The Island of Doctor Lucky Review

The Island of Doctor Lucky is a game by James Ernest, published by Cheapass Games. It is for 2-8 players. In this game, players take on the role of a vengeful killer in the guise of a close personal friend to the infamous Doctor Lucky. They will be doing their best to take him out in any way possible. However they’ll need to be careful, as their opponents are also looking to end his existence as well. They might even use the island to their advantage to also remove the other players from the picture. In the end, the player that can actually muster up the skill and luck to bump the good Doctor off, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. Each player will choose a character card and take the corresponding pawn. The player will then place the character card in front of themself and their colored pawn on Castelo Feliz. The Doctor Lucky pawn is placed on Sunset Beach and the cat pawn is placed on the Observatory. The weapons, hazards and failure cards are shuffled together to form a deck. Each player is then dealt a number of cards to create their starting hand. The number of cards is determined by the number of players. Once the cards have been dealt, the deck is placed face down beside the board. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over a series of turns. Each player will take a turn consisting of two steps called Phase 1 and Phase 2. In Phase 1, a player is allowed to take 1 of 3 actions. They can move their pawn, move the cat or play a hazard. The first action is to move your pawn. In this action a player is allowed to move from one region to an adjacent region. If they are on a region that contains an airplane, then the player may move their pawn from one region to another, as long as the other region has an airplane on it as well. Another action that the player may take is to move the cat. The cat pawn may be moved from one space to any other space on the board. It should be noted that when the cat pawn is on the same region as another player or Doctor Lucky, they are unable to see outside that region. Normally player’s and Doctor Lucky are able to see each other on the same space and on any regions that are adjacent to the space they are on. The final action that may be taken by a player in this phase is to play a hazard. Hazards are traps, creatures or terrain that may be played on other players or on Doctor Lucky if they are alone and in the right type of space. Being “Alone” means that no other pawns, including Doctor Lucky or other players, are on the same space. The cat pawn isn’t included in this. That means that a pawn may be on the same space as the cat pawn and still have a hazard played on them. When a hazard is played on another player, the player must pay one of 2 penalties. They may either pass that player a card from their hand or they must discard enough luck from their hand to match the value of the hazard. If a target player’s hand is empty, they suffer no penalty. Playing a hazard on Doctor Lucky acts the same way that a murder attempt does and will be explained in a bit more detail in a moment. Once a hazard has been played, the player that played it places the card face down under their character card on the “+ move” side, gaining +1 to their movement. Of course if a player may choose to do none of the previous actions and may choose to simply stay where they are by passing.

In Phase 2, the players have two actions to choose from. They can either draw a card or try to kill Doctor Lucky. If they choose to draw a card, they will simply take the top card from the deck. However, a player may not draw a card unless they are unable to be seen by the other players or Doctor Lucky, as explained earlier. The other action that a player can take is to make a murder attempt. A player may choose this action if they are alone with Doctor Lucky and no one else can see them, as explained earlier as well. The player is allowed to play a weapon to improve their attack, or they may simply choose to use their bare hands. A player starts with a basic attack of 1. This is increased by unsuccessful murder attempts by the player, more on this in a moment. If the player chooses to use a weapon, that card’s weapon value is added to their attack value. In certain areas, a weapon will have a more improved value. Once the player’s final attack value is determined, their opponents may discard as many cards as they wish to contribute to Doctor Lucky’s Luck value starting with the attacking player’s left and going around the table one time in order. Each shamrock found on a card is worth 1 Luck. If the other players discard enough Luck to equal the attacking player’s murder attempt, then Doctor Lucky lives and the game continues. If enough Luck wasn’t discarded, then Doctor Lucky dies and the murderer wins. If the player’s murder attempt was thwarted then the player gains +1 attack for any future attempts. This is shown by placing either the weapon card that was played or any discarded card beneath the attacking player’s character card below the “+ attack” side. Much like the “+ move” side, each card beneath this area adds 1 point to the corresponding value.

Once a player finishes their turn, Doctor Lucky moves around the island. The pawn for Doctor Lucky moves to the next region in order. So starting at region 15, he will move ahead to region 16 and stop. Once he reaches region 24, his next move would be to region 1. It should be noted that when Doctor Lucky moves, he can sometimes cause players to draw cards and can even change the turn order. On the board there are several regions that contains buildings. These are noted with a card icon. If Doctor Lucky moves into an empty building, that is to say a building that contains no players, then any player that has fewer than 3 cards will draw a card. Cards are drawn beginning with the player to the left of the last active player and proceeding around the table. If Doctor Lucky moves into a space with a player, then the turn jumps to that player and play will then move to the next player to the left of them going forward. This rule does not go into effect until each player has had at least one turn. One more thing of note, if Doctor Lucky moves into a space with occupied by more than one player, then the turn moves to the player that is closest to the left of the last active player. One final thing of note, there is a special mechanic that is known as “Riding the Lucky Train”. This is when a player moves one step ahead of Doctor Lucky which then allows the player to go again once Doctor Lucky moves into the same space with them. A player can wind up taking several turns in a row by doing this. After Doctor Lucky completes his movement and any other issues are resolved, play passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues until one of the players either plays a hazard on Doctor Lucky or makes a murder attempt on him and succeeds with either one. The player that kills Doctor Lucky is the winner.

