Terra Formars Review

Terra Formars is a game by Nicolas Badoux, published by Japanime Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game based on the Terra Formars anime and manga series, players take on the role of a genetically modified warrior sent to Mars to eliminate the giant cockroaches that were originally sent to heat up Mars’ atmosphere to make it suitable for colonization. Players will need to kill as many cockroaches as possible. When the last cockroach dies, the player with the most victory points will be declared the winner.

To begin, players choose a Hero card, taking the corresponding Hero Marker and 2 Support cards. These cards create the player’s starting hand. The remaining Support cards are shuffled together and placed face down in the middle of the play area. The top 3 cards of the deck are drawn and placed in a row next to the deck. The Cockroaches deck is shuffled together and placed face down below the Support cards. A number of cards are removed from the deck when playing with less than 4 players. A number of cards, equal to the number of players, are then drawn and placed in a row next to the deck. The Special Die, Victory Point tokens, Star tokens and Injury tokens are all placed near the play area within reach of all players. The first player is chosen. Beginning with the first player and continuing in turn order, each player will place their Hero Marker on an empty Cockroach card. The first player is given the 6 Combat dice. Play now begins.

The game is played in turns. Beginning with the first player, each player will take a turn following 4 steps. On a player’s turn, they will start off by rolling the 6 Combat dice. Once the dice are rolled, the player is then able to use the symbols on the dice to pay for actions. The player can spend 3 serums to roll the special die. They can use serums and stars to activate their hero’s technique. This should not be confused with the player’s talent, which is able to be used for free once per turn. They can also use the stars and serums to acquire a support card by paying the card’s cost. A new card is drawn to replace any cards bought this way. There are 2 types of cards, equipment and squad. Equipment cards are placed beside the hero when acquired. They will constantly help the hero until destroyed. The squad cards are placed in the player’s hand and may be played at any time. Once resolved, the card is discarded. Injuries shown on the dice can be used to attack the cockroaches. The player can place as many injury counters on the cockroach as they have injuries showing on the dice. Once the injury counters are equal or greater than the cockroaches health, it’s destroyed. The player that inflicts the final injury follows a series of 4 steps. First the player takes the number of Victory Point counters shown on the cockroach card. They will then hand out any spoils provided by the cockroach to any other player that had a hero marker on the card. The player is able to distribute the spoils however they choose. The cockroach card is then removed and a new card is drawn to take it’s place. The player then moves their hero marker to a new cockroach followed by any other heroes that had a marker on that card in turn order. It should be noted that each cockroach has a talent just like the heroes do. It must be activated during the player’s turn if their marker is on it. Usually this only happens when a danger symbol is rolled. Once a symbol is spent on a die, it is locked and can not be re-rolled for any reason during that turn. Any symbols not used during the turn, are lost. Once the player finishes any actions or attacks, they must then pass the combat dice to the next player in turn order.

The game continues until a dead cockroach can not be replaced from the deck. At this point, players add up their victory points and the one with the most is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game has some pretty nice looking components. First off there are plenty of thick cardboard tokens for the injury, star and victory points. These are quite nice and copy the same look as the symbols on the dice. Speaking of dice, there are 6 white dice and 1 green special die. These appear to be screen printed or something of that nature. I have a feeling that with repeated plays, the symbols may start to wear off. However that hasn’t happened yet. The hero markers are thick hexagonal plastic tokens with a creature design carved into it. I’m not exactly sure what some of these are supposed to be, so it’s a bit odd for me. The game comes with 4 originally but there is a promo set that adds an additional green token and a couple of extra cards. Speaking of cards, these are gorgeous. They each have a glossy finish and some amazing looking artwork. The iconography takes a bit of getting used to but thankfully there’s a really nice reference card in 6 different languages to help you remember what does what. Of course the best looking cards are those of the various crew members. I think some of the images of the other cards were taken from the anime which tends to be a bit dark and sometimes blurry. Even so, I think that for the most part everything looks good. Overall, I’m rather pleased with the design.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
As I mentioned earlier, the reference card is written in 6 different languages. That’s because the game includes 6 different rulebooks, each written in a different language. There’s English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. The book has plenty of pictures throughout. There’s even a full page example of gameplay that takes you through a player’s turn. Every phase and step of the game is explained quite well. I didn’t see anything that was difficult to understand in any way. Of course the best part of the rulebook is the 3 pages of card details. Each card is numbered and that number is referenced in the book with explanations of what each symbol means on the card. This is a HUGE help when playing the game, especially the first few play throughs. I quite like the design of the rules. I think they did a great job overall.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Let me start off by saying that before this game, I knew absolutely nothing about Terra Formars. Once I realized it was based on an anime and manga series, I started reading the story online. Needless to say, I haven’t gotten very far. The story is rather dark and kind of weird. However the game is a little less dark, apart from some of the visuals on a few of the cards. To be honest, I kind of expected the game to be a bit more harsh with the cockroaches really doing some damage to you. Instead the game is more about you taking it to them and attacking them. I could have also seen this game going the way of being a co-op survival game with players winning or losing as a team. However neither of these were the case with this one, which might lead fans of the series to be a bit put off. Seeing as I only have a little knowledge of the source materials, it seemed fine to me. The overall game plays like a deck builder as you’ll be using different icons provided by the dice to add new cards to your hand. In other ways, it’s all about rolling those dice to attack those cockroaches and gain victory points. It’s also about positioning yourself in the right place to score those spoils from a defeated cockroach. As I mentioned earlier, the game takes a bit of getting used to with the symbols on the cards. Thankfully the rulebook is more than adequate at helping understand each card. I think fans of the series might enjoy it. For those with little to no knowledge of the materials, it’s pretty good. Either way, I would recommend giving it a try.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Terra Formars is a dice rolling game based on the original anime/manga series. It’s fairly quick to play. Most game sessions last about 30 minutes. The artwork on the cards look ripped right from the anime series. Many of the cards are quite gorgeous. The hero tokens are a bit odd and the dice seem like the symbols on them may wear off over time, but overall the game looks good. The rulebook is great. I’m especially thankful that the designers saw fit to include details for every card in the game including it’s reference number for ease of play. The game itself has a lot of deck building and dice rolling feeling to it. I don’t think that it completely hit the mark for the dark and grittiness of the series, as the game tends to feel more of a race to get the most points with little repercussions. I think that fans of the series may like this one. I think my lack of knowledge lead me to like it a bit more than I think I would have. Overall I like the game. I would recommend giving it a try. Of course you might want to grab a can of Raid first. Cockroaches…YUCK!
8 out of 10

