Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – The Monster Box of Monsters Expansion Review

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – The Monster Box of Monsters Expansion is an expansion for Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, published by USAopoly. It is for 2-4 players. This expansion adds 4 new boxes of content to expand the game with, including a new playable character, Luna Lovegood.

For more information on Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle and how to play the game, please follow the link below.

https://jlnelson73.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/harry-potter-hogwarts-battle-review/

So what all does this expansion add to the game? Well without spoiling anything, there are 4 new boxes worth of content. These include new Locations, Dark Arts, Hogwarts and Hero cards. There are also new additions in the Encounters, Detention and Creatures and Villain Creature cards. As I mentioned above, there’s also a new playable character, Luna Lovegood. She comes with her own starting hero deck of cards. Of course it’s suggested that before using any of the contents of this expansion, it’s best to have finished Game 7 of the original game. Now let me explain how setup works with these new additions.

To begin with, box 1 should be opened up and all the contents separated. 12 influence tokens and 1 harp token should be kept near the board. The locations found in box 1 should be stacked face up in order. The new Dark Arts cards should be shuffled together with the original Dark Arts cards. The Encounters are are stacked in order face up in the center of board. The Creatures and Villain Creatures are shuffled together with 5 random Villain cards from the original set. The Game 5 Lord Voldemort card is placed face up on the bottom of the stack. The top 3 cards are then placed face up below on the board. The Hogwarts cards from the expansion are shuffled together with the original Hogwarts cards. The Detention cards are placed in a separate stack near the board. Players choose a Hero card and take the corresponding Hero card and 1 Game 6 Proficiency card. These are placed above the player board. The rest of the setup remains the same.

The game plays much like it did with the original game, except with a few minor changes. Each player’s turn consists of 4 steps. First they will reveal and resolve Dark Arts events and the Encounter. The Dark Arts event is resolved first, followed by the Encounter. Each Encounter has an effect that normally triggers when certain conditions are met. Next the player resolves the villains and creature abilities by following each card’s text. In some cases, there will be certain Encounters that will be triggered during this step. Next the player will play Hogwarts cards and take Hero actions. Like with most deck builders, the player will play the cards from their hand to gain resources and generate effects. Some cards will allow a player to banish a card. This is a new effect that allows the player to remove a card from their deck for the rest of the game, placing it in the discard pile. Banished Detention cards are returned to the Detention stack. Once resources have been gained, they may be used to attack villains with and buy Hogwarts cards with. It should be noted that some creature cards require Influence to defeat them. This is a new mechanic that is introduced in this expansion. However unlike attack tokens, only one Influence token may be placed on a Creature each turn. Finally, the player ends their turn. In some cases, Encounters will trigger certain effects during this final step. Before any of the cards may be replaced at the end of the turn, the player should check to see if the Encounter has been completed. If so, then the player claims the card and may use the reward on a later turn. Play then passes to the next player.

The game continues until one of two things happen. If the players have completed all the Encounters and all the creatures and villains have been defeated, then the players win. They are then able to move on to the next box. If the villains and creatures control all the locations, then the players lose and must reset the game and try again.

It should be noted that there are more surprises inside the remaining 3 boxes, but I won’t go into that. I’ll leave that for you to discover and be surprised with. Just know that there are several new card types that will be introduced as well as some new tokens and a few other items of interest.

COMPONENTS
As with the original game, this expansion brings a lot of new stuff that looks absolutely amazing. The quality is again, top notch. This expansion adds 4 new boxes worth of cards, tokens and other items that are very interesting. All of the cards have that same photo quality that was used in the original game. All of the cardboard tokens are very thick and sturdy and look very cool. I really like there are new character cards to be used with this game including the new playable character, Luna Lovegood. Speaking of which, if she’s used as a player character, her ally card is removed from the Hogwarts deck. Back to the components, so not only does the expansion have new material, there’s also some sorting cards that work with the original 7 games boxes in the first game. These make it possible to store all of the components of both this expansion and the base game together in the main box. Basically all the items are placed in the area that the original 7 game boxes were. Needless to say, with all the great pieces and components included with this, fans of Harry Potter will love the look and designs of this expansion. Each card, token and item is very thematic and fits in great with the overall look of the game. I’m very impressed with everything here. Overall, this looks fantastic.
10 out of 10

RULEBOOK
Much like the original rulebook, this rulebook evolves as you play the game. The back cover of the book is a bit thicker and has specialized slots for the smaller rulebooks that come in the boxes 2 through 4. These little rulebooks are small folded up sheets that show you which components to use and explain the new cards, tokens or other items that are introduced upon opening the box. Every set of rules from the main book to the smaller rulebooks has some great pictures and examples that show how the game is played. I really liked this design with the original game and love that it was carried over into the expansion as well. It definitely keeps certain things hidden until you need it. Overall, I like the look and feel of everything here and think that this just adds to the joy of the game.
10 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Let me say first off, this expansion is hard. I mean very hard. If you thought that the original game was easy, then you’ll be excited for the challenge of this one. For those of us that may have struggled a bit with the original, then you’ll really have some moments of frustration with this one. That’s not to say that the expansion is bad. It’s not! In fact, I love the challenge that the expansion provides. You just need to be aware that you’ll most likely not win every time. I’ve played several times and lost several times too. I like how the new cards work with the game. It definitely adds several new dimensions to the game. I like that the expansion has ways of playing the game, even after the last box has been opened and defeated. There are new difficulties including creating an epic level game. I haven’t tried this yet, but look forward to the challenge. I will say that the difficulty of this expansion may not be for everyone, especially the kids. That is, unless they don’t mind losing often. For me, this expansion is more of a gamer’s expansion and less of an add on to a great co-op family game. Families up to the challenge or those that absolutely love the world of Harry Potter should really enjoy this expansion. For those folks, this is a must have expansion. For everyone else, the difficulty may be a bit too much. Still this is a great expansion and one that I adore. I highly recommend this expansion. It’s well worth the price of admission.
10 out of 10

