Avarium Academy Review

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Avarium Academy is a game by Jared Cheah, published by Chain Links Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of one of the Idols (most popular students) in a magical Japanese high school. Players will be attempting to become Student Council President through any means necessary. Of course they’ll have to be careful not to get themselves expelled in the process. The player that can recruit the best students to their side to either fulfill their win condition or claim the most merit will be declared the winner.

In this review, I will mainly be discussing the 2 player duel format. To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. Players will each pick one of the Idol cards and place it face up in front of themselves in the area known as their “Class”. New players should start off with one of the Basic Idols for at least a game or two before moving to the Advanced Idols. Players will then take a Merit Dial and set the number on the dial equal to the amount of Merit shown on their Idol card. All the Student cards are shuffled together and placed face down on it’s respective place on the board to form the “School” deck. The discard space beside it is known as the “Expel Pile”. The top six cards from the School deck are flipped face up and placed in two rows of three in the middle of the board known as the “Courtyard”. The Scheme cards are shuffled together and placed face down on their respective place on the board to form the “Library” deck. The discard space beside it is known as the “Trash Pile”. Players then take turns drawing two cards from the top of the Library deck. This is the player’s starting hand. The attack tokens and Reputation tokens are placed on either side of the board within reach of all players. The first player is chosen. The second player receives 2 extra Reputation and play now begins.

A player’s turn is broken down into 3 phases; a start phase, a planning phase and an end phase. The first phase is the start phase. This phase is broken down into 4 steps. First off the player checks their Idol card’s Win-Con or win condition. Next the player readies their Idol and Student cards. These first two steps are not done on any player’s first turn. On later turns, readying a card is done by simply turning it back upright. From there, the player gains reputation from their Idol. The amount is indicated inside the gold star on the Idol card and is gained through Reputation tokens. Finally a player draws the top card from the Library deck. Once this is done, the player moves into the next phase.

The second phase of a player’s turn is the planning phase. In this phase a player is able to perform any of 3 different actions as many times and in any order they would like, until they choose to end their turn. The 3 actions are recruit a student from the courtyard, play a scheme and declare a fight. To recruit a student, the player spends Reputation equal to the Reputation cost of the student card. The student is then placed on top of the player’s Hallway space on the board in front of them. The player then replaces the removed student card by drawing a new card from the School deck. To play a scheme, the player reveals the card from their hand, reads the card’s effect aloud and then pays the cost either by spending Reputation equal to the scheme’s cost or by exhausting a Student in their class whose cost is equal or higher than the cost of the scheme. Once the cost is paid, the scheme’s effect takes place. The card is then placed into the Trash pile. Some schemes called “Surprises” can be played at any time, not just during the planning phase. Fighting is a little bit more detailed.

Fighting is how players can expel another player, their Idol or a student from the school. Each Idol or student is only allowed to attack once per turn and only one at a time. Fighting follows 3 steps. First the player gets set. This is done by choosing a ready student or Idol with no attack tokens on it and declaring it as their attacking leader from their class. Next a target is chosen from one of the other player’s students or Idol. However an Idol is only allowed to become the target of an attack if the opponent player’s class has no more ready students to attack. The enemy becomes the defending leader. Second the player’s party up. To do this the player may assign any students or their Idol that is not already in the fight to help support the attacking leader. This forms the attacking party, that once chosen, can’t be changed. The defending leader’s player is then allowed to assign any of their students or Idol that’s not already in the fight to support the defending leader. This forms their defending party which can also not be changed once it’s chosen. Student abilities and schemes that are allowed, may be played at any time before this in the fight. The last step is to fight. Damage is assigned by calculating the combat power of all the cards in the player’s attacking party and dealing damage to the opponent’s defending party. The opponent then does the same thing with their defending party to the attacker’s attacking party. Damage is dealt first to the leader and then any remaining damage is divided up between the other students or Idol in the party as the player sees fit. If an Idol takes damage, the amount is removed from their Merits. If an Idol loses all their Merits, they are expelled. If a student takes damage equal or higher to it’s defense, it is expelled and placed into the Expel pile. If it’s not expelled, the student card is exhausted. This is shown by turning the card sideways. Once all this is done, clean up is done by removing any damage left on students still in the player’s class and then putting an attack token on each Idol or student that attacked.

The third and final phase is the end phase. Once a player decides to end their turn, they must then say, “I end my turn”. They then finish their turn by doing a number of things. First they place all the student cards in their Hallway into their Class. If a player has more than 5 students in their Class, they must then expel a number of students until they have no more than 5 students in their class. The player then checks their hand. If they have more than 5 cards in their hand, they must trash a number of cards until they have no more than 5 cards in their hand. Finally they player removes all attack tokens from any of their cards that have them placed on top of them. The player finishes their turn by completing any end of turn effects. Play then passes to the next player.

The game continues until one of 3 things happen. If a player achieves their Idol’s Win-Con, they win. If a player is able to expel all the other players by bringing their Merit down to zero they win. Finally if the School runs out of cards, the game ends and the player with the most Merit is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game has a lot of really great looking pieces. There’s a really nice board that folds up nicely to fit inside the box. The artwork isn’t elaborate on it or anything but it’s nice to have a place to set everything instead of just throwing it all down in the middle of the table. There are lots of really great looking cards. The artwork is really amazing and looks like something taken from some quality Manga or Anime. The Idol cards have gold embossing on them which is a really nice added touch. The reputation and attack tokens are a little bit thin but work fine. About the only thing that concerns me is the Merit dial. It’s a bit flimsy and feels like it could fall apart at any minute. I would have liked it better if they had been made of a little thicker materials, like the dials for King of Tokyo or Lord of the Rings the Card Game. For now though, this gets the job done. In any event, I really love the look and feel of the game and it has a great thematic feel to it. Overall I think the game is pretty well put together and gets a passing grade.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is really nice. There are lots of great pictures throughout the book including both examples as well as some great art samples from the cards themselves. Each of the different card types are explained in great detail with pictures included. The book isn’t difficult to read. I will say that it’s a bit of a flip fest when it comes to understanding however. The phases of a player’s turn are all laid out well but you will find yourself flipping ahead and then back to understand each concept and step. It’s a bit tedious but once you understand each step it’s not that big of a deal. I will say though that it works out pretty well as reference material since you can find each concept fairly quickly while playing. The book also has advanced rules for playing a 4 way multiplayer Battle Royale. Also included is a great reference guide that shows the breakdown of a player’s turn as well as a page of frequently asked questions for more clarification. Overall I’d say the book looks really great but suffers just a little bit on explaining the rules in a cohesive sequence of events.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really fun game that plays a lot like a CCG (Collectible Card Game). It has a lot of that same feel as games like Yu-gi-oh! or Force of Will. There’s that real great player interaction and elimination that you get from those CCGs except you don’t have to trace down all the rare and powerful cards. It can get a bit math heavy when multiple students and Idols are fighting, factor in a few schemes intertwined here and there and some exhausting of students for payment…you get the picture. The game works really great as a 2 player game. More players tend to muddy the waters too much and cause more wins through fulfilling an Idol’s Win-Con then through elimination. For me, I prefer a more well rounded game where wins can be accomplished through multiple paths instead of being due to fear of attacking. In any case, I really enjoy playing this one, especially in a 2 player duel capacity. Players of dueling card games like Yu-gi-oh! or Force of Will should really enjoy this one. Fans of manga style art should enjoy the great artwork and designs. Overall, the game has a lot going for it and is a lot of fun.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Avarium Academy is a medium weight card game that plays like a CCG. The game doesn’t take that long with most sessions lasting around 20-30 minutes. The artwork is outstanding and feels like it was ripped from some of the best quality Manga or Anime. I love the design of the cards and love the extra little foil touches on the Idol cards. The tokens are a bit thin and the Merit dial is a bit flimsy but they get the job done. The game can be played with more than 2 players, however the duel format is where the game really shines best. Fans of dueling card games like Yu-gi-oh! and Force of Will should really enjoy the CCG feel of this game. Players that enjoy a lot of player interaction should find this one right up their alley as well. I would highly recommend this as a 2 player game. I really hope to see some expansions for this game in the near future with more Idols, students and schemes. This is a really great game that, like sushi, I can’t get enough of.
9 out of 10