COMPONENTS
The game doesn’t come with a whole lot of pieces, but that’s ok. What it does come with looks pretty good. There’s the gameboard where all of the action takes place. The board is really great quality and has a nice linen finish to it. The artwork depicts a dangerous island with lots of different land marks. There’s the Sneaky Peak, The Bog o’ Bones and the Tiger Woods. Yes, that’s right…Tiger Woods. Try killing the Doctor with a 9 iron while you’re there. Just saying. I have to say that the design here is really fun and light hearted. I really love the look of the island and get a kick out of the names of some of the regions. The game also comes with some really great looking wooden pawns too. There are 7 different colored player pawns, a Doctor Lucky pawn and a disc for the cat. The color of the player pawns correspond with the one on the matching character card. I really like the choice of colors used here. The Doctor Lucky pawn is a bit larger and is a different design. It has more of a natural wood finish and it kind of looks like a guy in a suit with a hat on. Of course that’s just my take on the design. The cat is just a simple thick black disc. While I think that the game could have used meeples for the different characters and possibly even a cat meeple for the cat, I have to say that I rather like the simplistic design of these wooden pieces. Granted, they aren’t really thematic to the game but they’re good quality and give me more of a retro Clue type feel to them. The final part to this game is the cards. There are 4 types of cards. There are the character cards. One side of these has a brief statement from the character along with a full body picture of them along with the colored pawn that represents them. The back side has a closer picture, more like a portrait. I really love the artwork and sayings on these. They really look nice and help you get into character a bit. Next there are the Failure cards. These have 1 of 4 different pictures of Doctor Lucky on them, along with a number of shamrocks from 1-4, as well as a quick little quip about the particular failure. Like the character cards, these look great. I love the Doctor Lucky character designs and find the different quips kind of funny and mildly thematic. Then there are the Weapon and Hazard cards. The weapons have two different numbers on them. The larger number is the attack value that can be used anywhere. The smaller number in parenthesis is the attack value that is used for a specific place, which is also noted on the card. Hazards have a specific type of regiond where they can be used along with a damage value. Some of the Weapon and Hazard cards also have shamrocks which can be used to help thwart another player’s murder or hazard attempt on Doctor Lucky. Finally, both the weapon and hazard cards have a piece of artwork on them representing the particular weapon or hazard. This is probably the one thing about the cards that I don’t like. The artwork is so much fun on everything else, but the artwork on these doesn’t even look like it came from the same game. This looks more like something from the 1890’s. It looks like a badly sketched design that someone used colored pencils on. If you’ve ever seen the artwork from the original Alice in Wonderland book, then you kind of get what I’m talking about. The artistic designs are fairly similar. I mean I kind of get what they were going for, but I really wish that they’d continued with the already fun and great looking artwork that had been used on everything else. Apart from that, the game looks great. I really like the designs and find it to be fun looking game.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is fairly small. Much like the other games from Cheapass Games, the book is only a few pages long. The book starts with a little bit of a back story behind the game. From there it goes into the basics of the game along with a break down of the components. The next 2 pages explain the different phases of a player’s turn and also how Doctor Lucky moves. Finally the back page of the book contains a few rules changes for 2 and 3 players, along with how to win the game. The basic rules are for 4 or more players. These rules help keep the game from ending too quickly by adding a few automated players to the mix. For more details on these rules, please check the rulebook. I will say that there aren’t a whole lot of pictures in this rulebook. There’s a nice picture that shows how to add to a character’s movement and attack value, by placing cards under their character card. There’s also a couple of iconography pictures and a couple of art pieces. I rather like the art pieces, especially the one on the back cover with Doctor Lucky’s cat. The rules do explain things rather well, using some examples in the text. However a few times I found myself looking back or ahead to figure out a specific rule or understand how something worked. Thankfully with the book only being 4 pages long, it’s not that difficult to do. For that reason, I won’t judge it too harshly. The rules aren’t that difficult to understand and should be fairly easy for anyone to read. Overall I think they do a good job of conveying the rules in a reasonably simple manner.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
If you’ve ever played any of the Kill Doctor Lucky games, then you probably already understand the concepts behind this one too. You move around the board trying to get Doctor Lucky alone and kill him. Simple, right? However this version also has ways of hurting the competition, as well as a optional game rule that allows you to eliminate them altogether. I have to say that I really like this new version. I like the optional rules and will, more often than not, choose to use the elimination rule. It sort of adds a new dimension to the game that the other versions don’t have. With that optional rule in play, you really have to keep an eye on your hand and try not to run out of cards or you could fall right into an opponent’s hands. Needless to say, I like this version even more than any of the others that I’ve played. I love trying to get everything lined up, only to have the old codger luck out due to some help from my opponents. No wonder he’s called Doctor Lucky. I can say that I’ve always enjoyed the Doctor Lucky games, most likely because I always enjoyed Clue as a kid. These games are kind of like a reverse version of Clue but more fun. This one is no different. Fans of any of the Doctor Lucky games should enjoy this one too, especially if they like a little more player interaction. If you’ve never heard of or played one of these but you like Clue, then I’m pretty sure that you’ll enjoy this game too. This is one that I would recommend. It’s not overly complex but can provide enough strategy for everyone to enjoy. This one is family friendly and is one that even the younger players can take part with. Overall, I enjoy this game. It’s the best of the series so far for me.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
The Island of Doctor Lucky is a light weight game of murder on a dangerous island. This isn’t a very long game. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes or so. The artwork on board and some of the cards is really fun and looks great. However the weapons and hazards cards feel a bit disconnected in terms of the artwork. They almost look like they came from a different game. The wooden pieces are very nice and give a real classic board game feel to this one. I do think that they could have been updated a bit, possibly into some screen printed meeples or something of that nature. The rulebook is pretty well written and includes a few special rules for playing with less than 4 players, as well as a fun variant that I wouldn’t play without. The game itself is a lot of fun. I really like the addition of the hazards and how that they can be used against other players. I especially like using the elimination rule for playing hazards against your opponents. For players familiar with any of the previous Doctor Lucky games, this should feel familiar but with a bit more fun to it. Fans of those games should enjoy this one. I would also think that anyone that enjoys Clue should also like this one too. This is a game that I would recommend. I like it a lot. For me, it’s the best Doctor Lucky game in the series. It’s family friendly and a lot of fun to boot. Now if I could just figure out where I put that elephant gun.
8 out of 10

 

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

http://cheapass.com

 

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Dice Wars: Heroes of Polyhedra Review

Dice Wars: Heroes of Polyhedra is a game by Zach Roth, published by Brybelly. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will take on the role of commander of a fantasy army. They will be trying to defeat their enemies through either strategic wit, overwhelming might or silver-tongued cunning. Of course they will have to devise their tactics on the fly as each army will be completely random. In the end, the player that fulfills one of the 3 victory conditions first will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player will choose a Faction of a particular color. For a 2 player game, each player will choose 2 Factions which will be deployed in opposite ends of the map. They will then take the corresponding dice of that color; 7 unit dice per Faction and 3 numerical dice. Players will then roll all 7 of their unit dice. If the player’s Advanced unit dice match, they must reroll one of them. If two players Hero dice match, then both players must reroll the die. Once all players have completed building their armies, they will then need to find their unit cards in the deck by matching the die face to the corresponding icons on the unit cards that are color coded to their particular Faction’s color. Each player is also given a number of HP cubes to keep track of the health of their Advanced and Hero units. Players should now work together to build the map by placing the 9 map tiles onto the play area. It is recommend for first time players to use the layout provided in the rulebook. Once the map has been setup, players roll their 20 sided die. The player that rolls highest is the first player. Players will now place all of their unit dice onto the map; one die per hex paying attention to any impassible terrain. Each die must be placed in the corner tile closest to the player. Players are free to move and adjust their placement until all players have agreed upon the deployment. Once this is completed, play now begins.

The game is played over a series of Command phases. In each Command phase 2 of a player’s units will take a turn. A unit’s turn consists of movement and an action. At the beginning of a player’s Command phase, all of their conditions that they grant or inflict will be dispelled. Players may use their movement and action in any order. They may even split their movement by moving a number of hexes, taking an action and then completing their movement. When moving, the player moves one of their units a number of hexes based on the stat on their unit’s card. They may even move their units through an allied unit. However certain types of terrain will either slow or block a moving unit. Once the unit has been moved, the player may choose to face their unit in any direction. However if the player ends their turn with an action, the unit is left facing the direction of the action.

Speaking of actions, there are 4 major actions that a player may take. These actions are Weapon Attacks, Using Skills, Capturing Cities and Guarding. First off there are Weapon Attacks. These can be either physical or magic. Physical weapon attacks are rolled with 2 six sided dice, while magic weapon attacks are rolled with a 20 sided die. Physical weapon attacks are modified by the attacker’s Attack and Range stats, as well as the defender’s Defense stat. To attack, the defender must be within the attacker’s range and also they must be able to be targeted. This means that they can’t be obstructed by mountains, walls, forests, or other units. Magic weapon attacks ignore all of the defender’s Defense stat. However they can still be affected by bonuses. When attacking using a physical weapon attack, the attacker rolls their 2 six sided dice, adding their attack stat and any other bonuses to their roll. The defender then rolls their 2 six sided dice and adds their defense stat along with any bonuses to their result. If the attacker rolled higher, the defender takes 1 point of damage. If the defender rolled higher, no damage is dealt. If the roll is tied, then both players reroll until there is no longer a tie. When attacking with a magic weapon attack, the attacker and defender both roll a 20 sided die and add any bonuses.

