The Alpha Review

The Alpha is a game by Ralph Rosario, published by Bicycle. It is for 3-6 players. In this game, players will take on the role of a pack of hungry wolves as they attempt to hunt and scavenge for food. Of course some times, that’ll mean coming into conflict with other wolf packs where a player’s wolves can become injured and need to rest and heal. In the end, the player that can best unleash their wild side and gain the most food by the end of the game will be declared the winner.

To begin, the Food Tracker board is placed in the middle of the play area. Each player is given a Den board, Alpha Pair, 6 Beta Wolves and a Conflict token of the same color. Each player places one of their Beta Wolves on the grey stone 5 space on the board. They will place the remaining Beta Wolves, along with their Alpha Pair onto their Den Board which is placed in front of themself. The Weeks Left token is placed on the yellow 5 space in the upper right corner of the board. The Region tiles are placed next to the board based on the number of players. Large and Medium Region tiles are placed above the board beside the Deep Forest area, while Small, Scavenge and Livestock Region tiles are placed below the board beside the Near Forest area. The Region Dice that match the colors of the Region tiles are placed next to them. The first player is chosen and is given the Conflict token, play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. Each round is broken up into 5 phases. The first phase is the Stalk phase. In this phase, players will place their wolves on Region tiles to establish dominance. Starting with the first player, each player will place either a beta wolf or an alpha pair from their Den board onto one of the region tiles. This continues in turn order until each player has placed all of their wolves from their den. It should be noted that beta wolves count as 1 and an alpha pair counts as 2 when it comes to region control. There are a couple of other things of note. When a player places either a beta wolf or alpha pair onto a region tile in the Deep Forest, they must pay 1 food by moving their wolf down one space on the Food track. If a player is at 0 food, they can not place a wolf into the Deep Forest. Only 1 wolf per pack may be placed on each of the Scavenge regions. The large region tiles require 5 wolves in order to roll the dice for food in those regions. These 5 wolves may come from multiple packs in order to meet the requirements. The Livestock tile may only contain 1 wolf total. Finally any wolves that are healing from injuries may not be placed onto a region.

This brings us to the next phase, establishing dominance. In this phase, each player will count up the number of wolves they have on each Region tile, making sure to count the alpha pair as 2. The pack that has the most wolves on a tile, is considered the Dominant Pack. In cases of a tie, they’re both considered dominant. The other wolves on the region are now considered Scavenger Packs.

The third phase is the chase phase. In this phase the Dominant Pack for each region will roll the die that matches the color of that particular region. If multiple packs are dominant, then the dominant player closest to the player with the Alpha token will roll. The die roll will result in 1 of 4 outcomes. These are explained in more detail in the rulebook, along with a visual aid. Just in brief, a die roll can result in a number of food becoming available. It can mean that the prey escaped and no food is gained. It can mean that the region’s prey was wounded and will become Carrion in the next round, resulting in a Conflict between wolves on that region. Finally it can mean that a wolf in the region has died and is removed from the game. Once the die is rolled, it placed on the region tile for the next phase.

The next phase is the resolve phase. In this phase each Region tile is resolved starting with the smallest Region and ending with the largest one. To resolve the tile, if there are no wolves on the Region, then players move on to the next Region. If the hunt was successful and there is only 1 Dominant Pack, then that player advances their wolf on the Food Tracker a number of spaces equal to the number shown on the Region Dice. If there multiple Dominant Packs in a Region, then those packs will have a Conflict. When a Conflict happens, players must determine whether they will fight for the food or share it. They start by determining how much food is at stake. That amount is equal to the number on the Region die. If a C is rolled on the die, then the small number by the C is the amount. Players will then secretly choose whether to fight or share using their Conflict tokens. They will then simultaneously reveal their tokens. If all packs share, then food is distributed one at a time starting with the player closest to the Alpha and continuing in turn order. If only one pack chose to fight, then that pack receives all the food. If two or more packs chose to fight, then one wolf from each fight pack is wounded, placing them on the Injured Wolf space on the Food Track. Neither of these packs will receive food. Food is distributed evenly between any Dominant Packs that chose to share. If all packs chose fight, then all the food is lost. One thing of note, if gaining food puts a pack above 30 food, then that player places their wolf marker back on the 1 space, laying it down on it’s side to indicate that they are over 30 food. One more thing to note, if all other Dominant packs are injured in a fight, then the Scavenger packs will divide the food evenly between themselves. If at any time the food does not divide evenly, then the leftover food is given one at a time to any pack that received food in the Region, starting with the Alpha and moving forward in turn order.

The final phase is the advance phase. In this phase, all wolves remaining on the Region tiles are returned to their player’s Den boards. Any wolves in the Healing Wolves space are returned back to their den. Any wolves in the Injured Wolves space are moved to the Healing Wolves space. The Weeks Left Token is then moved 1 space down on the Weeks Left portion of the board. The Alpha token is then passed to the player with the most food. If there is a tie, then it goes to the player closest to the Alpha in turn order. A new round will then begin.

The game continues until the Weeks Left token reaches zero. Players will then check the Food Tracker and the player with the most food is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game has some really nice looking pieces to it. First there are all the region and conflict tokens. The region tokens are good sized, some of which are a good bit larger than the others. Each one has a great image of an animal that the wolf packs will be hunting, such as a moose, deer or hare. These tiles are double sided so on the back side there is a dead carcass for carrion. Livestock and Scavenge tiles are only single sided. The back sides of these are just plain white. The Alpha and Weeks Left tokens are also cardboard and are round just like the conflict tokens. The conflict tokens are color coordinated with the player’s wolves. Speaking of which, another great set of pieces that comes with this game are the wolf meeples. There are two types of these, the regular wolves and the alpha pairs. These are all color coordinated in 6 different player colors. The wolves look like little wolves, while the alpha pair are two wolves sitting and howling at the moon together. These are absolutely awesome looking and are my absolute favorite parts of the game. The game also comes with some colored dice that appear to be screen printed. Not sure how long the printing on these will last, but so far I haven’t had any problems. I really would have preferred etched dice so that the images wouldn’t go away with time. Hopefully these will last and be really good. Next there are the Den boards that each player starts the game off with. I kind of think with all the great artwork on the other pieces of the game, that these could have used a bit more color and life to them as well. Unfortunately I feel that they sort of missed the mark just a bit. They’re good quality and quite thick but could have used a dash more color than just the drab browns that they received. Finally there’s the board. This folds out into 4 sections and the artwork looks quite nice on it. There are all these wolf prints for keeping track of the food and sections for injured wolves and those that are healing, as well as spots for the weeks left in the hunt. The board is really well done and I like the design for it. One last thing I should mention is that inside the box, this games has a really nicely designed insert that holds everything together in a very organized way. There are slots for each player’s wolf meeples and other places for the different tokens. The board even fits into a specific slot to hold it all together. Overall I’m really amazed at how nice this game looks and the quality of the different pieces that are included. This one, for the most part, has surprised me. I think the quality is excellent and the game is pretty well designed. There’s not much that I can say negative about it.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is only 8 pages long. It’s not that big and is easy and quick to read through. The book has a few smaller pictures inside it, as well as a couple of examples of gameplay. The rules aren’t all that difficult to understand and are presented in a step by step process that’s fairly easy to follow. The one thing that I really wish had been included was a reference card or sheet or even something on the back of the rulebook for the explanation of the die results, just to be able to remind you of what each symbol means. Another thing that I wish had been included is rules for 2 players and for solo play. Sometimes I just want to play something by myself or with just my daughter. For those instances, a game like this would be fun if it included rules for those player counts. As it is, I think the book does a good job with the presentation. Overall it gets the job done in a quick and concise way.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
When I think of area control games, I think of all those so called, Dudes on a Map games, full of lots of miniatures. While this game is not full of miniatures, it is full of fun. Knowing when and where to place your wolves is a lot of what this game is about. However it’s also about taking risks to fight for dominance and knowing when it’s the right time to take that risk. While sharing food can earn you lots of food, being the only one to fight can earn big rewards. Strategy is the key. That said, this game does involve a bit of luck too. The roll of the dice can go your way and provide plenty of food, or it can mean that your wolves go hungry this round. In this game you simply place your wolves, figure out who has the majority in a spot and then roll the die for the area. If there is more than one dominant pack then you can choose to fight or share. Depending on what each player chose, determines who gets food and who doesn’t. After that it’s simply clean up, heal your injured wolves and start a new round. That’s a pretty simple summary, but there’s not much more to it than that. That’s one thing that I like about this game, it’s very simplistic in it’s design. I also like the theme. While it’s not overly heavy, it has a nice feel to it. Granted, this game could have been pretty much about anything. It could have been about soldiers taking over different strategic positions or it could have been about food trucks choosing the best locations to serve their customers. Either of these I think would have been fun ideas, however I really like the idea of playing as a pack of wolves. I’m sure that I’m not the only one that’s hyped up on the theme of this one. The artwork and the meeples help to bring this game to life in a wonderful way. While area control isn’t one of my favorite game mechanics, this is a game that I’ve come to enjoy. I do think that area control fans will enjoy this one quite a bit, especially those animal lovers of the group. This is one that I would recommend. It’s an excellent game that friends and families can enjoy together, without taking too much time to play. Overall, I quite like the game and look forward to unleashing my inner wolf again.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
The Alpha is a light weight game of area control that will unleash your inner wolf. The game doesn’t take a very long time to play. Most game sessions last around 30-45 minutes. The artwork and wolf meeples look great and are a lot of fun to play with. The rulebook also looks good and is easy to read through and understand. The game itself is full of fun and does a great job of introducing the area control mechanic to new players. The game isn’t overly complex so players of all ages should have no trouble with this one. This is a great family game that I think fans of area control will really enjoy. This is one that I would recommend. It’s a really good game that will have you howling with delight.
8 out of 10

 

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

https://bicyclecards.com/

 

 

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shuffle Grand Prix Review

Shuffle Grand Prix is a game by Robert Newton, published by Bicycle. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will take on the role of a madcap racer as they try to reach the highest distance by the end of the race. Of course they’ll have to be careful as their opponents will always be trying to sabotage them and make their car spin out. In the end the racer that can endure all this reach the farthest distance will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player takes a tire health card, a reference card and two turn trackers. The distance deck is shuffled together and each player is dealt a card. The player with the highest value card is the first player. Each player in turn order, starting with the first player, will now select their first driver, taking the driver card and their ability deck. Once each player has finished, players will then choose their second driver, starting with the last player and continuing in reverse turn order. Players will then set up their card with a driver card on top of their tire health card. They will also place their second driver card beneath both of these cards. Players will place their tire health card so that the 4 tires are shown to the left side of their driver card. Players will then shuffle the ability cards of both of their drivers together to form a single deck. Each player will then draw 3 cards to create their starting hand. The remaining cards are placed face down beside their driver. The distance deck is now reshuffled, along with the distance cards that were dealt out earlier. Once this is finished, the newly shuffled deck is placed in the middle of the play area. The trophy tokens are also placed their in a single pile. Once all this has been done, play now begins.

The game is played over a series of turns, with each player taking a turn consisting of 4 phases. For the first phase, the player will draw a distance card and place it above their car to track their distance. Each time a new distance card is played, it is placed on top of the last distance card in their row. When placed, it should allow the number of the last distance card to be read so that players can visually compare how far they’ve traveled. The card on the top of this stack is called the top distance card.

For the next phase, the player will rotate a turn tracker, if they have any ability cards with a turn symbol that are active. This is done by simply rotating the turn tracker card beneath the card with the ability to show the correct number.

