Random Encounter Review

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Random Encounter: Plains of the Troll King is a game by Jamie Keddie, published by IDW Games. It is for 1-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of travelers in a pixelated fantasy land. They will be trying to fill up their loot chest by collecting loot along their path. Of course, they’ll need to protect their own loot as other players will be attempting to snag their loot. In the end, the player that can acquire 6 loot first will be declared the winner.

To begin, the reference card is placed in the center of the play area where all players can reach it. Key cards and Boss Cards with a white star on them, are removed from the deck. The remaining cards are shuffled together. Each player is then dealt 9 cards. The remaining cards are placed face down in the middle of the play area. They also receive 1 loot die, which is placed with the number 1 side up. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over a series of rounds. Players begin by looking through their 9 cards and creating a series of encounters using these cards. Each encounter is placed face down in front of the player in a row. The player is allowed to use any number of cards to create an encounter. However they must have no less than 5 encounters in front of them. Encounters consisting of multiple cards are stacked together where the other players can see how many cards each encounter consists of. Players then choose an encounter to protect their loot die, placing the die behind the chosen encounter.

Once players have finished building encounters and placing their loot die, the battling begins. The first player chooses an encounter in front of one of their opponents to battle. They then select one of their own encounters to use against it. Both players then reveal the chosen encounters simultaneously. First players check the colored stars on the cards. There are 4 different colored stars, excluding the white Boss cards. Yellow stars are your basic creature cards. Their level shows how strong the creature is. Blue stars always win, unless the opposing encounter has a red star. In that case, the red star encounter wins. Red stars always lose unless the opposing encounter has a blue star. In that case, the red star encounter wins. Green stars cause players to swap their encounters. Battles are then resolved normally. If a winner has already been determined due to stars, players then determine the combined levels of all their creatures in the encounter and compare them to the opposing encounter’s creature levels. The player with the highest total level wins the battle. If players tie, then all cards are sent to the discard pile. The winning player then takes all the cards from the encounter and places them in front of themselves showing that they won the battle. Subsequent victories are stacked so that other players can tell how many encounters have been won during the round. If a player defeats an encounter that had a loot die behind it, they take 1 loot from the player’s die and add it to their own. Players can never drop below 1 loot, however winning an encounter still rewards the winner with 1 loot even if the die shows 1 loot. If a player happens to lose an encounter with a loot die behind it, they they are forced to pay 1 loot to the defending player in addition to losing the encounter. Once a player has battled, play passes to the next player in turn order who battles. The battling continues with players taking turns until no more battles can take place. If a player has any encounters left and there is one left to battle, their remaining cards are discarded. The round ends afterwards. Players then check to see who won the most battles that round. That player then collects 2 loot, adding it to their die. Players then check to see if any player has 6 loot. If so, the game is over and that player is the winner. If no player has reached 6 loot, the game continues with 9 new cards dealt to each player. The starting player is rotated to the next player in turn order.

It should be noted that the game also includes a solo option that includes using the Boss cards and Key cards. I’m not going to go into the details of it here, just be aware that this is an option for playing the game.

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COMPONENTS
This game contains some very nice pieces. To start with, their are 5 loot dice. Each one of these is very high quality with pixelated pips and a treasure chest in place of the number 6. I really like the look of these and think the pixelated pips are a nice detail. The only other components that comes with this game are cards. Their are 45 encounter cards, a reference card, 4 boss cards and 4 key cards. The last 2 card types are used in the solo game. The quality of the cards is really high. The artwork is really cool looking. I really like the pixelated artwork. It reminds me of Minecraft. That’s probably because the artist on Minecraft the console edition is also the artist and designer of this game. The pixelation style is prevalent in every aspect of the game. The art is very fun and whimsical. Overall, I like the look and feel of every piece of the game.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is rather nice. It’s got plenty of pictures and examples of game play throughout. The rules are explained rather well, apart from the explanation of how the stars work. This information is included on the reference card, so DON’T LOSE IT!!! The book also includes a rather lengthy rules explanation for playing the game solo. There are also several optional rules that can be added or left out as the player chooses. The book also includes some ways to level up the game to make it more difficult in either solo or in multiplayer mode. Overall, the book is quite good. I don’t necessarily think that the material on the reference card should have been left out of the book. I think that it was a minor mistake, but not something that I feel is a deal breaker. In any event, apart from that, the book is well done and easy to read through and understand.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a fun and simple game. Some might compare it to the classic card game of War. In many ways, I can’t completely understand that comparison. I mean after all, players are taking cards and comparing them to another player’s cards and the highest number wins. That is unless they have a star card that changes things up a bit. Summarized, that’s pretty much it to the game. It’s super simple. It’s the stars that make things a bit more interesting. It’s not just a simple number comparison. I also think that the stylized pixel artwork really adds a more fun and entertaining feel to the game than what it should really be. I also feel that the loot die adds yet another layer to the game as a whole. Yes there is going to be a good bit of luck due to what cards each player draw, but that is mitigated by each player’s choice. You have plenty of cards to customize at least 5 encounters with. By the way, stick with 5 encounters. If you start going with more than that, you spread yourself too thin, but that’s just my opinion. Overall as a multiplayer game, it’s a really light and fun game that the whole family can enjoy. That would be enough for me. However add in the fact that the game can be played solo against a Boss creature and you have even more layers to an already fun game. For me the solo game is a unique and fun experience. It’s nothing too complex but just some quick and light fun. As I’ve said, the game is basically War. There are no miniatures, board or chits. It’s just a deck of cards and a die each, but yet it’s a game that I enjoy playing.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Random Encounter is a light card game of battling encounters. The game is super simple and can be played in a very short amount of time. Most game sessions don’t last any longer than 15 minutes. The artwork is really light and fun. I absolutely love the Minecraft pixelated look and feel to the game. I especially like the green dice that comes with the game for keeping track of your loot. This is a fun game that is easy enough for all ages to play. Many players will liken it to War and that’s ok. It does share similarities to the classic game but adds more flavor and fun to it as well. As a light weight filler game this is fun for everyone. The solo game is a work all it’s own. If you enjoy solo games like Friday or the like, then you’ll enjoy this. I would recommend this game especially for solo players. Families will enjoy it as well. Overall, it’s a multi use game that is designed to entertain. What’s not to like.
8 out of 10