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For more information about this game, please check out Chain Links Games at the Avarium Academy main site.

http://avariumthegame.com/main

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Preview Review of Hoard

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

Hoard is a game by Tim Kings-Lynne, Beck Veitch and Julia Schiller, published by Cheeky Parrot Games. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players are treasure seekers who’ve discovered a sleeping dragon’s treasure hoard. They will be trying to secure as much treasure as possible while fending off the other players and keeping the dragon asleep. The player that can best manage this will be declared the winner.

To begin, the three dragon cards should be placed in the middle of the play area and arranged to show the dragon fully asleep using the blue side of the cards. All the game cards are shuffled together. The top twelve cards of the deck are arranged around the 3 sleeping dragon cards to form a 5 x 3 grid. The remaining cards are placed facedown in a stack within reach of all players. Each player draws a starting hand of 5 cards. They also select a colored pawn which is placed on one of the 12 facedown cards that were placed around the dragon earlier. Each player is then able to peek at the card beneath their pawn. Once everyone has completed the task, play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. On a player’s turn, they may perform one of four different actions; roll and move, secure treasure, use a dragon action card or use a sword or shield card. The first action that can be taken is to roll and move. To do this, the player rolls the die and moves their pawn the number rolled either clockwise or counter clockwise. If the symbol is rolled, the player may stay where they are or they may announce a number between 1 and 5 and move that number of spaces. The player then secretly looks at the card they landed on. The player can then keep it and draw a new card to replace it with or they may replace the card with a card from their hand. If a new card is drawn, the player may look at it before placing it face down. If they choose not to keep the card, they may place it back face down and draw a card from the deck.

The next action that a player may take is to secure treasure. To do this the player may place a set of cards from their hand face up in front of themself, in their scoring area. At least three matching treasure cards must be placed to begin a set. Double item cards count as two cards. The player may later extend a set using at least two matching cards of the same color or one double card. A shield card may be laid down to accompany a sword card that was played on a prior turn to attack an opponent successfully. The shield card can also be played to take an opponents unpaired sword. Both cards are then placed in the player’s scoring area. Treasure chest cards are wild cards that can be used in place of any of the colored treasure cards. However, only one treasure chest may be played at a time and they cause a dragon card to be flipped over to it’s red awake side.

Another action that a player may take is to use a dragon action card. To do this the player simply places one of the dragon action cards in front of themself. A bones card will wake the dragon causing one of the dragon cards to be flipped over to the red awake side. The first time that the dragon is awakened the player flips over the tail section. The second time the body section is flipped and the last time the head is flipped over, ending the round. A Shhhh! card will cause the reverse effect, putting the dragon back to sleep. This is done by flipping the red dragon awake card back to it’s sleeping blue side. The choice card allows the player to choose between either the bones or shhh! side. The player simply announce which side they wish to use and place it face up in front of themself. Only one dragon action card may be played on a turn.

The last action that a player may choose to take is to use a sword or shield card. To do this the player simply places a sword card in front of them and names the opponent that they wish to attack. If that player has a shield card, they may place it in front of themself and take the attacker’s sword card, thereby blocking the attack and scoring points for themself. If the defender, does not have a shield card, the attacker may do one of three things. They may look at their opponent’s hand and take one of their cards from them, they may give them one of the cards from their hand or they may take a card from their opponent’s hand and give them one of their’s in exchange. The sword card remains in front of the attacker for any successful attacks.

Once a player has taken an action, play passes to the next player in turn order. The round continues from player to player until one of the round ending events take place. If the third dragon card is flipped over to it’s red awake side the round ends. It can also end if the last card is drawn from the deck. The other way the round can end is if a player ends their turn with no cards in their hand. In this case, each of the player’s opponents are allowed to take one final turn. One of the player’s opponents can use a sword card to give the player a card, thus delaying the round’s end. Of course that’s if an opponent has a sword card to use. Players may also try to fully wake the dragon causing the round to end immediately and not allowing any other players to have their last turn. Once the round ends, scoring takes place.

Scoring a round is done by counting up the points scored by each player. Players receive 1 point for each treasure card that was secured. Double cards count as 2 points. A sword and shield that are paired together count as 1 point. If a player played only 3 dragon action cards, they score 5 points for the set of 3. Players lose 1 point for each treasure card left in their hand. They lose 2 points for double cards. Treasure chests count as 1 point if secured but do not count against a player that has one left in their hand. Swords, shields and dragon action cards don’t count against a player either. Players then compare their scores and the player with the most points receives a 2 point scoring token. The second place player receives a 1 point scoring token. A new round is then setup and play continues. All this continues until a player has at least 5 points in tokens at the end of scoring. The player that does this first, is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
Since this was a prototype, the components aren’t finished. Therefore I won’t go into a lot of detail. What I will say is that most of the game consists of cards. Each of the different card designs look really nice. There is a really thematic approach to the look and feel, from the double sided dragon cards to the treasure cards. There’s really some great looking art for each one. I really like how that when the game is setup, it looks like a giant sleeping dragon on top of it’s hoard of golden treasure. It made me think of Smaug from the Hobbit. In the prototype the player pawns were different colored meeples, however I’m sure this will most likely change before the final draft. The game does come with a custom six sided die that has a unique looking symbol in place of the number 6. If you read the rules above you understand how this works out. In any event, the game really looks to be headed in the right direction. I think the finished product will only improve on a really great looking design.
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RULEBOOK
The rulebook is also a prototype copy. It’s very close to completed though so I can give you a fairly good idea of what to expect. First off it’s not very large. There are only a few pages so it doesn’t take long to read. It has several pictures but no real examples to speak of. Everything is really easy to read and understand. The rules are all laid out in an orderly fashion with each of the different actions explained thoroughly. With the smallness of the book, there’s not really a lot to it. That said, it looks nice and takes care of everything you need to know so that you can play the game.
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GAMEPLAY
This is a really light, fast and fun card game. It doesn’t take a lot of thinking or strategizing. It’s mainly about set collection. Of course there are a few more things to consider than just that. I played this one with my 6 year old daughter and she really enjoyed it. She enjoyed collecting the different treasures and moving around the board. She kept telling me to be quiet cause we didn’t want to wake the dragon. Of course by the third play through of the game, she was doing everything she could to wake that old dragon up. Needless to say, she’s pretty darn good at the game. I enjoyed the many different actions that were available. A lot of times everything seemed pretty well cut and dry. I’ve got 3 cards of one color, time to lay down and score some points. Other times it was a bit more challenging. Do I move to a card that I already know I could use or do I try to find something else and come back to the one that I already know. Lot of choices and lots of interactivity to be had with this game. It’s a fairly quick game too, with most rounds lasting about 10 minutes. The number of players per game and how everyone plays will affect the full play time. Either way, the game is a light fun game that is great for families. Fans of games like The Butterfly Garden and Bohnanza should really enjoy this one. It’s kid tested and father approved.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Hoard is a light weight card game of set collection and memory. The game time varies but each round takes about 10 minutes each. The art style and look of the game is really fun and thematic even in the prototype. The game is simple enough that younger players can enjoy the game as well as adults. It’s a great family game that will appeal to all players. There’s plenty of player interaction with only a little bit of strategy thrown in. My daughter and I both enjoyed the game and found it to be very entertaining. Fans of set collecting games like The Butterfly Garden and Bohnanza should enjoy this one as well. I would highly recommend this game especially to families. I look forward to the finished product. Looks to me like this is one game that is a treasure in it’s own right.
9 out of 10

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

http://www.cheekyparrotgames.com/

Keep an eye out for the Kickstarter campaign launching May 17th.

