Pyramix Review

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Pyramix is a game by Tim Roediger, published by Gamewright. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be trying to acquire the most points by removing cubes from a pyramid stack to acheive the most of each particular color as well as the most points. The player that can best manipulate the cubes and collect the most points will be declared the winner.

To begin, all of the cubes should be randomly placed into the base tray to form a pyramid. For the first game, this is pretty much already done for you. The first player is then chosen and play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they will remove a single cube from the pyramid and add it to a pile in front of them. A cube may only be removed if 2 or 3 faces of the cube are visible. Once removed, it may not be placed back onto the pyramid. When a cube is removed it may cause the cubes either beside it or above it to slide down creating new cubes to become availabe to remove. A cube may not be removed if it permanetly exposes the red plastic base or if it touches a cobra cube that is visible. Cobras count as 0 points but sometimes these cubes are worth taking to be able to expose other cubes for future turns. Once a player has chosen their cube and removed it, play passes to the next player. Players continue taking cubes from the stack until only the base layer of cubes that touch the red plastic tray remain. Scoring then takes place.

Scoring is dealt with in a couple of ways. First off, any cobra cubes that remain in the plastic tray are removed along with any cubes that are adjacent to them. Players then sort their cubes by color, comparing them to the other player’s cubes. The player that has the most ankh cubes of a particular color are then able to collect any cubes of the same color that remain in the base tray. This is done for all 4 colors of ankh cubes. Players then add up the point values for each of their cubes. Ankhs score 1 point, cranes score 3 points and Eyes score 3. Players add up their points and the player with the most points wins.

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COMPONENTS

This game consists of a red plastic tray and a whole bunch of dice sized cubes. The tray is nice and sturdy and holds the cubes very nicely. The cubes all have a sand colored background with 1 of several different icons in 1 of 4 different colors on each side. There are ankhs, cranes, eyes that each come in orange, green, blue and purple. There are also the red cobras as well. The icons have a really nice egyptian hieroglyphic look and feel to them. The cubes are all about the size of a large die. I really like the way the game looks. I’m very intrigued by all things Egyptian so for me the theme of the game is very intriguing and the game bears that theme quite well. Everything is really sturdy and as I’ve stated earlier, is really great looking.

8 out of 10

RULEBOOK

The rulebook for this game consists of a long brightly colored sheet of paper that has been folded into a triangle. It has English on one side and Spanish on the other. There are several pictures and examples on the rules sheet. There is even a very nice example of how scoring works included with pictures. There’s not really very much to it, but it is very easy to read and understand. I’m very pleased with both the look and the feel of the rules.

8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY

The game is quite thought provoking and entertaining. It’s is definitely one that will make you scratch your head as you try to plan out your next move. Many times I found myself trying to think 4, 5 or even 6 steps ahead. This is definitely a very great game for those analytical thinkers like myself. I really enjoyed the game. There’s actually quite a lot of strategy involved in it, however even the best strategies can be destroyed by a random player. It’s fun for all ages. You don’t have to sit and over think every move unless you just really want to. One good option I found is that if players take too long, you might want to give them a time limit. It’s great if you want to really think each move through and it’s great if you want a quick fast paced random game. I really would have liked to see a solo version of the rules included as this just looks like something that could be a great single player game as you try to beat a high score or something. For me, I like the game and found it to be interesting and quite unique both in visual presentation and in game mechanics. Overall, it’s very fun and simple to boot.

8 out of 10

OVERALL

Pyramix is a light weight game of choosing cubes from an always changing stack. It’s really simple to learn and play. It’s one that almost anyone can play fairly easily whether you want a long thought provoking game or a fast paced cube grabbing one. Depending on your players will determine the length of the game. Most sessions last around 15 minutes. The look of the game have a great Egyptian Hieroglyphic style feel that I love. The components are really good quality and are very sturdy. There’s actually quite a bit of strategy so fans of those types of games should really enjoy this one. I’d think that Mah Jongg players might even be interested in it as well. It’s also a great family game that can be played rather quickly. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to other players. It’s quite a unique game that I feel everyone will enjoy.

8 out of 10

 

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

http://www.gamewright.com

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Dragonwood Review

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Dragonwood is a game by Darren Kisgen, published by Gamewright. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of adventurers traveling through the magical forest of Dragonwood. They will be playing cards and rolling dice to defeat creatures and capture magical items. The player that ends with the most victory points will be declared the winner.

To begin, the turn summary cards should be placed with reach of all players. The 2 decks of cards should be separated. The orange and blue dragons should be removed from the Dragonwood deck and the remaining cards should be shuffled. A random amount of cards are removed from the deck based on the number of players. The 2 dragon cards are then shuffled back into the bottom half of the deck. The top 5 cards from the deck are placed face up in the middle of the table in a row. The remaining deck is placed face down beside this row. The adventurer deck is shuffled and each player is dealt 5 cards each. The remaining cards are placed facedown above the row of Dragonwood cards. The dice should be placed where all players can reach them. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

On a player’s turn they may take 1 of 2 different actions. They may either reload or capture. To reload, the player simply draws an adventurer card. They then must say, “reload”. Players must remember that there is a 9 card hand limit, so any cards drawn in excess of 9 cards must be discarded down to the hand size. If a Lucky Ladybug card is drawn, the player discards it and then draws 2 more cards.

