Covil: The Dark Overlords Review

Covil: The Dark Overlords is a game by Luís Brüeh, published by Vesuvius Media. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of dark overlord of their own living breathing fortress, known as the Covil. Players will be fighting to control different regions surrounding an isolated town. They will have to acquire powerful minions as well as summon new troops to battle their enemies. In the end, the player that can gain the most powerful warriors to their side, while protecting their fortress and padding their treasury with gold and powerful relics, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the game board is placed in the middle of the play area. The specific game board used is based on the number of players. Each player chooses a color and is given the Champions Hall player board, 5 Troop meeples, 5 Henchmen cards and Fortress in their chosen color. They also receive a HP token and a Gold token. The HP token is placed on the Fortress Health track on the 5 space, while the Gold token is placed on the 5 space of the Treasury track. The Henchmen are placed on the empty minion slots of the player’s Champions Hall. A Rebel meeple is placed on the town space of the board. The remaining Rebel meeples are placed in a pile near the board. The Dark Overlord cards are shuffled together and each player is dealt 1 card. Players will now place their Dark Overlord on the Evil Throne space of their Champions Hall. The remaining Dark Overlord cards are returned to the box. The Exhaustion tokens are placed in a pile near the board. Each player takes one and places it on their Dark Overlord with the Exhausted side face up. The Mercenary cards are shuffled together. 24 Mercenary cards are set aside from the deck, while the remaining Mercenary cards are returned to the box. The top 6 cards are placed in a row near the board, while the deck is placed beside the row. If there are any Mercenaries with a cost of 10 gold or more, these are shuffled back into the deck and a new card is drawn to replace it with. The Power Relic cards are shuffled together. Each player is then dealt 2 cards from the deck. These cards are placed in the player’s hand. The remaining deck is placed in a stack near the board. Each player is given a Quick Rules reference card. The first player is chosen and is given the Evil Scepter/First Player token. Players choose their starting zones, placing their fortress along with 2 of their Troop meeples onto one of the colored spirals spaces on the board. This is done in turn order. Once all of this has been taken care of, play now begins.

The game is played over a series of 4 days. Each day is divided into 3 phases; Morning, Afternoon and Night. The first phase is the Morning phase. In the Morning phase each player will stand up all of their Troop meeples, starting with the first player. Once that’s done, players will then check to see if they need to summon one or more new troops to their fortress. The number of troops that a player should have is determined by the day. A reference chart in the rulebook also provides the number of troops to use. These troops are placed standing up in the territory of the player’s fortress. Once each player has the required number of troops, play moves to the next phase.

The second phase is the Afternoon phase. In this phase, each player in turn order will take a turn. On a player’s turn, they may take each of the following actions once, in any order. They may acquire a minion, perform any number of free actions and they may lie down 1 troop to perform a troop action. One thing that can be done is to acquire a minion. Minions are purchased from the Mercenary pool by paying it’s cost with any combination of gold from the player’s treasury, by discarding Power Relics from the player’s hand and by returning a ready minion from their player mat back to the pool. The amount of gold that each Power Relic or Minion provides is equal to their cost in gold. That means that 2 Minions or Power Relics that cost 2 gold each would provide 4 gold together to be able to acquire a new minion. It should be noted that a player may never have more than 6 minions in their Champions Hall at a time. Each minion has a class, base stat and ability. These determine what abilities can affect it, what combat attribute that it’s best at and what special actions that it may perform. Abilities can be either passive or instant. Passive abilities are always active and can either give a bonus to certain troops or it can provide a non combat advantage such as allowing a player to purchase a new minion for less gold. Instant abilities can either aid in combat or can provide a free action. Another thing that the player can do is to perform any number of free actions. As just noted, some minions provide free actions this is done through the Command ability. Actions such as activating a Power Relic of exhausting a minion to use it’s Command ability are all considered free actions. It should be noted that Power Relics are gained in one of 3 different ways. They can be bought at any time by spending 3 gold to purchase one from the deck or by dealing the last hit point to an enemies fortress. They can also be gained during the night phase, more on this in a moment. Finally the last action that may be performed is to lie down one troop to perform one troop action. If a player has any troops still standing on the board, then they must lie one down and perform it’s troop action. Troop actions include moving the troop, resting a minion, repairing the fortress, gaining a gold or attacking. To move a troop, the troop is moved into and adjacent zone and laid down. Some passive abilities allow a player to move 2 spaces instead of just one. To rest a minion, the player must lay down a troop. This allows the exhaustion token on a minion to be flipped to it’s tired side. If the token is on the tired side already, then it may be removed from the minion. To repair the player’s fortress, the player must lay down one of their troops which then allows them to gain 1 health point on the fortress health track. To gain 1 gold, the player must lay down a troop which then allows them to gain 1 gold on their treasury track. To attack, the player must lay down a troop and exhaust one of their minions. Attacks may be either melee or ranged. When an attack is declared, the player must also declare which enemy troop that they are attacking. Melee attacks may only be performed with troops that are in the same zone as the troop they are attacking. Every troop has a base melee attack of 1. Ranged attacks may only be performed by troops that are in an adjacent zone to the troop they are attacking. The outcome of the attack is determined by comparing the strength of the attacking troop with the defender’s defense score. The attack strength is equal to the base strength, if performing a melee attack, along with the base stat of the minion exhausted to perform the attack, as well as any reinforcement abilities that the player’s minions have plus any bonuses provided by active power relics. All defending troops begin with a base defense of 1. A player’s defense score is equal to the base defense score plus any reinforcement ability bonuses provided by their minions. The defending player may also exhaust any of their ready minions with a defense base stat or activate any power relics with defense abilities to add to their defense score. It should be noted that the attacking player may activate one or more of their power relics in response to the defending player’s defense. This can continue back and forth until both players pass. Once the attack strength and defense score are determined, the scores are compared to see who won. If the defender wins, nothing happens. If the defender loses and their troop was standing up, the attacker gains 2 gold and the defender must lie down their troop and move it into an adjacent zone. If the defender loses and their troop was lying down, the attacker gains 2 gold and the defender must remove their troop from the board. If the defending troop was in the same zone as their fortress and they lost the combat, the difference in damage between the attacker’s strength and the defender’s score is dealt to the fortress. If there are no troops present in the zone with a fortress, then the fortress takes all the damage. If damage is dealt to an enemy’s fortress, the attacking player gains 1 gold. If the player deals the last HP of damage to an enemy’s fortress then they will also draw a power relic. Once a fortress is destroyed, the fortress token is flipped over to the explosion side. Destroyed fortress can no longer be repaired and will not grant any victory points at the end of the game.

The final phase is the Night phase. In this phase, 5 actions are performed in order. First, all players must discard any of their active power relics. Next, all the cards in the Mercenary pool are discarded and 6 new cards are drawn. If there are no more mercenaries left to be drawn, then the game ends at the end of this Night phase. Next, players collect protection fees for having dominance over a terrain type. That is to say that the player controls the majority of the zones of that terrain type by having more troops in it then their opponents. Players that have dominance collect 2 gold for that particular terrain type. Next, players will draw 1 power relic from the deck for each troop that they have in the town zone. For every power relic card that is drawn, a rebel meeple is placed in the town zone. If there are 5 rebels in the town, they will retaliate. What this means is that each troop in the town zone will receive an attack with a strength of 3 proceeding clockwise around the table. Players are able to defend themselves just like normal, one troop at a time. All non destroyed fortresses are also attacked with a strength of 3. Once again, players can defend as long as they have at least 1 troop in their fortress. Once the rebels attacks have been resolved, all rebel meeples are removed from the town zone. Finally, players are able to rest each of their minions once for free. Exhausted minions become tired and tired minions become ready, removing the token from the minion entirely. Once this has been done, play starts back over with phase 1.

