Mystery Rummy: Escape From Alcatraz Review

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Mystery Rummy: Escape From Alcatraz is a game by Mike Fitzgerald and Andrew Korson, published by Eagle-Gryphon Games and U.S. Games System. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of guards at the most infamous federal prison, Alcatraz. They will be trying to foil escape attempts by gathering information on plans and capturing mastermind and co-conspirators. This will be done by playing cards to score points. The player that can reach the point goal first will be declared the winner.

To begin, the cards should be separated by backs. Each player is given a “Foiled!” card which they will place in front of them. The Action cards are shuffled and placed face down on the table. The Plans cards are shuffled as well before being placed facedown on the table. This deck is now known as the Cell Block. Any discarded cards are spread out in a row so that the edge of each card is visible. This row is now known as Solitary. One player is chosen as the dealer. They then reveal cards until an escapee card is found. That card is placed face up beside the Solitary row. This area is now known as the Yard. The revealed cards go in the Solitary row. The dealer then deals out 10 cards to each player. Play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they must follow a series of steps. The first thing they must do is either draw 2 cards from the Cell Block or take the top card from Solitary. They may then gather information on an escape attempt through playing plan and/or escapee cards. The player is able to start a new plan if there are no cards for that particular escape plan present. The player places 3 or more matching plan cards face up in their play area. If a plan has already been started either by themself or another player, the player may play matching plan cards in their play area. I should mention a few things. There must be an equal or greater number of escapees in the yard as compared to the plans in play before a player may play a new plan. One other thing is that the player must have at least one card left in their hand for discarding. If playing a plan would deplete their hand, they can’t play it. Multiple plans may be played as lone as the aforementioned requirements are met. Once the player finishes, they must then draw a card from the top of the Action deck and follow the instructions. It is then placed face up in the discard pile. The player may also add an escapee from their hand to the yard if so desired.

Another thing that the player may do is to foil an escape plan. This will be how a player gains points at the end of the round. To do this, the player must make sure that the plan they wish to foil has 8 or more plan cards on the table and at least one of those plan cards must be in front of them. The player must then identify the mastermind. This is done by playing an infamous escapee whose color matches the plan or one of the generic gray edged escapees. All of the plan cards and the escapee card that was used are placed under the player’s Foiled! card. If another player has cards that match the plan already in front of them, they are then able to place these under their Foiled! cards as well. Players can also play an escapee card that matches the plan card from their hand and place it under their Foiled! card as well. A player is only allowed to foil an escape once per turn. Once the player has finished their turn, they must discard a card from their hand to Solitary. Play then passes to the next player.

The round continues until either a player discards their last card or there are no more cards in the Cell Block. Scoring then takes place. Players add up the points on all the cards under their Foiled! cards. If a player goes out, they gain 3 bonus points per escapee left in the yard. If a player goes out before any escape attempts have been foiled, they will receive the full point value for each escapee in the yard. Once a player has 100 or more points, the game is over and that player is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game includes two decks of cards and 4 Foiled! cards. Each one has a very thematic look to them. They look really nice. The artwork is black and white drawings and each one in the Plans deck has the history of either a plan or escapee. The action cards have the same stylized art but have the description of how to use each one. The Foiled! cards look like something from an old case file. The cards come packaged neatly inside a really cool looking box. The box has a tray with 2 places for the cards and ribbons inserted to help pull them out of the insert. The box opens up like a book and has some more really neat looking artwork inside the lid of some of the escapees. I really like the artwork and like the attention to detail for this simple card game.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is very nice and folds up neatly to fit inside the box. It has lots of pictures of how to set up the game along with a few examples as well. Each of the different action cards is explained in thorough detail. Everything is really simple to read and understand. There’s nothing difficult here and it won’t take long to read at all. The design is nice and compliments the game really well. There’s nothing else more that needs to be said.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This game, as you may have realized already, reimplements the game Rummy in a very thematic and fun way. It is actually the fifth in the Mystery Rummy series. I’ve always been intrigued by Alcatraz so this game already had sparked my interest. I also enjoyed Rummy, having played it many times with grandmother over the years. The main idea of the game is pretty much the same as any game of Rummy, to get rid of all of your cards and to go out. Of course reaching a score of 100 points is the only way to win. Depending on the hand that you receive will determine a lot of what you’ll be able to do and whether you can quickly burn through your hand before another player is able to score any points or if you’ll actually have to work at every move that you make. There is a bit of skill involved but much like Rummy, luck can play an important factor as well. The game is really simple and this is one that most anyone can play. Each round plays really quickly, so a game doesn’t take more than about 30 minutes to play. I like the theme and the few subtle changes in design to make the game more in line with the Alcatraz feel. I rather enjoy the game.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Mystery Rummy: Escape From Alcatraz is a light card game based on the classic game of Rummy. It’s a very simple game and quick game. Most games sessions last about 30 minutes. Anyone with experience playing Rummy can easily play this game with very little instruction. It’s pretty family friendly and is one that can be played with almost anyone. The theme of Alcatraz is nicely woven into the actual game itself. Fans of Rummy or historical games should enjoy this one. I really enjoyed the way the game plays and love the theme. It’s a great little card game with a very good production value. I would recommend giving it a try. This is one that you shouldn’t let escape.
8 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out both Eagle-Gryphon Games and U.S. Games System at their respective sites.

http://www.eaglegames.net/

http://usgamesinc.com

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Kingsport Festival Review

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Kingsport Festival is a game by Andrea Chiarvesio and Gianluca Santopietro, published by Passport Game Studios. It is for 3-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of high priest of a Lovecraftian cult dedicated to dominating the city of Kingsport. They will be invoking cosmic creatures from beyond time and space to receive gifts. They will have to be very cunning as there are investigators who will be seeking to thwart them at every turn. The player that can gain the most points by the end of the Festival will be declared the winner. The rest will simply be consumed.

