Ars Alchimia Review

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Ars Alchimia is a game by Kuro, published by Tasty Minstrel Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of overseers at an alchemical factory. They will be gathering orders, collecting resources and transmute them into new forms. Of course their opponents will be trying to do the same thing, just more efficiently than them. In the end, the player that can collect the most points from creating the rarest items and elements will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board should be placed in the middle of the play area. The Transmutation Forges are shuffled together and placed face down onto the Transmutation deck spot marked with the potion icon. 1 Forge card is dealt face up onto each empty space with a potion icon on it beside the deck. The Assistant cards are shuffled together and placed face down next to the board. 1 Assistant card is dealt face up onto each spot marked with a people icon on it. For games with less than 4 players, only 2 spaces will be used. The Location cards are shuffled together and placed face down on to the Gathering deck spot marked with the compass icon. 1 Location card is dealt face up onto each empty space marked with the compass icon on it beside the deck. For games with 2 players, only 2 of the spaces will be used. Each player chooses a color and is given a set of workers of their chosen color and a corresponding scoring disc. If there are less than 4 players, each player returns 2 of their workers to the box, not to be used during the game. Players then take 9 of their workers and set them in front of themselves. The remaining workers are set aside in the box lid to be acquired during the game. The scoring disc is placed next to the 1 space on the edge of the board. The factory cards are shuffled and randomly dealt out to each player. The 4 card is not used when playing with 3 players and the 3 card is also not used if playing with only 2 players. This determines the first player. The die is then given to the player with the 1 card. The Order cards are separated into 3 different stacks based on their ranks. Each stack is then shuffled separately. 3 Rank C cards, 2 Rank B and 1 Rank A card are dealt onto the corresponding colored spaces marked with the scroll icon. If there are only 2 players, one of the Rank B spaces is left empty. Each player is then given a player mat and a colored cube that corresponds with each of the 5 elements on the mat. Each cube is placed on the corresponding colored track on the 0 space. Play now begins.

The game is played over a series of 4 rounds that represent 1 year. Each round is made up of 3 phases; start of round, main step and end of round. The first phase is the start of round. In this phase, the playing order is determined via the Factory cards. In the first round, this has already been done. From the second round on, the player with the least amount of points gets to choose from the Factory cards first, followed by the next lowest points and so on. Once this is done, players gain workers from the box lid equal to the number on their Factory card. Players will then pay any upkeep for assistants they have from a previous round. This is done by placing a worker on the Town Square for each assistant they want to keep. Players also have the option of returning the assistant to the bottom of the deck if they don’t wish to pay the upkeep cost.

The next phase is the main step phase. In this phase, players will take turns placing workers, beginning with the lowest Factory card number and continuing to the highest. The player is then able to place one of their workers in one of the rectangle boxes beside one of the cards on the board. The player must place as many workers as there are already in the box + 1. In other words, if there is already a worker in the box, the player would have to place 2 workers. The player then moves any previous workers to the town square. It’s also possible to place more workers than is required, for some places this will earn the player a benefit. The action from the spot is then resolved based on the card. Once the action is resolved, the player hands the die to the next player. This continues until players run out of workers or chose not to place any more. The player then passes.

There are several actions that are available for workers to do. They can gather resources. This is done by visiting one of the locations. This can also include the face down deck. To use the deck, the player flips over the top card then once the action is completed, it’s returned to the bottom of the deck. The player gains the resources indicated by the card and adjusts the cubes on their player mat accordingly. They then roll the die and if the number is rolled is equal to or higher than the indicated number, the player also gains the bonus resource. The player can gain +1 to their die roll by placing 1 more worker than was required to place on the location.

Another action a player can do is to take up orders. To do this the player takes the chosen card and places it on an empty card slot on their player mat. A new card is then drawn from the corresponding deck to replace it with. Players are only allowed to take orders of Rank C until they have fulfilled 1 Academic order. This then allows them to use Rank B orders. Once they fulfill another Academic order they are then allowed to take Rank A orders. Once the fourth and final round is reached, players are allowed to take any rank orders, regardless of their academic rank. Players are only allowed to have 3 orders at a time.

Yet another action that’s available to do is to employ assistants. To do this, the player takes the card and places it beside their player mat. The top card of the deck is then drawn to replace the taken card. The effect of the assistant is applied immediately. Some assistants only allow for effects to happen once per round. For these assistants, the card is turned sideways to show that the effect has been used.

Transmuting is another action that can be taken. The player is able to use one of the face up forges to create elixirs or complete orders with. They can also use the face down deck just like using the location deck. To use the deck, the player flips over the top card then once the action is completed, it’s returned to the bottom of the deck. The player rolls the die to see if they can gain bonus points by rolling equal to or higher than the number indicated on the card. Each transmutation done during the turn then gains bonus points for the player. Just like if they were gathering resources, the player can place more workers to add 1 to the die roll. The player may transmute as many times as the forge has transmute symbols. Fulfilling an order is done by adjusting the cubes on their player mat that correspond with one of the orders the player has on their player mat. Elixirs may be used as any resource. Once the order is completed, it is set aside and the player gains points equal to the card. Bonus points are awarded if the die roll succeeded and based on the rank of the order. Transmuting an elixir is done by taking 2 different resources and creating an elixir. The die is rolled and if the roll succeeds, the player gains an extra point as a bonus.

The final phase is the end of round phase. This phase begins once all players have passed from the last round. Three steps are then followed. First, all the workers on the board are returned to their respective owners. Next, any assistants that have been used and turned sideways are now refreshed and returned to their upright position. Finally, all the face up cards on the board are shuffled separately by type and then returned face down to the bottom of their respective decks. New cards are then drawn to fill up the board just like during setup.

The game continues until the end of the fourth round. Once the round is over, players compare scores. Any player with unfulfilled orders loses points equal to half the order’s point value. Players then gain bonus points for how many of each type they fulfilled. They also gain a point for each elixir and one for each assistant they have. Points are added up and the player with the most points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game comes in a rather small and compact box. Even so, it’s got lots of pieces with it. There are lots of wooden pieces here. There are the worker pawns in four different bright colors. There are the 5 different colored cubes for each player’s mat. Finally there’s the 4 different colored player scoring discs. I really like the bright colors on each of these and the quality is really great. The die that comes with the game is a bit small. I’d have like a bigger die but it’s just a die and this one gets the job done fine. Next we have the player mats. These look nice and fit the them nicely but they’re just a bit thin. I’d have liked thick cardboard instead of these. The cards are the smaller Euro size but the quality of these is really great. I really like the artwork and design. They fit nicely with the theme and look of the game. The art reminds me of Final Fantasy Tactics in the assistant designs especially. Not sure why the Japanese text was left on the cards as it does tend to take up a bit of room on them, making the English text even smaller. However this is only a very minor irritation on an otherwise nice design. The board itself is beautiful. I really love the art chosen for it. It looks like a lovely place I’d like to live. I have to say that even though there are a few minor quirks here, I really like the overall look and feel of the components. They all look really great.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this one is a bit odd. I’m not really sure what happened here. The book is only 4 pages long, but the front cover is actually the last page. The inside 2 pages are the cover and the 1st page. The back cover is the third page. I’m guessing the printing machine went a bit screwy. There are only a couple of pictures in the book and these are kind of small, but nothing really to worry about. The setup and components are lumped in together so there’s no real coherent thought on getting the game ready to play. Some things aren’t even mentioned, like the player mats and the resource cubes. Some things like the scoring discs aren’t referenced correctly, being called point cubes. Huh? Thankfully the rules are only 4 pages and small enough that it’s not hard finding what you’re looking for. I will say that for the most part, each phase is detailed fairly well. I didn’t find a lot that was confusing or too difficult to figure out. Overall the rules do look kind of odd and feel rather weird, but it gets the job done despite the major issues here. Maybe just a little better quality control and translation job could have made this not such a mess. Still, it gets a passing grade despite the flaws.
6 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a light and fun game. I really like worker placement games and this one takes hold of the mechanic and runs with it. There are always plenty of choices to make and lots of things that you can do on your turn. I especially like the addition of the die roll when you do certain actions to gain extra benefits. The game can be rather strategic as you choose which orders you want to try and complete. Of course you have to be careful that you don’t overload yourself and wind up with negative points during scoring because you couldn’t complete the order. The way that workers are placed in this game reminds me of the game, Coal Baron. Each time that you decide to place a worker you have to think about the cost. If the space is empty it’s pretty simple to just place a worker and move on. As the round progresses, you have to consider how badly you want to make a certain move as you may end up having to pay a lot of workers just to do the action. I really like this game the most with 2 players. More players are fine but each action tends to cost a bit more and it’s a little harder to get things done. Of course that’s kind of the idea. As a 2 player game, in my opinion, the game is at it’s best. You’re able to do stuff but there’s still a bit of competition for certain spaces. Fans of worker placement games like Coal Baron or Lords of Waterdeep should enjoy this one fairly well. It’s a game that I recommend especially with 2 players. Overall, I think most people will enjoy it.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Ars Alchimia is a worker placement game about alchemy. It’s not an extremely long game. Most game sessions last a little over an hour. The game plays great with all number of players but for me it shines with just 2. The artwork is really nice. I especially like the designs on the cards, which remind me of Final Fantasy Tactics. However the text is a bit small due to the japanese text included on the cards. I also would have like a bigger die and thicker player mats. The rulebook seems to be the largest issue with the game as the lay out is completely messed up and there are some glaring mistakes and omissions throughout the small 4 page book. Thankfully the game play is fun making it fairly easy to overlook the minor issues. Fans of worker placement games like Lords of Waterdeep and especially Coal Baron, which has similar mechanics, should really enjoy this one. I recommend this game, especially as a 2 player. Now if I could just figure out how to turn lead into gold.
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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Preview Review of Trade & Troll

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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 print and play file of the game and rules. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!

Trade & Troll is a game by Emanuele Buffagni & Giulio Torlai, published by Good & Evil Games. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players will take on the role of merchants in a medieval town. They will be trying to create effective routes between their resources and stalls and then on to the market. They will have to watch out as their opponents will try to block their routes and keep them from being able to fill their stalls. On top of that, they’ll have to be on the watch for the greedy troll who will also block their trade routes. In the end, the player that can best manage their goods, stalls and market will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is laid out in the middle of the play area on the appropriate side, based on the number of players. The Closed Road tiles are placed on the board according to the number of players as well. For more information on placement check the rule book. Players choose a color and receive the merchant meeples of their chosen color as well as the corresponding colored troll bag. The first player is chosen and receives the first player token, which is placed in front of them on side 1. The Initial resource tiles are shuffled together and each player is dealt 1 tile. A Road Tile is is given to each player except for the last player. The Building Tiles are shuffled into 3 separate piles based on their types; Resource, Stall and Market. The 3 separate piles are placed face down near the board. The remaining Initial Resource tiles are reshuffled and placed on top of the Resource tiles. Five of each type of tile are flipped over and placed face up beside the board in a row. Each player is then given 5 coins of 1 value. Beginning with the First Player, players now take turns in turn order placing their initial building tile and road on the board. Players must follow the rules of placement in regards to placing their road and building. Players now place one of their merchant meeples of their color on top of their building tile. Play now begins.

The game is played over a series of rounds. Each round is divided into 3 phases; troll auction, player actions and end of round. The first phase is the troll auction. In this phase players gather up all their coins in their left hand and then place a secret bid in their right hand. Once all players have their bids ready, they now simultaneously reveal the coins in their right hand. The player that bid the most wins the troll and is then able to put him into play. The troll can be placed in an intersection between two roads blocking the way between buildings, or he can be placed on a building itself keeping it from providing materials to other buildings. The winning bidder also receives a victory point token and the Acquisition token which is placed face up in front of them, keeping them from bidding on the next auction. Once the troll has been placed, players place the coins that they bid into their colored troll bag. These will not be used during the game but may count towards victory points at the end of the game.

The second phase is the player actions phase. In this phase, players take turns beginning with the first player. Once all players have completed their first action, the first player turns the first player token to the 2 side and players now take their second action in turn order. Once players have completed their second action, the phase is over. Players have 4 different actions that they can take; buying and placing a building, buying and placing a road, activating a building and passing. To buy and place a building the player spends a set amount of coins to place one of the face up buildings beside the board onto the board, following the rules of placement. They then place one of their merchant meeples on it to show ownership. A new tile is then drawn to replace the taken tile. Resources cost 3 coins, stalls cost 8 coins and Markets cost 15. To buy and place a road, the player simply pays 2 coins and places a road on an unoccupied road space. To activate a building, the player chooses a building that has not already been activated and that is connected to the required building with open roads. The player then takes an amount of coins based on the building type and places the merchant meeple in the lying down position. It should be noted that players are allowed to rent other player’s buildings to fulfill requirements for the activation of a building. The rented player’s building rewards that player with a set amount of coins based on the type of building. Also of note, resources don’t need to be connected to any other buildings to be activated. Stalls require connection to the corresponding colored resource. Some stalls have two colors and require connection to two resource tiles. Markets follow the same rules as stalls and must be connected to two different stalls of the appropriate colors, even if a single stall contains both colors required by the market. Passing is done when a player can not or does not want to carry out any of the actions above.

The final phase is the end of round phase. In this phase a few things must be done in order. First the first player passes the first player token to the player on their left, who then places it on the 1 side in front of themself. All merchant meeples are then returned to their standing positions. The troll is then removed from the board. A new round is then able to begin.

Earlier I mentioned the rules of placement. Basically what this is that when a building is placed it must be placed on a square that is adjacent to another building that is already on the board. It should be noted that the entrance must not be facing a closed road. When placing a road, the path where the road is placed must be between 2 building squares and must be connected to at least one other unclosed road already on the board. It also can not be placed on top of another road or closed road.

The game continues until one of two things happens. If there are less than or the same amount of free spaces on the board as there are players, the final phase of the game begins. There are then only two rounds left. The final phase token is used to show which round it is. If at any time there are nor more spaces left to place buildings, the game ends at the end of the round. This happens even if the game is already in the final phase of play. It should be noted that during the final phase, the troll auction does not take place.