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

http://idwgames.com/

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The Cohort Review

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The Cohort is a game by Jeremie Kletzkine, published by Mage Company. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players take on the role of a commander under Caesar’s command. They will be trying to be the first to assemble a Legion of military troops to prove their worth and thus be proclaimed the greatest commander. They will be assembling their Legion from a selection of many different types of troops into what’s known as a Cohort. The first player that can assemble 3 Cohorts to complete their Legion will be declared the winner.

To begin, the deck of cards are shuffled together and placed face down in the center of the play area. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they will follow 3 steps. First the player takes 2 cards from the deck and looks at them. They then choose one card to keep and one card to give to another player of their choice. The card is placed in their hand. The next step is optional. In this step, the player is allowed to place a card from their hand face up onto the table in front of themself. This card becomes part of a Cohort. A Cohort is made up of a number of unit cards of the exact same type. Each of the different unit cards in the game have a number on them. This number is how many of that type of card are required to complete that particular Cohort. For instance, the Centurion has a number of 3 on it, meaning that it only takes 3 Centurions to complete a Cohort of these cards. However it takes 5 Legionary cards to complete a Cohort of their cards. Once a card has been played in a Cohort, the unit card’s effect becomes active and stays active until either the end of the game or until it’s Cohort has been completed. A player is allowed to build any number of Cohorts using different unit cards, however the more cards that the player uses, the more effects that the player will be forced to deal with. Once a Cohort has been completed, the player turns the set of cards face down and will no longer suffer the effects of that particular unit. The player then chooses another player who must discard their entire hand. The final step the player must take is to discard any extra cards from their hand, down to a maximum hand size of 4 cards. Play then passes to the next player. Once a player has completed 3 Cohorts, their Legion has been assembled and they are the winner.

It should be noted that there is one specific card in the deck that can be used as a wild card. That is the Primus Pilus card. When this card is played, the player choose 1 of 2 different effects. Either it can be used as a wild card to be added to an already established Cohort, or it can be discarded to force an opponent to discard a card from one of their Cohorts into the discard pile. If the player chooses the first option, they must distribute their hand of cards to the other players after playing it to their Cohort.

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COMPONENTS
The only components that come with this game is a deck of cards. The artwork on them is pretty nice. I like the designs and find them to be really fun and cartoon like. In many ways they remind me of the Asterix and Obelix comics. The designs are very family friendly and aren’t bloody or graphic. The finish is pretty nice on the cards as well. There are only 2 things that bother me. One is that the cards are a bit thinner than I’d like them to be. They’re not bad, just not exactly a thickness that I feel comfortable shuffling a lot of times. I definitely recommend some card sleeves for this one. The other thing is that the box is a lot larger than the components. There’s tons of empty space in the box for the cards to slide around in. I was told by the company that the reason for this is that they plan on creating a lot more groups of cards through their upcoming kickstarter campaign. They said that they expect players to sleeve the cards and the box is big enough to fit the cards with sleeves perfectly. Not a bad idea actually. For now though, some foam inserts or a homemade tuck box make things a bit easier to deal with. All in all, I’m pretty good with the cards.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a bit of a mix up. To begin with, the book is only 4 pages long. The front cover explains the goal of the game with a reprint of the box cover. It’s the rest of the pages that are a bit scrambled. The last page should have been the 2nd page as this is where the set up and explanation of what a Legion are printed. From there it seems that some things got a bit jumbled on the interior 2nd and 3rd pages. It’s not that big of a deal since the book is only 4 pages long and it’s not that hard to understand. However, you do tend to expect things to be done better. I have been told that the company has contacted the printer about the mix up. It was a printing mistake that they plan to rectify. In any event, it’s really not a big thing. Just a bit weird the first time you see it. The book does have pictures and explanations on how each of the different cards work, including a special combo between the Sagittarii and Catapult cards. Much like the cards, I’m ok with it as well.
6 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
For being just a simple card game, this is surprisingly fast and fun. It’s family friendly and one that everyone can play. It’s really simple to learn. Simply put, you draw 2 cards and choose one to keep and one to give away. You then place a card to try to finish 3 groups of cards. That’s how simple the game can be explained. Of course it’s a bit more than just that since the different cards will affect you depending on which ones you have face up in front of yourself. Some effects are worse so these require fewer cards to finish while the less detrimental effects require more cards. It’s a neat little balancing act that comes down to luck of the draw many times. If you’re trying to get a specific card type and they’re all at the bottom of the deck, you’re screwed unless you realize this soon enough so that you can change your tactics. Like I said, the game is super simple. It’s really quick to play and is a really nice little filler card game. Most game sessions last no longer than about 30 minutes tops. Fans of simple card games like Love Letter or Fluxx should enjoy this one as well. There’s not a whole lot to it other than that. Nothing wrong with that.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
The Cohort is a light family friendly card game that is simple to play. The game is really quick and simple. Most game sessions take less than 30 minutes to play. The look of the game is fun and cartoon like. I like the artwork but am a little less than thrilled with the thinness of the cards. The box is an issue that should be rectified during the kickstarter with extra cards to fill the empty space. The rules are also an issue due to a misprint. This too should be fixed before the kickstarter launches. Fans of games like Love Letter and Fluxx should enjoy this one. It’s a really simple game that works as a light filler game. It’s nothing overly thrilling or exciting but it’s still fun to play. The game tends to rely a lot on luck of the draw, which I’m not all that crazy about. Still, this isn’t a bad game and is one that is fun to play with the family. Personally I find it to be entertaining and good with the right group of people. Give it a try. You might like it too.
7 out of 10

