Trash Pandas Review

Trash Pandas is a game by Lisa J. Eskue and Michael E. Eskue, published by Gamewright Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of some rowdy raccoons, as they tip over trash cans in their hunt for the best morsels and shiniest objects. Of course they’ll have to be careful as their opponents may try to steal their uncovered goodies. On top of that, if they get too greedy, they may walk away with virtually nothing to show for it. In the end, the player that can gather up the most goodies and thus the most points, will be declared the winner.

To begin, take the Token Actions card and place it within view of all players. The first player is chosen. The cards are all shuffled together. A number of cards are then dealt out face down based on each player’s turn order. The first player will receive 3 cards. Player 2 gets 4. Player 3 gets 5 and Player 4 gets 6. The rest of the cards are then placed face down in the middle of the play area to form what’s known as the Trash Can. The 6 wooden tokens are placed in the middle of the play area near the deck. The first player is given the die and play now begins.

The game is played over a series of turns, with each player taking a turn consisting of 2 steps; Roll the Die and Resolve Tokens. First off the player must roll the die. Afterwards they will then take the token that matches the die result from the middle of the play area and place it in front of themself. They can then decide to stop or continue rolling. If they choose to stop, then they move on to the next step, resolving tokens. If they choose to continue, then they will roll the die again. Once more they will take the token that matches the die result and place it in front of themself. However if the die result matches a token that they already have, then the player busts and must skip the Resolve Tokens step. They must then place any tokens that they collected back into the center of the play area, passing the die to the next player in turn order. It should be noted that even though the player must now skip the next step, they are allowed to draw 1 card from the Trash Can as a consolation prize. As long as the die result doesn’t match any tokens that they have already collected, they may roll again and continue collecting tokens. If the player manages to collect all 6 tokens, they immediately move to the Resolve Tokens step but are also awarded a bonus turn. On their bonus turn, they may only collect up to 3 tokens.

The next step is to resolve tokens. Once a player decides to stop rolling the die or if they’ve collected all 6 tokens, they must then resolve each of the tokens that they collected. The player is allowed to resolve each token in any order that they choose. Once a token has been resolved, it is placed back into the middle of the play area. There are 6 different tokens. Each one provides a different action that the player may take. There is the token with 2 trash cans. This allows the player to draw up to 2 cards from the Trash Can into their hand. The 2 trees token allows the player to stash up to 2 cards from their hand by placing them face down in front of themself. The token with a trash can and a tree allows the player to choose between drawing a card from the trash can or stashing a card from their hand. The token with the hand and bag on it allow the player to steal a random card from another player’s hand. The mask token allows the player to draw the top card from the Trash Can and reveal it to the other players. It is then added to their hand. The other players may then stash 1 card from their hand that matches the revealed card. However it must be stashed face up. The player that used the token is then allowed to draw 1 card from the Trash Can adding it to their hand for each card that an opponent stashed in this way. The recycle token allows the player to exchange it for a token that was not previously taken by the player. However if all 6 tokens were collected, this token has no effect. It should be noted that once a player decides to start resolving tokens, they may not use any cards that were gained during that turn. They also may not start resolving tokens until they decide to stop rolling without busting.

There are several different types of cards. Each one provides an action that may be used during the player’s turn. Some will provide points for having the majority of that particular card while others will thwart a steal attempt or even steal a card from the would be thief themself. For more information on each of the different card types, I will briefly touch on these in the gameplay section or you can check them out in the rulebook.

The game continues until the last Trash Can card is drawn. Once this happens, the current player will finish their turn. Afterwards, the game ends. Each player must then discard any cards that remain in their hands, reveal their stashed cards and then sort them by type. Each player will then add up the total number of each card type and compare them with their opponents totals. Players will then score points based on who scored the most, second most and third most based on the numbers in the top left corner of each card. Players will also score 1 point for each Blammo! card that they stashed. Players will then add up their points and the one with the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
Back several years ago, I was big into print and play board games. I really enjoyed printing out all these games that had never been made yet and being able to play them. After a while I came upon an artist that had been not only doing artwork for several lesser known games but had also been creating their own redesigns of some others as well. The designs were really fun and unique looking. Many were even better than the original designs for the games. I started following the artist and keeping an eye out for anything that he created, especially when it came to board games. So who was that artist? Well it was none other than the artist of this game, Kwanchai Moriya. Needless to say, I’ve been enjoying his artwork ever since. As a fan, it has been a joy to find his artwork present in this game. Trash Pandas has that unique artwork and style of Kwanchai Moriya that has made him famous. The cards are silly and fun to look at. Some of the words on the cards are spelled more phonetically than acurately which adds to the silliness. The idea that you’re a bunch of racoons digging through a trash can makes sense thematically with the spelling and the cards designs. I have to say that I really like the look of each piece of art and the look of each card. Speaking of the cards, they each have a really nice finish that is easy to shuffle. They’re definitely high quality. Next there are the tokens which are double sided and wooden. These appears to have either a screen printed or painted design on the white background. These same printed icons are also present on the etched die. The die is a little bit bigger than a normal die but shouldn’t be a problem even for small hands as players will only be rolling the 1 die. I have to say that both the tokens and the die are just as good in quality as the cards are. On top of everything else, the game even comes with a card that explains what each token action is and what it does referencing the iconography of the tokens. This is a nice added addition to the game. Overall this is a great looking little game and the artwork may make you a fan of Kwanchai Moriya like me. I can’t tell you how much that I love the overall look of it all. Great, great looking game.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a double sided piece of thick paper that folds up nicely to fit inside the game box. It’s full color and has plenty of great looking pictures on it. On one side there are all the rules with a step by step explanation of how to play the game. There’s also an explanation of the icons on the cards and how they work. There’s even a chart with all the different icons found on the die and what each of them mean. Simply put, it’s quite simple to read through and learn how to play. On the reverse side of the rulebook is a full color guide to each of the 8 different cards in the game. Each one is explained thoroughly and has a large picture of the card as reference. I have to say that I really like this side of the paper. To me, most of the cards are pretty self explanatory but it’s nice to have a more detailed explanation in case any questions arise while playing the game. Honestly I think the rulebook looks quite great. It doesn’t take long to read and is easy to understand. In my book, that’s a win right there.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is such a fun little game. It takes the mechanics of set collection and press your luck and then sprinkles in a little bit of hand management and take that for good measure. The press your luck comes in as each player rolls that die on their turn. They’ll start collecting tokens but then they have to decide, “do I want to take what I’ve already got, or do I want to try for some more tokens to do more stuff with.” Ultimately, that little devil on your shoulder will convince you that greed is the way to go and you won’t roll one of those tokens that you already collected. Of course, greed can sometimes lead to your downfall, which means busting and winding up with only 1 card from the deck. Don’t worry though, as your opponents are going through the exact same internal struggle themselves. The set collection part of the game shows up as you use those tokens that start allowing you to stash cards where your opponents can’t touch them. The more you get of a certain card, the more likely that you’ll be able to have the majority and thus gain the most points possible. Thankfully each card shows exactly how many of that particular card type are in the game, so with some close attention and maybe a little bit of card counting, you can possibly figure out just how far ahead or behind you may be. The hand management comes into the picture when simply dealing with the cards. Figuring out when to use a card and when to stash it for the points is the major point. Sometimes using those cards will be a big help. Sometimes you’ll want to keep them for points. It’s a major balancing act. The take that aspect kicks in when using the token that allows you to steal from an opponent. Sometimes things work out great and you’ll luck up, then sometimes they happen to have one of those defense cards that will block your attempt, or even worse turn your thievery against you. That’s when the take that gives it right back to you. Needless to say, you can see that there’s a lot of fun to be had with this game. It’s one that will garner some laughs and even a few groans of agony as a player busts while rolling the die. This is a great family friendly game that kids and adults can enjoy together. My daughter and I really like this game a lot. I think most players will enjoy this game, especially those with kids. I would highly recommend it. It’s a great little card game with some really fun looking artwork and designs.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Trash Pandas is a fun card game about digging through the trash that combines the set collection and press your luck mechanics. It’s not a very long game. Most game sessions last around 20 minutes or so. The components are all extremely well done. The artwork of Kwanchai Moriya is really fun and light in this one and I really enjoy it. The rulebook does an excellent job on explaining the rules as well as telling how each card works in detail. The game itself is light and fun. Player interaction is fairly moderate with most of the interaction coming from using the thieving tokens. There is a bit of strategy when it comes to figuring out when to use a card for it’s ability and when to simply stash it for points. There’s also some great decision making when it comes to knowing when to keep rolling and when not to push your luck. This works as both a great filler card game and an awesome family game. Kids will enjoy this one and adults will like it as well. My daughter and I really like this one a lot. This is a game that I would highly recommend. It’s the one time that your Mom will say it’s ok to play in the trash can.
9 out of 10

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

http://www.gamewright.com

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DC Deck Building Game: Crossover Pack 7 – New Gods Expansion Review

DC Deck Building Game: Crossover Pack 7 – New Gods is an expansion for The DC Deck Building Game by Matt Hyra and Nathaniel Yamaguchi, published by Cryptozoic Entertainment. It is for 2-5 players. This expansion adds 6 new New Gods characters – 3 Heroes and 3 Villains to play with, 6 Homeworlds and a stack of new cards to add to the main deck.