The game continues until the end of the fourth night phase that the mercenary deck is empty. When this happens, final scoring begins. Players score victory points from Influence abilities, minions cost, gold in the player’s treasury, for having a living fortress and for the gold on power relics still in the player’s hand. The victory points are added up and the player with the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game has some really cute and fun looking pieces to it. First there are the 2 double sided game boards and the 4 Champions Halls player boards. These are quite thick and have your standard fantasy style artwork to them. The game boards look a bit like those in Small World while the player boards have an evil throne on them along with some cute minion characters in the corner. Each player board is color coded and match the colors of the fortress tokens and henchmen cards. Speaking of tokens, the game comes with a small punchboard of tokens of various types. There are HP tokens that look like hearts for the Fortress Health track. There are gold tokens that sort of look like a smurf with a gold hat on that are used for the Treasury track. There are several exhaustion tokens that have a sleepy minion on one side and a hour glass on the other. The sleepy side is for exhausted minions while the hour glass is for tired ones. The fortress tokens are a bit larger and come in 4 different varieties. Each one has a unique look and color, for instance, the green fortress looks like Castle Grayskull. Then there is the evil scepter which looks just like one. This is used as the first player marker. The game also comes with a bunch of wooden troop meeples in 4 different colors and rebel meeples in brown. The troops look like little dwarves with viking helmets on, while the rebels sort of look like some kind of military meeple. Finally there’s a stack of regular sized cards and a stack of smaller euro sized cards that all have a linen finish to them. The regular cards consist of the Dark Overlords, Henchmen and Mercenaries, while the euro sized cards consist of Power Relics. The Henchmen cards come in 4 different colors and contain identical sets of 5 henchmen for each player. The Mercenaries and Dark Overlords have cartoon like characters on them that are a mixture of cartoon characters from the 80’s and 90’s. Each of these are super cute and fun and remind me of some of my favorite cartoons growing up. The Power Relics also have some references to those same cartoons. The game also includes some regular sized quick rules cards. These are a nice reference to help you remember the different phases and steps in the game. Needless to say, for a game that doesn’t contain any miniatures, I absolutely LOVE the way it looks. The quality of the pieces is absolutely amazing. I especially love the character and power relic cards. They’re super fun and silly. The iconography is really simple to learn and easy to remember. It didn’t take long to learn either. Overall, I’m absolutely thrilled with this game. No doubt this has to be one of the best looking games that I’ve seen all year.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is very well written and designed. Everything is explained in great detail and in a step by step process. Each step and phase is easy to understand. The book has lots of great pictures and examples. There’s a great picture that shows how everything should be set up, as well as explaining each of the different card types in thorough detail. There are also lots of great flavor pictures that help to make the book even more fun to look through. The book also includes rules for solo play that use an AI controlled dummy player to fight against. On the back page of the book there’s a very helpful and convenient gameplay summary that includes a summary of the different phases. There’s also a section of basics for scoring. This is a great addition that makes things a lot easier to play. The fact that the book can be passed around or put where everyone can see it makes this a great resource. I really think that this is an extremely good rulebook. I didn’t see anything that was difficult to understand or read through. The rules themself are quite simple to learn. Needless to say, I’m very happy with the overall look and feel of the rulebook. It’s one of the best that I’ve seen this year.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is an amazing game that plays as good as it looks. I’ve already mentioned the quality of the components and the excellence of the rulebook. The game itself is quite a lot of fun as both a multiplayer game and a solo one. With the both the multiplayer game and the solo one it’s all about scoring the most points. This is done in a kind of worker placement style way while also dealing with a bit of area control as well. You’ll need to be hiring on new and more powerful mercenaries while letting go of the weaker ones. You’ll also be moving your troops around the board in an attempt to dominate as many different terrains as possible. Each time you do this, you’ll be gaining more gold in which to hire even stronger mercenaries or to purchase some power relics to help you out with. Of course your opponent will also be trying to do the same thing which means that you’ll be butting heads on a constant basis causing random bouts of combat. Planning out when and where to attack is crucial as one wrong move can lead to your base being overrun and destroyed, costing you a good chunk of victory points. With this game you can be aggressive and try to do as much attacking as possible to wear down your opponents, or you can play more defensively and try to bolster your army against incoming attacks. Either way you play it’s all up to you. The solo game pits the player against a predetermined set of moves via an AI. The rulebook lays out each of the AI’s moves and which one that the dummy player will go for first versus the last choice it would make. Of course players that want a real challenge can always play against 2 dummy players, making things really hard. I have to say that I quite like the challenge that the solo game provides. It has just the right amount of tension and really feels like you’re playing against a real opponent. I have to say that I’m not usually a fan of most area control games. However I think the inclusion of the worker placement portions of the game along with the solo rules and the great looking artwork push this one over the top for me. Fans of area control games like Small World should really enjoy this one. I also think those of us that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s will enjoy finding the different cartoon references as you play the game. This is a game that I highly recommend. It’s lots of fun.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Covil: The Dark Overlords is a game that mixes 80’s and 90’s cartoons together into a silly and fun area control style game with a bit of worker placement thrown in for luck. The game doesn’t take too long. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes or so. The components are absolutely amazing. The cards are fun and full of cartoon goodness with a mish mash of characters from the 80’s and 90’s. Everything is brightly colored and fun to look at. The rulebook is well designed and easy to read through. It even includes rules for solo play. The game itself is a lot of fun. It mixes area control with worker placement to make a truly enjoyable game to play as well as look at. This is one that I think can be played by the entire family without a lot of trouble. The artwork is all cute and fun with nothing over the top or graphic. Fans of games like Small World should find a lot to enjoy with this game. The solo game is especially fun, in my opinion and the AI actually feels like you’re playing a real person. I enjoy the strategy and puzzle like nature of the game in both modes of play. This is definitely one of my most favorite games of this year. I highly recommend this game. It’ll bring back a lot of fond childhood memories.
9 out of 10

 

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

http://www.vesuviusmedia.com/

 

Advertisements
Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Preview Review of Curators

CURATORS

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

Curators is a game by Jacob Westerlund, published by Worldshapers. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of the chief curator of a museum with dwindling visitor numbers. They will be trying to develop creative displays and win contracts for famous objects to be placed in their museum. In the end, the player that can best run their museum thus earning the most visitor points will be declared the winner.

To begin, a certain number of exhibition tiles will be placed in the middle of the play area randomly in a spiral. The tiles used are determined by the number of players. This spiral is known as the exhibition market. In the middle of the spiral , the role change token is placed along with the end game token which is placed on top of it. The auction house board is placed near the spiral. An object disc of each corresponding color is placed on the bottom spaces of the rows on the auction house board. The remaining object discs are placed to the side in an area called the bank. Each player chooses a color and is given a set of double sided employee chips and a museum entrance board in their chosen color. Each chip is placed in front of the player with the yellow star ring side face up. The museum entrance board is also placed in front of them. Each player is also given 4 dollar bills, 1 reputation token and an object disc in the color of their choosing. This disc is placed in the basement of their museum entrance board. The reputation token is placed on the first space of the reputation track. The contract cards are shuffled together and each player is dealt 2 contracts. These are kept secret until the end of the game. The remaining tokens, money and contract cards are placed to the side in the bank area. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. Each round players will take a turn. On a player’s turn, they have the choice of 2 options. They can draw new contracts or allocate two employees. To draw new contracts, the player simply draws 2 contract cards from the deck and keeps 1. The other card is returned to the bottom of the contract deck. To allocate an employee, the player will flip over one of the double sided employee chips and then take the corresponding action for the side that was just flipped over. It should be noted that if a player has 2 identical symbols facing up on their employee chips, then the player is allowed to allocate both at the same time, taking the chosen action twice and flipping both chips over. There are 5 different employee actions that may be taken; Financial manager, Researcher, Archaeologist, Exhibit designer and Collection manager. The Financial manager allows the player to receive $1 for each of their reputation tokens. The Researcher allows the player to place objects of one color from their basement to any exhibits of the matching color in their museum. If doing this causes them to fill 1 or more exhibition tiles, the player may take a reputation token for each completed exhibition tile. The Archaeologist allows the player to take 2 undiscovered objects of the same color, placing 1 in their basement and 1 in the auction house. The auction house is filled from the bottom to the top. The Exhibit designer allows the player to buy an exhibition tile from the exhibition market. The player is allowed to buy any tile, however only the outermost exhibit tile is free. The cost increases by 1 for each tile further in the spiral the chosen exhibition tile is. Once bought, the tile must then be placed in the player’s museum. The first tile placed may be placed wherever the player choose, however future tiles must be placed adjacent to a room on a previously placed tile. The Collection manager allows the player to buy 1 or more objects of the same color from the auction house by paying the cost next to the auction house space from where it was taken. Each object bought is placed in the players basement. If the market is empty once a player has made their purchase, it is filled with 1 object of each color. Once the player has finished with their chosen option, play passes to the next player in turn order.

During the course of play, players will be completing contracts, either from the 2 that they started the game with or one that they obtained from drawing a contract on their turn. Contracts are completed when a player has built the shape shown on the contract card and they have placed objects on the spaces of those shapes. Some contracts will have wildcard symbols on them. For these contracts, any exhibition room color can be used.