Once the game is over, players calculate victory points based on several factors. A merchant meeple should be used along the scoring track of the board to keep track of each player’s points. Players gain points from buildings they constructed that have a road in front of it and is connected to the proper resources. They lose points for each building that does not have the proper connections. Players also gain points for every 10 coins in their possession. At this point, players will now empty their troll bags and count up the number of coins. The player with the most coins gains 3 points while the second most gains 1. Players now compare their victory point totals and the player with the most points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
Since all I received for this review was the print and play files, I won’t go into too much detail here. If you want to more know about what will actually come with the game, I suggest checking out the Kickstarter link at the bottom. Basically what I can tell you is from the design images that I’ve seen in both the prototype rulebook and the WIP thread on BGG, everything looks pretty solid. You kind of get this feeling of Settlers of Catan with a little touch of Jaipur. The artwork looks to be pretty good. I’m hoping that the quality of the components is as good as the artwork is. A couple of things that I’d like to see is for the troll meeple to actually look like a troll. It would be great if it was larger and shaped like a troll or had a sticker that you could place on the wooden meeple to give it the look. Here’s hoping that the merchant meeples are done the same way, shaped like a merchant or stickered. Apart from those two things I’d say that the game is already headed in a really good direction. I think players will be happy with the finished product.
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RULEBOOK
Just like the components, the rulebook also falls into the same category of print and play quality. The rules that I received look a bit more polished and pretty than the components though and look to have a lot more of the finished look to them. Reading through them, I didn’t see anything that looked difficult to understand or confusing based on design. Everything appears to be well thought out so far. There’s even a special set of rules for 2 players. Also included in the prototype rules are some frequently asked questions and a very nice reference guide on the back page. There are lots of pictures and examples in the book so everything should be pretty clear. Overall I think based on what I’ve seen so far, the rules should be in pretty good shape.
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GAMEPLAY
This is a fun game that’s fairly easy to play. The first phase of the game is all about bidding. How much do you want to pay to use the troll to block your opponents or to keep your opponents from blocking you. You also have to think that every time you win the troll, you’re getting a victory point which can seriously add up if you win several times. For this part of the game it’s all about out thinking your opponent. Will they choose to go low expecting you to outbid them or will they go high to outbid you. In the second phase your looking at several different options to take. You’ll earn quite a few victory points at the end of the game for the more expensive buildings but you’ll have to pay quite a bit of coinage to get them on the board. You also have to think that if those buildings aren’t connected to the proper resources then you’re going to be losing points instead of gaining them. Another thing to think about is collecting coins, which you’ll need to be able to purchase those buildings to place on the board. In many ways, the game is a balancing act. You have to think about what you want to do and how you’re going to do it, usually a couple steps in advance. It’s this balancing act that I really enjoy. I also like that the game penalizes you for not keeping an eye on what your opponents are doing to your buildings. In some ways the game has a little bit of a worker placement feel in this phase. Once the game reaches it’s end, it’s point salad for everyone. You get points and you get points. Oh wait, no you lose points cause your building isn’t connected to the proper resource. Scratch that. Needless to say, I really feel like this game will appeal to a wide variety of players. Fans of bidding and worker placement games should enjoy this one. This is a game that I recommend. It’s definitely worth trying.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Trade & Troll is a light game that incorporates several mechanics into a melting pot of fun. The game doesn’t take an extremely large amount of time to play. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the number of players. The game looks really good from all the pictures I’ve seen in the rulebook and the WIP thread on BGG. I really like the board and building designs. I’m hoping that the troll and merchant meeples will get a nice upgrade with some Kickstarter stretch goals. The rules seem well written already and should be polished to perfection once the game is produced. The game itself highlights both the bidding mechanic as well as some worker placement aspects. I like how easy the game is to teach. It’s easy enough that my kids can play without any real problems. I also like the many different ways to earn points and the use of negative points to penalize players that aren’t keeping up with their opponents moves. I really feel that the mixture of mechanics will really delight most players. Fans of worker placement and bidding games should enjoy this one. It’s well designed and looks like it will be well produced as well. I recommend this game and look forward to seeing it once it’s finished.
8 out of 10

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For more information about this great game, please keep an eye out for the upcoming Kickstarter coming soon.

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The Dragon Tray by Dog Might Games Product Review

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Recently I was given the opportunity to check out a new product from Dog Might Games. That product was the truly amazing looking Dragon Tray. Here are my thoughts and opinions on the product. Enjoy!

First off let me explain exactly what the product is and give you some more details about it. To begin with, The Dragon Tray comes in many different designs, not just the dragon design. As a matter of fact, the design I was sent was the Celtic Double design. As you can see in the pictures below. It is designed to act as a rolling surface for your dice when playing RPGs or any other game requiring dice to be rolled. It keeps your dice from going all over the table and getting lost in a very fashionable way. The version I received was made of White Ash wood with brown Dragon Hide lining. I’m not exactly sure what the Dragon Hide is actually but it’s pretty cool looking. The intricate designs and hand craftsmanship reek of high quality. As I said, there are tons of different designs each with their own unique set of dice to compliment whatever you choose. Needless to say, whatever you’re looking for in terms of design and necessity, you’ll be able to find something that will more than work for you.

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Now what I’ll do is show you several different angles on this particular dice tray so that you can get a good idea of exactly what to expect with your order. It should be noted however that mine did not come with the corresponding dice, so I used my son’s random set of role playing dice instead.

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Here’s a look at the back side of the tray. As you can see there are some rubber bumpers that keep it from sliding around on the table, as well as a sawtooth picture hanger for being able to hang it up on your wall.

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MATERIALS
As you can tell from all the pictures, the tray is well designed and expertly crafted. The wood is really strong and sturdy. The finish is really nice and smooth. I love how beautiful it is and how nicely designed it is. The craftsmanship is excellent. I’ve seen many other dice trays over the years but nothing else compares to the quality of this one. Rolling dice is easy but normally carries with it quite a loud noise when the dice hit the table. This doesn’t completely silence it but it does make it a lot quieter and gives a nice healthy wooden sound that I rather like. Overall, the materials are outstanding.
10 out of 10

INSTRUCTION
No instructions needed, as everything is already assembled and ready to go.
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CONSTRUCTION
As I mentioned earlier, these are expertly made. The added benefits of the rubber pads on the bottom keep the tray from sliding around on the table and also from scratching up the table if that bothers you. The hanger on the back makes it possible to hang it on the wall as an artistic or conversation piece in your game room. Didn’t think a dice tray could also be a piece of art. I really like how pretty the tray is and how well it works. My 16 year old son took it out to his friend’s house where they were playing a local game of 4th Edition D&D. Everyone was impressed with the look and design and really enjoyed using it. It was a big hit with everyone involved. Not only does it work for RPGs but it also can be used with any type of board game. I think it’ll help my daughter keep her dice from going all over the place when she rolls. That’s an added bonus in my book. Basically if you play board games or RPGs like D&D, Pathfinder, Shadowrun or anything else, you will enjoy having one of these to play with. With the many different designs, there’s sure to be one to fit your mood or game type. It’s really beautiful to look at and does an excellent job. I’m thoroughly impressed with it.
10 out of 10

OVERALL
The Dragon Tray is a high quality gaming accessory for RPG and board game players alike. The tray is beautiful and is made of sturdy wood with a gorgeous finish applied to it. I really love the overall look and design of it. Speaking of designs, this is simply one of many different designs that are available to choose from. There’s guaranteed to be a design that fits your game or play style. The tray is not only great to play with, it also makes a pretty neat decoration to hang on your wall. I highly recommend this product, as does my son and all his friends. As a board and RPG gamer, I can tell you that you’ve never seen something this high quality in a dice tray. It’s a great addition to any game night. You’ll be happy to have this and you’ll be the envy of your gaming group. Super well done!
10 out of 10

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

http://www.dogmight.com/

You can also check out the Kickstarter campaign and get your own custom tray below.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dogmight

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Preview Review of Get Off My Land!