For more information on the many different box sets that this product can be used with, please check out the link below.

For those unfamiliar with the DC Deck Building game, let me give you a quick overview of how it’s played. Player will begin with a starting deck of 10 cards that include 7 punch cards and 3 vulnerabilities. They’ll also choose a starting Super Hero to begin the game with. They will place their Super Hero in front of themself and shuffle their starting deck of cards. Once shuffled they will draw 5 cards to create their starting hand. On a player’s turn, they will play the cards from their hand in any order they choose, making it possible to buy a card or cards from the lineup using the power generated by their cards. They can also use their power to defeat the current super villain. Each time they gain cards they will be beefing up their deck and making it more powerful so that they can create more power and earn more points to be able to defeat even more powerful villains and buy even stronger cards. Of course, their Super Hero card will also provide them with a special ability that will help them during their turn. The game will continue until one the very last Super Villain in the Super Villain deck is defeated. Once that happens, players will add up their victory points and the one with the most points is the winner. Of course some box sets will change things up just a bit, especially the Forever Evil set, as it uses Villains as the main characters and heroes as the antagonists.

So, now that you at least have a basic understanding of how the game works, what does this expansion add as far as content goes? First off let’s look at the new oversized Super Hero cards. Anyone familiar with DC comics may recognize the names of Orion, Mister Miracle and Big Barda. These are the character cards that player will choose if they plan to go the hero route. Of course that’s not all, unlike previous Crossover Packs, this one also contains Super Villain character cards. There’s Granny Goodness, Kalibak and Darkseid. When setting up the game, you’ll choose one of these to play as. Of course the rules suggest a 50/50 split between heroes and villains. There are also 26 new cards for shuffling into the main deck of one of the main games, as well as an updated replacement card for the Birds of Prey expansion card, Roulette. The rules say that you’re supposed to choose a DC set, I suggest the Confrontations boxed set, and shuffle it’s main deck. You then split the deck in half and shuffle the main deck cards from this expansion into one of the piles. That shuffled stack is then placed on top of the other one. The rest of the setup is pretty much the same.

Of course, character cards and main deck cards aren’t all that is new. What’s really new are the Homeworld cards, and some new keywords that appear on the cards in this pack. Homeworlds take the place of the Super Villains or Super Heroes stack of cards that players must try and defeat. Instead these Homeworlds take the place of them. Heroes will try to conquer Apokolips while the Villains will try and conquer New Genesis. Here’s how they work. First off, they’re placed into 2 stacks; one for New Genesis and one for Apokolips. Each stack is placed in order with the level 1 on the top and level 3 on the bottom. The instructions for each are card are read carefully before playing. In terms of conquering one of these, they are treated the same as a Super Villain or Super Hero. The player uses the Power that they collected on their turn to pay it’s cost. However when beaten, the card is placed nearby instead of going into the conquering player’s deck. These will be added to their deck at the end of the game for some major victory points. As soon as either of the level 3 Homeworlds have been conquered, the game ends. Players will then count up their Victory Points to see who is the winner.

There are also 2 new Keywords on the cards in this pack; Protector and Retaliation. First let’s discuss the Protector keyword. These are used when a player attempts to conquer a Homeworld. Once the player makes the attempt, other players are then allowed to reveal cards from their hand with this keyword, in a clockwise order from the attacking player. Each revealed card reduces the Power of the conqueror’s attempt by the number listed after the Protector keyword. If the player no longer has the Power to conquer the Homeworld, they are then able to use their remaining Power to spend on other things, but may not make another attempt to conquer a Homeworld on that turn.

The other new Keyword is Retaliation. In many ways, this keyword functions a lot like a Last Appearance Attack. When a player conquers a Homeworld, a Retaliation is made immediately afterwards, against both the player and each player in their faction. Thus if a player’s character is a Super Hero, then all the players that are using a Super Hero as their character will be Retaliated against. This Retaliation may be defended against like any other normal attack. At the end of the player’s turn, the next level Homeworld card on that particular stack is then revealed.

COMPONENTS
This expansion contains plenty of new cards to be added to any of the DC Deck Building Game boxed sets. As I mentioned earlier, there are 6 new oversized playable characters. There are 3 new Super Heroes and 3 new Super Villains. There are 26 new main deck cards to be added to the game. All of these are based on the heroes and villains of the New Gods comics from the DC comics universe. I honestly wasn’t expecting to see Darkseid as a playable character, but I’m glad that he’s there. Of course the artwork on each of these, as well as on every card in this set, is truly fantastic. It looks like it’s been ripped right from the pages of a DC comic. The expansion also includes the new Homeworld cards that change up how the game is played into a totally new direction. Finally there is a replacement card for Roulette from the Birds of Prey expansion pack, as well a randomizer card to be used with the Multiverse set. There’s also a plastic divider with the same image as the one that’s on the box. This fits in well with the others found in the Multiverse box. The look and feel is very similar to that found in many of the other sets and packs. Thematically it feels like it fits more with the Confrontations boxed set than any of the others. Mainly because of the equal number of playable villain characters. Overall I really love the look and feel of this expansion. I think thematically the cards all work together quite well and they look great in the process. I’m really pleased with the overall designs of each one.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this expansion pack consists of a simple double sided card that is about the same size as the oversized character cards. The card covers how to use the new cards with any of the boxed sets and also contains the rules for the new concepts and keywords that make a first appearance in this pack. The card also contains a list of clarifications for several of the cards included in the pack. Overall there’s not a lot of content as far as rules or gameplay. Most of that is expected to be found in the main boxed sets that a player must have at least one of to even be able to use this product. There’s also no pictures or examples on the card as there just isn’t room to include anything of that nature. Even so, I think the card does a great job of explaining all the new material. As it is, I think it does what it’s inteneded purpose is, to update the player with any new rules and adjustments to how the game is played at this point. For that reason, I’m pleased with it.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
I’ve enjoyed playing the DC Deck Building Game and all it’s many expansions for quite some time now. I’ve had a lot of fun with each new expansion pack and every new boxed set that has come out so far. Honestly, I never thought that the New Gods and that section of the DC Universe would ever make it into this game or any other for that matter. Boy was I wrong! It’s great to see actual playable characters of Darkseid, Granny Goodness and Kalibak. Yea and I guess it’s nice to see the heroes too, although I really prefer the villains. I mean, who wouldn’t? They’re just so much cooler. Of course you need the heroes to balance things out too and Mister Miracle and Big Barda are pretty cool in their own right. Too bad I’m not much a fan of Orion though. Anyway, so this expansion changes up some gameplay mechanics by using the new Homeworld cards in the place of using the stack of heroes or villains to battle against. In the same way that you saved up your power to beat these characters, you’ll also be generating enough power to conquer a Homeworld. The thing is that your opponents can lessen your power by using cards with the new Protector keyword on them. Which I guess that makes sense as you’re trying to keep the other side from destroying your home planet while you try to take over theirs. Thematically it makes sense. Of course once you conquer a level on a Homeworld, then you have to deal with the Retaliation attack, which affects every other player that shares the same type of character that you do. For instance if I’m playing Darkseid and I conquer New Genesis, then if one of my opponents is playing Granny Goodness they’d also suffer the Retaliation along with me. However the player using Big Barda wouldn’t as she’s not a super villain, so she doesn’t share the same faction. Once again, thematically it makes sense. I have to say that I like this new way of playing quite a lot. It keeps certain players from gaining lots of powerful cards from beating the main baddies while you struggle to get any good cards at all. This way it puts players on a much more even playing field. It also helps give them a bit of incentive to work together as well. Needless to say, I really enjoy this new expansion. I think fans of the DC Deck Building Game will really enjoy this new way to play. I also think that fans of the New Gods will be thrilled with all the new cards in this pack. I would highly recommend this expansion. It’s a must have.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
DC Deck Building Game: Crossover Pack 7 – New Gods is an expansion for the DC Deck Building Game. It adds 6 new playable characters to the game; 3 Super Heroes and 3 Super Villains. It also adds 26 new cards that are added to the Main Deck, centered around the New Gods comics. It also adds a new way of playing by introducing Homeworlds, which are used in the place of Super Villains and/or Super Heroes to battle against. The game length is pretty much the same as before, with most game sessions lasting around 40 minutes or so. The cards is this pack are outrageously awesome looking. I really like Darkseid and the baddies from Apokolips so it’s nice to see them make their appearance in the game. Each image and design looks like it was ripped from the pages of the comics. The new mechanics that this expansion introduces create a new way of playing that I really enjoy. It fosters even more player interaction, in my opinion, and adds a lot of fun. Thematically everything fits together quite nicely and makes sense. I’m extremely happy with this expansion and I’m looking forward to what the future holds for the game. Fans of the DC Deck Building Game, as well as the New Gods comics, should really enjoy this pack. I highly recommend it. Just beware of those Omega Beams.
9 out of 10