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

http://www.magecompanygames.com

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Back to the Future: An Adventure Through Time Review

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Back to the Future:  An Adventure Through Time is a game by Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback, published by IDW Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, based on the classic 1980’s movie Back to the Future, players will be trying to unravel the space time continuum by completing events involving the main characters from the movie that have been displaced from their proper timeline. They’ll use the Delorean to move back and forth through time, placing characters into their proper year. Each time they do, they’ll score points. The player that scores the most points at the end of the game, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the 3 year tiles (1955, 1985, 2015) should be placed in the center of the play area. The Delorean token is placed on the 1985 tile. Three event cards are randomly selected from each year and placed with their “A” side face up in stacks above the corresponding year tiles. Any unused event cards are returned to the box. The Victory Point tokens are placed face up in descending order next to their corresponding year tile. The Clock Tower tokens are placed in a pile where all players can reach them. The Role Tiles are placed face up where they are easily reached as well. Each player receives a player mat showing the clock tower and a ripple pile token showing the license plate from the Delorean. The character cards are all shuffled together and placed facedown in the center of the play area. Each player is dealt 4 cards each. The first player is chosen and given the start player marker that looks like Marty’s guitar. Play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. Each round, players will take their turn in turn order. Once each player has taken a turn, the round ends and the game is reset for a new round. Each player’s turn consists of 3 phases; select a role, take actions and draw cards. The first phase is to select a role. To do this, the player simply takes one of the available role cards from the center of the play area and places it in front of themself. Each role provides a special ability that is unique to that role and it allows the player to play character cards that match the chosen character. The player may use their role’s special ability at any time during their turn.

The second phase of a player’s turn is to take actions. There are 3 actions that are available for a player to take; time travel with the Delorean, play characters and complete an event. The player is allowed to take actions in any order and as many times as they’re able to. To time travel with the Delorean, the player must discard any combination of character cards that equal 3 power as shown by the Fluxx Capacitor in the bottom right corner of the card. They are then able to move the Delorean token to any year, placing the token on top of the tile. To play characters, the player chooses one of the cards from their hand and places it face up on the side of their player mat that corresponds to the year on the card. However there are a few rules regarding playing characters. First, the player is only allowed to play a character that corresponds to the year that the Delorean is currently on. The player is also only allowed to play a character that matches the role card that they selected earlier. The player must also be able to pay the associated cost for playing the card. To play the card, the player must be able to pay the amount of time shown on the card by discarding other character cards to meet the requirement. They must also pay the Ripple cost by placing another character card facedown in a pile in front of them underneath their Ripple token. It should be noted that each card placed this way will score points at the end of the game equal to the number of victory points at the bottom of the card. The Ripple costs are 0 for playing a character in 2015, 1 for playing one in 1985 and 2 for playing one in 1955. To complete an event, the Delorean must be in the year that the event takes place and the player must have all the characters that are required for the event played in the corresponding year of their player mat as well. They must also have at least one character played in all 3 years as well. Once the event has been completed, the player takes the event card and victory point token from the corresponding stack. The new event and victory point token are now revealed. The 3 characters that were used to fulfill the event are placed in the discard pile.

The final phase is the draw cards. The player will now draw cards based on which year the Delorean token is on. If it’s on 1955, no cards are drawn. If it’s on 1985, 1 card is drawn. 2 cards are drawn if the token is on 2015.

It should be noted that if a player did not play a character or complete an event during their turn, then they are allowed to take a clock tower token from the supply. This token provides the player with several benefits on a future turn. It provides either 3 power, 2 time or 1 victory point at the end of the game. It can be used on the turn it was taken only to move the Delorean. Once all players have completed their turn, the role card are returned to the supply and the start player is given to the next player in turn order.

The game continues until any 2 stacks of the event cards have been emptied. Once this happens the end of the game is triggered. Once the current round has been finished, the game is over. Players add up their victory points from victory point tokens, character cards still in play on their player mat, character cards placed under their ripple pile token and any unspent clock tower tokens. The player that has the most points is the winner. It should be noted that if the draw deck and discard pile are both exhausted, then the game ends immediately.