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Preview Review of Dice Bazaar

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

Dice Bazaar is a game by Fedor Sosnin, published by Disruptive Inc. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be competing against each other to buy and trade for the most valuable products in the bazaar. The player that can collect the most valuable items will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. Four decks are created, one for each of the four products; spice, tea pots, pottery and gems. Each deck will have 3 of the appropriate cards for each player, except for the gems which have 2 per player. One cobra card is also shuffled into each of the 4 decks. The rest of the cards are placed back in the box, not to be used. Each of the product decks are placed face up on the board from let to right in ascending order from 1-8. If a cobra card is visible on the top of one of the decks, it is reshuffled until a product card is visible instead. The white price dice are rolled and randomly placed in the white squares under the products on the board. This will result in 2 under the spice, 3 under the tea pots, 4 under the pottery and 5 under the gems. The dice sets should be arranged from smallest to largest under each product card. Each player chooses a color and takes the corresponding 6 colored dice. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they will start off by rolling all of their player dice. They will then try to match the dice they rolled with the price dice under the different products. They will then purchase product cards on any price dice that fully match the player’s dice. The player shows this by placing their dice under the board of that product. The product card is then taken by the player and placed in front of them. They will then move the dice that they used to purchase with off to the side, as these can’t be used again on that particular turn. Once a product card is removed due to matching the price dice with the player dice, the player must then re-roll the price dice for the new product card. If any dice have been set aside by any players and they no longer match any of the price dice, they are removed and returned to their owners.

Speaking of setting aside dice, after rolling their dice, a player is allowed to set aside any unused dice under the board as long as they match the current price dice under the product card. This allows the player to basically lock in some of the dice needed to fulfill the cost of a certain product, even though they might not have rolled all they needed to complete the cost. Of course, on their next turn the player is only able to roll the dice that have not been set aside. It should be noted though that a player is allowed to remove all their dice under any product card. However they have to remove all their dice and can’t remove just one or two. It’s all or nothing.

The player is also allowed to trade. Trading may be done at any time during a player’s turn. The player can trade any eligible product cards by using the symbols on the top of the card. The player then discards the traded card face down beside the board. The player then chooses a unused die and rotates it to the desired number. Once the player either can no longer or chooses not to perform any of the previously mentioned actions, their turn is over and play passes to the next player.

The game continues until two products are completely sold out and there are no more product cards left in the stall of that kind. Players then add up their score by adding the points listed on the top of each product card. If any cobra cards were purchased by a player, they then roll a die to see how many points the card is worth, adding it to their total. The player that has the most points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
Since all that I had available to me was the print and play files for the cards, I won’t go into too great of detail here. What I will say is that the artwork for the cards is really appealing and full of bright colors that will really catch your eye. I really like the look and design of the game. I can’t really speak on the quality of the components other than that from the way everything looks laid out on the Kickstarter page, they all appear to be of good quality. As I said, I really like the design of the game and the fun art style. This should end up being really cool.
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RULEBOOK
The rulebook was also a print and play copy so I can only tell you how it looks prior to release. The book has lots of pictures throughout the book. The rulebook has that same whimsical style that the cards and board do. All the components are highlighted in a full color spread. All the rules are easy to read and understand. It will not take but a few minutes to read through the book and you’ll be ready to play. I really like that aspect of the rules. The only thing that concerned me was there were no rules explaining how to use the Collection expansion, thus it was left out from my review as I didn’t understand exactly how to use it. I’m sure this will be rectified before the game arrives to backers, so there’s no need to worry. In any event, everything looks really nice and should be a nice compliment to the game.
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GAMEPLAY
This is a really fun little filler game that is really easy to play. If you can roll dice, then you can play this game. That said, players that don’t like dice rolling games need not apply. I like the simplicity of the game but I also like that there is at least a little more to the game then simply rolling dice. The fact that you can trade off lower priced product cards to help you get those higher priced product cards is pretty cool. Fans of dice games like Roll For It should really enjoy this one as it adds a little bit more to the mechanic in that game. This is a really light and fun game that the whole family can enjoy. As I said earlier, it’s super simple and it plays really quick. Most game sessions last no longer than 30 minutes. That makes it great as a warm up for some heavier gaming. I really enjoyed it.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Dice Bazaar is a really light weight game of dice rolling for the whole family. It plays really quickly with most games lasting no more than 30 minutes. The artwork is very cute and whimsical and should appeal to kids as well as adults. Fans of games like Roll For It should find the dice rolling mechanic improved on a bit in this one. Everything looks well thought out and the finished product should be top notch from everything that I’ve seen. This will be a great little filler game that players of all ages should enjoy. I would recommend it. It’s a great addition to any family library.
8 out of 10

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For more games from this company you can check out their website below.

http://battleofdurak.com/

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

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fsosnin/dice-bazaar-dice-rolling-card-trading-family-fun?ref=users

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Foragers Review

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Foragers is a game by Steve Finn, published by Dr. Finn’s Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of prehistoric people trying to survive through collecting and sharing food. They will have to use their wits and skills to gather tools and win skirmishes. The player that can perform these actions the best will be declared the winner.

To begin, the starting tiles are set up and placed on the table as shown on the setup card for the corresponding number of players. The rest of the tiles are then separated into edge and corner stacks. Some tiles are removed based on the number of players. Each stack is then mixed up to randomize the tiles before being placed facedown to form 2 stacks. Food squares are placed on the appropriate food spaces. Sharing tokens are then randomly placed on the fire pit tiles equal to the number of players plus 1. The tool tokens are placed facedown on the table and mixed up. One token is then placed face up on each food space with a tool icon on it. The remaining tokens are placed into a pile and are kept facedown. The common action card is placed near the board with the appropriate side face up that corresponds with the number of players. Players choose a color and are given a player board or tableau, a pawn, 10 action cards and 4 action cubes in their chosen color. They also receive a energy track marker which is placed on the 9th space of their player board, as well as 3 victory points. Players will then shuffle their action cards and place them facedown on the left side of their player board. The spoilage cards are shuffled together and a certain number of cards are removed based on the number of players. They are then placed facedown near the board. The first player is chosen and they are given the Hunt Leader card which they will place in front of themself on either the male or female side, their choice. Beginning with the player to the right of the hunt leader and continuing in a counter clockwise fashion, each player will place their pawn on 1 of the resting spaces on the board. Once this has been done by all players, play now begins.

The game is played over a series of rounds. Each round has 4 phases; planning, acting, spoiling and assessing. The first phase is the planning phase. In this phase, players will each draw 3 action cards from their deck. They then choose one of them and place it face down on the table, to the right of their player board. The remaining two cards are placed on the top of their deck in any order. Once all players have accomplished this task, the next phase can begin.