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

http://www.cryptozoic.com/

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Renegade Review

Renegade is a game by Richard Wilkins, published by Victory Point Games. It is for 1-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of hackers or Renegades in a dystopian future. They will be fighting against the AI of one of several Super Massive Computers that have taken over the cities of Japan. These hackers will need to hack into the network and survive the countermeasures and defenses of one of these SMCs as they try to take control of the network in an effort to save their cities. If they’re able to save the SMC’s final Countermeasure they will be declared the winners and will survive to hack another day.

To begin, the Alpha Hacker, or first player, is chosen. The game level is determined by choosing one of the SMC cards to battle against. The unused SMC cards are returned to the box. Each of these cards has a specific set of instructions for setting up and operating during the game. These should be noted and followed once everything else has been set up. The Countermeasure cards are sorted by Security Level and shuffled separately with their description showing face up. A number of cards for each level is now drawn from each deck as shown on the top of the SMC card. These are now put together to form the Countermeasure deck by placing the Copper cards on top of the Silver cards, which are placed on top of the Gold cards. Any unused Countermeasure cards are returned to the box. The server tiles are shuffled together. Each player will take turns drawing a tile and placing it in the middle of the play area, beginning with the Alpha Hacker. The single color side should be used for regular games, while the multicolored side is used with the Fragmented Servers variant that is explained in the rulebook. Once the first tile is placed, each subsequent tile must connect so that at least 2 of it’s partitions are touching previously placed partitions. It should be noted that the numbers on the tiles should also be placed in the same orientation as previously placed tiles. Once the final tile has been placed, players will now choose a Profile sheet of one of the Renegades to play as. Each player will take the corresponding Avatar standee for their chosen Renegade, along with their deck of Basic Command cards. Each player should then place their Avatar on the Access Point, the number #6 spot of the server that matches their color. They should then place a Contaminant token of the same color on the same spot. The SMC’s setup instructions should now be followed along with placing any tokens that it details. Once this has been completed, the number of Access Points without an Avatar on them are counted. The same number of Data node tokens are then placed wherever the players wish across the network. The Advanced Command cards are shuffled and placed face down, forming the Advanced Command deck. The top 4 cards are then drawn and placed in a row beside the Advanced Command deck. This area is known as the Hack Shack. Players will now shuffle their starting decks and deal out 5 cards to form their starting hand. It should be noted that players are allowed to replace their entire hand if they would like to by adding a Spark token to their Access Point, shuffling their hand back into their deck and drawing 5 new cards. This can be done as long as the player adds another Spark token each time they dump their hand. The remaining tokens and dice are set aside into a pool within reach of all players. Play now begins.

The game is played in a number of Cycles, or game turns. The number of Cycles is determined by the SMC that the players are playing against. Each Cycle is divided into 4 phases; Intel Phase, Command Phase, Countermeasures Phase and Refresh Phase. The first phase is the Intel Phase. In this phase, players will check the SMC card’s special gameplay instructions. They will then read the lower portion of the current Countermeasure card for the SMC. This will help remind the players of the special rules and goal for that particular cycle.

The next phase is the Command Phase. This phase is composed of 3 rounds. Each round player’s will each perform a turn, beginning with the Alpha Hacker. Each player’s turn consists of 6 steps that are performed in order. The first step is the Start of Turn Step. In this step, any Start of Turn effects for that player will occur at this time. The next step is the Restock Hack Shack Step. In this step, the player checks to see if the Hack Shack has any empty spaces. If it does, they will draw a card from the Advanced Command deck to restock it back to four cards. Once this deck is empty, the Hack Shack is officially “sold out” and will not be restocked after this time. The third step is the New Sparks Step. This step is skipped on the Alpha Hacker’s first turn. In this step, new Sparks are placed according to the current Security Level of the Round. This number is found on the bottom of the SMC card. The player will roll the Server die to determine the server color and the Partition die to determine which number that the Spark is placed on. These 2 dice are known as the Spark Dice. Once all the new Sparks have been placed, the player moves on to the 4th step. This fourth step is the Command Actions Step. In this step the player will play Command cards from their hand. Each card played will give the player Command points in either Destruction, Deception, Cognition, Information or Leadership. These points will allow the player to perform certain actions by spending a certain quantity. To create Command Points, the player must place the cards face up on the table. Once they have enough points of a certain type to perform an action, the player takes the action and then sets the cards used to pay for the action into their discard pile. The player may continue to generate Command points as long as they have cards in their hand. Once they can no longer take an action or choose to, they may pass. If the player chooses to pass during either of their first 2 rounds, they are allowed to save 1 card to carry forward into the next round, giving them 6 cards for their next turn. It should be noted that a player is allowed to discard any 3 Command cards to generate 1 Leadership Command point. It should also be noted that some Command cards have effects or an execute action that allows the player to perform certain things when played.