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

Get Off My Land! is a game by Gordon Oscar, Liam Smith and Stephanie Kwok, published by First Fish Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of feuding farmers that are in a competition to see who can have the most profitable farm. They’ll have to purchase crops and livestock to expand their farms. Of course they’ll have to watch out as their rivals might be using their opponents corn crops to feed their pigs with. They’ll have to be ready to defend their property by any means necessary. In the end, the farmer that can earn the largest fortune over the period of a year, will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player chooses a color and is given an action reference/scoring card, 15 fence pieces and a farmer meeple of their chosen color. They also receive $8 worth of money. The remaining money is separated into individual piles and set to the side of the play area. The farmhouse tiles are shuffled together and each player is dealt 2, of which they choose 1 to keep. The other tile is returned to the stack which is then returned to the box. Each player places their tile face down in their starting area. The land tiles are then setup according to the diagram in the rulebook for the number of players. Players should start with 2 logged tiles beside their farmhouse. One of these tiles should be fully fenced, using the wooden fence pieces of the player’s color. The player’s farmhouse should also be fully fenced. It should be noted that the tiles that are not logged or farmhouses should be randomly setup based on charts that are listed in the rulebook for each number of players. For instance, in a 2 player game the tiles used are 1 of fertile land, oil strike, extra wood and extra sales, along with 2 blank tiles. Players should place their farmer meeple on top of their farmhouse tile. The market and market cards should be placed near the tiles. The cards should be separated based on the number of players. Only certain cards are used, unless playing with 4 players. Consult the rulebook for more information on this. The cards not used are returned to the box. The cards are then separated into 3 piles based on the letter on the bottom right corner of the card. Each lettered pile is then shuffled separately and placed in a stack beginning with the C pile, followed by the B and then ending with the A cards on top. The top 5 cards are then drawn and placed in order in the market track slots beginning with the $2 slot. The fence cards are then separated based on the number of players following the guide lines laid out in the rulebook. The cards that are to be used are shuffled together while the remaining ones are returned to the box. Each player is then dealt 2 cards. The remaining deck is then placed face down next to the play area. The month track is placed beside the play area with the month marker placed on the May slot. The first player is chosen and is given the 1st player marker. Play now begins.

The game is played over a series of 12 months or 1 year. Each month consists of 3 phases; income phase, player phase and end of month phase. The first phase is the income phase. At the beginning of each month players will collect income based on the income for all their mature crops and livestock. The amount of income is based on the number on each card in front of them. Players earn that amount of money to be used later in that month.

The second phase is the player phase. This is where the majority of the action occurs. In this phase, beginning with the first player and continuing in turn order, each player will take their turn to perform 2 actions. Players have 5 options to choose from; logging, playing a fence card for actions, playing a fence card for fences, go to market or harvest. Logging allows the player to flip over a forest tile, revealing the logged side. The player then draws 2 fence cards and if there are any bonuses revealed once the tile is flipped, the player also gains the bonus as well. That bonus could be an extra card or extra money. It should be noted that a player can not log a tile that is fully fenced by another player. Another action that can be taken is to play a fence card for actions. This allows the player to play one of their fence cards face up in front of them and perform the action listed on the card. There are a variety of different actions that these cards allow including performing 2 harvest actions or purchasing any market card for only $2. Of course it should be noted that there are some card options that can wreak havoc on another player, such as breaking 1 of their fence pieces or moving their farmer off one of your land tiles. Once the fence card has been used, it’s it’s sent to the discard pile. Another thing that can be done with fence cards is playing them for fences. This action is only allowed to be used once per turn. This action allows the player to move or place as many fence pieces as there are listed on the card being played. Fence pieces must be placed connected to the player’s farmhouse or to another fence piece that they already have in play. Once a tile is completely surrounded by the player’s fences, it’s considered to be controlled by that particular player. If there are any incomplete fences of another players remaining on the player’s controlled tile, they are removed at the end of the player’s turn. It should be noted that a tile can be fully fenced and not controlled. Fully fenced means that there are fences completely surrounding the tile. This could even include a different player’s fences. However to be controlled, all 4 fences surround the tile must be from the same player. Also of note is that when a player places fences on a tile that contains another player’s fences, the other player is allowed to defend themselves. We’ll discuss this a bit later. Another action for a player to take is to go to market. With this action, the player is allowed to buy a market card from the market track by paying the corresponding cost shown. To be able to purchase a card, the player must be able to place it on a fully fenced and logged land tile that they control. It is then immediately placed on the chosen tile with it’s immature side face up. Equipment cards, however, are placed with their active side face up. Once a card has been purchased, all the remaining cards are slid to the left on the market track, filling in any holes. A new card is then drawn from the top of the deck to fill in the new hole. It should be noted that players are also able to use this action to purchase lumber instead of buying a market card. Buying lumber costs $3 and allows the player to place or move 1 fence piece and draw 2 fence cards. The market card in the $2 slot is then removed from the game. Like before, cards slide to the left to fill in the spot and a new card is drawn to fill the spot. The final option a player can take is the harvest action. This action allows the player to flip a mature crop or livestock card to it’s immature side and collect money equal to the harvest value on the card.

The final phase is the end of month phase. Once all players have finished their turn for the current month, this phase begins. In this phase the month marker is moved to the next month on the month track. If any special event icons are passed, the events noted take place. There are growth, winter and first player events. Growth events can be for livestock, crops or equipment. This means that the corresponding cards are flipped to their mature side if they’re livestock or crops, or to the active side if they’re equipment cards. The Winter event removes all the crop cards from the board, except for a certain few that are noted. However these cards won’t mature as there is no growth icon for crops. The first player event simply means that the first player marker is passed to the next player to the left.

Earlier I mentioned that players can defend themselves when another player places fences on a tile they have a fence on. Players can also defend themselves from any card or action that targets or affects their property, including fences, market cards and land tiles that they control. This is done with the bullet holes on the fence cards. When a player is attacked they are allowed to play fences cards that total up to 3 bullet holes to cancel the attack. The cards used are discarded after defending. It should be noted that when the player defends, they defend against the entire card. That means that everything that the card attacks is defended against.

