Sushi Go Party! Review

sushi

Sushi Go Party! is a game by Phil Walker-Harding, published by Gamewright. It is for 2-8 players. In this game, players will be creating a menu of delicious sushi style dishes. They will then try to grab the best combination of tasty items to score the most points possible. The player that do this the best will be declared the winner.

To begin, the game board is placed in the center of the play area. Players choose a color and place their chosen color’s pawn on the 0 space of the board. Players can then choose to create their own menu combination or they can use one of the suggested menus based on their chosen play style. The menu tiles that match the chosen cards are then placed in the appropriate slots on the game board. The chosen dessert cards are shuffled and placed in a face down pile beside the board. The other cards that were chosen to make the menu are shuffled together to form a face down deck that is also placed near the board. Play now begins.

The game is played over 3 rounds. At the beginning of each round a certain number of dessert cards are shuffled into the deck based on the number of players. Cards are then dealt to each player. In a 4 player game, 9 cards are dealt out each round. For more players the number is less and for less players the number is more. Once each player has their cards, the deck is returned face down beside the board.

Each round of the game consists of several turns. Turns happen simultaneously. On a turn, players will choose 1 of the cards from their hand to keep. This card is then placed face down in front of them. Once all players have done this, everyone flips their card over. Players then pass the cards remaining in their hand to the player on their left, beginning a new turn. The process is repeated again. Choose a card, place it facedown, flip it over, pass cards to the left. This continues again and again until everyone’s hand of cards is empty. This ends the round.

At the end of the round, scoring takes place. First any dessert cards a player has collected are set off to the side of their area. These cards will remain until the end of the game. Each remaining card in a player’s area is then scored based on the menu tiles on the board. The rules for scoring each particular type of card is also referenced in the card guide of the rulebook. Players will move their colored pawn on the scoring track of the board to represent the points that they have earned each round. Once each player has completed their scoring, all the cards except for the dessert cards are added to the main deck along with the new dessert cards as dictated by the number of players. The cards are then reshuffled. A new round then begins with each player being dealt a hand of cards.

Once 3 rounds have been played completely through including scoring, the game is over. Players then score their dessert cards as indicated in the card guide of the rulebook. Players compare their scores and the player with the most points is the winner.

It should be noted that there are several cards in the game that are special. These cards may allow a player to take extra actions, take a card from another player’s hand or even copy another card that the player played previously in the round. The specific rules for each of these new card types are all included in the card guide of the rulebook.

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COMPONENTS
This game comes with some of the absolute cutest looking cards that I’ve ever seen. They are very good quality and the finish on them is top notch. I absolutely love the artwork and so does my daughter. The cuteness factor is very high. The game comes in an embossed tin with a very nice insert inside, much like the original game of Sushi Go! except that this tin is much bigger. The main reason for this is the board that comes included with the game. In my review of the original game, I stated that there needed to be a better way to keep up with a player’s score than just a pen and paper or scoring cards. Well it looks like my wishes have been granted. I absolutely love the new score board. It’s really super sturdy and has indented areas for each of the different menu tiles to be placed into. The menu tiles are thick like the board and are just the right size for reference. The pawns are very brightly colored and are super sturdy as well. There are so many different new card types that have been added to the game to allow for lots of different combinations. With my problems addressed and lots of new content included, I have nothing to complain about as far as components go.
10 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is very informative and look really nice. There are lots of great pictures and examples throughout the book. There are several different meal combinations for setting up the cards included so that you can create a game that suits your play style. The rules also contain a great card guide section that explains in detail how each of the many cards work and score points. There are rules clarifications scattered throughout the book as well to help clarify anything that might be difficult to understand. There are also some cute little jokes and silliness placed here and there through the book. It reinforces the cuteness of the game in my opinion. Overall, the rulebook is really well put together and covers everything that you need to know to play the game. There’s nothing difficult to understand. I’m really pleased with the look of the rulebook. It definitely improves on the original.
10 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
I really enjoy card drafting games, almost as much as I like deck builders and worker placement. There’s something fun about choosing cards and then passing them around, hoping to get something good to go with what you just chose. I like that a lot. This game doesn’t disappoint. The card drafting mechanic in this one is top notch. It’s the card drafting game that card drafting games should aspire to be. Sushi Go! was already an excellent game with lots of great choices to make and a lot of fun and cute cards. This version of the game adds a ton of new cards and ways to score points. If you can’t find a way to play that you like, then obviously you don’t really like card drafting games. This game plays great with any amount of players. The original only went to 5 but this version goes all the way up to 8 players. I don’t ever see myself playing with that many people all at once, but knowing that I have that option if I ever need it is awesome. The game is really simple and it’s easy enough that even younger players can enjoy it. That said, some of the new cards add a great bit of strategy to the game that even veteran gamers can enjoy. Overall, I’m thrilled that there has been so much more added to a game that I already enjoyed and loved. For me, things just got sweeter.
10 out of 10

OVERALL
Sushi Go Party! is a light weight game of card drafting. The theme and artwork is super cute. I absolutely love the look and design of the cards. I also like that the original game was given an upgrade with a new board and player pawns to replace the score pad with. The game also adds lots of new cards to expand the game even further adding more strategy for more advanced players. The game itself isn’t all that long. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes or so. The card drafting mechanic is extremely well executed in this game. Fans of games like 7 Wonders, Sea of Clouds or Fairy Tale should really enjoy this one. The game is really easy to play even for younger players. My kids really like this one, especially my daughter. She loves the super cute card designs. There’s a lot to like about this one. For me, I already loved the original. This one is like adding whip cream to your favorite dessert, it just makes it better. I highly recommend this game. If you liked the original, then you’ll love this one. It’s definitely tasty.
10 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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Sea of Clouds Review

