Come Play With E! Button Men Edition

A review copy of Button Men was provided by Cheapass Games.  We would like to thank Cheapass Games for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

I’m not sure if this has ever come up in our conversations before, but I am a teacher, and recently I came upon a bit of a problem in my classroom.  The math curriculum that we have been following this year came to an end, but the school year still had two weeks left!  I was left with ten days of planning to do, 10 days of trying to fill an hour and 25 minutes of math for a room full of 6 and 7 year olds.  In my mind, this problem only had one solution, games!  Math game, of course.

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The first day I pulled together some review materials, and then brought out some dice.  Each student got two D6’s, they were to roll them and then create , and solve, an addition problem, and a subtraction problem for their rolls.  The kids loved it.  And that got my mind turning.  I had recently received a copy of Button Men: Beat People Up by Cheapass Games .  Designed by James Ernest, this dice game is quick, easy, and very mathy (it’s a word, I promise, I’m a teacher, remember?).  So I packed up my copy and headed to the classroom.  What happened next was epic.

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I taught the kids how to play, just like this.  Each player choose a character card, the base game contains 48 to choose from, more than enough for each student to have their own character.  The cards dictate which dice each player receives.  The game includes black and white dice that range from d4’s to d20’s.  Each player then rolls their dice, all of them.  The player with the lowest value goes first, and chooses which of their opponents die they wish to capture.  Capturing dice can be done in one of two ways.  You can use one of your die of equal or higher value or you can use the sum (see? mathy!) of multiple dice to capture an opponents die of the exact value of the sum.  If one of those two conditions are met, the die is captured, and the capturing die is rerolled and placed back into play.  Captured dice are out of the game, or round, and will be used for scoring later.  Play goes back and forth until no more dice can be captured.  Scoring is easy too!  Players score the sum of the size of dice they have captured (a d4= 4 points) plus half the sum of any dice remaining in front of them, ones that were not captured.

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The characters in Button Men also include special powers such as poison, shadow, and rush die, but for the class I omitted these rules.  However, I think you can handle it, so I’ll tell you a little more about those die.  Character cards that include a green circle on the front use poison die.  Poison are bad news, they are worth negative points.  Capture a poison die and it is worth half it’s size taken from your score, if you manage to keep one of your own, at the end of the game you lose the full size amount from your score.  nasty, right?  Shadow dice are depicted by blue circles on the character cards.  This one is a bit tricky, they can capture dice greater than or equal to, BUT, cannot be greater than the attackers size.  What???  For example, a shadow d8 that was rolled as 4 can only capture dice showing a number from 4 to 8.  The last special power is the rush dice, shown as an orange circle on the character cards.  You can use a rush die to capture two of your opponent’s dice, however, both dice must add up to exactly the number of the attacking die.  Now you know why I kept it simple.

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The character cards are all very different and very cool.  This made it fun for the kids to select their own characters.  Each of the characters includes their own fun bio on the back.  Some of the bio’s might not be 100% kid friendly, nothing too bad, but the game is about people fighting, and some of the characters are unsavory.  We stayed away from the bio’s, but if you have time, they are a really fun read.  The back also contains a reminder about ant special dice the character might have, and how to use them.  The assortment of different dice was pretty exciting to them too.  For some this was the first dice they had ever seen that were not d6’s.

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To say the game was a hit is an understatement.  The kids were lined up at the back table cheering for their classmates, and waiting for their turn to play.  The kids were thinking about each and every move, planning their attacks, and definitely doing mathy things.  This game was a huge success with my class.  Button Men was the first thing they asked for each morning when it was time for Math.  I have to admit, I was not too surprised, after all it already got the stamp of approval from Emmy long before it made it to my classroom.  As I walked the game out of my house that first morning she made me promise that it would come back home that afternoon.

Button Men has an old school charm to it that really attracted me to it.  The game itself has been around since the 90’s when the characters were actually printed on stickpin buttons.  Button Men quickly gained a cult following, adding new buttons to the ever growing collection, often.  It was designed to play quickly and be completely portable.  The newer version stays true to the original in those respects.  It is very easy to learn but is much deeper than it lets on.  There are a lot of decisions to make, starting with which character, of the 48 included, to play.  Some characters have a Swing Die, depicted by an “X” on the card, this is a die that can be chosen by the player.  Want another d20, okay!  Want to make it a d8?  It’s all up to you!  Choosing which die to capture and which die to capture it with can be a big decision.

This is a game that I would recommend for everyone, young and old.  My kindergarten class loved it, and my daughter did as well.  I love finding ways to incorporate gaming into education and this was a no-brainer for me.  The variety of characters ensured that all of my students could find one that suited them, from gender to race, everyone was represented.  The replayability is endless, the combinations of characters is amazing, and I love pimping my game out with cool, colored dice of my own.  This game has made me reevaluate my collection, wondering what other gems I can share with my students.

Emmy’s Take:

“I like all of the dice.  There are a lot of girls in this game.  I like how different they all are, but my favorite part is taking all of Mommy’s dice!  You should try it too, you can take all of your Mommy’s dice too.”

Button Men: Beat People Up gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

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… Build a City!

A preview copy of Sprawlopolis was provided by Button Shy Games.  We would like to thank Button Shy Games for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

I have made no secret of my love of games.  After all, why else would I be writing this blog right now?  Right?  Right!  I try to squeeze in a little game time at least once a day.  This means that I am always on the lookout for smaller games, that can be played fairly quickly.  I also love games that I can throw in my bag and pop out at lunchtime.  It should come as no surprise, with a criteria like this, that Button Shy Games is one of my go-to companies to fill this niche for me.  I love their games so much that my very first blog post was about one of their games, Twin Stars.  So when an opportunity to play their newest game, Sprawlopolis, was presented to me, well, I’m sure you can guess the rest!

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Images used with permission by Button Shy Games.