To begin, the board is placed on the table. The building tiles are placed on the board in their matching boxes. The Elder god sheets are placed around the board like a picture frame. The domain cubes are separated by color and placed next to the board. Each player chooses a color and takes the 3 dice, 15 disks, cylinder, summary card and token of their chosen color. Each player then places 1 of their disks on the “10” space of the Sanity track and 1 on the “0” space of the Magic track. They will also place their cylinder on the “0” space of the Cult track. The Scenario cards are shuffled and one card is chosen at random and then placed on the board face up in the Scenario space. Raid markers are placed on the Calendar as indicated on the Scenario card. If the Scenario card calls for a Festival card, it is randomly selected and placed under the Scenario card. The Investigator cards are separated into 4 stacks by the card backs. Each stack is shuffled and 1 card is randomly chosen from each. These cards are placed next to the board face down. The Event cards are shuffled and one card is randomly placed on each Investigator card. The white Time cylinder is placed on the “1” space on the Calendar. The Spell cards are separated by the symbol on the back of the cards. Each stack is then shuffled and placed face down beside the board. Play now begins.

Before the game actually begins, players must read the Scenario card to understand the effects that will be presiding over the course of the game. The game itself is played over 12 rounds with each round representing 1 month. Each round is divided into 6 phases that are played in order. Those phases are turn order, invocation, concession, expansion, raid and time. The first phase is the Turn Order phase. In this phase, all players will roll their 3 dice simultaneously and add up the total. This number determines the order of play for the round beginning with the lowest total. To represent this, players will place their colored marker on the Turn Order track in the correct order. The player in the first position gains 2 Sanity points. The second position player gains 1, while the remaining players gain none. This is indicated by the player moving their marker on the Sanity track. However, a player can never gain more than 12 points.

The next phase is the Invocation phase. In this phase, each player in turn order is able to invoke one of the Elder gods by placing one or more of their dice on it’s sheet. The values must add up to the exact number on the gods sheet. Players may not invoke a god that has already been invoked except for Nephren-Ka.

The third phase is the Concession phase. Beginning with the smallest number god and continuing in ascending order, players are given gifts for invoking a god. This is usually in the form of domain cubes of one of the many types. Players may also have to give up some sanity points to invoke a certain god. These points are deducted from their current sanity on the Sanity track. Some players may also gain the Forsee ability. This ability allows the player to either secretly look at the Event card or the Investigator card for the next raid.

The next phase is the Expansion phase. In this phase, players are able to expand their powers into the different buildings on the board. This is done by paying the resources shown on the chosen building and then placing their disk on it. They will then receive the reward that the building bestows. Players also gain the granted effect of the building tile that is on the building space during the appropriate phase as indicated on the tile. Players are only allowed to expand into buildings that are connected to one that they have already marked with one of their markers.

The next phase is the Raid phase. This phase only occurs when the time counter is on a calendar space that is marked with a blue raid marker. The event card is revealed followed by the investigator card. Players then resolve the raid in turn order. The event cards effects are applied. Players then determine the raid level and the investigator’s strength. Players then calculate their own strength by adding up any modifiers that they have earned based on spells, buildings or some other effect. They then compare their strength to the investigators strength. If the player’s strength is greater, they defeat the investigator and earn the listed reward on the card. If both are equal in strength, no reward is received. If the player’s strength is less than the investigator, they will suffer the penalty listed on the card.