sea

Sea of Clouds is a game by Théo Rivière, published by IELLO. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of air pirates. They’ll be trying to collect the best treasures, the tastiest rum and the rarest relics. They’ll also be hiring the most cut-throat crew members to be able to board their opponent’s ships to plunder their loot. The player that can amass the most points by the end of their airship’s travels, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the main board is placed in the center of the play area on it’s appropriate side. One side of the board is for 2-3 players while the other is for 4. The ship token is then placed on the starting port space. Player’s choose a character and take the Captain board depicting their character. The loot cards are all shuffled together to form the main deck. In a 2 player game a certain amount of each type of card is removed from the deck before shuffling. The deck is then placed in the center of the play area beside the board. The first 3 cards of the deck are then placed face down below the outlined spaces at the bottom of the board, 1 per space. Each player is then given 3 Doubloons. The remaining coins are placed near the board within reach of all players. The first player is chosen. They are given the Parrot and the Pirate Hat token. Play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. Each round players will take a share of the loot beginning with the first player and continuing in turn order. On a player’s turn they will take the card in the left most space below the 1 loot space. They will then secretly look at the card and perform 1 of 2 options. They may either take the share or leave the share. If they take the share, they will take the card and place it in it’s appropriate space around their Captain board face up. Rum and Secret cards are placed face down. A new card is then drawn from the deck and placed face down in the emptied space. If the player decides to leave the share, they will place the card back face down in it’s original space. A new card is drawn from the deck and placed on top of the card that was left. They will then look at the loot in the number 2 space. They can then choose to take it or leave it behind, drawing a card and placing it on top of the left behind card. They can then look at the loot in the number 3 space. Again they have the option of taking it or leaving it behind. Once more, drawing a card and adding it to the top of the left behind card. If the player chooses not to take the 3rd card, they must take the top card from the draw deck and place it around their Captain board in it’s proper place. As the game progresses, more cards will most likely be left behind. It should be noted that each share of loot may only have a maximum of 3 cards. If a player leaves behind a share with 3 cards, then instead of adding a new card to the stack, a Doubloon from the bank is placed on the stack instead. If the share of loot has multiple cards, the player takes all or nothing. However they are allowed to play the cards in any order that they like. If the card has an immediate effect, it is discarded after resolving it’s effect.

Once each player has taken a turn, as described above, the ship token is then advanced to the next port space on the board. A new round then begins. This continues again and again until the ship token is about to leave an island port with the Boarding symbol on it. In this case, a boarding action takes place. In a boarding action, players engage in combat against each opponent on either side of them. For every victory that they win, the effects on their pirate’s cards are triggered. That is unless the card has a 1x marker on it. In this case, it’s effect only triggers once. The winner is determined by adding up the strength of all the pirates that a player has around their Captain board, plus or minus any bonuses or penalties. As long as the player’s strength is greater than one of their adjacent opponents, they win a battle. Pirate effects are then resolved by the player with the parrot token and continuing in turn order. Each player will then apply their pirate’s effects in the order of their choosing for each victory that the player won. Some effects will allow a player to steal from an opponent. In this case, only the player that was beaten in combat may be stolen from. The same is true for the exchange effect, which allows a player to exchange as long as the player has an object or rum. Another effect is the gain effect. This allows a player to take Doubloons from the bank. Once the boarding action has been completed, all pirates are discarded and a new round begins.

The game continues until the ship token reaches the last island port on the board. Once the final round and boarding action is completed for this port, the game ends. Players add up their victory points from the value of their Doubloons, their rum, their relic collection, their secrets, and their object bonuses. The player with the most victory points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This is a truly beautiful looking game. Every piece is extremely high quality. I’d expect nothing less from Iello. The Captain boards and central board are all thick pieces that are very durable. The artwork on the Captain boards is especially great. I love how the different islands on them fit with the look and feel of the captain. The Doubloons and parrot token are all thick cardboard and are a really good thickness. It’s easy to distinguish between the different denominations of coins. The ship and hat token are wooden pieces painted a bright blue. They look great. Of course the cards are fabulous. The artwork on these is all really amazing looking. Each one has a wonderful looking design and the different types of cards are all very thematic looking. There’s even a great scoring pad for adding up all the victory points. So much was put into the production of this game. Every piece is fully integrated into the theme. Even the parrot token has love for the components as it has a little heart on it. I can’t say enough good things about the look of this game. I absolutely adore the Captain boards. Each one has a feel all it’s own. Overall as far as components go, this game is a complete win.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is quite lovely as well. There are lots of great looking pictures as well as examples throughout the book. Each of the game elements from the different types of cards all the way to the parrot token are explained in great detail. There’s a great looking setup page for getting everything ready to play. The game itself is explained in a simple way that everyone should be able to understand. Even the boarding action is explained through simple instructions and examples. The last page has a few card clarifications as well as a great reference guide for what each symbol stands for on the different components. Everything is laid out in a really informative way which looks really good. There’s nothing difficult to understand. The book isn’t all that big, most of the pages are covered with pictures so the actual text that must be read isn’t all that long. As I’ve already stated, the book looks great just like the components. I really like look of it. It’s really well done.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really great game. At it’s heart, the game is card drafting with a touch of set collection. I really enjoy how this game takes a very simple mechanic like card drafting but then changes up how you acquire cards each round. Normally, you’d just pick a card from your hand and pass the remaining cards around, but with this game, you have choices with a little bit of push your luck as well. So you don’t really like that rum worth 1 point, let’s put that back and check the next stack. Oh this stack has a -1 sword and a pirate with a strength of 3. Hmmm…do I want those cards or should I go for the next stack that I see has a relic. I’ve already got a couple of Behemoth’s teeth so if I get another one, that’ll increase my points. However my opponent already has a strength of 2 with that pirate card. I really need something to go against that card or I’m gonna lose some gold in the next boarding action. It’s these types of thoughts that will quickly filter through your mind as you play the game. I really like how the cards work in a set collection way, much like Sushi Go or other drafting games like that. However in this game, you have cards that give you negative points for having them. It’s not until you start getting a few more that you start getting any actual points. I like that you can look at what your opponents already have so that you can strategically think about what they might want or need on their turn. With there being lots of different cards, the game is highly replayable. You’re most likely not going to see a lot of the same cards each time you play. I will say that each player’s area takes up quite a bit of space when you start adding cards around your captain’s board. The main board area doesn’t take up a lot of space, it’s just the player’s area. Just something to be aware of. Bigger tables are highly recommended. The game is really easy to play, even younger players will understand the idea and mechanics. My daughter really enjoys playing this one. She loves the beautiful cards and especially the parrot token. The game is fun for pretty much any player count, however it’s a bit more fun with more players as you can fully explore the boarding actions better. Overall though, I love the game. It’s one that fans of card drafting games like Sushi Go or Fairy Tale should really enjoy. This is a game that I highly recommend.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Sea of Clouds is a pirate style card drafting game with hints of set collection and push your luck. It’s a fairly quick game that only takes about 30-45 minutes to play, depending on the number of players. The game itself is beautiful. I love the artwork on the various pieces, cards and player boards. The game is very high quality and the pieces are sturdy and gorgeous. The game is highly replayable and full of pirate type goodness. It adds a new twist to the card drafting mechanic giving the player a lot more choices than normal. It plays well with any number of players, however the boarding mechanism is better with at least 3 but best with 4. Fans of games like Sushi Go or Fairy Tale should really enjoy this one. It’s easy to learn and play, even younger players can play it without much difficulty. I really enjoyed this game and look forward to flying the unfriendly skies with my air captain again. I highly recommend this game. No eye patch or peg leg is required to play.
9 out of 10