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

http://www.japanimegames.com/

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Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Mummy’s Mask – Character Add-On Deck Review

The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Mummy’s Mask- Character Add-On Deck is published by Paizo Publishing. It adds 4 new characters to the base game – Ahmotep the magus, Channa Ti the druid, Drelm the cleric and Mavaro the occultist. It also makes it possible to play the base game with 5 or 6 players. There are lots of new weapons, spells and items, as well as some of the most useful gear included.

For more information on the base game and how to play it, please follow the link below.

https://jlnelson73.wordpress.com/2017/05/31/pathfinder-adventure-card-game-mummys-mask-review/

 

COMPONENTS
This expansion adds 110 cards to the original game. Much like the original game, the artwork on these is very nice. I especially like the looks of the new characters as well as several of the different monsters, obstacles and allies. The card designs are the same as those found in The Mummy’s Mask. I’m guessing that like with the base game, the art is most likely taken from the original RPG adventure. There are certain elements of this expansion that fit well with the theme, like the Camel. However, I’ve never heard of some of the things inside this deck and am not sure how they fit the theme. Still, I’m quite pleased with the overall look and feel of this expansion.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
There is no rulebook included with this expansion. Everything needed to use the cards in this deck are included in the main game.
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GAMEPLAY
As I’ve mentioned in the review of the main game, I really like the Egyptian theme in this game. The cards in this add a lot of new challenges in the form of new monsters and obstacles. The new characters are very cool. I especially like the new half-elf druid included in this one. There’s also plenty of new gear included in the deck, as well as new magic and allies. I think that this expansion adds enough new material to round out the base game a little bit better. I think that most players will want to add this to the original game. It’s definitely worth having, especially for those just starting out the game. I enjoy this expansion a lot. It’s a must have, in my opinion.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
The Mummy’s Mask Character Add-On Deck is a must have addition to the Mummy’s Mask version of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. This doesn’t add any additional play time to the original game. However, it does make it possible for more players to join in on the fun. The artwork and design of these cards are great. I love the look and feel of them. Fans of the Mummy’s Mask set for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, will most definitely want to add this to their game. It’s a must have, in my opinion. I highly recommend this expansion.
9 out of 10

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

http://paizo.com

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Lemuria Review

Lemuria is a game by Kuro, published by Tasty Minstrel Games. It is for 3-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of city developers in the ancient and mystical city of Lemuria. Players will work to build buildings and enhance the city in the span of a year. In the end, the player that has contributed the most will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board should be placed in the middle of the table. The Altar Tile should be placed on the Star Altar of the board with the arrows aligned. The round marker should be placed on the 1 space of the Star Calendar. The building cards are shuffled and placed face down near the board. The top 5 cards of the deck are drawn and placed on the spaces of the trend line above the Star Altar. Each player chooses a color and receives the corresponding colored player pawn and building markers. They also receive 2 each of the plant materia and mineral materia. They also collect 3 food and 3 gold. The citizen cards are then shuffled and placed face down near the board. Each player is now dealt 3 cards from this deck. Each player takes a look at their cards and selects 1 to give to the player on their left. Once this has been completed, play now begins.

The game is played over the course of a year, or 12 rounds. Each month or round consists of 4 phases; start of round, move the altar, players take their turns, end of round. The first phase is the start of round. At the beginning of this phase, the player with the most buildings in each of the 4 building areas earns an area bonus. However this is not applicable during the first round. It should be noted that on the Festival rounds of 4, 8 and 12, players that have at least 1 building in the area gain the bonus. Turn order is then determined. In the first round, turn order is randomly determined with each player placing their pawn on the corresponding turn order number. In following rounds, players place their pawns on the lowest available turn order number beginning with the player that has the lowest total victory points followed by the next lowest and so on. The player on the 1 spot is the first player for the round. It should also be noted that sometimes players will reserve a turn order spot in a previous round. When this happens, players may not place their pawn on the already reserved space. The player then receives any materia they placed on the spot when reserving it.

The next phase is to move the altar. This phase is skipped during the first 3 rounds. In this phase, the Star Altar is turned clockwise one section. The first player is allowed to pay 1 gold to turn it one extra section forward or 1 section backward.