In the third phase, the player will be able to play an ability card or perform another action. There are 5 types of cards that can be played; action, nerf, trap, equip and anytime. Action, nerf and trap cards can be played straight from the hand. Action cards are simply played and then resolved. Nerf cards are basically equipment cards that are played on an opponent’s car. Trap cards are conditional and are only allowed to be played if the specific condition is met. It should be noted that a player is not immune to their own traps. Equip cards are attached to a player’s car and have no effect until then. Only 2 equip cards are allowed to be placed on a player’s car. Anytime cards may be played at any time, even during an opponent’s turn and may be used to cancel another card’s effect. In this phase another option available to the player is to take a pit stop, swapping an equipped card on their car with one from their hand. If this is done, the player must discard their top distance card from their row. They may also choose to discard a card from their hand and draw one from their ability deck instead. Finally, they may simply choose to pass.

The final phase is to spend trophies. Trophies are collected any time a player reduces another player’s tire health to zero, forcing them to spin out, more on this in a moment. A player may choose to spend 1 trophy to swap their driver with their co-pilot. They may spend 2 trophies to play an extra ability card.

Just a moment ago I mentioned spinning out. Any time a player’s tire health is reduced to zero, that driver spins out. When this happens any equip cards on their car are discarded, as are all the cards in the player’s hand. Any nerfs played on their car are discarded back to the original player’s discard pile. The spun out driver will also have to discard their top distance card and then swap their co-pilot with their driver. Until their next turn, the player will then be immune to all actions. The player that caused the driver to spin out earns a trophy. If multiple players cause a spin out, then each player will gain a trophy. If a player causes their own driver to spin out, they will earn a trophy.

The game continues until there are no more distance cards to draw. Once this happens, the player that drew the final distance card will be allowed to finish their turn before the game ends. Afterwards, each player will add up their distance cards and the player with the highest total distance is the winner.


COMPONENTS
This game consists of only 2 things, cards and trophy tokens. The cards, as you’d imagine, are very high quality. They’re super sturdy textured cards that you’d expect in a expensive deck of cards. The game comes with 8 different drivers, along with their ability decks. There’s also the distance deck which contains 4 different distances from 25-100. There are also tire health cards and turn tracker cards, as well as player reference cards. There’s actually quite a lot of cards included with this game. The artwork is kind of fun, albeit a bit odd looking. It’s almost like a kid got ahold of pens and markers and made some designs for the game. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it fits the wild over the top design of the game. Each driver has their own deck which is specialized just for them, so every card’s artwork and design fits in with that driver’s specialty. As for the trophies, these are simply thick cardboard pieces that resemble golden trophies that a person might win. Included in the box is a great insert that has special places for the trophies and for all the cards. This was a really nice addition that I wasn’t expecting. Overall I think that the wild silliness of this game fits the fun designs and look of the artwork. While it’s not exactly my style, I think it looks pretty good.
7 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a nice and small little book. It doesn’t have a lot of pages to it, but it does have plenty of pictures and examples. The book explains everything from the individual card types to the various steps of gameplay. It looks pretty nice and is easy to read through. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t take long to read. Other than that, there’s not much to discuss in regards to the rules. Everything is pretty much straight forward and doesn’t take much to learn.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a fairly simple game to play. Like a game of Mario Kart, you will be trying to go farther and faster than everyone else without getting too much damage to your car. You’ll be playing cards in a take that kind of manner to affect other players or equipping things to make your car run faster or smoother. As you wipe out your opponents, you’ll be able to earn trophies which will allow you to play an extra card or even swap out your driver to use their abilities. Knowing when the right time to make this move can be crucial. While this one does have some strategy to it, a lot of the game relies on luck. You never really know what the distance on the card you draw will be. You could get lucky and pull a 100 distance or be unlucky and only get 25. A few bad draws and a spin out or two and you might as well throw in the towel. While I do like the sheer ease of play and the fun factor of the various drivers, I really don’t like the luck aspect of this game very much. In some cases this can be mitigated with the right equipment or abilities. Other times it’s just completely aggravating and can run your fun. This one goes back and forth for me. I do like things about it, but there are others I don’t like. For this reason, I’ll say that this is one that players interested in the theme or that think the game sounds fun should give a try. One good thing about the game is that it can be played fairly quickly. So the luck and chaos doesn’t really get too frustrating before the game is over. I think players that are ok with luck and chaos may actually find they enjoy this one. As for me, it kind of misses the mark just a bit. While it’s not one that I normally would recommend, I still think it deserves a try though. As it is, if the mood is right I’m willing to give it a go and play it again.
7 out of 10

OVERALL
Shuffle Grand Prix is a light weight racing card game. This one doesn’t take a very long time to play. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes. The artwork is zany and silly and the cards themselves are high quality. The rulebook is short and sweet without too much filler. The game itself is an interesting race that is mostly luck based with only a small amount of strategy involved. It does have some interesting aspects including the fact that each driver feels unique and has their own skills that can be utilized to help them win. However that can be buried beneath the high luck factor of drawing distance cards. As I’ve mentioned in the gameplay section, this can result in huge deficits that are too high to overcome. If players enjoy a good bit of chaos and don’t mind a mostly luck based game, then this may be one that they’ll enjoy. For me, I’m on the fence. There are aspects that I like and others that I don’t. Overall this is one that I would recommend trying first.
7 out of 10

 

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

https://bicyclecards.com/

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frontier: Enchanted Land Review

Frontier: Enchanted Land is a game by Greg Dyson, published by Jackdaw Co Games. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players will be be gaining resources and building their own fantasy realm in an attempt to gain victory points. In the end, the player with the most points after 8 rounds will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area with the Round Marker token placed beside it. Decks of each of the 3 basic resource cards are placed face up in the middle of the play area. There should be one for wood, one for straw and one for stone. The advanced resource cards and building cards are shuffled together to form the draft deck. Once players are ready, play now begins.

The game consists of 2 phases; the Draft phase and the Build phase. The first phase is the Draft phase. In this phase, each player is dealt 8 cards from the draft deck. Each player will then choose one of the cards and place it face down into their personal supply. Players will then pass the remaining cards clockwise. Once again, each player chooses a card and places it face down in front of them, passing the remaining cards to their left. This process is repeated until each player has 7 cards in their personal supply. The final card in their hand is placed on the bottom of the draw deck. Once this is done, 7 new cards are dealt out to each player. Again, the process of choosing a card and passing the remaining ones continues until each player has 13 cards. Once more, the final card in the player’s hand is placed on the bottom of the draw deck. Players should now have 13 cards that they drafted. This becomes their hand for the next phase. One thing of note, a player may look at the cards in their personal supply at any time during the draft.

The second phase is the Build phase. The Build phase consists of 8 rounds that are broken up into 3 stages; start of round, card selection and card resolution. The first stage is the start of round. In this stage the Round Marker token is moved to the corresponding round number. For the first round, it is placed on the number 1 space. If the space has a resource symbol on it, then players are able to take a basic resource card from the supply and place it into their play area. It should be noted, if a player has an advanced resource card in their hand, they may choose to play it into their play area instead of taking a basic resource card. Once this has been done, any other card effects that state that they happen during this stage will now be resolved.

The next stage is the card selection stage. In this stage each player will choose a card or cards from their hand to play, placing them face down in front of themself. It should be noted, a card or cards are only able to be played if the player has enough resources from their resource cards to play them. A player may play more than one card, but they must have the required number of resources and may not use a resource card more than once per round. In other words, 2 buildings can not use the same resource card to build them with.

The final stage is the card resolution stage. In this stage, players will turn over the card or cards that they placed during the previous stage. If a player plays more than one card, the must choose the order in which each card is played. Some cards have abilities that will trigger during this stage. These cards have a trigger number in the bottom right corner of the card. Abilities are resolved based on these numbers, starting with the lowest number and ascending in order. If two cards have the same number then the card with a letter earlier in the alphabet will be resolved first. Once all the cards have been resolved, a new round begins and the round marker is moved to the next round number on the board.

The game continues until the end of the 8th round. At that point, each player will add up the number of points from the cards that they played in front of themselves, making sure to add any bonus points from special abilities. Cards in a player’s hand are worth no points. The player with the most points at this time is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game is adorable. There aren’t a lot of pieces to it, but it just looks and feels fun. The game comes with 45 basic resource cards, 12 advanced resource cards, 73 building cards, a board and a dragon round marker token. The round marker token is this cute wooden dragon meeple that is painted bright purple and it’s my favorite shade of purple to boot. This thing is so CUTE! I love it. The board looks like an amazing fantasy dream with so much going on that you’ll have to just see it to understand it. I will say, I wish that the resources on the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th rounds had been bigger and/or clearer to see. As it is, it tends to fade into the artwork of the board making it hard to remember when to play resource cards. The cards have the same style of artwork as the board and look great. They are a decent thickness and have a good finish to them. Granted they aren’t linen finish or premium thickness, I think they’re quite good actually. There are lots of different building designs with very easy to read iconography. The resource cards do seem a bit bland, having a colored image of the resource that they represent front and center with a black and white background of where this resource came from, such as a mine for stone or a forest for wood. I think that these could have been replaced with wooden or cardboard tokens for the basic resources and a wild token for the advanced resources. If this had been chosen instead, then each player could simply place their tokens on the card that they wished to use to pay for it. Of course I’m sure that might would have increased the production cost, so I understand not going that route. As it is, I feel that the cool artwork is hidden on these cards and simply wasted. One last thing that I want to mention is the box insert. Inside the box is this really nice cut foam insert that has space for everything. The board sits down on top of that and keeps everything together…mostly. With so many cards, the top ones do tend to move around a bit beneath the board. Still, I think that the game looks really great and is an amazing piece of work from this designer. I really enjoy the look of this one.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game isn’t very long. It only contains about 6 pages. The first couple of pages explain the details of each card type and symbol. It also explains how resolution order works. The next couple of pages go step by step through the process of how the game is played. The last pages include a section of frequently asked questions and a variant for the first play through of the game. It also includes a replica of the artwork that graces the board. The book contains plenty of pictures and examples of gameplay. It’s very quick and simple to read through. It does contain a few typos and misspelled words here and there, but it’s not anything that should cause you any problems. The cover has a nice finish and another great looking piece of art on the cover. Overall I think the designer did a really great job on the rulebook. It was very easy to understand all of the rules. This is definitely well designed.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Card drafting is one of my most favorite game mechanics. I truly enjoy looking through my hand of cards and picking what I hope will benefit me the most later in the game. Never knowing if that one card that I passed on might come back to haunt me later as my opponent uses it against me in a way I’d never thought of. It’s this thrill that brings me back to these types of games. This is one of those games. You start off working through 2 separate drafting phases which will provide you with a hand of cards that you’ll be playing during the second half of the game. The ones you choose can make things better for you or can possibly even hinder you from completing that building you thought that you’d be able to get completed in time. During my plays I found several times that I just didn’t have enough time to get everything done that I’d wanted to get done. That just makes me want to come back again and again to see if the next time I’ll be able to do more. For me, wanting to play a game again and again is the hallmark of a good game. This is a good game because it gives me that feeling each time I play it. One thing that stood out to me is how the different icons play off of each other based off of the abilities of certain cards. For instance, some cards like the School of Magic provide extra points at the end of the game for each set of certain symbols that you have in play. Others like the Welcome Sign provide extra resources for having certain symbols. Making the best use of each card and knowing when to play each one can be a big boost to your strategies. It took me a game or two to really get dialed in to those card synergies. Needless to say, this is a game that I have really enjoyed. It bears some striking similarities to another game that I enjoyed quite a bit, Town Builder: Coevorden. For anyone that’s every played it before, this one feel very familiar. I had a similar reaction to it myself. A lot of the same things that I liked about that game were present in this one. That’s why I think fans of that game would really enjoy this one. It definitely scratched the same itch for me. I also think that fans of deck building or card drafting games will find a lot to enjoy about this one as well. The game has a lot of depth to it, even though it’s simple to play. Fans of strategy games may find a lot to love about this one too. As it is, this is a game that I would highly recommend.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Frontier: Enchanted Land is a game of card drafting and hand management in a fantasy world. The game isn’t very long. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes. The game looks really nice and the artwork on the cards is very unique and fun. I do wish that it was a bit easier to see the resource icons on the board, but that’s one of the very few minor complaints that I had about this one. Overall I like the look and feel of the game. The rulebook is well designed and is easy to read through and understand. The game itself is a lot of fun and reminds me a lot of Town Builder: Coevorden. Even so, this is one that I really enjoyed playing. I do think that fans of Town Builder: Coevorden will enjoy this one as well. I also think players that enjoy card drafting games would like it too. This is one that I would highly recommend. It’s one that can be enjoyed by the whole family, with just a little bit of instruction. Players can expect a great quality game with this one.
8 out of 10

 

For more information about this and other great games, please check out Jackdaw Co Games, at these sites.

https://www.facebook.com/JackdawCoGames/

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JackdawCoGames

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toy Story: Obstacles & Adventures Review

Toy Story: Obstacles & Adventures is a game designed and developed by The Op, published by USAopoly (The Op). It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of their favorite Toys from the Toy Story movie franchise as they try to overcome a series of Hazards. Players will face various Dangers but can also gain new friends, items and traits to help them. If they’re not careful though, they may end up shelved or even misplaced along the way. In the end, if they’re able to overcome all the Hazards before the Moving Van reaches the House, then they’ll be declared the winners and all of Andy’s toys will be transferred safely to his new home.