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

www.iellogames.com

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Women in Science and Women in Space Expansion Pack Review

deck-space

Women in Science is a game by Anouk Charles and Benoit Fries, published by Luana Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be trying to collect scientists in the same field of study to form labs. They will have to watch out for their opponents who will be trying to steal their scientists to form their own labs. The player that can create 3 labs first will be declared the winner. In this review, I’ll also be taking a look at the upcoming expansion, Women in Space, which adds some extra cards to the base game.

To begin, all the cards are shuffled together. If the Women in Space expansion is being used, these cards are added to the main deck and shuffled in with them. Each player is then dealt 6 cards each. The remaining cards are placed in the center of the play area face down. The top card is then flipped over and placed beside the deck to form the discard pile. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they can either chose to take the face up card at the top of the discard pile, if there is any, or they can take the top card from the deck. There are 3 special cards that can be played at this time, if the player happens to have one of them in their hand. Those 3 cards are enrollment, prestige and discovery. Enrollment allows the player to chose a card from the discard pile and add it to their hand. This card can only be played if there is a card in the discard pile. Prestige lets the player take two cards from one of their opponent’s labs and add them to their hand. This destroys the lab and returns the 2 remaining cards from the destroyed lab to the original player’s hand. This card is only able to be played if there is an opponent that has already formed a lab. Discovery is a card from the Women in Space expansion. This card allows the player protect one of their labs by placing it on the lab. When this is done, it allows the player to draw 2 cards from the deck.

Of course the main objective is to create 3 labs. Let me explain how that works. Each character card in the deck has either one or two background colors. A lab is formed by collecting 4 cards of the same color. A card with two colors can be counted as either of it’s background colors. There’s also a special card called the clone card. This card counts as a wild card and can be used as any color to form a lab. Creating labs can be done at any time on a player’s turn after they’ve taken a card and before ending their turn. Once a player has ended their turn, they must discard down to 6 cards in their hand. The first player to form 3 labs is the winner.

It should be noted that if the deck contains no more cards at the start of a player’s turn, that player is eliminated from the game and must add the cards in their hand along with any labs they had created to the discard pile. The cards are then shuffled together to form a new draw deck. The first card is flipped over to become the new discard pile.