The third phase is when players take their turns. In this phase, each player will take their turn for the round beginning with the first player. They begin by taking their player pawn off the turn order spot and placing it in front of themself. The player can then perform any of the following actions. As an action, they must seed or harvest materia. This action must be performed once by the player. For this action, the player can choose to either place materia on the Star Altar or they can take back materia from a section. If the player has no materia to seed with, they must harvest instead. Seeding materia may be done with some or all of the materia the player has. The player places materia in an empty slot on the altar. However each section can only hold 1 type of materia, either plan or mineral. The player may also place a materia of either type on an empty turn order space, thereby reserving it for them in the next round. Harvesting materia, the player chooses a section that has been filled in which they have at least 1 materia in. All of the materia is then harvested. If a player wishes to harvest more than 1 section, it costs them an extra gold foe each additional section. The type of resource harvested is determined by the the type of materia that was harvested in regards to the resource indicated on the Star Altar tile. The player that harvested the resource receives as many resources of that type as they had materia plus the number of filler materia. Players that had materia in the harvested section receive a number of resources equal to the materia they had in the section plus half the number of filler materia rounded down. Once the resources have been handed out for the section, the harvested materia is returned to their respective owners.

The next action for the player is to build or reform buildings. This is optional and can be done once per turn by the player. To do this, the player chooses a building in the trend line and pays the resources shown on the card, minus any discounts as noted on the board. The player then takes the building and places it in front of themself, gaining the victory points indicated by the card, as well as any trend bonus indicated on the board. Players are only allowed to build a maximum of 8 buildings. The player then places one of their building markers in an empty space in one of the building areas on the board. Reforming a building may be done starting in round 8 and onwards. The player starts off by destroying one of their buildings, along with any citizen living in the building. The player then builds a building from the trend line with an extra 1 resource discount. The old building and citizen cards are discarded. If the player builds a building of the same color, they get a second resource discount. The player then gains victory points like normal but does not place a new building marker.

The last action the player can do is to play or buy citizen cards. Like building or reforming a building, this action is also optional. This action can be done any time during the players turn and as many times as the player would like. However, a player is not allowed to play a citizen card during another action. Playing a citizen card, the player pays the amount of food shown on the card and applies the citizen’s effect. The player may then place the citizen in a building if they have any unoccupied. The card is turned sideways and placed underneath the building. The player then gains the victory points shown on the card. If the citizen and the building have matching colors, the player receives the higher amount. If the citizen is not placed in a building, it is discarded to the bottom of the deck. The player can also buy cards by paying an amount of gold equal to the number of cards they have in their hand. If a player has no cards in their hand, they can take a citizen card for free. The player may also exchange cards for a cost of 2 gold. This allows the player to draw a card and then discard 1.

The final phase is the end of round phase. Once all the players have taken a turn, the round ends. In the final round, only festival scoring occurs. For the other rounds, the following happens. First the star altar grows. For every section on the star altar that isn’t full and that has at least 1 of a player’s materia, a filler materia is added to the section. Next the trend line is refreshed. If there’s a card in the right most section of the card line, it’s discarded. The remaining cards will then be slid to the right, filling any empty spaces. Any remaining empty spaces are filled by drawing a card from the building deck and placing it on the board. Finally, if the round was a festival round, players gain victory points equal to their occupied buildings. Players gain extra victory points for having the most occupied buildings in a particular color. Once victory points have been awarded, the round marker is advanced to the next position and a new round begins.

The game continues until the end of the 12th round. Once this round ends, players check their victory point totals and the player with the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game comes in a fairly small box, yet it has quite a few pieces included inside. There is quite a few cardboard pieces, including resource markers, building markers and the Star Altar tile. The artwork on these is a little simplistic, but it’s ok. I think some wooden building pieces and some wooden resource tokens would have made it a bit nicer but it would bump up the price of the game a lot more. Speaking of wooden pieces there are some colorful wooden pawns and some scoring discs that are brightly colored. The game also has some plastic markers for materia in the player colors as well. The plant materia are cubes, while the mineral are more like crystals. There are also some black discs for the filler materia. These are also plastic. All of them look nice. The board is really quite nice and reminds me in a lot of ways of the board for Ars Alchimia. It’s the same quality and has a lot of the same feel. Finally there are the cards. I really like these. They have both English and Japanese text on them. The building cards are the smaller euro sized cards. The rest of the cards are all the regular sized ones. I really like the different citizen cards. The art on these is especially nice. The art and theme fit nicely together. Overall I think the components are pretty good. Of course there are some things that could have been improved, but for a small box game it’s actually good.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this one is actually a bit like the one for Ars Alchimia in that it’s kind of odd. The book opens an odd way. However once you realize which way the rules go, it’s not difficult to follow. There are lots of nice pictures all over the book. However there aren’t any examples to help you understand things. That part I didn’t like at all. As I was reading through the book, there were several concepts and ideas that didn’t make a lot of sense to me. It would have been nice to have had some examples for clarification. The rules themself aren’t that bad, but as I said, there are some things that were a little unclear. I think that there could have been a little more attention to the book that would have made things better. Overall it looks ok despite the minor issues that I had with it.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This game is pretty cool. It’s a worker placement style game with a different type of mechanic. The Star Altar is kind of unusual but makes me think of Tzolk’in’s rondel. It doesn’t work exactly the same way, but does have a harvesting mechanic sort of like that game. Of course with it being a worker placement game, there are plenty of different places to gain benefits from. There is a level of strategy here but is not all that heavy, much like Ars Alchimia. In fact, the game reminds me a lot of Ars Alchimia. It also has a bit of an area control feel as well. As you build buildings, you’ll want to keep an eye on your opponent so that you have the majority in the different sectors of the board. That way they get the most benefits and points from ruling each sector. Like I said, this game looks and feels a lot like Ars Alchimia. That’s probably due to both games being made by the same designer. I think both games have similar qualities but do have a few things about them that make them unique. I definitely like the buildings and citizens in this one and I think the Star Altar is a rather unusual way to get resources. I think players that like Tzolk’in or Ars Alchimia might enjoy this one. I would recommend giving this one a try first. It’s not bad, it’s just a bit different. Different isn’t always bad.
7 out of 10