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COMPONENTS
This is a really great looking game. To begin with, the artwork throughout the game has a very comic book style look and feel to it. I like that they chose to go this route instead of doing what I would have expected, which is to use stock photos from the movies. This is what I wish IDW had done for the Orphan Black card game. The year tiles, Delorean tracker, clock tower tokens, victor point tokens, ripple pile tokens, start player marker and role tiles are all made from thick cardboard. They have a really good weight and finish to them. The designs are all great. I especially like the different looks of Hill Valley in the 3 separate year tiles. The Delorean looks great on it’s tile with some fire behind the wheels and electricity in front of the car. The cards are all really nice as well, again comic book style art. I love how great the different designs are, especially on the character cards. About the only negative thing I have to say about the components would be the player mats. While I really like the look of the clock tower and think it’s a really cool design, I feel that they should have been thick cardboard like the role tiles instead of the really thin cardstock material. Thankfully they are only used to place your cards around and not that big of a deal. It should also be noted that there are a few mistakes on several of the components including the Biff and Jennifer role tiles as well as the B side of some of the events. From what I understand these will be revised and updated with the correct wording and clarification soon. In any event, the look and feel of the game is great and the quality is fairly good too. Overall though, I’m fine with the results.
7 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game looks really nice. I love the cover designs for both the front and the back. There are plenty of pictures and examples throughout the book, including a really great setup page. All of the different phases of a player’s turn are laid out really well and covered in great detail. The book also explains how the B side of the event cards work, as well as a really great detailed description of how each role card works. Overall the look and feel of the rules are really nice. Even though the book looks good though, there are actually quite a few problems with the rulebook. As a matter of fact, I’ve gotten a fairly lengthy email from the company with errata for what is wrong with the components as well as the rulebook. These things should be updated and an errata file posted soon. That file should make things a bit easier to understand. I will say that the book isn’t that long so it’s not all that difficult to read through but the errata will help a good bit. In any event, while the book looks good there are still some problems here. Just hope that later printings will correct the mistakes and rectify the problems here. For now, I can deal with what I’ve got.
6 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Let me start by saying that I absolutely LOVE the Back to the Future movies. They are wonderful films that I have enjoyed watching over and over again. I’ve even shared them with my kids, who also love them. That said, I find this game to be fun. While it’s not exactly all the game that I hoped and wanted it to be, it’s at least enjoyable enough that I can still find some fun with it. I think that a lot of people will probably not be happy that they can’t play as one of the characters from the film, instead the game feels more like you’re playing the role of fate or time or whatever cosmic entity you want to think of yourself as. You’re trying to line up certain people in certain time frames so that you can fulfill certain events, but then you’ve got to have a character in each of the other 2 times as well. So there seems to be quite a lot of work just to get 1 event completed. However if someone completes it before you, then you’re just out of luck. Sometimes the game feels more luck oriented than anything in that aspect. There seems to be quite a lot of things to keep up with as well. It’s like, ok I can only play the character cards that match my role card but they can only be played in the year that the Delorean is in. Oh and don’t forget that you have to pay the time cost. Oh and then there’s that ripple effect cause I played a card in 1955. It’s like, holy cow you’re mind will be spinning from all the stuff. It can easily become overwhelming. That’s not to say that this is in any way a bad game. Don’t get me wrong. Like I said, I like the game, just not as much as I wanted to. It’s pretty average for me. I think fans of the movies might enjoy it on average like I do. Otherwise for most people I think this would be a pass. As it is, it’s fun enough for me.
7 out of 10

OVERALL
Back to the Future:  An Adventure Through Time is a card game based on the widely popular movie franchise. The game looks really nice. I really like the comic book style artwork on the different components. However, the player mats are a bit too thin for my liking. There are also a couple of different mistakes on some of the pieces but it’s nothing too major. The same is true of the rulebook. While the book looks really nice, there are several mistakes throughout the book. Hopefully all these issues will be resolved in future printings of the game. Even with the problems that the game seems to be plagued by, it’s still fun. It’s just not as much fun as I wanted or expected it to be. That’s not to say that this is a bad game. Just something to be aware of. There does seem to be quite a bit of things to keep up with and lots of aggravation as well. Luck seems to be a major issue with the game. In my opinion, this game may only appeal to die hard fans of the movies like myself. Others may find all the issues that have been previously listed to be a bit too much and decide that it’s just not for them. As it is, I liked it well enough I guess. That said, anyone interested should probably play it first. That would be my recommendation anyway. For now, I’ll probably keep it around. At least it looks cool.
7 out of 10

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

http://idwgames.com/

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Armored Core is coming to a table near you!

Armored Core RTS Box

Today I wanted to share with you guys an all new game that just arrived on Kickstarter today. The game is Armored Core™ RTS. It’s based on the long running video game franchise. This game is a real time strategy board game where all players pilot miniature mech models simultaneously through a 3 dimensional city landscape. They will be able to capture the speed and action of the video games as they dodge around corners, boost to the rooftops and activate weapons at the same time.

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This officially licensed version of Armored Core™ has been designed to be fast to setup, fast to teach and fast to play. It features unique components like LED pointers that are built into each miniature’s base to provide instantaneous line of sight as well as physical buildings to provide cover from the lights.

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The game is designed for 2 to 4 players but is expandable to 6. Between the 20 minute missions, players will be able to upgrade their mechs and equipment according to each player’s particular play-style and team role. Over the course of the campaign teams will strive to accomplish objectives for their faction in order to become the ultimate Ravens.

Models assembly

The publisher of the game is Bad Crow Games. They are a consortium of Utah board game designers and entrepreneurs. They finalized their license agreement with FROM Software in early 2016 but have been developing this game around Armored Core since 2014. Their stated goal is to create board games that actually get played rather than grow dust in the gaming closet. To accomplish this, they designed their RTS system for Armored Core™ RTS to be taught to casual gamers in 5 minutes or less.

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They’ve also created an expansion for the base game called A.I. Unleashed that will include an optional mode for playing the game solo or with a team against the game itself through a special campaign. The game will use the A.I. deck of cards to prioritize different types of targets and determine how to attach each one.

For more information about the game, you can check out the many links below.

www.ArmoredCoreBoardGame.com

https://www.facebook.com/armoredcoreboardgame

https://www.instagram.com/armoredcoregame/

@ArmoredCoreGame onTwitter

If you like what you see, you can back the game on Kickstarter by following the link below.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/223137030/armored-coretm-rts-a-real-time-strategy-board-game

I hope you enjoy the pictures and information and that you’ll think about backing the game. As always, thanks for your support and Game On!

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Preview Review of Love Formula

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Recently I was given the opportunity to preview an upcoming new game that is currently available to back on Kickstarter. I received a preview copy of the game along with the rules. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!

Love Formula is a game by Dylan Gwin, published by Gwin Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be playing the part of match maker as they try to set up various different anime style couples on the perfect date. Of course, they’ll also be doing their best to sabotage their opponents to keep them from making matches as well. The player that can be the best Cupid and collect the most victory points will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player receives a Part Time Job card. The remaining Part Time Job cards are set aside, not to be used during the game. All of the other cards are shuffled together and placed in the center of the table face down to form the deck. Play now begins.