Before we begin, let me note that this review will be as spoiler free as possible while still explaining the rules and describing the contents of the game to the best of my ability. For this review I will only be covering the setup and instructions for Adventure 1. I will give what information that I can about the additional adventures, with as few spoilers as possible, in the components, rulebook and gameplay sections below.

To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. The Insight and Imagination pieces are placed into separate supply pools. Each player choose their favorite character from the 4 available ones and takes the corresponding player board and health tracker. If playing with 5 players, you’ll need to add the Jesse player board and health tracker from the Adventure 2 box. At this point, you’ll open up the Adventure 1 box. Inside you’ll find all the pieces needed to play with up to 4 players. Remember if you’re playing with 5, you’ll need to open the Adventure 2 box. Place the Adventure Track on it’s space at the top left corner of the board, being sure to place it on the corresponding player count side. The token is placed on the start space. The Danger cards are shuffled together and placed face down on their appropriate space. The same is done with the Hazard cards, except that the Escape from Sid card is set aside first before shuffling. Once the cards are shuffled, the set aside card is placed on the bottom of the deck before placing them on their space. The top card is revealed and placed in the Active Hazard space below the deck. The starting decks are separated by each Toy’s name from the Adventure cards. The remaining Adventure cards without a Toy’s name on it are shuffled together to form the deck which is placed on it’s appropriate space on the board. The top 6 cards of the deck are revealed and placed on the 6 open spaces below the deck. If any of the revealed cards have the same name, they are stacked on top of the other card with the same name, so that there are always 6 unique Adventure cards available. Players will now receive their corresponding Turn Order and “You are a Toy” card’s above their player boards. Each player takes their starting deck and shuffles their 10 cards, placing the deck face down beside their player boards. They will then draw their top 5 cards to form their starting hand. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played with players taking turns that each consist of 4 steps. The first step is to reveal and resolve Dangers. To do this, the player will look at the Adventure track for how many Danger cards to reveal. One at a time, the player will reveal the Danger cards and resolve the Dangers before placing them in the discard pile.

The next step is to resolve Hazard effects. To do this, the player will check the current face up Hazard cards to see if any Dangers or other Hazards cause the card to be triggered. If it is, then the card is resolved before moving to the next Hazard.

The third step is to play Adventure cards and take actions. For this step, the player is allowed to take a number of actions in any order that they choose. They can play cards to gain resources and generate effects. When a card is played, they should be set to the side to indicate this. Any Insight or Imagination tokens that are gained are placed on the player’s character board. Insight tokens may then be assigned to a Hazard. Once the number of Insight tokens equals the Insight value of the Hazard, it is overcome. The player immediately gains the reward listed on the Hazard card and then the card is then placed in the discard pile. The Insight tokens placed on the Hazard are returned to the supply. Imagination tokens are used to acquire new Adventure cards from the 6 face up cards on the board by paying the card’s cost. The player is allowed to purchase as many cards as they wish, as long as they have enough Imagination to purchase them with. Once a card is paid for, it is placed in the player’s discard pile unless otherwise noted.

The final step is to end your turn. Once the player has finished playing cards, taking actions and using Insight and Imagination tokens, they will then complete 6 small steps. First they will check to see if the token moved to the end of the Adventure track. If it did, then the game ends, more on this in just a bit. The player then checks to see if they assigned enough Insight tokens to overcome a Hazard. If so, then the empty slot is replaced with the next one from the Hazard stack. Next the player will refill any open slots below the Adventure deck with Adventure cards. The player will then place all the cards that they played on their turn, along with any cards remaining in their hand to their discard pile. The player will then discard any remaining Insight or Imagination tokens that were not used. The player then draws a new hand of five cards. If they don’t have enough cards in their deck to refill their hand, then they will shuffle their discard pile to create a new deck. Once this last step is completed, play passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues with players taking turns until the end of the game. The game can end in one of two different ways. If the Toys overcome all of the Hazards, then the game ends and the players win. The players are then able to move on to the next game. The game can also end if the Moving Van token reaches the end of the Adventure track. If the players are not able to overcome all of the Hazards in time, then the players lose. The players will need to reset the game and try again.

It should be noted that some Dangers and Hazards will move the token along the Adventure track. As the token moves far enough, players may have to start drawing additional Danger cards. Another thing of note is that sometimes Dangers and Hazards will cause a player’s Toy to lose health, some Adventure cards will even allow players to gain health. Either way, the player’s health tracker is moved along the player board. If a player’s Toy loses all their health, then the Toy is shelved. When this happens they can’t lose any more health during the turn. They must then discard any Insight or Imagination tokens the they have saved on their player board. They must also discard half the cards in their hand, rounded down. The token is advanced one space on the Adventure track. If the active player is the one who’s Toy is shelved, then they are still able to play cards and take actions with whatever they have remaining. At the end of the active player’s turn, the Toy is then repaired and it’s health is reset back to 10.

COMPONENTS
This is SUCH a CUTE and fun game! Every piece to this game just screams with theme and quality. Everything from the cards to the tokens fits together in a wonderful way. First there’s the board. The images on it look like something taken from Woody’s world with a rope going around the outside of the board. One more note about the board, it is well designed with spaces for each card type and even includes areas to place the Insight tokens for each Hazard. Next there are the player boards, each of these has an amazing comic book style character portrait with lots of bright colors. To help keep track of each player’s health, there are health tracker tokens that can be slid back and forth on the player board as players gain and lose health. These cardboard tokens are brightly colored as well and do a good job. Another set of cardboard components are the Insight and Imagination tokens. The Insight pieces look like the Pixar lamp while the Imagination pieces look like a rubber ball with a star on it. These are really sturdy tokens that look really nice. Mild spoiler…Each Adventure comes with an Adventure track and metal token that looks great and really plays off the theme of each Adventure. Then there are the cards. These look great and really play off the theme quite well. There are Hazards, Dangers, Adventure cards and each turn order and You are a Toy cards. The artwork from each of these looks to be taken from the various movies. After the amazing job on the player boards, I almost wish that same artwork had been carried over into the cards as well. Even so, it still looks great and it works. As each new Hazard came out, my wife and kids would get excited and start discussing what the scene was and how they remembered it. Those were great moments as I just sat back and enjoyed their excitement. Of course as the game goes and you start completing adventures, then new adventure boxes will be opened. Each of these provides new cards and components that will enhance and sometimes change up the game. I will note one particular set of components that are shown on the back of the box, so this would be another mild spoiler. Those would be the dice. Yes, the game comes with dice. These are screen printed, not engraved but still look good. As mentioned, each new Adventure comes in a handy little tuck box that contains all the new materials. Thankfully as new cards become available, the game has a set of dividers to keep everything in order inside the nice custom insert. Needless to say, if you like Toy Story and enjoyed the movies, then you’ll love the way this game looks and feels. It has a very thematic approach to it that I think is great. The quality is amazing and fans of the series will enjoy this for sure.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is very special and bears a lot of striking similarities to the one from Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. The book is designed so that the more you play, the more content you unlock to add to the book. The main rulebook is designed basically for just the first adventure. Everything from setting up the game to how the basic components of the first Adventure box work is explained in great detail. Every page of the book is full of great pictures and examples of all of this information. It’s really easy to read over and even easier to understand. The front and back cover of the book are a bit thicker than the other pages. This is due to the fact that the back cover has individual slots in it for each of the new rules sheets that are each Adventure box. These rule sheets are multi-folded sheets that contain all the information that you need to setup and play with the additional content of the newly opened box. Once you’ve read through the rules of the new sheet, you can then place it inside the handy little pocket in the back cover. Let me say, I loved this idea when it was done in the Harry Potter game and I still love the idea. It’s just a great way of keeping new information and rules secret until it’s needed to play the game. It’s a truly unique and fun design that I really like. One last thing about the rulebook, on the last actual sheet of the book, there is a nice chart for players to chronicle their journey through the game. It includes columns for the Adventure number, player’s names, toy played as, win/loss record and any special notes. This sure beats the old fashioned way of just writing all that on the inside of the box lid. I was never into that but have never condemned anyone for doing it themself. In any event, the rules for the game are great.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
If you’ve ever played Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, then the mechanics of this game might seem very familiar. The reason being that this game is modeled after that one, using a lot of the same mechanics and gameplay styles of that one with a few changes. A lot o the changes are merely cosmetic. For instance instead of Locations and Villains, this game has Dangers and Hazards. Instead of Attack and Influence tokens, this game has Insight and Imagination tokens. For me it wasn’t hard to get right into playing this one as I was already quite familiar with the Harry Potter version. For new players it does a great job at introducing the deck building mechanic without too much pressure. One thing that I’ve enjoyed about both games is the mounting tension that comes as you play more and more. The deeper you go into the game, the harder the Dangers and Hazards become. Needless to say, teamwork is vital to winning the game, especially the further you go into it. The first few games players can be a little more self sufficient and do what they want almost. However those later adventures will really test those bonds of teamwork. Sometimes it will come down to sacrificing yourself or your desires to do what’s best for the team. This is great at introducing that concept both in the game and in life. That was one thing that I really found was great about this one. It shows my kids how to work together to overcome obstacles, not only in the game but in life itself. This game provides life lessons wrapped up in a cute and adorable bow that my family didn’t even realize they were learning. Good job Usaopoly! Needless to say, fans of the Toy Story franchise will love this game. My wife and kids absolutely have adored playing it. Deck building fans will also find a lot to love with their favorite mechanic being highlighted in a wonderful way. This is a family friendly game that I’m sure will find a lot of life on my table. For that reason, this is one that I highly recommend. It’s such a wonderful game that me and my family love.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Toy Story: Obstacles & Adventures is a cooperative deck building game that is set in the wonderful Pixar world of Toy Story. The game isn’t extremely long, but play times do vary. For the first couple of games, play time can be as short as 30 minutes, while later games can last almost an hour and a half. The components of the game look great and really emphasize the amazing Toy Story theme. Everything from the cards to the boards and tokens feel fully integrated. I do wish that the same artwork had been carried over from the player boards to the cards, but the movie pics are probably more of what people expect. The rulebook is great and it easily walks new players through how to play the game very nicely. As new adventures are opened, the book even provides places for the new rules sheets to be kept. I also like the chronicle in the back for players to place all their information after each play. The game itself is wonderful. It’s so easy to teach and it promotes teamwork without shoving it down your throat. This is one that both young and old players can enjoy as it’s a great family friendly game. Fans of the Toy Story franchise will love this game, as will deck building players. This is a game that I highly recommend. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go…Andy’s coming!
9 out of 10

 

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

https://theop.games/

 

 

 

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Go7Gaming MKORO-001 Insert for Machi Koro Review

Recently I was given the opportunity to check out a product from Go7Gaming. That product was the MKORO-001 Insert for Machi Koro. The insert came in a flat rate box. Inside there were a couple of laser cut wooden sheets inside a large ziplock bag. This also came with the MK-DIV-002 dividers. After looking for the instructions inside the package, I realized that I needed to go online for these as there were none included. After reading over everything, I was then ready to assemble the product.