Capturing cards is a little more complicated. First off there are 3 ways to capture a card. Both creature and enhancement cards list the values that they can be beaten or acquired for each. The 3 ways are strike, stomp and scream. A strike is done by playing cards that are numerically in order regardless of color. A stomp is done by playing cards that have the same number. A scream is done by playing cards that are all the same color. To capture a card, the player announces which card they are trying to acquire and places the cards that they are using face up in front of them. They then take 1 die for each card that was played. The player then rolls the dice. The number rolled is compared to the value that matches the capture method that was used plus any enchantments that may help out. If the total is greater or equal to the related number, the player captures the card. However, enhancements may not be used to capture other enhancements. They can only be used on creatures. If the player was unable to beat the creature, they will gain a wound. This is indicated by the player discarding one of their adventurer cards. Their used adventurer cards are then returned to their hand. Once a card is captured, the player draws a card from the Dragonwood deck to replace it with. All adventurer cards that were used to capture the creature are then discarded. If while drawing from the Dragonwood deck an event card is drawn, the card is read and the instructions are followed. The card is then discarded and a new card is drawn. Play then passes to the next player.

All of this continues until one of two things happens, either both dragons have been defeated or two adventure decks have been played through. Players will then add up their victory points from their captured creatures. They then compare the amount of creatures that each player captured with the player that has the most cards gaining a 3 point bonus. The player that has the most victory points wins.

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COMPONENTS
This game has some very great pieces to it, mostly consisting of some beautiful cards. Each one has some truly unique and beautiful art on it. The two decks of cards have a really nice finish to them. I love the many different designs on the creature, enhancement, event and adventurer cards. I really like that each color of adventurer card pertains to a certain adventuring class. For instance, the red cards are a very manly looking warrior, much like Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings while the green cards have an elf with a bow much like Legolas. The artwork is both whimsical and enchanting. The game also comes with some turn summary cards that explain both reloading and capturing. The dice that are included are quite nice as well. The red dice have a real marble look to them and the numbering has an old world feel to it. As I’ve said, each piece is really nice. You can tell that each piece is high quality and really well designed. All in all, I’m very pleased with both the look and feel of the components.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game isn’t very large but it still look really nice. Each page has a couple of pictures on it. There are several examples used to explain the game inserted throughout the text. Each of the different Dragonwood card types are thoroughly explained, as is the capture methods of strike, stomp and scream. The rules also include variants for making shorter or longer games as well as a simple setup variant. There’s even a variant that makes it possible to defeat the two dragons in the game with what is called a Dragon Spell instead of using one of the previously mentioned capture techniques. Everything is really simple to read and understand. With there not being a lot of content, there’s not a lot to comment on. With that said, I can’t really add much more to this section. I’ll simply state that the rules look nice and fit the theme and look of the game.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a very fun and easy game to play. It’s very easy to learn and doesn’t take that long to play. Most sessions last almost 30 minutes. In some ways it has a little bit of a deck builder feel to me. It’s not a deck builder but I get that feeling when I play it. Most likely due to the purchasing of cards from a lineup, although it’s through the dice rolls that cards are acquired. The real mechanics are more in line with hand management and dice rolling. All of which are combined in a very fun way. The game is very light which you can tell from the amusing artwork on the cards. I really like the inclusion of the event cards, however it seems like they don’t come up as much as I’d like. I’m a glutton for punishment. There’s not a lot of strategy involved in this game. Mainly it comes down to what cards you have in your hand and what cards are available for capturing. It’s easy enough that most anyone should be able to play. It’s not overly strategic but is still enjoyable. I personally prefer the simple setup method of play as it’s quicker and more fun in my opinion. All in all, it’s a good game that works well for kids and adults alike.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Dragonwood is a light weight game of playing cards and rolling dice to capture monsters and gain enchantments. It’s a fairly simple and easy game to play. It doesn’t take long to play with most sessions lasting no more than 30 minutes. The artwork used in the game is light, humorous and engaging. I really love the look and feel of the game. The game doesn’t involve a lot of strategy but is still fun enough despite the fact. Fans of games like Ascension and The Lord of the Rings might enjoy playing this game with their kids. They might even enjoy playing it with other adults. I tend to find this more geared toward giving kids and adults an entertaining game that they can both enjoy together. I don’t think it’s a really deep gamer type game but should still be something that can be set up and played with almost anyone. As it is, it’s still an enjoyable game that the kids will like. I would recommend giving it a try.
8 out of 10

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

http://www.gamewright.com

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Evolution Review

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Evolution is a game by Dominic Crapuchettes, Dmitry Knorre and Sergey Machin, published by North Star Games. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players will create new species, giving them traits to help them survive in a constantly changing ecosystem. Of course they’ll have to be on the lookout for carnivores that may very well want to eat their new species. The player that can best feed, populate and provide traits to help their species survive will be declared the winner.