The last phase is the Time phase. In this phase, the time counter is advanced one space on the calendar. If the time counter is already on the last space, the game ends. Once this happens, the Festival card is revealed and it’s effects are resolved, if there was one present. Players then compare their points on the cult track. The player with the most points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
The game comes with a whole lot of stuff inside the box. The game board is really well designed and the artwork is great. It has a lot of the look and feel of Arkham Horror to it. The Elder god sheets are thin cardboard but have some really nice looking portraits of each god on it. The back of the sheets have the effects and other information on them. The building tiles, cult tokens and raid markers are all thick cardboard. The building tiles match up the design of the building spaces on the board and they look just as nice. There are cylinders, disks and domain cubes that are all brightly colored and made of sturdy wood. The dice are equally nice and are brightly colored as well. The cards are really well done and the artwork is great. I love the backs of the cards especially. Each type of card has a really unique looking back. I thoroughly enjoy the design, the look and the feel of each and every part. It all helps to draw you into the realm of H.P. Lovecraft. I really love how cool everything looks. It’s done extremely well.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is very thematic and is really well designed as well. The cover looks like some creepy looking version of the Necronomicon. All throughout the book are the history of the different investigators with pictures of each. There are lots of great pictures and examples of play scattered through the pages as well. There is even an excerpt of Lovecraft’s works inserted in the beginning page. All of the different iconography is explained really well. Everything is well written and flows from concept to concept quite well. There’s nothing difficult to understand at all. There’s a very nice game summary on the back cover of the book to help keep you on track while playing the game. All in all, I really feel that there was a lot of attention put on making sure that the rulebook looked as good as the game. A job well done.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
The game is really enjoyable. It has a great worker placement feel to it. I love the theme. It’s nice to be able to play the evil side unlike in games like Arkham Horror or Eldritch Horror where you’re stuck being the investigators. To me the game feels a bit like a cross between Arkham Horror and Lords of Waterdeep. Much of the game consists of getting these little resource cubes so that you can basically purchase buildings to gain cult points. I know that sounds kinda boring but the theme is what really breaks up what might be boring to some. Like most worker placement games, you really have to think about what you need to get but not letting your opponents get what they need. The raids and investigators really make things interesting as you never know who’ll be coming after your group. It’s a great concept. I especially like how each scenario changes up the timing of these raids. There is a bit of a city building feel through the purchasing of buildings but I try to remember that this is more of exerting your influence on a particular area instead of buying a building. As long as you can keep your mindset involved in the theme, the game is really great. I didn’t find it that difficult as I am a sucker for anything Lovecraftian. For me, this game really works and scratches an itch that I didn’t realize that I had, Cthulhu worker placement.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Kingsport Festival is a medium weight game of worker placement set in the Lovecraftian world. It’s not a super long game. Most sessions last around an hour and a half or so. The artwork and theme are dripping with Lovecraftian goodness. Much of the game has a very distinct Arkham Horror feel that I really enjoy. I love the look and feel of the game. I especially like being on the other side of the spectrum and playing the bad guys for once. The theme is deeply integrated into every piece including the rulebook. The game isn’t very difficult. It’s alot easier than Arkham Horror but still scratches that itch for me quite nicely. The game as a worker placement game displays a lot of the feel of Lords of Waterdeep for me as you try to get the resources you need and keep others from getting what they need. Fans of both Arkham Horror and Lords of Waterdeep should enjoy this game a lot as it effectively smashes the two worlds together in my opinion. I really enjoy playing this game and I highly recommend it. It’s one that I can see myself playing for a long time as the multiple scenario cards really change things up quite a bit, adding to the replayability factor. This is a great game that think everyone should try.
9 out of 10

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

http://passportgamestudios.com/

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Preview Review of Swamped

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Recently I was given the opportunity to play test a upcoming new game. I received a prototype of the game with everything needed to play. This is my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!

Swamped is a game by Ben Gerber, published by Bellwether Games. It is for 2-4 players. It will be coming to Kickstarter later this year. In this game, players are hired adventurers that are trying to find natural treasures that are lost deep inside a perilous swamp. They will share a common goal but may have hidden motives that may cause players to turn on each other and disagree on the direction that the boat should take. The player that can make sure that the team collects at least 3 treasures and can also fulfill their own mission in the process will be declared the winner.

To begin, the starting map card is placed in the middle of the play area. All of the coordinate cards and “Let’s Move” cards are turned so that their map side is showing. The cards are then shuffled. The top card is placed next to the starting map card, connecting the two together. The boat and crocodile tokens are placed on their appropriate spots on the map. The 4 treasure cards are placed on the table with the “0” side up and pointing towards the swamp. The croc card is placed with the “1” side face up. It is placed so that the symbol indicating the number of players in the game is pointed towards the swamp. The adventurer cards are shuffled and each player is dealt 1 card face down. The remaining card are set aside, not to be used during the game. Players are dealt 3 cards from the deck of map cards that was previously placed on the table. The remaining cards are placed face down. Play now begins.

The game is played over a series of rounds. Each round is played out in a series of steps. The first step is to play or discard a card. As mentioned earlier, there are 2 types of cards, coordinate cards and “Let’s Move” cards. Coordinate cards are played so that each corner of the card points to a different player. These can be played to start a new set of coordinates or played on an existing set of coordinates. When starting a new set, the card is placed on the table with one of the corners pointing towards the player that played it. A new coordinate set of the same color as the top coordinate card of another set can not be placed. When played on an existing set, the card increases the number in the player’s corner and may be placed on any set that doesn’t already have a “Let’s Move” card on it.

The “Let’s Move” cards can be played on any set of coordinates that don’t already have one of these cards on it. The card is placed on top of the coordinate cards so that all 4 corners of the cards beneath it can be seen. Once this card is played, the players are able to move the boat. Starting with the player that the white corner is facing, players move the boat token the number of spaces that is pointing towards them. The boat can not be moved diagonally and must be moved as many spaces as the numbers on the cards. It can’t move through trees and it may not move back to an older map card once it moves to a new one. If the boat moves over or lands on a letter, the team collects that particular treasure. This is shown by rotating the treasure card of the type that was collected. Once all players have had moved the boat, the player that played the “Let’s Move” card mus move the crocodile token towards the boat based on the number shown on the croc card. If the croc token passes over or lands on a “K” space, it’s movement is increased by one. This is shown by rotating the croc card.

A player can also discard a card instead of playing a card by placing the card face up next to the deck in the discard pile. Once a card is discarded, the player may rotate any set of coordinates that do not have a “Let’s Move” card on them by 90 degrees clockwise. After discarding, the crocodile token is moved just like was stated above.

The next step is to draw a card from the deck. Once the player either plays or discards a card, they must then draw a card to bring their hand back up to 3 cards. Once this is done, play passes to the next player in turn order who must then either play or discard a card.

This all continues until either a third “Let’s Move” card is played, followed by moving the boat and croc tokens or no players have any cards left in their hand. In either case, the round ends. Players then count up the numbers in the corner of each of the top cards in each coordinate set. The player with the highest sum, wins the round and can move the boat 3 additional spaces. A new round is then started. The coordinate cards and “Let’s Move” cards are shuffled again to form a new deck. The top 2 cards are drawn from the deck and lined up at the end of the swamp to make it larger. Players are then dealt 3 new cards. Play switches to the next player in turn order and is played just like before.