The game consists of 2 phases; a draft phase and a play phase. Once both phases have been completed, they are repeated a second time. After the play phase has been completed a second time, the game ends. Let me explain how each phase works. The first and third phases are the draft phase. Drafting is done by dealing each player 12 cards from the deck. Each player will look at the cards in their hand and select 1 card to keep, placing it face down in front of themselves. Once all players have selected a card, the remaining cards in their hand are passed clockwise during the first phase and counter clockwise during the third phase. This continues until players have no more cards in their hand to draft from.

The second and final phases are the play phase. These phases begin by each player taking all the cards that they drafted from the previous phase and putting them into their hand, along with the Part Time Job card that had placed face up in front of them earlier. They will then look through the cards in their hand and select one to place face down in front of themselves. Once all players have selected a card, the cards placed are flipped face up. Cards are then resolved based on priority order going from the highest to lowest number ranking on the card. A player can then immediately move a preparation card on their field to any other valid position on their field either before or after a player resolves a card. Speaking of preparation cards, there are 5 different types of cards; action cards, couple cards, preparation cards, obstacle cards and reaction cards. Reaction cards are only played when the triggering criteria has been met. Once this happens the card can immediately be played and it’s stated effect is resolved. The card is then placed in the discard pile. Now let me explain the other 4 card types. Action cards are quite simple. Once they are played, the effect stated on the card is resolved. Once this is completed, the card is discarded. Couple cards when played are placed on the player’s field area. This is the space in front of the player. Any preparation cards that have been placed earlier may then be attached to this card if they are listed in the required cards area on the bottom of the card. The more cards that are attached to a couple card yield more victory points. However even a unfulfilled couple card will give the player 1 victory point. Preparation cards are the events, locations or items needed to complete a couple card. When they’re resolved, they are placed in one of two valid positions on a player’s field, either on a valid couple card or in a free spot. I’ve explained the couple cards earlier. Each player only has 3 free slots, one for each of the 3 types of preparation cards. If there are no available free slots, the card is discarded. However it should be noted that a player is free to discard any couple or preparation card on their field at any time. This makes it possible to free up an free slot. Preparation cards are also worth a victory point. Obstacle cards are attached to a couple card on an opponent’s field when they resolve. These cards negatively affect another player’s couple card when they resolve. However, reaction cards can sometimes negate these obstacle cards and their effects. Once the play phase is completed, any unused cards in a player’s hand are discarded.

After all 4 phases have been completed, the game is over. Players add up their victory points gained from preparation and couple cards. The player with the most victory points is the winner.

It should be noted that the Part Time Job card can not be discarded from a player’s hand. Any time a player is forced to discard a card and the Part Time Job card is the only card in their hand, they do nothing.

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COMPONENTS
With this being a preview copy of the game, I won’t go into a lot of detail here. Most of the cards that I received for the game were missing the accompanying artwork that will be added later in the production process. However the artwork that was available is really beautiful. I really like the anime style artwork and think it fits well with the theme of the game. All of the cards were easy to understand and looked nice. I also got some really cute anime style buttons with the game which I understand are an add on part of the Kickstarter campaign. The artwork on these match the cards that have actual artwork already created for them. Overall, I’m really happy with what’s here and look forward to seeing the final cards with the included artwork.
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RULEBOOK
The rulebook was simply a preview pdf file that I downloaded. The rules look really nice with plenty of pictures and explanations of each of the different types of cards. I didn’t see anything that was difficult to understand or to read. Everything seemed concise and to the point. There are only 5 pages, so it didn’t take very long to read through either. I didn’t see anything problematic that needed fixing at this point. For me, I’m happy with the look of the rules and don’t see anything that needs changing.
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GAMEPLAY
This game is a fun anime style card drafting game. Basically you’re drafting cards and then using them to the best of your ability during the play phase. Of course there are some aspects of set collection included in the game as you try to gather up the corresponding preparation and couple cards. There’s even a mild bit of take that with the use of the obstacle cards. I really like how the different cards work. Things can get a bit chaotic but that somehow seems to fit in the anime style theme of the game. Being a big fan of anime and manga, this really seems to scratch a gaming itch that I didn’t even realize that I had. In many ways I get a 7 Wonders or Fairy Tale feel to this game. The keeper style aspect of the couples and preparations give me a feeling like the game Fluxx. I’d think that fans of any of these genres or games would really enjoy this, as would anime and manga lovers. The game is simple enough that it can be played with younger players with very little help apart from some basic reading skills. The game doesn’t take a long time to play either. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes or so. I enjoyed the game quite a bit. The game at this point appears family friendly, as I saw nothing that could be considered inappropriate or risque. This one is just plain fun for me.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Love Formula is a an anime style card game with aspects of card drafting, hand management and some take that mechanics. The game doesn’t take a long time to play. Most game sessions last no more than about 30 minutes or so. The look of the game is really adorable and has plenty of fun anime style artwork. I really love the design and theme of the game. Fans of games like 7 Wonders, Fairy Tale or Fluxx should really enjoy the different mechanics of this game. I’d also think that anime and manga fans would enjoy it as well. The game really scratches an itch for me. It’s really quite simple to play and appears to be family friendly as well. I really enjoyed the game and style. It’s one that I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product as the first pieces of artwork for this one are simply amazing. I will say that there’s not a whole lot of strategy to the game but for good clean adorable fun, this game is the tops. This game is Otaku approved.
8 out of 10

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For more information and this game, please check out the game’s site.

http://www.loveformulagame.com/

You can also back it on Kickstarter now by following the link below.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2110035160/love-formula-anime-card-drafting-game

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Star Trek Panic Review

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Star Trek Panic is a game by Justin De Witt, published by USAopoly. It is for 1-6 players. In this game, players take on the role of one of the crew members of the Starship Enterprise as they work together to complete a 5 year mission. They will have to fend off enemy threats of every kind and encounter diverse alien species. If they are able to keep the ship intact through the series of missions, they will be declared the winners.