To begin, the Watering Hole board should be placed in the center of the table. The food tokens should be placed where they can be easily reached. Each player is given a Food Token Bag. The wooden markers and species boards should be placed where they can be easily reached as well. The Trait Cards are shuffled and placed face down on the table. Each player receives a Species Board and 2 wooden markers that are placed on the “1” spaces for population and body size. The first player is chosen and is given the First Player Marker. Play now begins.

The game is played over a series of rounds. Each round is divided into 4 phases; deal cards, select food, play cards and feeding. The first phase is to deal the cards. Players are given a species board if they don’t have one in front of them. Each player is then dealt 3 cards, plus 1 for each species they have. If the deck has to be reshuffled during this phase, it is the last round of the game.

The second phase is to select food. In this phase, players will secretly select a trait card from their hand and place it facedown on the Watering Hole board. Each card has a number in the bottom right corner that tells how much food it’s worth. Sometimes this is a positive number and sometimes it’s negative.

The next phase is to play cards. In this phase, players are able to play as many trait cards as they’d like beginning with the first player. They are able to do 3 different things with each trait card; play a trait, create a new species and increase body size or population. To play a trait, the player places a trait card facedown above one of their species. There are only 2 exceptions. A species can’t have duplicates of the same trait card and they may not have more than 3 traits per species. Players are also able to discard 1 or more trait cards from any of their species at this time, making room for new traits. To create a new species, the player simply discards a trait card to the discard pile and is then able to take a new species board, placing it either to the left or right of one of their already existing species. Wooden markers are placed in the “1” spots for body size and population. To increase body size or population, the player must discard a trait card to move either their body size or population marker for one of their species up one space, up to a maximum of 6 for either. Once all players have played all the cards they would like to play, face down trait cards are flipped face up and attached to their respective species.

The final phase is the feeding phase. This phase has 3 steps that must be followed; reveal the food cards, feeding species and end of feeding. The first step is to reveal the food cards. This is done by the first player who flips over all the trait cards that have been placed on the Watering Hole board. The numbers on the cards are added up and that many food tokens are added to or taken away from the board. The trait cards are then placed on the discard pile. Any green bordered trait cards on a player’s species activate their effects at this time. The next step is feeding species. This is done by each player taking turns feeding one of their hungry species. To feed a species, the player takes one of the food tokens from the Watering Hole and places it on the space above the population track on the species board, starting from the “1” space. Once the number of food tokens matches the population of a species, no more can be taken from the Watering Hole for that particular species.

Carnivores are a bit different, as they don’t take plant food from the the Watering Hole. They require meat which is taken by attacking other species. A player is able to attack any species including their own, even if there is no food at the Watering Hole. There are only a couple of rules that must be followed. The carnivore’s body size must be larger than the body size of the species it’s attacking and it must have the right traits to overcome any defensive traits that the species it’s attacking has. When a species is successfully attacked, the player reduces the population of the attacked species by 1. If the population is reduced below the amount of food already eaten, the excess food tokens are placed in the attacking player’s food token bag. If a species is ever reduced to 0 population, it goes extinct. This means that the trait cards and species board are discarded. A number of new trait cards are drawn equal to the number of cards discarded. Any gaps between species are closed and any food tokens that were on the species board when it died are placed in the carnivore player’s food token bag. One last thing of note, meat food tokens are taken from the food bank equal to the attacked species’ body size and placed on the attacking carnivore’s species board.

The last step of the feeding phase is the end of feeding. Once all species have food equal to their population or when any hungry species are no longer able to eat, the feeding phase ends. A few things should be noted. If a species didn’t eat enough food equal to it’s population, it’s population is reduced to the amount of food that was eaten. If no food was eaten by a species, it goes extinct. The player then takes all the food tokens that were eaten by their species and places them inside their food token bag. Any remaining food tokens remain on the Watering Hole for the next round and the Start Player Marker is passed to the next player. A new round then begins.