Speaking of Actions, there are several actions that a player may perform with the right amount of Command points. There is the Move action. For each Information Command point the player spends for a move action, they are granted 1 Movement point. Moving from 1 partition to another costs 1 movement point. However, the player is allowed to carry up to 3 Contaminants of the same type with them. The player is then allowed to drop off and pick up other contaminants. There’s more information on picking up and dropping off contaminants in the rulebook. It should be noted however that a player may move across partitions that contain blue tokens (Data ports and Data Nodes) for 0 movement points. However the player must still generate 1 Information Command point to be able to make the move. Also of note is that a player may move from a Data Port to any other partition on the network for 1 movement point or if the destination partition has a Data Node or Data Port on it, it costs 0 points. Next there is the Shift action. This action uses a Cognition Command point to move either a Spark or Contaminant from the player’s Avatar’s partition to an adjacent partition. If a player is on a partition with a green Uplink or Neural Hub, they may use the Shift action to another partition that also contains a Uplink or Neural Hub. It should be noted that if a player is on a partition with a Nerual Hub, then they are allowed to perform any action as if their Avatar was on any desired partition on that server. This includes using other actions. Another available action is the Upload action. For 3 Command Points of the same color, the player is allowed to place a Contaminant token of the same color onto the partition where their Avatar is positioned, as long as there are no Sparks or Guardian tokens present. For each Deception Command Point generated, the player can place a Replicant token, as long as there is a Replicator present on that same partition. They are able to do this even if there are Spark tokens present. For each Destruction Command Point generated, the player may place a Virus token, as long as there is already a Propagator on the partition. Once again, they may do this even if there are Sparks present. Another possible action to take is the Modify action. This can be performed if the player’s Avatar is at a partition that has more Replicant tokens than Spark tokens. The player pays 2 Command Points to Modify the Spark by deleting it and replacing it with a Containment token. For the 2 Command Points, it requires 1 Deception Command point to initiate the Modification and then 1 point of the type of Contaminant that the player wishes to modify it to. Next there is the Install action. This action allows the player to exchange 3 Contaminant tokens of the same color that share the same partition as their Avatar for 1 Installation token of the same color. They must spend 1 Command Point of the same color to initiate the Install action. It should be noted that to do this there must be no Spark or Guardian tokens present and there must be no Installations of that color there either. Next there is the Infect action. This action requires at least 1 Virus token present on the partition to perform. The player must generate at least 1 Destruction Command point and then declare an attack on a Spark or Guardian token. They will then roll the 2 Infection dice. They will adjust their attacking result on the red Infection die by adding the number of Destruction Command points along with the number of Virus tokens to get their Infection score. On the other side, they must adjust the black Resistance die’s roll by adding the number of Spark tokens or add 4 if there is a Guardian present to get the Resistance score. These scores are then compared. If the Infection score is greater than the Resistance score, the player wins the battle and is able to delete all the Sparks or Guardian from that partition. if the Infection score is lower or equal to the Resistance score, then the players loses the battle and must delete a Virus token on that partition. Next there is the Execute action which allows the player to discard an Advanced Command card to ignore it’s Command points and use it’s Execute action instead. Finally there’s the Shop action. This action allows the player to purchase Advanced Command cards from the Hack Shack by paying for them with Command points. First the player reveals the corresponding cards from their hand that contain the necessary Command points to purchase the card with. They will then take the purchased card and add it to their hand. They will then choose one of the revealed cards used to make the purchase and delete it. The rest of these cards are then discarded. Once the Shop action is completed, the player should still only have 15 cards between their hand, discard pile and Command deck.

This takes us to the fifth step of the Command phase, the Replenish Hand step. In the first 2 rounds of each cycle, the player will draw 5 new cards from their deck to prepare for their next turn. After the third round, the player will have no cards to draw. Finally, the last step is the End of Turn step. Some effects will occur at this time due to card effects. Once these have been taken care of, play passes to the next player in turn order, who will then begin with their Start of Turn step. Once each player has completed their turn, that round is complete and a new round begins. Once the third round is completed, play proceeds to the next phase.

The third phase is the Countermeasures Phase. This phase consists of 4 steps that are followed in order. The first step is the SMC’s Revenge step. In this step Virus tokens are forced to attack all Spark and Guardian tokens on the same partition with them by using Infect actions, but without the aid of any Command cards. This continues until either no Virus tokens or no more Spark and Guardian tokens remain on the same partition. Once this is finished, the Spark and Guardian tokens will delete all of the Contaminant tokens on the same partition with them. Once that’s been taken care of, Guardian tokens will delete any Installation tokens on the same partition with them. Once that’s completed, we move on to the next step, the Success or Failure step. For this second step, the player will determine whether they have successfully completed or failed the SMC’s current Countermeasure card’s goal. If either of these has happened, the player flips over the card and performs it’s corresponding success or fail event by following the instructions from top to bottom. It should be noted that after determining the success or failure, the cards orientation is kept the same and applies to the next step, the Move Sparks step. In this step, Sparks will be moved up or down on the servers as noted on the Countermeasure card. Starting with the arrow on the left and proceeding to the right, the player will move the Sparks. If the arrow points up, then the player will move all the Sparks located on the lowest numbered partition of that corresponding color to the next higher number partition. If the arrow points down, then the player moves the Sparks located on the highest numbered partition to the next lower numbered partition. It should be noted that there is a “Loop” between the 6 and 1 partitions. That means that if a Spark is on the 6 and must move up, then it moves onto the 1 space. Likewise if a Spark is on the 1 and must move down, then it moves onto the 6 space. Once this has been completed, any Spark Explosions are resolved. Spark Explosions happen whenever a Spark enters a partition that already contains a Guardian. Instead of adding a Spark token to the partition containing the Guardian, the player adds 2 Flare tokens to the next lowest numbered partition instead. This can cause a chain reaction as Flare tokens can not be placed on a partition with a Guardian. Instead another Flare token is created and placed on the next lower numbered partition. It should also be noted that if 3 Spark tokens are on a partition, they are removed and replaced with a Guardian token immediately. The final step is the Scoring Token step. If the players were successful on all of the Countermeasure cards at the current Security Level, then they will gain a Countermeasure Scoring token to help improve their score at the end of the game. If they failed, then they will delete the Countermeasure card and place it back in the box.

This brings us to the final phase, the Refresh Phase. In this phase, the players will prepare for the next Cycle or end the game by following 3 steps. First is the End of Game step. For this step, the players will check to see if there are any more Countermeasure cards remaining. If not, then the game ends and the players have won. If there is another Countermeasure card left, then the players move to the next step, the New Deal step. In this step, the players prepare for the next Cycle by discarding any cards still in their hands and shuffling their Command deck. They will then deal a new hand of 5 cards. The final step is the Hack Shack Purge step. In this step, the players will discard all of the cards available to purchase at the Hack Shack. New cards will be drawn and placed during the second step of the Alpha Hacker’s Command Phase.

The game continues until one of the end game events occurs. If at the end of the final phase there are no more Countermeasure cards to be played, then the players have survived and they win the game. However if at any time during the game, a player is required to place either a Spark or Guardian token and they are unable to due to a lack of tokens in the pool, then the players lose immediately. If the players survived and won the game, then they will measure their success through scoring Victory Points. Points are awarded for sets of Sparks remaining in the supply, as well as for each Guardian token remaining. They will also gain points for Installation tokens on the network, as well as for each Countermeasure Scoring token that they earned for completeing all the Countermeasures of a particular Security Level. The results are then compared to a chart in the rulebook to determine how well the players succeeded.