To begin, the board is placed in the center of the play area. The model of the Enterprise should be assembled and placed into the base per the assembly instructions, along with the shield pieces. The base with the ship is then placed in the center of the board with the front of the ship facing sectors 1 and 6. One of each of the Tholian, Romulan Battle Cruiser and Klingon Cruiser threat tokens are set aside. These 3 tokens are then randomly placed in long range sectors 1, 3 and 5 with their highest defense ratings facing the ship. The remaining threat tokens are placed into the bag. Players choose or are randomly assigned one of the character role cards which is then placed in front of the player. The Enterprise cards are shuffled together. A set number of cards are then dealt to each player based on the number of players. The deck is then placed face down near the board. The Mission cards are shuffled and placed near the game board along with the Mission Timer card. The first Mission card is drawn. The Mission parameters are read aloud to determine if there are any additional setup parameters that need to be accomplished first. The Mission objectives are then read aloud. This determines what is required to complete the mission. If this is the first time playing the game, the Distress Signal and Outpost Defense missions are chosen instead as a quick 2 mission tutorial game. The die, tokens and indicators are placed within reach of all players. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they will perform a series of 7 phases in order; draw Enterprise cards, reveal new mission, trade a card, Play cards and maneuver, check mission status, threats move and fire and draw 2 new threats. The first phase is to draw Enterprise cards. The player begins by drawing up to their starting hand size. There are 3 different types of cards; hit cards, resource cards and other cards. Hit cards are used to attack threats on the board by dealing 1 damage in the sector that the card references if it is a phaser or 2 points of damage if it’s a photon torpedo. Only 1 enemy can be damaged per card. Resource cards are used to repair either the shields, hull or if used together, both. The other cards are used to perform various actions. Some cards provide division credits which may be used to count for achieving certain mission objectives. This will be discussed in more detail a bit later.

The second phase is to reveal the new mission. If the current mission has yet to be completed, then the player simply moves on to the third phase. Completing missions is the main objective to winning the game. Each mission card has parameters on how to set up the mission, as well as special rules that must be adhered to. It also tells if there is a time limit which is tracked via the mission timer card. It also details any special tokens that are used during play. The card also details the objective to completing the mission as well as the reward that players will receive one completed. If the mission was completed on the previous turn, then a new mission card is drawn and it’s parameters and setup are read aloud.

The next phase is to trade a card. This phase is completely optional. It simply allows the active player to trade a card from their hand with that of another players to more efficiently prepare themselves and their fellow players for any threats that they are facing aboard the Enterprise.
The fourth phase is to play cards and maneuver. In this phase the player plays cards from their hand to attack threats, repair or rebuild shields and hull damage, or to defend the Enterprise and complete missions. Earlier I mentioned the Hit cards. What I didn’t mention was that each time a threat is damaged, it’s defense value is reduced by rotating the token clockwise to the next lowest number. Once it’s reduced to zero, it is removed from the board and placed in the threat discard pile. Sometimes a mission requires certain cards to be committed to the mission in order to complete it, such as using a card for it’s division credits which I mentioned earlier. These cards are placed by the mission card and are not placed in the discard pile. During the next phase, if the mission has been completed or failed, then these cards will be discarded.

Another aspect of this phase is maneuvering the Enterprise. The player is allowed to move the Enterprise once during this phase. This is completely optional and up to the player. However some threat statuses and mission parameters will make it where maneuvering is not allowed. The Enterprise is allowed to be maneuvered a couple of different ways. It can be rotated 1 facing either clockwise or counter clockwise. It can also be moved forward. Of course, this movement is shown by simply moving all the tokens in the 2 front facings 1 sector closer to the Enterprise. Only tokens in these 2 sectors are moved. It should be noted that if the Enterprise is moved forward and there are enemy ships in short range and the ship has shields on that side, the threats do not board the ship. However if there are no shields then the threats become Boarders. When a threat becomes a boarder, it’s defense rating is applied to the hull section it’s facing in the form of damage. If the section of the hull already has a destroyed indicator on it, then the damage is resolved by removing cards permanently from the draw deck equal to the damage. However the player can play a Security Team card to reduce the damage done by boarders. These cards reduce the damage dealt by 1. Other players can also play these cards to reduce the damage, even though it’s not their turn. It should also be noted that there are certain occasions when the Enterprise in not allowed to be maneuvered. Those times are when 3 or more sections of the hull have been destroyed, when stated as a mission parameter and when a Tholian ship is in short range. When any of these happen, a no maneuver token is placed on the Enterprise as a reminder.

The next phase is to check mission status. In this phase, the player checks to see if all of the mission requirements have been completed on the mission card. If not, then play continues with the same mission parameters and objectives. If the mission has a time limit, then the timer marker is moved down by 1. If the timer reaches zero, then the mission is a failure and no credit is earned for it. Failed missions are placed at the bottom of the mission card deck, while any cards committed to the mission are placed in the discard pile. Mission tokens used in the mission are returned to the mission token pile. However, if the mission has been completed, players are then able to claim the rewards listed on the mission card. Mission tokens are returned to the pile. Cards committed to the mission are placed in the discard pile and the mission card is set aside. A marker is place on the completed missions area of the board to indicate the success.