The second phase is the acting phase. In this phase each player will simultaneously reveal the card that they chose in the previous phase, flipping it face up. Beginning with the hunt leader, each player will take turns choosing an action by placing one of their action cubes on an empty square of their action card, or on the common action card. Once the player has placed their cube, they will perform their chosen action. This continues with each player placing action cubes until each player has placed 4 action cubes and performed the subsequent action. Players may place a cube on the common action card if their action card did not have an action that they wanted to take, as long as their action card did not have the same type of action on it. There are 7 different actions that may be taken depending on what is available on the player’s chosen card. Those actions are walk, forage, pick up tool, eat, rest, share and discover. The first of those actions is the walk action. If this action is chosen, the player is allowed to move their pawn up to the number of spaces that are shown on the action card. The player is not allowed to end their movement on a food space that is occupied by another player. However, they may pass through, if their strength is higher than the other players. If this happens, the special brawling event occurs. The walking player that has the higher strength is allowed to take a number of victory points equal to the difference in strength between the 2 players, up to a maximum of 3 victory points. This only happens in a food space and not in resting or fire spaces. It should be noted that a player is not allowed to take victory points from more than 1 player per turn.

The next action a player can take is the forage action. This action allows a player to pick up a number of food squares up to the number shown on the action card from the space that their pawn currently occupies. The squares are then placed on the first empty space on the corresponding food track, starting from the left side of the player board.

Another action that a player can take is to pick up a tool. This action allows a player that is in a food space that has a tool on it, to pick up that tool and place it on their player board. A player is allowed to have up to 2 of the same type of tool. Each tool provides a special ability. Fish hooks allow a player to take an extra fish from a food space with fish on it. Boomerangs allow a player to take an extra auroch square from a food space. Sticks allow a player to take an extra fruit square from the food space. Arrowheads are a bit different, as they add 1 to the player’s strength level.

Yet another action that a player can take is to eat. This action is one way that a player can increase their energy. Eating any food squares on the player’s board allows the player’s energy to increase. They are allowed to eat up to the number shown on the action card. The player’s energy marker moves depending on how fresh the food was, as shown on the player board. Fresher food provides more energy.

The next action available is the rest action. This action allows the player to increase their energy as well. Resting allows the player to move their energy marker a number of spaces on their player board’s energy track equal to the number shown on the action card.

Another action is the share action. For a player to be able to take this action, their pawn must be in a fire pit space. To share, the player returns a number of food squares of a chosen type that correspond with the food token that is present for that area. That particular sharing token is then taken by the player and placed on their player mat on the space that matches the colored rocks for the fire pit that they were visiting. It should be noted that the age of the food doesn’t matter and that a player may share food in the same fire pit multiple times during the game.

The last action is the discover action. For a player to be able to take this action, they must have their pawn in a space that has a path leading off the board. Their also must be space for the placement of a new tile based on the number or players. For example, in a 2 player game, the board must finish in a 3 x 3 grid with the corner tiles in the corners. Once the new board has been placed, the specific number and type of food squares, as well as a new tool token are placed on the appropriate spaces. The player then receives a victory point for the action.

It should be noted that there is also a special action that a player is able to take called run. This action can be taken before and/or after performing a regular card action. This action does not require the use of an action cube nor does it count against the 4 actions that a player is allowed to take per round. Running is just like walking except that the player must spend 2 energy for each space that they run. As long as the player has enough energy, they may run as many times as they want. Running follows all the basics of walking when it comes to other players and occupied spaces. Once all players have completed all of their actions, the next phase begins.

The third phase is the spoiling phase. In this phase, the top spoilage card is flipped over. All players then age their food that corresponds with the icon on the card the number of spaces shown. Any food squares that move off the track on the player’s boards are returned to the supply. The spoilage card is then discarded.

The final phase is the assessing phase. At the beginning of this phase, any player’s pawns that are on a resting space automatically gain 4 energy. Players then check to see if the end game event has been reached. Once the final spoilage card has been revealed, the game is over and final scoring takes place. If the game is not over, all players take back their action cubes and discard their previously used action card. The hunt leader card is then passed to the next player in turn order. A new round begins.

Before final scoring begins, each player is allowed to eat any food squares on their player board at a rate of 1 energy for each food eaten. Victory points are scored for strength and sharing tokens. They are also bonuses awarded for visiting different fire pits and sharing food, for collecting 3 or 4 tokens of the same type and for the number of tools. The players then add up their points and the person with the most points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game has lots of really nice looking pieces. There are lots of brightly colored action cubes and player pawns, as well as food squares and energy markers. Each of these are made out of wood and are really sturdy. I think it would have been really nice if the food squares had been shaped like the different food that they represented or if the player pawns had been meeples instead of oversized cubes. Not really the best design in the world, but they get the job done. There are lots of tokens made of thick cardboard, such as the victory point tokens, share tokens and tool tokens. These are all pretty cool looking. The game also has lots of cards. There are action cards, the common action card, the spoilage cards and the hunt leader card. This last one is double sided and has a male forager on one side and a female on the other. I wish that this great looking art had been more prevalent throughout the game instead of simply teasing me from what’s basically a first player marker. The other cards are all nice enough and show the different actions that each player can take or show which foods are spoiled. It boils down to simply iconography here. Nothing bad, just looks more like hieroglyphics than anything. In any case, the cards are good quality and look nice. The player boards, or tableaus as they’re called in the rulebook, have colors that match up with the player pawns and action cubes. These are nice and pretty sturdy for the most part. There are places for all the stuff you need on them. The last things to mention are the land tiles. These are the same thickness as the tokens, since they’re punched out from the same cardboard sheets. They look nice and show all the different places to perform a player’s actions. They are a little bland looking but like many of the other pieces, they get the job done. Look, the components are good quality but the designs are gonna blow anyone away. That said, they’re still pretty darn decent.
7 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game looks nice enough. It has plenty of pictures and examples throughout the book. Everything is easy to read and understand. The rules are all laid out really well with plenty of descriptions on how each phase and action works. There is also a great variant set of rules for 2 players that include setup and how to play the game with 2 dummy players. The rulebook also has a really great reference sheet on the back cover that includes both the game summary as well as a summary of all the actions along with icons. The rulebook looks nice enough. Overall, there are only a few things that I have to complain about. First, there’s nothing really clear about how to end the game in the rules. You really have to look hard to figure it out. Would have been nice if there had been a highlighted section near the end of the rules telling how this works, preferably right before the final scoring section. The other thing is that instead of explaining how to set up the game in the rulebook, there’s a separate setup card that explains all that. Sure, it’s not a big deal but I like having everything in one handy place. Just seemed a bit off for me. Other than that, the rules get the job done.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really nice game that is quite enjoyable. Of course the first thing that I thought of when I saw the game was Stone Age. However, this doesn’t play anything like that at all, so you need to get those assumptions out of your head. First let me address the 2 player game. I didn’t really cover this in the overview earlier. If you don’t like using dummy players, you really won’t like this way to play. The dummy players have a certain way that they will act for each situation. These actions are pretty well spelled out in the rulebook. Personally, I think it would have been better to have simply had each player play 2 foragers each and then maybe add up the two totals at the end or something of that nature. Just spitballing here. Ok, enough of that. The real story is that the game is fun. I really like that their is a bit of a worker placement style aspect to the game. Each action that you take has meaning behind it. The only thing is that at the beginning of the game it seemed that there was pretty much always plenty of food. Only when things got near the end did there become a real tussle for food. Maybe that was intended thematically or something. Maybe the ice age was coming and there was less and less food to be found. I don’t know. The tools didn’t really seem to be all that important and unless players really wanted to throw their weight around, the fighting aspect didn’t seem that big of a deal either. In that way, the game tended to be more pick up and deliver than worker placement. Being a fan of both genres, seemed to make this game more interesting to me. I really like the food spoilage and found that it made a lot of sense in theory. The thing that I didn’t like is how that it was random what spoiled and how badly it spoiled based on the draw of a card. I really felt that this could have been a bit more predictable. Of course that probably would have made things too easy for veteran players to really run the table. In any event, fans of both worker placement and pick up and deliver games should find this one interesting. The game lasts about an hour, give or take. I enjoyed it, just not as much as I thought I would. Still, it’s a pretty good game especially with more players.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Foragers is a pick up and deliver style game with a stone age feel to it. The game is a bit longer than most of Dr. Finn’s games, with play times lasting around an hour. Some of the components are a little bit rough and I wished that there had been a little more of a thematic approach to them, such as meeples instead of player pawns and food shaped pieces instead of squares. That said, the quality is still there it’s just that the blandness seems to pull you out of the theme of the game. There are a few issues with the rulebook as well such as no clear end of game section and the setup section being separate from the actual rulebook. Nothing major that will cause too many headaches, they’re just things that I didn’t necessarily like. In any event, the game is quite fun unless you don’t like dummy players, then don’t play the game using the 2 player variant rules. A few aspects didn’t really seem to be all that influential in the game but it was still nice to have those options available. Fans of some worker placement and pick up and deliver games should enjoy this one. I would recommend giving it a try despite some of my complaints. It’s still a solid game and one that most players will enjoy.
8 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Dr. Finn’s Games at his site.