COMPONENTS
This game has a lot of great looking pieces. For anyone familiar with Android Netrunner, they may find the theme, feel and look of this game to be very similar. The artwork on the cards, profile sheets, tokens and even the tiles have a lot of similar looks. All of the tokens are bright colored and very thematic. They’re made of thick cardboard and look great. Even the Avatar standees are the same thick cardboard. The Avatars have some plastic stands for them to be fit down into. The images on the Avatars are also found on the profile sheets. The profile sheets are a little more detailed and bigger with lots of great information. The profile sheets are double sided with several different characters to play as. The cards have a great looking linen finish to them and they show off a lot of the theme and looks of the cyberpunk universe that the game centers around. These are all normal sized, while the SMC cards are a little larger almost tarot sized. Each card, each piece is completely dripping with theme. The Infection dice look very similar to the numbers on the server tiles and these are all engraved. The Spark dice look like they have stickers on them but I’m assuming these are screen printed instead. These are a little less impressive than everything else but is probably the only thing that I’d say looks a little less cool. The server tiles are all fairly large and thick. One sided is single colored while the other side has multiple colors on them. Needless to say, this is one cool looking game. Fans of the cyberpunk universe like that in Android Netrunner should really love how thematic and fun the game looks. I’m very impressed with the amazing look especially on the cards, profile sheets and dice. I can’t say anything really negative about any of it.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is actually quite thick. There are a lot of great looking pictures and examples of gameplay throughout the book. There are images of how to setup the game as well as of each of the different components. The rules are explained in great detail in step by step process. The different types of cards are even explained in great detail. There’s a glossary of all the different terms that are used in this game, from partitions and networks to SMC and avatars. The rulebook contains so many good examples, there’s even a complete walkthrough of the game so that players can be familiar with the rules in a step by step way. I can truly say that I’ve never seen a rulebook with something like this before. I’m rather impressed with it. The book contains some gameplay variants for everything from using the back side of the network tiles to hardcore and horde modes of play. There’s special rules for using Rootkits with Renegades with the Leadership profile. There are also detailed descriptions of each of the different Renegades that players can play as. The back of the book contains a great reference guide including a sequence of play along with a list of actions, card commands, installations and SMC countermeasures. This is a great tool to have on the table when playing the game. I’m very impressed with this book. While it is full of information, it’s actually a lot less scary than it actually looks. It takes a bit to read through but once through it, everything actually makes perfect sense. It may be a bit difficult for some people to understand but those familiar with deck building games and Android Netrunner shouldn’t have any problems with this. Overall the book covers everything in a really good way and looks amazing. I’m really pleased with both the look and feel of it all.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
While this game is at it’s heart a deck builder, it’s a lot different from any deck builder that I’ve ever played. That’s saying a lot since I’ve played a lot of different ones. Most deck builders have you working on getting a lot of better cards to power up your deck to be able to get more points to beat your opponents. In this game, points are an afterthought and since all the players are working together, the idea of opponents doesn’t even enter the equation. Like with most deck builders, you’ll be trying to build up your deck, except that you have to make really good decisions as each time you add a card to your deck, you have to remove one permanently. That’s why each decision you make is such an important one. That’s definitely true when it comes to the board. This is another part of the game that is a bit different from most deck builders. You set up this complex network and then move your avatar around as you try to accomplish these goals to basically stay alive on the board. Along the way you’ll be moving tokens around adding tokens and hoping that you don’t run out of Spark or Guardian tokens to place on the board. That means that you really have to stay on top of keeping the population of these tokens off the board. Of course there’s more to it than just that. As I said there are goals that you’ll be trying to accomplish and yes points do still count. The more points you have at the end of the game, the better the victory will be. However sometimes you’ll find just surviving as a victory in itself. This game can be quite brutal when playing against some of the harder SMCs. Even some of the easier ones can still be tough. I can truly say that this has to be the most unique deck builder that I’ve ever played. As a big fan of the Shadowrun game and the universe that it comes from, I can say that I really love the cyberpunk theme in this one. It feels like it should fit into that world quite well, even though it’s not a part of it. My favorite character to play in Shadowrun was always the Decker, because I really enjoyed how they were able to hack into computer systems and do things noone else could do. This game brings back a lot of those old fond memories of that game. Needless to say, anyone that is a fan of Shadowrun or the Android Netrunner LCG should love the thematic elements of this game. Deck building fans looking for a little more weight and meat to their games should really enjoy this one too. Needless to say, I’m thoroughly impressed. I like it quite a lot. I like that everyone plays as a single team with this one. Even when playing other deck builders like Legendary or the DC deck builder, I hated that the game wanted it to be about competition between the players and not about beating the bad guys. That’s why this one works great with several players or even for playing solo. I definitely like being able to play this one by myself when no one else feels like playing anything. It gives you plenty of theme that will really suck you into the game. Solo players should love this one. Overall, this is a game that I would highly recommend. It’s definitely one of my top picks
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Renegade is a cooperative deck building game that is set in a cyberpunk universe. It is a moderately long game to play. Most play sessions last between an hour and a half and 2 hours. Solo sessions can go a bit shorter in length. The game looks amazing. There are lots of really great looking cards and tokens. I especially like the artwork throughout the game. It reminds me of games like Shadowrun and Android Netrunner. The rulebook is a bit thick but you shouldn’t feel intimidated by it. Everything is laid out rather well and there are plenty of great examples to help guide you along the way. The game itself brings an entirely new look and feel to the deck building universe. It’s definitely one of the most unique deck builders that I’ve ever played. It can be a bit tough, even on some of the easier levels. I like that this is a cooperative game instead of being competitive. I enjoy the theme and find that fans of the cyberpunk style of games, like those in Shadowrun or Android Netrunner, should enjoy the thematic elements and gameplay of this one. Deck building fans will really enjoy this unique take on the mechanic and should enjoy this one as well. This is a game that I would highly recommend. It breathes new life into deck building at a time that I was starting to get burnt out on the mechanic. I really enjoy this one and expect to continue hacking the networks for many more times to come. It’s definitely one of my top pics for this year.
9 out of 10

 

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

http://www.victorypointgames.com/

 

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Decrypto Review

Decrypto is a game by , published by Scorpion Masqué and distributed by IELLO. It is for 3-8 players. In this game, players will team up into two separate teams as they attempt to interpret coded messages from their teammates. Of course they’ll have to be careful as their opponents will be trying to intercept those messages by cracking the teams secret code. If the player’s are able to correctly intercept their opponents without any miscommunication of their own codes, they’ll be one step closer to victory. Likewise, if their own codes are too hard to decipher and they mess up, they’ll be one step closer to defeat. The team that can best decrypt the codes will be declared the winners.

To begin, players will split into 2 teams, as evenly as possible. Members on the same team should sit on the same side of the table, with the opposing players on the opposite side. Each team is given a screen which is placed in front of them where the windows are facing towards them. Each team will then draw 4 Keyword cards and place them in the windows of their screens, without showing them to the other team. Each team will then take the Code Deck that has the same corresponding color as their team’s screen. Each team is then given a Note Sheet and a pen or pencil (not included). Teams should choose a name and write it in the space provided on the Note Sheet. The Sand Timer, Interception Tokens and Miscommunication Tokens are placed in the middle of the play area. Once both teams are finished, play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. At the beginning of each round, each team will choose one of their members to be the Encryptor. This role should be rotating, going from team member to team member as the game is played. Each round is divided into a series of steps that must be followed in order. First, each team’s Encryptor will draw a Code Card from their team’s deck. This card must be kept hidden from all other players. The Encryptor will look at the card and prepare themself. Once ready, the Encryptor will write 3 clues on the 3 lines of the current round on their team’s Note Sheet. It should be noted that each team should use the side with their team’s color on it at this time. Once one of the team’s Encryptors has finished writing their clues, they will then turn over the Sand Timer. The opposing Encryptor must now finish writing their clues before the time runs out. Once teams are ready, the White Team’s Encryptor will now read aloud their 3 clues, handing the sheet to their teammates when finished. The Black Team will simultaneously write down the 3 spoken clues onto the white side of their Note Sheet for the current round. Teams are then allowed to discuss the clues, as they try to determine which clues go with which number. Once a team has decided, they will then write down the number that they think correctly corresponds to each clue at the end of the line in the first column of the Note Sheet. It should be noted that the Encryptor that just read the clues, is not allowed to participate in the discussion or to make any sort of reaction to their teammates discussion. Once both teams have written down their numbers, the Black team is then allowed to try and intercept the code. They will now read aloud the 3 numbers that they wrote down in order. It should be noted that in the first round, neither team is allowed to try and intercept the other team’s code. Once the Black team has finished, the White team will now try to decipher the code by reading aloud their 3 numbers that were written down for the code. The White team’s Encryptor will then reveal the code card with the 3 digit code on it. If the Black team was correct, then they will receive an Interception token. If they were wrong, nothing happens. If the White team is incorrect, they receive a Miscommunication token. If they were correct, nothing happens. Each team will now write the correct code in the second column on the Note Sheet for that round. Teams should then write down the clues for that particular round in the corresponding section for that number. Once all this is done, it’s now time for the Black Team’s Encryptor to read their 3 clues aloud. The same process as above is repeated, except that the teams are now reversed. The Black Team will try to decipher the code while the White Team will try to intercept. Once both teams have completed this process, the round ends.

At the end of each round, both teams will check to see if one of the teams has either won or lost the game. If a team has 2 Interception tokens, then they are the winners. If a team has 2 Miscommunication tokens, then they lose and the other team wins. If either of these things happens, the game ends. If neither of the conditions has been met, then a new round begins starting from the beginning again. Each team should place their used Code card back into their deck and shuffle it. A new Encryptor is chosen for the team and the game continues.

