is summoned so the card is placed in front of the player instead of discarding it. Once the being is summoned, the card can be used immediately as well. Once the frozen effect is used the card is discarded. Also, only 1 frozen effect card can be on the table at a time. So if you summon a new creature with a frozen effect you must discard one of the cards either the new one or the one on the table. You can not use the effect of the card on the table and then replace it with the new card. Winning is the same as in the base game.

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COMPONENTS
Just like the base game, the components are gorgeous. The cards are outstanding with some of the most amazing looking artwork. The scoreboard for the death match as well as the tokens are thick cardboard and have the new updated design to make them a little clearer, better looking and a little more polished. Now I need to get the update pack to make my flare cards, tokens and boards match the awesome design of these pieces. I really love how nice everything looks and feels. I’m really thrilled with the new design.
10 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is really simple and small. Unfortunately the wizened old master doesn’t show up this time. In any event, the rules are really simple and make learning the new deck extremely easy. There’s only one actual picture in the book and no examples but it’s not like you need a lot of that stuff anyway. There are some extra rules for team play. There’s also a nice section of new keywords for learning the terms that you will use on a fairly regular basis. Everything is explained really well and you will have no trouble reading through this. Shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes and you’ll be ready to play with the new faction.
10 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
I absolutely LOVE this expansion. The new faction is amazing and brings a lot of fun to an already great game. The new card mechanics aren’t difficult to understand or to play. However, finding the right moment to use the frozen effects is a skill that must be mastered. Everything is so smooth and simple. This may replace the Sylvan school as my new favorite. I’d really have liked there to have been more than one faction but it’s a start. I really hope that there are more factions available in the future. This game continues to impress me.
10 out of 10

OVERALL
Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends – Everfrost is an expansion for the base game of Tash-Kalar. It continues to be a medium weight game. The artwork is outstanding and it even improves what was already amazing with new designs for the boards and tokens. Fans of the original Tash-Kalar will definitely want to pick up a copy of this. Those that like fantasy and strategy games will love this game. I highly recommend adding this to your base game. This will definitely add to your love of the game. It’s a must have expansion for owners of Tash-Kalar. You will love it.
10 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Czech Games Edition at their site.

http://czechgames.com

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Yahtzee: Doctor Who Dalek Collector’s Edition Review

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Yahtzee: Doctor Who Dalek Collector’s Edition is a game published by USAopoly. It is for 1 or more players. In this game, players will be rolling dice and scoring points just like in the classic game of Yahtzee. The twist is that the dice and the dice cup have been given the Doctor Who treatment. Just like in Yahtzee, the player with the most points at the end of the game is declared the winner.

To begin, players should familiarize themselves with the different dice symbols to determine the number value that each symbol represents. Each player is given a score card and the pencil is placed within easy reach of all players. The first player is chosen and given the dice which are then placed inside the Dalek cup. Play now begins.

On a players turn, they will roll the dice. They must then choose which dice to keep and which to re-roll. The player is allowed to re-roll the dice twice before scoring. After the third and final roll, the player must fill in one of the boxes on their score card with either a score or a zero. Play then passes to the next player.

Of course just like in regular Yahtzee, scoring is done by which column is chosen to be filled in. There are 6 boxes, one for each number 1-6 on the die. Each row is added individually as is the two boxes for 3 of a kind and 4 of a kind and the chance box. The boxes for full house, small straight, large straight and Yahtzee score between 25 and 50 points respectively. There are also bonus points that can be awarded. Once all 13 category boxes are filled in, the game ends. Players add up their scores and the person with the highest total points wins.