OVERALL
Lemuria is a worker placement style game with a touch of area control added in. It’s fairly long for a game of this size. Most game sessions last around an hour and a half, sometimes longer. The artwork is pretty nice especially on the board and the cards. I kind of wish that the resources and building markers had been wooden or something of that nature. The art makes me think of Ars Alchimia. The rulebook does have a few issues that could have been cleared up with some examples of gameplay. Unfortunately, those weren’t there. It took a while for me to figure everything out. The game is alright and mixes in aspects of Tzolk’lin and Ars Alchimia together. I think fans of those games might enjoy this one. I think overall the game is descent and is worth a try. I would recommend trying it out. You might like it.
7 out of 10

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

 http://playtmg.com

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Preview Review of Drakkar: The Card Game

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

Drakkar: The Card Game is a game by The Irregulars, published by Spaceballoon Games. It is for 3-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of village leader of a mighty Viking clan. That will be trying to prove they are the strongest Viking on the island over the course of 3 months, but to do this they’ll have to pillage and plunder several different resources to do this. They’ll also need to build a Drakkar or Viking ship, filling it with warriors and beer as they set sail to take on quests and collect loot. In the end, the player that can prove they’re the mightiest of all the Vikings by collecting the most victory points will be declared the winner.

To begin, all cards are specially marked for the number of players. The corresponding quest cards are separated from the regular cards. The cards that are not to be used are returned to the box. The quest cards are then shuffled together and placed face down on the table. Each player is then dealt a quest card, face down. The other stack of cards are set aside for the moment. The loot tokens are divided into 3 separate stacks and placed close to the quest cards. Each player is given 1 goat loot token. The first player is chosen and is given the Viking meeple. They are now known as the “Earl”. Play now begins.

The game is played over 3 months or rounds. Each round consists of 3 phases; the brawl, play cards, the quest. The first phase is the Brawl phase. In this phase, the Earl player shuffles the regular cards and then divides them into stacks equal to the number of players. Players should be able to watch as the Earl creates each stack. The stacks are placed in the center of the table away from each other. Players now place one hand behind their back and the other with the elbow on the table with the index finger up. Once everyone is ready, the Earl will shout, “By ODIN!” At this time, players will quickly try to place their index finger on one of the stacks of cards. The first player to touch a stack takes it. If more than 1 player aim for the same stack, the slower player(s) must quickly choose another free stack. Once each player has a stack of cards, play moves to the next phase.

The second phase is the play cards phase. In this phase, players can now look at their hand of cards from the stack that they just chose. They will then choose one of the cards to play. They will place it in middle of the table, covering it with their hand. Whatever side they place face up will be the one chosen. Once everyone has played a card, each player now reveals their chosen card. Cards are then resolved by priority, beginning with the red cards, followed by the yellow and then blue ones. Red cards allow a player to take a token from another player or steal another player’s yellow card that they just revealed. Yellow cards are equipment cards. These are placed in front of the player. Ships require 2 or 3 cards to complete. Each ship card can hold only 1 card. Vikings and beer are placed on top of a ship card. It should be noted that in this phase, players can swap and move cards onto and off of their ship. However if they remove a card from their ship to place another one onto it, the removed card is discarded. A player must have free ship cards before they can store a card, but they don’t have to have a complete ship to store cards. Blue cards allow a player to attack other players to gain loot tokens or to destroy a part of another player’s boat. This is repeated until all 10 of a player’s cards have been played.

The last phase is the quest phase. In this phase, players check to see if they are able to fulfill the requirements of their quest. If the player was able to build a complete ship and they have enough vikings and beer to complete a quest, they can collect the loot shown on their quest card. If their ship is complete but they don’t have the vikings or beer required, they can ask for help from another player that didn’t have the ship parts to complete their ship. Using the other players vikings and/or beer, players can team up to fulfill the quest and then divide the loot. If the player wasn’t able to complete their ship, they are forced to sell off their vikings and beer. The player turns their quest card over to show the “Team Up” side. The players vikings and beers are then able to be used by other players. Once the quest phase is over, all of the regular cards are shuffled together and placed back in the middle of the table. A new quest card is dealt face down to each player. A new round begins, unless it’s the end of the third round.