cards

Women-in-Space

COMPONENTS
This game and expansion consist of only cards. The artwork on the cards is really quite nice. I really like the many different historical figures that have been characterized on each card. Each of the character cards contains a short history of that person’s contribution to science, or space in case of the expansion. The cards can also be used as a regular deck of cards as there are numbers and suits on each one like in a regular playing card deck. The main deck comes packaged in a small tuck box that will fit perfectly in your pocket for travel. The expansion comes packed with 8 new scientist cards, 4 new discovery cards and 4 extra prestige cards. The expansion adds a new blue background to create labs from. There are also double colored cards that include both blue and an additional color. The cards are really high quality and are brightly colored. I really like the design and caricatures on each one, especially the space one. The only problem that I’ve found is that I don’t have anything to hold both the expansion cards and the deck. The tuck box will only hold the science cards with no room for the space cards. This makes me a little sad, as I’ve been forced to keep everything together in a small baggie. Of course I could use a deck box but those are a bit too big for your pocket. In any event, I like the cards but need a better way to store them all together.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game comes in the form of a single card that is included in the tuck box from the original game. There are no additional rules included with the expansion, as the new cards are pretty much self explanatory. Seeing as this is such a simple game to learn and play, you don’t really need that much of an explanation into how to play. Each of the special cards are easy to understand and have everything you need to know to use them written on the card itself. I have to say, I really like the minimalistic approach that the designers used here. They could have used some big elaborate fold out, but chose instead to use 1 simple card. Pretty nice if you ask me.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really simple and fun card game. When you look at the cards, you’re probably thinking, “Well, this is gonna be quite boring. It looks too simple to be fun.” Of course, you’d be wrong. This game is HIGHLY addictive. After playing my first game, I had to play it again, and again, and again. It’s not overly elaborate or complex, but there’s so much anticipation of what that next card’s gonna bring to your hand and are you gonna be able to get the cards you need to complete your 3 labs before your opponents. I’ll be sitting there with a particular card in my hand of 1 color and there’s another of the same color in the discard pile. I’m thinking, do I go for that one or try try my luck with the deck and hope I get a prestige card so that I can get 2 cards from an opponent’s lab, destroying it in the process. Likewise, I’ve had the same situation with 1 in my hand and 1 in the discard, but I’m really looking for a different color to add to the 2 cards of another color that I’m wanting to form a lab with. It’s the agony of not knowing whether to take that card or try your luck with the deck that makes this game such a joy. My 6 year old daughter even loves the game. After her first game, she asked if she could play it again. After the 4th game, she looked up at me with those sad but hopeful eyes, whereupon I asked her, “One more game?” I love that this game is so much fun, that both of us love it. I also like that I can use the cards in homeschool to teach my kids about the contributions of these amazing women in a fun way. Overall, this game is a definite win for me.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Women in Science is a very light and educational card game that is highly addictive and lots of fun. The expansion, Women in Space adds even more fun and cards to the base game. It’s a really fast playing game. Even with 4 players it doesn’t take more than about 10 minutes to play. I love the look and feel of the game. The artwork is really nice and the contribution of each lady is written on each character’s card. The only problem I had was that there’s not room to add the expansion to the main game’s tuck box. Storage is a small problem for now. Thankfully, it’s not a big problem as the game is simply a small deck of cards. The game is both fun and educational. Homeschoolers will love having this to add to their science class for a fun break. Players of all age groups will enjoy the fast paced fun that this game brings to the table. It’s super simple and one that even my 6 year old daughter loves. I think even as a regular card game, it works great as a filler game. It works fine with 2 players, however I think it’s more fun with 4. I really love the game and that it teaches while you play. I highly recommend it. You can’t go wrong with picking up a copy of this one.
9 out of 10

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

www.luanagames.com

 

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Preview Review of Super Powered Smash Masters

smash1

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

Super Powered Smash Masters is a game by Adam Cogan, published by Dark Unicorn Games. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players will control of a group of Super Heroes as they battle against other heroes in an all out brawl. If they’re able to defeat all the other heroes and keep at least 1 of their heroes standing, they will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player will be required to build a deck of 50 cards and a hero stack with 9 heroes in it. It’s recommended to begin with 25 smash cards and 25 other various cards that compliment the 9 heroes that were chosen. The only rule is that, other than smash cards, the remaining cards must be unique. That is to say, no multiples of the same card. Once this is done, the game can be set up. Each player shuffles their hero stack and deck separately, placing them facedown on either side of their play area. Each player then draws 3 heroes and places them faceup between their 2 facedown decks. Players then draw 5 cards from their deck to form their starting hand. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they are able to perform 1 of 8 different actions; attack with a smash card, use a hero card’s power, play a story card, play a super card, attack with a team up card, play a loot card, discard an unwanted card and draw a new card, and place a stunned hero into the defeated heroes pile and draw a new hero. The first thing a player can do is attack with a smash card. To do this, the player simply plays a smash card from their hand in front of one of their active heroes and then they announce which hero on the opponent’s team that they are attacking. It should be noted that immediately after playing a card, a player draws a new card. Players must maintain 5 cards in their hand at all times. Once the new card is drawn, if the opponent’s hero is unable to counter, then that hero is stunned. To show this, the player rotates their hero card sideways. However the player is allowed to play a smash card to counter the attack. At this point if the original attacker can not play a smash card to counter, then they will be the one to be stunned. Stunned heroes are then unable to defend themselves, play loot or team up cards or even use their special power. If a stunned hero is attacked, then that hero is defeated, placing them in the defeated hero’s pile.

Another action that a player can do is to use a hero card’s power. To do this, the player need only announce which hero’s power is being used and then following the instruction on the card.
The next action available to be used is to play a story card. These cards when played will affect all teams including the player’s team. These are placed in front of the player and then the effects of the card are followed.

Playing a super card is much the same way as playing a story card. The thing with super cards is that each hero has 1 specific super card that is specific to just them. The super card is played on the corresponding hero and if that hero is stunned, it revives them. The effects are then followed on the card.

Attacking with a team up card is much like basic attacking. The thing with these cards is that two active heroes are required and their power types must match the types listed on the team up card. The player chooses one hero to be the lead attacker, placing the team up card in front of this hero. Smash cards are used like normal to counter with. If the attacking team wins the battle however, the opponent’s hero is defeated instead of being just stunned. If the attacker loses the battle, then their lead attacker is stunned.

Loot cards are cards that are equipped to a hero to grant new powers. To equip a loot card, the player places it below the hero. It should be noted that only 1 active hero on a player’s team can be equipped with a loot card at any time. The loot card’s power type must also match the hero that is being equipped’s power type. Some loot cards are discarded after use while others stay until the hero is stunned or defeated. The loot card is discarded at that time.

The final 2 actions are really quite self explanatory. One is to discard an unwanted card from your hand and draw a new card from the deck. Simple. The other is to place a stunned hero into the defeated heroes pile and then replace it by drawing a new hero card and placing it in front of you. That’s it. Just remember, this last action is optional, while a player must maintain at least 3 heroes on the table. That means that when a hero is defeated, the player must draw a new one from the hero stack to replace it with. This last action is only when you want to get rid of a stunned hero and replace it with a new hero. It’s completely optional.

The game continues with player’s taking turns until all other player’s heroes have been defeated and at least one hero is left on a team. The player that defeats all the other players heroes, is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
The game consists of plenty of cards of all different types. As I explained in the rules summary, there are 5 different types of cards that make up a player’s deck, as well as a deck of hero cards. The cards for this game are really great looking. I love the artwork and fun designs of them all. You can see lots of different inspiration from some of the various main stream comic heroes in the hero designs. For instance, Dark Unicorn looks like a hilarious take on Batman. Of course, that’s just my opinion. There’s lots of very fun and humorous looking characters throughout all the cards. The quality of the cards is really great. There much like you’d find in any good collectible card game like Magic or Yugioh. A player mat would be awesome to have with this game, even if it was only a piece of folded paper much like in the structure decks for Yugioh. Unfortunately, this game doesn’t have them. Maybe, the designer will take my suggestion and make this game even cooler. Hint, hint. In any event, I really like the look and feel of the game and think the light comic book feel comes through really well. It should of course be noted that this is just a prototype copy so I fully expect things to get even better.
—-

RULEBOOK
The rulebook, I had to download from a pdf from the game’s website. Even so, the rules looks really good. I will say that from all appearances, the rules will most likely be a folded up piece of paper. Still, there are plenty of pictures on both sides. The different card types are explained in good detail. There’s also a great overview of setting up and playing the game. The one thing that I feel is missing is something that I’ve asked the designers for more clarification on as well. That is deck building. Seeing as this game is designed around this concept, it’d be great if there was a section in the rules on making a starting deck. I realize that a lot of this games fun is in the silliness and absurdity of the characters. However I look to games like Ashes Rise of the Phoenix Born and other card games of that nature and see that they have a section devoted to playing the game with a set group of cards. As I stated earlier in the overview, it’s not hard to make up a deck by just doing as I said. Still, I’d have liked to have seen a recommended set of cards for both players for their very first game. Not having that isn’t a deal breaker, just something I wish I had. In any event, the rules are still in their prototype form so maybe if I wish hard enough, something of that nature might actually appear. For now, I’m content with what’s there.
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GAMEPLAY
Like with any typical combat style card game, the game is pretty straight forward and simple. It’s all about taking out your opponent’s stack of heroes and keeping them from taking out all of yours. You’ve got plenty of different card types that can be used to help your heroes out either through one shot abilities or by attaching them to a hero. I really enjoy this game and find it to be a really quick and simple alternative to some of the more complex dueling games like the VS System, Magic the Gathering or Overpower. In a lot of ways this game gives me that feeling of Overpower. I used to really enjoy playing those dueling style games and this captures that spirit and puts it in a easy to learn and fast paced package. As I’ve mentioned, if you like games like Overpower or VS System, you’ll enjoy this, especially if you’d like to be able to play this with younger players. The ease of play with this game makes it a great introductory game into the world of dueling card games for those younger players that aren’t quite up to the task of performing major multi-card combos. The game is quite light but does have a little bit of strategy to it. It only takes about 30 minutes to play. I enjoy the game and think it works best as a 2 player dueling game. More players tend to muddy up the game for me. As it is, I’m excited to see the completed game.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Super Powered Smash Masters is a light card game of super hero combat. The artwork for the game looks great. It has a very humorous comic book style that spoofs a lot of main stream characters. The game doesn’t take very long to play. Most game sessions last about 30 minutes. For me, the game works best as a 2 player dueling style card game but can be played with more players if you desire. It’s a great introductory game into dueling combat games like VS System, Overpower or even Magic the Gathering. It’s great for younger players. The look and feel of the game are very appealing to fans of comic super heroes. Fans of the previously mentioned games should really enjoy this one, especially if they want something a little simpler to play with their kids. I really enjoy the game and think that many players will agree with me. I would definitely recommend backing it on Kickstarter. It’s a game that heroes and villains alike will enjoy. I look forward to seeing the finished product.
8 out of 10

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

http://www.darkunicorngames.com/

Also, keep an eye out for their upcoming Kickstarter campaign coming soon.

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Preview Review of Zipang Portable

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Written by Guest Reviewer – Michael Guigliano

I have the honor of previewing Zipang Portable, with game design by Ko Sasahara, coming to Kickstarter soon from Engine ID, LTD.. These are my thoughts and opinions. Enjoy!

Zipang Portable, is a “pick one, play one” card game for 2-6 players, that plays in 10-20 minutes. Players are vying for power, diving into “the greatest battle of the 17th Century”, becoming Sengoku heroes seeking the Shogun’s power. Each player has a starting hand of 2 cards, and 5 Mangoku Coins (or 4 coins in a 2 player game). Each round, called a Campaign, starts with each player placing a Mangoku Coin in the middle, creating the Pot. The winner of each Campaign will win the coins in the Pot. On a turn, a player will draw from the deck, bringing their hand to 3 cards, and then play a card from their hand. Each card has an effect, as well as an Attack and Honor value. I’ll explain these in more detail later. The card’s effect is resolved, and play passes to the next player, drawing a card from the deck, playing a card from their hand, etc. Each Campaign ends when either one player is left in play after a Battle, or the Emperor card is played. Respectively, the winner of the Campaign is the last player standing, or the player with the most Honor points from cards remaining in their hands. If a player runs out of coins at the end of a Campaign, the Game is over, and the winner is the player with the most Mangoku Coins. In the case of a tie, players will shuffle up the cards and each tied player draws one from the deck. The player with the highest Honor points on their drawn card is the winner.

“I like quick card games. This one sounds interesting. How is the game set up?”

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There are certain cards that are removed depending on player count. The remaining cards are shuffled to create the draw deck. Each player is dealt 2 cards, as well as 4, in a 2 player game, or 5 Mangoko Coins. Any unused coins are removed from the game. The last thing to do for setup is to take the top card of the draw deck and place it FACE DOWN to create a discard pile. This removes one card from the deck without the players knowing which card will not be in the Campaign this round. That’s it! You’re now set up and ready to start your first Campaign.

To begin a Campaign, each player places a Mangoku Coin in the Pot. The first player for the first Campaign is chosen randomly, or the rules state the youngest player. Subsequent Campaigns will begin with the winner of the previous Campaign. Player one draws a card from the deck, then plays a card from their hand of 3 cards. Let’s talk about the cards.

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Card Layout In the upper left, each card has a name, with an associated BTL (Battle) and HNR (Honor) value. The name of the card will dictate what effect the card will have when played. For example, the Bandit will let a player steal a Mangoku Coin from one Opponent. The Princess lets a player steal half of the Pot, rounded down. The Merchant forces other players to add 1 coin to the pot. The game comes with a reference card to help the players figure out each card’s effect. In addition to the effect on each card, the BTL and HNR points are significant. The HNR points help determine the winner of the Campaign. When each Campaign ends, players will add up the HNR points from the remaing cards in their hand. The highest value is declared the winner of the Campaign, and they win the Pot of Mangoku Coins. A tie in points results in a shuffle of all the cards, and a 1 card draw, off the top of the deck, with the highest HNR point listed on those cards declaring the winner of the Campaign. The BTL value on each card are used in two ways. If the card played creates an attack, the player starting the attack is considered to have a BTL score equal to the played card’s BTL value. For instance, if the player plays the Captain, which has a BTL value of 3, their attack value is 3. The player, or players, attacked must now defend the attack. The defending player adds up the BTL value of the cards in their hand. If this value is EQUAL TO or GREATER THAN the attacker’s BTL value, the defending player has successfully defended the attack, MUST show their hand of cards to prove the value is successful, and play continues to the next player. This act of showing the cards creates, what the designer calls, an important “deception element” to the game. Not only does this show the defender has the necessary points, it gives the other player some information on their opponent. Now, if the defending player’s BTL value is LESS THAN the attack value, that defending player is eliminated from the Campaign, then play continues to the next player. If at this point only one player remains, that remaining player is the winner for that Campaign.

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Components
The components are printed from [company=2456][/company], as a pre-Kickstarter prototype. Once up and running, the campaign will have more information on the quality and final components of the game. The colors and images on the cards are fantastic! Each card’s layout works really well. The banner in the upper left is easy to read and understand. The BTL and HNR points are clear. Also, each card has one sentence that summarizes the effect of that card. For instance, the Peasant card reads, “Together we need not fear battle!”, reminding the player that 2 Peasants need to be played, as one Peasant has no effect. These lines are very helpful as a quick reminder after you have played the game a couple of times. It will be wonderful to replace the Mangoku Coins with 17th Century Japanese coins, too. And I have to say, as this copy of the game came from the Game Crafter, that they did a great job, as always!
Rating: Prototype

Rulebook
The rulebook is also a prototype component. Its layout is fine. The rules are clear, with helpful images of setup, turn order, and a description of the card effects. I’m sure the final rulebook will be well organized and easy to follow, as well.
Rating: Prototype

Gameplay
Zipang Portable is an easy to learn and quick “draw one, play one” card game. Players are faced with interesting decisions throughout the game, consisting of keeping certain cards in order to be better defensively, or using cards in a more aggressive manner. The setup for the game is simple, as is the gameplay. However, simple gameplay doesn’t mean easy! There is some luck involved in the shuffling and drawing of the deck, but this doesn’t detract from the decisions a player will have to make during a Campaign. If you like games like Love Letter or Coup, this is absolutely worth your time.
Rating: 8 of 10

Overall
Zipang Portable is a fun, quick, easy to learn card game, with fantastic art and tough decisions for the players. Setup is simple, and players are involved in their first Campaign in no time. Although this is a pre-Kickstarter copy of the game, it still looks great! I’m looking forward to backing the campaign once it goes live!
Rating: 8 of 10 (in anticipation of the campaign)

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To find out more about Zipang Portable, visit: www.sengoku-zipang.com

Copyright 2016 Engine iD. All Rights Reserved.

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The Adventure Case by Dog Might Games Product Review

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Recently I was given the opportunity to check out a product from Dog Might Games. That product was a masterpiece of craftsmanship know as The Adventure Case. Here are my thoughts and opinions on the product. Enjoy!

Now then, let me explain exactly what the product is and give you some more details about it. To begin with, The Adventure Case is designed to organize your gaming supplies for table top role playing gmes like Pathfinder, Dungeons & Dragons and the like. It’s a multi-use case that acts as a dice tray for rolling dice in, a storage box for holding all your supplies like your pencil, dice and cards of various kinds and it’s a player/DM screen. The version that I received was built of White Ash wood. It has felt lining inside to keep everything all nice and protected without scratching up your stuff. Everything is fitted with high quality brass fittings, both inside and out. The case I have also came with a high quality wooden sculpt that can be either standard or screen oriented. My case is the Screen orientation. That way it faces upright when used as a player/DM screen. The case I got also has some interior lights that tuck away when the case is close. These lights are LED and an extra set comes included with the case. I also received a custom dice bag inside the case. Of course there are lots of options that you can outfit your own case with including metal symbols, suede lining, extra lights, custom wood sculpts, etc… There are plenty of different ways to customize the case to your own liking, including different wood finishes, felt options, wood sculpts, lights, etc… You can even choose other types of wood like Black Walnut, Demon’s Blood Hickory or Abyssal Cherry. You might even go so far as to go with a dragonscale finish hide in several differnt colors and looks. There are even rune cases that are completely covered in engraved runes. Needless to say, there are tons of different options that are available to choose from for the completely customizable look that you’re going for.

With that done, I’m now going to show you my customized case and explain to you how the case works. As we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words.

First you can see the case as it would be right before opening it up. Notice the metal on the corners and the heavy duty latch on the front, as well as the awesome wood sculpt on the lid. The next picture is the opposite side where you can see the wood sculpt in better detail.

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These next pictures show the case opened up. Notice the felt inside the bottom of the case where you’ll be rolling dice, as well as the beautiful dice bag that came along with the case. The top portion has another latch for keeping all your different items held securely inside. The second picture shows this latch unlocked and the two panels opened to reveal the colored lights on either side as well as the felt lining inside this half as well. You’ll notice the different sections for various items.

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In this first picture, you’ll see the panels drop down to be used to hold up the lid. This makes it possible to be used as a privacy or DM screen. The lights hang over the bottom tray and light things up rather nicely as you can see. The second picture shows how the case looks set up from the other side. Notice how the image appears facing the other players. Rather intimidating, wouldn’t you say?

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This next series of pictures shows a bit of how things look with a pencil, cards and dice in different places. Of course you can place a miniature or two inside the case as well, if you play with them in your RPG. In the last picture, you’ll see that there’s plenty of room to place dice in the lid with the lights.

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MATERIALS
As you can tell from all the pictures, the case is expertly crafted of some pretty heavy duty lumber. As I mentioned earlier, it’s pretty dang sturdy. The best part is that there’s no assembly involved. Once you open the box that it comes in, you’re ready to go. Every thing from the latches, the corner pieces, even the wood itself is high quality and well made. Just looking at it, you’ll be blown away at the craftsmanship. As far as materials go, it’s a no brainer.
10 out of 10

INSTRUCTION
No instructions needed, as I’ve said. You’re ready to go.
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CONSTRUCTION
I really like how this case is made. I love using the panels to create a privacy screen. This works really well for me as a DM to hide my dice rolls with very little ease. I’ve used cardboard privacy screens that would come with some RPGs but this is a lot better looking and as mentioned earlier, intimidating for those games of Ravenloft or Call of Cthulhu. The eerie green lighting just adds to that mood as well. I love having a place for my dice as well. I don’t have to go looking for dice or wonder what I did with my dice after I’ve rolled them, as they’re right there in the bottom of the case. It’s also great to have all my gaming supplies right there handy inside the case. Don’t have to go looking for a pencil, my favorite miniatures or a deck of Tarroka cards. Everything is right there handy. Also, if I’m not DMing, then I can simply lay the case open and be able to keep everything within reach as needed. Simply put, if you play any type of role playing games, you owe it to yourself to get one of these cases. You will not be disappointed. The quality, craftsmanship and fun can not be compared to any other product on the market. It’s truly unique.
10 out of 10

OVERALL
The Adventure Case is a high quality gaming accessory for RPG players and DMs alike. The case is gorgeous and made of some of the best materials available. I love how great the case looks. Every piece that the case consists of is made of high quality. It holds everything that you need securely and beautifully well. There’s plenty of different ways to customize your own particular case to your liking. This is something that I can highly recommend. It’s definitely worth the money and not something that you will disappointed to own. As an avid gamer and role player, it’s a great addition to my game night accessories. It is very impressive and as I’ve mentioned earlier, a bit intimidating. Don’t be surprised if you get some envious looks in your direction. It’s a sheer delight to look at and will blow you away with the stellar craftsmanship. No need to say anything more than just, Buy It!
10 out of 10

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

http://www.dogmight.com/

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Carrotia Review

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Carrotia is a game by Malte Kühle, published by MAGE Company. It is for 1-6 players. In this game, players take on the role of a band of rabbits that have ventured out of their burrows due to a shortage of food. They will be trying to gather enough carrots to feed the colony with. However, they’ll have to be swift and careful as dangerous birds are looking to make them the main course in their dinners. The players will be racing against the clock to build pathways, collect carrots and escape the dangerous maze. If they’re able to collect enough carrots by the end of the game, they will be declared the winners. If not, then the colony starves.

To begin, the 3 quest decks should be separated by number; 1, 2 and 3. The decks are then shuffled and placed face down on the table. The 3 hourglasses are placed next to the decks with the red placed behind the quest 1 deck, the yellow behind quest 2 and the blue behind quest 3. The labyrinth tiles are all shuffled and placed face down on the table along side the rabbit and arrow tokens. The bird tokens are shuffled and placed face down beside the decks along with the colored dice. The carrot tokens are placed in a supply pool within reach of the players. The first player is chosen. That player then chooses a character and places it’s card in front of themself. The remaining players then choose a character in turn order. Play now begins.

The game is played over 3 rounds. Each round is divided into 2 phases; build the maze and movement. Before each round begins, players are dealt a number of Labyrinth tiles, based on the number of players. The first phase is to build the maze. In this phase, the top card of the corresponding quest deck is flipped over. For the first round, it’s quest deck 1, etc… The timer associated with the quest deck is then flipped over as well. In the 1st round, there is only 30 seconds. For the second, it’s 60 and for the final round, it’s 90 seconds. Players then take turns, beginning with the first player, placing a tile onto the table to form a maze. For the 1st round, it’s a 3 x 3. For the 2nd round, it’s 4 x 4 and for the final round, it’s 5 x 5. The players will be trying to form a maze as shown by the quest card. Tiles should match, with pathways connecting to pathways and grass against grass. Players are also allowed to replace a tile with one of their tiles, returning the previously placed tile to the player’s hand. Once the timer runs out, players must stop placing tiles. At the least, the start and exit tiles should be placed with a path running between the two. The red and green arrow tokens are then placed in their respective places as shown by the quest card. The carrot and bird tokens are also placed on the indicated spaces. If there is no path from the entry point to the exit point, then players must add an extra bird token to the maze. They are then allowed to swap or rearrange up to 4 tiles. The rabbit is then placed on the tile next to the red arrow. Any tiles remaining in a player’s hand are set aside, not to be used for the remainder of the game.

The second phase is the movement phase. In this phase, players take turns moving the rabbit one tile following the pathways. Each round, the direction of play changes from clockwise to counter-clockwise as shown on the quest card. It should also be noted however, that the rabbit can not move backwards. The only exception is the Old Sailor who can move one step backwards as a special ability. Players are allowed to use their character’s special ability once per round. Once it’s used, the player flips the character card over. Every time the rabbit lands on a tile with a carrot token, the player places the token beside the team’s pile. In each round, players have a certain amount of moves that they are able to move the rabbit. In the first round it’s 10 moves. It’s 15 for round 2 and 20 moves for round 3. If the rabbit doesn’t make it to the exit in the allotted amount of moves, then all the carrot tokens collected from that round are lost. Once the rabbit makes it to the exit tile, the round is over.

After each player moves, that player must then roll the corresponding colored die for each bird in the maze. The die shows which direction the bird token moves, either up, down, left or right. There are also 2 other faces to the die, the rabbit and carrot. The carrot side of the die means that the bird flies to a tile of the player’s choice that has a carrot on it. If the rabbit side is rolled, the bird flies to the tile with the rabbit on it. If the bird moves onto the same tile as the rabbit, and it’s carrying any carrot tokens, then the player can take any of those tokens that it’s carrying. It should also be noted that the rabbit is not affected by a bird moving onto it’s tile. Also of note is that each bird has 2 effects. One when it finds a carrot and one for when it finds the rabbit. One final note is that a player is allowed to pass their turn during phase 2 of round 3 to add 2 single carrot tokens anywhere that they would like.

After the 2nd phase of each round, a new round starts with more tile laying and movement. After the 3rd and final round is over, players count up the carrots that they have collected. If they’ve collected 20 or more carrots in a 1-3 player game, they win, 25 carrots for 4-6 players.

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COMPONENTS
This game looks quite nice. There are lots of thick cardboard tiles that make up the labyrinth tiles. They almost look like something out of the Wizard of Oz. There are also lots of cardboard tokens that represent the carrots, arrows and birds. The game also comes with quest cards and character cards. These are a bit thin but it’s not really that big of a deal. The characters won’t be shuffled, only the quest cards. Still, they seem to be sturdy even though they’re thin. There are also 3 different colored hourglasses, 1 for each round. The artwork on everything is really great. I really like the different characters. They feel like something from Cross Hares: Testing Ground. Of course, the best part has to be the wooden rabbit. This thing is really nice. It’s fairly large and painted red. I really like the quality of this piece. The final pieces that I haven’t mentioned yet are the dice. Each one of these matches the color on the bird tokens. They have printed on images but appear to be done with that super resistant heat transfer process or whatever it is. I say that because there’s no stickers or anything like that on the dice and they don’t seem to show any wear from use. That’s pretty cool if you ask me. Overall, the game looks quite nice.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
Before I get into this section of the review, let me explain that I was sent a pdf of the newly revised rules that should be in every new box of the game. Originally, the rules were a mess. However, the company saw that this was the case and have since rectified the situation. Let me tell you, it’s a TON better. Everything makes more sense now and is written in a very understandable and easy to read way. The rules still have lots of really nice pictures and examples and everything is explained quite well. Originally there was quite a bit of repetition on explaining the 3 rounds. However, with the new rules that’s not the case. Only the minimum needed to explain the changes between rounds has been inserted. The birds and their different effects are explained in detail. The only thing missing for me is the explanation of the different character cards that was present in the original rules. While this isn’t a big deal seeing as each character is pretty much self explanatory, I still liked having that section in the rules. Overall, the revision have greatly improved the rules for me. What would have been a rather low rating now receives a much deserved 8 from me.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
It’s pretty well known that I’m not a big fan of tile laying games. I don’t really know why I don’t like them, but I don’t. The thing about this game is that while it does have aspects of tile laying, that’s not all there is to it. Ok, yes the first phase of each round is tile laying but it’s a race to get everything where you need it to go so that you can do what you need to do a lot easier in the 2nd phase of each round. It’s like putting a jigsaw puzzle together but in a really short amount of time. From there the 2nd round is just about moving. I mean sure you’re trying to pick up as many carrot tokens as you can, so there’s this whole puzzle element to the game. You might want to go grab that lone 3 carrot token, but you won’t be able to get all of those single carrot tokens in the process as you didn’t choose the character that could move backwards a space. This isn’t a game that you’re gonna find yourself burning your brain trying to figure out the absolute best combination of moves to get the maximum carrots allowed. However, it does have a little bit of strategy to it. For younger players, like my daughter, it’s absolutely great. She really likes the idea of working to lay out the tiles and then to help make decisions on where to move. As a kid’s game, this game works out beautifully. For the rest of us though, it’s ok. The adults will enjoy it well enough. It’s definitely a lot better than a good portion of those children’s games that are on the market right now at your local big box stores. Just realize that if you’re a big time war gamer or strategy gamer, you’re probably not gonna like this game, unless you have kids. For me, I’m ok with it. It is fun to play with my daughter.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Carrotia is a light weight game of tile laying and carrot collecting. The game doesn’t last that long. Most game sessions last around 20 minutes or so. The game looks quite nice. I especially like the wooden rabbit and the artwork on all the pieces. The character and quest cards are a bit thin but not really a big problem. This is a game that younger players will really enjoy. It works well for them. My daughter loved the tile laying aspect and really liked moving the big red rabbit around the board. There’s not a whole lot of strategy involved in the game so veteran gamers might not be all that interested in this one, unless they have kids. The game is quite simple and brings adults and kids to the game table with a sense of fun. I wasn’t particularly head over heels in love with this game. However, my daughter enjoyed it immensely. I can’t argue with the results. If you have kids, you might want to give this one a try.
8 out of 10

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

http://www.magecompanygames.com

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