OVERALL
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – The Monster Box of Monsters Expansion is an expansion for Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle that adds 4 boxes worth of new content including a new playable character. The expansion doesn’t really add any additional play time to the game. Most game sessions still last around an hour. Like with the original game, the artwork and theme of the game are fully integrated and look great. The artwork is almost all photo quality images. The few items and pieces that aren’t photo quality still fit well with the theme and don’t distract. The expansion adds quite a good bit of content and ups the difficulty a fairly good bit. Players that struggled through the base game, might have a hard time making it through the different boxes of this one. Those players that felt the main game was too easy, will definitely find the challenge they were looking for in this expansion. Fans of the Harry Potter universe will definitely enjoy being able to play as Luna Lovegood. I still think Ginny Weaseley would have been nice to have as a playable character, but maybe she’ll be available in the next expansion. Here’s hoping that happens. Not everyone will find this a must buy, but for fans of the original game and those looking for a challenge, it will be. I highly recommend this expansion. I am thoroughly enjoying it and look forward to many more games in the wizarding world of Harry Potter. No Nargles were harmed during the writing of this review.
10 out of 10

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

http://www.usaopoly.com/

 

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Dragon Pets Review

Dragon Pets is a game by Paolo Cecchetto and Christian Giove, published by Japanime Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of Dragon Breeders during the 1783rd annual dragon breeding competition. They will be sending their Dragon Seekers off in search of more dragons to be able to form mating pairs with. Each time they do this, they’ll earn gold coins. Of course they’ll have to be careful that they don’t wind up with any unbred dragons or they’ll lose gold coins. In the end, the player that can earn the most gold coins will be declared the winner and Supreme Dragon Breeder.

To begin, the starting Dragon cards are separated from the rest of the deck. These cards are then shuffled together. Each player is then dealt 2 cards from them. If a player is dealt 2 dragons of the same color, then they must choose one to keep and one to return to the deck, drawing another. Any leftover starting cards are set aside. Each player will then choose a color and take the 3 Dragon Seeker meeples and the matching player reference card of their chosen color. They are also given 8 gold coins. The remaining coins are placed within reach of all players to form a bank. The draw deck is then formed by adding a certain number of Egg cards to the rest of the Dragon cards. The number of Egg cards is determined by the number of players. The deck is then shuffled together and placed face down near the middle of the play area. The top 16 cards of the deck are then used to create the forest, which is a 4 x 4 grid in the middle of the play area. The wooden tokens are separated into sets with each set containing a token of each color. These tokens are then placed beside the forest cards where that there are no tokens of the exact same color directly across from each other. The first player is randomly chosen and play now begins.

The game is played through a series of turns. To begin the game, the starting player will roll all of the dice. The dice are then placed on the corresponding colored tokens in front of them, with the white die being placed beside them. On a player’s turn, they will then be able to take a number of actions that must be taken in a particular order. Each action is only able to be taken once per turn. There are 4 different actions that may be taken; catch dragons, refill the forest, reroll the dice and place one dragon seeker. The first action is to catch dragons. This action is optional and costs 1 coin. To perfom this action, the player must have a Dragon Seeker on a Dragon card in the Forest. When it’s taken, all players will take all of their Dragon Seekers and the Dragon cards beneath them, adding the Dragons to their collection. The next action is to refill the forest. This is also an optional action that costs 1 coin. To take this action, there must be an empty space in the Forest. When it’s taken, the player turns over cards from the draw deck and places them face up in the empty spaces of the Forest. If the draw deck runs out when this action is taken, the game immediately ends. Another optional action is for the player to reroll the dice. This action costs 1 coin and when taken allows the player to reroll all of the dice, placing them on the wooden tokens in front of themself. It should be noted that if there are no dice in play due to the previous player using all of them, or there are only useless dice that will not allow the player to place a Dragon Seeker, then the player is allowed a free reroll of the dice. The final action is to place a Dragon Seeker. This is the only action that is required for players to take. However, it doesn’t cost anything for them to take it. This action requires the player to place one of their Dragon Seekers on a Dragon card in the Forest. To do this, they must first choose a colored die that was placed on one of their colored tokens. They will then count up a number of cards in that color’s column that is equal to the number shown on the die. The Dragon Seeker is then placed on that particular Dragon card. The die used is then taken off the colored token and set aside, making it unavailable to be used again until the reroll dice action is taken. It should be noted that the white die is used to modify the value of one of the colored dice by either adding or subtracting it’s value from that of the chosen colored die. Once it’s used, it’s also set aside just like the colored die is. If a player places their Dragon Seeker on a Dragon that already contains another player’s Dragon Seeker, that player must take their Dragon Seeker back and they receive a coin from the player that removed them. It should also be noted that if a player is not able to place a Dragon Seeker on their turn, they must pay a penalty of 5 coins to the bank. Once a player has completed this final action, they will end their turn. They will then place any unused dice onto the next player’s colored tokens. Any dice that were set aside from being used are not passed.

During the game players will be collecting Dragon cards. Every time they have two Dragon cards of the same breed and opposite genders, they will form a breeding pair. When this happens, the player receives gold coins equal to the highest value of the two cards. The mated cards are then stacked together and placed face down in front of the player. It should be noted that sometimes players will discover Dragon Eggs. These do not have to be paired and will automatically reward the player with 2 coins. The card is then placed face down with the mated pairs.

The game continues with players taking turns until the draw deck runs out of cards during a refill the forest action. When this happens, the game ends immediately. The rest of the turn is not finished. Players will then take any Dragon cards marked with their Dragon Seekers without paying to take the action. Mating pairs are then made following the rules above. Final scoring then occurs. Players add up their gold coins, subtracting any dragons that were unbred. They will also gain a 5 gold coin bonus if they were able to breed at least 1 pair of all 5 dragon breeds. It should be noted that a pair of egg cards can be counted as a wild for this diversity bonus. Players compare their totals and the one with the most gold coins is the winner.