First, let me explain what this product is and how it is used. To begin with, it’s an insert for the Machi Koro board game. This insert will hold all of the contents of the base game and all of the expansions. It also has room for future expansions. Once it’s been assembled, the insert makes it possible to keep all of the cards and tokens that come included in these boxes separate. The insert looks especially nice once it’s finished. Now then, let’s go ahead and get into how to assemble this insert. We’ll start off by separating out all the different wooden sheets. Each piece is cut so that you can easily punch it out from the main sheet that it’s attached to.

If you’ve read any of my reviews for Go7Gaming inserts, you already know that glue is pretty much a staple for building these things. It’s not an absolute necessity as you can use other things like tape, but it’s definitely the best option. With this review I won’t be telling you each time when to add glue to your pieces. Just be aware that if there are 2 pieces being put together, you’ll want to apply glue between them both. With that said, let’s begin the assembling process.

The first thing that you’ll want to do is to create the main insert. You’ll start by finding and laying the two long slotted pieces with two holes in them onto your work area. You’ll then need to attach the two middle dividers to the right side. Once you’ve got these pieces attached, it should look something like this.

You’ll then attach the two long pieces together using the middle dividers, like so.

You’ll then need to repeat this process for the two long slotted pieces with one hole in them, attaching the middle divider like so.

Next you’ll need to attach both these pieces together using the middle divider, just like we did with the other 2 pieces. Here’s how that should look.

With that done, you’ll then be able to attach both of these together using the 2 end pieces that have holes in the middle for the two inside slotted pieces. Once you’ve got those 2 pieces attached, it should look like this.

The next thing you’ll need to do is to assemble the 3 token and coin trays. You’ll start by laying out the base and then connecting the 2 long walls and 2 short walls to the base and to each other. Once you’ve got them together, it should make a tray like so.

You’ll repeat this process for the other 2 boxes as well. One thing to note, make sure that your slotted sections line up on the long pieces, otherwise you’ll have to take them apart and redo them. Once your 3 trays are completed, they should look like this.

You’ll then be able to place your divider into the trays, like so.

You can then add your cardboard coins, tokens and dice, like so.

With all that done, you can now place the main insert into your box, like so.

You’ll then be able to stack and place all 3 of your trays into the slot between the two dividers on the right of your box, like so.

You can add some dividers and the cards into the box, like so.

I then added my bags of plastic coins from an old Trivial Pursuit game into the top left and bottom right sections, along with some extra dividers in the top right.

Finally, place the rulebooks on top of the insert like so and you’re done.

MATERIALS
In this section I would normally cover the different components of the game and how they look. However since this is an insert and not a game, I’ll describe the packing and insert instead. Everything came prepackaged in a flat rate shipping box. Inside the box, everything for this insert was placed inside a large zip lock style bag. Everything looked very nice and there were no problems with anything. The wooden sheets are nice and thick and are very easy to punch out for each of the different pieces. If you decided to use glue or tape, you’ll need to supply your own as the organizer does not come with any included. Assembling the product wasn’t all that hard and I’m pretty sure I could have figured it out, even without instructions. The simplicity of the insert made it possible to finish the assembly without any trouble. Overall the materials look great and everything is strong and durable. I’m very pleased with the overall look and feel of this product.
9 out of 10

INSTRUCTION
In this section I would normally explain the rulebook of the game, going into detail about the different sections. Since this is an insert I will cover the instructions that came with the insert instead. This part is actually quite simple. There weren’t any. Basically I had to go online to the website, find the insert there and use the instructions found on the site to be able to assemble the insert. As I mentioned earlier, I think I could have probably figured it out without the instructions. After all, it is pretty much only a couple of sheets of wood. The parts are pretty much self explanatory. That said, I’m still thankful that there was a detailed process on the website that walked me through each step of assembling the insert. There were even pictures to help me out. Everything on the site was explained very well and I didn’t find it difficult to figure out what went where. Overall, I’m quite pleased with the instructions online, but I really wish I’d had a physical copy to use instead. For this case, I will give a double review. The first for the lack of instructions and the second for the actual instructions online.
0/8 out of 10

CONSTRUCTION
In this section, I would normally be explaining the game and how it’s played, along with my thoughts on the whole thing. Instead, I’ll give my thoughts on the assembly process and anything else that I feel is important to note. This insert wasn’t overly complex so it didn’t take a very long time to put together. Most everything was easy enough to figure out even without instructions. One thing to mention is that just like with all Go7Gaming inserts, this one is a bit loose around the joints and connections so be you’ll need to be aware of this and make sure that you have some glue or something to hold it all together. As you can tell from the pictures, there’s still a lot of extra room inside the insert, even with several expansions and all the pieces inside. That’s why I decided to keep my old Trivial Pursuit coins that I’d been using with the game and place them inside as well. This insert is perfect for adding any future expansions that might come out. As it is, I have a ton of extra dividers and plenty of extra space, so I say bring it on. I did go ahead and add a few extra dividers just to fill space and just in case I decide to divide the cards a little more than I’ve already done. As it is now, I just have the different expansion and base game cards separated. I may go back and further divide them later. Overall, this is a great insert and one that holds a lot of cards and all of the tokens and coins quite nicely. I’m very glad that I didn’t have to look for somewhere to keep my plastic coins either as I really like the bright colors for them and wanted to keep them with the game. Needless to say, I’m happy that this insert worked out as well as it did. It should make setting up and taking down any future games much quicker. I would recommend this insert for anyone that owns Machi Koro and any of the expansions for it. It’s much better than that weird circular insert that came with the base box. This one is well designed and looks good.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
The Go7Gaming MKORO-001 Insert for Machi Koro is a great product that really helps organize your expansions and main game for Machi Koro. It also has plenty of extra room for all of the tokens and coins that come with the game. The organizer has room for everything that comes in the core box and will hold both expansions as well as the standalone expansion. There’s even extra room in case the publisher decides to release any future expansions. The materials are nice and sturdy. They hold everything in a compact and organized way. The assembly process didn’t take a lot of time even with the lack of instructions. That part was definitely a minor frustration, but one that is easily dealt with. Thankfully I did find great instructions online after a bit of searching. Once assembled, the insert looks great and it gets the job done with plenty of extra space which is a big plus. There was even room for my plastic coins that I salvaged from a Trivial Pursuit game. This is an insert that I would definitely recommend for owners of Machi Koro, especially if they have any of the expansions or just want to get rid of that weird circular insert. Another added bonus is that the insert makes setting up and taking down the game a little faster. Overall I’m very pleased with the overall look and feel of the insert. My game is much better now than before.
8 out of 10

 

For more information about this and other great products, please check out Go7Gaming at their site.

http://go7gaming.com/

 

 

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cowboy Bebop: Space Serenade Review

Cowboy Bebop: Space Serenade is a game by Florian Sirieix and Johan Benvenuto, published by Japanime Games. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of one of the bounty hunters from the spaceship, Bebop. Based on the cult series, Cowboy Bebop, players will hop from planet to planet in an effort to catch criminals while powering up their decks to be even more efficient. Of course the ruthless and sadistic criminal Vicious will be looking to take the players out and escape their clutches. That means that the players will need to catch Vicious and put him away, if they hope to win. In the end, the player that can prove they’re the best bounty hunter and earn the most renown will be declared the winner.

To begin, the 3 Planet boards and the Bebop board are placed in the middle of the play area. A Fuel cube is placed on the 1 space on each of the 3 Planet boards. The miniatures for Spike, Jet, Faye and Ed are placed on the Bebop board, regardless of the number of players. The Common Deck board is placed near the Planet boards. The Common Deck cards are shuffled together and placed face down on the board. The first 5 cards of the deck are then drawn and placed face up in a row next to the board. This creates the Purchasing Area. A random starter Criminal is chosen for each planet and placed on the corresponding Planet board. A number of Capture tokens are placed on each Criminal card based on the indicated numbers on the card. The remaining Criminal cards are sorted by planet and shuffled into separate Planet decks. A random number of Criminal cards are taken from each deck and then shuffled together to form the Criminals deck. The number of cards taken is based on the number of players. The Vicious card is shuffled into the deck as one of the last 3 cards. The Criminal deck is then placed on the Big Shot stand. The Damage cards are shuffled together and placed face down on the Damage board which is placed near the other boards in the middle of the play area. Each player chooses one of the characters and places the corresponding Character board in front of themself. They also receive the 10 cards of their character’s Basic deck and a Fuel cube, which is placed on the 1 space of their fuel gauge. Each player shuffles their Basic deck and places it face down next to their Character board. The first player is chosen and draws the top 4 cards of their deck. The other players all draw 5 cards and play now begins.

The game is played in a series of turns, with each player taking a turn. On a player’s turn they may take any of a number of actions as many times as they wish and in any order that they choose. Those actions are to play a card, purchase a card, move, use a character’s ability and confront and capture a criminal. The first action that they can choose to perform is to play a card. To do this, the player simply places one of the cards from their hand face up in front of themself. Once played, the player will immediately gain the resources indicated by the card. If the card has any special effects, these are then resolved. Any effects must be resolved completely before taking any further actions. Effects that state, “You may…” may be ignored but the effect can not be resolved at a later time. It should be noted that some cards have a Team effect. These Team effects are resolved only if a card associated with the character shown is present in the player’s play area. A Team effect can only be resolved once, even if multiple cards showing the corresponding character have been played. It should also be noted that some card effects allow the player to remove cards from their discard pile and/or their hand. Cards removed this way are permanently removed from the player’s deck and placed in a separate pile or back in the box.

Another action available for a player to take is to purchase cards. To do this, the player simply chooses an action card from the purchasing area and pays the purchasing cost of the card in Woolongs. Woolongs are accumulated by playing cards that provide the resource. The player is allowed to purchase any number of cards, as long as they have the Woolongs to purchase them with. Every time a card is purchased, a new card is drawn to replace it from the Common deck. If there are no cards that the player wishes to purchase, they may refresh the purchasing area by spending 2 Fuel. When this is done, all 5 cards are removed from the purchasing area and placed in the discard pile. Five new cards are then drawn from the Common deck to replace them with. It should be noted that some criminals will cause the purchasing area to refresh when they make their first appearance on a planet.

Moving is another action that a player may take on their turn. To do this, the player must spend a specific amount of Fuel based on the Movement gauge of the location that they would like to move to. Moving to planets costs from 1 to 3 Fuel, while returning to the Bebop only costs 1 Fuel. It should be noted that the Movement gauge on the planets can be modified in various ways, such as when a player plays a card that modifies a gauge or when a criminal escapes or is captured. For more information on the Movement gauges, please check out the rulebook.

Yet another action that a player may take on their turn is to use a character’s ability. To do this, the player must simply spend the required amount of fuel and then follow the instructions. It should be noted that each player has 2 unique abilities; their own personal character ability and a first ability of the other characters. A player may use their own personal character ability at any time, however to use a first ability of another character, both character’s miniatures must be at the same location. The amount of fuel to perform the action is taken from their character’s fuel supply.