The game continues with players taking their turn until the last exhibition tile has been taken. The player that takes this tile also collects the 2 visitor points end game token. Play continues until the round has ended and then one more round is taken. At this time the game ends and scoring occurs. Players score visitor points for each completed contract, for each exhibited object, for each set of $3, for each completed exhibition tile and for having the end game token. Each player adds up their visitor points and the player with the most is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game has a lot of different pieces to it. Granted, the pieces are still in the design process so getting a really good handle on how the finished product will look is still a ways off. From my best estimation, it appears that there will be quite a lot of cardboard pieces with this one. There are employee chips, museum entrance boards, exhibition tiles, dollar bills and 5 dollar bills (yes, it appears that these will be cardboard and not flimsy paper.) object discs, the end game token, reputation tokens, the auction house board and the role change token. That’s quite a lot of pieces. At the moment, the artwork for these cardboard pieces is quite basic. Probably the most elaborate pieces are the employee chips and the object tokens as these all have a small icon on them that represents what they stand for. For instance, the archaeologist employee chips has an image of an Indiana Jones style Fedora on it. The museum entrance boards have a small reference in the bottom corner that shows what each employee action is through a series of icons. It’s a nice little reminder of what each one does, once you’ve played the game a time or two. The final piece is the stack of contract cards. These are completely square like the cards from Fields of Green. They have a visitor point reward number on them, a small picture of the item it represents and a museum layout. There’s also a description that tells when it was discovered and where it’s kept. I’m not going to be harsh with the components at this point as this is still in the early stages. I’m hoping and banking on the graphic design of each piece to greatly improve. As it is now, the game is functional and it’s easy to figure out what each piece is and how it works. As things progress and this gets closer to being released, whether through Kickstarter or wherever Worldshapers decides to put it out into the world, I’m expecting a much better looking game overall. In any event, when looking at the pictures just know that this is no where near being finished.
—-

RULEBOOK
The rulebook like the components is also in the early stages of development. I have the 0.0.26 version of the rules. So things will change I’m sure, if they haven’t already. As it is, I just have a copy printed out on plain printer paper. Looking at the rules, I can point out a few things. There are a few pictures in the rules, such as a picture of how the game looks set up, along with an example or two with detailed pictures for them as well. I do hope that as things get closer to production that the number of pictures and examples increase. Just to add a bit of pop to the book. The rules themself are fairly easy to understand. I couldn’t find anything major that stood out to me as an issue. There were a few minor spelling or wording problems but nothing that is any reason for concern. The rules also include a solo variant which progress through 6 different stages. In this variant you are hired as the curator of bigger and more prominent museums starting at the local museum and progressing all the way to the curator of the Louvre in Paris, France. Each one offers a new challenge as well as increasing the difficulty each time. Overall I think the rules cover everything fairly well. A couple of times I found myself looking back at the rules for clarification. Thankfully I was able to find what I was looking for rather quickly and without too much trouble. I think everything is laid out quite well making it easy to find what you’re looking for. I think as long as some more pictures and examples get added to the finished rulebook, everything should end up looking great. For the time being, I’m good with the rules.
—-

GAMEPLAY
This game is a nice mixture of worker placement and tile placement. I like how everything works together as you’re trying to get visitor into your museum. The game has several different mechanics that remind me of other games that I enjoy quite a bit. The exhibition market and it’s spiral of tiles makes me think of Patchwork, while the employee actions feels a little bit like the role selection in Puerto Rico. Choosing which role to take at the right time, as well as which tile to add to your museum can be really important. A bit of planning ahead is a good idea. For the most part, these mechanics blend together into a cohesive game that is quite fun. I will say that there isn’t a whole lot of player interaction in this one though. In fact, it feels a lot like multiplayer solitaire. I guess that’s just the euro games style that this game has been influenced by. As it is, the game has a lot of interesting choices to be made as you work to fill those contracts through the arrangement of objects and tiles. Of course the goal is to get as many visitor points as possible. If you make the wrong choices, it can be quite difficult to acquire these. I guess the main thing to say about this game is that if you don’t mind a good euro game, then you’ll probably like this one too. As for the solo game, I probably like this part of the game the most. I like the puzzle like aspect of getting everything just how it needs to be, as well as the campaign like progression that increase the difficulty. In the solo mode, you have a number of allocations to finish the game in, not turns. In other words, you really have to plan out each move with scientific precision, especially in those later missions. As you start those harder missions, you’ll have a certain set of contracts that you’ll have to complete before you run out of allocations. As I said earlier, this can be quite challenging. Overall I think this game works. Of course there’s still a bit of refinement that can be done to make things even better, especially with the graphic designs. Still where it’s at right now, I think it’s headed in the right direction. I look forward to seeing the completed game in all it’s glory. Here’s hoping that this continues to evolve into what I’m sure will be a really great game.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Curators is a game of worker and tile placement set inside a museum. The game doesn’t take too long. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes. At present, the components are still a work in progress. I’m sure that as this gets closer to being published, things will look much better. For the time being I think there are several things that can use some work. The same is true of the rulebook. With a few small touch ups, I think the rulebook will be great. The game itself is fun and mixes the worker placement and tile placement mechanics together quite skillfully. I like how the feel of each of the different roles that a player can choose on their turn. Each one has a very unique feel that works thematically. The solo game is quite challenging and the most enjoyable part of the game in my opinion. I like the increasing difficulty along with the campaign like feel that each level walks you through. I think that fans of games like Patchwork and Puerto Rico should find aspects of this game that are very familiar. I those aspects should make this game enjoyable for them. I also think Euro game fans will also like this one, as it doesn’t have a whole lot of player interaction. Solo fans should find this game fun and challenging. Overall, I like this one pretty well, especially as a solo game. This is one that I would recommend keeping an eye out for as it becomes available to back on Kickstarter or purchase from your local game store. With the right aesthetics and a bit of work, I’m sure this one will be a great game once it’s published. Get your tickets now before the museum closes.
8 out of 10

 

 

For more information about this game, please check out Worldshapers on their Facebook or Twitter accounts.

https://www.facebook.com/WorldshapersBG/?ref=JN

https://twitter.com/WorldshapersBG

You can also keep an eye out for the Kickstarter link coming April 2019.

Posted in Preview Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DC Deck Building Game: Crisis Expansion Pack 4 Review

DC Deck Building Game: Crisis Expansion Pack 4 is an expansion for the DC Deck Building Game by Richard Brady and Matt Dunn, published by Cryptozoic Entertainment. It is for 1-5 players. This expansion adds 6 new hero cards and 8 new crisis hero cards, as well as 9 Impossible super villains and 4 crisis only super villains. It also adds 32 new cards for the main deck and 12 personal crisis cards.

For more information on the many different DC Deck Building Game core sets that this product can be used with, please check out the link below.

If you’ve never played the DC Deck Building game, let me take this opportunity to quickly explain the basics of how a core box set is played. Each player begins with 7 punch cards and 3 vulnerabilities to create their starting deck. They also begin the game with one of the many different variety of DC super heroes, or Villains if using the Forever Evil core set. The main deck of cards is shuffled together and the top 5 cards are flipped over and placed in a row known as the lineup. The Kick and Weakness cards are placed in separate stacks above the lineup along with a stack of Super Villain cards. The Super Villain cards are shuffled together and 7 cards are randomly placed face down with one specific card placed face up on top. The specific villain card is usually noted in the rulebook for that particular core set. Players shuffle their deck and draw 5 cards to begin the game. On a player’s turn, they will be playing cards from their hand to gain power which can be used to buy cards from the lineup, the kick pile or even defeat villains with. Some cards will also give special abilities which will further aid the players. Each time a card is purchased or defeated, it’s placed in the player’s discard pile and will create an even more power, helping the player to earn more points to be able to purchase more powerful cards with and defeat even stronger villains. Each player’s Super Hero will also provide them with special powers that can be used during their turn. Players continue adding cards to their decks and defeating villains until the final super villain is defeated. When that happens, players add up all their victory points from the cards in their decks to find their total. The player with the most points is the winner.

With a basic knowledge of how the game works, it’s time to look at this expansion to see exactly what it adds to the game. For those players already familiar with any of the previous 3 Crisis expansions, much of this will be very familiar. With the Crisis expansions there are 2 different modes of play that may be utilized. There’s the Competitive mode and the Crisis mode. Competitive mode is played pretty much the same way as the basic game, just with new main deck cards sprinkled in to the top half of the deck. Any of the new oversized Super Hero cards can be used by players, however it’s recommended to leave out the Crisis Super Heroes. The new Impossible super villains cards may also be used, however the Crisis super villains should also be left out of the competitive game. In Crisis mode players will be working together while dealing with Personal Crises. This mode of play is a little bit different and takes a bit more explanation.

Crisis Mode is set up much the same way as the basic game, with a few exceptions. Instead of 8 Super Villains, the number of Super Villain cards that are used are determined by the number of players. The fewer the players, the more villains to contend with. Instead of the basic Super Villain cards, Crisis mode utilizes the Impossible Super Villain cards. To set up the stack, the Trigon card is placed face down. The Slade Wilson card is set aside and all the remaining Impossible Super Villain cards are shuffled together. A certain number are then placed face down on top of the Trigon card, as noted in the rulebook and based on the number of players. Slade Wilson is then placed face up on top of the stack, which is then placed beside the stack of Kick cards above the lineup. Any remaining Super Villain cards are returned to the box. The Personal Crisis cards are shuffled together and placed face down beside the Super Villain stack. Each player is dealt 1 Personal Crisis card which is placed face up in front of them. Once these additional steps to the normal setup have been completed, play now begins.

Much of the gameplay for Crisis Mode is exactly the same as in Competitive mode, or the basic mode of play for any of the core sets. There are however a few differences. For instance, when you buy or gain a villain card from the line up, normally you would put these into your discard pile. In this mode, you simply destroy it. Destroyed cards are not the same as cards that are removed from the game. Destroyed cards are still a part of the game and may be interacted with. Removed from the game cards are returned to the box and can not be interacted with any more. If you defeat a super villain, you will do the same thing as buying or gaining a regular villain except that you will also gain a Personal Crisis, more on these in a moment. Another note on super villains is that you can’t defeat a super villain until there are no more villains face up in the line up. Another change in this mode is refilling the line up. Instead of filling each empty slot during the end of a player’s turn, only the top card from the main deck is added to the line up at this time. This means that the line up will fluctuate as the game goes on. The last change is with Impossible Super Villains. These are much stronger and harder to defeat villains. When playing with these, if a Weakness is destroyed, it is returned to the stack of Weakness cards. Also if a card needs to be added to the line up from the main deck and there aren’t any to add, the game is over and the players lose.