In Sprawlopolis you take on the role of a city planner tasked with building a new city.  Sounds easy, right?  Wrong.  Just wait until the city officials get involved and start making their demands on you.  Things just got harder, much harder.  Designed by Steven Aramini, Danny Devine, and Paul Kluka and published by Button Shy’s wallet series, Sprawlopolis plays 1-4 players in about 15 minutes.  Like most Button Shy games, Sprawlopolis features 18 cards, and aside from the plastic wallet to store it in, that it folks!  Set up is quick and easy, as is the gameplay.  Fans of Circle the Wagons will be familiar with the game mechanics, the variable scoring, with the addition of cooperative play.

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Images used with permission by Button Shy Games.

For those of you not familiar with Circle the Wagons, first, go out and get it, then read on.  Each card has four different colored sections, or zones, commercial (blue), industrial (grey), residential (orange), and parks (green).  Cards are played down to the common build area, growing the city.  Cards may be played with at least one colored block edge meeting and existing block edge.  You may also place your card so that it overlaps existing cards.  You cannot tuck them under existing cards or connecting to an existing card by corner only.  You may rotate your card 180 degrees when placing it, but cannot rotate it 90 degrees.  Gaps are allowed in the city as long as all other placement rules are followed.  Once 15 cards are placed in your city the game ends and scoring begins.  Here’s where things get interesting.

At the start of the game three cards are taken from the deck and flipped over to their scoring sides.  These will provide you with a set of goals, scoring conditions, and other rules.  These cards also have a number in the upper left hand side, ranging from 1-18.  These numbers are added together to make the target score you are looking to beat this round.  The scoring conditions these cards allow may make or break a game for you, so take the time to familiarize yourself with them before beginning your game!  Some will give, or take, points dependent on the placement of your zones, others will grant bonuses for groupings.

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Scoring is quite simple.  Looking at your city, you score 1 point for each block in each of your largest group of each zones.  For example, if you have a group of 3 greens, another group of 4 greens, and a single green in your city, you would score 4 points for your green blocks.  You will do the same for blue, green, and grey.  You will then lose 1 point for each road in your city.  A road is considered a continuous stretch, be sure to keep this in mind while building!  Finally look at the scoring condition cards to see what other points you may have acquired.  If your score exceeds the target score, you win!  If not, no need to worry, you have plenty of time to play another round!  Believe me, you will want to play again, and again, and again!

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Since arriving on my doorstep, Sprawlopolis has easily become one of my most played game.  The game plays so fast that you can easily squeeze a game or two into a lunch break, waiting room visit, or any other free moment you have.  The game plays wonderfully solo.  I have played cooperatively a few times, and prefer it solo.  It feels intuitive, smooth, well thought out, and above all fun!  The quality is what one expects from Button Shy.  The cards are bright and crisp and good quality.  The instructions are clear and concise.  The game play is puzzley and addictive.  I love the versatility of the target score, making replayability almost endless.  I cannot recommend this game enough!

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If you think this game is as awesome as I do, you’re in luck.  It is, as of this writing, currently on Kickstarter for the insanely low price of $10!  Stop reading this and go get your own copy, I promise, you will not be disappointed!!

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly sought to build a city!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

We’ve hit 200 followers on Twitter!  Stay tuned for more details on an exciting giveaway!!

Come Play With E! Pelican Bay Edition

A review copy of Pelican Bay was provided by Lion Rampant Imports.  We would like to thank Lion Rampant Imports for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

Two months ago, I picked up one of those staple games that had, somehow, up until that point, eluded my collection.  I finally brought home Carrcassone.  Shocking, right?  I don’t know how this was missed, but when I introduced it to Emily she flipped.  We played it almost every night for a month straight.  She really seemed to enjoy the tile placement, trying to figure out the puzzle that was within the game.  Tile placement seemed to be a mechanic that she really enjoyed.  So, when I was offered an opportunity to try out another tile placement game, along the same lines, I immediately agreed!

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Pelican Bay, designed by Jacques Zeimet and Rolf Vogt, published by Lion Rampant Imports is a fresh take on tile placement.  The goal of the players is to make a beautiful paradise, warm water, sandy beaches, the never ending sun shining down.  A tropical paradise designed to attract, not wealthy tourists, but the exotic blue pelican.  It turns out this elusive bird is quite picky about where it roosts, and only the best the tropics have to offer will do.

Players take turns placing and scoring tiles in an attempt to bring these birds to the island.  The tiles are hexagonal, and contain images of jungles, beaches, and water.  To start the game three random tiles are placed in the center of the board, beginning the island.  Each player draws two tiles and the game begins!  Quick set up means less time for Emmy to lose interest which is a big plus for her, and most younger gamers.  During your turn you may play one, or both of your tiles.  Placement rules are straightforward, each tile must connect to at least two other tiles.  The landscapes on the adjacent tiles must be the same.  If you choose to place both tiles they must expand the landscape you are looking to score.  When you have finished laying tiles you may score 1 point for each tile that makes up the largest landscape you have expanded.  For example, you may choose to score all of the water tiles, if your tile(s) have expanded a water section.  You may then chose to place, or move a sun disc.  Sun discs prevent tiles from being placed where they are played.  If you closed off an area you may place a pelican from the common supply on the area.  If there are no pelicans left you you may help yourself to an opponents pelican.  These wooden pelican serve as a marker for scoring but are also worth bonus points at the end of the game.  You then draw back up to two tiles.  If you have closed off an area you may go again, if not play proceeds to the next player.  When all tiles from the general supply have been drawn, triggering the final round.  When the final round is finished all points are tallied, and the player with the most points wins!

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How are the components?  They are amazingly beautiful.  The artwork pops off of the tiles, bright, and colorful, really giving in to the tropical theme.  The wooden pelicans are a very nice touch, and what attracted Emmy to this game initially.  The tiles were large, made from really good cardboard stock, and very easy for Emmy to handle.  The rule book was colorful and easy to understand, with lots of bright pictures to help illustrate.  The illustrations feature an assortment of turtles, birds, sting rays, people, and even a copy of Pelican Bay!  They are cute and funny, looking at the tiles before placing them was part of the fun.  At some points the illustrations inspired Emmy to make a little story about the game.