The game continues until one of the following conditions is met. If the boat moves off the card by moving onto the space with the arrow, it’s said to have entered the main channel and is no longer in the swamp. If the players collected at least 3 “K” treasures the mission was a success. Players then reveal their adventurer card and add up their points. The highest point total wins. If the players didn’t collect enough “K” treasures, the mission was a failure and everyone loses. Another way to end the game is if the croc lands on or moves through the space that the boat is on or vice versa. In either case, the boat is swamped and again the mission is a failure with all players losing. The final way to end the game is if there aren’t enough cards to deal 3 to each player at the start of a round. In this case, the players have run out of time and once more the mission is a failure concluding another player loss.

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COMPONENTS
With this being a prototype copy, I won’t get deep into details about the quality of the components. Basically what you get is 16 coordinate cards, 6 “Let’s Move” cards, 1 starting swamp card, 5 adventurer cards, 4 swamp treasure cards and 1 croc card. There is also a boat token and a crocodile token. At this point, the artwork is very basic but it conveys that sense of being in a swamp. The coordinate cards all look like a compass so they give a great directional sense to them. The remaining cards don’t have much art and are mostly text based but again, this is a prototype. In any event, you get the sense of what the designer is trying to evoke with the different pieces. I will hold off on any kind of judgment on the components at this time and simply state that it appears that things are headed in the right direction.
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RULEBOOK
The rules, like the components are also a prototype. They can be downloaded from the BGG game entry page. I read through it and found it very simple to understand. Everything you need to know is there and there are pictures and examples of how the game works. It does seem to jump around a bit as certain topics seemed to be disconnected. This will cause you to flip a page to find everything that you need. Hopefully this will be addressed and ironed out before the final print is produced. Honestly though, it’s not a big deal as there’s not a lot that you need to understand. It’s just mainly basics that are easy to remember. In any event, I will once more hold off on my judgment. What’s here isn’t bad but does need a little work.
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GAMEPLAY
The game is quite entertaining and simple. It gives a sense of adventure and exploration. I like the movement mechanic. You will work to fulfill your secret goals which may go completely against the other players goals. The boat will go this way and that in a sort of semi co-op way. You will either work together to a certain degree or you fail together as a group. It’s a very interesting concept. It’s not hard and is a game that can be played quite easily be pretty much anyone. I like the way that the cards interact with each other. The design is really quite unique and unlike anything I’ve seen before. It definitely beats a simple roll and move mechanic that could have been used here instead. The game plays fairly quickly with most sessions lasting from 20-30 minutes. It’s a nice little filler game that will do it’s best to entertain you.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Swamped is a light card game of treasure hunting deep in the swamp. The movement mechanic is quite interesting and simple. The artwork is fairly basic at this point but is headed in the right direction. It’s fairly simple to play and makes a really good filler game. Most games sessions last no more than 30 minutes. It is definitely a game that fans of the action/movement programming mechanic will want to keep an eye on. It even embraces a bit of the hidden role/agenda as well as touching on the semi co-op style. Fans of games like the Star Trek and Star Wars Attack Wing, as well as Relic Expedition might enjoy the simplistic design of this game. I look forward to seeing the finished product for this one. I enjoyed the game and think it is worth giving a try. The cool part is that the print and play version of the game is available in the game files section of the BGG game entry, so you can actually try it out. I’m confident that it will be as enjoyable for you as it was for me.
8 out of 10

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

http://bellwethergames.com/

Also keep an eye out for the Kickstarter page coming soon.

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Harbour Review

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Harbour is a game by Scott Almes, published by Tasty Minstrel Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be trying to collect and exchange goods to make shipments so that they can purchase as many buildings as possible. The player that is best able to manipulate things so that they have the most valuable buildings at the end of the game, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the market board is placed in the center of the play area. Each player will receive 2 player boards and pawn in their chosen color. They will choose one of the characters to keep and discard the other. The player board is placed in front of the player with the character side up. Players will also receive a set of goods markers which are placed on their player board on the 1 crate square to indicate that they have 1 of each good. The goods markers are also randomly placed on the market card. The building cards are all shuffled together. You will then draw a number of cards equal to the number of players and place them face up on the table along with the Lighthouse, Canal Lock and Shipbuilder’s Guild cards. These will be the first building available to purchase. The remaining cards are placed face down on the table. Play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they will move their pawn to a vacant building that isn’t occupied by another pawn. They may place it on one of the buildings in the center of the play area, on a player’s own building, or on their player board which also has a starting building on it. They can also place them on a building that is owned by another player by paying them one good of their choice for the privilege. The player will then perform that building’s action. These actions normally allow them to gain goods, convert goods, buy buildings or some other special action. If at any time the player gains or loses goods, they will adjust their respective goods marker on their player board either up or down depending on whether they gained or lost goods. A player can never exceed 6 goods of a certain type or go below 0. As a matter of fact, a player can not take an action that would cause them to go below 0 in any particular good.

Now let me explain how to purchase a building. Shipping goods is the only way that a player is able to do this. The player will begin by taking a “buy a building” action but they must first meet the minimum requirements of the goods they wish to ship by checking it against the market board. When the goods are shipped, money is gained equal to the number shown on the market board. The goods markers are then shifted down to the ship space on the market board to indicate that it has been shipped. Once shipping is completed, the goods markers that weren’t used shift to the right and the ones used are placed from the farthest ship on the right and enter the market in the farthest spot to the left. A new card is drawn to replace the purchased building. These buildings have different symbols that will benefit the owner of the building.

