Pyramids Review

Pyramids is a game by Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert, published by IELLO. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players will be transported back to Ancient Egypt where they will be given the task of creating a grand Necropolis, a place of eternal sleep and glory, made up of pyramids, obelisks and tombs. Players will need to select the best stones and lay them in the most optimal patterns if they wish to construct the most glorious Necropolis. The player that can best do this will be declared the winner.

To begin, the God tiles are placed in the middle of the table in ascending order. In a 2 or 3 player game only those tiles numbered 1 – 4 are used. For games with 4 or 5 players all 5 tiles are used. It should also be noted that if playing with only 2 players, one of the 4 God tiles are randomly chosen and set aside. The Construction cards are shuffled and one card is dealt face down to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down near the God tiles. The first player is chosen and is given the First Player token. They also take the deck of Construction cards. Play now begins.

The game is played over 10 rounds. Each round consists of phases; stock the quarry, select a God tile, select a pair of Construction cards, construct your Necropolis and end of the round. The first phase is to stock the quarry. In this phase, the first player takes the deck of Construction cards and deals out a pair of cards for each player which are placed in side by side columns. The player must make sure to keep the columns separated from each other.

The next phase is to select a God tile. In this phase, beginning with the first player, each player will choose one of the available God tiles and place it face up in front of themself. Each God tile has a number that indicates turn order and displays what portions of the Necropolis may be constructed by the player that chooses it.

The third phase is to select a pair or construction cards. In this phase, the player that has the lowest number starts first. Each player will now choose a column of Construction cards and add them to their hand. Once a player takes the pair of cards, they will move immediately to the next phase. After they’ve completed the next phase, the next player in ascending order will then follow the same directions.

The next phase is to construct your Necropolis. In this phase, the player places the cards that they have in their hand to construct the edifices based on the God tile that they possess. The player is only allowed to place one Construction card for each edifice on their turn. It should be noted however that a player does not have to place cards on the Obelisk or Tomb. This is optional and only if their God tile allows it. Once the player has completed this phase, play passes to the next player who then performs the previous phase and this phase in order. This is done until each player has completed both phases.

It should be noted that when a Construction card is placed, it may not be removed, rearranged or exchanged for any reason. When placing a card in the Pyramid, it must be adjacent to another card. This means that if the current stage has not been completed, then the card must go to either the right or left of a previously placed card. If the stage has been completed, then the player must play it in the next stage. When constructing the Obelisk, the first card that is placed must be positioned to the right of the player’s pyramid. As cards are added to the obelisk, the added card is placed so that it covers the top half of the previously placed card. When constructing the Tomb, the player simply places the cards face down in a pile below the pyramid.

The last phase is the end of round phase. This phase takes place once all players have completed the last 2 phases and have placed cards in their Necropolis. In this phase, the God tiles are returned to the middle of the play area. When playing with 2 players, the tile that was randomly discarded is put back into the line and the next number in order is removed. If the 4 is put back, then the 1 is removed. Players then check their hand to see how many cards they have. If a player has more than 1 card, they must discard any extra cards face up to the box. The First Player token is then passed to the next player in turn order and a new round begins.

The game continues until the end of round 10. At this time final scoring occurs. First all cards left in a players hand are discarded and each player’s tomb is revealed. Each player gains points for each edifice which is scored separately, as well as for Glyphs in the correct edifice. The pyramid scores for each of the 5 stone colors by counting the largest number of orthogonally connected stones of that color. They gain 1 point for each stone of that connection, as well as gaining 1 point for each stone in their longest connection. Players can gain a bonus for having each color earn at least 3 points. The obelisk scores for the color that is present in the most stages. They gain a certain amount of points for the number of stages that that color is present in. The tomb scores for each player that has the majority of a certain colored stone. Players gain 5 points for each majority that they have. Glyphs score by being in the correct edifice, earning 2 points for each correct placement. Players add up their points and the player with the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game has some nice pieces inside a cool looking magnetic close box. There are 5 God tiles that show which portions of a player’s Necropolis can be built on during a player’s turn, as well as naming a particular Egyptian God. These are made of thick cardboard and look pretty nice. I’d have liked them a little better if there had actually been a little picture or something depicting the God associated with the tile. The first player token is also made of thick cardboard and consists of 2 pieces that must be put together to form a cool looking pyramid. This is actually pretty nice looking. The game also comes with a really nice scorepad for quickly scoring each player’s Necropolis. This is very helpful and has lots of pages. I really like having that as it makes things a lot quicker during scoring. Finally there are the Construction cards and the 5 player aid cards. The player aid cards have references for how scoring is done which is a nice reminder during play. The Construction cards have a really gorgeous looking design on the back. The front of the cards have several different stone sizes on them. Each stone is in one of 5 different colors. There’s also a portion of a pyramid on the card. When placed together it makes the cards look like they’ve created a pyramid or obelisk, depending on which place the cards were placed. There are also special glyphs on some of the stones to score more points. Once the game is over and the cards have all been placed on the table, they look pretty cool. Overall it’s not bad. I will say that it’s not exactly what I was expecting but it’s still pretty good looking.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this one is really great. It’s small enough that it fits perfectly inside the box. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book. Each of the different elements of the game is explained in great detail. Gameplay is also explained extremely well. There’s even a really nice section dedicated to clarifying each of the different God tiles for different numbers of players. Everything is easy to read and understand. I didn’t see anything that should cause a problem. I like all the thematic pictures and elements of the book that help it fit in well with the game. Overall I like how well the book looks and feels. I couldn’t find anything to complain about.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
I love Egypt and everything associated with it. I love the sculptures and architecture, as well as the beautiful artwork. I love reading about it’s history. Heck, I even took some Egyptian History classes at the University. Needless to say, my hopes were pretty high for this game right out of the gate. Basically this game is all about card drafting and pattern building. What you do each round is simply draft a God tile and then a pair of Construction cards. Your God tile will then determine what you can build on your turn using the cards you just drafted and the one in your hand. You’ll want to make sure that when you place a card in your pyramid, that you connect as many same colored blocks as possible. That way when you’re scoring at the end of the game, you wind up with as many points as possible. For your obelisk, you simply want to get as many levels as you can with the same color. Of course placing the right glyphs in the right edifice will also net you some points. In a lot of cases, the tomb is a toss up, unless you’re just completely paying attention to every card that your opponent takes and every one that they place in their Necropolis. There’s a little bit of strategy, but not a whole lot. In some ways, this game reminds me of Dream Home which the kids and I simply adore. That said, it’s not quite to the level of fun as Dream Home is, but it’s still pretty good. That’s not to say that this is a bad game or even an unfun game. I just feel that with so many other games with the same mechanics, it might get lost in the crowd. Fans of card drafting games like Dream Home, might enjoy this one. For me, it’s pretty good. I recommend giving this one a try. You just might like it.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Pyramids is a light weight game of card drafting and pattern building. It plays pretty quickly. Most game sessions last around 20-30 minutes. It’s pretty simple and makes for a nice filler. There’s a little bit of strategy involved but nothing too hard. The artwork is pretty nice for the most part. I still kind of wish that the Egyptian Gods had been represented at least a little bit on the God tiles. However even without that, it looks pretty cool by the end of the game. Fans of card drafting games like Dream Home might enjoy this one. It’s very simple and plays pretty quickly. I don’t think it’s going to appeal to every one, but most people should enjoy it. Even though it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, I still found it to be pretty good. I would recommend giving this one a try. Ra commands it!
8 out of 10

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

www.iellogames.com

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Chops Review

Chops is a game by Craig Nybo, published by Quirky Engine Entertainment. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players will take on the role of rockers trying to form their own band. They will play gigs to earn money and the ever important BUZZ. They’ll have to be careful as Fate and their rivals can halt their rise to the top. In the end the band with the most BUZZ will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area. The different denominations of Cashola are placed in stacks on their respective places on the board. The Venue cards are separated from the rest of the deck. They are then shuffled and placed face down on the Venue space on the board. The remaining cards form the Market deck which is then shuffled. Each player is then dealt 5 cards from the Market deck. The remaining cards are placed face down on the Market space on the board. If a player has any Fate cards in their hand, these are randomly placed back into the Market deck and a new card is dealt to the player. Once all players have a hand of cards with no Fate cards in it, the Market deck is shuffled one more time. The BUZZ guitar picks are placed in a pile on the BUZZ pit area of the board. The top 4 cards of the Venue deck are dealt out onto the 4 Street spaces marked Venue. Each player is given $500 in Cashola. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. Each round a player will take their turn consisting of 3 actions. There are several actions that a player may take. I’ll briefly discuss each one. First, a player may play a gig. Only 1 gig is allowed to be played on a player’s turn, unless they have an Amp Up card that states otherwise. To play a gig, the player simply selects one of the Venue cards from the Street and adds up their band’s CHOPS rank, applying any modifiers from other cards in play. Other players are allowed to play Rivalry or Amp Up cards either before or during a band’s gig. As long as the band’s total CHOPS rank is equal to or greater than the Venue’s required CHOPS rank, the gig is played and the player collects the corresponding amount of Cashola from the bank. They also collect BUZZ guitar pieces as noted on the Venue card. The player then keeps the Venue card and draws a new one from the deck to replace it with. It should be noted that each Venue has House Rules which should be read before taking a gig.

Another action that may be taken is to hire a musician. This is done by choosing a musician card from either the Hang or the player’s hand and paying their Hire rate to the bank. The Musician card is then placed in front of the player alongside the other members of the player’s band. A player is only allowed to have 5 members in their band. It should be noted that each musician has their own baggage, which are special rules that apply to that musician and can affect the rest of the player’s band.

Another action is to play an Amp Up card or a Rivalry card. This is done by simply playing an Amp Up or Rivalry card from the player’s hand that is noted to be played as an action on the card itself. The player then reads the text aloud and follows the rules. It should be noted that Rivalry cards are played on a band but may be played on the player’s own band if they so choose.

Yet another action a player may take is to break one of their musician’s instruments to get rid of a Rivalry or Fate card. If a musician’s specialized instrument is smashed, the card is removed from the band member and placed in the discard pile. The band member then switches to their standard instrument. If the musician’s standard musical instrument is smashed, the band member is turned sideways and may not play any gigs with the band as they are now instrumentless. It should be noted that if a band member is forced to sit out a gig for any reason, they become demoralized. The player must roll the die to see if they stay in the band. If the player rolls a 1, the musician leaves the band. Other players can recruit the demoralized musician. Interested players are allowed to roll the die. The highest roll is then able to recruit the musician.

Also as one of a player’s 3 actions, the player may replace a broken musician’s instrument by paying $200 to the bank. The player then turns the musician card right side up. They are now able to play gigs with the band. Also as an action, a player may buy a specialized musical instrument that corresponds with one of their band members. To do this the player chooses a card from their hand or from the CHOPS shop and pays the market value on the card to the bank. The player then places the specialized instrument card beneath the corresponding musician card. If the musician was turned sideways because they had smashed their standard instrument, the card is turned right side up and now gains both the specialized musical instrument as well as their standard instrument.

Another action that a player can take is to place a musician from their hand into the Hang. This allows them to then draw a new card from the Market deck. Also as an action, a player can discard an Amp Up or Rivalry card from their hand and draw a new card from the Market deck. Also as an action, a player may fire a musician from their band and place them into the Hang, freeing up space to recruit new musicians.

The last action a player can take is to pawn a specialized instrument. To do this, the player simply takes a specialized musical instrument card either from their hand or from a musician in their band, and places it into the CHOPS shop. The player then collects the market value of the card in Cashola.

If a player chooses not to take any actions, they may take a day job. This allows the player to skip their turn and collect $100 plus $50 for every musician in their band from the bank.

Once a player has performed their 3 actions, they mus end their turn by putting up the universal sign of Rock and Roll and saying “Rock on!” Play then passes to the next player.

It should be noted that players also have several free actions that they may take during their turn, which does not count against their 3 turn actions. These free actions may even be taken during another player’s turn. A player may play a free play Amp Up or Rivalry card. They may smash a musician’s instrument during a gig by turning the musician card sideways. They may pawn a musician’s standard instrument by turning the musician card sideways and then collecting $150. They may Sell Out by trading in BUZZ and collecting $100 for every BUZZ discarded to the bank. Also of note are Fate cards. When these cards are drawn from the Market deck, they are immediately played. These cards will then affect all players. If a Fate card is drawn and played, it does not count as a player’s turn action.

The game continues until the last Venue card is placed face up on the Street. At this point, the game ends immediately. Players gain BUZZ rewards for several different things, such as having 5 members in their band, or playing the most gigs. For more information on BUZZ rewards, check the rule book. Players then add up all their BUZZ from their BUZZ guitar picks. The player with the most BUZZ wins and is declared the Top Rocker.

COMPONENTS
This game has a lot of really rockin’ parts. First off there’s the BUZZ tokens that are brightly colored guitar picks. These are very thematic and look absolutely amazing. I’d have never thought of using picks as tokens but what a cool idea. I like the artwork on these as well. Next there are the cards. There are quite a lot of cards included with this one. They are really great too. The artwork on each one is really amazing. The look and feel of each is very thematic, especially when it comes to the various Venues, musicians and instruments. The finish and thickness on the cards is really nice as well. Of course the game also comes with a die. Pretty much your normal every day die. Nothing special. Next I need to mention the insert. It’s ok. It’s got plenty of room for all the tokens and cards but it feels like there’s too much room inside the box, especially when it comes to the cards. There are dividers molded into the insert but it feels like they’re a bit too far apart to adequately separate the different card types and keep them from flying around in the box. Then there’s the board. This is also ok. I like the fonts chosen for the board, but it feels like the board is a bit too subdued. With this game being about Rock and Roll, I’d have liked a little more color and life to the board. I think this could have been a little more thematic and appropriate, however I’m not gonna complain too much. After all, most of the board is covered with cards anyway. Finally I come to my biggest gripe, paper money. I really don’t like paper money. It’s just too flimsy and easy to tear up. While the artwork and colors are nice, I really wish that something different had been chosen instead. I get what the designer was thinking and thematically it makes more sense to use money that looks more like money, still though I’m not a fan of it. My few minor gripes aside, the game as a whole looks really nice and thematic. As long as you’re ok with those issues, you’ll like it overall.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook looks good. There are lots of great looking pictures throughout the book. Unfortunately there are no examples of gameplay. Every card type is explained in great detail including how to use them and what they do. There’s a simple breakdown of a player’s turn that includes turn actions and free actions, as well as the other aspects of a turn. The one thing that I found a bit off is that you really have to go looking into the different card types to get to the real nitty gritty of how to perform each action properly. While the breakdown is nice, it doesn’t really explain each action in enough detail. I found myself hopping back and forth from page to page to find what I was looking for each time, at least for the first game or two. Not a really big deal, but I would have preferred a bit more streamlined rules. I will say that the reference on the back cover is quite nice though. Once you’ve got the rules down, it really helps show you the different actions, both turn and free, that you can take on your turn. It also shows the different BUZZ rewards that a player can earn. Overall, it’s not bad and everything is covered pretty well. I didn’t find anything hard to read or understand. Like I said, once you play through a game or two it won’t really be a problem anyway.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This game has several flaws as far as components and rules, however the gameplay isn’t one of them. It’s actually a pretty solid game that really gives you the feeling of being in a Rock band, or at least managing one. In a lot of ways, this game is what I wanted Rockband Manager to feel like. Each musician is incredibly unique and has a life all their own. Some of them will really make you think twice before throwing down your money to add them to the band. I really like that you can make a band of any type. You want a band full of singers, have at it. You want 3 drummers and 2 bases, go for it. You can pretty much do what you want, which is actually quite cool. As you start venturing out into the music scene, you’ll start playing gigs to make some hard earned money. Some venues are simple and fun, while some you really have to play the odds because it might mean the death of some of your band members. I like that each venue has it’s own feel that really adds to the theme of the game. The random Fate cards are a nice way to really shake things up as well. You never know when one will come up so it’s not like you can really prepare for it. Kind of like real life. I will say that I’m a bit on the fence about the Amp Up and especially the Rivalry cards. These tend to remind me of playing Munchkin. Munchkin is one of those games that either you love or hate. For me, it’s depends on who I’m playing it with. With the right players, Muchkin is fun. The same can be said for this one. If you have players that enjoy the chaos brought about by the Amp Up and Rivalry cards, then you’ll like this one as well. In a way, I’m sure that there will be some comparisons to Munchkin and I get it. That said, this one is a lot more thematic and doesn’t rely as heavily on chaos as Munchkin does. I actually like this one quite a lot. Since I brought it up, I’d say that fans of Munchkin might enjoy this one. Players that wanted more out of their game of Rockband Manager will be very happy with this one. I find it to fit the theme really well. It’s full of Rock and Roll goodness.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Chops is a medium to light weight game of Rock and Roll goodness. It’s fairly quick and doesn’t take too long at all. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes or so. Of course with more players it takes a bit longer. For the most part, the components are great. The artwork is really fun and thematic and the game is pretty much spot on. That said, I’m not a fan of the insert, which seems to be a bit too wide to contain the cards. I also don’t like the paper money, which is actually more thematic. It’s just a personal choice. I also wish the board had been a bit livelier and more colorful but it’s really just personal choices there too. The rulebook gets the job done, but it’s not as stream lined as I’d have liked for it to be. The game itself is actually quite fun, even with the minor issues that I’ve stated. The game gives you an actual feel for what it’s like to be a band manager without having to set foot in some greasy stink hole of a venue. In a lot of ways this is the game that I wanted Rockband Manager to be. Fans of that game or that wanted more from it, should most definitely enjoy this one. The game also has a good bit of chaos through the use of many of the cards. In this way, it reminds me of Munchkin. For that reason alone, fans of Munchkin may enjoy this one too. Overall, the game has a really great theme that is conveyed quite nicely. The game is pretty much family friendly and is short enough that even the younger players won’t get bored with. I would recommend giving this one a try, especially if you’re looking for a good band manager themed game. I like it. Now, Rock On!
8 out of 10

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

http://www.quirkyengine.com/

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Ninja Taisen Review

Ninja Taisen is a game by Katsumasa Tomioka, published by IELLO. It is for 2 players. In this game, players take on the role of leaders of a peaceful village that has finally reached the end of a peace treaty that lasted for hundreds of years. Their forces have been gathered and are set to invade the village of their enemy. In the end, the player that can complete their task of invasion and thus secure the village for themselves or can survive the other village’s onslaught, will be declared the winner.

To begin, the Path Tiles should be placed in the middle of the play area with villages on either end and the tiles ascending in order based on the dots for one village symbol. Players choose one of the 2 villages and take the corresponding ninjas. The Shogun is placed face up below the player’s village. The remaining ninjas are shuffled and randomly placed face up in an overlapping row with 3 ninjas being added on top of the Shogun, 3 ninjas below the 1st path tile, 2 below the 2nd and 1 below the 3rd. The first player is chosen and receives the 3 dice. Play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. Each round players go back and forth, taking turns. Each turn consists of 2 phases; Ninja Movement and Combat. The first phase is the Ninja Movement phase. The player first rolls the 3 dice. They then choose a die to determine their ninja’s movement. The die color corresponds with the color of the ninja’s combat icons, while the number of the die tells how far the ninja may move. The player then chooses one of their ninjas that match the color of the chosen die. They may only choose ninjas that have 2 or less other ninjas on top of them. They then move their chosen ninja down the path towards the other village the number shown on the die. If there are other ninjas on top of their chosen ninja, they get carried along without changing the order of the cards. If the ninjas stop on a tile that already has more of their ninjas on it, they simply stack the new ninjas on top of the ones already there.

The next phase is the Combat phase. If during the previous phase, a player’s ninjas stop on a tile that contains enemy ninjas on it, combat will take place until only one stack of ninjas remain. Only the ninja on the top of the stack will battle at a time. First player’s check the combat icons, if they are different, the following resolves the battle: rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper and paper beats rock. Shoguns are always considered to have the same symbol as the opposing ninja. The losing ninja is removed from the game. If the ninjas have the same icons, then the ninja with the highest strength wins. After each victory that a Shogun wins, the Shogun’s strength is temporarily reduced by the same amount as the ninja they just defeated. Again, the losing ninja is removed from the game. If both ninjas have the same combat icon and the same strength, they tie. This means that both ninjas are then forced to move one tile back towards their own villages. If ninjas are fighting on a village and they are both tied, the ninja that can’t retreat loses the fight and is removed from the game. Combat continues as long as there are still ninjas on both sides of the battlefield. Players then compare the next ninja card on top of their opposing stacks. It should be noted that in some cases, a ninja that is forced to retreat can trigger a new combat. In this instance, the combat already in progress should be resolved before resolving the new battle. Once there are no more ninjas opposing each other on the battlefield, the combat phase ends. Any Shoguns remaining on the field are then restored to their original strength of 4.

Once the Ninja Movement and Combat phases have been resolved for the player’s chosen die, the phases are then repeated if the player chooses to use another unused die. The player’s turn ends once all 3 dice have been used or a player decides to stop using any more dice. The player then gives their opponent the dice and they take their turn following the same set of phases. It should be noted that on a player’s turn, they must use at least 1 die before ending their turn.

The game continues with players taking turns until one of two events occurs. If all of one player’s ninjas have been eliminated, the player that still has ninjas remaining on the battlefield is the winner. A player can also win if one of their ninjas is on their enemies village at the end of their turn.

COMPONENTS
This game comes with some really nice looking pieces. First off there are 3 brightly colored dice, one for each color; red, green and blue. I really like the fancy design of the numbers on the dice. It has a very distinct oriental flair to it. Next there are the path and village tiles that make up the battlefield. They are made of thick cardboard and once they’re put together they look extremely nice. You get a real nice panorama from village to village. You get a really great sense of the theme with these. Finally there are the cards; 10 for each player. The artwork is a little unusual but rather interesting in the same way. Unfortunately, the artwork on the box cover does not make it’s way inside the game. While the different ninja designs are quite nice, it is still a bit misleading. Don’t get me wrong, I’m good with the interior artwork. I’m just not as thrilled as I would have been with the box artwork having been on the cards. Also the game comes with 2 player aid cards that shows the rock, paper, scissors icons and which one beats which. All in all, I really like the theme and style of the game. I think the artwork is nice and the pieces look really great together. Not quite a homerun, but pretty darn close.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this one is very good. There are plenty of great pictures and examples throughout the book. There’s even an example of a game turn with step by step references and pictures. All the different elements of the game are explained in really great detail, as is the set up and the rules of gameplay. Everything is extremely easy to read and understand. I couldn’t really find anything to complain about with the book. Overall the rules are laid out well and everything looks great.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really nice, fun, little filler game. It’s a little bit like war and a little bit like rock, paper, scissors. It even utilizes the rock, paper, scissors mechanic. Basically it’s all about positioning your ninjas in the best way based on the results of your dice roll. You really have to think about which of your ninjas will face off against your opponents. It’s a little bit strategic and you will need to keep not just the icons but also the numbers of each ninja in mind as you move them on the path. Of course sometimes, you’ll just end up with a bad roll and no matter what you do, you’re gonna lose ninjas. If I had anything negative to say about the game, it would probably be that. Bad rolls are gonna happen and with a game that has some aspects of luck involved like this one, it’s gonna happen more times than you’d care for it to. Still, the game is so fast, fun and quirky that I can’t help but like it. It’s pretty simple to play and easy enough for even younger players to enjoy. Fans of light weight card games should really enjoy this one. It’s small enough that it can be carried very easily and has a fairly small footprint on the table or whatever playing surface you play on. I definitely recommend giving this one a try. It’s a lot of fun in a small package.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Ninja Taisen is a light weight card game that utilizes the paper, rock, scissors mechanic in a new and fun way. It’s really easy to play and doesn’t take a long time either. Most game sessions last around 15-20 minutes. It’s a great little filler that is fun for both older and younger players. It’s compact and doesn’t take up a lot of room, making it easy to take and play almost anywhere. There is a little bit of strategy to this one and it also has a bit of luck involved. Fans of light weight card games should enjoy this one. The components are really nice, however the artwork on the box doesn’t exactly match up with the cards inside. This may throw a few folks off, but it doesn’t take away from the fun of the game itself. It’s just something to be aware of. Overall, I really enjoy the fun and quirkiness of this game. It’s one that I would definitely recommend giving a try. Ready, FIGHT!
8 out of 10

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

www.iellogames.com

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DC Deck Building Game: Crossover Pack 5 – The Rogues Expansion Review

DC Deck Building Game: Crossover Pack 5 – The Rogues is an expansion for The DC Deck Building Game by Matt Hyra and Nathaniel Yamaguchi, published by Cryptozoic Entertainment. It is for 2-5 players. This expansion adds lots of new cards and Super Villains to fight with, much like in the Forever Evil set.

For more information on the many different box sets that this product can be used with, please check out the link below.

Now before I actually go into what this adds to the game, let me give you a brief synopsis of how the game is played. Each player starts with a deck of 10 cards; 7 punch cards and 3 vulnerabilities and a starting hero, or in this case villain, that they’ll be playing as. They will shuffle these up and deal themselves 5 cards. Each turn the player will play their cards to gain power to be able to buy cards from the lineup or to try and defeat the super villain or in this case super hero from the deck. They’ll be trying to gain points and power up their decks to make them stronger. Their starting hero/villain gives them a special power that helps them on their turn, usually depending on the cards they played. Once the last card from the Super Villain/Super Hero deck is defeated, the game is over and the player with the most points from the cards and victory points they gained is the winner. That’s pretty much it.

So, what does this expansion add as far as the game goes. Well to begin with, there are 6 new oversized Super Villains based on the Flash’s Rogue’s Gallery that the player can use as their starting Villain, much like in the Forever Evil set that I mentioned earlier. Fans of the CW show will recognize many of the villians, including Captain Cold, the Trickster, Heat Wave and the Weather Wizard. There is also a 8 card Super Hero deck for the players to battle against that focuses on the Speedsters of the DC universe, including Max Mercury, Impulse and of course Wally West and the Flash himself. Also included are 23 new cards for the main deck that center around the Flash’s supporting cast as well as new equipment and powers for the Villains.

Setting up the game with this expansion is fairly simple. Players choose a Rogues super villain card. They should then choose one of the main box sets for the DC Deck Building Game. I personally chose the Forever Evil set as it made more sense. Players take the main deck and shuffle it. The deck is then split in half. The main deck cards from the expansion are shuffled into one of the stacks. That stack is then placed on top of the other one. The Super Hero cards that the players will battle against are placed in cost order from 8 to 15, with 8 placed on top. The rest of the rules for setup and playing the game remain the same.

It should be noted that this expansion introduces a new Keyword that is found on many of the cards and is on each of the Rogues Super Villain oversized cards. That keyword is Teamwork. This means that during a player’s turn, they can play the top card of any of their foe’s decks. Once the card leaves play, it is returned to the top of it’s owner’s deck. For the Super Villain cards, when Teamwork is used, that foe gains 1 victory point from the pool. This only happens when the Super Villain’s effect is used, not from cards in the main deck. Another thing that should be noted is that the new cards in the main deck do not have victory point values on them, instead they give the player points when they are bought or gained. This is noted by a gold band text box on each of the main deck cards.

COMPONENTS
As I’ve mentioned in the overview, the expansion includes several new cards for the main deck, as well as new super heroes to fight and oversized Super Villains to play as. The artwork on each card is great and looks ripped right from the comics. I love the look of each one. I like that there are different equipment and super power cards that coincide with the different villains to help them out. There’s also supporting cast members like Iris West and Patty Spivot included as well. The cards are very sturdy and compliment any of the boxed sets nicely. Thematically the cards are just what you’d expect for the Flash’s Rogue’s gallery set. The cards work well together and look amazing. Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the look and feel of this expansion.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this expansion is a simple rules card. It is the size of the oversized super villain cards. It basically explains how to add the expansion to any boxed set to be able to play, as well as explaining the new features and keyword that this expansion focuses on. There’s a couple of specific card clarifications to help understand some tricky wording on a few of the cards which is a nice addition. No pictures or examples included but that’s fine. The card does a more than adequate job of explaining everything. I find it’s great for keeping the expansion separate from the rest of my other sets and cards. Overall it gets the job done.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Let me just start by saying, the Flash is my favorite DC super hero and the DC Deck Building Game is one of my favorite deck builders on the market. That said, you can expect that my love for this expansion was already gonna be high. Yes, I love it. I love the Rogue’s gallery and I’m so happy that an expansion was made focusing on this part of the DC universe. I’m especially happy to see the Trickster as a playable character. I’ve loved the character since I saw him played by Mark Hamill on the old Flash TV series. There’s definitely a lot of love put into this pack. But enough about me, how does it play? As I’ve mentioned, the new keyword for this set is Teamwork. The rules mention that the Rogues aren’t the most powerful villains around that’s why they have to team up to beat a super hero. Thematically, it makes perfect sense. By themselves, they aren’t too powerful. However as a team, they’re unstoppable. I like that each time the Teamwork attribute is used, it rewards the opponent whose deck was chosen to play a card from. Kind of like sharing the loot among your fellow compatriots. I have to say that I thought the idea of giving Victory Points during the game instead of at the end would be weird and make no sense. However you’ll need those points to use certain card’s effects to the fullest. After playing it a couple of times, I realize why you get those points now. I really like the expansion a lot. Fans of the DC Deck Building Game will love this expansion. Flash fans will find it a must buy. I highly recommend it myself. It’s a must have expansion in my opinion.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
DC Deck Building Game: Crossover Pack 5 – The Rogues is an expansion for The DC Deck Building Game. It adds 6 new playable Super Villains, 8 new Super Heroes to battle and 23 new cards for the main deck focused on the characters and villains from the Flash and his Rogue’s Gallery. Play time isn’t really affected much. Most game sessions still last around 30-45 minutes depending on the number of players. The cards are great. I absolutely love the look of the artwork on each one. Thematically everything really works. The expansion adds a new keyword that works well with the villains in this set. I like the look and feel that the expansion adds. I like how the Teamwork ability works and the bonuses given to other players as well. Thematically it makes sense. I really like all that this expansion brings to the table and find it to be an absolute must have. Fans of the DC Deck Building Game and especially the Flash will love to add this to their collection. I highly recommend it. Try to catch a copy, before it’s gone like a bolt of lightning.
9 out of 10

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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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Kingdomino Review

Kingdomino is a game by Bruno Cathala and Cyril Bouquet, published by Blue Orange Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of Lords of a budding new kingdom. They must explore new territories as they try to add the best spots to their kingdom. Of course, their opponents are trying to do the same thing and might snatch up those places before they can. In the end, the player that can build the best kingdom and earn the most points will be declared the winner.

To begin, players choose a color and take the corresponding colored castle. They are also given a starting tile which they place in front of themself. They then will place their castle on the starting tile. The dominoes are shuffled face down and then randomly placed back inside the tray of the box. Depending on the number of players, a certain amount of dominoes are removed from the tray, not to be used during the game. Each player is given a wooden king of their chosen color. In a 2 player game, each player gets 2 of these. A number of dominoes are then drawn from the tray based on the number of players. For 2 and 4 players, 4 dominoes are drawn. In a 3 player game, only 3 dominoes are drawn. The dominoes are then placed face down in a column from lowest to highest number. Once the column is determined, the dominoes are flipped over to their landscape side. A player takes all the colored kings into their hand and shuffles them up. One at a time, a king is drawn out of the player’s hand. Each time a player’s king is drawn, they will then place it on one of the face up dominoes. Once all the dominoes have been chosen and kings placed on each one, a new column of dominoes is chosen by drawing new ones from the tray and repeating the same process as earlier. Once completed, play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. Each round players will place dominoes into their kingdom. The order in which this is done is determined by the position of the kings placed previously. Starting with the domino at the top of the column, the player whose king is on that domino now retrieves their king and places it on one of the dominoes in the new column. They then place the domino they removed their tile from and place it into their kingdom. This continues down the column until all 4 tiles have been placed in kingdoms and new dominoes chosen. A new column of dominoes are drawn just like during setup and a new round begins. It should be noted that as players add dominoes to their kingdom, they must be in a 5×5 grid. Each domino must connect to either the starting tile or to another domino that matches 1 of the lands on it. If there are no matching dominoes or empty spaces around the starting tile, then the domino must be discarded.

The game continues until the last dominoes are lined up. Players then complete 1 final round of placing dominoes. However no new dominoes are chosen as there will be no new column to choose from. Once the last dominoes are placed, the game ends and scoring occurs. Players gain points for each group of connected lands that match. Each square earns the player an amount of prestige points equal to the number of crowns on all the matching and connected lands times the number of squares. For instance if there are 3 squares of connecting forests and two of the squares have a crown on them, then the player would earn 6 prestige points for the forest. Players add up their prestige points for all their territories and the player with the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game doesn’t consist of a whole bunch of pieces. There are 4 colored castles that must be assembled from 4 punchboard pieces. There are 4 small starting squares that each player will place their castle on. There are 8 wooden kings in 4 different colors. Finally there are the stack of dominoes. The cardboard castles are kinda nice looking and pretty easy to put together. The wooden king pieces are really bright colored and look nice. The starter squares and dominoes are all really thick with a glossy finish. They are super sturdy. The box has an insert that actually works with the dominoes and makes it easy to pull them from. The artwork on the dominoes is really nice. It has a kinda cartoony feel to it that should appeal to kids. I have to say that I really like the look and feel of the different pieces. I think overall it’s really well designed and looks light and fun.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is written in 3 different languages; English, French and Spanish. Each set of rules is separated into it’s own section. Each set is only 3 pages long, making it very fast and easy to read over. There are lots of pictures throughout the book, as well as plenty of examples of gameplay. Each page of the book has a nice full color glossy finish to it that looks great. The back cover of the book has a nice reference guide to all the dominoes, telling you exactly how many squares there are of each type of land and how many of each land have crowns on them. For instance, there’s only 1 mine tile that has 3 crowns on it, but there are 21 blank desert tiles. Overall I think the rulebook conveys the rules in a really simple and easy manner. It’s well written and looks really nice. I’m pretty much happy with the overall look.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really fun and simple game. Basically you’re drafting tiles and then placing them in your kingdom as you try to match up the different territories to earn points. This is a quick game that even my daughter enjoyed. You can play a game in like 10 minutes, especially if you’re playing only 2 players. There is a little bit of strategy involved as you’ll have to think about whether you want to be able to go first the next round or to take that bottom domino for the crowns on it. You can block out your opponents and do a little hate drafting but I find it to be more fun to simply try to get the best for your kingdom. The game is very simple and easy to play. After playing through the game once, you’ll most likely want to play it again. My daughter regularly requested to do just that. There are a few variants included in the rules to add a bit more difficulty but it’s still not a difficult game. Fans of tile laying games like Carcassonne should really enjoy this one. I’m not normally a tile laying fan, but the drafting aspect of this one really saves it for me. It’s really a nice fun game that can easily be played with the whole family. I highly recommend it. It’s full of fun for everyone.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Kingdomino is a light weight tile laying game with a bit of drafting thrown in for fun. It’s really quick and easy to play. Most game sessions last around 10 to 15 minutes, making it a great little filler. If you’re like us, you’ll most likely want to play it again. The components are all good quality and the artwork is light and fun. I like that every aspect of the game was well thought out including the insert for the box. There’s not a lot of strategy involved but can include a bit of hate drafting for those that choose to go that direction. Fans of games like Carcassonne should enjoy this one. Even if you don’t like that game, you might enjoy the drafting aspect of this one. Overall, this is a really fun and simple game that’s great for the entire family. The young kids will enjoy it as well as the adults. I highly recommend this one. Long live the King.
9 out of 10

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

http://www.blueorangegames.com/

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Orléans: Invasion Expansion Review

Orléans: Invasion is an expansion for Orléans by Reiner Stockhausen, Inka and Markus Brand, published by Tasty Minstrel Games. It is for 1-5 players. This expansion adds 6 new ways to play, including a two player game as well as 3 solo scenarios.

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

https://jlnelson73.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/orleans-review/

The review of this expansion will be a bit different from some of my previous reviews, as there’s just way too much to try and cover without completely confusing both you the reader and me the reviewer. In any event, what I’ll try and do is give you a brief look into each of the different scenarios along with what each one adds in terms of components as well as game play. I’ll then break down my thoughts on each one within the gameplay section below. Hopefully this will help you get an idea of what the expansion gives you so that you can best determine if this is something that would be right for you and your gaming group. With all that said, let’s dive right in.

The first scenario is the Prosperity scenario. It’s for 2-5 players. This scenario introduces the Prosperity scenario board which takes the place of the Beneficial Deeds board, as well as the carpenter and structure cards which the carpenter can build. Also introduced are the neutral markers and Carpenter extensions for each player board, as well as several new locations and a cover tile for the Scriptorium which allows a player to receive a new structure card. Events in this scenario are predetermined so players will be aware of what’s coming up before each one happens. Basically this scenario plays a lot like the base game, with the addition of the carpenter actions. Let me explain what these do. The Carpenter allows a player to place up to 3 character tiles of either traders or boatmen. No technology tiles are allowed on this location. During the action phase, the player can then remove their tiles to move the carpenter 1 space per character removed. If a boatman is removed, the carpenter moves on a waterway. If a trader is removed, he moves on the road. Then if the Carpenter lands on a town that is depicted on a structure card the player has, they can build the structure, placing the card face up in front of themself. They then place a trading station on a goods tile on either a road or waterway that leads to that town. The player then draws 2 structure cards, keeps one and returns one to the bottom of the deck. Structures require various items like goods, character tiles or coins. Once they’ve been completely manned the items are removed and the structure card is placed under the player’s neutral marker to be scored at the end of the game. These will give extra victory points during end game scoring. That’s pretty much the gist of this one.

The next scenario if the Invasion scenario for 2-5 players. This scenario is cooperative. This one adds a ton of new stuff including the City Defense scenario board, cooperative event tiles, character cards with personal objectives, special building tiles, the Assembly Hall board and Support Action boards for each player, as well as several new locations. For this one, players have to work together to complete a bunch of common and personal objectives. This one is played for 16 to 18 rounds, depending on the number of players. There is no census in phase 2, however. During the game, players have 5 different common objectives to complete. The exact specifications differ depending on the number of players. There’s the city wall where players have ot provide a certain number of knights. Citizen Tiles must be collected and added to the objectives. The City Treasury needs a certain amount of coins. The Warehouse needs certain goods in certain amounts. If that’s not enough, players also have to build Fortified Towers in each town along the edge of the map. There are also Personal Objectives that the players have to complete that are specified by the character card they received at the beginning of the game. Some of these are easier than others, but are still hard. There’s actually a lot to deal with but if the players are able to complete all the goals, both common and personal, before the end of the last round, they win.

The last multiplayer game is The Duel scenario for 2 players. This scenario uses the Duel scenario board, neutral markers and Bourgeois House action board. This scenario is played pretty much the same as the original game. The only differences are that the scenario board dictates the events, much like in the Prosperity scenario, there is no census during phase 2 and the torture rules don’t apply. Instead of the torture rules, if a player can’t pay what they owe, they lose. On the scenario board are several Beneficial Deeds which work the same way. There are also 4 Objectives that a player needs to complete to win. Each time a player completes one, they place a neutral marker on the space to show that they completed it. The first player to complete all 4 objectives is the winner. Also of note is the Bourgeois House action, which I haven’t really touched on yet. This action requires a character tile and a citizen tile to use it. It then rewards the player with one of 5 bonuses, including a good of their choice or even advancement on the development track.

Now let’s take a look at the 3 solo scenarios. The first of these is The Dignitary. This scenario uses the Dignitary scenario board, a neutral marker and the Stage Coach place tile. Just like with some of the other scenarios, the events in this one are predetermined as well and there is no census in phase 2. The player starts off with the Stage Coach, which they’re able to use in the very beginning. The idea of this one is to collect 7 or 8 citizen tokens, depending on the level of difficulty chosen, before the end of round 16. If the player is able to do that, they win.

The next solo scenario is the Capital Vierzon. This scenario uses the Capital Vierzon scenario board, 6 neutral markers and the Market Stand place tile. Again, like in other scenarios, events are predetermined and no census in phase 2. The player gets the Market Stand which they are able to use at the beginning of the game. This one is more like the Duel in that the player has objectives that need to be completed before the end of round 14. Each time a objective is completed, the player marks it with a neutral marker. The difficulty can be raised to make things harder by only allowing 1 objective be completed per round or even making the player complete them in order. If the player completes all 5 objectives, they win.

The last solo scenario is the Travelling Salesman. This scenario uses the Travelling Salesman scenario board, 6 neutral markers and the Market Stand place tile. Events in this one are also predetermined and again there is no census in phase 2. The player gets the Market Stand to use from the beginning of the game. Just like with the Capital Vierzon scenario, this one requires 5 objectives be completed, but this time they have till the end of round 15. If the player is able to do this, they win. Also like Capital Vierzon, the difficulty can be raised in the same way by allowing only 1 objective be completed a round or by forcing objectives be completed in order.

COMPONENTS
Much like the original game, the expansion has a ton of stuff inside the box. There’s are two boards that make up the City Defense board for the Invasion scenario. There are separate boards for each of the different scenarios. There are all the different new action boards. There is an Assembly board and support action boards. There are special cover tiles for the Scriptoriums. There are new cooperative event tiles, new place tiles and special building tiles. There are structure cards and character cards. There’s a carpenter token and neutral markers. As I said, there’s a lot of stuff. Everything is great quality. The boards and tiles are all thick cardboard, however the scenario boards aren’t the same thickness. Those are a bit thinner but still pretty good. The carpenter and neutral markers are wooden. The artwork is compatible with the base game and has lots of the same look and feel, as well as iconography, of the base game. I really like how nice everything looks. Design wise it all works together really well. Pretty much if you like the components and artwork of the base game, then you’ll like this one too. I don’t think there’s gonna be anything here that could be considered a real negative. Overall, the quality is there.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this expansion is rather large. That would be because there’s so many different scenarios that have to be explained. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book so there shouldn’t be any problems understanding how to play through any of the scenarios. Each individual scenario tells you what you’ll need and the special rules that you’ll be dealing with while playing. Each new action, event and objective is explained in great detail. I think that everything is laid out really well. I like that there’s a overview of all the different events at the end of the book for quick reference. Overall, I feel that the book compliments the game and is really good quality as well.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are 6 different scenarios included with this expansion. As a fan of Orléans, I can tell you that overall I like Invasion. Some scenarios I like better than others, of course that’s to be expected. Let me go through each one now and give you my thoughts. First there’s Prosperity. Meh. Ok I like this one but I don’t. I really love the carpenter and constructing the different structures for points. I like the predetermined events cause you can figure out what’s coming and better prepare for each one. One thing I don’t like is that all the goods are face down on the board. It’s kind of hard to figure out where to go to get what you need to complete your structure if you don’t know where each good is. So you wind up moving all around gathering up stuff you don’t need hoping that you’ll find what you do. It’s a bit frustrating. Also frustrating is moving the carpenter. While it’s really cool to get him to the right place to be able to build a structure, it also stinks when you spend 3 characters to move him and another player spends 3 characters to move him in the opposite direction. It’s not quite as bad with more players but if you play with only 2, expect frustration. Next there’s Invasion. I like this one a lot. I really like the cooperative aspect of this scenario. I like working together and trying to get everything completed. I even like that it’s hard, sometimes very hard. I haven’t won yet but that doesn’t mean that I won’t keep trying. I like the personal objectives but they can be tough, even the ones recommended for an easier game. It takes a lot of strategy and planning to get things done properly. I can tell that this one will be one that I’ll wind up returning to many times. Next there’s the Duel. I like this one pretty good. I like the predetermined events and the objectives. There’s not a really big change between this and the original game but there’s just enough to make it interesting. Of course you could simply play the regular game with 2 players and be just fine. So I don’t really know if this one was needed or not. However I’m still happy to have it in the box. Now there are the 3 solo scenarios. I really enjoy solo games so having these 3 is a big time bonus for me. The Dignitary is the first one I’ll discuss. I like this one a lot. In a lot of ways it’s kind of like the base game, getting citizen tiles is a major way to make lots of points in it. For this one, you’re just getting them to complete your objective. Once more, predetermined events I like. Next there’s Capital Vierzon. This one adds a bit more objectives to complete and therefore adds more difficulty. I like this one too. It’s just a bit more of a challenge. While the Dignitary is pretty much straight forward, this scenario has you diversifying into a lot of different directions. More difficult but still fun. The last one is the Travelling Salesman. Five new objectives with more of a pick up and deliver bent towards it in this one. I think of the solo scenarios, this is probably my favorite one. I like pick up and deliver games so having that aspect in a game that I already enjoy just adds to my enjoyment. You do have to be careful with this one though as you have to be stocked for the events. If you don’t have enough food or coins each round to pay, you immediately lose from starvation. It’s a bit harsh but something to be aware of. Overall, if you like Orléans, you’re most likely gonna like this too. With so many different scenarios, there’s bound to be something that you’ll enjoy. Solo gamers should love this one. It takes a great game and makes it playable for just them. For me, it’s worth it just for the Invasion and solo scenarios. Everything else just adds to the enjoyment. I would highly recommend this one.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Orléans: Invasion is an expansion for the truly amazing game, Orléans. It adds 6 new scenarios along with lots of new stuff to give players lots of new ways to play. There are even solo scenarios for players to play without anyone else. Game time varies depending on which scenario you play but still plays in a reasonable amount of time. The components are really great and really compliment the base game quite well. The original game is great. This expansion simply adds more ways to play as well as new challenges. I enjoy many of the scenarios and found them to be a great addition to the game. Are they all great, not exactly, but they’re still interesting enough to try at least once. I really like the Invasion and solo scenarios, especially the Travelling Salesman. Fans of Orléans will most likely want to add this to their collection. Is it a must have expansion, not necessarily. However, if you like the base game, you owe it to yourself to give this expansion a try. For myself, this is one I’m happy to have. I’m pretty sure, you will be too. I highly recommend it.
9 out of 10

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

 http://playtmg.com

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Orléans Review

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This review is dedicated to my Aunt Sylvie Hyde, who is actually from the city of Orléans, France.

Orléans is a game by Reiner Stockhausen, published by Tasty Minstrel Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be trying to gain the majority in several different areas around the medieval French town of Orléans. They will need to gain the help of farmers, craftsmen, boatmen and traders, as well as scholars, knights and monks. They’ll also need goods from their merchant. In the end, the player that can acquire the most coins, goods and other necessities, will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player chooses a color and is given a follower bag, wooden markers, a merchant token, trading stations and a set of followers in their chosen color. They are also given a player board and 5 coins. Each player places their trading stations in front of them along with their player board. They then place their followers onto the market space of their player board. The game board along with the Beneficial Deeds board are both placed in the middle of the play area. The technology tiles are placed on the matching space on the board. The Pilgrimage tile is removed from the deck of Hour Glass tiles. The remaining tiles are then shuffled and placed face down on the corresponding space on the board. The Pilgrimage tile is then placed on top of the stack. Each player places one of their markers on the first space of each of the Character tracks on the board. They also place one on the Development Track. The neutral Character tiles are all sorted by type and then placed on the corresponding locations on the board. The coins are placed near the board within reach of all players. The Citizen tiles are placed on the corresponding space on the board and the Beneficial Deeds board. One remaining tile will be placed near the board for end game scoring. The Place Tiles are sorted by the Roman Numeral on the back side. They are then stacked into 2 separate piles beside the board with the Roman Numeral side face up. The Goods Tiles are shuffled face down on the table before being randomly placed face up on the road and waterway spaces. If playing with fewer than 4 players, some tiles will be removed from the game. It should be noted that some neutral characters will also be removed from the game if less than 4 players are playing. Any remaining Goods Tiles are then placed on the corresponding spaces on the board. Each player places their Merchant Token on Orléans on the map side of the board. The first player is chosen and is given the Start Player Token. Play now begins.

The game is played over 18 rounds. Each round is composed of 7 phases; hour glass, census, followers, planning, actions, event and start player. The first phase is the Hour Glass phase. In this phase, the first player draws the top tile of the Hour Glass stack and places it face up beside the stack. This reveals the event that players will have to deal with in phase 6. Since the Pilgrimage tile is the first tile, it is the only tile that is dealt with during the 5th phase instead of in phase 6. It keeps players from recruiting monks.

The second phase is the Census phase. In this phase, players determine who has the most and who has the least farmers by checking the player markers on the Farmer’s track. The player whose marker is furthest to the right receives a coin from the supply, while the player farthest to the left must pay a coin to the supply. In cases of a tie, no coins are payed or received. In a 2 player game, the person ahead receives a coin, but the person behind doesn’t have to pay.

The third phase is the Followers phase. In this phase, players may draw character tiles from their Followers bag and place them on the Market of their player board. The number of tiles drawn is equal to the number indicated by the player’s marker on the Knights track.

The fourth phase is the Planning phase. In this phase, players are able to use the character tiles that are on the Market of their player board to activate actions from different locations on their boards. Once all the required tiles have been placed on a certain spot, the spaces is considered activated. The player is then able to carry out the action during the Action phase or during a future Action phase. We’ll discuss these actions in a bit more detail in just a moment. It should be noted that players do not have to place all the required tiles on a spot in the same Planning phase. They are able to place some at this time and may complete the requirements in later rounds.

The fifth phase is the Actions phase. In this phase, players are able to now carry out any actions that they fulfilled all the requirements for during the previous phase or in previous rounds. Once the player has completed the action, they remove the followers from the space and return them to their Follower bag. Players are also allowed to pass if they can not or do not want to take any actions. Once a player passes they are not allowed to participate in the current Action phase any longer. Once all players have passed, play moves into the next phase. It should be noted that any Technology tiles on a spot are not removed and must remain on the space until the end of the game.

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At this time, I’ll explain the common locations found on a player’s board. Of course there are more locations that may be acquired during the game, this is simply the main actions. There’s the Farm House. This location allows the player to take a Farmer tile and place it into their bag. They then advance their marker 1 space forward on the Farmers track. They then receive the good shown on the space. The Village allows a player to gain either a Boatman, Craftsman or Trader. If the Boatman is chosen, the player places a Boatman tile into their bag and advances their marker 1 space on the Boatman track. They then receive the amount of coins shown on the space. The first player to reach the end of the track receives a Citizen tile. If the Craftsman is chosen, the player places a Craftsman tile in their bag and moves their marker 1 space forward on the Craftsman track. They then receive a Technology tile which is set beside their player board. It may only be used after the player passes. I’ll explain how these work in a moment. If the Trader is chosen, the player places a Trader tile into their bag and advances their marker 1 space on the Traders track. They are then able to expand their city by choosing a place tile from the stack of tiles. The first time the player advances on this track they are only allowed to choose from Stack I. The next time they advance, they can choose from either Stack I or Stack II. The new location is placed next to the player’s board and gives them a new location to take actions on. The University is another location. This location allows the player to take a Scholar tile and place it into their bag. They then advance their marker on the Scholars track. They then gain the corresponding number of Development Points. Each point allows the player to move their marker 1 space on the Development Track. The Castle is another location. This one allows the player to take a Knight tile and place it into their bag. They then advance their marker 1 space on the Knights track. This track shows how many followers a player is allowed to draw from their bag during the Followers phase. The first person to get to the Citizen tile on the track receives it. The Monastery is a location that allows a player to take a Monk tile and place it into their bag. They are able to use the Monk tile in the place of any other tile. The ship location allows a player to move their Merchant token along a Waterway to an adjacent town. Any goods tile they cross along the way is taken by the player. If there are multiple goods, they are only able to take 1. These tiles are then placed beside the player’s board. The Wagon location is exactly the same as the ship action, except the player moves their Merchant token along the Road instead. The Guildhall allows a player to build a Trading Station in the town where their Merchant token is located, as long as there are no other Trading Stations already there. However, Orléans is the exception to this rule, as each player may build a Trading Station there. The Scriptorium allows a player to receive a development point, moving their marker 1 space on the Development Track. The Town Hall allows the player to place any type of character tile here during the Planning phase. It’s activated with either 1 or 2 tiles on it. The player is then able to move one or both tiles onto a free space on the Beneficial Deeds board. They then gain the corresponding reward shown on the board. In most cases this is a number of coins or in some cases can be a Development point. Each character tile placed gains the reward. Whicever player places the last character tile to complete a Beneficial Deed, gains the Citizen tile related to it. It should be noted that monks may not be used to replace Character tiles on this particular board. The exact tiles must be used.

The sixth phase is the Event phase. In this phase the current Event shown on the Hour Glass Tile for the round is resolved. This could be something beneficial like gaining a coin for each Trading Station the player has built, or it could be something negative like losing a Character tile from the Followers bag. It should be noted that if a player can not pay something that they owe, they are required to undergo torture. What that means is that they have to replace every missing coin that they were required to pay with either a Trading Station, follower, Development Point, goods tile, place tile or Technology tiles. These items are then removed from the game and may not be used.

The final phase is the Start Player phase. In this phase, the player with the Start Player token passes it to the player to their left. That player then becomes the first player for the next round.

Several times I’ve mentioned the Development Track. This track indicates the player’s state of development. As they move forward on this track they may move onto spaces that contain coins or even Citizen Tiles. Each time a player’s marker moves onto the corresponding spot, they take the indicated reward. Some events will be affected by the player’s status on this track, especially the Income event.

The game continues until the end of the 18th round. Before players score their points, the remaining Citizen tile is given to the player with the most Trading Stations. Players then add up their scores, gaining points for coins, goods, Trading Stations and Citizen Tiles they have. Players then compare scores and the one with the most victory points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game comes with some really great looking pieces. To start off, you’ve got a really nice looking game board. The map is on one side and the tracks are all on the other. Not really sure why they tilted the map image on the board to make it look off kilter but it’s fine. Next there’s the smaller Beneficial Deeds board and the player boards. These are made of thick cardboard and are really good quality. The iconography is pretty easy to understand so it shouldn’t cause a lot of problems for most players. There a plenty of wood bits too. There are player markers, trading stations and merchant tokens in 4 different colors, 1 color for each player. This game has a ton of cardboard which makes up almost all the rest of the pieces. There are character tiles, goods tiles, technology tiles, citizen tiles, coins, building tiles, event tiles, overview tiles and a start player tile. That’s a lot of cardboard. I really like the artwork and how the different pieces compliment each other. It really makes it feel like a very cohesive game. I especially like the character tiles and the building tiles. The characters all correspond with the different tracks on the left side of the board. I like the designs for each one and how you get a real feel of having these people come and work for you. The building tiles compliment the player boards. Each of these has that same style of design with the action to take at the top with the workers needed to take the action at the bottom. All this is placed on top of a thematic looking background that works with the building type. The final pieces are the velvety smooth follower bags. These are super nice and are in the 4 different player colors. Overall, I can’t say enough good things about the design here. The only thing that could make this game better is if it had the special components contained in the Deluxe game. For what you get though, this game looks beautiful and is chocked full of goodness.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this one is really well thought out and designed great. The setup is easy to follow and has plenty of great pictures to aid you with. The book itself has lots of pictures throughout as well as some great examples of gameplay too. Each step and phase of the game are well detailed and explained superbly. There should be nothing difficult to understand at all. I especially like that the different actions and places are explained so well. There are even sections devoted to the different events and the place tiles as well. Each of these are also explained in great detail. Overall, I really like the design and look of the rulebook. It really exceeded my expectations and it didn’t take a very long time to read through. Can’t complain about that.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is an absolutely phenomenal game. I love the worker placement aspect of it. I like how that each time you gain a new follower, you also move on the corresponding track, which gives you more stuff to be able to do even more with. I like the blind bag drawing. Sure it’s a bit luck oriented but if you’re thinking about what you’re putting in there and what’s still left in the bag, you’ll pretty much get what you want out of it. It’s kind of like counting cards but in this case, you’re counting followers instead. I like the city building aspect as well. I like having new places that I can use to build up my city and increase my productivity with. This aspect gives me a bit of an engine building mechanic feel to the game. Each action you take helps you to add more things to make your workers even more effective. The events are also a nice touch and can either be very beneficial or sometimes even detrimental to your productivity. Another aspect of the events is that they also keep the time of the game. Once they’re gone, the game’s over. For me, there’s really a lot to like here, especially since I like worker placement games. This is one that does it with style. I will also say that there’s a ton of options and decisions to make. So much so that you’ll find yourself wishing that you had more followers to be able to do even more stuff with. I like the medieval style theme of the game. For me it fits in well with games like Lords of Waterdeep, and makes a natural evolution for a bit more challenge. Not necessarily more difficult, just more to do. Fans of games like Lords of Waterdeep or Yedo, should really enjoy the worker placement aspects of the game. This is a game that I would highly recommend. If you haven’t tried it, you owe it to yourself to play it. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Orléans is a worker placement style game with a medieval theme to it. It’s a fairly average length game. Most game sessions last around an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes. The components are all really nice. I especially like the art style of the different characters, board and places. Everything fits really well together thematically and looks great. I kind of wish that there was a bit more wood pieces with the game, such as are found in the Deluxe edition of the game. However, I’m not complaining because you actually get quite a lot inside the box. The rulebook is extremely well done and is super easy to read through. There should be nothing here that would be difficult to understand. The game is extremely fun, especially for fans of worker placement games. Fans of games like Lords of Waterdeep or Yedo should especially enjoy this one. Even Euro fans like those for Agricola or Caverna might enjoy this one a lot to. This is a game that I highly recommend. If you only get one thing from this review, get this, “BUY THIS GAME!” You will not be disappointed. It’s absolutely gorgeous and a ton of fun, just like my Aunt Sylvie.
9 out of 10

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

 http://playtmg.com

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