COMPONENTS
There are some really cute components in this game. First off there are the Dragon Seekers. These are brightly colored meeples made of wood. There are 4 different colored sets of 3. These are good and sturdy, yet I somehow wish that these had been made a little more thematic. Like maybe shaped a little different or had some nice little stickers of the Dragon Seekers to be applied. There are also sets of large wooden discs in 4 colors that match with the 4 colored wooden dice. These are also brightly colored and sturdy. They’re large enough to be able to set a die on top of. As I just mentioned, there are 4 colored wooden dice and a there’s also a white wooden die. The colored dice have pips while the white one has numbers on it. It looks as if the pips and the numbers were painted on the dice. Hopefully there won’t be a problem with fading later after repeated plays. The game also comes with a punchboard full of coins in 1s, 5s and 10s. These are good and thick cardboard. I like the design on these. However it appears that there is a slight misprint on the back as the designs don’t exactly line up like they should. Finally there are the cards. There are lots of Dragon cards, some egg cards and some player aid cards. These cards are completely square and have a nice finish and thickness to them. The artwork on these is really great. I love the cute and fun look of each dragon and egg. There are a few surprise designs that are pretty cool. The player reference cards are very helpful. Overall I really like the pieces of the game. I think that a few things could have been done better, but for the most part they’re really good. I think that kids will love the fun designs and colorful pieces of this one. Mine did.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is quite nice. There are plenty of pictures and examples throughout the book. Every action is explained in good detail. There’s a great explanation of the Dragon cards that contains pictures of the 2 genders. I think the design is nice and the rules are easy to read and understand. I didn’t see anthing difficult at all. It doesn’t take a long time to read either, as the book is only like 7 pages of instructions. Overall I like how quickly that I was able to read the book and how easy it was to understand. I’m pleased with the look and design.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This game is actually quite fun but simple. In some ways it has a bit of a worker placement feel to it, as you are trying to place your Dragon Seekers onto the right dragons to be able to make mating pairs with. I will say that there is a good bit of luck involved with this one though. As you’re rolling the dice, the only thing that keeps it from being a complete luck fest is the white die. Using that 1 die, you’re able to change one of the other dice either negatively or positively. For instance, if you roll a 4 on the purple die but you really wish that you’d rolled a 2 to be able to get that red female dragon you need to mate with your male red dragon. Oh look at that, you have a 2 on the white die. That means if you subtract that 2 from the 4 of the purple die you can now place a Dragon Seeker on that red female and collect her a bit later. Win! For us home schoolers, that is a great way to teach a little simple addition and subtraction without the kids realizing it. Win-Win! I really like the simplicity and fun that this game brings to the table. The kids love matching up the dragons. In some ways the game kind of reminds me of Grave Business, a game about making zombies by matching up parts in a 4 x 4 grid. The game play is very similar in that aspect. However I do like the theme and implementation a bit better in this one. Fans of Grave Business or simple worker placement games should really enjoy this one, especially if they like the cute and fun art style. Overall this is a game that I would definitely recommend, especially as a family game to play with the kids. It’s good fun for everyone.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Dragon Pets is a great family game with cute and fun artwork. It’s quite simple and doesn’t take a long time to play either. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes. The artwork is really fun and the kids love it. I will say that I wish the Dragon Seeker meeples had been a little more thematic in either design or with stickers to place on them. I also worry a bit about the wear on the painted pips and numbers on the wooden dice. Apart from that, the game looks great and is one that the family really enjoy. I like the simplistic game play. It kind of reminds me of Grave Business and it’s 4 x 4 card style of game play. I think fans of that game should enjoy this one even more, especially if they like the dragon theme or are playing with kids. I think as a family game, it’s great. The kids love it and I do too. I would definitely recommend this one for families. Now get out there and bring me some dragons.
9 out of 10

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

http://www.japanimegames.com/

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Sword Art Online Board Game: Sword of Fellows Review

Sword Art Online Board Game: Sword of Fellows is a game by Seiji Kanai, published by Japanime Games. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players will be taking on the role of characters from the Sword Art Online manga/anime as they battle through the realm of <>. In the end if they’re able to make their way through the different levels and defeat the final foe, they will be declared the winners. Otherwise they’ll remain trapped inside the game.

To begin, each player will choose a character to play, taking the corresponding character card and placing it face up in front of themself. Kirito must be chosen by one of the players. When playing solo, Kirito and another character are chosen. If either Lisbeth or Silica are chosen, their corresponding action tokens are given to the player. Any unused characters are returned to the box. The scenario cards are separated into the 3 different section and then each section is shuffled separately. One card for each section is then drawn and placed face down in a column to form the image of <<Aincrad>> with the Final Battle card placed face down at the top of the column. Any remaining scenario cards are returned to the box. The item cards are shuffled together and placed face down near the scenario cards. Each player will also receive an ability usage token which is placed next to their character card with the 1 side face up. The main dice, support dice anad damage tokens are placed within reach of all players. The character dice and Support Card are placed to the side. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played where the players will be forced to challenge each scenario, leading to the final battle. Starting off, the lower section scenario card is flipped over. If there are several steps to be beaten, the Step Token is placed on the card to show which step the players are on. Each step on the scenario card must be beaten in order for the players to be able to advance to the next scenario. Starting with the Kirito player, each player will take a turn consisting of 6 steps. The first step is to select a chaining partner. This step only occurs when playing with 3 or more players. In a 2 player game, the chaining partner is always the other player. It should be noted that if a character is exhausted, it may not be chosen as a chaining partner. However if all other characters are exhausted, when a player’s turn starts, then all the characters are instantly refreshed. The next step is to roll the dice. The active player rolls some of the main dice while the chaining partner rolls some of the support dice. The number of each is determined by the scenario card. Both players are then able to reroll their dice up to two times. However the dice must be rerolled at the same time. They may also use abilities to change the die results, as long as they have abilities to use. Once both players agree with the results, the next step occurs. In the third step, the active player chooses sword skills. This is done by matching the dice to the particular sword skills on the character card. Any damage dealt by the character is then placed on the card using the damage counters. If the player is able to use up all the rolled dice, then they are able to switch with their partner and can skip the next step. That next step is the counter attack step. In this step the enemy attacks back by dealing as much damage as is indicated on the card, using the damage counters. In the next step, the resolve step, the player checks to see if the enemy has more damage on it then it’s HP. If so, then the damage tokens are removed and the step token is moved to the next step. If the step token was on the last step, then the scenario is defeated. Finally the last step is the turn end step. For this step the play passes over to the chaining partner.