 

As I mentioned, tile placement was a new to Emmy, and she loved the simplicity of Pelican Bay.  The sun discs made for some interesting choices, and a great way to block a player from scoring that big landscape.  The pelicans were also a nice feature, especially when the general supply ran dry and the stealing began.  The game was quick, playing in about 30 minutes, light, and a lot of fun.  The quick set up, interesting components, and fun theme were all things that brought my daughter to the table, and kept her there.  We had an excellent time playing Pelican Bay, after the first game immediately playing it twice more!  Since Pelican Bay arrived it has become the tile placement game in our household.  That other game, I forget what it was called now, has been pushed aside.  This is a must have for families, and even adults looking for a lighthearted game.

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Emmy’s Take:

“I liked the pelicans, they were cute.  I really liked taking them from Mommy!  I think Pelican Bay was a fun game and I think you should try it, you just might like it, well, if you like tiles and pelicans.  The tiles were funny!  Bye friends!”

Pelican Bay gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

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… Last 21 Days at Sea!

A review copy of 21 Days was provided by Erik Winkelman.  I would like to thank Erik Winkelman for supporting my blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are my own.

The year is 1903, you have boarded The Esperanza looking for leisure and fun at sea.  Instead you find yourself amidst a violent and deadly storm.  The vessel and 163 souls are claimed by the sea, you are lucky.  You and three other passengers wash ashore the isle of Juan Ansidad.  You wait to be rescued, but it soon becomes clear no one is coming.  You and your fellow survivors fashion a raft from the wreckage, and brave the waters once again, trying to look for help.  You keep a careful account of the adventure in the form of a logbook.  Will you survive, or will you join the other passengers of The Esperanza on the ocean floor?

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21 Days, designed and self-published (copies can be found here) by Erik Winkelman, is a 1-4 player cooperative, dice driven game of survival.  The game plays out over a 21 day period, in which four survivors of the wreckage are vying to stay alive, by any means necessary.  Players will face shark attacks, jellyfish attacks, raft deterioration, and many other disasters.  Players will work together to overcome these obstacles, try not to lose hope, gather precious resources, and try to signal nearby boats, all in an effort to be rescued.

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21 Days is an extremely immersive experience.  Erik Winkelman has gone to great lengths to ensure that every possibility has been covered in the 5+ years this game was in development.  It drips with theme, from the impending shark attacks, to the monstrous octopus dragging unsuspecting survivors off of the raft.  The game is so thematic that it even has it’s own soundtrack to help you set the mood.  21 Days is more than a game, it is an experience.  After a playthrough I feel drained, saddened by my lost survivors, and elated at the ones that were saved.  Unfortunately, not many make it, this is a tough game.  All the elements are against you, yet when, against all odds, you pull off a victory, it feels as if you actually survived something!

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The box is not large, but it contains a bunch of components.  There are decks of cards including your survivors, bottle cards, the log book, jellyfish cards, and disaster cards.  There are token galore.  Tokens for the octopus tentacles, the swap location, flip tokens, and hope tokens.  Then there are the dice, survivor dice, placement dice, shark dice, octopus dice, and even one for the solo play survivor Scruffs.  The box has 2 game boards, one for regular play, and one for the Weather Expanion.  Oh, did I forget to mention the hand made bag to hold your tokens in?  The components seemed never ending.  All of these components then merge into, what has become for me, one of the most enveloping game play experiences that I have had in a long time.

 

So how exactly does all of this play?  Glad you asked.  Setup consists of setting up all the cards and tokens that I previously mentioned.  Once they tokens and cards have been placed in their appropriate, and well marked, places, you may choose your survivors.  There will always be four survivors, one for each color, or class.  In solo play you may opt to add Scruff the Dog in place of the Crew survivor.  He plays a bit differently, having his own deck of cards to draw from, and not participating in choosing actions.  Once all the survivors haven been placed and chosen their respective dice are rolled.  Once the dice have been rolled they are then placed on the raft, nearest to their corresponding cards.  Each survivor has two dice, they are stacked on top of one another in the order of your choosing.  This represents the total strength of the survivor.  This die can increase and decrease throughout the game, if it were to decrease below 1, it is removed and the second die is now used.  If the second die is ever depleted, that survivor is lost.  Each player is also given a hope token, these tokens can be spent to trigger certain actions in the game, and a Flip Token.  The Flip Token, well, needs to be flipped, granting the survivor a one time benefit dependent on which side it depicts.

 

Once the board has been set up play begins.  The first order of business is to move the Shark Distance card one step closer.  The sharks are closing in on our survivors.  If the distance shows “1”, the sharks will attack, this occurs during the evening phase.  Before that unpleasantness, we start with the morning phase.  The pages of the logbook will outline the events for the day, showing any necessary actions via displayed icons.  Once the morning phase has been resolved, as outlined on the card, play moved into the midday phase.  During this phase players will choose where to place their survivors for the day, there are 6 available options.  The first option is the octopus location, thankfully this can only be chosen when directed by the logbook in the morning phase.  The second space is the flare location, where survivors attempt to signal the rescue ship, rolling a six while on this space will move the rescue boat one space closer to your location. The third location is the bottle location.  Here you may attempt to look for, or play a bottle card.  Often these cards can be beneficial to the survivors.  The next location is the swap location, this spot is a fluctuating, as indicated by the logbook, offering players advantages such as shooting a flare, obtaining more hope tokens or bottle cards, often at a discount.  The fifth location is the hope location, where survivors may obtain more hope, for every 3 points rolled on a single die, the player may obtain and additional hope token.  The last location is the fishing spot, feeding these survivors is important, as it can increase the strength of one or more survivors.  After the midday phase we move to the evening phase, spoiler alert, nothing good ever happens at night!  First the events listed in the logbook are resolved, then if the shark distance is at 1 they will attack. Sharks attack 4 times targeting different parts of the raft.  If you survive all of this, it is on to a new day.  The game is won, if you make it to the 21st day with at least one survivor, and are able to signal the rescue boat.

 

I may have mentioned this before, but it is worth mentioning again.  This is a challenging game.  My survivors have perished more than they have survived, but I keep coming back to it.  I play the game, soundtrack playing, and I become these survivors, trying to make it, clawing to the raft.  The game has a lot going on, and that can be overwhelming, especially in the first few games, but it is worth sticking it out, because every part makes sense.  The sharks attacking your raft, picking off survivors, makes sense.  The octopus dragging players off, the remaining survivors rushing to aide their commrade, makes sense.  Looking for something, anything, in the water to help you make it to another day, makes sense.  All of these frustrating events can then be punctuated by a disaster befalling our heroes, such as a plank drifting off of the raft, or the rescue boat actually getting further away, all make sense.

The game is well thought out, beautifully illustrated, and maddeningly fun to play.  This is a game that I play when I want to live out a story, and feel like I am a part of it.  I can construct a narrative to go along with everything that is happening to these poor souls.  21 Days, in my opinion, (which, if you’ve made it this far, is what you’re here for isn’t it?) plays best as a solo game.  I strongly recommend this game to solo players looking for a captivating, thematic, gaming experience.

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly sought to last 21 days at sea!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

We’ve hit 200 followers on Twitter!  Stay tuned for more details on an exciting giveaway!!

Come Play With E! Click Click Boom Edition

A review copy of Click Click Boom was provided by Thing 12 Games.  We would like to thank Thing 12 Games for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

When it comes to playing games with Emmy, we are open to trying all sorts of new things.  We have played tactical games, worker placement games, tile laying games, and even classic games.  The one type of game we had yet to dabble in was deception and bluffing games.  That all changed when Click Click Boom showed up on our doorstep…

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Click Click Boom, designed by Sean Epperson, illustrated by Diony Cook Rouse, and published by Thing 12 Games was brought to life through a successful Kickstarter, promptly winning the 2017 People’s Choice NW Luci Award.  It plays 3-6 players in a quick 15 minutes or so, although we have not yet played with the full 6 players.  The theme of a old west saloon showdown is made kid and family friendly with the inclusion of cute, cartoony animals.  The cards are simple to understand and made easier by color coding, also making easily accessible to everyone.

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The game play starts with each player choosing their character card.  Characters include a jackrabbit, fox, horse, raccoon, bull, and coyote.  The Kickstarter edition adds an armadillo and buzzard to the mix.  The character cards are double sided, one side of the character ready to play, and the other, the unfortunate effects of the “boom” portion of the game.  Each player also receives a Character Ability Card that lists the special ability available only to your character.  Each player is then dealt 3 “Click” cards, 2 “Stolen” cards, and 1 “boom” card, along with 1 gold coin and 8 silver coins.

Once the starting cards and coins have been dealt each player pays one silver coin to the center of the table, shuffles their 6 cards together, and fans then out facing away from them.  Yup, that’s not a typo.  Your hand is held out facing away from you.  The player to your left will choose one card for you to play, placing it face down on the table.  The player on your right then does the same.  Play moves around the table until all players have two cards in front of them.  Each player must then choose one of those cards to play, simultaneously revealing them after saying “3… 2… 1… Shoot!”  All cards are then revealed and resolved.  “Click” cards require  you to pay one coin to the center.  “Stolen” cards require 2 coins to be paid to the player who chose that card for you.  Players who revealed “Boom” cards flip their character cards over to the blown up side, and are removed from the remainder of the round.  Surviving players then pass a card to the player on their left.  This card can be the unplayed card left in front of them, or a random card from their hand.  All cards are passed face down and are then shuffled into the receiving players hand.  The turn order now changes, you will begin by asking the player from the right to choose a card to play, then the player to the left.  The game continues until there is only one player left or all remaining players only have one card left.  The coins in the center of the table goes to the remaining player or players.  The nest round begins with all players adding coins to the center, one coin if you were exploded, or two coins if you survived.  The player with the most coins at the end of three rounds is the winner.

The components are well done.  The character cards are adorable.  The animals go well with the Western theme, and the art style is perfect for this game.  The cards themselves have a linen finish that makes them easy to shuffle.  The included coins are made from a thick cardboard that has handled well through the multiple games that we have played so far.  We love the look of the coins, they are bright and bold, and fun.  Everything about this game screams family time, and it does not fall short.  We have had a “blast” playing this game.  Every time it comes to the table it is joined by laughter and good times.  Emmy laughs the hardest when someone picks a “boom” card, happily turning their character cards over for them.  I also love that the turn order card is made of cardboard, making it stand up nicely to being passed around.  It gives it a nice feel, it was something I was not expecting.  Little things like that really get me sometimes, weird, I know, but true.

Click Click Boom is very easy to learn, quick to play, and loads of fun.  This game had my daughter actively laughing out loud for the majority of the game.  We have introduced this game to a few people, and almost every time they request another round.  And then another, and another.  You get it.  It’s addictive, it’s fun, and it really brings people to the table to see what all the laughing and trash talking is about.  If you are looking for a fast, fun, family game that is guaranteed to make you laugh, then this is your game!

Emmy’s Take:

“I want to tell you that Click Click Boom was a really fun game!  I liked being all the different characters.  I loved picking the BOOM cards.  Here’s a secret, I usually pick the BOOM cards.  You should try it sometime, it’s a great game.  Bye friends!”

Click Click Boom gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

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… Save the Revolution!

A review copy of Witches of the Revolution was provided by Atlas Games.  I would like to thank Atlas Games for supporting my blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are my own.

I teach kids for a living, and in all the grades that I have taught, from time to time, we discuss the American Revolution.  It’s kind of a big deal, and we usually go into great depth when discussing it.  It’s a great story, a rag tag group of inexperienced soldiers takes on the biggest and baddest military in the world, and wins!  We all know the basics, right?  Wrong!  Recently I learned something about the Revolution that I never knew before, a great secret the textbooks and our Founding Fathers didn’t want anyone to know… the balance was tipped in our favor… by witches!

In Witches of the Revolution, designed by M. Craig Stockwell, and published by Atlas Games, you take on the role of a leader of one of these covens, helping this rag tag group overcome the tyranny that suppresses it, leading the way to eventual freedom.  To do so there will be many obstacles that you must overcome, in the form of an event deck.  Acquire too many events at one time or run out of time (events), and you will be overwhelmed, falling to the enemy!  The balance between liberty and tyranny must also be closely watched, for it you fall too far into the grasp of tyranny, the revolution is lost!  All is not bleak, your coven has four objectives they must complete, finish these quests and you are sure to be victorious, earning your freedom!

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Witches of the Revolution, a cooperative 1-4 player game, is an interesting take on one of the biggest and most important times in American history.  The idea that witches helped tip the scales in the favor of the American people was a theme that I was immediately attracted to.  I mean, come on, revolutionary witches?  The irony of Salem looming on their horizons?  How could I not be interested?  The event and objective cards contain cool illustrations depicting events from the Revolution, some real and some fictional.  The theme comes through with the cycles of the moon, the cool illustrations, and even the Tyranny Track.

The games is played over a series of 5 rounds, starting with the Add a Recruit phase, in which a new card is added to the leftmost Recruit space on the board.  If there is a card already occupying this space all cards are shifted to the right.  If there are already three cards occupying all the spaces, the rightmost card is discarded.  The next phase is the Add an Event phase.  As in the previous phase a new card is now added to the Event space on the board.  Any cards already in the Even area are shifted right.  After a card is added players check to see if moving an Even card triggered any Liberty or Tyranny icons.  Players also check to see if the last card has been moved into the end game slot for their number of players.  If the end game has not been triggered players move on to the Act and/or Recruit phase.  In this phase players may play card to overcame any available events, clearing them from the board.  They may also, optionally, decide to recruit a new card from the Recruit area.  Next is the Discard phase in which the active player may choose to discard any number of cards from their hands.  Last is the Draw phase, this is also optional, and at times may be beneficial not to do so.  If a player chooses to draw, they must draw up to five cards.  Play continues until the players have won the Revolution, completing the four objectives, or have succumbed to Tyranny, by reaching maximum Tyranny, having the Event cards reach the loss space, or adding the last card of the Event deck to the Event line.

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There are some interesting choices to be made within the game itself.  I mentioned earlier that a player may choose not to draw up cards, this causing them to reshuffle their deck.  Shuffling the deck causing the moon token to advance on the Moon Track.  As the moon rises higher and higher, the cost of resolving events does as well.  Events are resolved through playing a certain number of icons, found the Recruit cards.  As the moon rises this will increase the number of icons needed to satisfy these events, making the game harder to overcome.  Adding Recruits to your deck is another interesting decision.  A departure from traditional deck builders, Witches of the Revolution requires you to banish, or discard, any cards uses to pay to recruit a new card.  Banishing cards can thin out a player’s deck quicker than they like, causing quicker reshuffles, and more moon movement.  The Liberty track also affects the game, as the token moves down in Tyranny.  As the war tips in the wrong direction it becomes harder and harder to recruit new people to help you win this war.  Taking away recruiting discounts, increasing Recruit costs, and eliminating the ability to recruit altogether, once again, making the game that much harder to win.

How does it solo?  Amazingly well.  The game provides for solo play right out of the box, allotting for solo end game points on the Event track.  The game feels right playing solo, and is actually the way I prefer to play.  It seems to be built for solo play, with multiplayer added on.  I’m not sure if this was they way it was originally designed, but, it felt that way to me!  I like the choices, the game play design, and even the difficulty.  The replayability, especially in a solo game, is excellent.  There are time when the game feels like it may be out of control, only to have the scales tip in your favor when you least expect it to.

The components are well done.  The game board is thick and sturdy, as are the token.  The insert in the box is custom for this game, and has a little spot for everything.  It was really well thought out and makes the start time even faster.  The cards look great, and really encompass the theme of the game.  The harder event cards even include a little blood stain on the bottom corner, differentiating them from the other cards.  The amount of cards ensures there is lots of replayability in the game box.  I have played this game right about a dozen times as of this writing, and have not had the same set of cards come out twice.  I really enjoyed the deck building design.  Having to banish your cards to buy new ones making buying cards a real dilemma.  There are times when two cards will be banished for just one in return.  This thins out your deck, and while this would be a positive in most deck builders, shuffling your deck more, in this one, means moving the moon track.  Moving the moon track makes buying cards and completing events more expensive!  So, do you really need that card?  The balance is this game is very delicate and it makes it so much more exciting!

 

I was predisposed to like this game based on the theme alone.  I am happy to say that I was not the least disappointed in the game play.  The mechanics are solid, and the theme is thoroughly represented.  It plays fairly quickly, and scales nicely for the number of players.  The game was quick to learn and intuitive in its execution.    I really enjoyed the choices, or sacrifices as I thought of them, that I had to make, all in the name of freedom!  I really recommend this game to people who enjoy deck builders and are looking for something a little different.

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly sought to save the Revolution!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

Don’t forget, once I hit 200 followers on Twitter, I will have a giveaway of a copy of Mint Tin Pirates!!

Come Play With E! Dice Throne: Season One Edition

A review copy of Dice Throne: Season One was provided by Roxley Game Laboratory.  We would like to thank Roxley Game Laboratory for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

I have always loves dice rolling games.  I love the clank of the dice as they roll around your hand, the sound they make as they crash onto the table, into a dice tray, or even making their way down a dice tower.  There is just something about that sound!  I have also always loved dice rolling games for playing with my daughter.  One of her first games was Roll For it, designed by Chris Leder, published by Calliope Games.  Dice are easy to see for her, easy to remember what they do, and she is MY daughter, so she really loves the feel of them too!  This is one of the reasons she loves Too Many Bones so much, all those dice!  Recently, we got a new game, another game full of colorful, beautiful custom dice.

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Dice Throne: Season One is a widely popular game that took Kickstarter by storm.  Designed by Nate Chatellier and Manny Trembley, and published by Roxley Games Laboratory, it is a fast paced, dice chucking, fantasy fighting game for 2-6 players.  The game is played over a series of rounds, pitting players against each other.  In a round you will roll your 5 dice, custom to your chosen hero, choose to reroll, Yahtzee style, and apply damage.  What makes this game unique is the addition of cards, also unique to your hero, that can upgrade your attacks, defense, used to manipulate dice rolls or used as a status effect.  These cards can be used by spending CP points, which are gained at the beginning of each round.  Cards can be added to the player’s mat, permanently altering their powers.  These cards add a ton of choices to the game, deciding whether to spend your precious CP points on this card, or waiting to get more points to spend on a more expensive card can be really hard.  Seeing all the different abilities each of the 6 included heroes have, finding a strategy with each of them has brought my family endless hours of fun.

 

The game includes 6 heroes each with it’s own player mat, deck of cards, custom dice, status effect tokens, and player sheet.  The mats are thick sturdy cardboard with a full drawing of the character on the back.  The front is a great layout space for your cards, highlighting what each card does in character and pictures.  The dice are beautiful, the colors are vibrant, the symbols are large and clear.  The insert has little tray to keep each charaters dice, tokens, and cards separate, and was a really nice touch.  The tokens are made of a thick cardboard, well made, and very easy to see, and identify.  Health and CP are tracked with cool dials, each with the matching character on it.  Dice Throne even includes turn order cards, which are always appreciated!

 

I haven’t even mentioned the art yet, Emily and I were immediately attracted to the artwork on the box, and were in for more of a treat when we opened it.   The characters are amazingly beautiful.  The art pops off of everything on this game, no expense was spared when it came to making this game as appealing as it is.  It is indeed, a feast for the eyes.  I cannot wait to see the comic book that is coming with the second season, this is a game, and art style, that begs for just that.  I am excited to see where the comic goes.

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Emily loves Dice Throne: Season One, playing it three times the day it arrived!  We did need to make some accommodations for her, she does not yet know how to read, so we had to remove the cards from the game for her.  She primarily plays as the MoonElf, and she plays hard!  Even with the removal of the cards from the games we play with her, it is still a solid, fun, family game!  She gets into character while playing, at one point telling one of her opponents “Enjoy your few minutes, girlfriend” before rolling a devastating combo and taking out the Monk.  It is interesting for me to watch her decided to reroll or to hold her die, to go for a bigger combo, or take a smaller one and inflict a status effect instead.  It is a puzzle for her, and she loves it!

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Dice Throne: Season One had made its way into our regular family gaming rotation.  She can’t wait to teach it to new people whenever she has a chance.  Recently, Dice Throne: Season Two was released via Kickstarter, and did even better than the first release.  The new expansion, also a standalone game, adds 8 more characters to an already fun and cool cast.  I cannot imagine how this game could get better, yet the new season promises to do just that!  This is a game that can be built upon for years to come, and Emmy and I cannot wait to see what else they come up with!

Emmy’s take:

“I like Dice Throne, especially my Moon Elf character, I love her.  I like the health things and the other chips.  I like the fighting.  To play you set up your mats, you roll your dice to see if you got something.  You’re only allowed to re-roll your dice twice.  You look at your mat to see if you got something.  If you did, then you’re all happy.  You get to attack the other people for as many damage as it does.  You win by killing all the other people and be the last one standing.  It’s actually quite fun, you should really try playing it.  Bye friends!

Dice Throne: Season One gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

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… Try to Find Treasure and Stay Sober

A review copy of Drinking Quest: Journey into Draught was provided by Jason Anarchy Games.  I would like to thank Jason Anarachy and Jason Anarchy Game for supporting my blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are my own. 

A few years ago my friend bought me a copy of Haiku Warrior for my birthday.  She had seen it on Kickstarter and thought it looked like a fun game.  I looked at her kind of funny, put it into a stack, and didn’t think about it for a long time.  Fast forward to a night, long after our story began, I was looking for something different to play, and I once again came upon Haiku Warrior.  Why not, I thought.

What came next was amazing.  It was a complete RPG tabletop experience that was told entirely through Haiku.  The mechanics was fun and engaging and the experience left me wanting more.  Why had I neglected this game for so long?  I immediately reached out to the creator of Haiku Warrior Jason Anarchy, looking for more.  He then told me about his Drinking Quest series, on which Haiku Warrior was based.  The Drinking Quest series has four games out thus far, with one still to come this summer.

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Jason generously sent me a review copy of Drinking Quest: Journey into Draught published by Jason Anarchy Games for this review.  Drinking Quest arrived just in time for our Spring Break last week, and I was able to dice right into it.  Let me start out by saying, if you plan to play this game, please do so responsibly, as the title suggests, there is drinking involved, although there is a non drinking variant called the “Bladder Buster”.  I played this game with my friend, visiting from out of town, so no solo play just yet, we’ll get to that at the end, after all, this is a solo game blog!!

The game includes 6 quests, 4 heroes to choose from, a nice cloth map, 3 polyhedral dice, a pad of character sheets, and a plastic coin (otherwise known as The Bitterness Coin), all squeezed into a tiny, travel-sized box.  Being familiar with Haiku Warrior I was able to dive right into this game.  After you pick your adventurer, with names like Daiquirin, Bartlebut, Chuglox, and Annoying Sidekick, and grabbing their signature drink, you are ready to start your adventure.  Two of the quests in the box are optional, the Morning Tea Quest, and Kega Man Returns, can be added to the game, or returned to the box. The remaining 4 quests are shuffled into 4 separate stacks based on their Quest number.  Players will work their way through these four stacks either battling the monsters they encounter, or engaging in a skill test, or Saving Throw, for events that occur.  If a player ever loses all of their life they are required to chug their drink to come back to life, starting at the next round, with full hit points.  Battles are based on dice rolls, your weapon denotes which of the 3 dice you may roll, a 4 sided, 6 sided, or 8 sided die.  Before drawing a new quest card a hero may decide to visit the shop, where they can buy upgraded weapons, armor, and even healing items, spending the gold earned by defeating monsters.  The game ends when all decks have been emptied.  The hero with the most experience points is declared the winner.  But, let’s be honest, at this point we’re all buzzed, so aren’t we all winners?

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The game is a lot of fun to play with friends, especially when you get into the later rounds, and there has been much chugging.  The cards are all done in a tongue in cheek play on traditional dungeon crawlers.  The flavor text is right inline with the humor, at times, making me actually laugh out loud, and not just because I chugged a lot either.  (In a typical game, we only really wound up chugging 2-3 times.  This is not your typical, college, get sloppy drunk, kind of drinking game.)  The components are well done, the inclusion of the cloth map and the plastic coin were a nice touch.  The cards were sturdy and are holding up pretty well so far, although I might recommend sleeving if you play with some sloppy drinkers, protect those cards people!

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My friends and I played this game a few times during Spring Break, and we had a blast.  This is definitely a game to bring along on trips, and will be making it to our annual beach vacation this year.  We played the “Bladder Buster” variant, where you chug glasses or water rather than alcohol, and still had a lot of fun with it.  Rolling the die to see how the monster will attack as well as the effectiveness of your attack can be nail biting, but so much fun.  I love the choices the shop gives you, do you spend your money on a new weapon, or buy some armor?  Money can be hard to come by, you need to spend it wisely.  New weapons can equate to a new die, upgrading your D4 to a D6, or even a D8.  The armor can add defense to your chartacter, or add to your starting HP, so the choices can be the difference between passing out drunk, or finishing the game with a good buzz.  🙂  The more people you have to play, the better.  But, like I said, this is a solo blog, so…

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The game does not have a solo variant, but I had so much fun playing this with my friends, even without the drinking, that I incorporated rules from Haiku Warrior to make it so.  The solo rules for Haiku Warrior states the hero plays four cards from each quest before advancing.  You win the game if you have collected 10 souls.  For Drinking Quest, I applied the same rules, changing the souls requirement for 30 XP.  This has made for a challenging experience and one that I have played several times solo.  I like the style of game play, the humor, and of course the dungeon theme.  This game ticks most of the boxes for me, and one that I will bring out again during my next gaming get-together.

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly sought to stay sober!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

Don’t forget, once I hit 200 followers on Twitter, I will have a giveaway of a copy of Mint Tin Pirates!!

Come Play with E! Too Many Bones Edition

I know, I know, I already did a review for this game on my Singlehandedly page.  But, something happened recently, something amazing, so listen here.  I was playing Too Many Bones, published by Chip Theory Games, designed by Josh & Adam Carlson, when my daughter saw me.  She was instantly attracted by all the colorful dice, the chips, and basically everything else that originally brought me to the game.  She asked me to teach her to play.  Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a complex game, each die does something different, and without basic reading skills it is almost impossible to play.  So, of course, I pulled her up a chair, and said “Yes”!

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Emmy wanted to be Nugget, for two reasons, Nugget is a female, and her dice are purple.  There was no way that she was going for anyone else.  Luck for me, she is also one of the easier Gearlocs to play.  We set up a solo game, allowing me to concentrate on helping her, against Nom.  I’m going to admit right here, we altered the rules to make it easier, and more accessible to her, especially when it was time to face the Tyrant.  To begin she played the “Greenhorn Adventurer”.  This play mode allows the player to add 2 HP chips to their base stat, bringing Nugget to 6, and to gain 1 training point before Day One.  This allowed Emmy to start out with a bit of a leg up.  She loved all the decisions that this game brought her.  At this age, she loves to be in charge of things, and so a game that allows her to be in charge of the play is a big plus.  Each day brought new decisions on which path to take, each training point allowed her to decide what to spend it on, and with Nugget’s innate ability of Treasure Seeker, she was even able to decide which loot to choose.  This game was entire based on her choices, and although she asked my opinion from time to time, she was in charge.  She loved that!

 

Battles were not easy for her, and she lost a few, but for the most part she battled for real. I used the keywords that were on the chips, and they all came in at full health except when a card denoted otherwise.  Whenever a card offered an option to lower the health of a baddie I encouraged her to choose that option.  She made it to Nom, and the battle was on.  Nugget is a tough choice for Nom, especially when Emmy was choosing the dice, and was reluctant to add more attack dice to her pool.  She did have Nugget’s Dagger and was able to inflict bleed on him early, that pretty much negated his “recover 1”.  This is where the modifications came into play.  I gave her infinite stones, allowing her to be a ranged character.  This gave her the opportunity to hit Nom every time, and not have to worry about moving back to him after he clubbed her across the universe.  It still made for a long battle, but in the end she was victorious.  Emmy hopped off of her chair and ran through the house, arms raised in the air, screaming “I beat Nom!  I beat Nom!”  It felt like a real accomplishment for her, and she was pumped!

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Later that same day she asked to play again!  She learned a bit from her previous play and made some really smart adjustments (more attack dice, anyone?), thinking of the long game now.  She was once again victorious, and was equally excited.  We packed up the game, and later that night I heard her playing in her room, she was Nugget and she was battling Nom.  Her imagination was on fire!

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I should mention this was not Emmy’s first foray into Daelore.  During the last Kickstarter, for Undertow, Chip Theory Games did a really cool interactive story throughout the campaign.  They would post little short chapters of an ongoing story and ask the backers for a “choose your own ending” type of decision.  These choice then altered the next part of the story, but sometimes even unlocked things in the game!  While this was happening I would read the stories to Emmy and allow her to make the decision for me.  She would then wait anxiously for the next chapter to see if what she chose was used.  It became a little ritual we would do every day before school.  If she got ready in time, we could read the story.  It was phenomenal.  When the campaign was over she was sad, so I dug out my PDF of the Liberation Logbook and started to read through that with her.  At this time she asked me to teach her to play the game, that did not go so well.  But the story?  The story stayed with her.  As she was playing Nugget vs. Nom in her room I heard her incorporate Duster into the story, and although she mixed up Nugget and Boomer (NO SPOILERS) in her tale, she still remembered most of it!

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Too Many Bones has become more than just a board game to my daughter, it has become an actual world that she has immersed herself in.  It has sparked her imagination, and made her play as a hero battling the evil Tyrants.  She was so inspired that she created her own Gearloc, named Dicea.  She even made up play for her, Dicea is a Gearloc that can mimic other Gearlocs in her party, and even some Baddie traits.  She has been playing her on top of an existing chip using the chip she drew.   She has marked her little calendar with the Undertow release date (possibly June), and is counting down to when she can play as Duster.  In the meantime, she has made up her own tales about these characters, and I have now assumed the role as Duster, and we are now both running around the house like lunatics.  It is a rare game that continues to be with you once you have packed the components away, but this is definitely one of those for my daughter, and I couldn’t be happier, or more proud!

 

Emmy’s Take:

“I don’t like Too Many Bones.  I love Too Many Bones!  I love to be Nugget, and my favorite die is my bleed die (Nugget’s Dagger).  I love it because it can bleed people.  It goes to a 1 or 2.  I like fighting Mulmesh.  I want to go play now, so bye, bye friends.”

Too Many Bones gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

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… Seek Revenge

Please note all uncredited photos were taken by me, and are of the original Print and Play files.  Additional pictures are property of Altema Games and are used here with permission, are of the latest version of the game.

Having a limited gaming budget often forces me to think outside of the box when trying out new games.  In this case way out of the box, like no box at all.  Of course I am talking about Print and Plays.  If you do not know what a Print and Play is, you don’t know what you are missing.  Some companies, like Button Shy Games, offer their games with a Print and Play option at a lower price point.  Many Kickstarters offer Print and Plays as a way to “try before you buy”, or even making premium PnP’s available after the campaign, giving backer a chance to play the game before the hard copy reaches their doorsteps.  Others start out as a PnP and morph into something bigger.  I have a lot of PnP’s in my collection, but there is one that has always stood out for me, Unbroken.  In my opinion, this game has been screaming for the full box treatment, and now it is finally getting that chance!




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Unbroken, designed by Artem Safarov, and soon to be published by Altema Games, is a game designed as a solo experience, right from the start.  This is a bit of an oddity in the gaming world.  Many games are designed as multiplayer experiences with solo modes added on later.  Unbroken started off as a single player experience, and has stayed true to that.  The purely solo experience is one of the first reasons I was attracted to this offering.  Once I saw the files, and played through the game a few times, I was hooked.

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Picture courtesy of Altema Games- used with permission

Unbroken is a dungeon crawler at heart, but not one with a hero looking for gold and glory.  No, in this game you are looking for revenge.  Your character is the lone survivor of an adventuring party, a party that went deadly wrong.  Battered, bruised, near death yourself, you try to find your way out of the depths of the dungeon you find yourself in, while getting a little revenge on the monsters along the way.  This game will test you at every turn, making choices at every turn, some for the good, and some for the bad.  You may get ambushed by a monster, or get the drop on it with a bit of trickery.  Will you have enough food to make it through the day, or even enough energy, or as this game calls it, effort, to make it to the end of this encounter?  Should you trade your precious resources to craft better weapons?  Or do you rest, getting ready for what comes next?  Did you beat the monster but forgot to plan enough food for the recover afterwards, well guess what, you still lose!  The choices are endless, and so much fun to make.  There are times when you kick yourself for trading food to make a knife, only to starve later on.  There are times when you pat yourself on the back for getting just the right card at just the right time!

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Picture courtesy of Altema Games- used with permission

There is a lot of content in this game.  The file contains 4 characters to choose from, each with their own special abilities.  There is no shortage of bad guys waiting to crush you either, 24 to choose from spread out over 4 different levels of the dungeon.  There are trackers for everything, from health, to even the effort that you must expend to take your actions. The effort comes in three different varieties small, medium, and large, and can be used to power up moves in battle, or used outside of battle to complete actions.  This was a mechanic that I am not used to seeing, but fits so perfectly with this theme.  There are 88 cards providing the tough choices I mentioned earlier.  These cards are used during the adventuring phase, and allow you to prepare for the upcoming battle.  This game tracks the time that you have spent doing various actions, everything you do takes time, so you must manage it wisely.  Waste too much of it, and you will find yourself facing a monster that you are definitely not prepared for!  Some actions will take more time than others.  There are also 24 skill cards, often given as a reward for beating a monster, and may just give you the boost that you need to overcome a difficult obstacle.  All of this content is offered in a PnP, but wait!  There’s more!  The art on the characters and monsters are amazing, and not what I am used to seeing on a free download.

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Picture courtesy of Altema Games- used with permission

Unbroken is so complex that I often spend so much (real) time thinking over the choices, that I wind up overthinking, and making the wrong one.  This game is also very simplistic at it’s core.  Wait, I just said it was complex, how can it be simplistic too?  To be honest, I’m not sure, but somehow Artem has managed to do it!  The monster battles have an epic feel, with all your preparations leading up to it, but it also comes down to the roll of a die to see what damage, if any, the monster inflicts upon you.  Simple, right?  Your attacks can use effort, cunning, or even your own food to help you in battle, but if you use to much, you cannot continue.  Complex, right?  In between monster battles you character travels, drawing two card from an encounter deck.  You must choose one of these cards.  These are the choices that can make or break your adventurer.  Unbroken gives the player so much control over what happens to their characters, helping you to immerse yourself in the experience.  The more you play this game, the better you get at it.  Learning what you really need, as opposed to what you thought you might need.  It’s a getting to know the characters experience.  This entire experience is a quick one too!  A normal game plays in 15-30 minutes, depending on how well you plan.

I am very excited that Unbroken is getting the full game treatment.  The pictures I have seen from the Kickstarter project are amazing, and that is saying a lot.  I did not think it was possible to make Unbroken any more amazing than it was, then I saw the new art and layouts, and was astonished.  This PnP has been in my collection for some time, it has seen many plays, and will probably see many more.  I cannot wait to get a retail copy of this game, with all the shiny bells and whistles.  If your interested in backing this game you can find it here.  My limited gaming budget will definitely make room for this worthy addition to my collection!

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Picture courtesy of Altema Games- used with permission

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly sought revenge!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

Don’t forget, once I hit 200 followers on Twitter, I will have a giveaway of a copy of Mint Tin Pirates!!