The game continues back and forth until one player finishes building their 4th building. The other players get one last turn before the end of the game. Scoring then takes place by totaling up the victory points of each player’s buildings adding any bonuses from special abilities. The player with the most points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game has some really great looking pieces. The brightly colored player pawns are wooden and look like little pirates or captains of some sort. The goods markers are also wooden and brightly colored as well. They have stickers that must be applied to them to indicate which good they represent. The market board as well as the player boards are cardboard and have some really nice artwork on them. I especially like the character portraits on the different player boards. The cards are absolutely great and have lots of really silly and fun artwork on them. These have to be my most favorite part of the game. If that wasn’t enough, the game also has the Inland Traders expansion and 4 bonus point cards included with it. These can be used once players have gotten the basics of gameplay down. The box is a little small as it just barely fits all the pieces inside it, but it’s better than having a massively huge box and only a few pieces inside. I think we’ve all had games like that. In any case, I’m really amazed at the quality of the game. It’s simply great.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a small multi-folded glossy sheet of paper. It fits nice and neatly inside the smaller box. There are lots of great pictures as well as examples throughout. Everything is explained really well including a breakdown of the different aspects of the cards and game boards. There are also rules included for adding either the bonus point cards or the Inland Traders expansion as well. It’s fairly short and to the point. There’s nothing difficult to understand at all. It looks really good and is well written. What more can you ask for?
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really great game that is fairly light. It’s really simple to learn and play. The theme, design and components work really well together in a way that some larger games don’t. It has a great worker placement style feel to it that will entertain even the most hardcore gamer. The game is really light hearted as well by poking fun at the fantasy genre and pop culture through the images on the cards. It’s not a game that requires a lot of strategy, yet it has a surprising amount of depth to it. I like that there are lots of choices to make. I even like the added bonus cards and expansion that add an even more refined game style. Even with all the added material and choices, the game is fairly short. Most game sessions last no more than 30 minutes. That makes this a great filler game. With the amount of cards included with the game, you can bet that no two games will play the same. Which means that there’s sure to be lots of replayabililty with this one. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoy this game.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Harbour is a light game of dock working in a fantasy realm. It’s not a long game and can be played in about 30 minutes. It’s a great filler game but the depth of gameplay makes it so much more than just that. The artwork is great and pretty humorous. I love the look and feel of every aspect of the game from the theme to the design. The box is a bit small and barely fits all the pieces but who cares really. At least you’re not paying for tons of air space and very little game. The game isn’t difficult and can easily be taught to pretty much anyone. The extra bonus cards and expansion add quite a bit of strategy to the game that even the most hardcore gamers will enjoy. Fans of games like Smash Up, Village and Epic Resort will most likely enjoy this one as well. It’s a great game that I highly recommend. Don’t miss the boat on this one.
9 out of 10

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

 http://playtmg.com

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The Red Dragon Inn: Gambling, I’m In! Review

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The Red Dragon Inn: Gambling, I’m In! is a game by Cliff Bohm and Jeff Morrow, published by Slugfest Games. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players of any of the Red Dragon Inn games can play an actual round of gambling when a “Gambling, I’m In!” card is played. It can even be played as a stand alone game. There are 9 different games that are provided along with variants. Each game begins with players anteing up before playing. I will briefly discuss the different games included in the rules.

Rogues and Warriors * – One of the easier games, this game consists of each player being dealt 2 cards from the Rogues and Warriors deck and then placing bets. Players reveal a card and then after some more betting, reveal their last one. The highest ranked pair wins.

Threes * – This game is another easy one that requires the use of dice. In this game, players roll some dice. They choose one of their dice and set aside any dice with that number on it into their Keep. Players then place their bets. Players roll the remaining dice and do the same thing again. This process is repeated until each player has all their dice set aside in their Keep. The player with the lowest total wins. Oh and 3’s score 0 points.

King’s Council * – Another easy game, this one uses the Rogues and Warriors deck. Players are dealt 5 cards. The top card of the deck is revealed as the King. Players place their bets. They are then able to discard up to 2 cards from their hand and redraw the same amount that was discarded. More betting is done as well as more discarding and drawing followed by placing final bets. Scoring is then done based on matching the King’s rank, card color, and animal type. Highest total wins.

Jack of All Trades * – This is the last of the easy game. It’s a dice game like Threes but include the use of the Rogues and Warriors deck as well. Players roll dice, bet and then reveal a card from the deck. Players can place a die that matches the die value on the card. If they have no matching die, they may place a 6 instead. Betting then takes place, followed by another card revealed and more matching. This is done a third time with betting, card revealing and matching. Finally, a 4th card is revealed and matching is done one last time. Players compare their unmatched dice and the player with the lowest total wins.

Three Kingdoms ** – This is the first of the medium level games. Players are dealt cards from the Rogues and Warriors deck. War cards are revealed from the same deck and placed face up in the middle of the table. These cards will determine the score at the end of the game. Bets are placed. Players can then discard up to 2 cards and draw for replacements. 2 more War cards are revealed, bets are placed and cards discarded and redrawn. 1 last War card is revealed and in case of a color tie, one more War card is revealed. Players bet one last time before revealing their cards. Scoring is based on relation to the War cards. Each War value is determined by die value on the rarest card in each color subtracting 1 for each additional card in the same color. Players add up their points and the highest total wins.