COMPONENTS
The game comes with some really interesting looking pieces. First off there are the 2 team screens. One is white and the other is black. Both of these look like some elaborate computers with some of those red screens that you can place a card behind and see the hidden message. This is the same type of thing that you might find in a McDonald’s Happy Meal but it’s used in a much better way and looks way better too. There are 2 different code decks; one white and one black. These have the codes that each team will be trying to decipher while the Encryptor gives the codes. These look great. The back of each card looks like a floppy disk which is a pretty cool looking design. The Keyword cards have the hidden words to be deciphered. When placed in the screens, the words are uncovered and easy to read. There are also some Interception tokens and Miscommunication tokens. These have a stylized cartoon computer character. On the Interception tokens, he’s listening to a keyhole with his hand against his ear, while the Miscommunication token has him passed out on the floor. These are all thick cardboard and rather funny looking. It also has a large note pad full of Note Sheets. One side is white and the other is black. Finally the game comes with a plastic sand timer that is present in a lot of different party games. Overall I think the pieces look a lot like something you would find in most party games. The quality is really good and everything looks nice. I’m rather pleased with the overall production of this game.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is very good. The pages are all glossy and full color. There are plenty of great looking pictures and examples throughout the book. There’s a wonderful looking setup example, as well a thorough example of gameplay. There is an explanation of how to give clues and what they should be. It’s very detailed and a great help for playing the game. The rules even include a way to play the game with only 3 players. The back of the book has a summary of turn order along with a summary of the clue rules. Everything is explained quite well and is fairly easy to read. I think the rulebook does a good job of covering everything and it looks good to boot. I didn’t see anything that should cause any problems or that was unacceptable. Overall, i think it’s pretty good.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
I’ve pretty much given up on most, if not all, party games. They just don’t really appeal to me. I’d much rather do anything else. I will say however, that there are some games like Crappy Birthday and others of that sort that are pretty fun and always end up making everyone laugh. Anything that makes me laugh will usually hang around for awhile. Decrypto, while it isn’t really categorized as a party game, it has a lot of party game style qualities. It must be played with at least 4 people, although the rulebook explains how to play with only 3. Still, I prefer having teams of equal size, the more the merrier. The game is team-centric, meaning that it’s us vs. them. My team has to try and beat your team. It also encourages laughter, like most party games. Try giving a bad clue that you thought your team should have easily gotten and see how quickly you get laughed at. Sometimes the simple clues in themself are laughable. Like when your team doesn’t see anything relating to the word that you were giving a clue about. Sometimes you can’t help but to laugh. I find myself laughing when the timer is about to go out as someone is desperately trying to write down a clue. Just as long as it’s not me trying to think of something. So while this game does have party like aspects, it’s still fun and not one to be turned down. Over the past year or so, I’ve been ever on the lookout for games to play at family gatherings. Codewords didn’t go over too well. 1 playthrough and the family was pretty much over it and bored. Decrypto, however captures the fun that we’ve had with games like Crappy Birthday and others of that sort. I like that teams can win based on the other team losing. It’s not just about you trying to decipher the other team’s codes, you have to make sure that you don’t screw up your own codes. In a lot of ways it comes down to the overall ability of your team’s Encryptor to give out clues that are easy enough for you to get but hard enough for the opposing team to mess up. I will say that I enjoyed this one a lot more than I originally thought that I would. I fully expected to give this one a pass, but it surprised me. It’s actually fun. This is a game that I would recommend, especially with more players. It’s great for family gatherings and get togethers. It’s one that even younger players can participate in. You just might not want to let them be the Encryptor, as you might wind up with some really wild and unrecognizable clues. Of course that can be kind of fun and humorous in it’s own right. Overall, I like this game and think that most players should enjoy it as well.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Decrypto is a team style game of deciphering codes that everyone should enjoy. The game doesn’t take a long time. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes or so. Of course if you have slow Encryptors, it may take a little longer. The components for this game are all great quality and are up to par with pretty much anything IELLO makes. I do like the whole computer like designs on many of the pieces, especially the floppy disk code cards. The rulebook is also quite good and has lots of great pictures and examples. The game itself borrows a lot of party style ideas and molds them into a game that is great for families gatherings and get togethers. It is easy enough that even young players can help out and be a part of the team. Fans of party style games and word games should really enjoy this one. This is one that I recommend, especially with a big group of players. This game is fun and is one that I think most people will enjoy. So, put the Uno cards away and give this one a try, or do you need another clue?
8 out of 10

 

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

www.iellogames.com

 

 

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Fairy Tile Review

Fairy Tile is a game by Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert, published by IELLO. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be helping to tell a wondorous story of adventure set in a fairy tale kingdom. They will be adding lots of different land tiles to create the kingdom and will tell their stories by moving the Princess, Knight and Dragon across the land. They will do this to accomplish the objectives written on the pages of their story. The first player to read their story first will be declared the winner.

To begin, the 3 Starting tiles are placed in the middle of the play area with the white corners of each tile placed in the very middle to create a circle. It should also be done so that the river is connected to each tile. The Princess, Knight and Dragon figures are then placed on their specific spots on the tiles. The regular tiles are then shuffled together to create a stack. Each player is given a Magic token which is placed in front of them with the blank side up. The Page cards are then shuffled. Each player is then dealt an equal amount of cards which are placed face down in front of them. These cards are known as the player’s Book. Each player will now draw the first card from their Book. These cards are known as Pages. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over a series of turns. Each player will take a turn where they will choose to perform one of two different actions. Those actions are Develop your Story or Turn a Page. To Develop your Story, the player must Go on an Adventure. This means that the player must decide whether to move a character or add a land tile. If they choose to move a character, they must choose one of the 3 characters to move within the Kingdom, following each one’s specific movement rules. The Princess moves only one location space from her starting space. However, she may also jump from castle to castle. This means that If she ends her movement on a castle, she may immediately move to another castle. It also means that if she starts on a castle space, then she can move to another castle and then move to an adjacent location space. The Knight can only move two location spaces from his starting space. This means that he can’t move to a single adjacent location space. He also is not allowed to return to his starting position. The Dragon moves in a straight line from his starting space until he reaches the edge of the Kingdom. This means that he must be moved as far as possible in a straight line and can’t stop until he is on one of the spaces at the edge of the kingdom. However he is not allowed to move across empty spaces. This means that he may only move across location spaces. It should be noted that none of the characters are allowed to leave the kingdom. They must all stay on a land tile in play. However they are allowed to move through other characters and may also end their movement in the same space as another character. To add a land tile, the player simply takes the top land tile from the stack without turning it over and placing it so that it is adjacent to at least 2 edges of the kingdom. If the new land tile is adjacent to a river space, the tile must be placed so that it continues the river. If the river can not be continued with the placed tile, then it may not be placed there. It should be noted that the kingdom may have multiple rivers. It should also be noted that once the stack of land tiles is empty, the player may not choose to add any more land tiles.

Once the player has finished going on an adventure, they must then check to see if they are able to Recount the Adventure. This means that the player is able to fulfill the objective on their Page due to their previous actions of placing tiles or moving characters into the right spots. Some objectives will require line of sight, characters to be on the same space or even by creating large forests, mountains or plains of 3 connected location spaces. If they are able to fulfill the objective, then the player will place the Page card next to their Book and read it aloud. Once finished reading, they will then draw the next Page of their Book. It should be noted that a player is not allowed to Recount their Adventure on another player’s turn and they may only Recount their Adventure once per turn.

The other action a player may take instead of Developing their Story is to Turn a Page. To do this, the player must place the Page in their hand under their Book face down and then draw the next Page from the top of their Book. A player is only allowed to do this, if they chose not to Go on an Adventure or Recount their Adventure. Once the new Page has been drawn, the player will then turn over their Magic token with the Magic side face up. This allows the player to use their Magic token to take a second Go on an Adventure action on their next turn. It should be noted that even if the player has only 1 Page left in their book, they may still use the Turn a Page action to flip over their Magic token to be used on their next turn. The player is also able to use the Turn a Page action , even if their Magic token is already face up. This just means that they won’t accumulate any more Magic that turn. Once the player has completed their turn by taking an action, or two if they used their Magic token, and have Recounted their Adventure, if possible, then play passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues until a player Recounts the Adventure on the last Page of their Book. Whichever player does this first is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This is one extremely cute and fun looking game. First off there are these 3 full color painted figures of the Princess, Knight and Dragon. These remind me a lot of the old Mage Knight figures from back when. Each of these is incredibly detailed and brightly colored. I really love the effort that was put into the design of each. They look just exactly like the images from the different Page cards. Speaking of Page cards, the artwork on these is absolutely gorgeous. Each one looks like it was something taken directly from a beautiful children’s fairy tale story book. I love the designs and artistic styles. It’s so fun and adorable. The game also comes with some player aid cards to help remind the players how to play the game. Next there are the land tiles, there are 3 starting tiles and 12 regular tiles. These are made of thick cardboard and remind me in some ways of the land tiles in Kingdomino. By that I’m simply referring to the art style. These tiles consist of 3 hexagons of land put together. There are several different types of land spaces so the combination of tiles looks really beautiful when placed together. It really creates a magical little kingdom. Speaking of magic, the game also comes with 4 wooden Magic tokens. They look like they have been engraved and golden foil placed in the places where it was engraved. I have to say it’s a pretty nice effect and look. With all the good things about this game, there is one rather negative one too; the insert. After punching out all the tiles, you’d think that they would fit in the slot reserved for them, but they don’t. At least they don’t fit properly. I have mine sitting at kind of an angle inside the hole. While everything else about the game looks great, this one little thing should have been planned out a little better. Granted, it’s not a big deal and one that can easily be overlooked or overcome with a bit of modification to the insert. Still while I hate bringing it up, it’s something that needs to be addressed too. Apart from that, the game is a real beauty. Every piece has a magical storybook like feel to it that really bring out the theme of the game. I love the overall look of this game and think that the art and designs will appeal to a wide variety of players, especially children.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game, looks almost like a story book itself. There are lots of great looking full color pictures and examples throughout the book. So many of the pictures show off different character designs, placing each one in a different pose. I really like how much fun and cuteness this adds to the book. Each element of the game is explained in great detail from the character figures to the Page cards and land tiles. Every step of the game from start to finish is laid out in an easy to read and easy to understand way. There’s absolutely nothing difficult about this book. The book even includes some tips to help play the game even better, as well as several clarifications of specific wordings on the objective cards. All in all, the book is very helpful and looks great in the process. I’m very happy with the overall look and feel of the rulebook.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really light and fun game. The idea of moving these beautiful looking characters around on the tiles while building up the kingdom so that you can complete objectives on your card is great. Sometimes you will find yourself and one or more opponents at odds in regards to moving a certain character, which can be a bit frustrating as you may wind up moving the same character back and forth. In those instances, I’ve found that dumping my card and gaining two actions the next turn quickly fixes the problem. After all, the game is supposed to be fun. I will admit that as you complete the objectives, sometimes the story will seem a bit off, but that’s ok. You can always rearrange the cards by number and read the story as it was meant to be read later. My daughter absolutely loved that, especially right after a good game where she winds up beating me. Needless to say, this is a great game for families and especially those with younger children. The box says for 8 and up but I think even some younger kids should be able to play this with a little bit of help. The puzzle aspect seems to be a big part of the game when you set aside the story telling. Getting every piece in the right place, whether it’s moving the princess and the knight to the same spot or creating the big River for the dragon to visit, is a lot of fun and takes a bit of logical thinking and planning. I think fans of storytelling games like Tales of the Arabian Nights should enjoy this one as it simplifies things just a bit so that younger players can play too. My daughter really enjoyed this one, which doesn’t surprise me at all. She really enjoyed Tales. Don’t think that it’s just a kid’s game though. This is one that even adults can find joy in playing as well. Finding the right solution to your current objective can be thrilling and exciting. As a family game, this is definitely one that I would recommend. This is one that everyone can enjoy without any problems. Overall, we’ve enjoyed the time we’ve spent in the fairy tale kingdom and look forward to telling the story many more times.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Fairy Tile is a magical story telling game about a Princess, a Knight and a Dragon. It’s not a very long game. Most game sessions can be played in around 30 minutes or so. The components for this game are amazing. The miniatures are great and so is the artwork on all the cards and tiles. You definitely get a real sense of the theme with each piece. On the negative side, the insert is a little bit too small to fit the land tiles which can be a bit frustrating. The rulebook looks great and covers everything extremely well. The game itself takes a twist of puzzle solving with an added bit of story telling and mixes them together to create a wonderful game for kids and families to play together. Fans of story telling games like Tales of the Arabian Nights should enjoy this one, especially if they have children that are wanting to play as well. This is one that everyone can enjoy, kids and adults alike. For this reason, I would highly recommend it. Once you’re done playing, you can even put all the cards back in order and read the story to the kids the way it was intended. To me, that’s just an added bonus. Overall this is a game that definitely has a happy ending, for everyone.
9 out of 10

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

www.iellogames.com

 

 

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Preview Review of Flaming Pyramids

Recently I was given the opportunity to preview an upcoming new game that will be coming soon to Kickstarter. I received a preview copy of the game and rules. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!

Flaming Pyramids is a game by Norbert Abel, published by Cheeky Parrot Games. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players will be trying to use all of their building materials to build a great monument to the Pharaoh. They will need to make sure that their calculations are correct or the monument will fall. If that wasn’t bad enough, they’ll also have to make sure that fires don’t break out either as this too can cause a collapse. In the end, the architect that can best rid themselves of their building materials first, will be declared the winner.

For this review, I will mainly be discussing the introductory game.  There are variations to the rules that make the game more family oriented and some that make it more competitive.  For more information on these, please check out the rulebook.

To begin, the cards are shuffled together. They are then dealt out evenly among the players. Each player will place their cards into a facedown pile in front of them, drawing a hand of 5 from the stack. Any leftover cards that were not able to be dealt out are placed in a face up row in the middle of the play area. If any of these face up cards are Ember cards, then they are removed from the round. An Ember card shows a fire and is present on the 1 yellow, 1 green, 7 blue and 7 red cards. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over a series of rounds. Each round players will take a turn consisting of playing a card onto the pyramid, resolving any mayhem that may occur from the placement and then drawing back up to their hand size of 5 cards from their draw pile. On a player’s turn, they will choose a card from their hand to place onto the pyramid in the middle of the play area. When placing a card, it will need to be placed so as to form a pyramid shape. If there are no cards, the card is simply placed on the table. If there is only 1 card, then the card played may be placed on either side of the previously placed card. If there are 2 cards next to each other with no card on top of them, then the played card must be placed on top of them. If there is a complete pyramid shape, then the played card must be placed on either side of the base. In some cases there may be some open spaces on top of or between cards due to mayhem. In these cases the player is free to choose which of these free spaces to use. Mayhem can occur when a card placed on top of another does not match one of the two cards beneath it in color or number. It can also occur if the card’s weight is higher than the sum of the two cards beneath it. Each card has a number on it that indicates the weight of the card. This number is used to determine when mayhem occurs in this regard. As long as the card does not cause any mayhem, nothing happens. If the weights or colors were wrong, then a collapse occurs. When a collapse happens, the two cards beneath the mayhem inducing card are removed from the pyramid and placed on the bottom of the player’s draw pile. The card that was placed will then move down and over to either the right or left, player’s choice. The player must then check to make sure no more mayhem or collapses happen. Once all of the cards fit properly, play can continue with the player drawing up to their hand size of 5 cards. Play then passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues until a player has played and placed all of their cards. Once a player has rid themself of all of their cards, that player is crowned the winner. A new game will then begin following the same setup rules and starting with the person to the left of the last round’s starting player as the first player. A full game concludes once every player has been the starting player one time.

COMPONENTS
Simply put, this game comes with a single small deck of cards. The cards are all small and square. Of course this is a prototype so that may change later. The artwork may also change. As it is now, each one looks like a child’s rendition of things like rocks and logs and fire. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The simplistic design kind of works. That said, I’m sure most players will more than likely hope for a better overall look. The cards themselves are pretty good quality, even for a prototype. They seem to be quite durable with a good finish to them. Here’s hoping this stays that way. In any event, I think that thematically the idea works. You get a good sense of what you’re trying to accomplish along with a good weight ratio, such as large rocks being heavier than logs which are heavier than straw. I really think that this game is headed in the right direction and I look forward to seeing just how the game will look officially.
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RULEBOOK
Just like the cards, the rulebook was also a prototype. That said, the book itself looked pretty close to production quality. Granted it was on copy paper folded together, it still looked pretty good. There were lots of great looking pictures and examples in full color on practically every page. The book was simple to read and easy to understand. There were even rules for playing it as a family game or as a competitive game, along with several strategic tips. Needlees to say, I was pretty impressed by this initial design. I expect that the final rulebook will be even better. The book wasn’t that thick either so there wasn’t a lot to read either. Overall, I think the rulebook is definitely headed in the right direction.
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GAMEPLAY
I have to say, this is a pretty fun little tile laying game. It does involve a bit of math skills and might not be great for those that are color blind, but in general it’s not bad. The idea is simple. Try to be the first person to get rid of all of your cards by placing them in an ever growing and changing pyramid. You’ll want to use those fires early on so that hopefully you don’t wind up with this massive collapse that’ll throw a bunch of cards back into your stack later on. Needless to say, the game can get quite strategic, especially with just 2 players. For this reason, I especially like it as a 2 player game. Three and four players is still good but 2 is best for me. Haven’t tried it with more than 4 so I can’t comment on anything more than that. Regardless of how it’s played, the game moves quite smoothly and quickly. It’s a good family game that most everyone can play. As I noted above, the math skills might mean that the little ones need a bit of help playing this one. I think fans of tile laying games like Carcassonne or simple card games like Hoard, should enjoy this one. Overall it’s simple, fast and fun. A great combination of fun and strategy. I’d recommend giving it a try.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Flaming Pyramids is a tile laying game of pyramid building. The game is fairly quick and simple. Most game sessions last around 15 minutes. The look and feel of the game is fairly simplistic and easy to understand. Of course, this is a simple prototype so I expect to see much better graphics when the game is completed. It’s fairly straight forward and family friendly, although younger players may need some help with the math elements of the game. There’s some good player interaction and quite a bit of strategy involved, especially in the lower player counts. I really enjoy the game the most with 2 players. Fans of tile laying games like Carcassonne should enjoy this one. I’d also think fans of simple card games like Hoard should enjoy this one too. This is a game that I’d recommend trying out. I think it will appeal to a lot of different players. Overall I look forward to seeing the game in it’s final form. I expect great things from this one.
8 out of 10

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

http://www.cheekyparrotgames.com/

You can check out the Kickstarter link below for even more information and to back the game.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/204427442/flaming-pyramids

 

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Math Dice Jr. Review

Math Dice Jr. is a game by Sam Ritchie, published by ThinkFun. It is for 2 or more players. In this game, players will be rolling dice, adding and subtracting, as they race to be the first to cross the finish line. The player that can do this first, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the scoring track is placed in the middle of the play area. Players choose a game token, which they will then place at the starting line of the scoring track. They will also decide whether to play a short or long game, noting the finish line for each on the scoring track. The Target and Scoring dice are handed to the youngest player. Play now begins.

Each round, players will take turns rolling the Target and Scoring dice, starting with the youngest player. The player will start by rolling the 12 sided Target die. The number rolled is the Target number that the players will be trying to reach. The player will then take the five 6 sided dice and roll each of them. There are the Scoring numbers that will be used to create the Target number through addition and/or subtraction. Players are allowed to use as many or as few numbers as they’d like. However each number on a die, may only be used once. Players are also allowed to use a single die number if it exactly matches the Target number. Once a player figures out how to add and/or subtract the numbers on the Scoring dice to be able to hit the Target number, they will then call out, “Math Dice”. They will then have to explain which numbers that they used and how they reached the Target number, keeping the dice that they used until the end of the round. Play will then continue, allowing other players to take a look at the remaining Scoring dice and try to create another way to hit the Target number. If they can figure out another way, they will also call out, “Math Dice”, repeating the process of explaining their numbers and holding on to any used dice. Once there are no more Scoring dice remaining, or there are no more ways to reach the Target number, the round ends. Each player will then score 1 point for each die that they collected that round. They will then move their scoring token ahead 1 space for each point earned. The player that last rolled the dice will then pass them to the next player in turn order and a new round will then begin. The game continues until a player reaches the finish line on the scoring track. Whoever does that first is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game comes with some really nice looking pieces. First off there are the large over sized dice. There is a large white 12 sided Target die and then 5 large brightly colored 6 sided Scoring dice. The Target die has numbers engraved in it, while the Scoring dice have pips like regular dice do. The game also comes with a screen printed and stitched neoprene board that folds up nice and neatly to fit perfectly inside the neoprene drawstring bag. The bag is about 6 inches long and 5 inches across and it holds the large dice and board easily inside it. It also has a nice plastic spring clasp drawstring cord lock to keep everything inside the bag from falling out. I have to say that both the bag and the board are pretty darn cool. There’s also a rulebook included, which I will discuss in the next section. Finally there are some little colored cardboard scoring markers that must be punched out from the sole piece of colored cardboard inside the blister pack. Like it’s big brother, I think this one great too. I might even go so far as to say it’s even better looking than the original game. The bag is a little bigger so while you can’t exactly fit this one inside your pocket, it can still be carried pretty easily. Overall I really like the look and feel of the different pieces to this one. It’s really cool.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is rather small, much like the rulebook for the original game. It also fits easily inside the drawstring bag that is included with this one. It has a lot less pages than the original game does, however everything is still in black and white just like before. There are a few more pictures in this rulebook, but about the same amout of examples of play. The rules for this game are even more simple than the ones for the original Math Dice. The rulebook includes a few variants to the rules so that you can play cooperatively or can use multiplication as well as addition and subtraction, for a bit more of a challenge. The book also includes a page of practice tables to help players see a few different ways of coming up with combinations of numbers to hit the Target number with. Most players won’t need this as the game and rules are quite simple. However it’s nice that it was added in the rulebook to help some of the younger players see as well as understand how to play. I think everything is explained really well and the rules won’t take but a minute or two to read over. I think this book gets the job done about as well as the original game.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Let me go ahead and spoil the surprise on this game. I like it a lot more than the original. To me, the original while it was good and helps kids learn math in a fun way, it feels more educational than anything. The Jr version actually has a board and scoring pieces, so it feels more like an actual game to me. The math is simple enough that even my youngest can figure out the answers fairly easily. Like it’s big brother, it only takes about 10 minutes to play so it’s pretty darn quick. The components fit nicely inside the bag so that it can be taken pretty much anywhere and played anywhere. This one is actually quite fun as you race around the board scoring a point for every die that you used to hit the target number with. You’ll be sitting there trying to work out how to use 3 or 4 numbers and someone will grab 2 of them for a quick answer leaving your mouth wide open in shock. As my daughter and I would play, she would grab 2 numbers quickly while I’m trying to score 3 or more points. Guess I should have been a little quicker on the draw. I like how the game is educational but is still fun. It really helps the little ones with improving their addition and subtraction skills and can even be used with multiplication. Elementary school teachers and home school parents will find this game as a great resource. When those math lessons are getting boring, you can simply break out the dice and throw down the board and play a quick game. It’ll help you see where the kids need to spend more time at with their math. Everyone uses addition and subtraction so this is a game that the whole family can play. To me it makes the original game of Math Dice more like a board game. I highly recommend this one, even more than the original version. It’s great for teachers and home schoolers alike.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Math Dice Jr. is an educational game of addition and subtraction to help sharpen and improve math skills for kids of all ages. It’s fast and simple. Most game sessions last around 10 minutes. It’s a fairly small game and can easily be carried in the drawstring bag that comes with it, making it playable almost anywhere. It upgrades with the kids math skills using the variant multiplication rules making it a great resource for elementary and home school teachers. This is one that the whole family can enjoy improving their math skills with. The addition of the board makes this one feel a bit more like an actual board game and increases the fun for me quite a bit. This is one that I would highly recommend, even above the original game. It’s definitely one that everyone with kids should own. You should definitely pick up one today.
8 out of 10

 

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

http://thinkfun.com

 

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