All of this continues until the trait card deck has to be shuffled during the deal cards phase. When that happens the end of game scoring starts at the end of that round. If the deck was shuffled any other time, one more full round is played before the end of game scoring. Points are scored based on food tokens in a player’s bag, population of each species and trait cards on each surviving species. The points are added up and the player with the most points is the winner. In case of a tie, the player with the most trait card points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game has some very beautiful looking pieces. The Watering Hole board is thick cardboard and has a really nice lined finish to it. The food tokens are also thick cardboard with a linen finish. The artwork on these pieces is really nice and gives a real sense of the theme. The food token bags are really nice and silky with some awesome looking artwork on them. The designs are taken from the card art and each one is really beautiful. Speaking of the cards, these are truly works of art. I absolutely love the look and design of each one. The are really amazing looking. I’d have to say that it’s some of the best artwork in a game that I’ve ever seen. There are also some wooden markers that are quite sturdy. These fit nicely inside the species boards. The species boards are thick cardboard and while there isn’t really any artwork to them, they are still quite nice. I like that they are double sided with one sided used horizontally and the other side vertically, to save on table space. There are also several player aids that are really nice and explain each of the different cards and steps of gameplay, but I’ll get into them in the next section. The final piece of this game is the first player marker which is a fairly large green wooden brontosaurus. I love this thing. It just puts the icing on the cake for me. All in all, I’m really amazed at the quality and design of each item. Absolutely gorgeous.
10 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game, much like the components, is also beautiful. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book. On many of the different pages are some lovely pencil drawings of different creatures. Everything is laid out really well and is very easy to read and understand. It is truly a beauty of design and functionality. Also in the rulebook are a few variants including 2 player, 6 player and a quick play variant. There are also several pages reserved for card references. Each card is thoroughly explained and includes a picture for reference. It is a bit big but still fits nicely inside the box. I love the look and design of it and find it to be really helpful. Earlier I also mentioned the player aids. These appear to be laminated paper and are really sturdy. These are very nice and reference each step of the game. On the inside, there are pictures of the different cards along with a quick explanation of what each one does along with a card picture. The back of the player aid has a fun section for giving your different species a scientific name by using the two most important traits. A prefix and suffix for each of the different traits is provided so you can have a bit of fun naming your creatures. I think it was a nice little addition that adds even more fun to the game. Overall, the rulebook and player aids are beautiful and superbly designed.
10 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a very enjoyable game. It’s really quite simple and easy to learn. I love that even if you get cards that you don’t feel will work with what you’re trying to do, you can simply discard them to add either a new species or increase your population or body size for one of your other species. Nothing is wasted. For me that tells me that every aspect of the game was thought out. I always hate discarding cards that I can’t use, but this makes it where even a discard turns out to be helpful. I enjoy creating new species through the many different species traits that can be combined. Even though the game is simple to learn, it’s got a ton of strategy to it. Every decision that you make will influence both you and your opponent’s later decisions. Do you turn a species carnivorous and start decreasing the amount of food at the watering hole or do you go for a trait like long neck to make sure that your species are able to feed before everyone else does. Every action that you influence every action in the game. I love that. The game can become very tense if there’s not enough food or players start going the carnivore route. It’s really enjoyable. For me, it’s a hard game to categorize as there’s just so much going on. I guess you could call it hand management with some special abilities thrown in for flavor. It’s not an overly long game to play. Most sessions last around an hour. For me, the game looks and feels great. The theme is amazing and I have a lot of fun with this one.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Evolution is a light weight game of creating new species and survival. The game has an average play time with most sessions lasting around an hour. The artwork is rich and beautiful with a great theme intertwined into every piece and component of the game. The only thing that could make the game more thematic would have been if the species boards were more like the species you were trying to create, which I understand were a part of the Kickstarter stretch goals. Apart from that, the game is gorgeous in every way. The cards are amazing and every piece of the game is dripping with quality. The gameplay itself is really fun and has lots of player interaction. It’s quite simple to learn and play but still has a lot of strategy involved in it. Every decision made influences everything. Every aspect of the game was thoroughly thought out. Fans of hand management games or even the Jurassic Park movies should enjoy this game. The game is very rich and detailed and is one that I have greatly enjoyed. I highly recommend it. Here’s hoping that this game continues to evolve with lots of new expansions.
9 out of 10

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

http://www.northstargames.com/

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Boss Monster 2: The Next Level Review

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Boss Monster 2: The Next Level is a game by Johnny O’Neal and Chris O’Neal, published by Brotherwise Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be strategically trying to build a dungeon full of rooms as they try to lure in unsuspecting adventurers only to kill them off and collect their souls. They’ll have to be careful though as any heroes that make it through their dungeon alive will cause wounds to their boss. If they collect enough wounds, they will be eliminated. The player that is best able to build and survive will be declared the winner.

To begin, depending on the number of players certain cards will be left out of the decks. For example, in a 3 player game, the cards with the 4 player icons on them will be left out. Each of the decks of cards are shuffled separately. Players are they dealt a Boss card which is placed face up in front of them. The hero deck is built by placing the previously shuffled Epic Heroes face down on the table and then placing the regular Heroes face down beside them. Players are each dealt 5 room cards and 2 spell cards. The room and spell decks are then placed face down on the table. If a player is dealt 4 advanced rooms or 4 of one treasure type, they are allowed to shuffle their hand back into the deck and draw a new hand. Before beginning the game, players will each choose one regular room to build in their dungeon. This card is placed face down to the left of their boss. Rooms will be built to the left each time. Players then reveal their chosen rooms based on XP level starting with the highest XP. Any effects created by the room are resolved. Once the last player has finished with their first room, play now begins.

Each turn in the game consists of 5 phases; beginning of turn, build phase, bait phase, adventure phase and end of turn. Just like earlier when building the first room, play begins with the highest XP value. The first phase is the beginning of turn phase. In this phase, heroes appear in town and each player draws a card. What that means is that one hero is revealed from the ordinary heroes deck for each player in the game. Once the ordinary heroes deck is emptied, the epic hero deck is used. Players will then draw a card from the room deck.