The final available action is to confront and capture a criminal. To do this, the criminal must first be weakened. When a character is on the same planet as a criminal, they can choose to spend either strength or clues to weaken them. The number of each is based on the the numbers on the criminal card. Each time a character pays the corresponding amount of strength, they will gain a resistance token. However they must also gain a damage card for each resistance token that they gain. When taking a resistance token from Vicious, the player will gain 2 damage cards. Each time a character plays the corresponding amount of clues, they will gain an investigation token. Once all of either the resistance tokens or investigation tokens on a criminal card have been taken, the player will immediately capture the criminal. The player will then follow 3 steps. First they will place the criminal card face down to the right of their player board, then each player that gained capture tokens corresponding to the planet that the criminal was captured on will be given an equal amount of renown points, which are then placed on the player’s character board face down. Any characters on the planet where the criminal was captured are immediately returned to the Bebop without having to pay any fuel costs. The movement gauge on the planet is then reset to 1. Two new cards are revealed from the criminals deck, one at a time. The availability of the planet on each card is checked for each. If the planet already has a criminal on it, then the movement gauge on the planet is increased by 1 and the criminal card is discarded, otherwise the criminal card is simply placed on the planet. If the planet’s gauge was already on 3, then the current criminal escapes and the newly revealed criminal takes their place. The movement gauge is then reset to 1. If a new criminal card is placed on a planet, then the purchasing area refresh effect is resolved, if the new criminal card has one. A number of capture tokens that match the planet are then placed on the resistance and investigation spaces of the new criminal card. It should be noted, that if a criminal escapes a few things will then occur. First the current criminal card is replaced by the new criminal card. Next the planet’s movement gauge is reset to 1. Then all the characters present on the planet are returned to the Bebop. Finally each player must discard all of their capture tokens for that particular planet and will receive no renown points for them. One last thing of note, some cards will change a planet’s movement gauge. When this happens, even if the gauge is already on 3, the current criminal will not escape.

Once Vicious appears, the second part of the game is triggered. Any criminals already in play will stay that way, but no new criminals will be revealed moving forward. Once his card is revealed, he is placed on a planet, but first his movement deck must be created. This is done by taking all the discarded criminal cards and any still left in the deck and shuffling them together. This new deck is then placed on the Big Shot stand and creates Vicious’ movement deck. The first card is now revealed to determine where his miniature is placed. The revealed card is then discarded. The Vicious card is then placed between the planet boards and the Vicious tokens are placed on his card corresponding to the number of players as noted in the rulebook. To be able to confront Vicious, the character’s miniature must be on the same planet as his. If there’s a criminal card on the planet, the player may choose to confront either the criminal or Vicious. Gaining capture tokens works the same way as capturing a criminal, except that when taking a resistance token the player gains 2 damage cards instead of just 1. At the end of a player’s turn, if Vicious has lost at least 1 resistance token, he will move. To move him, the player must reveal the top card of Vicious’ movement deck and resolve it. If the revealed location is different from his current position, then he is moved to the new planet without changing the movement gauges. If the location matches his current location, then the movement gauge of that planet is raised by 1. Just like any other criminal, Vicious is captured once either of his capture token piles are emptied. Once this happens the game ends immediately. If the last card in his movement deck is revealed, players get one last turn before the game ends. If Vicious remains uncaptured at the end of the last player’s turn, then he escapes and all players lose any Vicious tokens they may have already acquired.

Once a player has finished with all their actions, they will declare the end of their turn and place all the cards that they played into their discard pile, along with any cards remaining in their hand. The player will then draw 5 new cards from their deck. If Vicious is required to move, then he will move at this time. Once this is completed, play passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues until, as noted above Vicious escapes or is captured. Once either of these happens, the game ends. Players convert any Vicious tokens they have into renown and discard any remaining capture tokens. Each player will then add up their renown points including the renown for any personally captured criminals. The player with the most renown is the winner.

COMPONENTS
There are a lot of great looking pieces to this game that fans of Cowboy Bebop will absolutely adore. Let’s start off with the planet and Bebop boards. These are really think and look amazing. Each one has recessed sections for the Fuel cubes to be placed in them. Speaking of fuel cubes, these little guys are a neon green looking clear plastic that looks really neat. It sort of makes me think of rocket fuel or something like that. There are also a few other little boards for the common deck and damage cards. These are a little thinner but still look great. The character boards are just like the planet boards and are thick and recessed as well. The image of each character on these is very nice and really brings home the feel of the game. The game also comes with a couple of sheets of cardboard tokens for renown and capture tokens. There’s even full color cardboard standees, in case you wanted to use them instead of the included miniatures. The question is why would you want to. The miniatures are extremely cool. Granted they aren’t as detailed as some miniatures I’ve seen in other games but I had absolutely no problem determining which character was which. Seeing these has made me want to take up painting minis again, however I doubt I’ll get around to it. The last pieces to the game are of course, the cards. There are 188 cards included in the box which includes 92 common deck cards, 21 criminals, 1 Vicious, 30 damage and 40 basic decks with 10 cards for each player. The quality of the cards is very nice and the artwork on each one looks amazing. These really bring home the feel for the game. One look and you really get a sense of the characters. I love just seeing each card when it’s flipped over and being able to check out the amazing artwork on each one. The game also includes a great insert that holds everything in a really good way. Overall I think players familiar with Cowboy Bebop will love this game, especially if they are fans of the show. Deck building players will also find something to enjoy with this one as well. Since I fit both of those categories, I love this one. This is a game that I highly recommend. It’s definitely made it’s way onto my top 10 played games of all times.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is well written and looks really nice. The cover looks very thematic and like something a bounty hunter might receive on their first day on the job. A couple of pages in and the book goes into explaining the rules of deck building games. I think for players unfamiliar with the mechanic, this is a pretty nice introduction. A couple of pages explaining cards and resources follow before moving into the setup of the game. All of the actual rules are laid out in a fairly straight forward and step by step process that’s pretty easy to follow. There’s a nice section near the end of the book that explains all the character’s abilities in great detail. On the last page, the book even includes rules for playing the game solo, which is a huge bonus in my eyes. There’s even a place to chronicle your adventures that includes your name, character played and your score. The back of the book has a very nice reference guide for how the game is played that’s very helpful. The book has lots of great pictures and examples throughout and it has a mildly thematic look and feel to it. Overall I think the rulebook does a great job of explaining the rules while looking cool in the process.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
I remember watching Cowboy Bebop for the first time back in 2001 on Cartoon Network. I remember how much I absolutely loved the show. In fact, it was Cowboy Bebop and Vampire Hunter D that started my love for anime. It was no surprise that when I found a DVD copy of the entire series, I immediately bought it. I still break out that DVD from time to time and rewatch all those episodes. Fast forward to a couple of years ago, when I first discovered deck building games through the DC Deck Building Game. Here was a game mechanic that I absolutely fell in love with. I loved the idea of being able to start off with a small deck and basically customize it as the game goes on. That brings me to this game. Cowboy Bebop: Space Serenade combines two of my favorite things into one, but is it actually any good? The short answer is YES! This game brings the Cowboy Bebop universe to life as you move from planet to planet, catching criminals and making money. I love that while the game is a deck builder, so a lot of focus is on your deck, you’re also making big decisions on what criminals to go for and how to best utilize the resources that you create. Of course fuel is a major aspect of the game, without it you can’t go where you need to and you can’t do the things that you’d like to do or even need to do. Just like the show, each character needs to rely on the others from time to time. I like that even if you’re not playing with 4 players, you will still use all the characters from the show and be able to use some teamwork via the character’s first abilities. Of course you have to be in the same place with that character, but thankfully the game makes it possible to move the others around. In the end, like with any other deck builder, it’s about getting the most points. Of course you have to beat Vicious first and he can be rather tough at times. Now if that wasn’t enough to garner your interest, the game also includes a solo mode. I love a game with a good solo mode and this one plays very similar to the core rules. There are a few small differences but not so noticeable that you feel like you’re playing a different game. I love that about this one. Seeing as this has two things that I love combined together, you better believe that this is one that I completely enjoy. Fans of Cowboy Bebop will love this, especially if they like deck building games. Fans of games like Marvel Legendary may enjoy the semi-cooperative nature of this game as players try to take down Vicious and the other criminals together. Overall this is a great game and one that I plan to play religiously. This is one that I highly recommend.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Cowboy Bebop: Space Serenade is an amazing deck building game that allows players to play their favorite bounty hunters from the cult series, Cowboy Bebop. The game doesn’t take a long time to play. Most game sessions last about 45 minutes to an hour. The cards and components look amazing. They really bring to the life the show and fans of Cowboy Bebop will have a lot to appreciate here. I especially love the miniatures and the cards. The rulebook is well written and designed. It’s got everything you need to be able to play the game, including some solo rules which are great. The game itself is lots of fun. The theme of the game really comes out quite well and fans of Cowboy Bebop will really enjoy this one. As a deck building game, it’s got a lot to offer. Fans of games like Marvel Legendary may find the semi-coop nature of this one to be interesting. This is one that I absolutely adore and look forward to playing a whole lot more. As both a fan of deck building games and Cowboy Bebop, this one hits the mark for me in a BIG way. This is one that I highly recommend. It’s definitely on my top 10 list of games for this year. See you Space Cowboy!
9 out of 10

 

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

http://www.japanimegames.com/

 

 

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Consumption: Food and Choices Review

Consumption: Food and Choices is a game by Karen Knoblaugh, published by Kolossal Games. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players will be trying to balance their food and health needs as they try to make the right choices for their bodies. Each round players will go shopping, cook meals, dine out and engaging in activities to manage their health and happiness. In the end, the player that can manage their bodies needs the best will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. The recipe cards are shuffled together. Two cards are then placed face up on the right 2 space of the Recipe Book on the board. The deck is then divided into 2 equal piles, with each pile placed on the 2 left spaces of the Recipe Book. The top 2 cards on each stack are flipped face up, making 4 recipes available. The activity cards are then shuffled together and then placed face down on the appropriate space on the Daily Planner. Three cards are then placed face up in the corresponding spaces, making 3 activities available. The 2 cravings dice and shopping tokens are placed next to the Shopping List in the top left corner of the board. The food tokens are placed near the board to create the supply. Ten of each type of food token is placed inside the food token bag. One fats and oils token is placed on the corresponding Pizza To Go space on the board from the supply. The remaining Pizza To Go spaces are filled with food tokens randomly taken from the food token bag. If an alcohol token is drawn, it is set aside and a new token is drawn to replace it. Drawn alcohol tokens are returned to the bag once the spaces are filled. The Chinese Buffet spaces are randomly filled with food tokens take from the food token bag. The 6 assistant cards are placed face up next to the board. The round marker is placed on the 1 space of the round tracker at the top of the board. The Farmer’s Market cards are sorted and separated based on their card backs. The cards in each of these decks is then arranged in descending order so that the lowest round number is on the top of the deck. The cards are then placed face down in the corresponding space of the Farmer’s Market. The top cards of each deck are then flipped face up and match the current round. Players will then choose whether to play with the standard or advanced diet boards and will place a diet board in front of themself. If players choose the advanced diet boards, these are randomly selected or may be chosen if all players agree. Each player chooses a color and is then given the corresponding 4 action markers, 1 scoring marker, 1 assistant reference card, 1 end of game scoring reference card, 1 water food token and 1 food token of their choice. Each player will then place their scoring marker on the 0 space of the scoring track. The first player is chosen and is given the first player marker. Play now begins.