Earlier I mentioned how a player can defeat a scenario. When this happens there are a few steps that must be taken before the next scenario can be challenged. First the players will gain loot from the enemy by drawing and revealing the top card from the item deck. If the item is a piece of equipment, then the players determine who will get it. That player’s character will then be subject to any benefits that the equipment provides. Consumable items can be used by either player. Next the character’s level up. The effect of this varies depending on which section the players cleared. When the lower section is cleared, their HP increases, they learn a new sword skill and they gain their character die. When the middle section is cleared, their HP and abilitiy usage go up and they learn new sword skills. They will also gain the Support Card “Yui”. For defeating the upper section, nothing happens. One note on the character die. This special die may be exchanged for a regular die when rolling. If the character’s face is rolled on this die, it may be treated as any number the player likes. After leveling up, the players will heal by removing all the damage tokens that have been placed on their character card. Any exhausted characters are then refreshed. In addition, skill usage tokens are returned to their max value and power tokens are returned. Finally, the next scenario card is revealed. The character that was the last chaining partner is now the first player for the new scenario.

The game continues until one of two things happens. If any of the characters die during the game, the game ends and the players lose. If the players are able to defeat the final battle, they win. It should be noted that during the final battle, there are a few minor rules changes that must be performed. For more information on this, please consult the rule book.

COMPONENTS
This game comes with some pretty cool looking pieces. There are several cardboard tokens. There are tokens for damage, ability usage, special powers and the step token. Each one is fairly thick with the iconography that is consistent throughout the game. There are also several card types. There are the large cards for the characters and the different scenarios. There are also smaller square like cards for items and support. These are all a bit thinner than I’d like them to be. It would really have been nicer to have had either a thicker cardstock or possibly even thick cardboard, especially for the characters. I think it just would have looked and felt better. The artwork is pretty interesting though. I’m rather unfamiliar with the anime/manga/video game that this is supposed to be derived from so I can’t comment on how true it is to the actual source material. I’m sure fans of those would probably be able to give a better opinion on those aspects. Still, for what’s there I think it looks pretty good. Finally the game also comes with several sets of dice. There are black and white dice for the main character and support characters. These are pretty much your basic dice. However the game also includes individual character dice, 1 for each character. These are a baby blue color and have a picture of the character on one of the faces and the other faces have different groupings of swords on them. Each design appears to be screen printed on dice. I’m not sure if that means that with repeated play that the images might rub off or wear off. For the moment however, I haven’t seen any signs of that happening. In any case, I think that for the most part everything looks good.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a large double sided paper that folds up fairly small. There are a few pictures on one side of the paper. There are pictures of both the character cards and the scenario cards with detailed explanations, along with a picture of how to set the game up. There are also several examples of how to play the game which are very helpful. The rules also have a section that explains several of the special effects and a section for adjusting the difficulty level of the game. Overall the rules do a good job of conveying exactly how to play the game without taking up too much time and without being too confusing. For the most part I’m pleased with the rulebook.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a fairly simple game to play. Basically you’re rolling the dice and trying to match up the dice to correspond with each character’s sword skills so that you can damage each step on the scenario card to beat it. In a lot of ways it makes me think of a combat version of Yahtzee. If you’re really good at matching up dice and your lucky at rolling, then you’re able to switch over to your chaining partner and are able to dodge the enemies counter attack. Of course, who’s really that lucky? Each time a scenario is cleared the characters learn more deadly sword skills that are even more difficult to roll correctly. I will say that even though the game is simple to learn, it’s difficult to master and depends on a lot of luck. It can also be fairly hard to beat, especially if the dice rolls just don’t go your way. I think for the most part this game is pretty good. It’s not one that really blew me away but for such a small box game it’s a nice portable filler. I really like the variety of characters that are available and that each one has special sword skills that are unique to them. I like that the game can be played either with other players or solo. I think the solo style of play is the best aspect of the game. I like that I can just throw everything down on the table in a few minutes and start rolling some dice. It’s a great game for playing on your lunch break. The short play time makes it perfect. Overall It’s a good game that I would recommend if you like fillers or short solo games.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Sword Art Online Board Game: Sword of Fellows is a small box dice game that is quick and simple to play. The game doesn’t take very long at all. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes. The artwork is pretty cool especially on the larger scenario cards. I did have a few issues with some of the components though. The character cards are a bit thinner than I’d like for them to be and the dice seem screen printed which may wear off with repeated plays. The game is fast and simple to play. It makes a nice filler especially for a solo game during a lunch break. In some ways it makes me think of a combat Yahtzee game. Fans of dice games, especially solo ones, should enjoy this one. As I’m not really familiar with the source material, I can’t say whether this is good or bad in those aspects. Overall I would recommend this for players that enjoy fillers and dice games. It’s a nice game that I found to be interesting.
8 out of 10

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

http://www.japanimegames.com/

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Flip City: Wilderness Review

Flip City: Wilderness is a standalone games as well as an expansion for Flip City by Chih-Fan Chen, published by Tasty Minstrel Games. It is for 1-4 players. This expansion adds 5 new types of doubles sided cards, as well as some Happiness tokens that can be used with the game.

For more information on Flip City and how to play the game, please follow the link below.

https://jlnelson73.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/flip-city-review/

To use this game as a standalone game, here are the setup instructions. To begin, each player will be given a deck of cards consisting of 4 Trailer Parks, a Logging Site, a Wind Farm, a Country Resort, a Farmer’s Market and a Camping Grounds. Players shuffle their cards together with these named sides of the cards face up. This forms their starting deck. It should be noted that since these cards are double sided, the player should shuffle their cards beneath the table or in a way that they can’t determine what the top card of their deck is. The general supply decks are then formed and placed in the middle of the play area in separate stacks. These stacks consist of 12 Logging Sites, 12 Farmer’s Markets, 8 Wind Farms and 8 Camping Grounds. The cards should be placed with these sides face up in the stack. Any remaining cards should be returned to the box. The first player is chosen and play now begins. The rest of the rules of the game remain pretty much unchanged.

So what exactly does this expansion add as far as new content? Well as I previously mentioned, there are 5 new types of double sided cards. There is the Trailer Park/Country Resort, Logging Site/Archaeology Site, Farmer’s Market/Interchange, Wind Farm/Airport and Camping Grounds/Water Reservior. When combining this game with either the base game or the Reuse expansion, the general supply should not have any piles of cards with the same color title bar on them. That would mean that is you were using Reuse, you couldn’t have stacks for both the Flea Market and the Logging Site. As far as the base game is concerned, you wouldn’t be able to use the Hospital and the Farmer’s Market. You would choose one stack or the other. Everything else would pretty much remain unchanged.

Like the previous versions, this expansion adds several new card types. There’s the Trailer Park which is a lot like the Residential Area from the base game. It must be played when it’s the top card of the player’s deck. When it flips it beomes the Country Resort that allows the player to flip it and shuffle it into another player’s deck. The Logging Site when it’s recycled is returned to the bottom of the player’s deck. When it flips it becomes the Archaeology Site that allows the player to spend 20 coins to gain 3 points during the Building Phase. The Farmer’s Market, when it’s bought, allows the player to remove a card from the game that they played during their turn. When it flips it becomes the Interchange that must be left in the player’s discard pile when they shuffle their discard pile. The Wind Farm, when it’s bought, gives the player 2 coins and allows them to flip once during their Building Phase. When it flips it becomes the Airport that allows the player to choose a card in any player’s pile, and shuffle it into that player’s deck. The Camping Grounds, when bought, up the limit on the player’s unhappiness by 1, making it possible to have more unhappiness during their turn. When it flips, it becomes the Water Reservior that gives the player 3 coins that may only be used for Flip and Develop actions.

Also included with the game is a set of smiley faced happiness tokens which are optional. Mainly these can be used for both the Camping Grounds in this game and the Church from the base game. They are placed over an unhappiness token, negating it. They are then discarded at the end of the player’s turn.

COMPONENTS
This game has a few less cards than the original game, only containing 76 instead of 86. There are more of the Trailer Park, Logging Site and Farmer’s Markets than there are of the more expensive Wind Farm and Camping Grounds. The cards have the same look and feel as those of the original game and expansion. The same cartoonish artwork is prevalent on these too. The same linen style finish and quality of the cards is also there. What is new in this box however is the punchboard card of happiness tokens. I really like these a lot. They are great at helping remember different card effects. I also like the new art designs on the different cards for this one. I love the outdoor feel that this game gives the player. The art style is fun and simple. I think if you liked the previous expansion or the original game, then you’ll most definitely like this one. Overall, I think that this expansion improves on the already nice design of the previous games.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this expansion is very similar to that of the original game. It’s a huge double sided sheet of paper that folds out. The paper has the same thickness as that of the original game’s rules. It has lots of nice looking pictures on it, especially one that highlights all the components. There’s also a look at how the general supply should be setup and a detailed look at the cards with plenty of explanations of each part. The rules cover the different phases of the game in great detail and even include a nice solo variant as well. The rules also explain how to use this expansion with the original game and the Reuse expansion. That said, there are several typos throughout the rules. The rules mention that there are 76 double-sided cards in 6 types, when there are only 5 types. Even the cards have a typo, spelling Water Reservoir as Water Reservior. Overall, it’s nothing major and is easily overlooked. Other than that, the rulebookd does a fairly good job of explaining the rules.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
The great thing about this game is that it can be played as either a standalone game or it can be an expansion to be combined with either the base game or the Reuse expansion. Either way you choose to play it, it’s fun. I like the new cards and how they work with the base game. I really like combining everything together and playing like that. It gives so many more options when you’re buying new cards. Just like with the base game, I like the flipping mechanic that this expansion uses as well as the push your luck feel that it provides. Both give this game/expansion a unique feel that is unique to other deck building games out there. I especially enjoy the new happiness tokens and find them to be quite useful with the game. For fans of the original game, this simply adds more content to an already great game. For those new to the game, this is a great way to get a feeling for the game and see if you like it as much as I’m sure you will. Either way, I recommend this as both an expansion and a standalone game.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Flip City: Wilderness is an expansion for Flip City that can be played as a standalone game. It adds 5 new double sided card types to the game as well as some happiness tokens. The game is still the same as far as play time goes. Most game sessions last around 35-40 minutes. The artwork on the cards is fun and captures the new wilderness theme in a cartoon style. The rulebook has a few typos that also made their way to some of the cards as well. However it’s only a minor annoyance. This game works well either way you choose to use it. As an expansion it’s great for fans of the original Flip City It’s also great for new players and makes a great way to try out the game. Either way, it’s one that I would recommend. Now have some fun and flip the script.
8 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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Helionox: The Last Sunset Review