The game continues until the end of April. At this point, players collect money for their farmhouse bonuses and equipment cards that they control. Bonuses for controlled oil strike land tiles are also collected. Players then add up the total of their money. The player with the most money is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
With this being a prototype, I won’t be too critical of the components at this time. That said, it’s not like I needed to be negative about anything anyway. For a prototype, I’m pretty darn pleased with how everything looks. There are lots of great wooden pieces in several different colors. There are fence pieces and farmer meeples in 4 different colors. I’m really hoping that there is a stretch goal for the kickstarter that upgrades the farmer meeples. I really think the game is just begging for that. Then there’s all the cards and tiles. These all look great and are very thematic. The farmhouse and land tiles are a bit thin at the moment, but here’s hoping they get upgraded to thicker cardboard later on. However even as cards, they’re still great. The fence cards have some really great looking artwork that makes me think of some old feuding hillbillies deep up in the woods. There’s also the market cards and reference cards. On top of all that, the money is also in card form. I really like that. The money even has these really fun and silly looking designs on them. The last pieces are printed wood in the prototype but I’m assuming will end up being thick cardboard in the finished game. Those are the first player marker, month marker, market track and month track. I only have 3 words to say…thematic, thematic, thematic. The first player marker is a 1st place pumpkin like you’d find in a county fair. The month marker is a rooster weather vane. The month track is a giant saw. The market track looks like the canvas tops of a farmer’s market. I’m telling you, this game is dripping with theme and this is just a prototype. I can’t wait to see how much better things get once this game gets finalized. I’m thrilled already.
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RULEBOOK
The rulebook that came with the game is also a prototype. That said, I’m pretty darn impressed with what already comes in the box. The rules are on high color glossy pages with lots of beautiful pictures throughout. There are several great double page layouts in the book. There’s one for the components that come with the game and one for setting it up. All the different aspects and phases of the game are laid out in a really great way with plenty of detail. Everything is explained really well and looks great. There are even sections that detail all the different fence cards and what they do, as well as one for the many different farmhouse tiles. I honestly didn’t see anything that was difficult to understand or read. Overall I’m already happy with what’s here and look forward to a fully polished and perfected rulebook.
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GAMEPLAY
This is a game that I could sit around and play every day of my life. It’s that much fun. There are aspects of area control and take that, along with some tile laying. Just looking at the game, I get a feeling of Among the Stars or Fields of Green. Of course this game doesn’t have card drafting but you’ll get kind of that feeling when you see it laid out. Throughout the game you’ll be trying to do what you can to make sure that you get a steady flow of money coming into your farm. You’ll want to make sure that your maximizing your cash flow based on the items in the market and what’s available on the board. You’ll also want to keep in mind the specific bonuses on your farmhouse tile, which should point you in a specific direction for your play style. This is one little aspect of the game that I absolutely love. Honestly all these tiles could have been exactly the same and every player would have wound up playing the same way. However the fact that each one of these rewards bonuses for different achievements is brilliant. You also have the randomness of the land tiles. You will never know which tiles gonna have oil beneath it and which one is just a blank tile. These aspects lead to a ton of replayability with this game. I also like that players can defend themselves from the actions of other players at the cost of a card or two. You might really want to hang onto that one or two cards you have in your hand but is it worth allowing another player to destroy your fence or some other aspect of your farm? As Kenny Rogers said, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em.” Fans of area control games like Kingdom Builder or Rococo might enjoy this one. I’d even say fans of games like Among the Stars would like this one too. The theme and feel of the game is great and is one that I look forward to playing many more times.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Get Off My Land! is an area control style game with aspects of take that and tile laying. The game doesn’t take too long. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes to an hour. Even though this is a prototype, the game looks and feels great. The theme is awesome and is intertwined throughout the whole game. The artwork and components look great, even in prototype form. The rulebook is also pretty great. Of course I expect that things will continue to get even better once the game is actually produced. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the game really gives me a feel of a Among the Stars or Fields of Green but with area control and take that included. I really like the ease of play and how well this one scales for different numbers of players. The only things that I’d do to improve or add to the game would be to maybe add rules for solo play and upgrade those farmer meeples with either some preprinted designs on them or change the shape to more farmer looking, for example Scoville’s meeples. Overall this is a game that I really enjoy and think will become an absolute hit. I can’t wait to see where this game goes and what the finished product looks like. I highly recommend backing this one on Kickstarter. It’s well worth getting a copy of. Feuding over a copy is optional.
9 out of 10

funagain-associates-sm-1

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

 

http://www.firstfishgames.com/

Be sure and keep an eye out for the Kickstarter coming VERY soon.

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Little Circuses Review

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Little Circuses is a game by Kevin Wilson, published by IDW Games. It is for 1-7 players. In this game, players take on the role of one of the circus owner’s children who have been tasked with running a portion of the Little Circus. They’ll have to prove their worth by making their portion more famous than that of their siblings. They’ll have to hire and build new attractions to attract spectators from the various towns that the show stops off in. In the end, the player that can get the most fame will not only be declared the winner but will inherit the entire show.

To begin, the board should be placed in the center of the play area. The Ringmaster meeple is placed on the “Welcome to Starterton” space on the board. Each player chooses a color and receives the matching score marker and player order marker in their color. Each player also receives a Bleacher sheet, Circus board, Spotlight marker and an audience member meeple as well as a $3 coin and 2 $1 coins. The Bleacher board is placed in front of the player with the audience member meeple placed on the 2 space. The Circus board is also placed in front of the player with plenty of room around it for expanding. The player’s Spotlight marker and coins are placed to the side for the time being. The Player Order markers are randomly chosen and placed on the Player Order spaces on the board starting with the leftmost space and moving to the right with each new marker. Players then place their Scoring markers on the board based on the number of Fame points shown beneath their Player Order space. The remaining coins, used markers, audience member meeples and 50/100 fame tokens are placed near the board within reach of all players. The starter attraction tiles are placed face down in the middle of the play area next to the board. They are then shuffled together. Each player now draws 5 tiles at random from the pile, placing them face up in front of themselves. The advanced attraction tiles and Star Attraction cards are set aside for now. Each player now places their Spotlight marker on one of the 4 attractions on their Circus board and resolves the associated action. Play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds which are controlled by the location of the Ringmaster meeple. Each round the Ringmaster will move 1 space forward on the board, following the line. Every time he enters into a new space, players resolve the action(s) that the space allows in turn order. Once all the players have resolved the action, a new round begins with the Ringmaster moving to the next space down the line. There are 5 different spaces that the Ringmaster can move to, indicated by a specific icon. Those spaces are Full Day, Half Day, New Acts Arrive, Star Attractions and New Town. Most spaces on the board are Full Day spaces. A Full Day is divided into 2 steps; Building and Perform Action. The first step is the Building step. In this step the player is allowed to chose one of 3 options. They can Raise Funds which allows them to gain $2. They can Hire Help which allows them to draw an attraction tile. They can Construct which allows them to place an attraction tile from their hand adjacent to or on top of an attraction already in their circus. To place the tile, they must pay the cost indicated in the upper right of the tile. Once all players have completed the Building step, play moves to the Perform Action step. In this step, players will move their Spotlight marker from it’s current location to an adjacent attraction. It should be noted that players are not allowed to move their Spotlight marker diagonally. Once the marker is moved, the player then places a used marker on the attraction that the marker just left. Players then resolve the action icons of the attraction highlighted by the Spotlight marker from left to right, unless the attraction has a used marker on it. In this case, the action icons are ignored.