The next phase is the build phase. In this phase, players take turns, in XP order, building rooms in their dungeon by placing them face down where they will be placed. Rooms can be built to the left of the player’s leftmost card up to a maximum of 5 rooms visible. They may choose instead to build on top of an already existing room. This is the only way to build advanced rooms. Ordinary rooms can be built on top of any room. Advanced rooms can only be built on top of a room that has at least one matching treasure icon. A player also has the option of not building, if they so choose. Room abilities and spells that are marked with the build hammer can be used during this time. Players will then simultaneously reveal their room cards, placing them in their dungeon in XP order. Once a player builds their fifth visible room, they are able to use their level up ability printed on their boss card. Level up abilities and “when you build this room” abilities take effect in XP order once all players have placed their rooms.

The third phase is the bait phase. This phase is divided into 3 steps. The first step is to compare treasure values. This is done by counting the treasure icons of each player’s dungeon that corresponds to each hero in town. The next step is to lure. This is done by moving the hero to the dungeon with the most treasure icons that correspond to the hero card. The hero card is placed to the left of the player’s leftmost dungeon room. The last step is tie. If there are no treasure icons that match the hero card or if all players have the same amount of the matching treasure icon, then the hero stays in town until the next turn. Multiple heroes are placed in the order that they were revealed from the hero deck.

The next phase is the adventure phase. In this phase, the heroes are run through the player’s dungeons starting with the highest XP. There are 5 steps to this phase. In the first step, heroes enter a player’s dungeon and move through each room. In the second step, the room’s abilities take effect. The room then deals it’s damage. After damage is dealt, the third step takes effect, spells and abilities. In this step, players are able to play spells or abilities that are marked with the adventure axe icon. These may be played by any player to either aid or hinder the active player. The fourth step is death. Once a hero exits a room with damage equal to or in excess of it’s health, it dies. The hero card is moved to the player’s scorekeeping area and placed face down. The coin on the back indicates how many souls that hero is worth. The last step is survival. If the hero is able to completely make it through the player’s dungeon without dying and reaches their boss, it applies wounds to the player. The hero card is then placed face up in the player’s scorekeeping area. This whole process is repeated by any remaining heroes that have been lured to the player’s dungeon. Once completed, the next player in XP turn order follows the same steps.

The last phase is the end of turn phase. Once all players have completed their adventure phase, the turn ends. Any “until end of turn” effects are then resolved and deactivated rooms are turned upright. Players then check to see if any player has 5 or more wounds. If so, that player is eliminated from the game. Players then check to see if any player has 10 souls. If so, that player is the winner. If two players meet either the victory or loss conditions mentioned above, the players must then subtract their wounds from their souls. The highest result wins.

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COMPONENTS
This game consists of several decks of cards. The artwork on them is really great and reminds me of pixelated video games like Super Mario and Metroid. There’s lots of great pop culture humor on each card. The card quality is really great and has a nice finish on them. What makes this different from the first Boss Monster is that this version has a lot of new cards and a new variety of cards. There are new Dark Heroes and Hybrid Heroes. The dark heroes make it possible for a player to discard a certain type of room card to boost the health of the hero, thus making it harder to kill. The hybrid heroes are lured to the dungeon with the most of two treasure icons combined. For example if a hybrid hero has both a cleric and warrior symbol on it, the player that has the most of those symbols combined will lure it to their dungeon. Other than that, the game has the same stylized look and feel as the previous Boss Monster. Overall, it looks and feels great.
10 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is really well designed and looks great. There are lots of great pictures and examples throughout the book. Everything is explained really well for players both new and old. Each of the different card types are thoroughly explained. There’s even a really nice looking set up example to show you how the game should look on your table. Each of the different game phases are detailed out and include pro tips for making the game run even smoother. Also included are 5 game play variants, including classic mode, hard mode, I choose you (my personal favorite), machinations and unlimited lives. There is also a really nice glossary of game terms that explain things in more detail. If that weren’t enough, the back of the book has a great player aid that points out the sequence of play just as a reference. The game also comes with a quick play reference guide for those players looking to jump right into the game. I’d recommend this be used by players that are already familiar with the game. For us, this was all we needed thanks to the great explanations on each of the cards. For me, everything was simple to understand and looked great.
10 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a truly great game. Being a fan of the original Boss Monster, my son and I really enjoy this one too. We really love the new room cards and are crazy about all the new bosses. For some reason, he’s played as Porkus almost every time that we’ve played. Don’t know how that’s happened. I really like that there are specialty bosses for each of the different icon types. We haven’t really exploited the new dark heroes like we could have, choosing instead to save those rooms for our own dungeon. We like the new hybrid heroes really well. You really have to keep an eye on more than just one treasure type with them. Yes, the game has a small bit of luck thanks to the card draws but the real strategy of the game comes in room placement and when to play spells to maximize their effect. Most of the times our games have went to the player that was able to survive the longest instead of who could collect the 10 souls required to win. There’s lots of fun to be had with this one. The only thing that bothered me was there were no rules or explanations on how to combine this with the original game. I’m sure it’s just a simple matter of swapping out decks or something to that effect. It just would have been nice to have had some instruction to that effect. Still, as a stand alone game, this is great by itself. I’d even say that it’s better than the original. My son was even able to talk his mom into playing, that’s hard to do. Even she enjoyed the game. In any event, this is another win in my book for Brotherwise Games.
10 out of 10

OVERALL
Boss Monster 2: The Next Level is a light weight game of hand management and room building. It’s really fast and easy to learn and play. Most sessions can be played in about 30 minutes. The artwork is really great and has the humor and pixelated look that we’ve come to enjoy. I really like all the new card types especially the new bosses. My only complaint was there were no instructions on how to combine it with the original game. That’s a very minor gripe for an awesome game. There is a very small amount of luck involved in the game as most of the strategy of building rooms and playing spells can balance things out really well. I love all the extra variants that are included in the rulebook. I’m a big fan of the I choose you variant that allows you to be dealt 2 bosses and you choose the one you like best. Gives you a little more choice than just getting stuck with a boss you don’t like. Fans of the original Boss Monster will definitely want to get more of this goodness. Even new players will enjoy this game immensely. If you’ve never played Boss Monster, get out from under that rock you’ve been living beneath and try this one. I guarantee you will love it as much as we do. I highly recommend it. It’s great for everyone.
10 out of 10

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For more information about this game, please check out Brotherwise Games at their site.

http://brotherwisegames.com/

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Bountytown Review

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Bountytown is a game by Kyle Van Winkle and Michael Huven-Moore, published by Victory Point Games. It is for 3-6 players. In this game, players will take on the role of legendary characters from the Old West. They will be trying to get the most renown by moving around town, activating locations and having duels. The player that can come out on top when all’s said and done will be declared the winner.

To begin, the location cards for the Sheriff’s Office, Doc’s and General Store are placed in the middle of the play area in a row from left to right in that order. The remaining location cards are shuffled together. Three cards are then drawn and placed above those locations and three cards are drawn and placed below them to form a 3×3 grid. The item cards are shuffled together. The top five cards are dealt face up next to the General Store in a row. The remaining cards are placed face down next to the row. The Train card is removed from the bounty deck. The remaining bounty cards are shuffled together. A number of cards are drawn face down depending on the number of players. These cards will form the actual bounty deck. The remaining cards are set aside not to be used. The bottom five cards from the bounty deck are shuffled together with the Train card before being placed back on the bottom of the bounty deck. The top three cards are drawn and placed face up next to the Sheriff’s Office. If any of the face up bounty cards have items showing on them, the correct number of item cards are drawn from the item deck and placed next to the corresponding bounty card face down. The remaining bounty cards are placed face down beside the row of face up cards. Character cards are shuffled and players are each dealt two cards. Each player selects one character and receives the corresponding character pawn. This pawn is placed on the Sheriff’s Office card. The unused cards are returned to the box. The duel deck is shuffled and each player is dealt a number of cards up to their hand size, which is normally five cards. Some characters can hold more cards. The remaining duel cards as well as the wound cards are placed face down next to the grid. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they can perform up to three actions. They may even perform the same action multiple times. Those actions are move to any location, use one of the middle location’s abilities, duel a bounty or other player that is at the same location, and reload your hand. The first action that a player can take is to move to any location. This is simply done by taking the character pawn and placing it on a different location card. There are no limits to the amount of characters that can be in a particular location.

The next available action that a player can take is to use one of the middle location’s abilities. To use one of these abilities, the player’s character pawn must be on the corresponding location. The Sheriff’s Office allows a player to turn in a bounty by spending 2 actions. The Doc’s allows the player to heal a wound. The General Store allows a player to buy items using gold cards. The other locations do not cost an action to use their abilities. These actions can be done between actions, once per location.

Another action that a player can take is to duel a bounty or other player. Duels are played out much like in Poker with a few differences, mainly in the number of suits and numbers on the cards. There is a bit of difference in dueling players as opposed to bounties as well. Each duel consists of 4 steps; declaration step, draw step, selection step and showdown step. The first step is the declaration step. When dueling another player, the player declares which player they are dueling and which of that player’s bounties that they are trying to steal. When dueling a bounty, the player declares which bounty they are dueling. The next step is the draw step. When dueling a player, the attacking player discards any duel cards that they choose and then draws the same number of cards from the deck. The defender then is able to do the same thing. When dueling a bounty, they do the same thing just without involving a defender. The third step is the selection step. When dueling a player, both players will secretly select any cards that they wish to play. If a player has no cards or only wounds, they play a card from the top of the draw deck. Afterwards, another player then draws the number of cards that are indicated on the selected bounty’s card for the bounty’s escape attempt. When dueling a bounty, the player selects the cards that they wish to play and then another player draws the number of cards on the bounty’s card. The final step is the showdown step. When dueling a player, both player’s hands as well as the bounty’s hand are revealed. Players make the best hand possible as indicated by the rules. The best hand wins. If the attacker ties, they take the bounty but both players receive a wound card. If the attacker wins, they take the bounty and the defender takes a wound card. If the defender wins, they keep the bounty and the attacker takes a wound card. If the bounty wins, both players take a wound and the bounty card is discarded. Afterwards, the defender draws the same amount of cards that they played during the duel. When dueling a bounty, the player and bounty’s hands are revealed. Players make the best hand possible as indicated by the rules. The best hand wins the duel. If the player ties the bounty, they win but take a wound. If the player wins, they take the bounty and place in next to their character card. If the player loses, they take a wound card and discard the bounty. In both dueling cases, all the cards used are discarded. If a player has more cards then their allowable hand limit, they must discard any extra cards down to their hand limit.