Earlier I mentioned Personal Crisis cards, these cause negative effects and many times hinder the player in lots of different ways. First, at the beginning of a player’s turn, the top card of the main deck is destroyed for each Personal Crisis card that the player has. This depletes the deck faster causing the players to lose quicker. To remove these from play, they must be beaten. These cards are beaten by following the directions at the bottom of the card that say, “To Beat”. This involves placing cards from your hand next to or under the Personal Crisis card that meet the requirements. It should be noted that other players may contribute to their team mate’s Personal Crisis cards as well. Once the requirements to beat the card have been met, all the cards contributed to it are removed from the game and the Personal Crisis card is placed in the Crisis discard pile beside the Personal Crisis stack.

In this game, a new Keyword is introduced; Unity. These cards are easily identified by the large U in the text of the card. These cards will usually provide a benefit to the players when the card is played. The more Unity cards that are in play, the more powerful they become. For instance, the Super Power, “Titans Together” allows the player to gain +2 power for each Unity card that they play, including the “Titans Together” card.

With Crisis mode, the game continues with players taking turns defeating villains and purchasing cards until one of two things happens. If all the Super Villains in the stack have been beaten before the main deck runs out, the players win. If a card from the main deck needs to be added to the line up and there are no more cards to draw from, the players lose.

COMPONENTS
This expansion comes with lots of new cards that can be added to any of the DC Deck Building Game core sets. There are 14 oversized character cards; 8 Crisis heroes and 6 regular heroes. The Crisis heroes are new versions of the characters in the Teen Titans core set which have new powers. The new heroes are Arsenal, Donna Troy, Nightwing, Omen, Tempest and the Flash. There are 9 new Super Villain cards that may be fought against, as well as 4 Crisis Super Villains which are only used when playing Crisis mode. There are also 32 new main deck cards that can be added to the game for either Crisis or Competitive mode. Finally there are 12 Personal Crisis cards. Each card in this expansion is based on characters from the Teen Titans comics from the DC comics universe. The Personal Crisis cards focus on specific storylines from those comics. The look and feel of each card is really amazing looking. The artwork looks like it was ripped straight from the pages of the comics. The designs are exactly like those in previous sets and expansions so that these are easily added to any set. One more thing of note is that the expansion also comes with a randomizer card that can be used with the Multiverse set, as well as a plastic divider with the same image as the one that’s on the box. This divider is great for keeping the expansion separated from the rest of your expansions and sets in the Multiverse box. Honestly, I’ve always liked the characters from the Teen Titans comics so to expand on the characters in the Teen Titans core set is a major plus in my book. I especially like the addition of Arsenal, which means I can use Green Arrow and Arsenal together in the game. If it’s not been completely obvious by this point, let me state that this expansion works best with the Teen Titans core set but can be used with any set. Overall the cards work together really well and look amazing. I am very pleased with the look and feel of everything that comes with this expansion.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this expansion isn’t all that big. Those players familiar with any of the previous Crisis expansions will find the size of those rulebooks similar to this one. The book goes over both the Crisis mode and the Competitive mode. For Competitive mode, there’s only a small paragraph explaining it, while Crisis mode covers a couple of pages. Instructions for using Personal Crisis cards, Impossible Super Villains are also covered in great detail, as is the new keyword Unity. There are a couple of pages that are devoted to clarifying how certain cards work from the oversized Super Hero cards to the Impossible Super Villains, new main deck cards and Personal Crisis cards. The book also includes a few frequently asked questions that go a little more in detail on certain subjects that may come up while playing. The back cover of the book features a handy reference for playing Crisis Mode, as well as for using Impossible Super Villains. As for the rules, I feel like everything is explained rather well. There should be anything difficult to understand about using this expansion. There aren’t a whole lot of pictures in the book. What’s here is just a few pictures of some of the cards. There’s only one or two examples of gameplay in the book, which is fine as there’s not much that should need additional explaining. Overall I feel like the rulebook gets the job done in a small and compact way without a whole lot of reading required. I’m fairly pleased with the results.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
As most of you know by now, I’m a huge fan of the DC Deck Building Game. I’ve played pretty much everything that has been out for the game since it first came out. Mostly this is due to my love for the DC comics universe. While I enjoy all the various costumed heroes and villains, I have to say that the Teen Titans have always been some of my favorite characters. I always liked Robin/Nightwing, Starfire, Raven and Donna Troy. Over the years the characters have grown and changed. I still like the Titans though, so for me this expansion paired with the Teen Titans core set is absolutely gold. I like that this has two different ways to play with the Crisis mode and Competitive. Of course the competitive mode is great for playing with friends that simply want a quick and simple game to play with the DC characters. This expansion allows you to add a stack of new cards to the main deck and change up the game a bit without going to overboard. The Crisis mode allows you to really get into the game. I wouldn’t recommend playing this way with your casual players. It can be rather tough, especially with those Impossible Super Villains. They are called Impossible after all. Those Personal Crisis cards really throw a monkey wrench into what you’re doing too. Needless to say, you can find yourself losing several times without blinking. However I really enjoy the challenge. With the Crisis mode, you can also play the game solo which is awesome. Speaking of solo, yes the solo mode is a lot of fun. It’s a bit of a challenge but I love a good challenge. I can’t forget to mention the new Unity keyword either. I like how that the more of these cards that you play the more power and abilities you’re able to generate. Once you get a stack of these rolling, it makes those super villains a bit easier to beat. Needless to say, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I really enjoy this expansion. I’m pretty sure that fans of the DC Deck Building Game, especially the Teen Titans set, will love what this brings to the table. This is an expansion that I would highly recommend. For me, it’s a most definite must have.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
DC Deck Building Game: Crisis Expansion Pack 4 is an expansion for the DC Deck Building Game. It’s compatible with any of the core sets but has a special connection with the Teen Titans set. It adds adds 6 new hero cards and 8 new crisis hero cards, as well as 9 Impossible super villains and 4 crisis only super villains. It also adds 32 new cards for the main deck and 12 personal crisis cards that are all centered around the Teen Titans. The game length varies depending on the mode of play chosen and the number of players. Most game sessions last between an hour and two hours. The cards that come with this expansion are absolutely gorgeous. I especially like the addition of new characters like Arsenal and Donna Troy. The images on each card look like something ripped from the pages of a DC comic. The new mechanics of the Personal Crisis cards and the new Unity keyword create new challenges and new ways to play an already great game. Thematically I think that the expansion capitalizes on the themes and feelings of the Teen Titans comics quite well. Needless to say, I absolutely love this expansion. Fans of the DC Deck Building Game, especially the Teen Titans core set, should really enjoy this expansion. I highly recommend this one. It’s a must have. Now back to more teenage angsty drama.
9 out of 10

 

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

http://www.cryptozoic.com/

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy Review

Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy is a game by Ryan Lambert, published by Adam’s Apple Games. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players take on the role of food truck owners as they send their food trucks to different venues in an attempt to haul in as much money as possible. Of course their rivals will be trying to do the same thing and may find a way to get either their food truck or the venue shut down keeping them from earning any money. In the end, the player that can navigate the venues and earn the most money will be declared the winner.

To begin, a number of Venue Tiles are placed in the middle of the play area in a row. The specific tiles used are determined by the number of players. The corresponding Venue Die is then placed onto each tile. Each player chooses a food truck and is given the corresponding set of Action Cards and Food Truck tokens. If a specific Venue Tile is not being used due to fewer players, then each player will remove the Food Truck tokens that have those numbers on the back of them. Players will also discard the same 2 Action Cards from their stack based on whether they want to play a game with more or less of the “Take That” mechanic. The Money Tokens are placed into corresponding piles. The Round Tracker Card is placed near the middle of the play area and a 1 money token is placed on round 1. The first player is chosen and is given the first player token. Play now begins.

The game is played over 5 rounds. Each round consists of 5 steps; select trucks, roll dice, select actions, execute actions and resolve payouts. The first step is to select trucks. To do this, each player will secretly choose 2 of the venues that they wish to sell their food to for the round. They will place their 2 food truck tokens with the corresponding numbers on them in front of themself with the number side face down. Once everyone has chosen 2 food trucks, all players will then reveal their numbers and will place their token below the corresponding venue in a row. For the next step, the die for each venue will be rolled once. The number rolled equals the total venue payout in money. In the third step, players will select actions. This is done simultaneously. Each player will choose any of their action cards that they wish to play for the round. These cards are placed in the player’s hand, while the any unchosen action cards are placed face down on the table in front of them with their inactive food truck tokens placed on top of them. Once players have completed this step, it’s time to move on to the fourth step; execute actions. In this step, each player in turn order will reveal one of the action cards from their hand and will complete the action described on it. Once the action has been completed, the player will place the action card into their discard pile. It should be noted that a player may choose not to execute an action on one of their action cards. In this case, the player may simply discard the card instead of using it. This continues with each player playing action cards until all of the players have used all of the action cards in their hand. If a player has no action cards remaining in their hand, they must pass until all players have used each of their action cards. The final step is to resolve payouts. For this step, each truck at a venue will earn an even payout that is equal to the total venue payout divided by the number of trucks. For example: if a venue has 3 trucks an the venue die result is a 6, then each truck would receive 2 money tokens. If there are any payout reminders, these are discarded at this time. Once each venue’s payout has been resolved, each player will take back all of their food truck tokens and any game play tokens. The first player token is then passed to the next player in turn order and a new round begins.