There are 7 different action icons that I will briefly touch on here. For more information you can check out the rule book. The big top icon allows the player to draw a tile from the pool. The clown icon allows the player to move an audience member one space to the right on their bleacher board. The elephant icon allows the player to remove an audience member from the bleacher board and gain an equal amount of points. The coin icon allows the player to gain $1. The ticket icon allows the player to place an audience member on the 2 space of their bleacher board. The money icon allows the player to remove an audience member from their bleacher board and gain an equal amount of money. The star icon allows the player to gain 1 point of Fame. Both the clown and money icons are optional. Players do not have to remove an audience member from their bleacher board if they don’t want to.

Another space that the Ringmaster can move to is the Half Day space. For this space players chose to perform one of the 2 steps of the Full Day space. They can either chose the Building step or the Perform Action step. However they may only choose 1 step and do not complete the other step.

Another space for the Ringmaster to move to is the New Acts Arrive space. The first thing that is done for this space is to return any remaining undrawn starter attraction tiles to the box. Next the advanced attraction tiles are placed face down in the middle of the play area next to the board. The tiles are then shuffled and 4 randomly chosen tiles are placed face up next to the board in a row. Each player in turn order then draws 2 tiles and adds them to their hand. It should be noted that only the player that has chosen Madam Adam as their Star Attraction will be able to chose one of the face up tiles beside the board when performing the Hire Help option or resolving the big top action icon.

Yet another space that the Ringmaster can move to is the Star Attractions space. For this space, the Star Attraction cards are placed face up in the middle of the play area. If any were chosen by a player during a previous week, they are also placed with the others. Players now choose a card beginning with the player whose player order marker is on the left most Player Order space. Each player performs any appropriate actions once they’ve chosen a card. They then place the card next to their circus. Any card remaining after all players have chosen one are now set aside till needed again. Players now rearrange their Player Order markers based on the numbers printed on the Star Attraction cards. The lowest number places their Player Order marker in the left most space. Players continue placing their markers to the right of the previous marker based on the number of their card until all player markers have been moved to their correct space. It should be noted that players should use the side of the cards with the blue numbers if they want fewer player interactions or are playing their first game. This side is also recommended for 2 player games.

The final space that the Ringmaster can move to is a New Town space. When this space is moved onto, each player removes all of the used markers from their circus making it possible to return to any previously used attractions and gain those actions again. The player’s Spotlight marker is not moved.

The game continues until the Ringmaster reaches Endsville. The game then ends immediately. Players now score extra points for several different awards. The Variety award gives players points for each complete set of 5 different colored attractions that they built in their circus. It should be noted that only uncovered attractions count toward this bonus. The Money award gives players points for each $3 that remains unspent. The Act award gives players points for each attraction tile left in their hand. The Audience award gives players points for audience members remaining on their bleacher board. Players now add up their points and the player with the most Fame is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game has a lot of really nice looking pieces inside the box. The board is really fun and light hearted. You get a really nice circus type feel with the images on it as well as the icons. The attraction tiles and circus boards also convey that same feel with more of the same style of fun artwork. All of these are fairly thick and have a nice finish to them. The bleacher boards also have that same finish but are a bit thinner. I’d have liked them to have been the same thickness as the tiles but they seem to be ok for now. The coins, used markers and fame tokens are also thick cardboard but are a little touchy when punching them out. Sometimes they want to snag or tear the wrong way. It’s not a major deal, just something to be aware of when you’re taking them out of the punchboards. The Star Attraction cards are really nice. I especially love the art on these. They’re really light hearted and fun designs. The audience member and ringmaster meeples, as well as the player markers are all wooden and look really nice. I especially like the bright color and design of the ringmaster. There’s also the spotlight markers which are thin yellow discs that are see through. For me the best part is the board and ringmaster meeple. They really give me that circus feel. The Star Attractions are also nice and I like that they are double sided for more or less player interactions. Overall the components are really great and work really well with the theme. I’m very pleased with the look and feel of each piece.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rule book for this game looks really nice. There are lots of great pictures and examples throughout the book. The pages have a nice glossy style finish to them. The rules are all laid out really well and overall the book is well designed. That said, let me address the elephant in the room, no pun intended. There are lots of issues with typos and mislabeled icons, as well as some very poorly worded references. Part of me feels like the rules were written for a different version of the game then the one that was actually produced. For instance, 1 reference notes that players receive a bleacher sheet in their color. All the bleacher sheets are the exact same color. It also references that players resolve the action icons on that attraction as described on the bleacher sheet. Just to be clear, there are no descriptions of the action icons on the bleacher sheets. Another references the score marker but refers to it later as the Fame marker. Not a major deal, but still a little bit confusing. Yet another states that the player whose Player Order marker is on the RIGHT most player order space chooses one of the Star Attraction cards. This should have said the LEFT most player order space. Of course the biggest issue is for the Action Icon reference on the back of the book. The clown and elephant icons are wrong and should actually be swapped. Most of these issues I had to actually discover from the forums page for the game on BGG. Thankfully the designer has been very proactive on clearing up these issues with some handy errata. I will say that I do like that there’s also rules for a solo variant included which simply compares your performance against a set value of points. Overall, despite the minor inconsistencies and issues plaguing the rules, it’s not that bad. It does cover everything rather well, it’s just those minor bumps that make it a bit less than what it could have been.
6 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is actually a rather cute and fun game. It has a really nice engine building mechanic that I rather like. Each attraction that you build onto your circus makes it possible to do more actions like adding audience members to your bleachers or simply giving you more money to build more attractions with. As you continue playing you’ll have to be careful not to back yourself into a corner with your spotlight marker. You do have to think about which way you want to move during your perform action as you build new attractions. That way you get the most out of each attraction. I like how that as you use an attraction it becomes unavailable for future turns. That way someone can’t just keep using an attraction that provides lots of fame to rack up on points by consistently spamming the attraction. I will say that the first time I played the game I had a bit of a time trying to get elephant icons to move my audience member higher on my bleacher board. It wasn’t until later that I found the errata in the BGG forums that said I should have been using the clown icon to move my audience members. That explained a lot. There were plenty of clown icons during my first run through. It was those elephants that were hard to find. Now it all makes sense. My daughter really enjoyed this one especially building new attractions to her circus. We both liked the whimsical art style all over the game as well as the simplicity of it. I also got a chance to try out the solo variant. It’s not bad if you don’t mind trying to beat a high score. I usually prefer my solo games to have some kind of antagonist mechanic that either comes at me or tries to keep me from doing what I want to do. That said, I prefer playing against another player with this one. It can be played solo, and that’s nice. However I’ll wait to play it with others instead. In any event, this one seems to be a pretty good family or gateway game. Fans of family games or simple engine building games should enjoy this one. I’d definitely recommend it. My kids enjoy it as do I, even more so now that we understand the actual rules to the game. Overall, this one gets a passing rating.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Little Circuses is a light weight family game of engine building with a circus theme. The game doesn’t take a very long time to play. Most game sessions last around 30-40 minutes. The game looks really nice and I really like the components. My daughter and I really like the cute artwork style and bright colors, especially the ringmaster meeple. It should be noted however that you do have to be careful of the tokens tendency to snag and tear when punching them out of the cardboard sheets. The rulebook looks nice but has several issues inside including some inconsistent terminology and messed up iconography. The designer has taken to the BGG forums to clarify those mistakes and issue some errata for the problems which helps quite a bit. It’s just sad that the rulebook made it this far with those issues still inside. That said, the game is actually quite fun and one that my daughter and I both enjoyed playing. We really like building our own circus and all the different options that are available. The solo game isn’t as much fun as playing with at least 1 other player as you simply compare your score against another score. It works but I prefer my solo games to have more meat to them. As it is, fans of family or simple engine building games should really enjoy this one, minor flaws aside. It has a really nice circus feel to it that we really like. I would definitely recommend giving this one a try. The next ringmaster of the circus could be you.
8 out of 10