The last action that a player can take is to reload their hand. This is done by drawing cards from the duel deck up to the player’s hand limit. Once the player takes their three actions, their turn is over. New bounties and items are drawn from their respective decks for any empty spaces that were made during the player’s turn. Play then passes to the next player. This all continues from player to player until the Train card is drawn from the bounty deck. When that happens, the game is over. Players compare their renown and the player with the most renown is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game comes with some really great looking pieces. The character pawns are in a thick cardboard laser cut sheet that have to be punched out, like most games from Victory Point. The artwork on these is really nice looking and has that old west feel to them. The rest of the game consists of cards, lots and lots of cards. They all have a really nice finish to them and look really nice. I especially like the duel cards which have large suits on them like the club, spade, heart and diamond as well as the gold. The items and locations have very simplistic look containing a picture of just the corresponding thing that it’s depicting. The character cards have that same stylized art that’s found on the pawns. The Train card is especially nice with the station image along with the crossing sign. The bounty cards are a little more simplistic that I would have liked but they get the job done as they tell you where to find that particular bounty. It makes sense but it would have been nice to have had an image of the bounty or something. The real let down to me was the wound cards. These simply have the word wound written across them. I felt like something could have been done to make these a little better looking, maybe some bullets beside a vest with bullet holes. Anything would have been better than just the word wound. In any case, the backs of the cards are all really nice and have a very intricate design work on them that are easy to differentiate between. All in all, I’m rather pleased with the look and feel of the game.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is really well written and designed really nicely. It’s very simple to read and understand. Like most of the rulebooks from Victory Point Games, this is really well done. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book. Each of the different card types are explained in great detail. There is a really nice walk through example of how to play the game near the back of the book. The best part to me though is the hand ranking cheat sheet on the back of the book for comparing which hand of cards beats which hand. It even includes pictured examples for everything from a straight flush to a high card. There’s even a list of player actions that are available on each player’s turn. Each page has that weathered and old west look to it that look’s really nice and thematic. I really like the look of the rules and found them very well done.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really fun and unique take on poker, yet it’s not poker. It has a bit of a worker placement feel, but it’s not a worker placement game either. It’s a rather unusual game that doesn’t really fit any specific description. It’s really quite fun. Collecting bounties and dueling in a poker style showdown is quite exciting and enjoyable. There’s a nice take that feel when dueling another player. The different items that you can buy can make things easier for you. I especially like the Crucifix that makes it possible to take no wounds during a duel. Luck does play a small part in the game but you can balance that a bit by choosing what cards to play and when to play them in a duel. I like that when you move your character, you don’t just have to move them to an adjacent location like so many other games would have you do but you can move to any location of your choosing. It makes it a bit unpredictable. You never really know where another player might move to. Are they going to go buy items from the General Store or are they going to come after you and your bounties? This is a game that really plays best with more players but can still be played with only 3, possibly even 2 if you don’t like a lot of conflict. I personally like the chaos so the more the merrier. It can be played in about 30 minutes, give or take. It’s simple, fast and fun.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Bountytown is a light weight game of hand management with a poker like mechanic built in. The game isn’t very long and can usually be played in about 30 minutes. The artwork is really nice and has a great old west look and feel to it. I really like the card backs and different designs for the cards. I only wish that there had been more to the wound cards other than just the word wound written on them. The game has a little bit of luck to it but it can be balanced out through items and locations as well as choice of cards to play. I’ve never been a big fan of poker so I was afraid that this might not go over as well as it did, but I have to admit the game was quite fun. It’s not overly strategic but has a nice little take that feel to it through the dueling mechanic. For me, this game takes Poker and makes it enjoyable enough for me to play. Fans of poker or other hand management games should enjoy this one. I also think that players that enjoy the old west theme should find this one equally entertaining. I like it and find it to be a great take on an old classic.
8 out of 10

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

http://www.victorypointgames.com/

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Vacations, Sickness, Death and Work

I have to take this opportunity to apologize to all my readers.  Over the past several weeks, my reviews have been very slow in being posted.  As many of you may have seen, last week I was unable to even get one review posted.  Not to make excuses, but my family has been through sicknesses as well as a close member of my wife’s family passing away.  On top of all that, I’ve been away on vacation.  If that wasn’t enough, my work has installed new web filters that completely block anything that has the word game in the address or that references games in any way.  That means that the BGG as well as every board game company that I’m in contact with has been blocked on my work computer.  I’m currently in the process of getting a home connection that I can access these sites as well as email, which is also blocked by the way.  Thankfully, I’m still able to access this site which I will continue to work at posting my reviews on.  The BGG posts will be posted later.  That means that this will be the main place for my reviews and the first place that they will show up.  I still have lots of things to post and plenty of games left to review.  I hope that you will all continue to support this site and continue to read and comment on the reviews.  Again I apologize for the lack of content and even with all the set backs that I’m facing, I plan to continue to deliver the reviews that you’ve come to know and enjoy.  Reviews will begin being posted again tomorrow.  Thanks again for all your support.