Using Skills is another action that may be taken. For a player to be able to use one of these, the target must be within the skill’s range and the player using it must make and succeed at a skill check by rolling 2 six sided dice. The result must be equal or greater than the number required to use it. Some skills have a greater result that is an even more powerful skill granted for players that roll high enough on their check. If a player fails to meet the minimum requirement for the skill, nothing happens but the player still loses the action.

Another action that may be taken is Capturing a City. Players are able to capture either unclaimed cities or those that are controlled by their opponent. For unclaimed cities, the player must move onto the the city’s center hex known as the Capital. They will then use this action to draw a random wooden city sigil. The sigil is placed into the city’s capital. The player will then find the city’s matching card and place it face up in front of themself. When capturing a city controlled by an opponent, the player spends this action while on the city’s Capital. They will then take the corresponding city card from their opponent and place it in front of themself. Captured cities give a player and any of their allies a bonus that is shared between any and all cities that they control. Some cities have skills that may be taken by a player. These skills can be used by spending an action for one of the player’s units during the Command phase.

The final action available for a player to take is Guarding. A player uses this action to place one of their units on guard. Once done the guarded unit is granted +1 defense and can’t be safely approached from their three front hexes. If an opposing unit enters one of these front hexes, the unit must immediately attack the guarding unit with either a weapon attack or skill. If the opposing unit does not attack then it will suffer a counter-strike equal to the guarding unit’s attack stat. If it survives the counterstrike, the opponents unit may continue it’s turn.

One thing that should be noted is that some units have traits that do not require an action to be used. Instead these can be used during a player’s phase and are considered always in effect.

The game continues with players taking turns until one of 3 victory conditions have been met. The 3 conditions are Regicide, Domination and Diplomacy. Regicide is met when a player kills an opponent’s hero unit. The player that lands the killing blow is the winner. Domination is met when a player kills an opponent’s last non-hero unit. The player that lands the killing blow on this last non-hero unit is the winner. Domination is met when a player holds 3 captured cities through 3 of their Command phases. When a player captures 3 cities, they will begin to accumulate victory points in the form of a golden crown token. These tokens are given to a player at the beginning of their next phase. Once a player collects 3 of these crown tokens, they win.

COMPONENTS
This game has some really great looking pieces to it. First off let’s talk about the dice. After all, the game’s called Dice Wars. There are several different types of dice. There’s the normal numerical dice that consist of 2 six sided dice and a 20 sided for all 4 colors; green, red, purple and blue. These are pearlized dice that look really great, much like what you’d use for a normal tabletop rpg. The other dice are absolutely huge. These consist of basic, advanced and hero unit dice for all 4 colors. There are 4 six sided dice, 2 eight sided and a 12 sided. The 12 sided is sparkly and has gold engraved designs on it. The others have white engraved designs on the six sided dice and silver engraved designs on the eight sided ones. These are normal colored with no pearlized or sparkle features. If you’ve seen the dice from any of the Story Time Dice games, you’ll know just how big we’re talking in terms of size here. I mean the six sided dice are like an inch across. There are dice bags in each of the four colors to hold all of the colored dice in. There’s also a 5th colored bag to hold the wooden city sigils. This bag is brown like wood. The bags appear to be double layered and quite sturdy. The sigils are thick and wooden. They are fully painted and have the name of the city on one side and the sigil on the other. These are two toned and look absolutely great. There are also some HP cubes that are made from red plastic that are included with the game. Next there is a bunch of tokens that are included. These are all made of thick cardboard and include the victory point crowns, bonus tokens in several denominations, army banners and map tokens. The bonus tokens are a bit small but they work out quite nicely. The banners look great and are a fun reminder of who controls what color. There are 9 map tiles that come with the game. These are quite large and pretty thick. They have a nice finish to them and the artwork on them is pretty basic fantasy battlefield looking. Finally there are all of the cards. These come inside a very nicely produced tuck box. I have to say that I quite like the tuckbox design. It looks really cool. There are cards for each of the 4 colors that include all of the different units. Each color has the same type of units, just with a different colored outfit for each one. These take care of the basic and advanced units for each color. The hero cards are used for all of the color and there is only 1 card for each face of the hero dice. This is why players have to reroll if they both get the same result. There are also cards for the cities and for the relics, which are used in the advanced game. There’s one final piece remaining and that’s the quick reference quide, which I will discuss in the rulebook section. Let me just say, these are some great looking pieces. I’m very impressed with the overall look and design of the whole game. The dice and cards work well together to help players keep their units separated. All of the pieces are very sturdy and high quality. I don’t think there are many war games or dice games that look quite as good as this one does. This is extremely well done.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is fairly thick. It contains a bunch of information which is well written and well designed. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book. The book starts off with a thematic letter that explains the backstory of the game. From there, all of the components are explained in great detail. Every element from the map tiles and cities to the units and unit cards are covered extremely well. The book then starts to delve into the actual rules from setup to how the game is played. Along the way, the book explains things like the different types of terrain and how they work, the different attack types and targeting, as well as explaining the different type of conditions. Everything is easy to read through and easy to understand. As someone who doesn’t play very many war games, this was easy enough that even I could understand it. I don’t think anyone should have any problems either. After all the rules are explained, the book goes into the advanced gameplay variants. These add new layers of tactical depth to the game as well as adding new challenges. There are 7 different challenges that include ancient relics, faction bonuses, shuffling the map, the Hinterlands, alliances and coalitions, tournament deployment and veteran units. I’m not going to go into how each of these work. For now, it’s just something to be aware of. For more information, you can check out the rulebook. Needless to say, these really add a new spin on things and really change up some of the gameplay. I haven’t tried all the different challenges yet, but look forward to trying them out. The other thing to note is the quick reference guide that I mentioned earlier in the components section. This thing is shaped like a huge polyhedral dice and is super thick, like the map tiles. One side has the Dice Wars logo, while the other has all of the pertinent information for playing the game. Everything from the types of terrain and attack types to a step by step walkthrough of the command phase. This could have been printed on a card or two and placed in front of the players, yet this massive piece of coolness was created instead. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with the quick reference guide, as well as the rulebook. Overall I’d say it was a job well done.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
In terms of war games, this is one of the best war games that I’ve played. It’s fairly easy to understand and play. It’s easy enough that even war game novices like myself can play it without any problems. In some ways it feels a bit like an introductory game into the war game genre. The thing is that there are plenty of challenges and strategies to make it fun for even veteran war gamers. The advanced gameplay really opens things up and introduces a lot of different ways to play the game which will really increase the replayability of the game. Another aspect of the game is that it feels more like a skirmish style game than an actual war game. Most war games last 90 minutes to 2 hours, and that’s for an easy game. This one plays in about 45 minutes to an hour. That’s easily half the time of a normal war game. With so many different combinations that can be had from a simple roll of the unit dice, there’s an infinite amount of teams that each player can use to vanquish their foes with. I like that the game doesn’t come down to simply destroying all of a player’s units. The game can be won in 3 different ways, which makes it possible for players to use several different ways to win. They can try to take out a players hero or if the hero is too tough, they can try to wipe out their non hero units. Of course there’s also the diplomatic method, but this can be a bit tough to do. It’s especially hard with more than 1 opponent. Once players see that you’ve captured that 2nd city, they will be all over you making sure that you don’t keep them for long. In any event, I really like this game. It’s not what I was expecting. While the large dice and cool looking artwork drew me in, the gameplay kept me wanting to play it. It kind of reminds me of the game Duel of Ages. The main difference to me though is that this game looks a lot better and is more fun in my opinion. This is a game that is easy enough that the whole family can play together. Even the younger players can participate with just a little help from mom or dad. The advanced game challenges add just enough to make things interesting for more advanced players. Fans of fantasy style war games or games with skirmish modes in them should enjoy this one, especially if they prefer shorter play times. This is a game that I would recommend, especially as an introductory style war/skirmish game. Overall, this is a hidden gem that is a whole lot of fun to play.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Dice Wars: Heroes of Polyhedra is a fantasy war game with some of the largest dice imaginable. The game isn’t long, especially for a war game. Most game sessions are around 45 minutes to an hour. The components are all great quality. I love the huge dice and the thick map tiles. The artwork is equally good and every piece works well with the theme. The rulebook is also great. There is plenty of information including several challenges for advanced players. I especially like the added quick reference guide that is very thick and sturdy. The game itself is a very fast playing war game lasting less than half the time of most war games. It’s a great introductory game into the genre but it also has plenty of strategic challenges and rules for advanced players. This is a family friendly game that can easily be taught to players of almost any age. Younger players may have a bit of trouble understanding some of the concepts, but for teens and up, it works great. There are plenty of layers of strategy that can accommodate both new and veteran players alike. Fans of fantasy style war games or games with skirmish modes in them should enjoy this one as well. This is a game that I would recommend. It’s especially great as an introductory war/skirmish game. Now if you’ll excuse me…I have a city to capture.
8 out of 10