The sixth phase is that threats move and fire. In this phase, the various threats on the board will move one sector closer to the Enterprise and fire simultaneously. Each threat will deal 1 damage to that particular facing of the Enterprise. Damage is first dealt to a shield, if one is present. If there is no shield then damage is applied to the hull. Each section can take up to 2 damage before it is destroyed. If a shield is destroyed, any remaining damage in that particular sector is ignored for that turn. There are indicator tokens to show that a shield has been damaged, a hull has been damaged or a hull section has been destroyed. These are placed on the appropriate space. A damaged shield however is simply removed from that section.

The final phase is to draw 2 new threats. In this turn, the player pulls 2 new threat tokens from the bag and places them on the board one at a time. The die is rolled to determine what sector the token is place in. It is placed in the long range sector with it’s highest defense value facing the Enterprise. Some tokens do not go on the board, instead they are effects that are resolved immediately.

The game continues until the players complete 5 missions. At this time, the players will no longer draw new threat tokens or reveal any new missions. Those phases will be completely skipped. Players need only to destroy any remaining threats still remaining on the board. Once this is done, the players have won the game. If however, all 6 hull sections of the Enterprise have been destroyed, the game ends and the players have been defeated.

It should be noted that there are several special threat tokens that behave a bit differently than other tokens. Those tokens include cloaking ships, the Romulan Bird of Prey, comets, Tholians and the starbase. I’m not really going to go into detail about these. Just know that there are a few rule changes when dealing with these particular tokens.

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COMPONENTS
Wow! What can I say about this game? It’s a beautiful looking game. To begin with there’s this really great looking ship model that is assembled out of cardboard and placed onto this nice big base as well as these heavy duty plastic shields that are placed around it. It’s amazing looking and really puts you into the theme of the game really quickly, just by looking at it. There are various tokens that show damage and destruction to the different sectors of the ship and shields that just add more thematic feel and look to the game. There are threat tokens that are pulled from this nice little bag. Each one has a great image of a ship or other encounter from the Star Trek universe. There’s the nice looking game board that looks like deep space with all the great feel of the theme. The character cards are beautiful and contain characters from the original series including Captain Kirk, Spock and the rest. Also beautiful looking are all the Enterprise cards that will be how you’ll interact with the game. The graphic designs on these are great. I really love all the different cards and how they add to the theme. The Mission cards are large and are very detailed. There should be no problems reading these and understanding how each mission works. There are nice little tokens that show when a mission has been successful. There are handy reference cards that detail out the different phases of the game. There’s a great looking blue die for all the times you’ll have to place out threats on the board. There are also clear plastic indicators that are placed on the mission cards. Heck, there’s just a lot of really great looking pieces to this game. Seriously, I could spend all day just going over how nice everything is here. Needless to say, the quality in this game is outstanding. I’m very impressed and love how beautiful this game looks and feels.
10 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is quite nice as well. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book. There are several pages detailing out what each piece is and what it does. There’s a page that can be used as a reference sheet as well. It details out the overview of the game. I kind of wish this had been placed on the back cover, but I’m not complaining. I’m just happy it’s there. Each phase of the game is covered in great detail to where there should be no problems understanding how to play the game. There’s tons of reference material here with lots of examples explaining how each piece and part works. As I mentioned in the rules explanation of this review, there are also a couple of pages that explain in detail all the different special threat tokens and how they work. All in all, I found nothing to be difficult or hard to understand. I know it seems like there’s a lot of material to keep up with and that it might be difficult to learn, but that’s not the case. Once you’ve read through the rulebook, those reference cards or the overview page would be pretty much all you’ll need. It’s really that simple. In any event, the book looks great and does a good job at conveying the rules. I’m pleased.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is an amazing game. It has to be my favorite of all the Panic games. It doesn’t hurt that I’m a huge fan of Star Trek though. This game just seems to have a lot more going for it than the others in my opinion. The missions, special threat tokens and ability to maneuver the ship just add on entirely new aspects to what was already a good game in Castle Panic. I love how each mission changes up what you’ll be trying to do during the game and how the game will interact with you as well. Using your character’s special ability is of course vitally important to winning the game. Don’t forget to use it when you can. It really comes in handy. For me, I find that you will be highly prioritizing what threats you need to deal with first and how to get rid of them before they become a problem. Of course completing those missions must also be a part of your decision process, especially if there’s a time limit involved. In any case, fans of the Star Trek genre as well as any of the other Panic games like Castle Panic and the rest, should absolutely love this game. I really like all the added features that separate this game from the others and find that that extra level of complexity really excites and thrills me. For me, I love the game and look forward to many more missions aboard the Enterprise.
10 out of 10

OVERALL
Star Trek Panic is a tower defense style game set in the Star Trek universe. The game can be a bit long apart from the tutorial game. Most game sessions can last around 2 hours. It really depends on how good or bad you are at the game and also how lucky you are. I will say though that even though it’s long, it’s extremely fun and well worth playing. The artwork and design of the game simply drips with theme. I love that the Enterprise is this huge cardboard model that sits right in the middle of the board. It’s amazing looking and the game is full of lots of great quality pieces like that. This is a great co-operative as well as solo game. I’ve played both and found that they’re both great fun. I do tend to like playing it with more people a bit more, however the solo game is still very solid and fun. For me though I find that the more crew that I have the more like the show the game feels. To me, that really adds a lot more enjoyment to the game. Fans of the Star Trek genre, or any of the other Panic games should absolutely love this one. It adds lots of different aspects to the original game that keeps it from feeling too much of the same. If you have any of the other games, you’ll not feel like you’ve got just a repackaged version of whatever Panic game you already have. The missions add so much more to the game than just what you’ve come to expect in these games. I absolutely love the game and found it to be extremely satisfying and highly replayable. With so many different missions, there’s tons of stuff to play through. I love this game and plan to keep it in my collection for a very long time. I’ve only got one last thing to say. Beam me up.
10 out of 10

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

http://www.usaopoly.com/

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Preview Review of Ktizo

ktizo

Recently I was given the opportunity to preview an upcoming new game that is currently available to back on Kickstarter. I received a preview copy of the game along with the rules. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!