http://www.doctorfinns.com/

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Preview Review of Bloc By Bloc: The Insurrection Game

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Recently I was given the opportunity to play test 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!

Bloc by Bloc: The Insurrection Game is a game by Rocket Lee and Tim Simons, published by Out of Order Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be joining a growing rebellion as it spreads across a changing city landscape. They will have to work together to occupy all the state districts in the city before the military arrives and shuts it all down if they hope to succeed. The only thing is that each faction will have a secret agenda that they will be trying to accomplish which may hinder or even work against the other factions. In this case, the only winner will be them. There’s no telling who will be the winner and who will be a statistic.

To begin, the city must first be created. This is done by sorting the districts, repressed side face up, into 3 piles based on the letter located in the corner of the tile. Each district pile is shuffled both in order and in orientation. The Manifestation cards are shuffled and then placed face down in a 5 x 5 grid. The district tiles are then placed on top of the Manifestation cards beginning with the top tile from the A pile then the top tile of the B pile and finally the top tile of the C pile. This continues in an ABC format snaking back and forth from right to left until the final tile is placed in the 5th row and on the 5th column. The Countdown board is then placed next to the city with the Countdown marker placed on the 8 nights left space. The Loot deck is shuffled and placed face down next to the Countdown board. The loot tokens and barricades are placed next to the Loot deck. The action dice and reaction die are placed next to the city within reach of all players. A riot van marker is placed in each state district’s occupation site along with 3 riot cop cubes. The Police Morale board is placed next to the City. The remaining riot cops cubes and riot van markers are placed in the staging area of the Police Morale board. The Police Morale marker is placed under Timid on the track. The Police Ops deck is shuffled and placed face down next to the Police Morale board. Each player is randomly assigned one of the four factions and is given the matching faction board, occupation tokens and blocs. Occupation tokens and blocs are placed on their locations on the faction board. Players are also given a cheat sheet and are each dealt 2 loot cards face down. The Agenda deck is shuffled and each player is dealt 1 card. The remaining cards are returned to the box facedown. Players will then choose one of their districts as their starting location, placing their Start occupation token in that district’s occupation site. They then place 2 blocs next to their start occupation token. The first faction is determined via dice roll and is given the First Faction marker. Play now begins.

The game is made up of 8 rounds. Each round consists of 1 night. Each night has 2 parts; sunset and sunrise. In the sunset sequence, each faction takes a turn consisting of several actions, ending with drawing Police Ops cards. Once a faction finishes their turn the next faction in turn order takes their turn. Once each faction has taken a turn the sunrise sequence takes place. First let me explain what happens on each faction’s turn. Each turn is broken up into 3 steps; roll action dice, faction actions and Police Ops. The first step is to roll the action dice. To do this, the player counts the number of blocs that they have currently in the city. This number will determine if the player is allowed to roll 3, 4 or 5 dice.

The next step is faction actions. First off it should be noted that players are not allowed to take an action in the city unless they have at least 1 bloc in the district where the action is taking place. There are 11 different actions in 3 separate categories. There are basic, advanced and attack actions. Attack actions may only be taken by blocs that are in a clash. A clash is when a bloc is in the same district with either riot cops or riot vans. Basic and Advanced actions are only taken by blocs that are not in a clash. Basic actions take an action die of any value to be used. The basic actions are movement, barricade district, barricade occupation and dismantle barricade. Movement makes it possible to move either 1 bloc or several blocs together in the same district, mob style, to another district by spending an action die of any value. Barricading a district, barricading an occupation or dismantling a barricade also require an action die of any value to take one of these actions. To barricade a district, a barricade is placed between two adjacent districts. As for barricading an occupation, the barricades are placed around the occupation instead of between districts. Dismantling a barricade simply returns the barricade to the pile.

To use an advanced action, an action die that is equal or greater than the difficulty of the district where the action is taking place must be used. Once the advanced action has been taken, the player must make a reaction roll. This reaction roll determines if the cops show up, a police ops card is drawn and resolved or possibly nothing happens, among other things. The advanced actions are looting, occupy a district, swap occupation or destroy occupation. Looting requires a district with a shopping center and for the player to have a bloc or blocs in that district that aren’t in a clash with the police. A loot card is drawn and a loot token placed. The first time a shopping center is looted it is sprayed with graffiti. The 2nd time, it’s burned, making it impossible to loot afterwards. To occupy a district, the player must choose a site that has at least one of their blocs present and that corresponds with their faction. They then take an occupation of their choice from their player mat and place it in the empty occupation site. Swapping an occupation is much the saw way except the player simply swaps the occupation of their choice from their mat for one of their already existing occupations. The player may also swap one of their factions for another player’s faction that is in a state or public district, as long as there are no barricades protecting it. Destroying an occupation allows the player to remove one of their occupations and return it to the game box. They may then draw loot cards equal to the difficulty of the district that it was removed from.

To use an attack action, an action die that is equal or greater than the difficulty of the district where the attack is taking place must be used. The district must contain one or more blocs that are currently in a clash with police. A reaction roll must be made for the clash. The attack actions are to defeat 1 riot cop, kick out 2 riot cops or attack a riot van. To defeat 1 riot cop, the player takes an attack action and sends the riot cop cube back to the staging area on the police morale board. To kick out 2 riot cops, the player uses the attack action to move 2 riot cop cubes to an adjacent district. If they are moved through a barricade, the barricade is destroyed. To attack a riot van, the player uses the attack action, turning the riot van onto it’s side. The second time it is attacked in the same night, it’s flipped over. The 3rd attack that night will destroy it, removing it from the game.