The game is played over 6 rounds. Each round follows 3 steps. The first step is to select assistants. In this step, each player will select an assistant starting with the last player and continuing in reverse turn order. The player places the assistant face down in front of themself. In later rounds, players may select a face up assistant card from in front of one of their opponents instead of one of the face up cards next to the board. Players must then place their assistant from a previous round face up next to the board. There are 6 different assistants and each one provides 2 options that a player can benefit from. However the player is only able to use 1 option 1 time each turn. These options can be anything from add a water token to the player’s supply to swapping an incomplete recipe the player has for an available recipe from the Recipe Book. For more information on the specific assistants and the benefits each provides, please consult the rule book.

The second step is to take actions. In this step, players will take turns until each player has taken 4 actions. To take an action the player must place one of their action markers on an open action space on the board or on their own diet board. The player will then perform the action, following any instructions. There are 6 different actions that a player may choose from. Players can Dine Out as an action. The Dining Out action actually consists of 2 different action spaces; the Chinese Buffet and Pizza To Go. Both spaces allow the player to take a number of available food tokens from the space and place them into their body. The Pizza To Go space allows the player at the end of the round to place their action marker on any available action space thus providing them with another action that round.

Another action that can be taken is to Snack. The Snack action, on the player’s diet board, allows the player to place any 1 food token from their kitchen into their body.

A third action that a player may take is to go Grocery Shopping. This action allows the player to purchase up to $6 worth of food from the space. To go shopping, the player rolls the cravings dice and then places them on the matching spaces on the top and side of the Shopping List. The player may purchase a food token by placing a shopping marker on the space that matches the food token that they would like to take on the Shopping List. The player then places the matching food token into the Shopping Basket space that matches the food token. Food tokens can cost $1, $3 or $5. Food tokens in the same column or row as a cravings die only cost $1. Food tokens outside the column or row cost $3. An unavailable food token is taken directly from the food supply and costs $5. Once the player has finished shopping, all the food tokens in the player’s Shopping Basket are then placed in their kitchen on their diet board.

Yet another action available to players is the Farmer’s Market. This action allows the player to select 1 of the available market stands and then take food tokens from the supply that match the food tokens on the chosen card. These tokens are added to the player’s body or their kitchen, as directed by the specific card. These spaces are always available but can only be used two times a round by a specific player.

Recipes and Cook is another available action for players to take. This action allows the player to take a new recipe from the board, cook a recipe with the food tokens in their kitchen or both. This action may be taken as many times as the player would like. To take a recipe, the player may select up to 3 of the face up recipe cards from the Recipe Book and place them to the left of their diet board face up. At the end of the player’s turn, if there are any empty spaces in the Recipe Book, they are refilled from the deck until there are 4 available recipes. To cook, the player may move up to 3 food tokens from their kitchen onto the corresponding food spaces on any incomplete recipe. These tokens do not have to be placed on just one recipe. They may be spread between any recipes the player chooses. Once all the food spaces on a recipe have been filled, that recipe has been completed. The player immediately scores the VP points in the bottom corner of the recipe and then places the food tokens from the card into their body. The completed recipe is then moved to the completed recipes area beside their diet board. The ability of the completed recipe is then available for the player to use. Once a recipe’s ability has been used, it is flipped face down in the completed recipes area.

The sixth action that a player may take is to do Activities and Work Out. This action allows the player to take new activities from the board, work out to remove energy from their body or both. This action may be taken as many times as the player would like, just like the Recipes and Cook action. To take an activity, the player chooses up to 2 activities from the Daily Planner and places them to the right of their diet board. At the end of the player’s turn, if there are any empty spaces in the Daily Planner, they are refilled from the deck until there are 3 available activities. To work out, the player may move up to 3 food tokens from their body onto the corresponding food spaces on any incomplete activities. These tokens do not have to be placed on just one activity. They may be spread between any activities that the player chooses. Once all the food spaces on an activity have been filled, that activity has been completed. The player flips the completed activity face down and immediately scores the VP points in the bottom corner of the recipe. They will then place the food tokens from the card to the supply. The completed activity is then moved to the completed activities area beside their diet board. It should be noted that some activity cards have wild food spaces that may be filled with any other food token that does not match one of the other food tokens already present on the activity card. Some activities call for 1 or 2 wild food icons or a double wild food icon. The 1 or 2 icons require the food tokens to be the same type and placed at the same time. If only 1 token is used, then the space is considered filled and may not be added to at a later time. The double icons require 2 food tokens of the same type be placed at the same time. One final note, activity cards have special icons that are used to score bonus points at the end of the game. Players earn more points for the more completed activities they have with unique icons on them.

There is one final action that a player may take, that is to place and pass. To do this, the player simply places their action marker on any action space and does nothing. By doing this, they simply pass their turn. If a player passes, they must set aside all of their remaining action markers and are not allowed to take any further actions during the round.

The third and final step of a round is to prepare for the next round. In this step, the player that has an action marker on the Pizza To Go action space will now be able to place their action marker on any remaining available space and take the corresponding action. Once that’s done, beginning with the first player, each player will now be able to use any of their end of round abilities that they choose to activate. Once this has been completed, players will move the food tokens in their kitchen one space to the right, beginning with their right most space. Those tokens in the rightmost kitchen space are moved to the player’s trash and remain there until the end of the game. If this is the end of the sixth round, play proceeds to end of game scoring. As long as this is not the sixth round, the round marker is advanced one space on the round track. All action markers are returned to their players and all the shopping tokens are removed from the Shopping List. Any food tokens on the Chinese Buffet and Pizza To Go spaces are returned to the supply. A fats and oils food token is taken from the supply and placed on the corresponding Pizza To Go space. Each space is then filled with new food tokens from the food token bag. If there are any alcohol food tokens drawn from the bag for the Pizza To Go space, it is set aside and a new token is drawn to replace it. Any drawn alcohol food tokens are returned to the food token bag once the spaces are filled. All the faceup Farmer’s Market cards are removed fromg
the game and new cards are flipped face up that match the current round. All the faceup recipe cards are placed on the bottom of the recipe deck, then all the empty spaces are refilled with new recipe cards from the top of the recipe deck. All the faceup activity cards are returned to the bottom of the activity deck, then all the empty spaces are refilled with new activity cards from the top of the activity deck. The first player marker is then passed to the next player in turn order and a new round begins.

The game continues until the end of the sixth round. At this point, end of game scoring occurs. Players score VP for food groups with 0 food tokens, for food groups with food tokens based on the furthest food token on a yellow or green space, for completed recipe cards and for sets of completed activity cards. Players lose VP for food groups with food tokens based on the furthest food token on a red space, for each food token in their trash and for incomplete recipe and activity cards. Players add up their points and the one with the most VP is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game has a bunch of components packed inside the box. First off there’s a whole bunch of cardboard tokens. These include the large first player marker, the food tokens and the shopping tokens. The first player marker looks like a round plate with a fork and knife criss crossed on it. The food tokens are smaller squares and are brightly colored. Each one has a small picture of what it represents, for instance: the water looks like a plastic water bottle while the dairy looks like a gallon of milk and a hunk of cheese. The shopping tokens are grey and have the outline of a shopping cart on them. Each one of these tokens has a nice textured feel to them and they all look great. I especially like the colors of the food tokens. It makes it very easy to pick out which tokens are which. The game also comes with some wooden scoring and action markers, as well as a round marker to keep track of the rounds. Each of these are round discs and are great quality. Unfortunately the colors aren’t my favorite. The player colors are white, yellow, green and red. No blue, orange or purple sadly. I think I may have changed out the white for blue, at the very least. Don’t know many players that would choose to play white. The round marker is black, which could have been changed to white and then black could have been an available player color. Oh well, that’s just a minor gripe. The cravings dice are bright red and blue and have a fairly good heft to them. The game also comes with a nice draw string cloth bag with the game’s name printed on it, to hold the food tokens in. The board looks amazing and is vibrant and full of color. It’s very easy to read and determine what each space represents. I really love the artwork on this one. The player boards are some kind of flexible cardboard with a textured feel to it, just like the tokens. Each of these are double sided with a standard diet on one side and a specialty diet on the other. Each one of these is very easy to understand as well. Needless to say, I like the design and how everything comes together on these as well.

The final pieces are the various cards. There are 2 sizes of cards euro and regular sized ones. The Farmer’s Market cards are all euro sized and have the name of the particular stand on the back with a selection of food tokens on the front side. The regular sized cards consist of all the other cards in the game. There are the activity cards which have some really beautiful looking artwork of the various activities that they represent. There are the recipe cards which also look beautiful. These have a large piece of artwork on one side and the other side has a smaller picture of the same image, along with food tokens and special abilities. The assistant cards have a specific icon design on the back and two options for players to be able to use on the front. These are each a single specific color but still look really nice and fit in well with the game. There are also assistant reference cards, which explain the various assistants and then the end of game scoring reference cards, which explain how scoring works. The final set of cards is the out of stock cards, which are used only in a 2 player or a solo game. These show where to place shopping markers on the shopping list to remove a few options during play. Let me just say, these components look amazing. I’m completely blown away by the quality, designs and artwork of each piece. The board, recipe and activity cards are especially beautiful. I just really feel drawn into the game when I look at these. It makes me feel as if I’m actually planning out what I’m going to eat and do for that day. Needless to say, the theme really comes through for this one. If that weren’t enough, inside the box is a really remarkable looking insert to keep all the components from jostling around too much or having to be bagged up. Overall I love the look and feel of this game. It’s truly a wonder to behold.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is really well designed. There are a ton of great looking pictures and examples throughout the book. Each step of the game is laid out in a very simple to read format. Each section of the board and each action is explained in great detail. Everything looks amazing for this rulebook. There is also an extra sheet of rules included in the game with some variants, including playing with just 2 players and for playing solo. I’m especially happy to have the solo rules as I love anytime a game includes solo rules. The book also includes a section highlighting some of the key concepts and icons of the game. This is a really great rulebook that makes learning the game very very easy. It didn’t take a very long time for me to read through it all. Once I read it, I had very few questions on how to play the game. With the reference cards and everything pretty much spelled out on the board and diet boards, there’s not much else you need. That’s one thing I do really appreciate about this one; it is fairly self explanatory. Overall, the designer did a great job with the rulebook. I’m very pleased with the overall look and feel of it.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a great game. It’s a really unique worker placement style game that I really enjoy. I’ll be honest, when I first looked at this game I thought it was going to be pretty difficult to learn. After reading through the rulebook, I realized that’s not the case at all. This is actually a pretty straight forward and easy game to learn, granted there are a lot of decisions and strategies to be had with it. That is to say that on your turn, you pretty much have carte blanche to do whatever you want to do, just like you have in real life. I mean if you actually look at this game, it kind of feels like real life. You go to the grocery store. You get some food to make something to eat or you grab some takeout. You eat what you cooked or picked up, then you choose what you want to do. Do you go running to work off that double cheeseburger or do you just sit around and play video games. These are decisions that you’ll be making. Of course what you’re trying to do is make sure that you’re putting the right stuff in your body based on your particular diet and then grabbing as many points from recipes and activities that you can. You just have to make sure that you don’t wind up grabbing too much of the wrong stuff, or you might wind up losing points at the end of the game. I have to say, that I love how that each diet feels different, just like in real life. A vegetarian diet isn’t going to feel the same as a junk food diet. What one needs, the other may turn their nose up at. For such an easy to play game, it’s actually quite deep. If you think about it, the game not only is fun to play, but it actually helps inform as well. There are things about some of these diets that I didn’t know or understand, that now I get a little better. For instance, I’d always thought that a vegetarian could only eat vegetables. I mean it’s pretty much in the name itself. However I now realize that they can actually have dairy and eggs. The Paleo diet can have no dairy, sugar or grains. Honestly I’d always wondered about how that worked. Needless to say, this is a game that I truly have enjoyed in so many ways. It’s as much informative and educational as it is enjoyable. This is a game that fans of worker placement would really enjoy, especially if they love food. It is one that I would highly recommend. It’s a true joy.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Consumption: Food and Choices is a medium weight worker placement game about food and health. The game isn’t overly long. Most game sessions are around an hour and a half long. The components look amazing. The artwork is phenomenal, especially on the board and cards. The theme of the game really comes through in a big way. The rulebook is well designed and easy to read. It also includes rules for playing solo and with just 2 players, which is a huge plus for me. The game itself is a ton of fun. It really makes you question each decision and it feels like you’re actually living this particular lifestyle from your diet board. There’s really a lot to like with this one. It’s education and informative, as well as being fun. This is one that fans of worker placement games will absolutely enjoy. It’s definitely one that I look forward to playing a lot more. I highly recommend this game. It’s mango-nificent and sure to make you hap-pea! I guess I butter stop with the puns before I get beet. Ok, I’m done. Enjoy!
9 out of 10

 

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

 

https://kolossalgames.com/

 

 

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Munchkin Harry Potter Deluxe Review

Munchkin Harry Potter Deluxe is a game based on Steve Jackson’s Munchkin, published by USAopoly, the Op. It is for 3-6 players. In this game, players take on the role of wizarding student at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They will need to become proficient in their abilities if they hope to level up and be able to defeat hideous monsters and some of the Wizarding World’s most notorious bad guys. In the end, the player that gets the top marks by reaching level 10 first will be declared the winner thus leading their House to glory.