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Domatics Reloaded Review

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Domatics Reloaded is a game published by Parent Choice Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be playing cards in an attempt to hit the target number. The player that is able to do this first will be declared the winner.

To begin, a score keeper is chosen. The deck of cards is shuffled and players take turns drawing a card from the deck. The player with the highest number card is the first player and chooses the mission or target number. When playing without the multiplication and division cards, a number should be chosen between 100 and 275. When all the cards are used, the number should be between 250 and 500. The challenge card is placed in the middle of the play area. An equal number of cards should be dealt to each player from the deck until all cards are gone. Play now begins.

The game begins with the first player. On their turn, they are able to play any card except for an unblock card. Players will then take turns playing cards onto the stack. Every time they play a card, they then must provide the answer to the scorekeeper. A player can not retract their answer once it has been given. The player states what the sum of numbers are. For instance, the first player plays 11 +. The next player plays a 4 ÷. They then will call out the answer 15 because 11+4=15. The next player plays a 2x card and calls out the answer 2, because 4÷2=2. The current score would then be 17 (15+2)which the score keeper would then provide the running total. If the player gets the answer wrong, another player can grab the challenge card and issue a challenge. If they call a challenge without having the challenge card in their possession, they must discard a card into the challenge pile. The player with the challenge card is then able to provide the answer. If they answer correctly they win the challenge, scoring the points. If they answer incorrectly, another player may challenge them as well. That player, if they answer correctly, will take the cards from the challenge pile and 1 card from each player that answered incorrectly. Once a player reaches the target number, they are said to have “Hit the Number”. That player receives 2 points and the game starts all over with a new first player. An alternate method of winning consist of being the last player standing. That player receives 1 point.

That’s not all there is to the game, as there are also several special cards that each give special abilities to the player. The score increaser card allows a player to increase the score by a number of their choosing. This can help a player reach the target number much easier. The block card temporarily blocks the game and increases the current score by a specific number. It also allows the player that played the block card to take a card from each of their opponents unless they are able to counteract the card by playing an unblock card from their hand. These unblock cards reduce the score by a certain amount as well as protecting their cards. Skip cards are used to skip a player’s turn and take one of their cards from them. Score reducers are used much like the score increaser except in reverse as they decrease the score by a number of the player’s choosing. Once any of these cards are played and resolved, the card is discarded into a separate pile used only for special cards.

The game has no specific time length or end of game point limit. It can end after one play through with the winner being the first to “Hit The Number” or it can continue over several rounds of play to either a set time limit or point limit.

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COMPONENTS
This game consists of only a single deck of cards. The cards come inside a regular little tuck box. The cards are quite sturdy and have a rather nice finish to them. The artwork has this great looking ninja theme and feel to them, mostly on just the special cards. The remaining cards have this type of dojo background to them. In any case, the cards look really good and are really well made. I have to say that some of the lines that are word ballooned onto the special cards are a bit cheesy but it reminds me of all the old Kung Fu movies I used to watch as a kid. I really enjoyed watching the movies and I enjoy looking at the cards for this game.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game consists of a couple of cards. One card contains the rules and one card explains the special cards. There are no sheets of paper folded up, just the cards. Unless you’re familiar with the game of Domatics, you might find yourself a bit confused with the rules as a lot of things were very unclear. I really feel like this should have been approached a little bit better in regards to new players. Thankfully I understood everything but it was only because I’ve played the original game. I do like the the great explanations of the special cards. I only wish that level of detail had been carried over into the actual rules. In any case, I’m a bit let down with the actual rules.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Much like it’s predecessor, this too is an educational game. With that said, it’s actually quite enjoyable as well as being educational. It’s a great game for teaching math skills like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. It’s designed for ages 6 and up, however I think that might be a bit young unless the child has a fairly good grasp on basic math skills. In many ways the game feels like Flash cards mixed with Uno or something of that nature. I would normally have said that combination would have been the last thing I’d ever want to play. The good thing is that the game is actually fun. Yes, you will use a great deal of math while playing the game, something that my son absolutely hated. Thankfully, he’s actually started liking the subject which makes a game like this more enjoyable for him. The special cards really add another dimension to the game as well. I really like how they can really turn things upside down and completely change the outcome of the game with a single play of a card. A really cool addition to a really unique and fun card game.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Domatics Reloaded is an educational card game that teaches math in a rather unusual way. The game varies in length as it can be played in one round or several depending on how long players want to play. We usually prefer a point limit. It does require a basic understanding of math which might be difficult for younger players. For an educational game, I was rather impressed with the fun and ease of play. As home schoolers, this is a great addition to our class room. It’s also quite fun and interesting for adults. It helps reinforce math skills in a really fun way. The artwork is really fun and reminds me of old Kung Fu movies. I found the quality of the cards to be really good. The rules are a bit lacking especially if you’ve never played the original Domatics game. I really wish there had been a better approach to the rules. As it is, the game is light and fun. Way better than many educational games.
8 out of 10

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For more information about this game, please check out  Parent Choice Games at their site.

http://parentchoicegames.org/

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