The game continues until the end of the fifth round. Once the last round has been completed, players will add up all of their money. The player with the most money is the winner.

COMPONENTS
The game comes with a lot of different pieces. First off there’s a bunch of small punchboards inside the box. These contain all of the cardboard pieces for the game including food truck tokens, venue tiles, money tokens and game play tokens. Each cardboard piece is fairly thick and durable. The food truck tokens have a venue number on the back and a specific look for each of the 6 different player’s trucks. There’s Game Jammin, Sashimi Rollin’, Figtown, BeeBeeQ, The Great Frijolio and Fry Hard. Each one has a very unique look which also makes it’s way onto the player’s action cards in terms of flavor text. The money and game play tokens are double sided but have the same image on both sides. The game play tokens look like little ketchup and mustard bottles which is pretty darn cool. The venue tiles have some unique artwork that reminds me a bit of the artwork in the game Suburbia. It’s not very detailed but gives a real feel of what the venue is supposed to be. The game also comes with a fairly good sized stack of cards. There are action cards that correspond with the player’s food trucks and have the same stylized coloring and designs on them. There’s also a stack of Daily Specialty cards which add a bit of depth to the game but don’t have any real artwork to them. These are kind of like event cards and affect their corresponding venue when they take effect. The final pieces are the colored venue dice and the wooden first player token. The dice and Daily Specialty cards have somewhat similar colors to let you know which venue they belong to while the venue tiles have a dice icon on them showing which die belongs with it. The first player token is kind of a teal blue food truck. Based on the look of the game box, I honestly thought that the game was going to be a bunch of paper craft trucks or something. I thought, “man, I hope I’m up to the task of putting these things together.” Thankfully the components were not paper craft so there was no assembly needed. I rather like the images and the artwork for the game. It’s very minimal but fits in quite well with the overall design of the game. Overall I think it’s a much better looking game than what the actual box cover makes you think is gonna be inside. I’m fairly pleased with the look and feel of this one.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is fairly well designed and is quite easy to read. The text is a bit larger than most rulebooks of this size so it’s easy for those with vision trouble to see fairly easily. There’s a good amount of pictures and examples throughout the book, which is quite helpful. The book does a fair job of explaining the setup process, as well as providing a step by step overview of a round of play. Each step is explained rather well. The rules also include the Daily Special variant which adds in the Daily Special cards which I described a bit more in detail in the components section. There’s also special rules for playing with only 2 players, which add in a 3rd artificial player. The back of the book contains a list of action cards and explains what each one does. This is a rather nice reference to have on the table when playing the game. It’s actually quite helpful. I did find one small issue though. On the back, the action cards that are supposed to be low in the “take that” mechanic are shown as Place Another Truck and Trigger a Venue Payout. In the the setup rules, it shows Promote a Venue and Trigger a Venue Payout. I’m not really sure which one is correct so I played a couple of games one way and the rest the other. Hopefully there will be some errata or a revised rulebook to fix this. Overall I’d say that for the most part, the rulebook gets the job done and that it doesn’t take very long to read. Apart from the small mistake, it’s not bad.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a fairly simple game to play. You decide where you want to send your food trucks to try and make some money. You all reveal your decisions at the same time and then you roll the die for each venue. That tells you how much money is available at each venue. The bigger the die, the more chance for a higher number to be rolled. Next you decide what cards from your hand that you want to play to affect everything from yours or another player’s truck to the venue itself. Each player has the same cards in their hands, just with different thematic names on them, so you pretty much know what could potentially be played against you. It’s then time to start using those cards to see what happens. This is where the majority of the action takes place. Things can get a bit chaotic in this step. You really never know what’s going to happen. For this reason I feel that there’s a good bit of luck involved with the game. Once all the action cards are played, it’s time to pay off each truck at the venue. Lather, rinse, repeat for 4 more rounds. As I said, pretty simple. So depending on which way you choose to play, the game can have a high “take that” feel to it or a low one. It really depends on which cards you choose to eliminate during setup. Even with a higher feel, it’s still not nearly as harsh and nasty as most of the games I’ve played with a “take that” mechanic. Still the game is pretty solid and can be quite fun with the right player count. The old adage of the more the merrier is very appropriate here. With fewer players it’s not quite as fun. I am especially not too crazy about using the artificial player for 2 player games. You really need at least 3 or 4 players if at all possible. It’s not that the AI for the artificial player is bad, it’s just more fun with real players. For one thing, real players laugh and that’s what will happen quite a bit while playing this game. When trucks start getting moved around and then moved around again. You can find yourself getting a good case of the giggles. My daughter loved when I was about to get a good payday from one of the venues and she played an action card that moved my truck to a much smaller payout. The game also excels in simultaneous action selection. In this way, it makes me think of the game The Grimm Forest, which is one of my daughter’s favorite games. Needless to say, this is a rather good game. Fans of games with the Take That mechanic like Flaming Pyramids, Munchkin and The Grimm Forest should enjoy this one as well. It’s family friendly and one that even the younger players can enjoy. It’s a good game that I recommend giving a try.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Truck Off: The Food Truck Frenzy is a simultaneous action selection game of take that where players try to make the most money from their fleet of food trucks. The game isn’t a very long one. In fact, most game sessions last around 30 minutes or so. It’s fairly quick and light enough that most players of every age can play. The components are very good. I especially like the uniqueness of each player’s deck of action cards and the flavor text on each one. The rulebook has a minor error or two but nothing too major as to cause a lot of problems. Hopefully there will be some errata or something to clarify the issue posted to fix this. As for the game itself, it’s a good game that is family friendly. The take that mechanic is variable and can be added or subtracted from the game to make it perfect for players that prefer light or heavy player interaction. Regardless which level is chosen, the take that mechanic doesn’t feel as mean as in other games of the same type. Fans of the mechanic, as well as those that enjoy simultaneous action selection games, should enjoy this one as well. Fans of games like Flaming Pyramids, Munchkin and The Grimm Forest should find something to like with this one as well. This is a game that I would recommend giving a try. Like the perfect menu, there’s something very everyone to enjoy.
8 out of 10

For more information about this and other great games, please check out Adam’s Apple Games at their site.

https://adamsapplegames.com/

 

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fairy Tale Fluxx Review

Fairy Tale Fluxx is a game by Andrew Looney, published by Looney Labs. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players will be playing cards to affect and even change different aspects of this fairy tale themed game as they try to reach their own happily ever after. Of course to do this, they’ll need to collect the correct characters, items or locations if they hope to acheive their goal. In the end, the player that can best navigate these always changing rules and complete the current goal will be declared the winner.

To begin, the Basic Rules card is placed in the center of the play area. The deck is then shuffled and each player is dealt 3 cards to form their starting hand. The rest of the deck is then placed face down beside the Basic Rules card. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. Each round players will take a turn. On a player’s turn, they will perform 3 actions. First they will draw a number of cards as dictated by any rules that are in play. Once they’ve drawn the correct number of cards, they will then play a number of cards as instructed by any rules in play. Both drawing and playing cards require at least 1 card be drawn and 1 card be played. There are 3 types of cards that can be played; New Rules, Goals, Keepers and Action cards. New Rules change the way the game is played and take effect as soon as they are played. These are placed beside any previous rules unless they override the basic rules of draw 1 and play 1. If this is the case, the new rule cards is placed so that it overlaps the part of the Basic Rule that it is replacing. Goal cards are placed in the middle of the play area and establish the requirements for a play to win the game. If there is another Goal card already face up on the table, it is discarded and replaced by the new card. Keepers are placed face up in front of the player that played it. These are the cards needed for a player to win. Action cards are one time use cards. To play one of these, the player reads it aloud and then does whatever the card says. The card is then placed in the discard pile. Once a player has played the correct number of cards, they will then be forced to discard a number of cards if their hand has more than the current hand limit rule in play. At the beginning of the game, there is no hand limit. Only when a new rule is played that limits the cards a player may keep in their hand, will players need to worry about this. Once a player has completed all 3 actions, play passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues until a player meets the conditions of the current Goal. The player that does this is the winner, even if this happens on another player’s turn.