Den of Thieves ** – Another medium level game, this one deals with the portraits on each card. Players are each dealt cards and betting occurs. They can discard up to 2 cards and then redraw. Betting happens again as well as more dicarding and drawing. Final bets are placed and then hands are revealed. Scoring is based on the portraits. Bards are 1 point. Ladies are 1 point plus 1 for each bard. Merchants score 1 point for the first merchant, 2 points for the 2nd and 3rd ones, 3 points for the 4th and 5th ones and 4 points for the 6th and 7th. Warriors can kill up to 2 rogues and are worth 3 points plus 1 point for each rogue killed. Any rogues left over after warrior kills will kill another card beginning with merchants, ladies and then bards. Players can also declare their hand as a den of thieves, turning warriors into rogues. Any warriors or rogues that don’t kill another card score 2 points each. Once scoring is complete, the highest point total wins.

Dragon Hordes ** – This is the last of the medium level games. In this game the grey cards are used along with the 3 dragon cards. Players will roll 2 dice taking any money placed on the 3 dragon cards when doubles are rolled. If no doubles are rolled, they then place 1 money on each card that corresponds to the rolled number. A roll of 6 refers to the dragons and the player chooses one of the 3 to place money on. The player then makes a prediction or passes. If the player passes, their turn is over. Making a prediction consists of choosing either a color, rank or color and rank then revealing the top card of the deck. The player receives money from the cards that they correctly predict but must place 1 money on the card if they guessed wrong. Once the cards have no money on them all, the game ends. The winner is the player that collected the most money.

City Square *** – This is the first of the two complex games. In this game, players are building a 3×3 city grid. The game is played over 4 years (rounds). Players are dealt 3 cards each year (round) which they must place in their city. They are allowed to extend the grid in any direction as long as it’s not already a 3×3 grid. Players are allowed to place a second card on top of one already placed. The first card will no longer count for scoring, only the top one will. Once a card is placed it can not be moved and 2 cards can not be played in the same place in the same year (round). Once cards are placed betting occurs. Afterwards, it’s all done 3 more times with 3 cards dealt, city placement and betting. Scoring is done after the 4th year (round). Players gain points on how the cards are connected to the others. Empty spaces are allowed in a player’s city grid. Once scoring is completed, the player with the highest scoring city wins.

The Wheel *** – This is the other of the two complex games. In this game, players will be influencing the spokes of the wheel by playing cards from their hand until the clock runs out. The grey cards are placed in order in a circle. Players are dealt a hand of cards and 3 cards are taken from the deck and placed face down. These cards are the clock. Players in turn order will each draw a card from the deck and then play a card to the wheel. The card is placed either on the spoke of the same rank or one of it’s neighboring cards. Same ranked cards are called companions and neighboring cards are allies. Each card played adds strength to the spoke. Once each player has taken their turn, a clock card is revealed and placed one spoke clockwise from it’s rank. Betting then occurs. The whole process continues again and again until there are no more clock cards. At this time, players reveal their hand and scoring occurs. The strongest spoke is determined. Players are then awarded points for matching the rank and for matching it’s neighbors. The player with the most points is the winner.

As you can see, there are a lot of games here to be played. What I’ve outlined is the basics of each game. Each one has several different variants that mix up the gameplay as well.

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COMPONENTS
The game comes with a 90 card Rogues and Warriors deck, 3 Dragon cards and 5 Grey cards. The artwork is rather nice and I like it quite a bit. The design is really unique and allows for so many different games. The only problem is that it doesn’t really match up with the artwork on the “Gambling, I’m In” cards used in the Red Dragon Inn games. The cards are the same style of thickness and quality as those in the Red Dragon Inn games. The box is quite large compared to what you get inside the box. I’m guessing it’s to make room for the very thick rulebook that’s included. If you are not pairing this up with one of the Red Dragon Inn games, you’ll have to provide your own money or chips to play. Some games will also require that you add dice as well. Seems like there was more left out of the box than was actually put inside it. For what’s here, it’s good. I just wish that this had been complete with everything you needed to play but it’s not. Just be aware.
7 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook, as mentioned above, is quite thick. There are detailed rules for each of the games mentioned above, as well as several variants for each one. There are pictures throughout the book as well as examples of scoring and the various setups. There are explanations of the different cards as well as different terms and rules. The book is fairly thematic along with the cards. Everything is explained really well and very detailed. It has a lot of information inside. As noted above, there are games for all different difficulties from easy to complex. All in all, it’s well designed and quite nice.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
With so many different games that can be played, there’s sure to be at least one that tickles your fancy. I’m not really all that crazy about the dice games as there are no dice included with the game. Kinda takes away the fun if I have to go looking for dice just to play the game. I have to say that Rogues and Warriors and Den of Thieves are probably my favorite ones. They seem to really fit well into the Red Dragon Inn universe and are quite fun. The cool thing is that the it can be played by itself as well. I can definitely see this being played at a Renaissance Faire or something of that nature. The games would fit in well in that type of setting. Each game is unique in it’s own way and can be played with any number of players. Some of them can be very strategic like a good game of Poker or Rummy. I will say that I like what you get out of the box, gamewise. It’s quite fun and provides for lots of different gameplay styles.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
The Red Dragon Inn: Gambling, I’m In! is a bunch of gambling games that can be integrated into any of the Red Dragon Inn games or can be used as a stand alone game. There are 9 different games as well as variations for each. Players are sure to find one that they enjoy. The artwork and card style is quite unique and interesting. The cards are very thematic even though they don’t match up with the card image in the Red Dragon Inn games. There are several games that require dice to be able to play. These are not provided, neither are the coins or money to wager with. If using one of the Red Dragon Inn games, it’s not a problem for money. However the lack of dice in a game that requires dice is a bit of a bummer. It’s like allowing people to go swimming in a pool with no water. I’m a bit disappointed but it’s not like I don’t have a stack of dice just lying around in a box somewhere. Fans of the Red Dragon Inn series will probably still enjoy the game as will RPG fans that are looking for something to deepen their role playing sessions with. I do like the games that are provided, including the dice games. I just wish that it was all inclusive. There is a lot of fun to be had inside the box, even though the box is way bigger than the contents. It’s one that I would say to check out first and make sure that it’s right for you and your group. As long as you know that you aren’t getting everything you need inside the box, you’ll be ok. It’s still fun to play.
8 out of 10