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COMPONENTS
This is a beautiful collector’s piece along with some great game pieces. The Dalek dice cup is amazing looking and it could easily be sat on your desk at work or put in a place of honor. It’s that well designed and made. The dice have lots of great pictures of such iconic designs as the T.A.R.D.I.S., sonic screwdriver and the fez all from Matt Smith’s Doctor. The little wooden golf pencil is standard fare in this type of game as is the score pad. Nothing out of the way from your standard Yahtzee game. Still, the detail and design of the dice and dice cup are completely amazing and make this great for fans of Doctor Who, like me.
10 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is black and white. Inside are several pictures as well as examples. Everything is explained extremely well. There are even rules for solo play. It’s pretty plain and ordinary, however it is designed really well. Of course the game of Yahtzee isn’t one that is difficult to understand anyway. Still for those people that might need a refresher course or a bit of an update on scoring then this will help. In any case, it’s not bad.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Of course this game is a thematic version of the classic game of Yahtzee. The only real changes are the dice cup and the dice. That said, the redesign is beautiful. I’ve always loved Yahtzee and the whole dice rolling mechanic. As a matter of fact, Yahtzee may have been my first dice rolling game ever. The game plays exactly the same but looks so much better. I love the thematic design very much as I’m a HUGE Doctor Who fan. The game is one that appeals to pretty much everyone but the Dalek dice cup gets a lot of attention from my non gamer friends. Of course this makes them want to play it then. Any excuse to get a friend interested in playing a game makes this a victory in my book.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Yahtzee: Doctor Who Dalek Collector’s Edition is a light game of dice rolling based on the classic game of Yahtzee. The theme and design of everything looks absolutely gorgeous. I love the Dalek dice cup and the dice are quite great as well. Fans of Yahtzee and/or Doctor Who will love this game. It’s really simple and easy to play. It’s a great game to interest your non gamer friends with very little to have to teach them. As an introductory game it’s great and looks fantastic to boot. I love every aspect of this and look forward to rolling the dice many many more times. It’s even a game that the kids can enjoy playing. I love it.
9 out of 10

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For more information and this and other great games, please check out USAopoly at their site.

http://www.usaopoly.com/

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The Demise of Dr. Frankenstein Review

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The Demise of Dr. Frankenstein is a game by Mark Hanny, published by Joe Magic Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be working to bring life to the monster that they create, much like Dr. Frankenstein. They will also be trying to gain victory points without angering the villagers who will destroy all their research and burn their inhuman creatures to cinders. The player that can best complete their experiments and gain the most points will be declared the winner.

To begin, the main board and the Victory Point board are placed in the center of the play area. Each player chooses a color. They then receive 2 coins, 1 arm and 1 leg for their monster. The remaining body parts are placed on the Undertaker box on the board. Coins are placed on the Trader box. The white Igor meeple is placed on the Igor space of the Clinician area of the board. The Villager meeple is placed on the number 1 at the bottom of the board. 2 wooden cubes of each player’s color are placed on the Victory Point board, one on each zero space. The officer cards are all shuffled together and placed in the middle of the play area. 3 cards are then drawn and placed face up beside the boards. The starting player is chosen and they are given the green starting player meeple. Play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they will take a certain amount of the small dice, depending on the number of players, and roll them. The dice are then placed in the corresponding spaces on the main board. Each player will then in turn order take one of the dice from the board and perform the action that is associated with the spot that it was taken from. Of course there are several different spaces to choose from but only the ones that were rolled will be available. When a 6 is rolled, the players can choose from one of the 9 spaces available in the curator area of the board by placing one of their blocks there. These spaces will provide everything from taking 2 coins to taking body parts without angering the villagers. When a 5 is rolled, the players can choose to pay a coin each to take up to two officer cards. The cards can give either victory points at the end of the game or provide an advantage during play. When a 4 is rolled, players can choose to place a block on one of the Clinician spots equal or lower than the Igor pawn. Having a block in these spaces provide victory points when the villager token reaches 4 and also helps to build a monster. When a 3 is rolled, the players may choose to take a coin from the store. When a 2 is rolled, the players can take a body part from the undertaker by rolling the large die and taking the corresponding part. Of course this will increase the villagers rage and move the villager token up 1. When a 1 is rolled, players can move the Igor token up or down by 1 space. They are then able to move a block to another area. If a player doesn’t like any of those options they have the ability to place a block on an open monster square with the lowest victory points. They then have to pay 2 coins and 5 body parts. They can also gain 2 victory points and may reshuffle the officer cards to place 3 new ones face up.