COMPONENTS
This game consists of a box of 100 cards. Each card is high quality and is just the right size and thickness. The finish on each one is very good and makes it easy to shuffle together when in the deck. The artwork for the game is done by the amazing Mary Engelbreit. Each design is so cute, fun and full of imagination. I love how each one looks like it was ripped from the pages of a storybook. She has definitely captured not only the idea of the game but also the heart of it as well. I honestly don’t think that the art for this one could have looked any better. Thematically, each design fits in perfectly. My daughter absolutely loves the pictures. It really captures her imagination and reminds her of the different stories that I would read to her when she was younger. Some of the cards, like the new rule cards have icons. Compared to those in previous versions of Fluxx, these are quite a bit larger and easier to understand. The text on the cards also seem to be a bit larger and easier to read. I have to say that I’m very happy with the overall look and feel of the game. It’s definitely fun to look at and it will captivate your heart with it’s unique charm.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
For this game, the rulebook consists of a large double sided sheet of colored paper that is multi-folded. While large, it fits nicely into the box when folded. Unlike some of the other Fluxx titles, this rulebook actually has some very nice looking pictures on it. On the front page, there are pictures of a sample game in progress, as well as specific pictures for each type of card and how to set up the game. On the back of the page is a large piece of artwork combining several of the designs from the game into one beautiful piece. This particular piece is so nice, that it’s almost worthy of framing. I honestly wish I had a print of this for just that reason. The rules themself are actually quite simple and are easy to understand. The back of the page has a few examples of gameplay to help players understand a few things a bit better. There are also some notes that clarify a few things, such as discarding cards, reshuffling, cards in play and free actions, as well as notes on jumping in and dropping out of the game. Overall the rulebook looks good and is a much needed improvement to previous designs. I’m really thrilled with how great it looks.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
For several years now, my family and I have enjoyed playing Fluxx. We’ve played lots of different versions of the game and have enjoyed each one. We’ve taught the game to lots of people who have enjoyed it as well. Needless to say, Fluxx has been a staple of our home for awhile now. So how does this version compare to other versions of the game? I’d say that it’s pretty darn good. I’m still not a fan of the removal of the Creepers from the game which was done around the time of the fifth version of the basic game. However I understand their decision to make the game a bit more simple to appeal to players of all ages and experience. That said, this version centers around all of those classic fairy tales that your parents read to you as a kid. Stories like Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White and the 7 Dwarves, Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood are featured on the Goal and Keeper cards. A few of the Action and New Rule cards touch on these themes, but most of them are pretty general and would work with any version of Fluxx. I have to say, even without Creepers this is a really good version of Fluxx. My daughter absolutely adores all the fairy tale characters and she really enjoys playing this version. This is definitely a game that the whole family can enjoy. As for those that have never played Fluxx, it’s all about trying to play the right cards at the right time so that you can have the right Keepers on the field to meet the requirements for the current Goal, or simply changing the Goal to meet what you have either in your hand or already on the field. As you can see, there’s a lot of chaotic fun to be had as the game is always changing. The rules change, the Goal changes and you just never know who will win. Fans of games like Munchkin or other hand management games of that nature should really enjoy this one. For Fluxx players that enjoy a good fairy tale or that are looking for a version to play with the kids, this should be right up your alley. This is a really great looking version that I would highly recommend.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Fairy Tale Fluxx is a family friendly game of ever changing rules and goals in a fairy tale world. It’s a great little card game that doesn’t take a long time to play. Most game sessions last around 15-20 minutes. The cards are great quality and the artwork is simply amazing. Anyone that’s a fan of Mary Engelbreit will love the different fairy tale designs created by her. The rulebook is a definite improvement over past versions. I especially love the additional design by Mary Engelbreit on the back of the page. The game is family friendly and is one that can be played with both kids and adults alike. Fans of any of the other Fluxx games should enjoy this version as well. My daughter and I both really like the look and feel of this version. This is one that I would highly recommend, especially for those players that love a good fairy tale. No fairy godmother needed.
9 out of 10

 

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

http://looneylabs.com

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Preview Review of Town Builder: Coevorden

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

Town Builder: Coevorden is a game by Eric Raué, published by First Fish Games. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of the lead architect for a noble family, tasked with building the best town district for a fierce town building competition. They will need to gather the necessary resources and choose the right buildings if they hope to impress the judges and win the best awards. In the end, the player that can harness their town building skills the best and thus earn the most points, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the Town cards are shuffled together to form a deck which is then placed face down in the middle of the play area. The top 5 cards of the deck are then placed face up in a row beside the deck. This is the initial card row. The Judge cards are then shuffled together. Three cards are then drawn from this deck. The first card is placed face up above the card row. The second is placed in approximately the middle of the Town card deck. The third card is placed at the bottom of the same deck. The Award cards are shuffled together next. The top 2 cards of this deck are drawn and placed face up above the card row next to the Judge card. Any unused Judge and Award cards are then set aside in a face down pile. A number of Player Crest cards are taken equal to the number of players, including the one marked, “First Player”. These cards are shuffled and dealt out, one to a player. Any of these cards that are unused are placed back into the box. Whichever player receives the First Player card will begin the game. Each player will then place their Player Crest card face up in front of themself. This area is the player’s district. Once this is done, play now begins.

This game is played in a series of turns, with each player taking a turn consisting of 2 steps. In the first step, the player will refill the card row back to 5 cards, drawing cards from the deck to replace any empty spots with. If a Judge card is revealed, it is placed face up above the card row along with the other Judge card(s). Any remaining empty holes in the card row are then filled. Once the deck is empty, the discard pile is shuffled together to create a new facedown deck.

The second step of a player’s turn is to take two actions. There are 3 types of actions that a player is able to take. The player is allowed to take the same action twice or take two different actions. The actions are start a foundation, gain a resource and store a gold. The first action is to start a foundation. To start a foundation, the player simply takes one of the cards from the card row and places it sideways in front of themself in their district. It should be noted that if a foundation has a gold cost, this must be paid before the player can choose to start this particular card as a foundation. The player will need to discard gold cards stored under their quest equal to the chosen card’s cost. It should also be noted that foundations do not count towards claiming awards or scoring judges as they are not built buildings yet. The next action is to gain a resource. To do this, the player will take a card from the card row and place it behind a foundation in their district that requires the specific resource that is printed on the bottom of the card. The card is placed so that the resource end of the card is showing. It should be noted that a resource can not be placed behind a foundation that does not require the specific resource located on the card. The final action is to store a gold. To do this, the player will choose a card from the card row that shows a gold coin at the bottom of the card. This card is then placed behind the player’s crest with the gold end showing. One thing should be noted, once a foundation has all of it’s resource costs satisfied, it must be built. All the resources behind the card are discarded and the foundation card is then turned upright and become a building. If a foundation has only a gold cost, then it is immediately built without needing to acquire any resources. It should be noted that some buildings will have a build ability that may be used once during the turn that the foundation was built. Other buildings may provide abilities that score points at the end of the game, or a special ability that may be used once per turn. One last thing of note, a player may only use 1 special ability per turn. These special abilities are noted with a star.

One final thing that I haven’t mentioned is awards. These are cards that require certain things and will score points at the end of the game. To claim one of these, the player must first be able to meet the requirements of the award. When they do, the will take the award and place it in their district. Until the first player’s next turn, other players may also share in claiming awards. If the player is able to meet the requirements for an award, they will then take an unused award face down in it’s place.

Each time the deck runs out, the discard pile is shuffled to create a new deck. Once the deck runs out a set number of times, dependent on the number of players, the game end is triggered. When the deck runs out for the last time, the discard pile is shuffled once more. Players will continue to take turns until it is the first player’s turn. Each player will then take 1 last turn. If the deck runs out after the end game is triggered, the discard pile is shuffled again as needed. Once the game ends, scoring occurs. Any incomplete foundations, along with the resources stored behind them, are discarded. Players will then check to see if they have any scoring abilities that may affect Judge scoring. These are then activated in turn order. The player that has the most buildings of a judge’s preference will then claim that particular judge. Players will then add up their points from their buildings, awards and judges, as well as for any scoring abilities. The player with the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
The version of the game that I received is a prototype copy. With that in mind, be aware that some things about this game may change before being published. As it is now, the game consists of only a stack of cards. There are 60 town cards, 6 judges, 8 awards and 4 player crest cards. The town cards have these really nice designs with huge pieces of art surrounded by some iconography that is fairly simple to understand. At the moment, none of the judge cards have faces on them. I’m assuming that this will be an option for backers of the Kickstarter campaign to be able to put their face into the game. I think these will look really cool once they’re completed. The awards cards are a little bland, with only a trophy on them along with the requirements to collect one. However I’m sure these will also be upgraded to look much better when the game goes into production. The player crest cards are really nice. On the backs of these is a really unique coat of arms. The front side of these contains a player reference, along with the turn sequence, special icons and even a special ability that may be used during the game. Overall I really like the look of the game. The town card are gorgeous. I’m hoping that this beautiful artwork will also make it’s way onto the awards cards as well. Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this game turns out once it’s finally put into print. If what I’ve seen is any indication of how good it’ll look, I’m sure it’s going to be amazing.
—-