funagain-associates-sm-1

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

http://idwgames.com/

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Go7Gaming LGC-005 Insert Product Review

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Recently I was given the opportunity to check out a new product from Go7Gaming. That product was the LGC-005 Insert for the Fantasy Flight line of Living Card Games. Some of the games this works with include Android Netrunner, Lord of the Rings the Card Game and Warhammer Invasion. This particular insert works for most of the games that were produced prior to 2013. For those produced after that, you should look into the LGC-006 Insert. In any event, for this review I used Android Netrunner. The insert came in a flat rate shipping package. Inside there were several laser cut wooden sheets wrapped together in a large ziplock bag with some full color instructions explaining how everything should be put together. After taking out the the sheets from the package, I read through the instructions and was then ready to assemble the product.

Before I get started, let me explain a little about the product and what it does. First as I mentioned earlier, this is an insert for the Fantasy Flight line of Living Card Games. These games consist of a whole bunch of cards and not much else, unless you’re looking at the Call of Cthulhu, but I won’t be touching that one here. For this insert, I plan to use the Android Netrunner game. Once assembled, the insert will keep all of the many different cards and card types separated and organized. There is a lot of extra room inside the box for plenty of expansions, making this a great way of keeping everything together inside one box. The insert is really strong and sturdy and it looks great once everything is placed inside the box. We’ll a bit deeper into look and functionality in a bit, but for now let’s move into the actual build. First off, we need to look at what comes with the product and how it’s assembled. We’ll do this by separating the sheets of wood for ease of reference. As you can tell, there aren’t as many sheets of wood for this one as there are in many of the other inserts that I’ve reviewed. In any event, each piece is laser cut and easily punched out from the sheet.

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For those of you that have read any of my previous reviews of products for Go7Gaming, you’ll know what I’m about to say. That is this, “GET SOME GLUE!” No kidding around, you will absolutely want to have some to keep everything together. I’ve read on the Go7Gaming website that you could use tape as well, however glue tends to work better and last longer. I will say that I don’t think it’s quite as big a deal with this product as it is with some of the others as nothing really moves out of the box like it does with other inserts. In either case, you can make your own decision. Either way, for this review I will pretty much assume that you’re aware of how to glue two pieces together and that regardless of whether you’re using glue or tape, you won’t need to be told to glue or tape them together. Now then, let’s move on.

To build the insert, we’ll start by taking the slotted inner wall and connecting the two supports to it. See below.

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Next, we’ll attach the other slotted inner wall to the supports so that they create an inner core to the insert. See below.

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After you’ve got that done, you can attach the inner wall structure to the outer wall. See below.

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Now you’ll attach the other outer wall to the inner structure. See below.

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With that done, you’ll need to attach the supports to both sides of the inner structure as shown below.

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From there we’ll add the slotted outer wall to one side. See below.

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Then we’ll add the other slotted outer wall to the ends and support, completing the insert. See below.

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Once all that’s been completed and the insert has had time for the glue to dry, you can place it carefully inside the box. It should go in fairly easily, however mine was a bit of a tight squeeze. See below.

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Afterwards you can place the card dividers as you see fit or however is necessary. See below.

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All that’s left is to add the cards and tokens to the box and you’re done. Your completed insert should look something like this.

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MATERIALS
In this section of the review, I normally take the time to describe the different components and pieces that comes packaged inside the game. With this being a review for an insert, instead I’ll describe the packaging and item. As I stated earlier, the insert came packed in a flat rate shipping package. I’m quite happy with the packaging and receipt of the item. The wood sheets were very sturdy and thick. The individual pieces were easy to remove from the sheets. I had no difficulties with any aspect of the removal process or with determining what piece was what. I was easily able to figure things out with the help of the included instructions which I’ll go into more detail about in a moment. As I’ve mentioned, the one thing not included would be either glue or tape depending on your personal preference. Of course both can be used for extra support. Assembly as you can tell was quite simple and quick. Overall, I’m extremely happy with the look, feel and functionality of the insert. It’s well designed and made strong. A+
9 out of 10

INSTRUCTION
For this part of the review, I normally would go over the rules included in the rulebook of the game. However in this case, I’ll detail the instructions instead. The instructions included with the package were in color and folded together nicely into a little book with everything laid out extremely well. The step by step process was easy to follow thanks in part to the great pictures and references. I had no trouble whatsoever and I’m sure you won’t either. As you can tell from the overview above, there’s not much to putting it together anyway. Still, the instructions made it extremely easy. I’m very pleased and found the instructions to be well written and thorough. Great job as usual.
9 out of 10

CONSTRUCTION
About this time, I go through my thoughts and feelings on how the game is played and what I think. However, I’ll explain how the insert was assembled and my thoughts in general instead. As usual, assembling the insert was no big task and was easily accomplished. I think it took around 10 – 15 minutes to complete. Of course that’s thanks to the great instructions and the few pieces to assemble. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews and in this one as well, you’ll need either some glue or tape to hold things together due to how loosely the pieces fit together. Just something to be aware of while assembling. Once you get everything together and dried, if you chose to use glue, you’ll find that there’s a lot of space inside the box with the insert now placed inside. There’s a ton of room for expansion and other odds and ends that you’ll no doubt want to pick up and add to your game. The weight that the insert adds to the box is very minor. However the stability and structural integrity is greatly increased thanks to it. I found no issues with bulges when closing the lid. Everything fit nicely inside for both the base game as well as lots of expansions. For me, I’m extremely pleased with the overall look and functionality of the product. I just need to find something better to hold my tokens with instead of the plastic bags included with the game. I think other such inserts had small token boxes but they caused bulging issues. Personally I prefer no bulges and finding my own containers. That would probably be my only complaint though for a stellar product. In any event, I’d highly recommend this for anyone that has one of the many Fantasy Flight LCG games. It’s definitely a great way to keep the game organized.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
The Go7Gaming LGC-005 Insert for the Fantasy Flight line of Living Card Games is a great way to organize your game. It looks great and provides lots of stability and structural integrity to your box. It also has lots of room to add expansions. It doesn’t take a long time to put together, usually around 15 minutes tops. The assembly process was super easy thanks to great instructions. One last time I’ll mention that you will need either glue or tape to hold the pieces together while assembling. Of course you probably already know that by now. In any event, I highly recommend this product for owners of any of the Living Card Games from Fantasy Flight. It’s superbly made and looks great when completed. You’ll be thrilled to be able to keep things better organized inside your game box. I am. You should definitely check out this or any of the other line of inserts designed by Go7Gaming. You’ll be happy you did. You won’t be able to find nicer people or better products. Guaranteed.
9 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great products, please check out Go7Gaming at their site.