Helionox: The Last Sunset is a game by Taran Lewis Kratz, published by Zeroic Games and Mr. B Games. It is for 1-2 players but can be played with up to 4 players using a second copy of the game. In this game, players will travel to the distant future to a world where terrible events plague the solar system due to the dying sun. Each player will take on the role of an Architect of the future as they seek to explore and exploit the worlds of the system to gain the most influence and lead civilization to a new beginning. In the end, the player that can gain the most influence will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player will craft their starting deck consisting of 5 Material Assests and 3 Sentinel Prototypes, as well as 2 randomly selected Specialized faction cards. These 2 random cards will be received as a pair. The player will also receive a random Architect cards which is placed in front of them, not to be added to their starting deck. The player now shuffles their starting deck and places it face down in front of them. They will then draw the top 5 cards to form their starting hand. Next the event deck is created using 8 Events and 1 Catastrophic Event per player. The Event deck is then separated into 3 equal decks called Events I, Events II and Events III. Events I will include no Catastrophic Events. Events II will include half of the Catastrophic Events while Events III will include the other half. The 3 Event decks are placed in order from left to right on the right side of the play area. The Market is now created by separating all the faction cards into 4 different piles based on faction. Each deck is shuffled and placed in it’s appropriate space in the Market. The top card of each of these decks is flipped face up on top of the decks. Prime Assets are placed in a separate pile beside the faction decks. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over a series of turns. Each player will take a turn that consists of 3 phases; the Event Phase, the Main Phase and the End Phase. The first phase of a player’s turn is the Event Phase. In this phase, the player will take an Event from the Event deck and place it with it’s inactive side face up at the corresponding location by matching the large symbol on the card. Any inactive Events that were previously placed will now be flipped over to it’s active side. This shuts down the location making it where location bonuses and key access cannot be used. It should be noted that if the Event is a Catastrophic Event, once it becomes active all locations are shut down. Any players that don’t have an Embassy at the location will lose 2 Influence.

The next phase is the Main Phase. In this phase, the player must first remove a Cryo counter from their Architect. If a player’s Architect has no Cryo counters on it, they are able to use it’s Cryo ability. This is done by placing Cryo counters equal to the abilities cost onto the Architect card. The player can also perform several actions, some of which may only be performed once per turn while others may be performed as often as chosen. Once per turn, the player may cycle a card from the Market by placing it on the bottom of it’s faction deck and then revealing a new card. They can also gain a Location bonus from their current Location once per turn. If the player has an Embassy at the Location, they will gain Key access instead of the Location bonus. At any time during their turn the player can play cards from their hand to immediately gain abilities, credits and defense. Credits and defense may be stored and used at any time during the player’s turn. The player can also overcome events as long as they are in the location of the event. They simply pay the defense equal to the Event’s defense cost. The player will then collect Influence tokens equal to the Event’s Influence value. If the player needs help they can call for a Collaboration with another player at the same location as long as they control an Embassy at the location. Both players will gain Influence equal to the amount of Defense they contributed to overcome the event. Each player will then draw 1 card. They can also buy cards or Prime Assets from the market by paying the cards cost. The card is then placed on the top of the player’s deck. A new card is then drawn from the deck to replace it. The player can also travel to new locations by paying 2 credits to move. However if they have an Embassy at the desired location they are traveling to, it will only cost 1 credit. Finally the last action the player can take is to place an Embassy at their current location by paying 2 credits.

The last phase is the End Phase. In this phase, the player takes any cards that they played and places them into their discard pile. Any cards remaining in the player’s hand may either be discarded or kept. The player will then draw 5 new cards and discard down to 5 cards. Play then passes to the next player.

The game continues until the last event is revealed. At the end of that turn, the game ends. Players will then add up their points from Influence tokens, the Influence values of any cards in their deck and the number of Embassies they control. The player with the most Influence is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game comes with a bunch of cards and some heavy duty cardboard tokens. The cards are very good quality and have that nice linen finish to them. The artwork is rather unique and quite unusual. It has a very interesting SciFi look and feel to it. There are robots, planets and space ships of all different shapes, sizes and colors. The art really draws you into this strange new world. I’m very intrigued with how amazing each card looks. There are also some quick reference cards which are very helpful when playing the game. The tokens are really thick and fit the theme quite well. There are Cryo counters that are used with each player’s Architect. There are Embassy tokens to show when each player controls an Embassy. There are ship tokens to track the player’s location. There are Influence tokens to keep track of each player’s score. There are also shut down tokens that are used to show when a location is unable to be used. About the only thing that the game didn’t come with was tokens for credits. However if you’ve ever played a deck builder before, you realize that you don’t really need this as it’s simply redundant and easy to keep up with each turn. Just looking at the game, it kind of reminds me of Eminent Domain. However many of the images on these cards are a bit rougher than on that game. Still, I rather like the unique designs of these and feel that it brings out the theme a bit more. Overall I think that the cards and tokens are really great and really convey the SciFi theme quite well.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game isn’t very long. It contains only a few actual pictures. There are a couple of pictures that explain the anatomy of each card type and one for showing how the game should be set up. Other than that, there’s really nothing. The rules are actually fairly simple to read and understand. I didn’t see anything that looked difficult at all. Everything is explained fairly well. The book contains a few faqs and examples, as well as a section that explains the terminology of the game. There’s also a section of advanced rules for players already familiar with the game. In this section there’s a way of playing with Missions as well as rules for solo and cooperative play. Seeing as I like to play most deck builders in solo mode as well as with other players, this was a much appreciated addition to the rulebook. The back page has a nice reference that shows faction and other card symbols on it. Overall I think the book does a good job at covering the rules in a concise and simple way.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
I have to say that I rather enjoy this game. I’m sure that doesn’t come as a surprise to many as my love for deck builders is pretty well known. I mean what’s not to like? As a deck builder this follows the same fundamental mechanics that you’ve no doubt seen time and time again; play a card, gain coins or power or whatever, buy new cards, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, rinse, repeat. While I enjoy that aspect of deck building, this one does veer off into a different realm just a bit. For one thing, there are locations which provide various benefits. When your ship moves to that location, you can take the benefit that it provides. If you’ve already placed an Embassy, you get what is called Key Access. Basically all this does is give you the absolute best ability that the location has to give. However not every location will be available during your turn as events will be placed beside the corresponding location that will shut it down. If you’re really unlucky, then you’ll have to deal with a Catastrophic event that shuts down ALL the locations. That’s a bit of a pain when you already had your strategy already figured out, but those are the breaks. Sometimes you just have to use your Defenses to handle the event so that it can be removed first. This whole moving around to different places, handling these dire situations that come up using your ingenuity make me feel a bit like the Doctor. I just need a T.A.R.D.I.S. instead of a space ship. I feel like it’s these events and locations that really change the dynamics of the game and make it much more than your regular deck builder. It’s more of a strategic puzzle that takes a bit of understanding how to best use the cards in your hand. That’s just the normal game. The solo and cooperative games are even better. In these games, it’s all about making sure that you collect enough Influence before too many Events or Catastrophic Events become Active. Overall this is a great deck builder that I think fans of the mechanic should really enjoy. I also feel that SciFi fans might enjoy it as well. I would definitely recommend this one especially for solo gamers.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Helionox: The Last Sunset is a deck building game set in a future SciFi style world. The game time isn’t too long. Most game sessions last around 40-45 minutes, depending on the number of players. Solo games tend to be a bit shorter. The artwork is really unique and unusual. I quite like the futuristic designs on the cards as well as the theme. The game adds a bit more to the deck building mechanic which makes the game a bit more fun in my opinion. As either a solo or multiplayer game, this one works well. I especially enjoy the solo aspects of the game and think that this is truly where it shines. Fans of deck building games like Ascension or Eminent Domain should really enjoy this one. This is also one that SciFi fans might enjoy as well. This is a game that I would definitely recommend. Don’t let the sun go down without giving it a try.
8 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Zeroic Games or Mr. B Games at their site.

http://zeroicgames.com/

http://www.mrbgames.com/

 

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Dairyman Review

Dairyman is a game by Chih-Fan Chen, published by Tasty Minstrel Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of a dairyman as they try to fill the orders of the farm owner by producing fresh milk. They’ll also be able to transform that milk into cheese and ice cream to keep it from spoiling. In the end, the player that can produce the most milk and get the most points will be declared the winner.

To begin, a number of backorder tokens and all the freeze tokens are placed in the middle of the play area. The number of backorder tokens used is dependant on the number of players. The remaining tokens are returned to the box. The 3 Barn tiles are placed in the center of the play area. All of the Milk tiles are shuffled together with the white milk side up. A stack is then made near the Barn tiles. The top 3 Milk tiles are placed in a line beneath the Barn tiles. The first player is chosen and they are given the 7 white dice and the 1 yellow die which are known as the Dairy dice. Play now begins.

The game is played with each player taking turns. On a player’s turn, they will roll all the available dice. They must then Lock at least 1 set of 2 or 3 dice with a total of exactly 10, placing it on the #1 Barn tile. The player is allowed to Lock more than 1 set of dice at the same time, however the dice must all be placed on the same Barn tile. If the player has any remaining dice after that, they have the option of rerolling any unlocked dice or stopping. If they choose to reroll, then after rolling they must Lock in at least 1 set of dice in the same way as before. However if after rerolling the player is unable to lock a set of dice, they have failed to Produce Milk and their turn ends immediately. After the reroll, this time the player places the dice on the #2 Barn tile. If the player is able to Lock at least 1 set and they still have dice remaining, once more they can choose to reroll or stop. If they reroll a third time, they must Lock dice on the #3 Barn tile. The player will also gain a freeze token each time they choose to reroll. Even if they fail to Produce Milk, they will still gain the token. The player is able to use a freeze token before a reroll to prevent a die from being rolled. Whenever the player decides to stop rolling, they will then add the total of the dice on the Barn tiles and use them to claim Milk tiles. It should be noted that the player can also use an unlocked yellow die or freeze token to flip their Milk tiles to the other side. They can then use the special ability provided. Once a player finishes claiming tiles or they fail to Produce Milk, their turn ends. They will also be forced to take a backorder token. Backorder tokens allow the player to roll an extra red die on their turn but they must return it to the supply at the end of their turn and they also will lose 5 points at the end of the game if they still have it. The Dairy dice are then passed to the next player and the orders are refilled back up to 3 beneath the Barn tiles.

The game continues with each player taking turns rolling dice and claiming tiles. Once the Milk tiles can not be refilled back up to 3 tiles, then the game ends immediately. Each player must add up the value of all their Milk tokens, deducting -5 points for each backorder token. Players compare their totals and the one with the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This is a small box game that doesn’t come with a lot of pieces. There are several dice included in the box. There are 7 white dice, a yellow die and 4 red dice. These are all pretty much your standard style of dice. Then there are the tiles and tokens. These are all thick cardboard. There are 3 barn tiles to place your dice on and 22 milk tiles that are double sided. There are 5 red backorder tokens that give negative points and 20 white freeze tokens that have little snowflakes on them. That’s it. The artwork on the barn and milk tiles is very minimalistic and there’s nothing elaborate about the designs. The barn tiles have different colored barns on them. The milk tiles have different dairy products on them such as a carton of milk or pitcher of milk on one side, while the flip side has cheese or ice cream cones on them. It’s a very simple looking game. That said it’s kind of nice that the designer felt there was no need to go overboard with the graphic design and make it look gaudy. Even though it’s very simplistic, I kind of like it. The iconography is pretty simple so there shouldn’t be any problems understanding what each one means. Overall I’m pretty good with the look and feel of the game. It’s not bad.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a large double sided sheet of thick paper. It’s full color and has several pictures on it including one that shows how the game should look when set up. It’s fairly simple to read through and understand. I didn’t see anything that should pose too much of a problem. Each aspect of the game is explained in fairly good detail. There’s even a section devoted to explaining each of the different icons on the tiles. Overall It’s not bad and shouldn’t take too long to read over. I feel like everything is explained well enough. It does a pretty good job of covering the rules.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a fairly simple game to play. The quick and simple of it is that you roll dice and try to get 2 or 3 dice that add up to 10 to be able to place them on a barn tile. You can then press your luck to try and get more. That’s pretty much it. Well, there is a little bit more than that as you have options of not having to roll some dice and a few special abilities when you use either a die or freeze token to flip a milk token to the other side. Still there’s not a lot more to it than that. Is the theme painted on? Yes, it is. This could have been absolutely anything and the game would have still played pretty much the same. However I have to give credit to the designer as he chose a very unique theme that I’ve not seen in any other games before. Kudos for that. Speaking of the designer, you can most definitely feel his touch on the game. The whole flipping concept that is in this game harkens back to the same concept in Flip City. Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just very obvious. I realize that some of what I’m saying here may come across as kind of negative. It’s not though. The game itself is actually kind of fun. I like the simplicity of rolling the dice and trying to make combinations. It’s kind of like Yahtzee or King of Tokyo in that way. Another good thing about this game is that it takes up very little space. You can pretty much take it anywhere and play it. For me I like the game fairly well. It’s a game with a fairly unique theme that is fast and simple to play. Fans of dice rolling games like Yahtzee or King of Tokyo might enjoy this. I would also recommend this to anyone that enjoyed Flip City. Overall it’s a good game that I would recommend giving a try.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Dairyman is a small dice game with a unique theme. It’s fairly simple and plays rather quickly. Most game sessions last about 15-20 minutes. The artwork is very simplistic but interesting enough. I like the very minimalistic designs. This is a nice filler game that can be played by pretty much anyone. It’s very simple to play and is very easy to teach. The few icons are simple enough to remember and shouldn’t cause any problems. The theme is pretty much pasted on but is still unlike any that I’ve ever seen before. It’s a small box game so it’s pretty easy to carry. It doesn’t take up much room to play so it can be played pretty much anywhere. Fans of the designer’s other game Flip City should really enjoy the flipping aspect of this game. Fans of dice rolling games like Yahtzee or King of Tokyo might enjoy this one. Overall it’s a game of good fun that I rather like. It’s a good family filler game that I would recommend giving a try. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s milking to be done.
8 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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Flip City: Reuse Expansion Review

Flip City: Reuse is an expansion for Flip City by Chih-Fan Chen, published by Tasty Minstrel Games. It is for 1-4 players. This expansion adds two new types of double sided cards to be added to the game.

For more information on Flip City and how to play the game, please follow the link below.

https://jlnelson73.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/flip-city-review/

 

So what does this expansion add to the game? Well as I mentioned a moment ago, it adds two new types of double sided cards. There is the Plumber Shop/Renewal Agency and the Flea Market/Recycling Bin. Each player adds a Plumber Shop and a Flea Market to their starting deck at the beginning of the game. There are then 10 cards for each set placed in two new piles along with the other cards for the supply. Everything else as far as setup, playing the game and win conditions remains the same.

As I said, there are two card types. Let me explain what each one does. First there’s the Plumber Shop. This allows the player to discard a card from either the top or bottom of all the other player’s decks. When it flips, it becomes the Renewal Agency that gives the player 3 coins to be used only on the Flip cost portion of a card. Next there is the Flea Market. This can be voluntarily be left in the player’s discard pile. It can be flipped over or recycled in the discard pile to give the player an additional coin. When it flips, it becomes the Recycling Bin. This has no effect, but when it’s flip cost is paid to flip it back over it allows the player to flip an additional card that turn.

COMPONENTS
Just like the base game, this expansion contains only cards. There are 14 of each of the two types for a total of 28 cards, along with the rules card. The look and feel of these cards is identical to that of the base game. The same cartoonish style of artwork is present on these as well. The quality and durability is there also and each card has that same finish. If you liked the original game, then you’ll like these too. Overall, these are some great looking cards.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this expansion is a single double sided card. The front of the card tells you how to set up using the new card types and even has a couple of pictures on it. The back side has an explanation of what each new card does and how it works. Oh and there are pictures on the back too. Overall it’s a pretty simple concept that gets the job done in a very minimalistic way. I like it.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
If you enjoyed the original Flip City, then chances are that you’ll like this too. What this expansion does it just gives you more cards to add to your deck and a few more options to take. Much like what the Office cards do for the base game, this just adds more content. There’s nothing majorly game changing or anything like that. However the Plumber Shop does add a bit more player interaction. The rest of the cards just give more money and more ways to get cards flipped. For me this is a little more icing on the cake. It just adds a bit more flavor and things to enjoy. Is it necessary or needed? Well no not really but I like what it adds. Like I said, if you’re a fan of the original game, then you’ll most likely want to add this to your collection. I would recommend it.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Flip City: Reuse is an expansion for Flip City that adds two new double sided card types to an already great game. The expansion doesn’t really add any additional play time to the game. Most game sessions last around 35-40 minutes. The artwork on the cards is much like that of the original game. The same cartoon like style is prevalent here as well. The expansion does add a bit more player interaction to the game. Fans of Flip City should really enjoy the expansion. It adds more content without changing the dynamics too much. I wouldn’t say it’s a must buy but it will be one that players will enjoy having. I would recommend this expansion. Now flip the lights.
8 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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