 

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

https://www.brybelly.com/

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Story Time Dice: Scary Tales Review

Story Time Dice: Scary Tales is a game by Zach Roth, published by Imagination Generation and Brybelly. It is for 1-7 players. In this game, players will become story tellers as they set forth to tell a spooky story through some of the creepiest places. Along the way, they’ll use their imagination to overcome obstacles with the help of some powerful tools. Of course every good scary story has some kind of twist ending. In the end, will the hero make it through the story in one piece or will they succumb to the creature that stalks their every move. Their fate lies in the hands of the story tellers.

This game can be played in any way the players would like. The rulebook includes 7 different games that may be played with the dice. In this review, I will discuss a few of them. For more ideas and information, please check the rulebook.

The two games that we’ve played the most are “It Was A Dark And Stormy Night…” and Campfire Stories. These are some of the most basic ways to play. The first one that I’ll explain is “It Was A Dark And Stormy Night…”. In this game, players will take turns telling a scary story. On a player’s turn, they will roll all 7 of the dice to determine the Setting, Hero, Villain, Obstacle, Tool, Twist and Ending of their story. The player will then begin to tell a scary story using each of the seven elements. Of course, they’ll have to make sure and begin the story with, “It Was A Dark And Stormy Night…”

The next game is called, Campfire Stories. For this game, the dice are divided among all the players. To begin, the player with the Hero dice rolls their dice first. They will then begin to tell a scary story using the hero that they rolled. As soon as the player gets stuck with the story, the next player in turn order rolls their dice and continues the story where the previous player left off, just like they were telling a story around the campfire. They will need to be sure and add the element from their die roll to the story. This continues until all the dice have been rolled. Players continue to take turns telling the story. Once all the players have finished and have gotten stuck, the player with the Endings die rolls their die. They will then finish the story. It should be noted that if players would like to play a longer game, the Endings die is set aside until all the other dice have been rolled at least twice.

In this game, there are no winners or losers. The idea is to spark imagination and creativity and to just have fun telling stories.

COMPONENTS
The only components that come with this game are 7 gigantic polyhedral dice. Let me tell you, these things are like 2 to 3 times the size of a normal die. I can honestly say these are the largest dice I’ve seen in any type of board game. The dice are made of solid plastic and are very durable. Each die has a special type of plastic that allows it to glow in the dark. Each die contains one of the 7 different story elements; Hero, Villain, Tool, Setting, Obstacle, Twist and Ending. Each face of the die is a different image. So for instance, the Hero and Villain dice are both 12 sided, giving players 12 different heroes and villains to use in their stories. The Obstacles and Settings dice are 8 sided, the Tools die is 20 sided and the Twists and Endings dice are 6 sided dice. Each of the different images is pretty easy to pick out and understand. However if anyone needs help, the rulebook includes a dice guide that tells what each symbol represents on each die. I think the images are really fun and not actually creepy or scary. This is something that smaller kids can pick up without worrying about them having nightmares. The images are fairly easy to pick out, although a few of the heroes are a bit too similar in my opinion. I’d also like to point out that the images on the Tools die are a bit small too. It’s not a major issue, but sometimes I have to get right up on it to see what the element is. The dice guide is very helpful on these issues too. Overall I think the dice themselves are really cool looking and are a lot of fun to roll. Everything comes packaged inside a cardboard tuck box that is easy enough to carry with you anywhere. I really think that everything looks really nice and the added glow in the dark feature for the dice ramps up the cool factor. For the most part, these are some really cool dice.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a double sided, tri-folded sheet of color paper. The paper is actually pretty thick and is a lot more sturdy than usual paper. On one side there are the rules for 4 regular games that can be played with the dice, as well as 3 more advanced ways to play. One thing to note, the last game included in the rules can only be played if either the original Story Time Dice or the Fairy Tales expansion are owned. I just wanted to point that out. On the rules side of the sheet, there’s a picture of the box cover. This is the only real picture on the entire rulebook. The back side of the rules is the Dice Guide. This is a black and white guide to each of the 70 different dice faces found on the dice. Each particular die has it’s own section with a picture of the die face along with a label telling what it’s supposed to represent. Of course these are suggestions and may be changed or swapped to anything the players choose. It’s completely up to them. Everything in the rules is very easy to follow and understand. As a matter of fact, it only takes a couple of minutes to read over everything. Players simply need to choose a way to play and they’re ready to go. Overall I think the rulebook does a good job of explaining everything. I’m particularly happy with the Dice Guide. That side of the rules can be left out on the table or wherever you choose to play as a reference for the dice faces. Needless to say, I like how simple the rules are and I also like that there are so many different ways to play.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Players that are familiar with Rory’s Story Cubes or any of the other Story Time Dice products will understand how this game works quite easily. The main idea is for a player to roll the dice and then tell a story using the images rolled. It’s very simple to understand. However the actual story telling, that takes work. For some players, it’s quite simple to master the art of story telling. For others, they may need a bit of encouragement and possibly even some help. Unlike with the Fairy Tale dice , my son on actually found these dice to be more to his likings. If you read my review for them, you’d know that he wasn’t a fan of the sparkly pink dice. These glow in the dark ones were a lot cooler to him though. In addition, the more monster like scary elements on the dice are more to his likings as well. My daughter also enjoyed the novelty of the glowing dice but was a little less keen on the scary elements. She is still in love with the Fairy Tale dice and prefers them. In any event, the dice are great and they’re a lot of fun to play with. I really enjoy using the different dice to tell a story with. These are very good at helping to spark some inspiration and creativity in your kids. They’re also fun and useful at helping them to write stories. As a home schooler, these work great for that purpose. There are many ways that home school parents can use them. Let’s say that you want the kids to work on their handwriting, simply roll the dice and have them write a story using the elements from the dice. They can then work on their verbal communication and read aloud skills by having them read their story out loud. That’s just one of the ways these dice can be used. Fans of Rory’s story cubes or any of the other Story Time Dice will enjoy these dice as well. The dice are family friendly and lots of fun for all ages. As a home schooler and parent, I would definitely recommend getting a set of these and/or the Fairy Tale dice. They are a great addition to any home.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Story Time Dice: Scary Tales is a game of dice rolling and story telling. It doesn’t take a long time to play. Most of our game sessions lasted around 15 minutes or so. However you can play for as long as the story takes. It’s completely up to the players and the story. The dice are lots of fun and look great. My son and daughter both really enjoyed the glow in the dark aspect of the dice. I like that the images on the dice are large enough to be able to see clearly, apart from the Tools die. The Hero die also had a few issues with some characters looking too similar. The rulebook has plenty of ideas for how to use the dice. Of course you can play with them however you like. The game, as you can tell, is whatever you make of it.
It’s a lot of fun to tell spooky stories as if you were sitting around the campfire. My kids really get a kick out of it and it’s fun to hear what they can come up with from their imagination. Fans of games like Rory’s Story Cubes or any of the other Story Time Dice sets should enjoy this one. The game is family friendly and is fun for all ages. Even though the stories are spooky, there’s nothing here that should give the kids nightmares. The game is also great for home school teachers and families and can be used in a variety of ways. Overall I would definitely recommend picking up a set of these. They are really great and look amazing. That’s The End…or is it?!
8 out of 10

 

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

https://www.brybelly.com/

 

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Story Time Dice: Fairy Tales Review

Story Time Dice: Fairy Tales is a game by Zach Roth, published by Imagination Generation and Brybelly. It is for 1-7 players. In this game, players will become story tellers as they set forth to tell an epic tale of good vs evil throughout a fantastic fairy tale world. Along the way, they’ll use their imagination to overcome obstacles with the help of some powerful tools. Of course no good fairy tale can be told without a twist. In the end, will the hero be victorious or will they know utter defeat. Their fate lies in the hands of the story tellers.

This game can be played in any way the players would like. The rulebook includes 7 different games that may be played with the dice. In this review, I will discuss a few of them. For more ideas and information, please check the rulebook.

The two games that we’ve played the most are “Once Upon a Time…” and The Never(?)ending Story. These are some of the most basic ways to play. The first one that I’ll explain is “Once Upon a Time…”. In this game, players will take turns telling a story. On a player’s turn, they will roll all 7 of the dice to determine the Setting, Hero, Villain, Obstacle, Tool, Twist and Ending of their story. The player will then begin to tell a story using each of the seven elements. Of course, they’ll have to make sure and begin the story with, “Once Upon a Time…”.

The next game is called, The Never(?)ending Story. For this game, the dice are divided up equally among the players. The Endings dice, however, is left out. To begin, the player with the Hero dice will roll their dice first. They will then begin to tell the story using the hero rolled, along with any other dice. As soon as the player gets stuck with the story, the next player in turn order rolls their dice and continues the story where the previous player left off. They will need to add the elements from their dice roll to the story. This continues until all the dice have been rolled. The dice are then redistributed as equally as possible and the dice rolling and story telling continues. Once each of the dice have been rolled at least two times, one of the players rolls the Endings dice and finishes the story. It should be noted that players may roll more than twice if they choose to play a longer game.

In this game, there are no winners or losers. The idea is to spark imagination and creativity and to just have fun telling stories.

COMPONENTS
The only components that come with this game are 7 huge polyhedral dice. When I say huge, I mean HUGE! These things are like 2 to 3 times the size of a normal die. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen dice this large before, apart from maybe those fuzzy dice that people would hang over the mirror in their car. Unlike the fuzzy dice though, these things are solid plastic and are very durable. Each die is kind of see through with lots of pink glitter on the inside that shimmers like a star when placed in the sunlight. As soon as my daughter saw them, she immediately fell in love with them. I mean after all, they’re pink and glittery. Each die contains one of the 7 different story elements; Hero, Villain, Tool, Setting, Obstacle, Twist and Ending. Each face of the die is a different image. So for instance, the Hero and Villain dice are both 12 sided, giving players 12 different heroes and villains to use in their storys. The Obstacles die is 8 sided, the Tools die is 12 sided and the Settings, Twists and Endings dice are all 6 sided dice. Each of the different images is pretty easy to pick out and understand. However if anyone needs help, the rulebook includes a dice guide that tells what each symbol represents on each die. I think the images are really fun and cute. Even without the dice guide, it’s pretty easy to figure out the different icons. Overall I think the dice themselves are really cool looking and are a lot of fun to roll. I mean, it’s not every day you find dice this big to roll. Everything comes packaged inside a cardboard tuck box that is easy enough to carry with you anywhere. I really think that everything looks really nice and it definitely gets my daughter’s stamp of approval. We’re both very pleased with the dice.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a double sided, tri-folded sheet of color paper. The paper is actually pretty thick and is a lot more sturdy than usual paper. On one side there are the rules for 4 regular games that can be played with the dice, as well as 3 more advanced ways to play. One thing to note, the last game included in the rules can only be played if either the original Story Time Dice or the Scary Tales expansion are owned. I just wanted to point that out. On this side of the sheet, there’s a cute picture of a princess with a sword fighting a dragon. Looks like she didn’t need Prince Charming to save her. At the bottom of the page is a bunch of various characters running around. The back side of the rules is the Dice Guide. This is a black and white guide to each of the 70 different dice faces found on the dice. Each particular die has it’s own section with a picture of the die face along with a label telling what it’s supposed to represent. Of course these are suggestions and may be changed or swapped to anything the players choose. It’s completely up to them. Everything in the rules is very easy to follow and understand. As a matter of fact, it only takes a couple of minutes to read over everything. Players simply need to choose a way to play and they’re ready to go. Overall I think the rulebook does a good job of explaining everything. I’m particularly happy with the Dice Guide. That side of the rules can be left out on the table or wherever you choose to play as a reference for the dice faces. Needless to say, I like how simple the rules are and I also like that there are so many different ways to play.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
If you’ve ever played with Rory’s Story Cubes, then you’re probably familiar with the concept of rolling dice and telling a story. It’s not really all that hard to understand. However the actual story telling, that takes work. For some, it’s quite simple weaving the different elements into a story that’s worth telling. For others, it may take a bit of practice and possibly even some help. My son is one of the latter. He can tell you all the history behind a particular type of gun or piece of machinery that was used during World War II and have you completely spellbound by his narration. However ask him to tell a story that uses imagination and creativity and he will stare at you like a cow trying to do calculus. It just doesn’t click with him. My daughter on the other hand is more like me. She can create some of the wildest and most imaginative stories that you’ve never heard before. It’s always interesting to sit in on one of her play times with her dolls and toys. Let me tell you, I’m still wondering how Apple White is going to find the perfect dress in time for the prom. I’m guessing it’ll come down to Ariel and some mermaid magic. That’s just my thoughts anyway. Needless to say, if you actually read the section on the components, you’d know that my daughter already loves the dice for this game. My son, on the other hand, was a bit reluctant to play with such girly looking dice. No need to worry though, we took care of that with Scary Tales dice. Expect to see a review for them very soon. In any event, the dice are great and they’re a lot of fun to play with. I love telling stories so these are quite cool to spark some inspiration when you have a bit of story teller’s block. They’re also fun and quite usefull at helping kids to learn to write stories. As a home schooler, these work great for that purpose. Want the kids to work on their handwriting, roll the dice and have them write a story using the elements from the dice. They can then work on their verbal communication and read aloud skills by having them read their story out loud. There’s just lots of creative ways that the dice can be used. Fans of Rory’s story cubes will enjoy these dice, especially since they’re about twice the size of Rory’s. The dice are family friendly and lots of fun for all ages. As a home schooler and parent, I would definitely recommend getting a set of these. They are a welcome addition to your teacher’s resource arsenal.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Story Time Dice: Fairy Tales is a game of dice rolling and story telling. It doesn’t take a long time to play. Most of our game sessions lasted around 15 minutes or so. However you can play for as long as the story takes. It’s completely up to the players and the story. The dice are lots of fun and look great. My daughter loves the fact that they are pink and sparkly. I like that they are large enough to be able to see the details of each element on them. The rulebook has plenty of ideas for how to use the dice. Of course you can play with them however you like. The game, as you can tell, is whatever you make of it. It can be a lot of fun sitting around and telling stories involving fairy tale heroes and villains. My daughter loves playing the game and telling stories. Fans of games like Rory’s Story Cubes should enjoy this one, especially since the dice are twice the size of Rory’s. The game is family friendly and is fun for all ages. It’s also great for home school teachers and families and can be used in a variety of ways. Overall I would definitely recommend picking up a set of these. They are really great and look amazing. Once you’ve played with them, you’ll be able to say, “…and they lived happily ever after. The End!”
8 out of 10

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

https://www.brybelly.com/

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Shaky Manor Review

Shaky Manor is a game by Daniel Skjold Pedersen and Asger Harding Granerud, published by Blue Orange Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will take on the role of treasure hunters as they try to collect the hidden treasure from the local haunted house. They’ll have to be careful though as lots of spooky creatures will be trying to keep them from escaping the manor with their ill gotten gains. The player that can best maneuver themselves through the manor with the treasure will be declared the winner.

To begin, the boxes should be set up so that each of the walls match the floors for each room. Each player takes a Shaky Manor box along with a meeple, 2 ghosts, 2 eyes, 2 spiders, 2 snakes and 3 treasure chests. Players will set up their boxes by placing a meeple, a ghost and 3 treasure chests randomly into them. The remaining items are placed in front of the player. The cards are shuffled and placed in a pile with the objects side face up. Play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. To start each round, players will randomly switch up all the items in the player to their right’s box. One player flips over the top card of the deck, showing a specific room. In future turns, the next player in turn order will flip over the card. Players will now race to get the meeple and the 3 treasure chests into the room pictured on the card. It should be noted however that there may not be any other items but those in the room. As soon as a player completes the task, they must then get the player to their right to double check their box. If everything is as it should be in the box and that player is the first to complete the challenge, they win the card as a point. If they are wrong, they must give back a card. The remaining players will then continue until someone is able to complete the challenge correctly. Once a player wins, the player to their right will now pick an object from those in front of the player. It is then added to the winning player’s box. A new round will then begin. The game continues until a player reaches 5 points. The first player to do this is the winner.

The game also comes with a different way to play the game. Setup is exactly the same, except for two things. In this game, all of the objects are placed into the players box, not just a meeple, 2 ghosts, 2 eyes, 2 spiders, 2 snakes and 3 treasure chests. The other thing is that after shuffling the cards, they are placed with the room side face up instead of the objects side. For this game, both sides of the cards will be used. Before each round, players will randomly mix up their boxes and then hand them to the player on their left. To start the round, the card is flipped over and placed beside the deck. The two cards are then used as a reference. The players must now race to get all the objects pictured on the flipped over card into the room pictured on the other card. Just like before, no other items may be present in the room. Once a player completes the challenge, they must get the player to their right to check to see if they are correct. If they are correct and the first player to complete the challenge, they win and receive the card as a point. If they’re wrong, they must give a card back. The remaining players will then continue until someone is able to complete the challenge correctly. A new round will then begin by flipping over a new card to reveal a new set of 2 cards. The game continues until a player reaches 5 points. The first player to do this is the winner.

COMPONENTS
The game comes with 4 large cardboard boxes that have dividers which separate the box into 8 colored rooms. The cardboard is quite thick, especially on the actual box itself. The colors and patterns are easily distinguished from each other, so there’s no worry that you might misunderstand which room is which. The walls have cut outs in them so that the different objects can be slid around inside the box. The game also includes a large selection of objects, most of which are wooden. There are meeples, ghosts, eyes, snakes and treasure chests that are all made of wood. There are spiders that are rubber. The meeple is dark brown and has some highlights that make it look like an explorer of some kind. The ghost has some little gold highlights on it, as does the eyeball. The ghost is also a meeple. The eye is a round ball. The snake is purple and is a zig zag piece of wood with a gold eye. The treasure chests are wooden cubes that are painted gold. The spiders are black rubber with white highlights painted on. The cards aren’t normal playing card size but are smaller and square. One side of the card shows the room, while the other side shows a selection of different objects. The cards are a good thickness and have a nice finish on them that makes them easy to shuffle. I think the different pieces are silly and fun looking, while the boxes are a good size. They are easy to manipulate and move around. Each piece moves around quite well inside the box, which is good. Overall I think everything looks and feels good.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a large double sided sheet of color paper. It has several pictures and a couple of examples on it. The rules are pretty much straight forward, so there’s nothing too difficult to understand. Everything seems to be laid out pretty well. With the rules on only 1 sheet of paper, everything is easy to find. The rules include 2 different ways to play the game and an additional variant for the 2nd game. There’s nothing overly fancy or jaw dropping about the rulebook, but then again there’s nothing bad about it either. Of course once you understand the rules, there’s not much need to look back at the rulebook, except maybe to see how many of each piece is placed into a player’s box for the first game. Overall I think the rulebook gets the job done and looks good too.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
I remember when I was a kid there were these plastic mazes that had little ball bearings in them. The idea was to get the ball bearing from the entrance of the maze to the end of it by turning and tilting the maze back and forth. Those things were always entertaining and were good for killing time. In a lot of ways, this game reminds me of those little plastic mazes. Through the course of the game you’re tilting and turning, shaking and bumping your box to try and get the different pieces where you want them. Of course the more pieces that are in the box, the more difficult it is to get each one where you need it to go. As an adult, I have the patience and ability to gently guide each piece around the box. My daughter on the other hand is like a bull in a china shop. She will shake and turn that box back and forth, many times putting more items in her way than out. Of course she still has fun moving the pieces around. That’s what this game is, moving pieces around in your box until you get the right ones in the right room. The thing is that you’ve got other players trying to do the same thing at the same time and only one of you can win. Some things move a bit slower, like the snake or the spider, but the eyeball can be a real pain. One minute it’s way up in the far corner, and the next it’s rolled all the way into the room you’re trying to complete. This game is one that I think kids will enjoy. It’s family friendly and easy enough that all age groups can play. Adults that enjoy dexterity games should find this interesting enough, especially those adults with kids. Fans of dexterity games like Jenga or Maki Stack should enjoy this one as well. While this isn’t one of my most favorite games, as I’m not big on dexterity games, I can still appreciate the fact that my daughter enjoys it. To me that matters the most. I think there are plenty of people that will enjoy this one. This is one that I’d recommend giving a try. You very well may enjoy it.
7 out of 10

OVERALL
Shaky Manor is a dexterity based game of moving and shaking for the whole family. The game doesn’t take very long. Most game sessions last around 15-20 minutes. The components are very good. I like all the many different pieces and how well the pieces are made. They are fun to look at and manipulate. The rulebook isn’t very complex, but then neither is the game. I think that the rulebook works for the simplicity of the game. The game itself is one that kids of all ages should enjoy. The fun of moving all the pieces around and trying to get them in a particular room reminds me of the old plastic mazes with the little ball bearing inside them. My daughter likes how everything works and she seems to enjoy the game a good bit. Fans of dexterity games like Maki Stack and Jenga should probably enjoy this one as well. This is a family friendly game that is easy enough for old and young players alike. This is one that I would recommend giving a try. While it’s not necessarily my cup of tea, it’s definitely one that the kids will enjoy. This is one game that’s meant to be shaken, not stirred.
7 out of 10

 

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

http://www.blueorangegames.com/

 

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Maki Stack Review

Maki Stack is a game by Jeff Lai, published by Blue Orange Games. It is for 2, 4 or 6 players. In this game, players will be teaming up as they race to stack up plates of sushi and soy sauce. In some cases they’ll have to do it blindfolded, while other times they’ll be using their fingers as chopsticks. In the end, the team that can win 6 Challenges first will be declared the winners.

To begin, players should be divided into 2 even teams. Each team is given a Sushi Mat, Mask, and a Sushi set, consisting of a Cucumber Roll, a California Roll, a Fish Roe Roll, a Soy Sauce bottle and a Plate. The Challenge cards are shuffled together and placed face down in the middle of the play area. The rules for both modes of play are explained so that both teams understand them. Once everyone is ready, play now begins.

The game is played over a series of rounds. The way each round is played is determined by the Challenge card. If the card shows Mask mode with a red card, the team must pick a player to wear the mask. This player will be the one to stack up the objects, while their teammates direct them by describing the stack shown on the card. If the card shows Chopstick mode with a yellow card, the teammates must work together to stack up the objects on the Challenge card, but may only use one finger. It should be noted that a player that is describing the stack can not touch any of the objects or show their teammates the Challenge card. Once the game mode has been determined, the Challenge card is flipped over or picked up to reveal the stack. Both teams will now race to complete the challenge, exactly like it’s shown on the Challenge card by stacking up the various objects to match the picture on the card. If the stack falls, the players start over. The first team to complete the challenge wins the Challenge card.

The game continues with teams stacking up the different objects as they try to complete each Challenge card. The first team to collect 6 Challenge cards wins.

For games with only 2 players, the rules are a bit different. Setup is all the same, except that the masks are not used for 2 player games. Another difference is that all of the challenges are played in Chopstick mode, regardless of the card color. In this mode, the players must use a finger from each hand to stack up the objects. The rest of the rules remain the same.

COMPONENTS
This game comes with some really great looking pieces. First off there are all the large wooden pieces. There are 6 sushi pieces, 2 of each kind. There are also 2 bottles of soy sauce and 2 plates. Each of these pieces looks like just what it it’s supposed to. The pieces are fully painted and look very nice. They’re large enough that even younger players should be able to manipulate the pieces fairly easily. I really like how nice and fun the pieces are. The game also includes to large cardboard mats. These have a glossy finish and look like bamboo. There are 2 blindfolds that appear to be foam rubber with an elastic band attached to them. Surprisingly they work well. I honestly didn’t think that they would work but they are pretty good at making it hard to see. The final pieces are the Challenge cards. These are a bit larger than normal playing cards. On one side there’s a picture of the pieces in a particular arrangement that players will need to arrange them into. On the back side the card shows either the red Mask mode or the yellow Chopstick mode. The cards are quite nice and they’re fairly easy to understand as well. I like how nice everything looks on the table. It has a very thematic look to it. Overall the components are good quality and are well made. I’m quite pleased with the finished product.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is a double sided piece of paper. It’s fairly small too. There are only 2 pictures on the page, one of each of the different card types. There are no examples of gameplay included, but there’s not really much need for any. The rules are easy to understand and are explained really well. There are rules for 2 players which are a bit different than the regular rules. The rules also include some different variants that make things a bit more difficult. Overall, everything is very straight forward and easy to follow. There’s nothing difficult to understand. Considering that the rules are so simple, there’s no need for anything bigger than the single sheet of rules. However I do wish that this had been placed on a card or something a bit sturdier, as the sheet tends to curl up around the edges. For the most part, it does the job it’s intended to do, even with the small issue.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of dexterity based games. Games like Jenga have never interested me. When my friends would stack up their dice as we played D&D, I didn’t find any thrill in doing it myself. My daughter, however, is a different story. There’s something about stacking things and trying not to let them fall that intrigues her. The child has a copy of Jenga at both of her grandparent’s houses as well as having a copy at home. She will play the game by herself if no one else wants to play, stacking up pieces as she tries to keep them from falling. It’s like she’s trying to see just how close she can get to making the tower fall before it actually happens. It’s no wonder then that she likes this game too. The large clunky pieces with their bright colors and fun shapes really caught her eye, as well as mine. I’ll admit, the pieces were what caught my attention to begin with. I thought that even with my aversion to dexterity games, this looked like it could be fun anyway. It seems that I was right. I have to say that I do enjoy stacking up the pieces, maybe it’s due to the bright colors and shapes. I couldn’t honestly say. My daughter and I have played this one with just us, however I’ve simplified things a bit to handicap myself just a bit and give her an advantage. I play the normal rules of Chopstick mode, while she simply tries to stack things up accurately. It seems to work out pretty well for us, as sometimes she misses the simple details of how a particular piece will be turned. This gives her a few extra seconds to think as I’m trying to get my pieces stacked with just 2 fingers. As a family game, it’s rather fun and silly. The kids enjoy teaming up against each other, using my wife and myself as their teammates. Needless to say, the boys vs the girls tends to be a regular match up in more than just this game. It’s nice to hear the laughter as we race to stack up the pieces. It’s fun even when you just barely lose. This is a nice family friendly style game. It’s one that can be played with all ages. Fans of dexterity based games like Jenga should enjoy this one. This is one that I would recommend.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Maki Stack is a game full of sushi stacking fun for the whole family. The game doesn’t take very long at all. Most game sessions last around 15 minutes. The components are all really good quality. The wooden pieces are all big and brightly colored and we like them a lot. The rulebook is a bit small and is only a double sided sheet of paper. I really would have preferred something a little more durable, as the paper tends to roll up on the sides. The game itself if a fun family friendly style game that can be played with all ages. There are plenty of ways to play the game to make it harder or easier. There are even rules for games with just 2 players. My daughter really enjoys stacking up all the pieces and she likes watching my stack fall even more. Fans of dexterity based games like Jenga should enjoy this one. For me, it’s an actual dexterity game that I don’t mind playing. That’s a win in itself. In any event, this is one that I would recommend. Each order is sure to make you smile. So start stacking, cause your order’s up!
8 out of 10

 

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

http://www.blueorangegames.com/

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Cat Crimes Review

Cat Crimes is a game published by ThinkFun. It is for 1 player, but may be played cooperatively with more players. In this game, a player will be trying to solve a series of mysteries, perpetrated by some very sneaky and mischievous cats. The player will need to use their deductive reasoning and logic skills if they hope to uncover the felonious feline. In the end, if the player is able to determine the culprit, they will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. The player will then choose a Challenge card, based on difficulty. Each particular Challenge card describes the crime that was committed. The player will then take the specific Crime Token that matches the image on the front of the Challenge card and place it over the corresponding position on the board. For instance, the broken flower pot token would go on top of the flower pot image on the board. The Cat standees are then placed within reach of the player to be placed around the board during the game. Once the player is ready, play now begins.

As the game is played, the player will read over each individual clue to determine the placement of each particular cat. Each clue will reference one of the cats. The clue also may give an identifying trait, a position relative to one or more of the other cats and/or to one of the pieces of supporting evidence on the table. The clue may also may also reference the Birdcage or Fish Bowl. In some cases, the clue may mention that the cat or cats were upstairs sleeping. In this case, these cats will not be used in the particular challenge. Positioning the cats means understanding some of the terms used in the clues. For instance, if the clue says a cat is sitting in front of something, then it is placed at the location closest to that item. Other terms used are near, next to, between, to the left, across from or 2 seats from another cat. Understanding each of these clues will help the player to determine the placement of each cat so as to satisfy all the clues on the challenge card. Once the player has placed all of the cats around the board and they can name the cat sitting in front of the crime token, the game is over. The player has caught the culprit and they win. To make sure, the player checks the back of the card which shows the placement of each cat and which cat is the guilty one. The player is then able to start all over with a new challenge and a new crime.

COMPONENTS
The game comes with some amazing looking components. First off there’s a fairly large deck of challenge cards. As a matter of fact, there are 40 different challenges in 4 different difficulty levels ranging from beginner to expert. The cards are a bit larger than your normal deck of playing cards. They have a nice glossy finish and are a good thickness. Each difficulty level is color coded. So for instance, beginner challenges are green while expert cards are red. Each one is easy to pick out. Each card has a series of clues on the front along with a picture of the crime token used in each challenge. On the back, the guilty cat is revealed along with the placement of each of the cats around the board. These are great. Each one is a little harder and a bit more challenging than the previous one. Each one is individually numbered so that you can progress through each challenge if you like. The board is amazing. It is very thick cardboard with a linen finish. The table that the cats sit around is actually a separate layer of cardboard that is in the middle of the board for a dual layered effect. The individual cats are huge cardboard standees that are quite thick, just like the board and have a linen finish. Each one has a cute picture of the cat that it represents along with it’s name. The crime tokens are also thick cardboard with a linen finish. These depict everything from a spilled cup of coffee to a broken flower pot. These are used to cover up the original art on the board. For instance, the cup of coffee is covered with the spilled cup of coffee. The artwork on all of the cardboard pieces is absolutely adorable and is so much fun to look at. I really like the designs and love how big and nice looking each piece is. My daughter loves all the different cats and enjoys telling stories with them, even when she’s not playing the game. The game itself is very good quality. The pieces are large enough that even children and adults with smaller hands should have no problems manipulating them. The one minor problem that I have with the game is that when you get ready to put the game up, you have to remove the cat standees from their bases each time, as the box isn’t large enough to hold them assembled inside. Of course, this is only a minor gripe as everything is so thick that it hasn’t been a problem as of yet. So far there has been no damage to anything, even though I’ve removed them from their stands several times already. Overall, I’m completely in love with how cool everything looks. This is a great looking game.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is very good. There are plenty of pictures and examples throughout the book. There is a very nice 2 page spread that explains the board and how to understand each picture on it. The rules are thoroughly explained from placing crime tokens to the key terms used in the game and how to position the cats. The book also includes some tips on playing the game as well as detailed bios with pictures on each of the cats. The book is cute and fun and is very easy to read through and understand. Everything is extremely simple and is easy enough that kids can understand it. My daughter had no problems with the rules at all. Overall, I feel that the rulebook does a great job of explaining the rules and helping players get started solving crimes. I really like how the book looks and is designed.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Apart from being extremely cute and well designed, the game itself is actually quite fun. While intended for a single player, this is one that a parent or sibling can help out with quite easily. The object of the game is to place the various cats around the table in such a way that each of the various clues on the challenge card are met. The card will give you clues such as what a particular cat is sitting in front of or which cat they’re sitting across from. Of course these are only a few of the many different varieties of clues to be discovered while playing the game. The idea is that you want to determine which cat is sitting in front of the crime token. When you’ve completed all of the clues, you’ll wind up with the guilty cat at the scene of the crime. I’ll be honest, starting out the clues are pretty darn easy. As you get into some of the harder challenge cards, especially the expert ones, even I had a bit of trouble figuring them out. It’s not wonder that on a couple of occasions, I had to step in to help my daughter figure out a particular clue or help out with a specific challenge card. This game is really great at helping children with some logical thinking and a bit of deductive reasoning. I think it’s also great for helping parents and children work together. For me, I like games like this that make you think, even though it’s designed more for kids. My daughter and I both really enjoyed this one. Even though we still have some challenges left to explore, you can bet that we’ll be solving those crimes very soon. Fans of puzzle games or game that make you think, should enjoy the challenges presented in this one, especially if they like cats or have children. This game is a lot of fun and one that I know we will revisit. I would definitely recommend this one to parents as a way of helping to encourage logical thinking. It’s a great game that is super cute and loads of fun.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Cat Crimes is a logic based game of deduction that involves some mischievous kitties. The game doesn’t take very long. Each challenge card takes anywhere from a couple of minutes to 10 minutes or so, depending on the difficulty. Players can play as few or as many challenges as they would like. The artwork and design of the components is really great. I love how thick the cat standees, crime tokens and game board are. I especially like the dual layered board and the cute and fun artwork. The one complaint that I had is that you have to remove the stands from the cats every time you put up the game. I really wish the box had been a bit bigger to accommodate fully assembled standees. The rulebook is easy to read through and looks great too. I especially enjoy the various bios and pictures of each of the different cats. The game itself is a puzzle filled gold mine. It’s a lot of fun trying to figure out where each of the cats are sitting and which one committed the crime. My daughter and I both enjoyed figuring out each crime and working together to solve them. My daughter really enjoys the huge standees and loves telling stories with them by themselves. Parents with kids of all ages should enjoy the challenges that this game presents and how it helps their kids with their deductive reasoning and logical thinking. Overall this is a very fun game that we all enjoy. I only hope that there will be some more challenge cards available in the near future to add to the fun that we’re already having. In any event, this is a game that I would definitely recommend for parents to pick up for their kids. If you miss out on this one, it’ll be a CAT-astrophe.
8 out of 10

 

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

http://thinkfun.com

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