The third step is the Police Ops step. This is taken at the end of the player’s turn. First the player checks the police morale track to determine how many Police Ops cards are to be drawn. That number of cards is drawn one at a time, resolving each one before moving on to the next one. Usually these cards involve moving riot cops into adjacent districts. This is determined by the card and many times by the Police ID of the adjacent districts as well. Barricades will stop the movement of riot cops. One barricade will stop 1 riot cop. Two barricades will stop 2 riot cops. Three barricades will stop all riot cops from moving into that adjacent district. Riot vans, however, are not deterred by barricades.

Once all the previous steps have taken place for each player, the Sunrise portion of the round takes place. In this portion, the cops unleash their attacks to cleanse the streets. This section is broken up into a sequence of 3 steps; police repression, district liberation and the next night. First there’s the police repression. This is broken down into several steps starting with all riot vans being repaired by setting them back to their upright position. Next riot vans attack everything in the district that they’re present in. They defeat all blocs, evict the occupation and dismantle all the barricades that are protecting the evicted occupation. Once that’s done, the riot cops attack. They start by defeating blocs in the same district with them. Each riot cop defeats one bloc. From there they use any additional attacks left over to evict occupations. However, barricades can protect an occupation forcing the riot cops to dismantle it at a rate of 1 barricade per riot cop before being able to evict the occupation.

The next step in the sequence is district liberation. Liberating a district provides a lot of very important advantages and boosts to the factions. It lowers police morale, allows a manifestation card to be drawn and it lowers the difficulty of the district. To liberate a district, it must be checked to see if there are any police present in the district. If there are, the district can not be liberated. The number of blocs in the district with an occupation must be equal to or greater than twice the difficulty of the district. If this occurs, the district is liberated. All the components on top of the district are set aside. The Manifestation card is picked up and the district tile is flipped over according to the direction arrow below the Police ID. The components that were set aside are now returned to the liberated district and the Manifestation card is resolved.

The final step of the sequence is the next night. At this point, the countdown marker is moved forward 1 night on the countdown track. The First Faction marker is passed to the left and a new night is started. The game continues until one of the end game events occurs.

The game can end in several ways. The Insurrection can succeed, fail or implode. For it to succeed, the required number of state districts must be occupied by one or more factions at the end of a full night. The number varies depending on the number of players. It fails if the required number of districts are not occupied by the end of the final full night on the countdown track. It implodes if any faction has no more blocs or occupations left in the city. In this case, all factions lose the game and agendas are ignored. Once the game is over, players check to see who won and who lost based on their agenda cards. Each agenda card has 2 options which the player must compete all the tasks for one of the options to win. Each card explains what they must do to win. Some require the insurrection to succeed while others require it to fail.

It should also be noted that each faction has occupation abilities that may be used during the faction player’s turn. Three occupations are identical across all factions while two are unique to each one. These are all listed in more detail in the rulebook.

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COMPONENTS
Since this is a prototype copy, I won’t get too detailed about the parts as some things will probably change. With that said, there is absolutely a ton of stuff that comes with this game. I mean seriously. There are wooden faction blocs in 4 bright colors, as well as wooden barricades, riot cop cubes, riot vans, a police morale marker and a countdown marker. That’s just the wooden pieces, which by the way look great. Other than maybe making the faction blocs and cops into meeples, I really like the wooden pieces. Moving on, there are the large district tiles which I’m told will be on thick high quality chipboard instead of the cardboard that I got. Still, the tiles are good quality. There is also the first faction marker as well as the occupations that are colored wooden markers that have stickers on them telling what each one is. There’s also several small grey action dice and 1 normal sized white reaction dice. Their are loot tokens, faction mats for each of the 4 factions as well as the police morale board and the countdown board. These are cardboard. Finally there are the stacks of cards. There are loot cards, police ops cards, agenda cards and the large manifestation cards. I’m told that these will be full color with revised illustrations and designs that will come on high quality playing card stock. Personally, I like the shadow style artwork that’s on the cards now. They give this really cool minimalistic feel to them without overloading your senses with over the top graphics. In any event, if you read through all this, you can tell they’re not skimping on the components. There’s so much here and even in the prototype you can tell that quality will not be an issue. I’m really excited to see where they go with this one. I’m sure that the components will not disappoint.
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RULEBOOK
The rulebook, much like the components is also in prototype form. I’m told that this is pretty much the final draft so it should be pretty darn close to what will come with the game. That said, the rules look great. Every aspect of the book is laid out in such a way that it’s impossible to misunderstand anything. I found that everything was easy to read and the design is great. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book. Every step and sequence of gameplay is painstakingly detailed so that everyone should be able to learn the game fairly easily. There are several really great sections in the book that highlight various aspects of the game. There’s a great section detailing the different agendas and how each one works. There’s also a detailed section on each of the occupations abilities. The rulebook even includes variants for the first game played as well as playing a 2 player game. There’s even variants for increasing or decreasing the difficulty levels and for playing cooperatively. All in all, I’m really impressed with the rulebook and found it to be well written and designed.
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GAMEPLAY
This is a really amazing game. It’s a bit of a beast though. I mean, the game devours table space. There’s so many things that have to be set out on the table. In some ways, the setup reminded me of games like Zombicide or Ghostbusters. Of course, the game plays nothing like either of those. It’s a very strategic game that is semi-cooperative. You alone can accomplish quite a bit, but you won’t be able to do everything that you need to do. You will definitely need the help of the other players to help you take out those riot vans, which incidentally are quite annoying. Barricades will be a must. You’ll find a lot of times having them up will save your bacon more often than not. Teamwork is the key to victory, however once you add in the agendas, that may go right out the window. This part of the game will give that traitor feel like in the game, Dead of Winter. There’s really a lot of choices and a lot of options for each player. AP prone players need not apply. It’s not a brain burner but there will be times when you have so many things that you want to do and too many choices to make. I really enjoy that balancing act of working together but not really knowing if I’m helping or hurting the other player. The game has a really great theme to it that really comes through, at least for me. When the sun comes up and those cops start moving in on your blocs and occupations, you will fill that tension level start rising. As I’ve mentioned earlier this game will definitely appeal to wide variety of gamers. If there was anything negative I had to say about the game, it would be the length. This is not one for the faint of heart. You will spend in excess of 2 hours playing this one. Some game sessions will even stretch into a third hour. Still, the game is great fun and is one that I enjoyed quite a bit.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Bloc by Bloc: The Insurrection Game is a game that combines several different mechanics into a fully immersive and thematic world of protests and riots. The game is quite long and play times usually last over 2 hours. The theme and artistic style of the game is really great, even in prototype form. It’s quite a large game and will take up quite a bit of table space. I really enjoy the many options and choices that the game provides, however AP prone players may find it a bit daunting. Fans of games like Dead of Winter, Zombicide and Ghostbusters may enjoy the similar play styles that appear in this one. The social and political aspect of the game don’t really feel that overwhelming so if you don’t like games of that style, this one should not bother you either. I would highly recommend this game. It looks really great and I’m looking forward to seeing the final product. I feel that the designers have really thought this one out quite well. It’s definitely one worth backing on Kickstarter or picking up in retail. Color me impressed.
9 out of 10

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For more information about this game, please check out Out of Order Games at their site.

http://outofordergames.com/

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

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1604844025/bloc-by-bloc-the-insurrection-game?ref=users

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Cosmic Run Review

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Cosmic Run is a game by Seamus and Steve Finn, published by Dr. Finn’s Games. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players will be exploring new worlds in space, befriending alien races and trying to protect these newly discovered planets from a massive meteors that are about to destroy them. Players can either play cooperatively or competitively through this game. In the end, the player that can score the most points through exploration, recruitment and collecting energy will be declared the winner.

To begin, the 5 planet tracks are placed in a horizontal row in numerical order with their colored side up. The alien cards are shuffled and a certain number of them are returned to the box, depending on the number of players. The remaining cards are placed facedown above the planet tracks. The top 3 cards are then flipped over and placed in a row beside the deck. The corresponding meteor card is taken, based on the number of players, and placed face up near the planet tracks. The crystal tokens are turned face down and mixed up in a area near the planet tracks. Each player is given 10 victory points. The remaining victory points are placed to the side within reach of all players. Players will each choose a color and receive the corresponding ship tokens of their color, as well as the technology card and marker. Each player places 1 of their ship tokens on the space base at the bottom of each of the planet tracks. They also place their technology card marker on the 0 space of their technology card. The starting player is chosen and is given the 6 dice. Beginning with the starting player and continuing in clockwise order, each player will move the marker on their technology card a certain number of spaces as described in the rules. Once this has been completed, play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they will perform 4 steps in order; meteor strike, assign dice, perform actions and ending a turn. The first step is the meteor strike. In this step, the player starts off by rolling the dice. They then count up the number of active planets and check the meteor card for the “strike value” number. The numbers on the rolled red dice are added, as long as there are more than 1 planet track that are active. The player then checks to see if that number is greater or equal to the “strike value”. If so, then the meteor strikes the planet that’s number matches the blue die’s number. When only 1 planet track is active, then the meteor strikes the planet when the two red dice match each other. If a meteor strike occurs, then a meteor token is placed on the planet. The 2nd time it’s hit, the token is flipped to show 2 meteors. The 3rd time it’s hit, the planet is destroyed and interim scoring occurs. Once scoring is finished, the ships and meteor tokens are removed and the planet track is flipped over to the black and white side making it inactive. If the player rolls a 6 on the blue die, there is no strike. It should also be noted that if on a player’s first roll, they roll a straight, that is all 6 dice show a different number, then the player is allowed to draw a crystal token from the supply.

The second step is to assign dice. In this step, the player assigns dice and rerolls until they are done assigning. There are a few certain rules that must be adhered to though. For instance, every time they roll, at least 1 die must be assigned to a location. Once the die has been placed, it can’t be moved. Once the player has assigned all the dice either to a planet track, alien card or technology card, they will then continue to the next step.

The third step is to perform actions. Once the player has assigned all their dice, they will then perform actions based on each location that dice are assigned to. As mentioned earlier, dice can be assigned to a planet track, alien card or technology card. For the planet tracks, each one allows the player’s ship token to be moved up one space on the track for each requirement that is matched. For instance, the 1st planet track allows a ship to move 1 space for each die placed that shows only 1 pip. The 2nd track allows the ship token to be moved for every pair of matching dice that are assigned. The 3rd track is for every set of 3 matching dice, while the 4th and 5th tracks move for a set of 4 or 5 respectively. Once a player’s ship token reaches the planet at the top of the track, the planet is discovered. Just like with the destruction of a planet, interim scoring occurs. For the alien cards, the player must simply assign the corresponding die or dice that match the symbol on the card. They are then able to take the card and place it face up in front of them, to be used in the future. Some alien cards however must be used immediately, such as to take another turn. Once the card is taken a new card is drawn to take it’s place. A player is allowed to recruit up to 3 aliens per turn but they must all be from a different race. Also, a player is only allowed to have a maximum of 5 alien cards face up in front of them. Recruiting aliens only occurs once all the player’s dice have been assigned. It should be noted that some alien cards provide multiple uses. Every time the alien is used, the card is turned clockwise to show how many uses remain. Once a card has been completely used, it’s placed in the player’s personal supply for final scoring, freeing up space for face up alien cards. For the technology card, the player is allowed to assign any dice to this card. For every dice assigned regardless of the number on it, the player moves up their marker 1 level. The player is able to use the special action at any time during their turn. Once the player has used their power, the marker is returned to 0. Also, the player is able to use any power below their marker instead of just the one that their marker is on. A few things should be noted, if a player reaches level 7 on their technology card, they must immediately perform it’s power. Also if a player reaches level 3 or 5, they may use the power before passing the dice to the next player.

The final step is ending a turn. In this step, the player that’s ending their turn checks to see if any game ending event has occurred. If that hasn’t happened, the player passes the dice to the next player clockwise. Events that can end the game are when all the planets have either been discovered or destroyed, all the alien cards have been taken or all the crystal tokens have been taken. Once any of these conditions has been met, the player’s turn ends immediately and final scoring occurs.

Before I explain final scoring, I should explain how interim scoring works, which was alluded to earlier. On each planet track there are victory point symbols with a number on them. When a track is scored, the player either receives or loses the amount of victory points that their ship token is beside. Victory point tokens are given from the supply, while any lost must be taken from the player’s victory point tokens and/or crystals. If a player doesn’t have enough points to pay, they lose their next turn. If another planet is discovered or destroyed before their next turn, they lose another turn. Once a planet track has been scored, the ship tokens are removed and the track is flipped over to it’s inactive side. Final scoring takes into account several different things. First off, if the game ends due to the final planet being discovered or destroyed, the planet track is scored before final scoring occurs. If the game ends because of any other reason, then the remaining tracks are scored. Players are able to use their technology cards to claim crystal tokens if they’re able to at this time. Players then add up their victory points, alien card bonuses and the value of each of their crystal tokens. A player earns victory points based on how many different alien races that they were able to collect during the game. Players compare their victory point totals and the player with the highest score is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game has a lot of really amazing looking pieces. First off there are the 5 large double sided planet tracks. These are made of thick cardboard and have a bright colorful side and a black and white inactive side. The artwork on these is really great and captures the space theme really well. The crystal, meteor and Victory Point tokens are also thick cardboard. As a matter of fact, they come out of the same punchboard sheets as the planet tracks. These are nice as well. There are 4 brightly colored wooden cubes that match the space ship tokens, with 5 of these in each color. The space ship tokens have a neat looking little ship printed on one side. These are really nice and I like how easy they are to distinguish between. The bright colors are really nice. There are also 6 dice included. There are 3 white ones, 2 red ones and a blue one. These are your basic looking dice, nothing out of the ordinary. The final components are the cards. This includes the alien cards, technology cards and meteor cards. They feel a little bit thin but the artwork is really amazing looking, especially on the alien cards. I really love the artistic design choices on everything here. The quality is really great and as I’ve said, it looks amazing. A definitely great looking game.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is really great. It has lots of great pictures and examples throughout the book. There’s a great full color spread of how the game should looked when set up. Everything is laid out really well and in plenty of detail so that nothing should be difficult to understand at all. The rules are all laid out so that you can easily see how to play. There’s a great section about the alien cards that describe what each race does as well as providing a visual reference for the card’s different icons. There’s also a section with a few variants as well as a great section for playing solo as well as cooperative play. Also included in the book is a section for frequently asked questions that will help if something is a bit unclear. Finally on the back of the book is a great reference guide that shows the game summary with instructions on how to perform each step of a player’s turn. Overall I’m very happy with how everything looks and feels in this rulebook.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
For a game that’s main mechanic is simple dice rolling, this game is surprisingly good. Much like Yahtzee, you’re rolling dice and setting aside the dice that you want to lock in. However unlike Yahtzee, you’ve got more than just a few rolls that you can make. As long as you’re able to place a die and have at least one die to roll, you can keep on rolling. I really like all the different choices that are available for you. The alien cards add a lot of depth to the game and can really change things up depending on the card or cards that you recruit. I also like that if you’re like me and dice simply hate you, there’s always the option of placing dice on your technology card to make new options available. There’s just so much going on in this game and I love it. With different set ups for different size play groups, the game adapts really well and adds a little bit different feel each time you play. I very much like the solo play option and found it to be very enjoyable. This is a game that I could see someone buying simply for the solo option and it would be worth it. However the real thrill is playing with others, especially competitively. I find that for me, this is the best way to play. Co-op and solo are really good but the competitive play is the most fun. The game is fairly simple to play but has plenty of strategy to entertain even those strategic minded players. Fans of dice rolling or press your luck style games like Roll For It or Machi Koro should really enjoy this one. It doesn’t take long to play either, with most games sessions lasting no longer than 30 minutes. Set up and take down time is fast too so this is a super great filler game. I really enjoy it.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Cosmic Run is a light weight dice rolling game that is full of tension and thrills. The game doesn’t take long and plays in about 30 minutes. The artwork for the game looks amazing especially on the cards and planet tracks. I really love the look of the aliens. Everything that comes with this game is really high quality and looks great. The game is packed full of fun and can be played solo or cooperatively, as well as competitively. There’s lots of fun to be had with this one. With so many variants, variations and alien cards, there’s lots of replayability to be had with this one. There are plenty of options and decisons to be made that even strategy gamers should enjoy this one. Fans of games like Machi Koro or Roll For It should really enjoy this game. I would highly recommend this game. If you’re shooting for the stars, you’ll be glad that you hit this game. It’s packed full of fun in a small package.
9 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Dr. Finn’s Games at his site.