RULEBOOK
As with the components, the rulebook is also a prototype. That said, the book is pretty impressive. With lots of full color pictures and examples throughout the book, there’s a lot to love here. The contents of the game are found on the first page along with a great look at what the Judge cards may end up looking like with their completed artwork. The next page has a breakdown of a town card, explaining each of the different parts of the card. There’s also a reference of the iconography used on them as well. The next 2 pages consist of explaining the setup, including a minor change for 2 player games. The next several pages go over the steps of a player’s turn, along with the different action which are explained in detail. The last couple of pages include rules for playing the game solo, along with a card appendix that explains a bit more in detail some of the different cards. Overall, I think the book looks great. After reading through it, I found that I understood how to play the game quite well. The rules were simple to read and understand. For the very few times that I found myself looking back at the rulebook, it was very easy to find what I was looking for. Everything is laid out so well that I had no problems. I really like how nice the book looks and am very appreciative of all the great examples scattered throughout the book. They really helped me understand the rules even better. Needless to say, I’m pleased with the current rulebook and can’t wait to see the finished product.
—-

GAMEPLAY
I rather enjoy a good city building game. Computer games like Sim City and Roller Coaster Tycoon were among my favorites growing up. I enjoyed creating something that was completely unique to me. In the board game world, games like Suburbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig gave me this same feeling and enjoyment that I would get from those old computer games. Town Builder: Coevorden fits in right at home with those other games. I enjoy finding those cards that mesh just right together to get my district humming right along. I really like creating this unique little city of my own design. I like gathering up the materials to be able to turn that foundation upright. There’s something uniquely satisfying about doing that . I really enjoy the look of the game. The cards really help create this lovely town that you will be working to build. I found that once I finished playing the game, I liked to look back at what I’d built and kind of think about what that city might actually look like and what the story behind this particular city might be. I know that’s probably odd and a bit too involved, but that’s one thing that I really enjoyed about this game. It made me feel involved in the city that I was building. Some games I have felt like I was simply dealing with a random bunch of resources and nothing else. This takes some of that same idea, but makes you think sometimes about just what you want to do with them. Do you place that stone and wood card beneath your quarry for the extra stone to help build it, or do you use it to finish off that town castle that will earn you 7 points at the end of the game. That’s one thing about this game, points are tight. What i mean is that in multiplayer games every point matters and can be hard to come by. That’s even more important in the solo game. You will definitely find yourself thinking ahead several moves as you try to get those few points that you’re able to get. Needless to say, I really enjoy this one, both as with other players and as a solo game. As a matter of fact, I probably like the solo game the best. Not that the regular game is bad, because it’s not, it’s just that I honestly haven’t found many games like this that play solo this well. There are a few changes to the solo game from the main game, but it’s mainly just removing a few cards and judges from the game. The solo game is all about scoring as many points as possible. The higher the score, the higher you rank. If you score less than 30 points, you’re an unworthy peasant who should probably get back to the pig farm and leave the city building to the professionals. However if you’re able to score 38 points or more, well you’re just the most noble of nobles and can expect to have the kingdom handed to you on a silver plate at any moment. You lucky dog! Regardless of which way you play, whether solo or multiplayer, this is definitely a game that should appeal to you. I find that fans of games like Suburbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig should really enjoy this one as well. This is one that is family friendly and not too overly thinky. However the younger players might have a bit of trouble understanding just exactly how to play. I think most preteens and older shouldn’t have any trouble with this one. I really enjoy the game. This is definitely one that I would recommend keeping an eye out for and backing when it comes to Kickstarter. I highly recommend it.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Town Builder: Coevorden is a city building card game of resource management and strategy. The game isn’t one that takes too long. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes or so. The cards for this game have some really great looking artwork. With this just being a prototype, I can only imagine how much better the game will look once it’s actually produced. The same is also true of the rulebook. As is usually the case with most prototypes, you can probably expect some changes before the game actually makes it to market. That said, I’m very impressed with the overall look and feel of what I’ve seen so far. The game itself is fairly simple to learn but challenging to win, especially as a solo player. It’s really fun. Fans of games like Suburbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig should enjoy the city building aspects of this game. Solo players will also enjoy this one, especially if they like a beat your own score victory. This is also one that is family friendly, especially with preteens and older. This is one that should just get better when produced. I would highly recommend backing it on Kickstarter. No building license needed.
9 out of 10

 

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

http://www.firstfishgames.com/

Please check back soon for the Kickstarter link where you can back the game and get your own copy.

 

 

Posted in Preview Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dogs Review

Dogs is a game by Marcos Macri, published by Gray Mass Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of managers of their own Animal Rescue Center or ARC. They will be trying to rescue a variety of different breeds of dogs while managing their resources to best utilize them. In the end, the player that can run the best ARC, gaining the most points, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the main board is placed in the middle of the play area. The Action Spaces/Dog Fair board is placed to one side of the main board. The Bonus cards are shuffled together. Two cards are then dealt face up above each of the spaces on the Action Board. The remaining deck of cards are then placed face down near these rows. The Dog Fair cards are shuffled together next. The deck is placed face down next to the Dog Fair board. The top card is then flipped face up beside the deck. All of the different resource tokens are separated into piles and placed within reach of all players. The dog tokens are separated into two piles, 1 for the City dogs and 1 for the Country dogs. Tokens are randomly drawn and placed on the board, 1 per empty space with the City dog tokens on the blue paw prints and Country dog tokens on the green ones. Each player will then pick a color and will receive a player board, truck tile, wooden truck, 3 wooden dog houses and 2 meeples in their chosen color. They will also receive 3 coins, 2 food tokens, 2 medicine tokens and 6 gas tokens. The player will place their player board in front of them. This is also known as their Animal Rescue Center or ARC. The player will then place their 3 coin, 3 doghouses and 2 meeples in the office. The 2 food tokens are placed in the store room. The 2 medicine tokens are placed in the veterinarian. The 6 gas tokens are placed in the garage. The player places their truck tile near their ARC. Their wooden truck is placed on the center space of the board. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over 3 phases. In the first phase, the players will move their wooden trucks from the central staring location, beginning with the first player. Each player will move their truck a number of spaces. These spaces may contain dogs or not. Once the player decides to stop moving, they must then pay 1 gas token for each space they moved through, including the one they stopped on. Moving through the central starting space does not cost any gas tokens. The player will then collect the dog from the space that they stopped on. If the dog is healthy or sick, it is placed on the player’s truck tile. If it’s a reward dog, the player will place the dog on the highest available space at the Dog Fair. They are then awarded the number of coins indicated on the main board beside the spot that the dog was taken from. Once this has been completed, play passes to the next player in turn order, who repeats the same steps. This continues until all players have decided to return to their ARCs. To do this, the player declares that they have finished collecting dogs and must now pay 1 gas token to return their wooden truck back to the central starting location. The first and last player to return to their ARC collects 1 resource of their choice. It should be noted that if a player used all of their gas tokens prior to returning to their ARC, then all of the dogs on their truck tile are returned to the corresponding bag. Their wooden truck is then placed back on the central starting location. It should be noted that a player may also choose not to move on their turn, passing their turn instead. If all players chose not to move, this will trigger the Game End. Once all wooden trucks have returned to the central starting location, each player will then take the dogs from their truck tile and organize them into their kennel stalls. Sick dogs are placed into the Infirmary. Healthy dogs are placed into one of the prebuilt kennels, but only dogs of the same breed may be placed side by side. In the Infirmary, this isn’t necessary. It should be noted that if a player collected more dogs than they have room for, they must be donate any overflow dogs to the player to their left. The player may choose which dogs to donate, either from their truck tile or their ARC. The player that receives the new dogs may then rearrange their own kennels to place them. If they wind up not having room for all the new dogs, just like before a number of dogs are passed to the player to their left. This continues until the last dog has been placed or the last player has passed. If a dog is not placed into a kennel, it is placed on the highest available number on the Dog Fair. One more thing of note, if a player fills a kennel with 4 dogs of the same breed, they immediately receive 1 coin. Players may only receive this bonus one time per breed in their kennel. Once all player have completed the placing of dogs into their ARCs, play moves into the next phase.

In the second phase, players will assign their workers to various building action spaces on the board, starting with the first player. To do this, the player will place one of their meeples onto one of the building spaces. However, only 2 meeples may be on each place on the board. If a player has a Free Entry card though, then they may place their meeple on a space that has already been filled. Once the meeple has been placed, the player will then take one of the available cards from above the action space that they chose. When using the Free Entry card, the player is not allowed to take one of these cards. If the card is a resource, the player immediately gains the resource and the card is placed into the discard pile. Special cards may be played as appropriate or saved for a later time. The player then performs the action of the space that they placed their meeple on. Doing this action is optional however, the player may pass on taking the action if they choose. There are 5 spaces that players may send their workers to; Town Hall, the Warehouse, the Pet Shop, the Veterinary and the Dog Fair. The Town Hall lets the player build an additional stall in their ARC for 2 coins. The Warehouse lets the player exchange up to 2 resources from their ARC for any other 2 resources from the pool. The Pet Shop lets a player buy food and medicine for their ARC. For every coin they spend, they gain 2 tokens in any combination. The Veterinary lets the player spend medicine tokens to cure up to 6 dogs in their infirmary. Each dog cured costs 1 medicine token. At the Dog Fair, the player can either buy, sell or trade a dog. To buy a dog, the player must pay 10 coins minus the number of dogs in the Dog Fair. To sell a dog, the dog must be one of the breeds on the current Dog Fair card. The player places it on the highest available number and then collects 2 coins. To trade a dog, the player may simply swap one of their dogs from their kennel for one of the dogs from the Dog Fair. Once finished, play passes to the next player. This continues until all players have placed all of their workers and completed all of their actions. Once this is completed, play moves into the final phase.

The third phase is the cleanup phase which may be played simultaneously by all players. In this phase players must now pay 1 food for every stall that has at least 1 dog in it. Dogs in the Infirmary do not require the player to pay any food. If a player doesn’t have enough food to feed all of their dogs, then 1 dog from each stall that they are unable to feed becomes sick and must be placed into the Infirmary. If the Infirmary is full, then the dog goes to the Dog Fair. Players must then pay their Assistant 1 coin. If they don’t have any coins to pay them with, then the Assistant goes away. The player must then place one of their meeples to the side of their ARC and cannot use them in the next round. They may rehire them in Phase 3 of the next round for 1 coin. Once players have taken care of these payments, the board is cleaned up. First any remaining cards above the Action spaces are placed in the discard pile. Two new cards are then drawn from the Bonus deck and placed above each space. A new Dog Fair card is then revealed and the old one is discarded. New dog tokens are drawn from their respective bags to replaced any empty spaces created from the last round. If there aren’t enough dog tokens to refill the board with, either from the city or country dogs bag, then the game ends immediately. Once the board has been dealt with, players will now complete their clean up. For this, each player will now collect 1 coin from the bank for their income. They may also buy gas tokens by paying 1 coin for 3 tokens. A player may only have 9 gas tokens at one time. Once this has all been dealt with, the first player token is passed to the next player in turn order and a new round begins.

The game continues until one of 2 things happens. If all of the players choose not to move from the central starting location during Phase 1, then the game ends. The players will finish the remainder of the round, completing Phases 2 and the feeding of dogs and payment of their assistant in Phase 3. The other way the game can end is if there aren’t enough dogs to fill all of the empty spaces on the board during Phase 3. If this happens, players proceed immediately to scoring. Scoring occurs in several ways. Players will score points for the dogs in their stalls, for each additional stall that they build, for each breed of dog in their kennel, for having paid their assistant in the last round and for their collection of resource tokens. They will lose points for each dog in their infirmary. Players add up all of their points and the one with the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game has some really great looking pieces that will appeal to the dog lover in everyone. First off there is the main game board. This has some really great looking artwork on it. There are images for each of the different breeds of dogs along with some scoring reminders along the bottom of the board. I really like the design, even though the city is a bit too rectangular and perfect for my taste. Still this is a game and not supposed to mimic reality completely. Next there is the Action Spaces/Dog Fair board. This one is really cool looking. I love the artwork on this. The iconography is fairly easy to remember too. On the back side of the board is a great looking logo of the game which I found to be a nice little extra touch. Next there are the 4 different colored player boards or ARCS. Each of these is exactly the same, apart from the difference in color and the name of each one. I have to say that I like the added little personal touch for each ARC having a different name. These boards are quite thick, much like the Action Spaces/Dog Fair board. The same thickness is also found with the truck tiles. These are done in colors that match the different player boards. The game also comes with lots of thick cardboard tokens for coins, food, medicine and gas, as well as roadwork tokens and dog tokens in two varieties; country dog and city dog. Of all of these, I really like the dog tokens the best. There are 7 tokens for each of the 12 different breeds of dogs. Each of these depicts a dog that is easily recognizable. I like the artwork on these a lot. Also included with the game are a whole bunch of wooden pieces. There are meeples, trucks and dog houses in 4 different player colors. There are 2 meeples for each color and 3 dog houses for each color. These are really nicely shaped and easily recognizable for what they are. There’s also a starting player token shaped like a dog that is made of wood as well. This too is a really nice touch. The game includes 2 quality draw bags for placing the country and city dog tokens into. Each of these is made from quality materials, almost like a satin piece of material. I like these a lot. Finally there are all the many types of cards. There are bonus cards and Dog Fair cards. Each of these has some really great looking artwork that is easy to understand. The cards have a good thickness and finish to them and simply look great. Pretty much everything that comes with this game is high quality and looks amazing. I’m really overwhelmed with how cool it all looks. Needless to say, you get a lot of stuff inside this box. Overall I’m thrilled with the game as a whole.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is very well designed. There are lots and lots of full color pictures and examples of gameplay throughout the book. The first couple of pages show off all of the great components included with the game and explain each of the different Bonus cards and how they each work. The next pages explain how to setup the game and each player’s ARC. From there the book focuses on explaining each of the phases of gameplay, including some tips and examples along the way. Near the end of the book, there are some advanced rules included as well as some rule changes for 2 player games. The book ends with several thorough examples and a list of all of the dog names as proposed by Kickstarter backers of the game. The back page of the book has a handy scoring reference which is very helpful. I really like how nice this book looks and am very thankful for all of the handy references and examples. I especially like how that each bonus card is highlighted in the section associated with it. For instance, in phase 3 where you are supposed to pay your assistant 1 coin for their hard work, the Assistant card is noted in this section that it can be used instead of paying the coin. Overall I found the rulebook to be very thorough and well designed. I really like the extra page of dog names and finding out where each one was sent in from. Needless to say, whoever the backer from Branchton, Ontario Canada was that named one of the saint bernard Nelson, you are my favorite person right now.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Imagine what it would be like to run your own kennel. You’d have to keep up with feeding and caring for each dog. You’d need to pay your assistant for helping out with all the menial tasks. You might even have to go and pick up some dogs from around the city. Now imagine how those types of things might translate into a board game and that’s Dogs in a nutshell. This is a great game that I really enjoy. You start off by moving around the board and collecting certain types of dogs to fill your kennel up with. Of course you want to make sure that if you snag any sick ones, that you have the meds to take care of them. Once your truck is full of furry goodness, it’s time to get ’em all snug in their own little pen. Once the doggies are all down for the night, it’s up to you and your perky assistant to scamper about town for all the necessities needed to keep your pups happy and healthy. Of course you can always take a little time to upgrade the old kennel as well. Finally it’s time to feed your doggos, pay your assistant and clean everything up for another day of canine craziness. As you can see, the theme of the game really comes through. You really get the feel that you’re running your own kennel. On top of that, the game is as cute as it can be. Each piece ties in quite well with the overall game and looks good too. In a lot of ways this game makes me thing of another dog themed game, A Dog’s Life. With A Dog’s Life, you discover what it’s like to be a dog running around the city. Well with this one, the shoe is on the other foot and you’re trying to catch the dogs and run the kennel. For me, if you took A Dog’s Life and combined it with a worker placement game, this game might be what you end up with. I quite enjoy having the freedom to move around wherever I want to pick up whichever types of dogs I want. I like the worker placement aspect of the game and how not only do you get to take an action, but you also get to choose a card that can help you out later in the game as well. About the only thing that I wasn’t just completely thrilled with, is the scoring. I do like that there are a lot of different ways to score points, but the stall scoring made me think of Zooloretto. While Zooloretto is a game that I really love, I’m more interested in the big picture of what animals, or in this game’s case which dogs, am I putting into my spaces. I’m not crazy about worrying about trying to corner the market on a certain type of dog, when I’d much prefer just placing as many different types of dogs and possible into my kennels. Seems a bit elitist if you’re just grabbing all of a certain type of dog. Well excuse me if Fifi doesn’t like anything but French Poodles, maybe she should lighten up and try a Border Collie instead. In any case, that’s only a minor complaint of mine and doesn’t really affect the overall fun of the game. Needless to say, fans of games like A Dog’s Life or Zooloretto should really enjoy this one too. Players that love worker placement games with a bit of heart too them, should also like this one. Overall this is a game that my daughter and I really enjoy. It’s a great game to mix up for game night along side A Dog’s Life. This is one that I would recommend.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Dogs is a family friendly game about owning and operating a dog shelter. It takes an average amount of time to play. Most game sessions last around an hour to an hour and a half. The components are all really great quality. The artwork looks great and is quite fun. All the cardboard is really thick and the wooden pieces are super sturdy. Thematically everything ties in really well together. The rulebook is well designed and is very easy to find everything that you’re looking for. I like the nice little added touch of all the Kickstarter backers that got to name a dog included in the back of the book. The game itself is a lot of fun. There are plenty of decisions to make and lots of ways to score points. The game is family friendly and easy to pick up and play. The iconography doesn’t take too much to understand and remember. This is one that’s easy to teach and fun to learn. Even younger players shouldn’t have a lot of problems with this one. This one makes me think of A Dog’s Life and Zooloretto. In fact, fans of those games should really enjoy this one. This is a game that I would recommend. My daughter and I both enjoy this one and love to add it to game night along with A Dog’s Life. This is one game that doesn’t need a Pedigree to be a prize winning show dog. It’s bow wow wonderful.
9 out of 10

 

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

http://graymassgames.com/

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment