Jumanji Fluxx Review

Jumanji 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 from their hand in an attempt to fulfill the ever changing goal of the game which is to ultimately win Jumanji. Of course the rules will also be changing so they’ll need to be aware of this. To make matters worse, there are constant dangers that will try to eliminate the players from the game. Good thing that like any good video game, they have extra lives. That is until the Meta rule makes it impossible to return. In the end, the player that is able to best negotiate the ever changing rules and complete the current goal to escape Jumanji, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the Basic Rules card is placed in the middle of the play area. The rest of the cards are shuffled together to form the draw deck. Each player is then dealt 3 cards. Afterwards, the deck is placed face down beside the Basic Rules card. The “No More Lives” Meta Rule card is placed at the bottom of the deck and the “Jumanji” Meta Rule card is placed beside the Basic Rules card. The first player is then chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over a series of turns. Each player will take a turn consisting of 2 steps. At the beginning of the game, those 2 steps will be to draw a card and to play a card. As the game progresses, New Rule cards will be played which will change the way the game is played. This might mean drawing 2, 3 or even more cards per turn. It also might mean playing more than 1 card per turn. These New Rule cards will take effect as soon as they are played. Sometimes these cards will make it where the player has to discard cards at the end of their turn to comply with a hand restriction rule. Besides the New Rule cards, there are also 3 other types of cards that a player can play on their turn. There are Keeper cards, which are played face up in front of the player and remain there until another card removes them. These cards are used to win the game by fulfilling the Goal card. Goal cards are placed face up into the middle of the play area and set the win condition of the game. If there is already a Goal card in this area, it is discarded and replaced with the new Goal card. Each Goal card provides players with exactly which Keepers that they need to have in front of themself in order to win the game. Next there are Action cards. These are cards are one time use cards that when played must be followed and then discarded.

This game also contains 2 other types of cards that can be played. There are the Meta Rule cards and the Danger cards. The game comes with 2 Meta Rule cards; Jumanji and No More Extra Lives. The first adds the rule that the player that achieves the Goal or is the last player remaining, must raise their arms and call out “JUMANJI” to win. The latter makes it where elimination becomes permanent, so that new players may not join the game and eliminated players may not rejoin. Of course during setup, it’s placed at the bottom of the draw pile and is only played when the draw deck is depleted and requires shuffling. The Danger cards can cause one or more players to be eliminated from the game. This usually entails having a certain Keeper or type of Keeper in front of yourself. When eliminated, the player must discard their entire hand and all of their Keepers. As long as 2 or more players remain, the eliminated player may jump back into the game, once all the other players have completed a turn. When jumping in, the player draws 3 new cards and observes the current Draw rule. Players are allowed to reenter the game as often as they wish, until the No More Extra Lives Meta Rule goes into effect.

Once a player completes their turn by drawing the appropriate number of cards, playing the appropriate number of cards and then discarding back down to the appropriate hand limit, as dictated by New Rule cards, then the player’s turn is over. Play then passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues with players following the steps of their turn until someone is able to fulfill the conditions of the current Goal card, or all but one player has been eliminated from the game. The first player able to do either of these is the winner, regardless of whose turn it is.

COMPONENTS
This game contains 100 different cards and a collectible coin. Some copies will include a bonus pack of 7 cards, depending on where your copy was purchased from. The cards for this game are excellent. The finish on each one is very good. This makes it easy to shuffle the deck. The Keepers, Goals and Danger cards have some very nice looking artwork that fits the theme quite well. The characters and items on the Keepers come from both the older movie with Robin Williams and the newer one with the Rock. I really thought that was a nice touch as it added flavor for fans of both. On the New Rule cards, there are some large icons along with some rules text that tells you how these work. These are also very nice and are quite easy to understand. The Action cards have no artwork on them and are just a bunch of text for players to follow. I think a little bit of artwork on these would have made them look a little nicer, but with them being played and immediately discarded, it’s not too big of a deal. The collectible coin that comes with the game like a clay poker chip and less like a coin. I really like the quality of this piece. It’s very sturdy and thick. On one side is a foil picture of Van Pelt from the first movie. On the back are several animal and hunter designs from the game in the movie. In the middle of these designs is a box of text that reads, “It’s My Turn!” It fits well with the theme and is a great looking design. The box comes with a great looking insert that holds all the cards and the coin quite securely. Overall I like the quality of the game and think that the components are well designed and the artwork is great. My younger self is very happy with the care and love that this game gives to the theme. It look and feels great!
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game consists of a large double sided sheet of paper that is folded several times so that it will fit comfortably inside the box. When unfolded, the sheet is quite big. The sheet contains a couple of pictures and also includes a sample of an in progress game. There’s also a very nice picture of the wooden Jumanji game box on the back of the sheet. The rules include a few examples to help you as you understand the game. The sheet explains what each different type of card does, including the Meta Rules and Danger cards. It also has a few notes on things that may occur while playing the game, such as when to reshuffle the draw pile and how to jump in to a game already in progress. There are also some notes on the different types of special icons in the game. The rules are really quite simple to understand and very quick to read through. Overall I think the rules explain everything quite well and in a concise and easy to learn way. I couldn’t ask for much more than that.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Fluxx has always been a great light weight card game that’s fast and fun. This version is no exception. I remember the first time that I saw the original Jumanji movie, I thought it was a great concept for a movie. Just recently I was able to watch the new version of Jumanji with my kids. I thought it was still a great concept, but some of the luster had been worn off due to some crude humor in the film. Thankfully all the things that I liked about the movie have made their way into this game without adding any of the innuendos that I wasn’t too keen on. So apart from the standard rules from basically any version of Fluxx, this one adds in a few rules that make it stand out. One of those rules is the addition of the Danger cards. I like how that this changes the idea of putting out every Keeper you can find out in front of you, because if you have the wrong one when a Danger card is played, you’re eliminated from the game. Of course, having the ability to jump back in after a round is pretty cool too. However I like that you can save those Danger cards till the right moment to knock out everyone, leaving you the sole survivor for the win. This is one extra card type that I thoroughly enjoy having as it adds a bit more depth to the game play, in my opinion. There’s also the Meta Rules that add a bit more theme to the game. The one where you have to yell out “Jumanji” is actually quite thematic. Then there’s the other card that makes it where players are no longer able to jump back into the game, much like in the most recent movie. Once your lives are gone, you’re done. I have to say that I really like the mixture of the old and the new on this one as it really appeals to fans of both movies. Honestly I think this is a superb version in the Fluxx family. As a matter of fact, it’s become my most favorite way to play, even without the Creepers that I love so much. Overall this is a great game and one that fans of Fluxx or Jumanji will love. Players looking for a quick and fun card game won’t find much better than this one. This is one game that I highly recommend.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Jumanji Fluxx is a light weight card game of ever changing rules in the world of Jumanji. It’s a fast and easy game that can be played quite quickly. Most game sessions last around 15 minutes or so. The cards are excellent and have some really fun artwork on them. I really like that this game mixes both the old and new movies together. The rulebook is well designed and is really quick and easy to read through. The game itself is a lot of fun, especially for fans of the movies. This is a great family friendly game that even the younger players can join in on quite easily. It’s simple enough and fast enough that it will keep their attention. Fans of either of the Jumanji movies or players looking for a quick and light weight card game should enjoy this one. Players already familiar with Fluxx or one of it’s many incarnations, should find this one different enough to add to their collection. This is one that I highly recommend. Just watch out for those charging rhinos, Dr. Bravestone.
9 out of 10

 

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

http://looneylabs.com

 

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Marvel Fluxx Review

Marvel Fluxx is a game by Andrew Looney, published by Looney Labs. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players will be playing Marvel comics themed cards which will constantly be changing the rules and victory conditions. They’ll be trying to collect different heroes and villains to their play area as they try to fulfill the current goal. Of course with everything changing, that goal may not be there for long. In the end, the player that can best negotiate all the changing rules to complete the current goal will be declared the winner.

To begin, the Basic Rules card is placed in the middle of the play area. The rest of the cards are shuffled together to form the deck. Each player is then dealt 3 cards. The deck is then placed face down next to the Basic Rules card, in the middle of the play area. 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 2 steps. At the beginning of the game, those 2 steps will be to draw a card and to play a card. As the game goes on, New Rule cards will be played which will change the way the game is played. This could mean drawing more than 1 card per turn or playing more than 1 card per turn. These New Rule cards will take effect as soon as they are played. Sometimes these cards will even enforce a hand limit, meaning that the player may have to discard cards at the end of their turn to comply with this Rule Card. Besides the New Rule cards, there are also 3 other types of cards that player can play on their turn. There are Keeper cards. These are played face up in front of the player and remain there unless another card removes them. These are used to win the game by fulfilling the Goal card. Goal cards, when played, are placed face up into the middle of the play area. If there’s already a Goal card in this area, it is discarded and replaced with the new Goal card. The Goal card will tell players exactly which Keepers that they need to have in front of themself in order to win the game. Finally there are Action cards. These are one time use cards that when played must be followed and then discarded. Once the player has drawn the appropriate number of cards, played the appropriate number of cards and discarded down to the appropriate hand limit, as dictated by New Rule cards, then the player’s turn is over. Play will then pass to the next player in turn order.

The game continues with players following the steps of their turn until someone is able to fulfill the conditions of the current Goal card. The first player able to do this is the winner. Players are even able to win if they’re able to meet the current Goal on another player’s turn.

COMPONENTS
The game contains 100 cards and a collectible coin. Some copies will include a bonus pack of 7 cards, depending on where you purchase your copy from. The cards for the game are really great quality. The finish is very good which makes them easy to shuffle. The artwork on the Keepers and Goal cards appear to be ripped right from the comics themselves. Each one shows off one or more of the different characters from the Marvel Universe. I will say that pretty much the artistic style is very modernized. That is to say that the characters on the cards look more in line with the movies and more modern designs from the comics, as opposed to the original designs from my childhood that I’m more familiar with. Still the artwork is great and it works together quite well. On the New Rule cards, there are these large icons along with some text telling you how these rules work. These are a little nicer looking and easier to understand than some of the Fluxx games that I’ve played in the past. The Action cards have no artwork and are just a bunch of text for players to follow. I think some artwork would have made these a little nicer, but with them only being played and immediately discarded, it’s not a bit deal. The collectible coin that comes with the game looks more like a clay poker chip than a coin. I have to say, I like the design of this piece quite a lot. On one side there’s a picture of Cap’s shield. On the other side there’s a bunch of symbols that represent different characters in the Marvel Universe. Between all these icons is a box of text that reads, ” It’s My Turn!” The coin is actually a high quality piece that I really like. It looks great! The box comes with a handy dandy little insert that holds all the cards and the coin quite nicely. Overall I think the quality is very good and the components are well designed. I’ve very pleased with the look and feel of this game.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is a large double sided sheet of paper that is folded several times in order to fit nicely inside the box. When unfolded, the sheet is rather large but folding it up, it fits nicely inside the box. There are a couple of pictures on the sheet including a sample of a game in progress. There’s also a very nice picture of several of the Marvel characters on the back of the sheet. The rules include only a few examples to help you understand the game, but that’s fine as the rules are quite simple anyway. The sheet has a few notes on things that may occur while playing the game, such as what to do if the deck runs out of cards. The sheet also includes a few frequently asked questions that delves into some of the history of the characters. I thought these answers were a nice touch. The rules are very simple to read through and understand. Overall I think the rules do a good job of explaining everything in a concise and easy to learn way. I’m quite happy with them.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Over the years, my kids and I have really enjoyed playing Fluxx. It was actually one of the first games that I bought for our family to play together over 10 years ago. Even now, we still enjoy playing Fluxx. Sometimes the themes haven’t exactly fit everyone in my family but with our love for the Marvel universe, this one may have hit the proverbial sweet spot. Every member of the family, from my youngest to myself, loves super heroes. We each have our favorites but you can bet that the Marvel characters always rank highest. It’s no surprise then that we enjoyed combining our love for all things super hero with our love for Fluxx. It was like peanut butter and jelly. Needless to say, we really like this one. For those that have played any version of Fluxx before, you’re pretty much up to speed. There’s nothing really new about this version other than the Keepers and Goals. A few other cards have been added or changed but it’s pretty much the same as any other version of Fluxx. For me and my family, that’s great! I’ve always heard it said that if you like fast and fun card games, then find the themed version of Fluxx that best fits your likes and your good to go. For us, this is that version. Marvel Fluxx hits every one of our like buttons. It includes characters from the movies like Captain America, Starlord and Thanos. It also has newer characters from the comics and cartoons like Spider Gwen and if you can find a copy with the extra cards, Miles Morales. Basically, there’s something here for every budding super hero fan from young to old. Fans of Fluxx or the Marvel universe will really enjoy this fast moving and fun card game. This is one that I highly recommend. If you love super heroes like me and my bunch do, then this is one that you’ll love to have.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Marvel Fluxx is a family friendly card game of constant change with a Marvel comics theme. It can be played rather quickly. Most game sessions last around 15 to 10 minutes. The cards are really great quality and the artwork on them is super cool. I quite like the mix of characters that was chosen for the game. The rulebook is well designed and easy to follow. The game itself is lots of fun for the entire family. This is one that even younger players can enjoy. Fans of the Marvel universe or of any of the other versions of Fluxx should really enjoy this one as well. This is one that I highly recommend. As my family and I really enjoy super heroes, this one is perfect for us. Make mine Marvel, Excelsior!
9 out of 10

 

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

http://looneylabs.com

 

 

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Skulk Hollow Review

Skulk Hollow is a game by Eduardo Baraf and Keith Matejka, published by Pencil First Games. It is for 2 players. In this game, players take on the role of either guardian or heroes as they square off in a battle of monumental proportions. The guardian will be seeking to eliminate the vermin scuttling about it’s once tranquil domain, while the heroes will be attempting to vanquish the mighty behemoth that threatens their homes and way of life. In the end, there can be only one. The first player that is able to fulfill their win condition will be declared the winner.

To begin, players decide who will be the guardian and who will be the heroes. Once this is decided, the guardian player chooses a guardian. The hero player then chooses a leader. For first time players, it’s suggested to play Grak vs. the King of War. The guardian player is given the guardian player mat and a reference card. The hero player is given the hero player mat and a reference card. Each player places these in front of themself. The specific setup instructions for the chosen guardian are then followed. In the case of Grak, the player places the tribute token on the 0 space of their player mat. Any components for unchosen guardians are returned to the box. The Skulk Hollow map is now placed between the players in the middle of the table, angled so that the Lair space is in front of the guardian player and the Keep space is in front of the hero player. The corresponding guardian board is placed next to the Skulk Hollow map. The hero figures for the Sentinel and the selected leader are placed on the Keep space of the map, while the guardian figure is placed on the Lair space. The power cubes and wound tokens are placed near the map, along with the remaining hero figures to create the supply. The hero player places the unit cards for the Sentinel and their chosen leader next to their play mat. The rest of the hero player’s cards are then shuffled together to form the hero deck, which is then placed face down on the other side of their play mat with room for a discard pile. The hero player will then draw a number of cards equal to their hand size, as indicated on their player mat. This creates the hero player’s starting hand. The guardian player takes all of the cards for their chosen guardian and shuffles them together to form the guardian deck. This deck is then placed face down beside their play mat with space left for a discard pile. The guardian player will then draw a number of cards equal to their hand size, as indicated on their player mat. this creates the guardian player’s starting hand. Play now begins.

The game is played over a series of turns, with players alternating taking turns. Starting with the hero player, both players will follow a series of 2 phases, a Main phase and a Cleanup phase. In the Main phase, the player will take as many actions as their player mat shows. For the hero player, they may take 3 actions. For the guardian player, they are allowed only 2 actions. Players have 2 actions that they may choose from. They may play a card or prepare. They may also spend power to take extra actions. To play a card, the player simply places the card face up in front of themself. Cards come in 2 forms for the hero player, they can be unit cards or order cards. Unit cards, when played, allow the hero player to place a new unit on the board. First the player places the unit card in their play area and then takes the matching hero figure, placing it in either the Keep or one of the two Town spaces on the board. It should be noted, that when placing a hero figure, the player may not place a unit on a space already occupied by the guardian figure. Order cards are used by both hero and guardian players to give orders to their units or guardian figure. Most of these cards provide a choice between 2 actions. When one of these cards are played, the player must choose only 1 of the actions to take. This is can be a movement, attack or a special action, such as gaining power or, in the case of the guardian, using a special ability. Moving either a hero or the guardian, allows the player to move one unit from one space to an adjacent space, following the direction of the arrows on the card. Heroes also have a special movement called Leap, which allows them to move from the guardian’s ground space to the lowest location of the actual guardian. This is noted by a large arrow on the guardian’s board. If the hero is already on the guardian, they may use this Leap ability to move to another location that’s connected by the dotted line to the space their hero unit is already on. They can also use the Leap ability to move off the guardian and onto the guardian’s ground space. It should be noted that the guardian’s board has a limited number of spaces for units to attach themselves to. If the spaces are already filled up, then a new unit can not move onto that space.

Another action for heroes to take is to attack with either a melee attack or missile attack. Melee attacks allows the hero unit that is attached to the guardian to deal a wound to that particular location, placing a wound token on one of the empty spaces for that location. Archers may not use this form of attack. Missile attacks allow the hero unit to deal a wound to any location on the guardian. It should be noted that there are 2 types of Missile attacks; fire and hurl. Heroes with the fire ability must attack from a space surrounding the guardian figure. Heroes with the hurl ability must attack from the guardian’s ground space. Knights, Rogues and leaders may not use this form of attack. Once all the wound spaces on a particular guardian location are full, the special ability associated with that location is now disabled and can not be used by the guardian player. Guardian players have special attack actions that their cards may provide. To use one of these, the player simply follows the rules on the guardian player mat. This usually involves wounding either one of the hero units or the leader. If a hero unit is wounded, the player will place a wound token on an empty wound space of that hero unit card. If all the wound spaces are full, then the hero unit is eliminated. The hero figure is returned to the supply along with any power cubes on the card. The hero unit card is then placed in the player’s discard pile. Leaders are treated the same way, unless they’re banded with another hero unit. What this means is that they can not be wounded or affected by any guardian action. This happens if the leader is in the same ground space as another hero unit, or if they are attached to the same location on the guardian as another hero unit. Finally there is the gain power action. This allows either the hero or guardian player to gain a number of power cubes, placing them on their player mat into their pool. Power cubes are used to take additional actions without spending one of their actions to do so, more on this in just a bit.

The other action that players may choose to take is to prepare. To prepare, the player simply discards a card from their hand and then draws 2 cards from their deck. Even if the player has no cards in their hand, they may still use this ability to draw 2 cards, without discarding a card.

Earlier I mentioned spending power cubes, this is the third action that a player mat choose to take. To spend a power cube, the player removes one cube from their hero unit or the guardian to take an additional action that is available to that hero unit or guardian. The player does not have to play a card to perform this action. The spent cube is placed back in the supply.

Once the player has taken all of their actions and used whatever power cubes that they wanted to or are able to use, the player will then move into the Cleanup phase. In this phase, the player will allocate power and refill their hand. To allocate power, the player simply moves any power cubes in their pool onto an empty power space on one of their hero units or their guardian player mat. If there are no empty spaces to place power cubes, then they are lost and returned to the supply. Once this is done, the player will refill their hand. This is done by drawing cards from their deck until their hand is full, as noted on their player mat. If the player already has a full hand equal to their hand size, then the player will simply draw 1 card instead. Once this is done, play passes to the other player.

The game continues going back and forth with players taking their turns until one of the players fulfills one of their win conditions. The hero player wins once the guardian is eliminated, by filling all the wound spaces on the guardian board with wound tokens. The guardian player wins by eliminating the leader or by fulfilling the unique win condition of their specific guardian, as noted on their guardian player mat. The leader is eliminated once all the wound spaces on the leader’s unit card is filled with wound tokens. Whichever accomplishes their task first is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This is an absolutely gorgeous looking game. Needless to say, as soon as I opened the box, I was completely blown away. The artwork is just amazing and each piece is lovingly created to accent the gameplay in such a beautiful way. So just what all are we talking about here, well let me explain. First there are the thick cardboard guardian boards and the Skulk Hollow map. Each guardian has their own specific board that is a huge representation of that guardian, complete with all the details including the special ability sections and the ways to traverse along each one. When I say this artwork is beautiful, you’ll believe me when you see these boards. With these, you get a really good feel for the power of each guardian. The map, is the world board where the battle takes place. It’s double sided with one side having lines to divide each of the 9 areas, while the other side is line less. The different areas blend into each other on this lineless side. Of course even without the lines, it’s easy to figure out each of the different spaces. It’s just a little cleaner and more thematic. Next there are the player mats for each of the different guardians and the Foxen heroes. These mats are thinner, more like the thickness of a card. Each of the guardian mats has that same beautiful artwork as that of the guardian boards. The hero mat has pictures of the different heroes and their town. Both of these mats have explanations of the different abilities and actions available to be taken. These are great reference sheets for playing the game. Speaking of references, each guardian and leader has their own reference card, complete with artwork and the same references as are on the player mats. Each guardian and the heroes have their own special unique deck of cards. Each card has specific abilities and actions, as described in the overview, as well as some really great looking artwork too. The artwork is especially nice on the all the different unit cards for the Foxen heroes. Needless to say, there are some very nice looking cards here. Oh and each deck also has their own themed tuck box to keep everything together for each guardian and the heroes. This is a great extra finishing touch. I would like to note that there is a small misprint on one of the Raptra cards, but it’s nothing major. Simply remember that the card that shows gain power 2 in the top left, should also show gain power 2 on the bottom of the card, instead of only gaining 1 power. Finally there are the wooden pieces and the plastic power cubes. Each guardian has their own large guardian meeple that looks quite similar to the artwork on the guardian board. Each one of these comes with some special tokens that are used exclusively for that guardian. For instance, Tanthos comes with 6 root tokens while Grak has a tribute token. Each of these plays off the specific guardian and looks great when placed on the board. Meanwhile, the heroes have their Foxen unit figures. Each one is a different color and has a specific unit icon on it so that you can tell each one apart. There is a picture of this figure on the top left of each unit card in the Foxen deck. These are so cute! I love moving these guys around on the map, almost as much as I love the commanding presence of the guardian figures on the board. The game also comes with ancient relic tokens which are wooden bones that are used to make the game a bit easier for the hero players or can be used with the Ancient Relics mini expansion. There are also red wound tokens for the heroes and green wound tokens for the guardian. These are little broken hearts that are placed on the unit cards or guardian board. The power cubes are little golden plastic pieces that look almost like honey. They are easy to spot on the mats and unit cards, when placed on these. Oh and before I forget, there are 2 other things that I need to mention; the insert and the map. The insert for this game looks so nice and works so well. Each of the deck tuckboxes has it’s own space and each space has an imprint of that guardian or the foxes on it. Everything fits so extremely well inside here and the detail on these little things makes this a game of beauty. The other thing is the map. No, not the map board…the map. Yes, there’s a picture of the realm much like the one on the inside cover of the rulebook. This map is the same thickness as the player mats. On the back side, there’s an excerpt from Wanderer Pai-Luro’s Journal, Day 147. What a neat little thematic piece that was added here to really exceed my expectations of the game. Was it needed, no…but I’m glad it’s there because it’s really cool. Thematically, each piece works well with the others and you really get a feel of the conflict that’s going on between the opposing forces. This is one awesome looking game. It will definitely catch your attention and draw you over from across the room once it’s set up. Overall this is one that I absolutely love the look and feel of.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is really well designed. From the moment that you first open the book, you get a real sense of what you’re about to get yourself into. The inside cover has a nice map of the realm with some flavor text to help set the scene. From there the components are broken down and a full page setup example is illustrated with step by step instructions. The book has tons of great pictures and examples throughout it which looks great. The rules are explained quite well with explanations of the different phases and player turns. The book even includes some ways to handicap the game for experienced players to be able to play with new players. There’s also a list of some key terms that are mentioned throughout the book, for ease of reference. Speaking of references, Each of the different hero units are highlighted on a 2 page spread with pictures of the cards and explanations of the different abilities each unit possesses. The last 4 pages of the book are dedicated to the 4 guardians that are included with the game. Each page details the unique setup, special abilities, unique win conditions and actions for each particular guardian. Like with the hero units, these pages are great references to be able to understand the characters a bit better. Needless to say, the book does an amazing job of conveying the rules and it looks great to boot. It’s really easy to look up anything that might need checking as far as the game goes and with plenty of examples, it’s easy to understand. Overall this is a really good rulebook. It’s easy to understand and fairly quick to read through. I’m very pleased with it.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This game is a ton of fun. First off as I’ve mentioned earlier, the game looks amazing on the table. It’s really one that gets your attention. The best part is that it doesn’t take up a lot of table space either, which is nice. It only takes a few minutes to get the game setup and you’re ready to play. Players will go back and forth taking turns as they race to be the first to complete their win condition. At times, the hero player can really feel overwhelmed as the guardian can quickly decimate their troops. However, it only takes a couple of really good turns to turn it around and put the guardian on the defensive. With a well thought out and planned strategy, the heroes can defeat the guardian. Of course in my plays, that has only happened a couple of times. I think a lot of it has to do with the strategy and skill of the players. Speaking of strategy, this is a game that definitely is full of it. Yes, there is a small element of luck when it comes to drawing your cars, but knowing what to do with what you get is the key to victory. As I said, it comes down to having a good plan and finding a way to make it work. As the guardian player, finding a way to keep the number of units on the map to a minimum can be the key to a guardian victory. Either way you play, the game is full of fun. While there can be a lot of strategy to this one, it doesn’t affect the difficulty of playing the game. This is one that my daughter could easily get into without much trouble. The box says for ages 8 and up and I think that’s perfect. It’s easy enough that younger players or players new to the game can play it. I really like the push and pull between players with this one. I like how that each of the different guardians and leaders plays just a bit differently than the others. I like that there are ways to make it a bit easier for my daughter while keeping the regular level of difficulty for myself. Honestly, there’s not really anything that I dislike about the game. Sure I’d love to have more guardians, units and leaders to play with but with as many as already come with the game, there’s plenty to keep me busy for awhile. I’ll say that I’d love to see a set of solo rules for this one as well. Hopefully that will be next up from the designers. As it is, this is a game that I highly recommend. I think fans of dueling style games, where players go head to head against each other, will really enjoy this one. Strategy gamers should really enjoy this one as well. Fans of great artwork and cool components will love this one, like I do. Overall, it’s a well designed game that I think everyone should play. I love it.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Skulk Hollow is a game of head to head combat as guardian and hero faces off against each other in the ultimate game of strategy. This is one that doesn’t take very long to play and even less time to set up. Most game sessions last around 30 to 45 minutes. The components are out of this world cool! Everything from the guardian boards to the meeples is very high quality. The artwork for this one is a lot of fun and looks great. I would like to point out that there was one minor mishap on one of the cards in the Raptra deck but it wasn’t anything major. The rulebook is well thought out and wonderfully designed. Each page is full of artwork and plenty of examples of gameplay. It’s very easy to read through and understand. If it only had some solo rules, it would be even better. The game itself is an awesome head to head battle that players of all ages and skill level can play. It’s one that even my daughter enjoyed. She especially loved the artwork, as I did. With ways to handicap the game so that less experienced or younger players can go up against us veterans, makes this one that should be experienced by everyone. Fans of dueling card games or combat games should really enjoy this one. Strategy gamers should also find something to like about this one as well. This is one that I really have enjoyed playing and I look forward to playing it a lot more. I highly recommend this one! I think you’ll really enjoy it.
9 out of 10

 

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

http://www.pencilfirstgames.com/

 

 

 

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Tanto Cuore: Winter Romance Review

Tanto Cuore: Winter Romance is a game by Masayuki Kudo, published by Japanime Games.  It is for 2-4 players. In this sequel to Tanto Cuore, players will employ both maids and butlers to build up their mansions, as masters of their house. It can be played either by itself or combined with the original Tanto Cuore or any of the other expansions. This sequel adds new cards and new card types.

For more information on the original Tanto Cuore and how to play it, please follow the link below.

https://jlnelson73.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/tanto-cuore-review/

It should be noted that in this game, there are no Private Maid cards. Players that wish to use them will need to incorporate the cards from one of the previous versions of the game that includes them.

To begin, the butler and maid chiefs should be removed from the deck and placed into separate piles face up in the Town (The place where all the available cards are located on the table). The three types of love cards should be placed in separate piles in the Town, face up near the butler and maid chiefs. Ten of the general maids and butlers should be chosen and placed in separate piles face up in the Town, in two columns of 5 piles each. It is suggested for first time players to use a selection of recommend maids and butler. This list is noted in the rulebook. The Friends and Social Bonus cards should be placed in separate face up piles in the Town next to the 3 stacks of love cards. The remaining general maid and butler cards are returned to the box. The Meetup pile is created by placing the Meetup Spot 3 card face up beside the Maid/Butler chiefs. On top of this card is placed the Meetup Spot 2 cards, followed by placing the Meetup Spot 1 cards on top of that. The Chapel cards are placed beside the Meetup card pile. If playing with the General Butler Dermot Gherin, the Drama cards are placed in a pile beside the Chapel cards. If this particular General Butler is not one of the cards used, then the Drama cards can remain in the box. The Trial cards are placed face up in a pile beside the General Maids/Butlers. The Blizzard cards are placed face up beside the Trial cards. For a better look at how the cards should be laid out, there’s a nice picture that shows the exact placement of each stack in the rulebook. Players are given 3 Beverly cards and 7 of the 1 Love cards. Players will shuffle their cards together to form their starting deck. Each player will then draw the top 5 cards to be their starting hand. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

As with the original rules, this version follows the same 4 phases of a player’s turn; Starting, Serving, Employ and Discard phases. For more information on each of the different phases and the step by step process of a player’s turn, please follow the link above. As for the changes and differences found in this version, I will now go over each one. To begin with, this game comes with male butler cards. It’s actually the first entry in the series to contain them. One thing to note about these is that when the rules or cards mention maid cards, maid chiefs or general maids, this also refers to the same type of butler cards. For instance, general butler cards are used the same as general maid cards. Friends cards are also general maid cards but are special and don’t count as one of your 10 general maids that you use to set up the Town. They are not gained in the same way either. These are added after successfully completing an approach, more on the approach in a bit.

Another new card type is the social bonus cards. These are treated just like Love cards and are gained from events and certain special effects from other cards. These types of cards also give the player victory points for scoring at the end of the game.

As with the original game, this game also comes with event cards. They are treated the same way and come in 2 varieties. There are the Blizzard cards which are placed on top of a building card and there are the Trial cards which are played on top of a couple and are double sided, more on couples in a bit. Blizzard cards are removed a bit differently than other events. To remove it, the player must discard any 4 love cards to return it to the Town. Trial cards when played force the player who had it played on their couple to reveal a 3 Love card or be forced to breakup their couple. If a breakup happens, the player that played the trial card will then pick one of the cards from the 2 cards in the couple and place them into their own discard pile. The player that suffered the trial will put their remaining card from the couple into their discard pile. The meetup card remains in the player’s private quarters and the trial card is removed from the game, more on couples and how they’re formed in just a bit. If the player is able to reveal the required 3 Love card, then they will flip over the Trial card to the Trial Overcome side, which will earn them victory points. They can earn even more if they have 3 or more of this card by the end of the game.

Next there are the drama cards. These are only used when Dermot Gherin is used as a general butler pile in the Town. These are treated as an event card. Each time a Dermot card is employed or played, one of these cards are drawn and played face up, resolving it’s effect. There are 6 different types of drama cards, most of which cause negative actions against the other players.

This game also has a special building card called the Chapel. This card allows the player to move a couple from their private quarters under this card to gain 10 victory points at the end of the game. If there is no couple beneath this card, it causes the player to lose 5 victory points. Other than that, these are treated pretty much the same as any other building card.

Finally there are the double sided Meetup Spot cards. These are also special building cards but are treated a bit differently. These can be bought in the same way as other cards can be during the Employ phase. Once played they go into the players private quarters face up. Once there, the player is then able to make an approach. The player is only able to do this at the start of their turn, so they’re unable to both play the card and then use it in the same turn. To make an approach, the player will pick a maid card from their hand and put it in front of themself face down. This is called the “Approaching Card”. The player then picks another player to make an approach toward. That player must then show the approaching player their hand secretly. The approaching player will then take the highest cost maid card from the shown cards. That card is placed face down on the table and is called the “Target of an Approach”. If both cards have the same value, then the approach succeeds. If the approaching card’s cost is higher or lower then the player may discard a number of Love card equal to the difference in cost. If the player is unable or unwilling to do this, then the approach fails and the target of the approach is returned to it’s owner’s hand and the approaching card is returned to the player’s hand. If the approach succeeds, then the approaching card and the target of the approach are placed in the player’s private quarters together so that both cards can be seen. This pair of cards is called a “Couple”. The player will then take the meetup spot card that was used successfully and places it face down on top of the couple, giving a bonus for each couple. The player that lost their maid card will then be given a Social Bonus card to add to their hand from the Town. The successful player also gains a Friend card which is added to their discard pile from the Town. At the end of the game, individual points on maid cards that are part of a couple are ignored. They instead will gain points based on the meetup spot or chapel they are placed under.

As with the original game, the game continues until two of the maid piles in Town have run out of cards. Once the game ends, the current player will finish their turn. Scoring will then occur. This is done in much the same way as well. Players add up the number of victory points for each card in their house, discard pile and deck. Couples, event cards, building and chambered cards gain points a bit differently. Couples, as noted earlier, will gain victory points based on the meetup spot and chapel instead of from their individual cards. Cards beneath the Blizzard event gain no points. Cards chambered in the player’s private quarters may gain bonuses based on any Chambermaid bonuses that apply. Some maid chief cards or general maids may also provide end of game bonuses to victory points. Players add all these bonuses to their totals and the player with the most points is the winner and crowned the “Ultimate Master”.

COMPONENTS
This game, like any other deck building game, comes with a whole bunch of cards. As with previous sets, the look and feel of each card is pretty much the same. The nice easy to shuffle finish on each card is great. The same stylized manga/anime artwork is present on each card. The overall design is very well executed. With this set, I can say that I’m much happier with the artwork. With a mixture of both maids and butlers, there’s a lot less provocative artwork. While I’ve felt that the previous versions might have been a touch over the top, this set is one that I have no problem playing with my daughter. The artwork in this one is very subtle when it comes to the maids and the butlers, making it possible to play this one with younger players. Just like with other entries into the series, the iconography is quite easy to understand. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the series should have no problems with this at all. Overall this is a great looking set of cards and it fits in well with the other sets.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this version of the game is very similar to the rulebook for all the other versions. It’s long and thin and fits well inside the box without having to be folded. It has plenty of pictures and examples through the book. Unfortunately, all the pictures and images in the book are black and white. Not my favorite, but it’s something I can live with. Everything is explained quite well. All of the different card types are explained in great detail with diagrams of just what each portion of the card is and does. Each of the different phases is explained in a step by step manner which makes it quite easy to follow and understand. The book also contains optional rules for two or three player games, as well as how to play this set along with other sets. This also includes how to play with 5 or 6 players. The book also contains a really nice visual reference to every card included in the set. Each card is explained in excellent detail. This is a great reference especially for new players that have just jumped into the game. Overall I feel that the book is very well designed and that it contains all the pertinent information that you need to be able to play the game. I do wish that the rulebook was in color and possibly even contained some solo rules, as I love a good solo game, but I’m not complaining. It’s still really well done.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
It’s no secret that I like deck building games, like the series of Cerberus games from Cryptozoic or the Legendary System from Upper Deck or even the Dominion series from Rio Grande. Speaking of Dominion, like with the other entries of this series, this one too bears a lot of similarities to that game, as far as gameplay goes. This version does not contain any of the Private Maid cards, so to play with them, players will need to include one of the other expansions or the core game that contains them. I have to say the addition of the butler cards is really nice. I like the interaction between these and the maid cards and how players can gain extra points by turning these cards into couples. The new drama and event cards add a nice take that feel to the game by allowing the players to shut down other player’s couples from gaining points. It can be a bit mean but after all, all’s fair in love and war. Speaking of love, the way that couples are created through the art of the approach is quite brilliant. I do love that just like in real life, love can be hit or miss. If your opponent has a matching value card as their highest value maid card in their hand, then cupid’s arrow hits it’s mark and it’s all fireworks and roses. Otherwise, like in real life it’s back to the drawing board and another night alone watching reruns of Sanford and Son. In any event, the theme of this expansion is really good. I think more so than any of the other expansions, this one hits the mark. I love the feel of the game and enjoy it quite a lot. The similarities to Dominion are still there somewhat, so deck building fans that like that style of game will most likely enjoy this one, especially if they like making love connections. For me, I enjoy it more than any entry in the Tanto Cuore series. This is one that I would highly recommend. It’s all about the love.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Tanto Cuore: Winter Romance is a standalone expansion to Tanto Cuore that adds butlers to the world of maids. Like with other entries into the series, this version still plays in around 45 minutes. The cards are excellently designed and look awesome. I really like that the artwork was toned down a bit in this expansion. It makes it a bit easier to play this with some younger players. The manga and anime style is still prevalent and looks great. The rulebook for this one has pretty much the same look and feel as the others. It’s black and white but covers everything really well. I do wish there had been some color added and even some solo rules would have been nice. Even without those, it gets the job done. The game itself introduces some new mechanics that are a lot of fun to play. I love the interaction between maids and butlers and how much fun it is to make couples and then try to destroy your opponent’s couples or keep them from scoring. One thing I noted earlier is that there are no private maids in this set. So just be aware that if you’re looking to add more of them, you won’t find them in this expansion. Needless to say, I’ve enjoyed this version much more so than any other set of Tanto Cuore that I’ve played. Fans of the game will absolutely love this one. Deck building fans that enjoy Dominion should find something to like about this one as well. For me, this is a great version of the game that can be played by itself or mixed in with one of the other sets to add even more variety. It’s one that I thoroughly enjoy. I highly recommend it. Now get ready to make a love connection.
9 out of 10

 

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

http://www.japanimegames.com/

Japanime games will be launching a NEW 10th Anniversary Kickstarter later this month! This will include a brand new 10th anniversary edition of the game, new play mats, new promo maids, and something else very special which they will be announcing soon, so be sure and keep an eye out for it!

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Bargain Quest Review

Bargain Quest is a game by Jonathan Ying, published by Renegade Game Studios. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players take on the role of an Items shop owner in a fantasy realm. Each player will need to supply the bravest of heroes with weapons and equipment to face off against some of the most dangerous monsters. Of course whether the heroes win or get eaten alive is of no consequence. What really matters is who makes the most money and who’s shop is the most famous. In the end, the player that can make the best deals and gain the most money and fame will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player chooses an Item Shop board, unfolds it and places it in front of themself. They will also receive a 5 coin from the supply. The first player is chosen and receives the Quest token. The Item deck is shuffled and placed in the middle of the play area within reach of all players. The Monster cards are separated into 3 stacks, one for each of the 3 ranks. Each pile is shuffled separately and then 1 card is taken from each stack and placed facedown in order with the rank I card on the top, rank II in the middle and rank III on the bottom. The remaining Monster cards are returned to the box. The 3 card Monster deck is placed facedown in the middle of the play area. The Adventure deck is shuffled and placed next to the Monster deck. The Upgrade cards are sorted into decks, one for Display Upgrades and one for Storage Upgrades. The side with the cost should be placed face up. Both decks are placed in the middle of the play area. The Employee deck is shuffled and placed facedown next to the 2 Upgrade decks. The Hero deck is shuffled and placed facedown next to the Item Deck. A number of Hero cards equal to the number of players are then drawn and placed faceup in a line. Coins equal to the purse value of the cards are placed on each of the Hero cards. The remaining coins, star tokens and wound tokens are sorted into separate piles and placed within reach of all players. Once this is done, play now begins.

The game is played over a series of rounds. Each round consists of 6 steps. The first step is the Supply step. In this step, the top card of the Monster deck is flipped face up, if it is face down. Players are then dealt 4 item cards each. Each player will then choose 1 of the cards in their hand and draft that card, placing it face down on their shop board. Once each player has done this, the remaining cards in the player’s hand are passed to the player on their left. Players repeat the same process of drafting a card and passing cards until all the cards have been drafted. Once this happens, play moves to the next step.

The second step is the Display step. For this step, each player will take all the cards that they drafted from their Item board into their hand. They will then choose 1 card to place on Display by placing it face down in the display area of their board. Once all players have completed this task, the cards on display are all flipped face up. This takes us to the third step.

The third step is the Shopping step. In this step, players check the number of hearts on the item card on display in their shop. The player with the most hearts will choose first and will take 1 of the heroes from the line of heroes in the middle of the play area, placing it beside their shop board. The player with the next most hearts chooses and completes the same process. This continues until each player has a hero in their shop. It should be noted, when choosing heroes, the player must choose a hero that has at least 1 class icon that matches the item they have on display in their shop. If a player cannot choose a hero with a matching class icon, then they must wait until all the other players have chosen their heroes. They will then choose one of the remaining heroes to enter their shop. If there are more than one player unable to choose a matching class icon hero, then the player with the most hearts will choose first and so on. The player that chooses the last hero will also take the Quest token. Players are then able to sell item cards from their hand to the hero in their shop. To do this, the player must make sure that any item they sell matches the class icon of the hero. To sell an item, the player takes a specific number of coins from the hero’s card equal to the price of the item card, placing the item under the hero card so that the item’s bonuses and abilities are able to be seen. Once this has been done, the item is considered equipped to the hero. Players can continue to sell items, as long as the hero has the money to purchase them and they match at least one of the class icons. It should be noted that the item on display in a player’s shop, can not be sold. Any unspent coins are left on the hero’s card. Once players have finished selling and equipping items, the equipped hero is placed in front of the player’s shop board, representing their shop during the next step. Once this is done, the item cards in each player’s display is returned to the player’s hand.

The fourth step is the Adventure step. In this step, the heroes will face off against the monster. First each hero is randomly dealt a card from the adventure deck. This card may affect the hero’s attack or defense values by applying modifiers to them. It can also apply special effects which are resolved as written in the text. Next starting with the player with the Quest token and continuing in clockwise order, each player will resolve 2 steps. First if the hero’s total attack value combined from items and/or adventure cards meets or exceeds the monster’s toughness value, then the hero has successfully wounded the monster and may place a wound token on the monster card. They will then gain 1 star token. Second, if the player’s total defense value combined from items and/or adventure cards meets or exceeds the monster’s total strength value, then the hero survives the encounter and the player will gain 1 star token. If their defense is lower than the monster’s strength value, then the hero is defeated and the hero card is discarded, along with all the items equipped to that hero and any coins remaining on the card. It should be noted that if none of the heroes are able to wound the monster, then a wound token is placed on the monster anyway. This is to signify that together the heroes were at least able to cause a tiny bit of damage to the monster. Once all the heroes have completed their attacks and defenses, if the monster has a number of wound tokens on it’s card equal to or greater than the total number of players, then it is defeated and discarded. Each hero that survived gains coins equal to the value in treasure chest icon on the bottom of the monster’s card. All the Adventure cards are then shuffled back into the Adventure deck. If there are no more monsters remaining in the deck, then the game ends and players move into scoring. If the monster was not defeated, then each hero that survived will gain coins equal to the value in the coin icon on the bottom of the monster card. All items and adventure cards on the surviving heroes are then discarded and the hero cards are returned to the middle of the play area along with any coins placed on their card from adventures or unspent from shopping. It should be noted that if there were any heroes defeated during this step, a new hero card is drawn from the deck and placed in the middle of the play area with the others in the line. Coins are placed on the new hero cards equal to the card’s purse value.

The fifth step is the Upgrade step. For this step, the top two cards from the Employee deck are placed face up near the Upgrade cards. Starting with the player with the Quest token and continuing in clockwise order, each player may choose to purchase either an Upgrade card or an available Employee card, paying the cards cost in coins to the supply. The purchased card is placed face up next to the player’s shop board. There are 2 types of Upgrade cards; Display and Storage Upgrades. Display Upgrades allow the player to place additional item cards on Display. Storage Upgrades allow the player to place additional cards into storage to be saved for later rounds. It should be noted that each player’s shop may not have more than 1 of each Upgrade card type. Employee cards have special abilities that may optionally be used to help during a particular step of play. Once an Employee card is purchased, a new card is drawn to replace it from the top of the Employee deck. It should be noted that a player’s shop may not have more than 1 Employee card with the same name. Once players have had a chance to purchase an upgrade or employee, the remaining available Employee cards are shuffled back into the Employee deck.

The sixth and final step is the Storage step. In this step, each player must choose one item card from their hand to place in storage, by placing it facedown on their shop board. Any cards remaining in the player’s hand that are not placed on the shop board are then discarded. Once all players have completed this step, the round is over and a new round begins.

The game continues until one of two things happens. If during the Adventure step, there are no more monsters remaining, the game ends and scoring commences. The other way the game can end is if the hero deck is empty when a new hero is to be drawn. In this case the game ends immediately and all the players lose the game. To score, each player will add up their final score by gaining 1 point for each star token they have collected and 1 point for every 10 coins that they have (rounded down). Players compare scores and the one with the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game has a lot of really cool and amazing looking pieces. There are so many different sizes and types of cards. There are the regular sized item, hero, employee and upgrade cards, then there are the smaller euro sized adventure cards as well as the larger tarot sized monster cards. Each different card has a really nice finish to it and the artwork on each is really awesome looking. I especially love the different character portraits found on the hero and employee cards. Each card draws you into the fantasy world of the game and is really rich in theme. The iconography for each card is quite easy to understand and shouldn’t take long to remember what each one means. Another really thematic element that this game excels with is the individual player’s item shop boards. These completely blew me away. Each one has unique artwork that is custom for each board. There are no two boards alike. The thing that really got me about these is that not only does the board have that thematic element of looking like the inside of a fantasy item shop once the board is unfolded and laid out in front of you, but when it’s folded up there’s artwork on the back that looks like the outside of that shop. For me this was over and above what I expected and it really amazed me. Just like each item shop is different, each player board both outside and inside is different. Thematically it’s perfect. The last few pieces included with the game are the quest, coin, star, and wound tokens. These are all thick shiny cardboard and look quite nice. The quest token is a large square token with the initials and artwork of the game’s name found on the box cover. Nothing spectacular but it’s easy to spot on the table. The star tokens and wound tokens are small circles with specific designs for what they stand for. Star tokens have numbered stars and wound tokens have a skull. These get the job done rather nicely. The coins are a bit bigger and come in 3 denominations. Each fits in with the theme of the game and looks nice. I do think however that I may end up upgrading these to metal coins and possibly even upgrading the quest and wound tokens with something a bit more appropriate and thematic than just cardboard. One more thing I’d like to point out about the components that I found quite cool. When I first opened the box and saw this stack of cardboard sheets, I notice that in one corner of the sheet there’s a nice little notch just big enough to get your finger down in so that you could easily pull out the sheets to get to the pieces beneath. Over the years I’ve played tons of different games and not once have I seen such a simple and easy fix to get the punchboards out of the game box. Why hasn’t someone thought of this before. Needless to say, this game really impressed me with the theme, the look and the feel of each and every piece. I can truly say that it’s one of my most favorite games in terms of components.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is really well designed. Virtually every page is full of great looking pictures and plenty of examples. There’s an excellent section that explains each of the different card types in great detail. The book also has a step by step guide to each of the different steps of the game. Each one well written and easily explained. The rules are very stream lined and flow easily from one thought to the next. The book also includes a few variants like an advanced 2 player varian and a reliable heroes variant that does away with the adventure deck and any cards that reference it. There are also some additional rules for playing with more than 4 players. On the back cover, there’s an excellent overview of each step of a round of play. This is an excellent reference, especially when you’re first learning the game. Everything is extremely easy to read and understand. This is one of the best looking and easiest to understand rulebooks that I’ve ever come across. There wasn’t a single concept or rule that I didn’t easily get. I’ve extremely pleased with the overall look and feel of the rulebook. It’s well done.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This has got to be one of the most fun games that I’ve come across in a long time, and it’s an easy game to learn and play on top of that. Over the years I’ve played many different fantasy rpg video games. I always loved stopping in to the local item shop and seeing what kind of loot I could equip my characters with. With this game, I get to feel what it’s like to be on the opposite side of the counter and sell all this cool swag to the would be heroes. I love the card drafting that starts each round. I love looking through my hand and seeing what kinds of cool items I could possibly use. Of course determining what’s going to help the lineup of heroes the most is the key. From there it’s all about finding a way to draw your chosen hero to your store. After that it’s raking in the coinage and equipping the sucker….I mean hero. Once your hero is equipped it’s off to face certain doom against one of a selection of nasty and despicable monsters. If you’re hero can withstand the monsters attack, then they’ll stick around and possibly be back to buy more stuff. If not, well there’s always the next naive hero. Another key to this game is upgrading your shop with upgrades and employees. In many cases these can be the key to making sure you have what you need when you need it to lure that hero and make his coin purse lighter. Needless to say, this is a game that I really, really enjoy. About the only thing that could make it better would be some solo rules or an expansion that lets you play solo. Other than that, there’s not a thing I’d change about the gameplay. As I stated earlier, I love the card drafting. Fans of games like 7 Wonders, Sea of Clouds and Fairy Tale may enjoy the card drafting in this game as well. Fantasy game fans may also enjoy working the other side of the counter like I did in this game. Either way, this is a game that I highly recommend. It’s most definitely made it’s way into my top 10 games. I’m sure most of you will find something to love about it too.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Bargain Quest is a light weight card drafting game where players become item shop owners in a fantasy realm. The game isn’t a very long one. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes, give or take. The components are absolutely amazing. I love the artwork and the player boards are to die for. The rulebook is great too. It’s well written and super easy to understand. The game itself is a whole lot of fun. I love the card drafting and the theme carries over really well too. I think fans of card drafting games like 7 Wonders, Sea of Clouds or Fairy Tale will really enjoy this game. Fantasy game fans should also like the theme and fun in this one as well. The only thing that can improve this game is the addition of some solo rules or an expansion that has a solo variant with it. Either way, this is a game that I highly recommend. It’s one of my top 10 favorite games and is one that I’ll be playing for a long time. Now, can I interest you in a bag of holding or possibly a cat familiar. It’s only had one owner and it’s the purrrfect price.
9 out of 10

 

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

https://www.renegadegamestudios.com/

 

 

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ArtSee Review

ArtSee is a game by J. Alex Kevern, published by Renegade Game Studios. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of curator of their own art gallery. They will be adding new exhibits to their galleries in an attempt to attract visitors and earn prestige. The more prestige that they earn, the more likely that a famous masterpiece will be added to their gallery. In the end, the player with the most prestigious art gallery will be declared the winner.

To begin, the exhibit cards are separated into 2 decks, one for the starting exhibit cards and one for the main exhibit cards. Each deck is then shuffled separately. Each player is then dealt 2 cards from the starting exhibit deck to create their starting gallery. These cards are placed face up and side by side in front of the player. Players are then dealt 3 cards from the same deck to form their starting hand. These cards should remain hidden from the other players until played. Any remaining cards in this deck are then returned to the box. A certain number of cards are then removed from the main exhibit deck, based on the number of players. These removed cards are also returned to the box. The remaining cards in the main exhibit deck are then shuffled together and then split into 2 face down draw piles, which are placed in the middle of the play area. The masterpiece tokens are separated by category and are also placed in the middle of the play area in 4 separate rows, each row designated for a specific category and arranged in numerical order. The prestige tokens are placed near the play area to form the supply. Each player chooses a color and is given a number of visitor pawns in their color based on the number of players. The remaining visitor pawns are returned to the box. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played in a series of turns with each player taking a turn, beginning with the first player. On a player’s turn, they will follow a series of 5 steps. The first step is to play a card. To do this, the player takes an exhibit card from their hand and places it in their gallery face up. They may either add the card to an existing column, or start a new column. If the player chooses to add the card to an existing column, they will place the new card on top of one of the existing columns of cards, making sure that the art pieces from each card in the column are visible. If the player chooses to start a new column, they will place the card either to the left or right of any existing columns. This creates a new column to be able to be added to on later turns. On the second step, the player will welcome visitors. In this step, each of the active player’s opponents will check their galleries to see if they have any columns where the exhibit card on the front of their columns match any of the same categories for the card that the active player just played. Basically this means just looking at the played card and see if any of the colored boxes match any of the colored boxes for the top card of each of their columns. If any of these match, in color not specific art pieces, the opponent may choose to place a visitor from their supply onto their matching exhibit card. For step three, the player may earn prestige. This can be done in two different ways. One way is by checking to see how many visitors are on the exhibit card that was covered up by the exhibit card that was just played. The player will gain 1 prestige for each visitor on that card, removing and returning the visitors to their supply. The other way that prestige can be earned is by checking the direction of the arrow on the exhibit card that was just played. The player then checks the column of cards in that direction and counts the number of art pieces that match the featured category from the played card. The player then gains 1 prestige point for each art piece that matches. Basically this means you look at which way the arrow points and look at the stack of cards in that direction. If the card played was on either end, then the player will look at their opponents closest stack of cards in that direction. They’ll then match up the colored painting block at the bottom of the card with the row of that same color in that stack, earning a point per piece of art. In the fourth step, the player may claim a masterpiece. To do this, the player adds up the prestige that they earned this turn from visitors and matching art pieces. As long as the total is equal to or greater than the requirements to claim the token, then they may take that token from the supply. It should be noted that the player may only claim a masterpiece token that matches the featured category of the exhibit card that they played this turn. Once the token is claimed, it is placed in an empty slot, either between two columns or on either end of the player’s gallery. Basically this means that the player will be placing the token at the top and between two stacks of exhibit cards in their gallery or on one end at the top. One more thing of note, these masterpiece tokens count as an art piece for that category. This means that when an exhibit card is placed in a column next to the masterpiece token and the arrow on that card points towards the token, the player gains an additional prestige if it matches the featured category. For the fifth and final step, the player will draw a card. To do this, the player simply draws a card from either of the two face down draw piles and adds it to their hand. One thing of note, if one of the draw piles becomes empty, the top card of the remaining pile is moved over to the empty pile to make sure that there are always two piles if possible. Once a player completes this final step, play passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues with players taking turns until the end of a player’s turn where both draw piles are empty and all player hands are empty. When this happens, the game is over. Final scoring will then take place. To score, each player will earn prestige equal to the prestige values of each of the masterpiece tokens in their gallery. They also gain bonus prestige based on how many masterpiece tokens that they have of different categories in their gallery. Players total these points and the player with the most prestige is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This games consists of 4 things; exhibit cards, masterpiece tokens, visitor pawns and prestige tokens. The cards have different pieces of art along the top. Each piece of art starts a new column of that color or adds to that color’s column. Along the bottom of the card, there is a person walking through a gallery, a featured category of art and an arrow that points either left or right. The cards have this really unique look to them. The paintings along the top have some really great renditions of real world paintings, with a touch of whimsy. The bottom of the cards have a more surreal look to them. The designs of the people are more shadowed and implied, as opposed to being more life like and real looking. I like the art pieces but the bottom of the cards I found a bit lacking and less interesting to me. The backs of these cards are colored like one of the 4 categories of art, just like the featured category at the bottom of the card on front. This helps the player know which category is featured on the front of the card while choosing a card to draw. The masterpiece tokens are cardboard pieces and also have some of the same whimsical takes on real works of art as the cards. These I like a great deal. Another piece that’s done in cardboard are all the prestige tokens. These come in 5 different denominations, sizes and colors. Each of these is quite nice and is brightly colored to boot. The final pieces for the game are the wooden visitor pawns. These come in 5 different colors that almost match the colors of the prestige tokens, if only those white 1 prestige tokens were black like the visitor pawns or vice versa. Each visitor has a unique color and shape that’s exclusive to that player’s color. These aren’t just normal meeples. They’re a bit smaller and look like an art lover’s head and shoulders. For instance, the black pawns look like a woman with a french beret on. These are really fun and cool looking. Overall I think the game looks really fun and interesting, especially for art lovers. I’m really intrigued by the designs and think that it’s really well done.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is really well designed. Everything from setup to the steps of a player’s turn are all explained in great detail. There’s a really nice section devoted to explaining the different parts of the cards, which is quite helpful. The book has lots of great pictures and a few examples along the way to help make sense of things a bit better. I’ll be honest, a lot of this stuff didn’t make sense to me the first time I read it. Some of the terminology wasn’t exactly spelled out so that you knew just what was being said. After about the second or third time I read through it, it clicked. All this about categories and columns was a bit confusing. Hopefully as I explained the rules, it made a little more sense than what I read did to me the first time. I think if the terms: card stacks or piles had been used instead of columns, it might have made more sense to me. As it is, I do get it now. I just didn’t get it then. The back of the rulebook contains a gameplay reference that includes each step of a player’s turn, the categories of art and the bonus scoring chart for masterpieces. This is a nice reference and after playing a couple of times, it’s a nice thing to have. The first time or two, it didn’t make a lot of sense because it didn’t give a quick explanation of the steps. It just gives a two or three word reference. While I get it now and everything is very clear to me, I’m afraid that new players may find things a bit confusing and hard to understand. As I said, I think some of the terminology should have been changed to more easily explain each step and rule. Overall I don’t think the rules are bad. As I said, I completely understand them now. I just think they could have been a bit better. The look and feel is great. It’s quite short with only 9 pages of rules. That makes it fairly quick to read. For me I think it gets the job done, even if it takes reading two or three times to understand.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Let me be completely honest up front, this is not a game that I thought I would like at all. While I do like looking at paintings and art, this didn’t look like my kind of game. I’m proud to say that I was wrong though. This is my type of game after all. Each turn you’ll be playing cards to earn as much prestige as you can, almost in an engine building mechanic kind of way. As you go further along in the game, you’ll start being able to earn enough prestige to start grabbing those masterpiece tokens. This is basically how you score. Of course you’ll earn more points for having having different categories of masterpiece tokens, so you’ll need to diversify. Basically that’s the game. I know the rules make it sound like it’s a lot harder to figure out than that, but it’s not. You will have to determine which way will earn you more prestige once you’ve played a card. Do you take the prestige that the visitor pawns would provide or do you go for the line of paintings in the adjacent stack of cards that match the featured category. Knowing where and when to place the cards is the key, as well as determining which way will earn the most prestige. Once you get the rules down, it’s not all that hard to remember. There is a bit of luck involved but knowing which category will be featured on the card you draw, based on the color on the back of it, is a great help. While the game isn’t one that’s extremely difficult, it does have plenty of strategy involved. The game looks really great and is fun to play. This is one that I think fans of art galleries and even mild strategy fans will enjoy. I also think set collection fans will enjoy this one as well. Overall this is a game that I would recommend giving a try. I’m glad that I gave it a try, otherwise I would have missed the fun that I’ve had playing it. It wound up being better than I thought it would be.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
ArtSee is a game of set collection and strategy in the world of art museums. The game is rather short and only takes about 30 minutes to play. The artwork is really nice, especially the various paintings on the exhibit cards and the masterpiece tokens. The visitor pawns are really unique and fun and bring a bit more of the art world theme to the game. The rulebook is a bit difficult to understand due to some of the terminology and may require an additional read through or two. However once it clicks, you’ll find you don’t need it for much more than the initial setup and scoring. The game itself is quite fun and while I don’t exactly feel like I’m creating an art museum, I still enjoy the fun of playing cards and earning points. This is a very family friendly game and is one that the kids can enjoy as well. Fans of set collection, mild strategy and even beautiful artwork will most likely enjoy this one. This is one that I would recommend giving a try. It definitely exceeded my expectations, much like the Hippie Mona Lisa did. Love that.
8 out of 10

 

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

https://www.renegadegamestudios.com/

 

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DC Deck Building Game: Rebirth Review (Spoiler Free)

DC Deck Building Game: Rebirth is a game by Matt Hyra and Nathaniel Yamaguchi, published by Cryptozoic Entertainment. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of super heroes from the DC universe as they attempt to complete a series of linked scenarios. They’ll need to move around the city and gain power to defeat the dastardly villains before time runs out. If they’re able to complete the scenarios in time, they’ll be declared the winners.

To begin, each player is dealt 2 random oversized Super Hero cards from which they must choose 1 to keep or players may alternatively choose to play as a specific hero instead. Each player will also take the corresponding standee of their chosen Super Hero, placing it on their Super Hero card, which is placed in front of them. Each player will also take 6 Punch cards, 1 Helping Hand card and 3 Run cards. The Threat Track is placed in the middle of the play area on the appropriate side; either Cooperative or Competitive based on which type of game players have agreed upon. The Threat Track token is placed on the 0 space. The appropriate Scenario Pack is now opened. For the first game, this would be Scenario #1. Players then consult the Scenario card from the pack for any modifications that may be needed to the Threat Track. The Scenario card will also provide the details of which Locations will be used during the game, as well as which side is used. The 5 Location tiles are mixed up and randomly placed in a circle in clockwise order, leaving room for a card to be placed between each tile. It should be noted that when placing the tiles, make sure that the correct side is face up. A Destination Token is placed on each tile, beginning with a 1 at the top of the circle and continuing in numerical order in clockwise fashion. The corresponding stack of Basic cards are placed on each of the Side B Location tiles. Once this is done, the Main Deck and Lineup is created. This is done by combining all the Hero, Villain, Equipment and Super Power cards together. The Super Villain cards are not added until later. The cards are shuffled together and then dealt out into 5 separate face down stacks. The Scenario card is followed for any modifications or additions to the stacks. The Super Villains are then shuffled together and 2 of these cards are added to stacks 2 – 5. Each stack is not shuffled separately before being combined into one stack by stacking stack 5 on the bottom all the way to stack 1 on the top. This completes the creation of the deck. The first 5 cards from the deck are dealt out face up into the lineup, which is between each of the Locations, starting to the right of Location 1 and continuing by placing cards in clockwise order around to the left of Location 1. The remaining cards from the Main Deck are placed near the play area, as are the Weakness cards. For later games, the Campaign Log is checked for any damage to Locations, which are then noted by having Damage or Destroyed tokens on them. Players will now shuffle their decks and draw 5 cards each. Players choose the first player and play now begins.

The game is played over a series of turns with players going back and forth taking turns until either the game is won or lost cooperatively. On a player’s turn they will follow 6 steps. On the first turn of the game, steps 2 – 4 are skipped. Before taking their turn, the player will place their Hero standee on one of the 5 Locations or on one of the 5 Line Up cards. For the first step, the player will perform any start of turn effects, following the instructions. For the second step, if a villain or villains share the same space as the active player’s character standee, then they will attack the active player. The effects are all resolved in order of the player’s choosing. The player may use a card with a Defense ability to avoid the attack . Once used, the player follows any text at the end of the Defense text of the card and gains the bonus for avoiding the attack. A discarded Defense card is placed into the player’s discard pile, while a revealed Defense card is kept in the player’s hand. If the player fails to defend against the attack, they must then perform the action on the Villain’s card, such as discarding a certain type of card. Next for step 3, any Villains not sharing a space with a character will move 1 space towards their destination using the shortest route possible. The villain’s destination is shown in the bottom right hand corner of the card’s artwork. It should be noted that if a villain shares a a space with a character then the villain is unable to move. For Step 4, the player will add the top card of the main deck to the Line Up. Placing it in the slot that has the fewest cards. If there’s a tie, the lower slot number is used. Next in Step 5, the player will play cards from their hand. In the first turn of the game, this step takes place following step 1. The player may play cards in any order that they choose, resolving the text from each card as it’s played. Most played cards will either provide Power or Move. In step 6, these are totaled up and used by the player. Power is the currency of the game and allows the player to buy cards in the space that their character standee is located. Bought cards are then placed in the player’s discard pile. Move is used to maneuver the character from their initial space using 1 Move point for each space moved. The player may combine both Move and Power to move around and buy more cards. It should be noted however that a player may only buy 1 Basic card from each stack during their turn. Players also have the ability to defeat a villain by using Power to pay the villain’s cost, just as if they were buying a card. When a villain is defeated, the player gains any rewards listed on the villain’s card. Defeated villains are destroyed and the card is not placed in a player’s discard pile. Once a player has played all the cards that they wish to play from their hand and finished any movements, attacks or purchases, they will then end their turn.

This brings us to the end of a player’s turn. At this time, the player will announce that they are ending their turn. They will then place any remaining cards in their hand into their discard pile. If there are any end of turn effects, these will happen now. The player then places any cards that they played into their discard pile as well. They will then draw 5 new cards from their deck. If there are no cards in their deck or are not enough to draw 5, their discard pile is shuffled together to create a new draw deck. Play then passes to the next player.

A few things should be noted, as new cards enter the line up from the main deck, villains and super villains will appear. Each time a super villain enters the line up, the threat token is moved up by 1 level on the threat track. This causes the text at this new level to be in effect. Super villains that enter the line up will also make an attack against each player, following the Attack text on their card. Regular villains do not cause the threat level to increase and only make their attacks when in the same space as a player’s hero. Also, some cards contain the Assist keyword on them. What this means is that the player may play this type of card during another player’s turn to give them the benefit from their card. Another keyword of note is Range. These cards will list a number beside the Range keyword. This indicates how far away the card can effect. Each line up slot and location tile is a space. The space that the character’s hero occupies is range 0. Each adjacent space is considered 1 space or range 1. That means that if a player’s hero is on a location tile, the next location tile is range 2 from them. This counts the card in the lineup between the 2 tiles and the next tile, each for 1 space.

The game continues with players moving, playing cards and fighting villains. This continues until either the heroes have completed the scenario, thus winning the game or having lost the game due to the threat track reaching level 5 and not being able to move any further due to there being no more spaces. If either of these happens, the game ends. The players then record any damage on any locations in the game on the campaign log. They will also remove make sure that any cards removed from the campaign are not used in future scenarios. If the player’s won, they will continue with the next scenario. If they lost, they must replay the scenario that they just lost. In this case, any cards removed from the campaign during the lost scenario are returned for replay. If the players win on their first attempt, they will mark the 1 box on the corresponding scenario of the campaign log. If they won on their second attempt, they will mark the 2 box. If they fail both attempts, they must mark the failed box and move on to the next scenario.

COMPONENTS
Like with most deck builders, this game contains a lot of cards. There are a variety of starter cards as well as cards for the main deck that consist of heroes, villains, super powers and equipment cards. It also contains the larger Super Hero cards as well as some basic cards, weakness cards and signature cards. The game also includes standees and bases for each of the 8 super heroes that comes with the game. There are large double sided location tiles, a threat track and threat tiles to be used during the different scenarios. There’s also various tokens that are included with the game. Everything from numbered destination tokens to damage and contained tokens. Each card contains artwork from the DC universe that looks really amazing. The cardboard pieces and boards are all really thick and great quality. The various scenario packs are resealable and contains some very cool surprises and fun stories to discover and play through. As a fan of the DC Deck Building Game, these cards and components have done nothing but reinforce my love for the game. It’s definitely nice to see a more physical form of your character running around the city defeating villains. Needless to say, I really enjoy the look and feel of each piece that comes with this game. It’s a definite step in the right direction if you ask me. One final thing of note, players should be aware that the first edition prints of this game had a minor snafu. When opening the sealed scenario packs, you should be sure that the large number on the pack is facing you. You should pull out the cards slowly and if you don’t see the Rebirth logo you should slide them back in and flip the pack over before removing the cards. That way you don’t spoil any of the surprises. Of course you can always do like I did after realizing there was a mistake. I simply opened the packages under the table and flipped the cards over and reinserted them back into the packs. That way everything would be correct when I opened them. Just something to be aware of.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is very similar to those of the other DC Deck Building Game products. For one, the rules do tend to jump around a bit and aren’t quite as stream lined and easy to find what you’re looking for as I’d like. Some things you almost need a basic understanding of the game if you want to know just how to play this version. The one thing about these games is that each large box is a great jumping on place for new players to give it a go. If the rules are a bit muddled, it can be quite annoying and difficult to really get a feel for the thing. I myself found several times where I would be flipping back and forth in the book, searching for what something meant. For instance, when I was setting up the first game, I didn’t know where to place the threat tile that was to be added to the Threat Track. Did I place it on top of the Threat Track or out to the side and add the restrictions to those on the Threat Track? Ultimately I decided on the latter, but nothing was really clear or explained in the rule book. The thing is, new players may have trouble figuring this one out. To me, that makes the rulebook a bit of a negative blemish to the game. I will say as an avid player of the game, I am thankful for the added variants for solo play and for a competitive mode. It also mentions how to combine this game with the other DC Deck Building games, especially for the Multiverse box set. For me, the rules were only a mild annoyance but for new players it could be a huge obstacle to overcome. Just something to be aware of.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Let me go ahead and say this from the start, I absolutely love playing this game. I thought that I liked the DC Deck Building Game before, but this version absolutely takes the cake. Everything that I loved about the original game is there, buying cards, defeating bad guys and building up my deck. The thing that makes this version even better is that for once, I feel like the purchases I make and the villains I beat actually matter. On top of that, I felt more like an actual hero as my character is moving around the city from location to location trying to either defeat or at least delay the villains long enough to get some help from an ally. I like that each hero has their own signature cards to make them a bit more unique from the other heroes. I also like how that so many things carry over from scenario to scenario. If a location is damaged or even destroyed, it can cause some major repercussions in the next scenario. I also like that now I’m able to see my hero as they move around the city. Before the game was merely about creating an efficient deck to help you wipe out the villains and score the most points. Now it’s more about stopping the villains to beat the scenario. For me this game has just taken a major leap forward in terms of improvements. Fans of any of the DC Deck Building Games will absolutely love this version, especially those players that like playing solo or enjoy more legacy style games. I personally have enjoyed this one a great deal. Let me tell you, it can be quite difficult at times, so don’t expect a cake walk. It will really challenge you and your ability to plan strategically. For this reason, fans of strategy games will enjoy the challenges that this one provides. Overall this is a great game. It is one that I would highly recommend. I love it and can’t wait to give it another go with some new characters.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
The DC Deck Building Game: Rebirth is a scenario driven game that capitalizes on the Cerberus game system found in several games and expansions from Cryptozoic Entertainment. It provides several ways to play and can also be combined with other products in the DC Deck Building Game universe. The game has an average play time with most game sessions lasting around an hour for most of the scenarios. Some scenarios will take a little longer. The cards and components are really great. As always, I love the artwork and all the pieces to this one. Miniatures or Mighty Meeples would have been nice, but I don’t mind the standees. The rulebook is a bit difficult especially for new players. Even us veteran players can have a bit of trouble understanding certain elements of the game. Just something to be aware of. The game itself leans towards the new hotness on the market, legacy games. While this isn’t exactly a legacy game, it does incorporate elements of the legacy game into the results of each scenario. Each scenario brings in new elements and gameplay that will truly enhance your love for the game. It did for me. This is one that fans of any of the DC Deck Building games should absolutely love. The strategy of moving characters around and trying to defeat the villains in the most efficient way will appeal to strategy fans. For me, this is more than just another entry into the Cerberus system, it’s a whole new way to play. This is a game that I would highly recommend. It is definitely one of my favorite new games of this year. It’s Super!
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/

 

 

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