The game continues until one of two things happens. If the monster boxes are filled or when the villager rage reaches the fourth level. When that happens, the players finish their turn for the rolling round. They also must pay for having 5 or more creature cards. Victory points for the clinician are totaled and players are given their blocks back as are any in the curator area. Igor is placed back on level 1 as is the villager token. Players with 4 or more body parts must return down to 3 pieces. Players lose any coins over 3. Monster boxes are scored and blocks returned and the starting player token is passed to the next player. The game ends after each player has had a chance to be the rolling player. The player with the most victory points at this time is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game comes with some very interesting and unique pieces. The victory point and main boards are really nicely designed and the artwork for these is pretty nice. It feels a little like Grave Business in that manner. The officer cards have some pretty nice artwork that is very thematic and works well with the rest of the pieces. The dice are nice and colorful. The player blocks, and body parts are brightly colored and look really nice. I like the interchangeable body parts for the monster. It feels a little like the game Get Bit in that aspect. The coin and victory point tokens are nice and I really like the designs for the coins. It actually looks like really currency. The best parts though are the pawns. The starting player pawn looks like a green Frankenstein’s monster meeple. The villager token is a little yellow German or Romanian looking meeple. The Igor pawn is white and looks like a little Igor meeple. These things are great and something that I wouldn’t have expected could be made to look as great as they do. All in all, the theme really comes through and everything looks really nice.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is a little bit difficult to work your way through. First let me say that there are only pictures of the components and the major icons found on the main board for reference. Usually I’m able to work through everything and find what I’m looking for fairly easily. However this is not the case with these rules. There is no bold text to break things up from one thought to another. It’s kinda like my first attempts at writing reviews. Lots of huge paragraphs with no breaks. There’s a lot of text to read through and you basically have to read through the whole thing to understand the game. It’s probably likely that I’ll wind up using a highlighter to separate things a bit. That’s not to say that the rules are horrible, just the lay out. I’d really have liked a better set up and more pictures and examples of game play. I will say that the rules are in color and there is even a section that gives some clarification about the cards. In any case, reading straight through is not that big of a problem. It’s when you want some clarification or need to look back about something that there becomes a problem. Not a deal breaker but a bit of a miss in my book.
6 out of 10

(Edit:  The rules have been revised and are available on the publisher’s website.  Many of my concerns have been addressed and now bring my rating up from a 6 to an 8.  The improved rules will be available in the Kickstarter version that is being produced.)

GAMEPLAY
Thankfully, the game plays a lot better than the rules might make you think. When it comes down to it, the game is quite fun and entertaining. It has a great worker placement feel that reminds me a bit of Dark Horse. Rolling the dice and taking actions based on the dice rolls seems a bit similar. However it is different enough to be really enjoying. I really like that the players have the power to control how long the game goes through causing the villagers to rage against the monster. The game is a little bit difficult on the first couple of plays, as you’ll need to go back to the rules for clarification on the iconography as well as what actions are available. That’s where I had my problems as I stated earlier. This led to a much longer game than it should have been by close to an additional 30 minutes. Players prone to analysis paralysis will have a field day with this game. There’s so much to analyze and choices to make that it’s going to happen. The game has a lot of potential once you get through those initial plays. Don’t get me wrong, I like the game but it took several plays for me to get to that point.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
The Demise of Dr. Frankenstein is a worker placement game of monsterous proportions. The artwork is really neat and gives that feeling of an old classic monster movie with a cartoon twist. The components are really nice and have some of the most unique pieces that I’ve ever seen. The game takes a bit of time to play especially in those initial games as the rulebook isn’t set up so great for a quick glance back at the rules. Player aids would have been nice and probably helped diminish the game time. Overlooking that the game is really nice and the worker placement aspect shines really well. Fans of worker placement games like Dark Horse should enjoy this one. It’s a game that I would recommend players give a chance to. With an improved rule book and player aids this could easily be a much better game. As it is now, it falls just a little short of it’s potential.
8 out of 10

(Edit:  With improved rules, as stated above, my rating for this game improves to a 9.)

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Joe Magic Games at their site.

http://www.joemagicgames.com/

You can also back the game right now over on Kickstarter.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/628734072/the-demise-of-dr-frankenstein

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