http://go7gaming.com/

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Kingdom of Aer: Kingmaker Review

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Kingdom of Aer: Kingmaker is a game by Allan Chesher, published by Centennial Games. It is for 3-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of nobles that are all vying for the newly vacated crown. They’ll be trying to eliminate their competition through treachery and even murder. In the end the player that can prove they’re the most worthy will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player chooses a color and takes the corresponding deck of that color’s cards, becoming that noble house. The players then place their 3 royalty cards face down in front of themself, while the remaining cards are placed in their hand. Once this is done, play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. Each round player’s will simultaneously choose a card from their hand and place it face down in front of themselves. Players are allowed to change their mind, picking up their card and replacing it with a different card, as long as there is still a player that hasn’t placed a card face down. Once all player’s have placed a card, the cards are “locked in” and can’t be changed. Players will now simultaneously flip over their chosen card and resolve the cards based on which cards are now revealed. This follows the 7 step order of resolution. First the Jester cards join the court, becoming an additional member of royalty that can be killed off instead of a royal. Next the Count attacks. That means that players check to see which house has the majority of attack nominations against it. If there is a tie, tied players are both hit. In the third step, the Seer removes attacks. This means that if the player that played the Seer has the most attack nominations, it can not be hit this round and instead the player with the next highest majority is hit instead. For the fourth step, the attacks now hit the appropriate player(s). In the fifth step, the Marshalls counter the hit. This means that if the Marshalls were played by the player being hit, the Marshalls will block the hit and counter attack with new hits being sent to all the players that played attack nominations against them. Once these steps are resolved, then the sixth step resolves. In this step the thief steals and the gold buys. What that means is that as long as there is at least 1 gold card played, then the thief is able to steal all the gold, discarding it and allowing the player to buy back one of their own character cards from the discard pile. If there are no thieves played, the players that played a gold card are allowed to buy back a character card from the discard pile. This does not mean that a royalty card that has been killed can be bought back. Those are special cards and not character cards. The final step is to add banners and the fanatic burns. This means that any player that played a banner is now able to add it to the top of their court of royals face up. This banner now allows attack nominations to count for 2 votes instead of just 1. If a player played the fanatic it burns all the banners that are on the table including the player that played it’s banner.

It should be noted that attack nomination cards are returned to the player’s hand at the end of the round. Also, if a player contributed to killing the last royal of a player’s house, they earn a trophy. This means that the player places the attack nomination card for that house that they played under one of their own royals. This makes that particular royal worth more points at the end of the game.

The game continues until there are only 2 houses remaining. That is to say that all but 2 player’s court of royals has been eliminated. The remaining 2 players now count up their points based on the cards they have on the table and in their hand. The player that has the most points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game consists of 5 separate decks of cards representing the 5 different houses, as well as a couple of character reference cards. The cards are very nicely done and look really great. They’re pretty good quality and the artwork is really good. I really like the design and feel of the cards. The cards come packaged inside a small little box of cards that could fairly easily be tucked inside a pocket for ease of travel. About the only thing that I could ask for would be a divider inside the box to keep the stacks separate as they tend to get a bit mixed up. Thankfully it’s really easy to separate the decks thanks to the brightly colored backs of the cards. The reference cards are quite nice and they help remind players of not only what each character does but on the reverse side there’s a reminder of the order of resolution steps. Overall, I’m pleased with the cards and think everything looks very nice.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a tri-folded piece of cardstock. It’s colored and there are actually quite a lot of pictures on the rulebook. There’s pictures for setting up the game as well as how attack voting should look. On the back there’s a really good breakdown of each of the cards detailing how each one works. For a simple game I’d say that the rulebook does a decent job of explaining the rules. I do wish that things were a bit better explained especially when it comes to the order of resolution. Also I feel like it would be nice if there were rules for playing with only 2 players as well. Apart from that, I think that the rules aren’t that bad, especially since there are so many pictures and they’re all in color to boot. Overall it’s a pretty decent job.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a pretty interesting little card game. I like the look and feel of the game. I like the simplicity of it as well. I even like the idea behind it, however the presentation is a bit lacking. The way the rules are set up causes the game to follow the path of player elimination until there are only 2 players left. Once there are only 2 players, then those players score their points and determine the winner based on point totals. For me I’d like it better if it was a set number of rounds of play and then points were totaled for everyone remaining, OR a straight up player elimination. Either of these would have been fine. The mixture of both makes the game feel a bit odd. Not that this makes the game bad in any way. I mean for a fairly simple card game, it has just enough meat to be enjoyable. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I do wish there were rules for playing the game with only 2 players. That would make things better for me. The rules state that the game is a 5 player game. However I’ve seen it noted as a 3-5 player game on the BGG and find that the rules work fine with less than 5. The game does tend takes a bit longer with more players, however it seems to add a bit more chaos and fun to it as well. Overall I’d be more inclined to recommend it for 4 or 5 players. 3 tends to end a bit too quickly. This is a game that fans of player elimination or take that style card games should enjoy. It’s a pretty nice game that I’d recommend giving a try especially if you like a simple and fast card game.
7 out of 10

OVERALL
Kingdom of Aer: Kingmaker is a light weight player elimination style card game with a take that feel. The game is fairly short with most game sessions lasting around 15 minutes or so. The cards are really nicely done. I especially like the great looking artwork on them. The rulebook is also quite nice as well. However I do wish that the order of resolution were a bit more detailed in the rules. I also would have liked rules for playing with 2 players but that would probably change the dynamics of the game and make it feel completely different. As it is, the game plays best for me with 4 or 5 players, even though the BGG lists it as being playable with 2 or 3 as well. I feel like it plays too short with fewer than 4 players. Therefore I recommend this game for 4 or more players. I will say that the mixture of player elimination and point scoring does feel a bit odd but it still kind of works. I would have liked it better as straight player elimination or point gathering style game but it is what it is. Fans of player elimination or possibly take that card games should enjoy this one. Overall, it’s a quick and simple card game that I’d recommend giving a try. You don’t even have to be royalty to enjoy it.
7 out of 10

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For more information about this game and to get a copy for yourself, you can check out the Kickstarter campaign that’s going on right now.  Simply follow the link below.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cheshmonkey/kingdom-of-aer-kingmaker

You can also check out the website for the game below.

http://kingdomofaer.com/

 

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