To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. Each player will now choose a House card. Up to 3 players are even able to choose the same House if they so desire. Once players have chosen, they will take a standee representing their House, making note of which is their particular standee. Players will then place their standee on the number 1 space on the board. The cards are separated into the Door deck and the Treasure deck. Each of these decks is shuffled separately. Four cards from each deck are dealt to each player before placing the deck face down in it’s corresponding space on the board. Players will now look at their hand of eight cards. If they have any Role or Proficiency cards of Rank 1, they may place one of each type face up in front of themself. They are also allowed to place any usable Items or Ally cards from their hand as well. Once players have finished placing cards, the first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played in a series of turns, with each player taking turns consisting of 3 phases; Unlock the Door, Up to No Good/Loot The Room and Charity. Each player will follow the 3 phases on their turn before play passes to the next player in turn order. The first phase of a player’s turn is to Unlock the Door. In this phase, the player will draw 1 card from the Door deck and turn it face up. If the card revealed is a monster, the player must fight it, more on this in just a bit. If the card is a Curse, it is applied to the player immediately and then discarded. If the Curse has a ongoing effect, then the care must be kept face up in front of the player as a reminder of any upcoming effects. If the player revealed any other card types, such as a Role, Proficiency, Monster Enhancer or other such card, then the player may choose to play it immediately or place it in their hand. To play the card, it must be legal to do so, based on the rules.

The next phase of a player’s turn is to be Up to No Good or Loot The Room. If the player fought a monster in the first phase, then they will skip this phase and move into the Charity phase. If they didn’t fight a monster, then the player has 2 choices, they may either be Up to No Good or Loot the Room. Being Up to No Good means that the player may play a monster card from their hand and then fight it, just as if they’d drew a monster card during the first phase, more on combat in just a bit. If the player doesn’t have a monster or doesn’t wish to fight a monster, they may instead choose to Loot the Room. This choice allows the player to draw a second card from the Door deck and place it in their hand. If the card is a Role or Proficiency card, they may immediately play it if they wish, otherwise the card is saved in the player’s hand to be used later.

The final phase of a player’s turn is the Charity phase. In this phase, if the player has more than 5 cards in their hand, they must now play enough cards to get their hand size down to five or below. If they do not wish to play any more cards or can’t play any more, then any excess cards must be given to the player with the lowest level. If players are tied for the lowest level, then the cards are divided as evenly as possible between them. If the lowest level player is the active player, then the cards are discarded instead. Once this phase has been completed, play passes to the next player in turn order.

Earlier I mentioned combat and fighting monsters, at this time I’d like to explain how that works. To fight a monster a player must simply compare the monster’s combat strength against their own combat strength. Combat strength is based on a combination of level and any bonuses or penalties from other cards either already in played or that are played in response to the combat. The active player, as well as other players, are allowed to play one shot item cards or use their House abilities to either help or harm the player in combat. Cards may also be played to help or hinder the monster as well. Once players have decided to or can not play any more cards or activate any abilities, then the player compares their strength to the monster’s strength. If the monster’s combat strength is equal or greater than the player’s combat strength then the player must Run Away, more on this in a moment. If the player’s combat strength is higher then they kill the monster and go up a level or two, depending on the size of the monster. The player also receives a number of Treasure cards, as shown on the monster’s card. The killed monster and any other cards played are then discarded. If the player was forced to Run Away due to being unable to defeat the monster, then they must roll the die. If they roll a 5 or higher, then they will successfully Run Away. Some Proficiencies, Roles and Items will make it easier or even harder to Run Away from a monster. If the player failed to Run Away from the monster by not rolling high enough, then the monster will do Bad Stuff to them, as described on the monster’s card. This may vary from losing an Item to their character dying. If a player’s character dies, they will lose all their stuff. They are allowed to keep their Role, any Proficiencies and level. They must then place their hand beside the cards that they had in play, then starting with the player with the highest level, every other player will choose one of that player’s cards to loot from the body. The looted card is placed in their hand along with their other cards. Once each player gets one card, any remaining cards are discarded. When the next player begins their turn, the dead player is no longer dead and can now help others in combat but may not receive cards for any reason, including Charity. They may also not level up or win the game. At the start of their next turn, the player will draw 4 cards from each deck and play any legal cards just as if they were starting the game anew. They are then able to take their turn normally and may receive cards, level up and win the game just like any other player. It should be noted that sometimes it may be impossible to kill a monster by one’s self. In those instances, the player may ask another player for help. If the player wishes to help, then their combat strength is added to the active players. A player that aids in combat may require a bribe before helping out. This can be whatever the players agree upon, including items that the player currently is carrying or even part of a monster’s treasure. One last thing of note, only 1 player may aid the active player during combat.

The game continues with players taking turns, fighting monsters and gaining treasure. The game ends once a player reaches level 10 by defeating a monster. The first person to do that is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game has some really great looking pieces to it. First off this is a deluxe edition game, so it comes with the board and some cardboard standees that are not a part of the regular non-deluxe Munchkin games. The cardboard standees in this edition represent the 4 House at Hogwarts. There are 3 types of each House and some of the standees look better than others. Honestly I was rather impressed with the ones for Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff; mine and my daughter’s favorite Houses. As you can tell from the picture above, they’re all pretty impressive. Unfortunately there are only 6 plastic bases included for these, thus why mine don’t have the bases attached at the moment. I think if they were going to include 12 standees, then there should have been 12 bases too. I found the same issue when it comes to the large House cards. These cards are double sided and represent the 12 House standees. The problem is that if players want a specific House standee, then they have to make sure that the other side of the House card isn’t one that another player wants. It can be rather frustrating. Personally, I think there should have been cards for each standee, not double sided ones. Another gripe that I have is in regards to the cards. While the cards are really great quality and the artwork on them is top notch, there’s just not enough art. I feel that the designs for the cards leave very little room for the artwork. The art should have been bigger and more over the top, like the world of Harry Potter is. The smaller pictures make things feel a bit cramped and less magical. The last couple of pieces are the board and the die. The board is really great looking and feels like something off the Marauder’s Map. The only complaint I have about the board is that my copy might have had a printing issue or something cause it looks like the image of Harry on the board has lots of moles or freckles, possibly due to some black ink drips or something. You can’t really see it in the picture above but it’s quite visible in person. The die is really great looking although a bit small. I wouldn’t have minded a little bit bigger die. Alright, I know with all the issues I mentioned above you’d think that I just hated everything about this game and that I think it looks bad…I don’t in either case. I really like the look and feel of the game. It’s really just a bunch of minor issues to me. As I said earlier, these are some really great looking pieces. Overall I feel that the game looks great and fans of the theme will love it. I just would have liked a few things to have been done a little bit better, that’s all.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is quite similar to the ones found in other Munchkin games. Instead of an actual book, this is a multi-folded paper that unfolds into a long sheet. Like the rulebooks for the other games, this one has plenty of pictures throughout, mostly of examples of cards. The one thing about these Munchkin rulebooks is that they seem to be a lot longer than they might need to be. I honestly feel that the rules could be cut down just a bit without losing anything important. That said, it may be easier to have everything wrote down here than an issue coming up during play and players having to search online for clarification. With a game like this, that uses this IP, it may be better to do just that. I’m sure a lot of players that have never even heard of Munchkin have probably picked this one up and were thankful for the rules being so detailed. However for veteran players, there’s only a few odds and ends that need to be pointed out for them to be able to jump right into the game. The rules do include a few optional variants that players can check out, most of which require going online to download further rules. Overall I think every available rule is covered in great detail and in a fairly easy to understand way. I think the rules booklet looks pretty good.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Munchkin, you either love it or hate it. I personally love it. Like Fluxx, Munchkin was one of the first actual non-mainstream games that I played. Of course now both of those are available pretty much anywhere games are sold, at least in some form or version. Needless to say, most people know of the game and are at least familiar with how it plays. So how is this version different and what makes it better? Well for me, it’s the theme. Harry Potter is a very popular theme, which my wife and kids love. That made this version a no brainer for me. We’ve played many different forms of Munchkin over the years including Adventure Time, Marvel and Zombies, as well as the original version. Of all them, I think this one is the best. My family love the theme, so that’s a plus in the right column. The Roles and Proficiencies feel a bit more tied to theme, as do the Curses, Allies and Monsters. Instead of just being a big ball of chaos like most Munchkin games, this one feels like you’re competing for the House cup at Hogwarts, earning points by defeating challenges along the way. I think one missed opportunity would have been for the inclusion of Team games in the rule book. I think players could have split into House teams of 2 to 3 players each. When a player needed help defeating a monster, they could only rely on their fellow House member to aid them. Also only rival teams could play cards against them or to aid the monster. Then the first player to reach level 10 would win the game for their House. You could have even made it where both House members had to reach level 10 to win. I think this would have added an even deeper thematic feel to the game. Oh and Hey, just so you know…don’t go stealing my ideas. As it is, the game is not bad. As I said, it’s probably the best version that I’ve played. I really like the special House powers that each of the House cards provides. It helps each one feel different without being overpowered or making one House more powerful than another. The powers feel quite balanced. Overall I think this is one that Harry Potter fans are going to love. It’s definitely going to see a lot of play time at my house. I highly recommend this one.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Munchkin Harry Potter Deluxe is a light weight card game that brings the Wizarding World of Harry Potter into the chaos of Munchkin. The game is rather easy to play and doesn’t take too long either. Most games sessions last around an hour. The components look great, even though I had a few minor issues like not enough standee bases and the double sided House cards. It’s one that fans of Harry Potter will love, especially since it does look rather cool. The rulebook covers everything in detail, which should be a big help for new players to the game. The game itself fits the theme quite well and feels like it could have been even more thematic with the introduction of a team game included in the rules, all rights reserved. This is one that my family and I enjoy a lot. We already liked Munchkin, but this one has to be our favorite version. This is one that I would highly recommend, especially if you like Harry Potter. It’s magical!
8 out of 10

 

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

 

https://theop.games/

 

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Go7Gaming TRAIN-001 Insert for Trains Review

Recently I was given the opportunity to check out a product from Go7Gaming. That product was the TRAIN-001 Insert for Trains. The insert came in a flat rate box. Inside there were a couple of laser cut wooden sheets inside a large ziplock bag. This also came with the TRAIN-DIV-002 dividers. After looking for the instructions inside the package, I realized that I needed to go online for these as there were none included. After reading over everything, I was then ready to assemble the product.