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

http://slugfestgames.com/

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Are You A Werewolf Review

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Are You A Werewolf is a game by Andrew Plotkin, published by Looney Labs. It is for 7-16 players. In this game, players take on the role of villagers in a small town that is being terrorized by werewolves. However, their sleepy little town has already been infiltrated by these monsters and will be trying their best to kill off the other characters. The players that can figure out who’s who the best will be declared the winners.

To begin, two werewolf cards and the seer card are shuffled together with enough villager cards so that each player has a card. If no one voluntarily takes the moderator card, it is shuffled in as well. Each player is then dealt a card which they must keep secret. Players then secretly look at their card and may not reveal it until they are killed. Once everyone is ready, play now begins.

The game is played over a series of rounds, which are separated into alternating night and day phases. In the night phase, the werewolf players will select someone to kill and the seer player will find out the truth about one of the other players. The Moderator reads a script that will lead the villagers through the events of the night. In the day phase, players will discuss their thoughts on which player is a werewolf. They will then determine who to lynch through voting. Once the player has been chosen and lynched, they reveal their card and can then say nothing else for the rest of the game. This continues over and over again until either all the werewolves are dead or the number of villagers and werewolves is equal. In the last case, the werewolves overrun the village, killing everyone else off openly. The players that are still alive at the end of the game are the winners.

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COMPONENTS
The game comes with a small deck of cards that are black and white. Each one is about the same size and style as a Fluxx card. They shuffle easily and are great quality. The artwork is more of a rough sketch design. It conveys the simple feel and look of the game without bombarding you with lots of text and color. I have to say, I’m not a big fan of the art style. While I like the simplicity of it, especially the old school black and white design, I wish the art had been more on par with the art that is used for the Fluxx cards. I will say, that you will only be looking at the card for a minute anyway so it’s not like it’s that big of a deal. Still for a classic design, I won’t complain too much.
  8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rules for this one come in a small black and white booklet. It’s really simple to read and understand. It’s not long either. It only takes a minute to read through and you’re ready to play. There aren’t really any pictures. It’s just mainly text but that’s really all you need. It has a section for the moderator to read through for each night of the game. Of course, the moderator can put more emphasis and flair into than just what’s here. The rules also have a section for recommendations. These are ways to make the game a bit different. It tells you how to accommodate 3 werewolves and for timing your days. Of course these are just recommendations and nothing that you have to go with unless everyone agrees to them. There’s also a section for different types of hunters. It fits with the black and white style of the cards and the game itself. All in all, it’s well done.
  8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really enjoyable game. The theme is really great and comes through quite well. The main mechanics of the game are deduction, voting and bluffing. The villagers will be trying to determine who the werewolves. The werewolves on the other hand will be trying their best to throw the others off their track and hopefully kill off some innocent villagers in the process. The seer will be given the benefit each night of guessing who is a werewolf and who isn’t but they’ll have to be careful not to make the villagers suspicious of them or they might get lynched in the process. This is a really simple and easy game that is great for parties or large gatherings. It’s one that players get to really act out their characters. Natural born actors will really enjoy being able to throw themselves full force into this one. The younger players may not completely understand what’s going on and so this might be better for teens to adults. In any case, it’s one that I enjoy a good bit.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Are You A Werewolf is a light deduction style card game of who’s who. It’s not a long game to play. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how long the moderator allows the players to debate. It’s a great game for large groups. The artwork has this classic horror style feel to it. It’s really simple to play and is one that most anyone can play. The theme and rules might be difficult for the younger players to understand and so it works best with teens to adults. Fans of deduction games like Coup and Mafia should enjoy this one as well. Players with a flair for acting should really enjoy getting into character with this game. I recommend it as a great party game. Just make sure that you have a few silver bullets with you when you play.
8 out of 10

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

http://looneylabs.com

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The Red Dragon Inn 2 Review

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The Red Dragon Inn 2 is a game by Geoff Bottone, Colleen Skadl and Cliff Bohm, published by Slugfest Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will take on the role of a party of heroic adventurers in a fantasy realm that have just come to town to celebrate a series of hard fought victories inside the deepest and dankest of dungeons. They will spend the night inside the Red Dragon Inn drinking, gambling and roughhousing. They’ll be trying to stay conscious and sober enough to keep the others from taking all their gold. The player that can last the longest will be declared the winner.

To begin, the drink deck is shuffled and then placed face down where everyone can reach it. Each player chooses a character deck and take it along with a player mat, red marker and a clear marker. Each player shuffles their character deck and places it on the corresponding space on their player mat. They then place the red marker on 20 and the clear marker on 0. The red is the player’s fortitude while the clear is their alcohol content. Each player then receives 10 gold from the supply. The remaining gold coins are placed to the side and will represent the Inn. Players then take a card from the drink deck and place it face down on their player mat on the space marked “Drink Me”. Each player draws the top 7 cards from their character deck. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

Each player’s turn consists of 4 phases. Those phases are discard and draw, action, buy drinks and drink. Each phase is played in order. The first phase is discard and draw. In this phase a player is allowed to discard cards from their hand and then draw cards from their deck to replenish their hand limit of 7 cards.

The next phase is the action phase. This phase allows the player to play one action card from their hand by reading the card aloud, allowing other players to respond and then following any instructions on the card before discarding it to the player’s discard pile. Players are also allowed to skip this phase if they choose not to play an action card. If the player plays a “Gambling? I’m in!” card, they begin a round of gambling. This halts all other actions in the game. Players must then each ante up 1 gold by putting a gold coin in the middle of the play area. The player that started the round of gambling will be winning to begin with. Players will then be able to play either gambling or cheating cards in turn order or they may pass. If either of these cards are played, the player gains control of the round of gambling. Once a player passes they are able to still participated in the round as long as it doesn’t end before coming back to them. The round ends once the last player passes. The winning player takes all the anted gold and normal play resumes with the player that started the round moving to the third phase.

The third phase is the buy drinks phase. In this phase, the player takes the top card from the drink deck and places it face down onto the top of another player’s Drink Me! pile. Once the drink deck runs out of cards, each player must pay 1 gold to the Inn. Afterwards, the discarded drink cards are shuffled into a new drink deck.

The final phase is the drink phase. In this phase, the player reveals the top card of their Drink Me! pile. They then must follow the instructions on the card and place it into their drink discard pile. If a player has no cards in their Drink Me! pile, they begin to sober up and their alcohol content is reduced by 1. If a player reveals a card that has “with a chaser” in the title, they must then reveal the next card from their drink deck. If it’s a drink card, they must add it’s effects with the first card’s effects. If it’s another chaser the process is repeated. If a drink event card is revealed, the instructions on the card are followed. Once this phase has been completed, play passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues until either all but one player have either ran out of gold or passed out from consuming too much alcohol. If a player runs out of gold they are kicked out of the Inn and out of the game. If a player’s alcohol content ever becomes equal to or greater than their fortitude, they fall unconscious and are dragged to their room in the Inn. The player’s remaining gold is split between the Inn and any remaining players. The last player standing is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
The game comes with 4 character decks and a drink deck of cards. The character cards are really great and have some really fun and light hearted art on them. Each one is specifically designed for each character so each one is appropriately themed. The drink deck consists of lots of drinks, chasers and event cards. Once again, these too are appropriately themed. The theme for this game really comes through in the cards. These are absolutely the best part of the whole game. The gold coins are thick cardboard that have a medieval fantasy coin style to them. These are nicely done and also add to the theme. The player mats are all thick cardboard as well and have room for all the different cards and markers to be placed. They are a little bland looking but as they are usually covered up with cards, it’s not a real issue. The alcohol and fortitude markers are made of glass and are really quite nice. They kinda look like those little glass beads that you might find in the bottom of a fish bowl or in a hobby store. Everything looks really nice with the game. However, I did find one small problem. It seemed that the insert didn’t really hold the cards all that well. It seemed that either the cards were too big for the holes or the holes were too small for the cards. I’m not sure if this was just an issue for my particular insert or if this was something across the whole production run. In any event, I won’t hold that against an otherwise nice looking product.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is nicely designed and looks quite good. There are lots of pictures and several examples throughout the book. The first 3 pages of the book are for those players, like myself that had never played one of the Red Dragon Inn games. The remaining 3 pages are for those that have. The new rules explain several different new cards and how to use them, such as the new drink Mead as well as the Drinking Contest event. Everything is explained really well for both new and veteran players alike. It’s well written and doesn’t take too long to read. Overall, I’d say that it pretty much covers everything that you need to know to play the game.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really fun game, especially if you have any type of interest in Fantasy RPGs. The game itself is quite simple. It’s mainly draw cards, play a card, put a card out for another character and then reveal a card to see what happens to your character. It really couldn’t be much easier. Each character has their own unique style and cards so what works well for one character won’t be the same for another. I really love the variation in classes, although I’m not really sure why the dwarf and half-ogre are considered classes. In any event, they are lots of fun to play. I especially like Gog the half-ogre who sounds a bit like the Hulk when we play him. The theme is really well integrated and can be the precursor to any good game of DnD. It’s very humorous and we found ourselves laughing quite a bit at the ridiculousness that occurs. The gambling part of the game felt a little disconnected and seemed to take longer than I would have liked. Everything else seemed to mesh really well and it played quite quickly. Most of our games sessions lasted about 40 minutes. The setup for the game takes only a minute which makes things really easy. I really enjoyed it and found lots to love.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
The Red Dragon Inn 2 is a light weight card game of character interaction with a fantasy flair. The game is quite simple and can be played in around 40 minutes or so. Setup is a snap and only takes a minute. The artwork and theme are fully integrated and make for an overall Fantasy RPGer’s delight. I love the different character designs. Fans of DnD and other RPG games should enjoy the inside jokes and fun of this one. It’s very humorous and you’ll laugh a lot. It’s not something that you’d want to play with the kids, seeing as the main themes of the game are gambling and drinking but for older gamers it’s quite enjoyable. I would recommend it. It’s a really great game with great humor. Last Call for fun!
9 out of 10

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

http://slugfestgames.com/

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