The game continues until the end of the third round. Once this happens, players calculate their final score. They earn 1 point for each loot token, with an additional 3 points for each set of 3 different tokens they collected. Players compare scores and the one with the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
Since this is a prototype copy, I won’t go into a lot of detail about the quality of components. What I will tell you is that the artwork on the cards and loot tokens is really fun and cartoon like. The Loki card is especially funny and makes me laugh out loud. The first player token is a little wooden viking meeple that looks pretty darn cool. The iconography isn’t hard to understand at all. It’s all pretty simple stuff. The one thing that I hope is that in the finished product, the loot tokens will all be wooden and screen printed. For me that would just be great. For such a simple card game, what I’ve seen looks really great. There’s really not a lot of pieces to the game so it should be a fairly small boxed game. The prototype looks good. I think that the finished product will look even better. I feel like the designers are headed in the right direction. This should end up being quite nice overall.
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RULEBOOK
Just like the components, the rulebook is also a prototype copy. What came with the game was a couple of sheets of paper stapled together and then folded to fit inside the box. There are several colored pictures and a couple of examples in the rules. The different phases of the game are covered in great detail. There’s also a list of all the different cards with explanations of how each one works. Reading through the rules I couldn’t find anything that was difficult to understand. For a prototype, I think that everything was covered pretty well. All that’s needed is to have some finishing touches and a material upgrade and it should all be just right. I’m happy with the look at this point.
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GAMEPLAY
This is a simple and fast playing little card game that even the kids can play. It’s mainly about fulfilling those quests to collect loot. Of course, your quest is dictated by the luck of the draw. I kind of would like if you were given a couple of quests instead of just the one, that way you could decide which quest you wanted to go for. That way you could diversify your loot tokens to be able to capitalize more on the bonus for having 1 of all 3 types of loot. Other than that though, the game is fast and fun. There’s a mild bit of take that and plenty of player interaction with the red and blue cards. In a lot of ways, this game kind of reminds me of Vikings Gone Wild mixed with Munchkin. I think if you’re a fan of either of these games, then you’ll most likely enjoy this one too. There’s a mild bit of strategy, in the fact that you not only have to think about which card you want to use, but also which side of the card. That gives you 20 different options at the beginning of the round. I have to say, I like this one so far. I’m sure as time goes on, with revisions to the rules and improvements to the components, the game will just get better. This should be one that the whole family can enjoy. I recommend checking this one out.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Drakkar: The Card Game is a fast and fun card game with a viking theme. The game doesn’t last very long. Most game sessions last around 20 minutes or so. The prototype copy that I received looks really good. I like where everything is headed but am hoping for some wooden loot tokens. Of course if they were screen printed, that would be even better. The artwork on everything looks great. I especially like the different cards. The Loki card absolutely owns me. The rulebook is also headed in a good direction. Everything is easy to read and understand. The game itself is simple and family friendly. This is a game that even the kids can enjoy. That makes this game a win in my book. Overall it’s fun and one that I would recommend checking out. I look forward to seeing the finished product.
8 out of 10

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

http://www.spaceballoongames.com/

Keep a look out for the  Kickstarter campaign page, coming soon.

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Orléans: Trade & Intrigue Expansion Review

Orléans: Trade & Intrigue is an expansion for Orléans by Reiner Stockhausen, published by Tasty Minstrel Games. It is for 1-5 players. This expansion adds 4 new game elements, as well as adding new place tiles for more variety.

For more information on the base game and how to play it, please follow the link below.

https://jlnelson73.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/orleans-review/

For this review, I will do my best to give you a brief overview of each new game element and how to integrate them into your game. Afterwards, I’ll break down my thoughts on each in the gameplay section below. Hopefully, this will give you a better idea of what this expansion provides and if it’s something that you’d like to add to your game. Let’s begin.

The first new element are the Order cards. These are shuffled during setup and placed facedown next to the board. The top 5 cards are drawn and placed in a row next to each other. They work much like a mission card. After taking an action if the player’s merchant is in a town depicted on one of the cards in the row, the player can fulfill an order by paying the goods shown on the card. They are then able to take the corresponding card to be used for Victory Points at the end of the game. A new card is then drawn from the deck to fill the empty spot, while the goods used are removed from play.

The next new element is the new events. These take the place of the Hour Glass tiles in the regular game. These are sorted by letter on the back side of the tile with the 2 Silentium tiles being set aside. Each set of tiles is then shuffled. A stack of 18 tiles is then made. First, a Silentium tile is placed facedown on the Hour Glass space of the board. 4 tiles from the D stack are placed facedown on top of it, followed by 4 from C, then B, then A. The second Silentium tile is then placed on top of the stack. These events will then work much like the regular events of the game, with most being resolved during phase 6 of the game. However some tiles have a time symbol on them to show that these tiles can occur in a different round or even affect the entire round.

Another new element to the game is the new Beneficial Deeds. This new board takes the place of the Beneficial Deeds board from the regular game. The goods depicted on the board are placed on the corresponding spaces. The same rules as the base game are then followed for moving followers to this board. These will provide goods, coins, navigation tiles or other items of interest.

Yet another new element to the game is the Intrigue board. This board can also take the place of the Beneficial Deeds board from the regular game. To use this board, followers are placed there the same way as with the base game. The difference is that instead of places for the followers to go to, they visit one of several nefarious characters. These characters can help players gain an advantage over their opponents or they can seriously mess with them. The one exception is that players aren’t allowed to use their own colored followers on the board. Another thing about this board is that if a player is targeted by another player’s action, they can bribe that player by offering them coins or goods to keep from suffering the effect of the action.

The last element that this game introduces are some new place tiles. These can be added with the other place tiles. These tiles include the Brasserie, Merchant House and Sheep Farm. The Brasserie allows you to place goods tiles that can be removed later to keep from suffering the effects of an event. The Merchant House rewards the player with victory points for having the most of each type of good. The Sheep Farm allows the player to spend a cheese to gain a wool, 4 coins or advance 3 steps on the Development track.

COMPONENTS
This expansion comes with a fair good sized amount of new content. There are the 2 new boards for the Beneficial Deeds and Intrigue. These are the same quality and thickness as the original Beneficial Deeds board. There’s a stack of new cards that are used to for the Orders. These are really nice quality and fit in well with the other parts of the game. There are new Hour Glass tiles for the new events, which are thick cardboard like the original event tiles. Also made of thick cardboard are the 3 new place tiles. Finally there are cover tiles which are used to cover up places on the boards for when you’re playing with fewer players. The quality on everything is great. The artwork falls right in line with everything that we’ve seen in both the base game and previous expansion. There’s nothing here that’s going to stand out and look out of place. Everything simply looks like it belongs, which is nice. The iconography on the different pieces is pretty much the same so if you understand it on the other game components, you shouldn’t have any trouble here either. I just love how nice everything is. I couldn’t ask for anything better. If you like the look of the base game, you won’t find anything here to complain about.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this expansion isn’t all that thick. Most of what makes up the majority of the rulebook is the details of the different event tiles and the different spaces on the Intrigue and new Beneficial Deeds boards. Apart from how to use the different components and how to set them up, that’s pretty much it. There are plenty of pictures throughout the book which is a huge plus. Mainly I was using it as a reference sheet for each new element that I introduced into my game. Everything is explained in great detail and there’s not anything that should be difficult to understand. It’s all laid out quite well and look great. In my opinion, it compliments the game really well and looks good while doing it.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a fan of Orléans. I enjoy both the base game and the first expansion quite a lot. That said, I have to say that this expansion is great as well. I especially enjoy the new order cards. It gives you another way to earn victory points and I enjoy the pickup and delivery aspects of it. The new events and new Beneficial Deeds aren’t quite as much fun as the order cards are but they are still fun. Basically these just add a new level of replayability to the game by adding new ways to play. It’s nice to have these to mix stuff up a bit for when the original gets a bit stale. I also like the new place tiles and Intrigue board. The tiles add a little more variety, much like the events and new Beneficial Deeds board does. Mixed with the Order cards, the new places really add more of a pickup and delivery feel to the game that I kind of like. The Intrigue board gives more player interaction and a bit of a take that feel. I really enjoy Euro games. I like the more solitaire feel of playing those types of games. However the Intrigue board really lets you get mean while still maintaining a lot of the Euro feel. It’s also nice that there’s a way from getting messed with too badly. That is as long as you’re willing to pay your opponent to leave you alone. Overall I think that every aspect of this expansion just adds so many new elements and so much more depth to an already great game. Fans of Orléans and the Invasion expansion will most definitely enjoy this one as well. It’s not a must buy, unless you’re like me and just can’t get enough of this game. Still it’s definitely one that I feel everyone will enjoy. I highly recommend this one.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Orléans: Trade & Intrigue is the second expansion for the remarkable game, Orléans. It adds several new elements which increase the replayability of the original game quite a lot. It adds some new ways to play and adds a bit more variety to some of the base elements. It doesn’t really add any extra time to the play time. As normal, the components are beautiful and fit in perfectly with the original game. Fans of the original game and the Intrigue expansion will most definitely want to add this one to their game. In my opinion it adds a bit more player interaction to the game. I really enjoy the Order cards, new place tiles and the Intrigue board. Those would be my most favorite parts of this expansion. The event tiles and new Beneficial Deeds board simply add more variety to what’s already there. Overall this expansion isn’t necessarily a must buy unless you’re like me and absolutely love the game. However if you do buy it, you won’t regret it. It’s definitely worth adding to your game. I highly recommend it.
9 out of 10

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

 http://playtmg.com

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BIOTIX Review

BIOTIX is a game by Zach Huff, published by Smirk & Dagger Games. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players will take on the role of lab assistants to a world renown microbiologist. They will be trying to grow a culture of highly unstable and volatile biotic microorganisms, known as BIOTIX over the course of 3 days of research. Of course they’ll have to watch out as they’re fellow lab assistants may try to sabotage their experiments to cause a bio-reaction or even an explosion which can have all kinds of repercussions on their culture of BIOTIX. In the end, the player that can score the most points, thereby publishing the best paper on BIOTIX will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player is given a petri dish card which should be placed in front of them. A characteristic card should be placed between players for reference. All of the blue, red, green, purple and yellow BIOTIX should be placed into the specimen bag. The black BIOTIX are not to be used except with the advanced game. The first player is chosen. They are given the timer token which they will then place on the 3 spot of the countdown track on their petri dish card. They are also given the specimen bag. Play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they will draw 2 BIOTIX at random from the specimen bag. They will then place the BIOTIX they drew, one at a time onto either their petri dish card or they may give them to an opponent who must place it on theirs. Every time that a BIOTIX is placed on a petri dish card, the player must check to see if there are any bio-reactions. These happen whenever there are more BIOTIX then there are spaces to place a particular color. This is known as the trigger number. Players must then resolve the effect of the particular BIOTIX type as noted on the characteristic card. This may cause chain reactions and each reaction must be resolved before resolving a new reaction. Once there are no more reations to resolve, the player passes the specimen bag to the next player in turn order. It should be noted that each time the player with the time token on their petri dish card receives the specimen bag, they should advance the time token on their card one space. When the time token moves off the 1 space, it is placed into the specimen bag. This happens before drawing new BIOTIX.

The game continues until the timer token is drawn from the specimen bag. When this happens, it signals the End of the Day. Any BIOTIX tokens that were drawn with the timer token are trashed. Any time a BIOTIX is trashed, it is placed into the bio-containment box where it is hidden from sight. The player that drew the token then places it on the 3 spot of their countdown track. Player will then score the BIOTIX that they have cultivated on their petri dish by adding up the points for each as noted on their petri dish card. This should then be written down for each player on a scrap piece of paper. Players will then choose 2 BIOTIX on their petri dish card and trash them. All BIOTIX that were trashed and any placed into the bio-containment box are then placed back into the specimen bag. The bag should then be shaken vigorously to shuffle up the tokens. The specimen bag is then given to the player with the timer token on their petri dish card. A new day of research will then begin.

This continues with players taking turns, placing BIOTIX and resolving reactions until the end of the third day of research. At this time, players will add up their scores from all 3 days of research and compare them with the other players. The player with the most points is the winner and gets their name attached to the published research paper.

COMPONENTS
The game comes with some fun and humorous looking pieces. There are 6 different types of colored BIOTIX. These are brightly colored wooden pieces that must have a sticker placed on each one. I love the silly and fun look that each of these has. However, it does take awhile to place the stickers on these and it doesn’t hurt to have steady hands as the pieces are a little bit small. There’s also a timer token that is just like the BIOTIX tokens except that it’s white. It too must be stickered. These all go into the specimen bag which is a really durable nylon type bag that is quite nice. Also included with the game are several petri dish cards for each player, as well as the characteristic cards. These cards are large and have colored places to put the BIOTIX on. It even looks like a petri dish on the card. The characteristic card explains what the trigger number for each BIOTIX is and what the reaction is when it reacts. Both of these card types are a little thin but as they aren’t shuffled or anything, they work quite well and should last for quite awhile. Now I must mention the mispacked game insert. I have to admit, when I first opened the box I thought, “MAN! They really got thematic with this game!” It was a bit later when I realized that the insert had been put in backwards. Instead of being a cover, it should have been like every other insert and simply been placed inside the box. After a bit of refolding, the insert went into the box like it was supposed to. Overall, the silly humor of the game comes out in the tokens and petri dish cards. I quite like the look and the feel of the game.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this one is pretty good. It’s pretty much straight forward and to the point. It isn’t too large and doesn’t take a long time to read through. There are several pictures and examples througout the book. There are also a couple of variant rules, including a 2 player version of the game, as well as an advanced version that introduces the the Black agressive BIOTIX. There’s also a nice sequence of play that can be used as a reference for playing the game. Overall I found nothing to be difficult to understand. It’s well written and gets the job done rather well.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really fun and chaotic game. It’s pretty simple to play. Simply draw a couple of tokens from the bag and then place each one on either your own or one of your opponents petri dish cards, resolving each as you place it. It’s when you have to place that token and there’s no more spaces open to be able to place it, that the chaos and fun really kick in. That action will then kickstart a chemical reaction that the player has to resolve by following the instructions on the reference card. Of course, when that reaction is done, it may have created another reaction, that will create yet another action. It’s not unlikely that there can be a huge chain of chemical reactions for you to have to resolve. it can be frustrating and pretty funny too. In the overview, I mentioned the advanced game that includes using the black BIOTIX. This really puts a new spin on the game and can be quite nasty. Players can really mess each other over because each one of these BIOTIX causes you to lose 2 points for each one that’s on your petri dish. However, if you aren’t careful a player can completely fill up their board with them and score 5 points each. That’s if they have no other colored BIOTIX on their board. It’s kind of an all or nothing type of play. Needless to say, I haven’t been able to pull it off yet. Overall, the game has a lot of player interaction to it and a bit of a take that feel as well. Fans of games like Munchkin should enjoy the chaotic fun of this one. I would recommend this game, especially if you have kids. Kids will really get a kick out of it.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
BIOTIX is a take that style game set in a laboratory. It’s a pretty quick game with most game sessions lasting around 30 minutes. The components are all great. They’re quite funny and fun to manipulate. I like how great everything looks, however it does take awhile to put all those stickers on. The game is really simple but is full of chaotic fun. It’s quite simple to teach and learn. The game is especially fun for kids. They really seem to enjoy the silliness. The advanced game adds a bit more to the game without adding a lot of complexity. Fans of games like Munchkin or other take that style games should enjoy this one. I would recommend this one, especially for playing with the kids. It’s hazardous to your funny bone.
8 out of 10

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

http://www.smirkanddagger.com/

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Joraku Review

Joraku is a game by Iori Tsukinami, published by Tasty Minstrel Games. It is for 3-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of a warlord or “Daimyo” in feudal Japan as they fight to rule over all. They will have to outwith their opponents as they employ the help of loyal Samurai to gain control of areas and build prestige. In the end, the player with the highest reputation among warlords, will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player chooses a color and takes the reference card, Daimyo token and Samurai tokens of their chosen color. The map boards are placed on the table beside each other in numerical order. The Daimyo cards are shuffled together. Each player is randomly dealt one card face up. The player with the highest number on their card receives the the Kachidoki card. Each player will place their Daimyo token on the area of the map that has the same number as their Daimyo card. They will also place one of their Samurai tokens on the 0 space of the Reputation Points Track. The player with the Kachidoki card is the first player. Play now begins.

The game is played over 3 rounds. Each round is divided into 3 phases; recruit, skirmish and prestige. The first phase is the recruit phase. In this phase, the skirmish cards are shuffled together. A number of cards are then dealt to each player based on the number of players. The remaining skirmish cards are set aside face down not to be used during the round. Each player will then look at their cards and choose 2 to pass face down to the player on their left. Once all players have done this, the next phase begins.
The next phase is the skirmish phase. In this phase, each player will play 1 skirmish card from their hand, beginning with the first player. Once the card is played, it’s effect is resolved immediately. This can be adding samurai tokens to the map or gaining and spending action points. After the first card is played by the first player, each consecutive player must follow the first player if possible. That is to say that they must play a card of the same suit as the one played by the first player if possible. If they don’t have one, they may play a different card. Once all players have played a skirmish card, the winner of the skirmish is determined. If a player played a 6, then the ninja card will win. Otherwise, the player that played the card with the highest number wins. The winner of the skirmish then takes the Kachidoki card to become the first player for the next skirmish. Players that are in the area of the winner’s Daimyo tokens will be awarded bonus reputation points based on the scoring chart on the Kachidoki card. This process is then repeated again until all the cards in a player’s hand have been played. Once this is done, the next phase begins.

The final phase is the prestige phase. In this phase, players compare their influence in each area and earn reputation points, starting with the area 6 and moving through each area toward Kyoto. Daimyo tokens count as 2 influence points while samurai tokens count as 1. Each player will then earn points according to the scoring chart for each area. The player with the most influence gains the 1st value, while the second most influence gains the 2nd value. The 3rd value is given to the player with the third most influence. Once scoring has been resolved for each area, a new round begins. Players will not remove their tokens from the map.

The game continues until the end of the third round. Once this happens, players compare their reputation points. The player with the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
The pieces for this game are quite nice. There are the Daimyo and Samurai tokens that are all brightly colored and made of sturdy wood. The Daimyo sort of look like a samurai’s helmet, while the samurai tokens are just cubes. There are several different types of cards. There are the Daimyo cards which showcase a very impressive and imposing warlord. Then there are the skirmish cards which have different samurai and ninja designs. The artwork on both of these card types is really great. I love the different designs and think they’re great. There are also reference cards as well as some variant rule cards to change things up in the gameplay. These are mostly text on a colored background but are much appreciated and a welcome addition to the game. Finally there’s the Kachidoki card. This card has much the same style of art as the Daimyo and skirmish cards except that it’s a bit smaller. The map boards are pretty interesting. There’s not a lot as far as art goes but it gives me the feeling of those room dividers or Shoji that you sometimes see in movies. It also makes me think of the Ukiyo-e art style from Japan. Simple, yet lovely. Overall I really like the style and feel of the game. I think that everything looks nice. The only thing that I could recommend would have been some miniatures that matched the Daimyo. I think it would have helped give a more thematic feel to the game. Still, for a small and simple card game, I’m not complaining.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a fairly large double sided sheet of paper. The paper quality is actually pretty thick. There are lots of pictures and examples all over the page. Everything is covered and explained quite well. I couldn’t find anything that was difficult to understand at all. It’s pretty simple and quick to read. I couldn’t really find anything that looked bad. Overall I think the designer did a good job designing the rulebook. It’s pretty good.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a rather interesting game that combines elements of area control, trick taking and card drafting. You start the game by drafting cards which helps mitigate the luck of the draw aspect, since you at least know 2 cards that the player to your left has. Once you’ve gotten that part taken care of the game moves into trick taking. This part reminded me a lot of Diamonsters with the whole “ninja wins if there’s a 6 on the table” part. That made me think of how the 1 beats the 5 in that game. Moving on from there, the area control part kicks in as you gain points for having the majority in a region. Of course there’s more to the game than just those elements, as you’ll want to think about which action you’ll want to take when playing your cards. Will you want to add samurai tokens to an area or will you want to use action points to move your Daimyo or your samurai tokens. There’s actually quite a lot of strategy involved in such a small game. This might cause a bit of Analysis Paralysis making the game go a bit longer than it should. The area control aspect of the game made me think of a game I recently reviewed, Saga of the Northmen. However that game is a bit more streamlined than this one is. For this one you have to figure out how many points you have in each area and then divy out points based on the 3 highest points for each area. It tends to slow things down just a bit. I feel that it could have been a bit smoother and easier to figure out. It’s not a big deal as the game only lasts 3 rounds. I think it would have been a lot more annoying if it went longer. Overall the game is pretty good. I think fans of trick taking or area control games might enjoy this one. It’s a good game that mixes several mechanics into an intriguing stew of coolness. This is a game that I would recommend giving a try.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Joraku is a mash up of several mechanics into an intriguing game of strategy. It does tend to play a bit longer than I’d have imagined. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes to an hour. The artwork is great, especially on the skirmish and Daimyo cards. I really like the different character designs. Of course it would have been great to have had some miniatures instead of the wooden Daimyo tokens, but that’s just a secret wish of mine in case the game ever gets a deluxe edition. The game mixes elements of card drafting, trick taking and area control into a pretty strategic game. Players might find themselves a bit prone to Analysis Paralysis as they try to determine which card to play and which actions to take. I feel that the area control aspect of the game was a bit more convoluted that it should have been. I wish it had been a bit more streamlined like Saga of the Northmen. Still, this doesn’t make it a bad game in any way. Fans of trick taking or area control games might enjoy this one. Overall it’s a good game that I like. It’s one that I would recommend giving a try. Now prepare for war.
8 out of 10

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

 http://playtmg.com

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