Ktizo is a game by Kevin Wilhelm, self-published by Kevin Wilhelm. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players will be working to create a new ecosystem after the world has become unsuitable for sustaining life. They will score points for building new food chains using lots of different species of plants and animals. The player that can build the most thriving ecosystem and score the most points will be declared the winner.

To begin, the basic plant cards are separated from the deck. These plant cards are shuffled together and placed face down in the center of the play area to form the “Plant Pile”. All the other species and special power cards are shuffled together to form the main deck. Each player is then dealt 7 cards. They will each choose 5 of the 7 cards to keep and 2 to discard. The discarded cards are shuffled back into the deck to form the Draw Pile. The deck is then placed face down beside the Plant Pile. The top card is flipped over from the Draw Pile and placed face up beside it to form the Discard Pile. The top card of the Plant Pile is also flipped face up and placed on top of the Plant Pile. Play now begins.

The game is played over a series of turns. On a player’s turn they will complete 3 separate phases; action, feeding and scoring. The first phase is the action phase. In this phase, the player must take 3 actions. There are 5 different actions that the player may choose from. Each one is pretty much self explanatory. 1-The player can take the top 2 cards from the Draw Pile and put one in their hand and the other face up on the Discard Pile. 2-They can take a card from their hand and place it face up on top of the Discard Pile. They then will take the top 2 cards from the draw pile and place them both in their hand. 3-The player can take the face up card on top of the Discard Pile and add it to their hand. 4-The player can take the top card from the Plant Pile and place it into their ecosystem. They will then flip the next card on the Plant Pile face up. 5-The player can play a card from their hand into their ecosystem, if it’s a species card. If it’s a special powers card, the player simply follows the instructions on the card and then removes the card from the game.

The next phase is the feeding phase. In this phase, the player determines which species are able to eat and sustaining their population and which species will go extinct and perish. This is done by matching up the icons on the cards. To feed a species the thing that it eats shown in the icons on the bottom must match the resources of a different species shown in the icons on the top row of the card. The species can only eat another species from a lower tier in the ecosystem. The species must also be able to eat before it can provide any resources itself. If a species can not eat the resources it requires, it becomes extinct and the card is placed on the Discard Pile.

The final phase is the scoring phase. In this phase, points are scored for any species that remain after the previous phase. The point value in the upper right corner of each card are scored. The points are added together for the turn score, which is added to the total score.

The game continues with players taking turns and working through each of the 3 phases. Once a player reaches a total score of 100 points or more, the round is completed so each player has an equal number of turns. Players then add up all their points and the player with the most highest score is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
Since this is a preview copy, I won’t go into too much detail here. I will say that the card designs are really nice looking. I really enjoy the photographic art and colorful icons. Everything looks great and is easy to understand. From the way things look on the Kickstarter campaign, the quality will only get better. There appears to be some rule reference cards which should be really helpful once the game gets produced. About the only thing that I could ask for at this point would be some way of keeping track of the score instead of having to have a scratch piece of paper and a pen. Maybe this will wind up being one of the stretch goals. In any case, I’m really excited to see the final outcome of the game.
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RULEBOOK
The rulebook that I received with the game was also a preview copy which came on several sheets of printed paper. From the looks of things, there should be a better looking rulebook included with the game. Looks like there will be plenty of pictures and examples as well as very concise and easy to understand rules. I had no problems reading through everything and understanding it at all. The rules are really simple to read and doesn’t take very long either. Each of the different card types are explained really well, as well as the 3 different phases of a player’s turn. In any event, I see nothing here that should be problematic. This should also be something that gets even better with production.
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GAMEPLAY
This game is really fun. In a nutshell, you’re simply building a series of chains that work together to provide resources to score points. It’s as simple as that. The fun part is that each link in the chain is an animal or a plant or an insect of some sort. I love it. It makes me want to make more chains and score more points. The special powers cards add just enough variety to keep things from getting to stale. Besides, what would nature be like without a little chaos every now and then. I really like how everything works together and how it all makes sense realistically. Bugs eat plants, animals eat the bugs, bigger animals eat those animals. Cue the music, “It’s the CIRCLE OF LIFE!” Sorry. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoy this game and like the hand management and pattern building mechanics of the game. Fans of games like Lanterns the Harvest Festival, Tash Kalar and Best Treehouse Ever should really enjoy this one. The game doesn’t take that long either. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes or so. It’s easy enough that even the younger kids can play with a little help. The kids really enjoy creating chains with the different animals. For me, I even found it a bit educational. Home schoolers could probably even incorporate this into some science classes to illustrate how an ecosystem works. As I see it, this is a great family game as well as being fun for gamers too. I’d say that the designer has definitely built a winner.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Ktizo is a ecosystem building card game of pattern building and hand management. The game doesn’t take a long time to play. Most games sessions last around 30 minutes. The look of the game is really great with the photographic cards illustrating the different species. I really enjoy how everything fits together. Fans of games like Lanterns the Harvest Festival, Task Kalar or Best Treehouse Ever should enjoy the pattern building aspects of this game. This is a game that works well with the kids and adults alike. It has a mildly educational theme and is something I feel would be a fun addition for home school science classes. It’s fairly easy and even the younger kids can play with a little help. I really enjoyed the game and look forward to seeing how nicely everything looks once the game is produced. This is a great game that I really enjoy. It really moves me. Cue the music again, “It’s the CIRCLE OF LIFE!!!”
9 out of 10

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You can find more information about this game and back it on Kickstarter now by following the link below.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1019311673/ktizo-an-ecosystem-building-card-game?ref=nav_search

 

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