http://www.doctorfinns.com/

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Blood & Fortune Review

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Blood & Fortune is a game by Charles Ward, published by Ex1st Games. It is for 3-6 players. In this game, players will be negotiating and betraying each other in order to gain influence and deduce who’s winning. The player that can best gain the most influence will be declared the winner.

To begin, players must decide whether they would like to use the role cards, special actions, both or neither. Players are randomly given a house card and a score card. These are placed in front of the player. Each player then takes the 5 influence cards that match their house card. The first player is chosen and is given the ring card, which is placed in front of them in their play area. The role cards are shuffled and each player is dealt 2 cards from the deck. Each player will choose one of these cards to place in front of themself for other players to take. The remaining card is returned to the deck. Each player will then take 1 role card from another player in turn order and add it to their hand. Play now begins.

The game is played over 3 rounds. Each round is divided into 4 stages; offer influence, resolve roles, reveal influence and score influence. The first stage is to offer influence. In this stage, each player in turn order will offer 2 cards from their hand to another player face down. That player will then look at the 2 cards and select 1 to keep. The remaining card is returned to the original player’s hand. The player then places the newly selected card face down to the right of their score card and any other cards that had been previously placed there. This continues clockwise until each player has offered influence cards 3 times. Once a player has received an influence card in their player area, they are then able to use their special action from their score card. This action can be used once during each round. Once the special action has been used that round, the player covers the action up with the influence card next to it. Once a player’s score exceeds 15 their score card is flipped over and they can no longer use their special action.

Role cards may also be offered in place of 1 or 2 influence cards. 2 cards must always be offered when possible. Once a role card is selected, the player that received the role card adds it to their hand and then returns the other card like usual. They will then receive an influence card from the hand of the player that offered the role cards initially of that player’s choosing. Just as explained above, the player places the indluence card face down to the right of their cards in front of them.

The second step is to resolve roles. In this step, the first player calls out the role cards in ascending order beginning with 1. When the player’s card is called out they will place it in front of them and read the card out loud, resolving it before continuing. If there are no players with the called out number, the next role card is called out. This continues until all the role cards have been called out.

The next step is to reveal influence. To do this, each player will discard any influence cards that still remain in their hand. Once this is done, they will reveal each of their influence cards in their player area, keeping them in the same order. Any double influence cards are discard from the player’s area, except for the one that was received most recently furthest to the right.

The final step is to score influence. To do this players look at both the cards in their play area and their influence cards in other player’s areas. Each player receives 1 influence for single cards and 2 influence for double cards. Each player adds up their influence on all these cards. The player with the highest round score wins the round. Each player adds their round score to their score card. A new round then begins.

At the end of both the first and second rounds, each player will take back all 5 of their influence cards that match their house card. All the role card are then returned to the role deck and shuffled. The winner of the last round is given the ring card and starts the new round. Once 3 rounds have been played, the game is over. The player with the highest influence total at the end of play is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game is comprised of a deck of 72 cards. There are 30 influence cards, enough for 6 players to play. Each influence card has a back that matches one of the 6 different house cards. There are 8 score cards that have a different special action on each one. There is the ring card and 15 role cards, as well as 6 reference cards in English and 6 in Japanese. The artwork on the influence and house cards remind me of something from A Game of Thrones or some other medieval themed game. I really like the artwork and find it to be really cool looking. The ring card looks like something pulled out of a Lord of the Rings game while the score cards and reference cards are pretty normal looking. The role cards are a little plain looking at least on one side. There is both English and Japanese on these. The cards themself have a really great look and feel, much like a linen style finish. For what is basically a card game, I really like it. Yes, there could have been a little bit more art or something a little more dramatic on the role cards, but I’m not complaining. I like the cards and really enjoy the design.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game look nice. It has both English and Japanese rules. There are a couple of pages of pictures which show the components and a few examples of play. Everything is laid out really well so that there is no confusion. It’s really easy to read and understand. The rules are rather short as there’s not that much that you have to learn to play the game. That said, I’m pleased with the look and design of the rulebook. You shouldn’t have any problems with it. It’s really good.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This game works on many different levels. First there’s bluffing and negotiation, but on top of that there’s a mild take that feel along with some deduction and special abilities thrown in for flavor. Knowing what influence cards to offer isn’t that difficult as there’s only two options for you. It’s when you add in the role cards and the special abilities that the game really gets interesting. With so many different abilities and roles, there are lots of possibilities. The game also has lots and lots of player interaction. Everything you do affects someone else in this game. I really like that the score cards, which would be just boring ways of keeping track of a player’s score in any other game, are so much more. They really add a good bit of depth to the game as do the roles. The game isn’t overly difficult or hard to play. As a matter of fact, it’s quite easy to learn and teach. While playing I found myself trying to count cards in my head and remembering what cards a player might have. It’s really quite tense. In some ways it makes me think of those social games like Mafia, Ultimate Werewolf or something of that nature. However the way this game plays seems to be a lot deeper than those. Yes I feel that you will be able to find some similarities between games but to me this one seems to be able to stand on it’s own two feet. For a simple card game, it will surprise you.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Blood and Fortune is a light weight card game of bluffing, deduction and negotiation. It’s a really quick playing game that only takes about 30 minutes to play. The artwork is really cool looking and has a nice medieval feel to it. The role cards are a little plain and could have used some more artwork on them but it’s nothing major. The game itself mixes several different mechanics together rather well. There’s lots of player interaction involved in this game. With lots of different roles and special abilities, it’s highly replayable. Fans of cards games like Ultimate Werewolf or Mafia should enjoy this one. It’s a fairly simple game that should be easy enough for most all players to understand. I would recommend giving this one a try. It’s a fun filler game.
8 out of 10

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For more information about this game, please check out  Ex1st Games at their site.

http://www.ex1st.com/games/index.php

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