First, let me explain what this product is and how it is used. To begin with, it’s an insert for the Trains deck building game. This insert will hold all of the contents of the base game and both expansions. It also has room for future expansions. Once it’s been assembled, the insert makes it possible to keep all of the cards and tokens that come included in the box separate. The insert looks really nice once it’s finished. Now then, let’s go ahead and get into how to assemble this insert. We’ll start off by separating out all the different wooden sheets. Each piece is cut so that you can easily punch it out from the main sheet that it’s attached to.

If you’ve read any of my reviews for Go7Gaming inserts, you already know that glue is pretty much a staple for building these things. It’s not an absolute necessity as you can use other things like tape, but it’s definitely the best option. With this review I won’t be telling you each time when to add glue to your pieces. Just be aware that if there are 2 pieces being put together, you’ll want to apply glue between them both. With that said, let’s begin the assembling process.

As you will notice, there’s not a lot of assembly to be done with this product, so this won’t take a long time to complete. The first thing that you’ll want to do is lay the base out on your work area. You’ll then need to attach the two middle dividers to the base. Once you’ve got these pieces attached, it should look something like this.

The next thing you’ll need to do is to attach the end pieces with the cut outs for the dividers onto the base, attaching them to the middle dividers. Once you’ve got that done, it should look something like this.

Finally, you will need to connect the long side walls on either side of what you’ve already constructed. These will attach to the end pieces and the base. Once that’s done, it should look something like this.

Once you’ve got all this together, you can place the insert into your game box and add the card dividers. With plenty of dividers, you can pretty much set things up the way that you want inside the box. This is how I have mine arranged for the moment.

I have all the tokens, wooden and cardboard pieces in the baggies at the front of my box. Currently I only have the core game separated out, so the Rising Sun expansion hasn’t been completely arranged the way that it will end up being. Once everything is together you can place the game board on the top, like so.

Unfortunately there’s not enough room to add both boards from the core game and the expansion. When I did, this is what happens…the lid doesn’t close all the way. This concludes the assembly process.

MATERIALS
In this section I would normally cover the different components of the game and how they look. However since this is an insert and not a game, I’ll describe the packing and insert instead. Everything came prepackaged in a flat rate shipping box. Inside the box, everything for this insert was placed inside a large zip lock style bag. Everything looked very nice and there were no problems with anything. The wooden sheets are nice and thick and are very easy to punch out for each of the different pieces. If you decided to use glue or tape, you’ll need to supply your own as the organizer does not come with any included. Assembling the product wasn’t all that hard and I’m pretty sure I could have figured it out, even without instructions. The simplicity of the insert made it possible to finish the assembly fairly quickly. Overall the materials look great and everything is strong and durable. I’m very pleased with the overall look and feel of this product.
9 out of 10

INSTRUCTION
In this section I would normally explain the rulebook of the game, going into detail about the different sections. Since this is an insert I will cover the instructions that came with the insert instead. This part is actually quite simple. There weren’t any. Basically I had to go online to the website, find the insert there and use the instructions found on the site to be able to assemble the insert. As I mentioned earlier, I think I could have probably figured it out without the instructions. After all, it is pretty much only 2 sheets of wood. The parts are pretty much self explanatory. That said, I’m still thankful that there was a detailed process on the website that walked me through each step of assembling the insert. There were even pictures to help me out. Everything on the site was explained very well and I didn’t find it difficult to figure out what went where. Overall, I’m quite pleased with the instructions online, but I really wish I’d had a physical copy to use instead. For this case, I will give a double review. The first for the lack of instructions and the second for the actual instructions online.
0/7 out of 10

CONSTRUCTION
In this section, I would normally be explaining the game and how it’s played, along with my thoughts on the whole thing. Instead, I’ll give my thoughts on the assembly process and anything else that I feel is important to note. As I already mentioned, this didn’t take very long time to put together. That was due in part to the small amount of pieces that came with the product. Most everything was easy to figure out where it goes, even without instructions. One thing to mention is that just like with all Go7Gaming inserts, this one is a bit loose around the joints and connections so be you’ll need to be aware of this and make sure that you have some glue or something to hold it all together. As you can tell from the pictures, there’s still a lot of extra room inside the insert, even with both expansions and all the pieces inside. That makes this perfect for adding any future expansions that might come out. As it is now, I have a ton of dividers and a lot of empty space. I went ahead and added a bunch of dividers just to fill space and strengthen things inside, just in case. Overall, this is one that will hold a lot of cards and tokens quite nicely. I’m happy to have it as it should make future game play quicker to set up and take down. I would recommend this insert for anyone that owns Trains and any of the expansions for it. It’s strong and well designed.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
The Go7Gaming TRAIN-001 Insert for Trains is a great product that helps to organize your expansions and core box for Trains. It also includes lots of extra room for other pieces like the tokens and wooden pieces of the game. The organizer has plenty of room for everything that comes in the core box and will hold both expansions as well. There’s even room for future expansions. The materials are good and sturdy. They hold everything in a compact and organized way. The only problem that I found was that there’s not enough room to hold more than one of the game boards. Guess those will need to be left out or the box will end up being unable to close. The assembly process took a little bit of extra time due to the lack of instructions which was a minor frustration. I did find great instructions online after a bit of searching though, so there’s that. Once assembled, the insert looks pretty good and it gets the job done with plenty of extra space which I like a lot. I would recommend this for owners of Trains, especially if they have any of the expansions. Just be aware that you will need to figure out what to do with those extra game boards. This insert also makes things a little quicker for setting up and taking down the game. Overall I’m quite pleased with the insert.
8 out of 10

 

For more information about this and other great products, please check out Go7Gaming at their site.

http://go7gaming.com/

 

 

 

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Love Formula: Lucky In Love Expansion Review

Love Formula: Lucky in Love is an expansion for Love Formula by Dylan Gwin, published by Japanime Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this expansion, players will have Chance encounters and set Relationship Goals for the couples that they will be trying to set up in order to gain Victory Points. In the end, the match maker that can score the most points will be declared the winner.

For more information about Love Formula and how the game is played, please check out the link below.

https://jlnelson73.wordpress.com/2020/04/09/love-formula-review/

To use this expansion, a few additions to the rules for setup must be made. First players must decide if they would like to use the Chance expansion, the #RelationshipGoals expansion or both. To setup the Chance expansion, the Chance cards are shuffled together and placed face down on the table. One player is chosen to reveal the first Chance card. To setup the #RelationshipGoals expansion, the Goal cards and VP cards are shuffled separately. A number of Goal cards are then placed face up on the table equal to the number of players plus 1. One VP card for each Goal card is drawn and placed face down below the Goal card. The remaining Goal and VP cards are set aside, not to be used. The rest of setup for both expansions are exactly the same as explained in the base game’s rulebook.

As noted above, this expansion consists of actually 2 expansions; the Chance expansion and the #RelationshipGoals expansion. Each one adds new card types to the game which can be used separately or together. At this time, I’d like to take a few moments and explain how each one works. First there’s the Chance cards. These are used during the Play phase and have no effect on the Draw phase. Before the start of each round of the Play phase, one player will reveal the top card of the Chance deck. In the first round, it is the player chosen during setup. After that, it is the next player in turn order going clockwise. Once revealed, players will follow the instructions on the card. The card is then discarded to the Chance card discard pile and the round is continued like normal. One thing should be noted, on some of these cards the text will affect “you”. When this is stated, it affects the player that revealed the card.

In the #RelationshipGoals expansion there are two card types; Goal cards and VP cards. Goal cards have a condition that must be met for the player to score the bonus victory points. There are two types of Goal cards; First Goals and Game End Goals. First Goals are Goal cards that are gained by being the first player to complete it’s requirements. Once the card’s requirements have been met, the player that accomplished it first scores the victory points for the card immediately. Game End Goals are Goal cards that are gained only at the end of the game. Any number of players can gain the victory points for these cards, as long as they have completed the card’s requirements. One thing to note about Goal cards, they are not replaced once they’ve been completed. VP cards show how many extra victory points the player earns for completing the Goal card above it. One VP card is randomly assigned to each Goal card and remains face down until the Goal card is claimed by a player.

As with the base game, winning the game is accomplished by having the most victory points. With this expansion, bonus points are awarded for completing Goal cards and gaining extra points from the VP cards.

COMPONENTS
This expansion actually consists of 2 expansions, both of which include a number of cards. The Chance expansion contains 28 cards, while the #RelationshipGoals contains 44 cards. All total there are 72 cards in the box. Each of the two included expansions have a bit of a different look. They both have different card backs but they are all the same quality and finish as those cards in the base game. The Chance cards are a bit more artistic and have several different anime style pieces of art to them. Everything from the sun setting over the water to a Japanese school girl in her uniform. Each of these cards adds a bit more of that unique charm that I really enjoyed in the base game. The #RelationshipGoals cards are a bit different. These don’t have any of that lovely artwork. Instead these are bright and colorful with large easy to read text boxes. The VP cards have a sparkly background with a large circle in the middle that contains a number of victory points to be earned. While I do wish these had a bit of that same artwork and style as the other cards, I sort of understand the desire to keep them a bit more simplistic. I will say that I like these designs surprisingly well. Needless to say, there’s not a whole lot of material that comes with this expansion, but what’s here does add a bit more style and theme to an already great looking game. Overall, I’m happy with the look and feel of these cards.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this expansion is very small, like the size of a playing card small. It’s also not very long. With only a few pages in it, it’s very easy to read through and understand all the rules to include either or both of the expansions into the game. It only has a couple of small pictures and examples inside but that’s more than enough to get a real feel for the game. Each of the new card types are explained in detail with diagrams explaining what each part of the card does. Like the core game rule book, this only takes a few minutes to read through. The book includes several variants to the rules, mostly dealing with the VP cards. Unfortunately I’m still waiting on a set of solo rules for the game. Maybe that’ll be in the next expansion. As it is, the expansion rulebook is well designed and easy to understand. I’m quite happy with it.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Looking over the list of components, it would appear that there’s not a whole lot that this expansion adds, however that would be incorrect. This little box actually adds quite a bit in terms of gameplay. The Chance cards play a lot like random event cards and can change things up during the game. The Goal cards give players something to aim for besides just using their own cards to create matches. On top of that, the VP cards give players more points to add to their totals. For me, this just adds more flavor and variety into an already beautifully fun game. With the expansion, players are able to add just one expansion or both to their game. Honestly I see no reason why players wouldn’t choose to add both every single time they play. Including both of these doesn’t change the game mechanics that much and doesn’t add that much more to setting things up either. To me it’s simply a no brainer to use both. I will most definitely play with both everytime. For such a cute and fun game, this is a great expansion that I’m glad to have. Fans of the core game will no doubt want to own this one as well. For everything that it adds, this is most definitely a must have expansion. I highly recommend this one.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Love Formula: Lucky in Love is an expansion for Love Formula that adds two separate expansions to an already cute and fun game. The two expansions can be added to the game separately or together, however it doesn’t add any additional play time. In fact, most game sessions are still around 30 minutes. The cards for the expansion look really good and add to the charm of an already charming game. I will say that I like the artwork on the Chance cards a bit more though. The rulebook is fairly small but is simple to read through. It also includes a few variants that can change up the game a little bit. The expansion itself is a lot of fun and is one that I would definitely not play the game without. In fact, I would recommend playing with both the Chance cards, as well as the Goal and VP cards. It adds enough in terms of gameplay to warrant playing with both. I really enjoy this expansion and feel that it is a definite must have for owners of Love Formula. This is one that I would highly recommend. Don’t take a Chance, make owning a copy of this expansion your Goal today.
9 out of 10

 

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

http://www.japanimegames.com/

 

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment