… Engage in La Petite Guerre!

A review copy of Maquis were provided by Side Room Games.  We would like to thank Side Room Games for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

Dear reader, you and I have been through much together.  We have battled orcs, been attacked by vicious sea monsters, been to space and back, and countless other adventures.  I feel that these perilous journeys have forged a trust between us that cannot be broken.  This is why I know I can trust you with this next bit of information.  I have recently become the member of a secret band of freedom fighters.  We are fighting to free our mother country from the clutches of the Nazi’s.  I implore you to read further and to, possibly, join me in this crusade.  Dear reader, this may be the last you hear from me, but know, that if it is, that I have done it all for my love of France!

Are you still reading?  Good.  Then I can tell you more.  The time is World War II.  The Nazi’s have occupied France and a small Resistance has formed to stamp out the occupiers.  The freedom fighters have two missions to accomplish, time is short, and danger is around ever corner.  The Maquis are waiting.

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Maquis is a solitaire worker placement strategy game, designed by Jake Staines and soon-to-be-published by Side Room Games, the Kickstarter ends on May 5, 2019.  Maquis began as a print and play game, earning a 2013 Golden Geek Best Print & Play nomination.  The game has a very small footprint, is recommended for ages 12 and up, and plays in about 20 minutes.  In Maquis you are the mastermind, placing workers throughout the city, gathering food, intelligence, supplies, and money, in an effort to complete two vital missions.  The completion of these missions are the difference between a win for the Resistance or complete annihilation.  Let’s take a deeper look into exactly what all this entails.

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Set up is quick and effortless, setting up the pieces takes minimal time.  The game includes a compact board with various locations of the city gathered around it.  Each location is attached to one or more other location by pathways.  Most locations allow the player to collect a resource, a visit to the doctor will garner medical supplies, the grocer will provide much needed food, a trip to the radio towers will allow the player to call for an air drop, gaining food, money or weapons.  Spare rooms scattered around town will allow the player to pay to upgrade them to other, much needed, spaces, such as a chemist who can make bombs, or an informant that will offer intelligence.

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The object of the game, as I mentioned, is to complete both missions.  Missions are randomly selected from a mission deck, the prototype I received had 10 missions to chose from, making each game different.  The morale of the town also plays a large part of the game, adding more Milice as morale goes down.  Morale goes down on certain days as depicted on the day tracker.  Morale can also be raised or lowered by certain actions around the town.  Trade much needed supplies on the Black Market and morale will drop.  Donate supplies to the Poor District and morale will go up.  Aside from affecting the morale the day track can also spell doom for the Resistance.  If your objectives have not been reached by the 15th day your efforts have been discovered and your uprising has been squashed.  You have also failed if all your workers have been if the morale have reached the “fail” space.

Play starts with three workers meeting in the safe house.  More workers can be recruited from a nearby cafe, but more workers ultimately means more Milice, and more danger.  Each day you will place your workers, one at a time, at different locations, setting your plans in motions.  After each worker is placed a card is drawn from a Patrol Deck and a matching Milice is placed on the location shown on the card.  If that location is occupied they move to a second location, if that is also occupied they move to a third.  If that is also occupied they return to the first and attempt to make an arrest.  Should one of your workers have the misfortune of being on one of those spaces they are taken into custody, and never heard from again.  After all workers and Milice have been placed the workers must then make the perilous journey back to the safe house.  The worker must have a clear route back, without running into a Milice.  If such a pathway is not available they are arrested and removed from the game, permanently.  Hey, these are Nazi’s we’re talking about, what did you expect?  You do have the option of shooting a Milice, and thereby getting away.  If you have a weapon you may trade it in to take out the Milice.  This action will lower the morale of the town as the Nazi’s now call in a solider to replace the fallen Milice.  Soldiers cannot be shot and permanently replace the removed Milice.

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The copy of Maquis that I was provided was a prototype, even so was pretty well done.  The board, as I mentioned was compact, yet very well laid out and well done.  The colors and art was perfect for the theme.  The different tokens were easy to distinguish and use.  The components were well thought out, from the color of the meeples to the iconography.  This was a good prototype, I cannot wait to see what the finished product looks like.

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Maquis is a very tense game.  I cannot bring to mind another game that has had me biting my nails quite as much as this one has.  This particular period of history was fraught with tension and uncertainty, and Maquis does an impressive job of duplicating that feeling.  Maquis is a very difficult game to win, and that’s okay.  The Patrol Deck contains 10 cards, and should the player feel, they could easily be memorized, stacking this deck in the favor of the player.  With each play I felt like I was getting better, as I placed my workers more efficiently, thinking ahead, and making accommodations.  In this game, however, most well laid plans go exactly where the old adage suggests.  Many of my games have ended with a well thought out plan that was blown to pieces by taking too big of a risk, or not enough.  A poorly timed Patrol card can mean the end of the game quickly.  Maquis forces the player to find the right, delicate balance of risk and safe.  This balance is not often found, but when it is, it is most satisfying.

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Maquis is, as of this posting, on Kickstarter, and is a game that I highly recommend.  If you are looking for a solo game that has lots of replayabilty, this game is for you.  If you are looking for a game that plays as a tense puzzle, this game is for you.  If you are looking for a game that packs a lot of game into a short time, this game is for you.  If you are looking for a fun, thinky, thematic experience, this game is for you.  Maquis deserves a place on my shelf, and I think it might on yours too!

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly engaged in la petite guerre!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

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Come Play With E! Time Breaker Edition

A review copy of Time Breaker was provided by Looney Labs.  We would like to thank Looney Labs for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

Like most families, my daughter and I often take trips to the local park after school and on weekends.  She loves to run around, play on the swings, and of course the playground equipment.  Her absolute favorite thing in the world is to play Time Traveler.  She and I climb aboard the jungle gym, which is magically transformed into our time machine.  We then choose different spots in time and travel back to them.  This usually involves a small history lesson from me as we are travelling.  Then we have to, of course, save the day, thereby saving time itself.

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When we both heard about the newest offering from Looney Labs, Time Breaker, it was no surprise that my daughter wanted to get her hands on it.  Time Breaker, designed by Andrew Looney, featuring artwork by Derek Ring, plays 2-5 players in about 15 minutes.  In the game you take on the role of an officer in the security division of the Time Repair Agency (TRA).  It is your job to track down and apprehend a time breaker who is on the loose wrecking havoc on the space-time continuum.

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Game is played on a 5 X 5 grid tiles that represent gates into different time locations.  Play begins on the center tile, which represents the TRA headquarters.  The surrounding tiles are places randomly, making each game unique.  Player will maneuver around the board by playing cards from their hands, following the arrows on the tiles, or through wormholes.  Cards come in several different forms.  Move cards allow you to do just that, moving your pawn one tile over dependent on the card.  Some allow lateral movement, while other allow vertical movement.  Jump cards allow you to move your pawn directly to the time tile shown on the card.  Action cards have 8 different effects that can do vastly different things, from moving you directly to HQ (very handy if you have managed to arrest the Time Breaker) to moving other players around the board.  Breaker cards are action cards that have the Time Thief performing actions, such as crashing gates (removing them from the board) or moving the breaker to another tile.  Lastly, the Stop Time card will nullify another player from playing a card.

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Once the 5 X 5 grid is built the Time Breaker, represented by a clear cube, is placed on the tile in the upper left corner.  Players start on the middle HQ card.  Each player is dealt 3 cards, and play begins.  Each turn players will draw one card and then take an action.  Players may chose, as an action, to play a card from their hand, follow an arrow on a tile, or go through a wormhole.  Playing a card from your hand is as simple as that.  Each tile has a green on the bottom of it and red arrow on the top of it.  As an action a player may choose to follow the green arrow on the tile.  This will take the player to the time tile that follows that tile directly in time.  Choosing a wormhole will have layer draw a new card and immediately play it, regardless if it is beneficial for the player.  Once both of these steps have been taken play moves to the next player.

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Players are moving around the board trying to land on the same tile as the Time Breaker.  Once they do the player can announce, out loud, that they are arresting the Time Breaker.  The cube is now in custody and will move wherever the player moves to.  The player must now try to return to the HQ without another agent stealing the breaker away, arresting them on their own.

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Time Breaker plays very quickly, and is a great addition to any collection.  It has a very small footprint and can be played virtually anywhere the 5 X 5 grid can fit.  The rules are simple to follow and make for teaching the game to new players very easy to do.  The construction of the random 5 X 5 grid makes for a unique experience every game, helping to keep it fresh and replayable.  As you are playing there are a lot of “take that” moments, but they never really feel malicious or mean.  We have spent a lot of time laughing over coming so close to getting a win only to have it slip away at the last minute.

The components are well made.  The time tiles are a thick cardboard and are a compact size, helping to keep the footprint small.  The cards are also well made and have held up nicely to repeated shuffling, although during the game reshuffling is very rarely necessary.  The pawns are bright and colorful, and we really loved the inclusion of different colors other than the standard red, green, blue, yellow.  The small box fits everything and takes up very little space on my shelf.  Best of all, it is made right here in the USA, something Looney Labs is very proud of.  🙂

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Overall we really enjoyed this game, and although the box recommends ages 8 and up Emmy had little trouble playing this game.  It took he a bit to understand some of the cards, she’s still learning to read, but she caught on pretty quickly.  The flow was quick, and there was very little downtime for Emmy to get distracted and lose interest.  This game has definitely been a win with her, as I am sure she will tell you next!

Emmy’s take:

“I love Time Breaker, it’s a good game.  I would change the rule that one of you has to win, I wish we were working together.  I like there is a pink pawn.  I like Galileo’s telescope.  I really like the tiles and the art, and all the different times.  It’s like an old timey game, it goes back in the time, like in 1901.  The game was really cool!  Bye!!”

Time Breaker gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

Did you like what you read here?  Please follow us here, Facebook, and on Twitter to receive the most up to date posting information as well as other related and unrelated posts!  We have also launched a YouTube Channel where Emmy does playthroughs of her favorite games.  Please, feel free to leave a comment below!

… Become the World’s Most Famous Superhero!

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

Back in the proverbial day I was the weird kid that collected comic books.  I remember eagerly awaiting the next issues for a bunch of titles that I read religiously.  Comic book day could never come fast enough.  Comics helped me through a lot growing up like moving to a new place, trying to fit in, figuring out who I was, puberty, you name it, comics tackled it.

As I got older I grew away from comics, but I still have my collection buried deep in my hallway closet.  Every now and then I am drawn back to them for a time, until they do something to make me mad, like killing off my favorite character.  But in the end, they are like an old friend to me, and I always know they are there, whenever I’m ready for them.

With all of that being said it came as no surprise to anyone that when Van Ryder Games released their line of Graphic Novel Adventures (GNA) last spring, that I was immediately intrigued.  When Meeple Mountain and Van Ryder Games reached out to me to write an article for Captive, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough.  You can read all about it here, if you’d like.  SPOILER ALERT, I loved them.

Fast forward a little less than a year, Van Ryder announces Season 2 of the Graphic Novel Adventures, currently on Kickstarter.  This time they upped the ante for my by including Mystery, written by CED, illustrated by Stivo and translated by JF Gagnea GNA about becoming a superhero!  It was like my childhood fantasy come true.  Once again I was immediately on board!!

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Mystery, like the previous GNA’s is a graphic novel written in the Choose Your Own Adventure style with boardgame elements implemented.  A perfect marriage of gaming and graphic novels.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the GNA series, you are the main character of the graphic novel.  The choices you make can be life or death, the difference between success or failure.  Each book contains a character sheet that tracks different stats of the character you are playing.  In Mystery, this is a new superhero, trying to earn enough Hero Points to become part of an elite superhero team.  Along the way you will also be able to earn and upgrade your powers such as flight, super senses, your fortune, and strength.  Each of these traits can help during different tasks and skill checks.

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There is not much that I can say about Mystery that will not spoil the fun for everyone, but I can say that it is a smooth, fun adventure.  In comparison to the first books in the series, I found Mystery to be much lengthier.  I have played through several times already, and more than once I have had to play over several nights.  I love the artwork of this particular book, it goes perfectly with the theme.

As with the other books in the GNA series, you can read through dozens of times without seeing everything, and certainly without having the same experience twice.  The more you play the more you can think out some of your choices making the beginning rounds easier to work with.  For example, it became clear to me after the first try which powers I should allocate my starting two points to.  After that, however, my adventures always branched out into different, and fun places.  The story leads itself to many laughable moments, and I’ll admit to laughing out loud more than once.  There are plenty of nods to comics of old as well as the old comic book tropes.

Mystery also includes cool QR codes that you can scan with a QR reader.  These codes, not necessary to game play, unlock cool background information on the locations and characters that you are interacting with.  It was a nice little touch that really helped the story come to life for me, after all, who doesn’t like a little backstory?

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Like it’s predecessors I love the fact that GNA’s are completely portable, and can be played anywhere!  I have taken my copies of the first season to the beach, to doctors offices, on car and plane rides, and even to school with me.  There is nowhere that you can’t bust a copy out and play.  I love that it is a game that I can drop in a backpack, pull out, and use anywhere because the footprint just the size of a book.  One small thing, the copy that I was sent was a paperback, Van Ryder Games will be selling their copies in hardcover format, making the book much nicer (if you can imagine that) than the one I have pic of here.

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Season 1 of the GNA’s was incredible, and based on the small sampling of Season 2 (there are five books offered this time around) it is going to be better than ever.  I am already waiting for Season 3!  If this sounds like something that might interest you, (and really how could it not?) head over to the Kickstarter before march 25, 2019 and pick up your copies.  You will not be sorry!!

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly became the world’s most famous superhero!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

…Defend the Capital City!

A review copy of Tiny Epic Defenders and Tiny Epic Defenders: The Dark War were provided by Gamelyn Games.  We would like to thank Gamelyn Games for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

A few years back I was just getting into the solo gaming scene.  I had played, and owned, plenty of games for more than one player, both cooperative and competitive, but I was looking for something that could hold me over between game nights.  I did some research and found that solo gaming was a real thing.  The rest of that story is pretty well documented here, but what is not are some of the games that got me here, my inaugural games, so to speak.

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One of the first games that I found was Tiny Epic Defenders.  The tiny and epic parts were an instant attraction to me, I immediately was onboard, grabbing the deluxe version as soon as I could.  Although it had to be played two handed, it never felt like I was playing that way, and this was a big plus for me.  When it arrived I immediately cracked into it, playing four consecutive games that afternoon.  It remains one of my favorite games even today.

A few years later, last year to be exact, Gamelyn Games launched a sequel to TED, Tiny Epic Defenders : The Dark War.  With this release they revamped the original TED.  Artwork, mechanics, and other little changes were made to the game.  I was unsure about the changes, but set out to find if they really made a difference, or if it was just a clever way to grab some extra cash.  The Dark War was made compatible with the second edition of the game, not the first, so I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical, hey, I’m from New York, what do you expect?

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First let me tell you what you need to know about TED.  Tiny Epic Defenders was designed by Scott Almes, published by Gamelyn Games, with the new artwork by Ian Rosenthaler and Benjamin Shulman.  It is a medieval fantasy area control game that has player trying to keep hordes of enemies at bay while protecting various areas of the world.  The game can be played by 1-4 players in about half an hour.  Now let’s continue with my thoughts on this…

When the new copy arrived the first thing I noticed was the artwork.  The original seemed more gritty and darker.  The new art seemed more in line with a lot of the other games Gamelyn was producing.  It felt like more of the Tiny Epic family than it’s older sibling.  All of the artwork was changed, it is almost a completely new game from that aspect.  Another big change was to the meeples.  Anyone who is familiar with what Gamelyn Games has been doing recently has heard of their ITEMeeples.  Meeples that can actually hold items!  Why has no one thought of this before?  Meeples that can move around the board actually equipping their treasures, who can say no to that?  The ITEMeeples were introduced in Tiny Epic Quest, and honestly was the main reason I picked that one up!  Back on track though…

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I played TED and was immediately reminded why I loved this game so much to begin with.  The game play is quick and straightforward, but the choices make the game very tense, and very satisfying.  If you can make it to the end to fight, and hopefully defeat, the Epic Boss. you really feel like you accomplished something.

Some of the changes were made to gameplay as well.  The first change is made right out of the gate with the set up.  To begin the game the first round of cards is set up with three enemy cards on top and all the player cards on the bottom.  Many times I played the first edition of this game and had my player cards come out first.  There was nothing for me to do but waste my turn and then wait for the enemies to beat up on me at the end of the round.  With the change to the set up this has alleviated this problem, giving the players a bit of a chance to respond to the threats in the first round.  Subsequent rounds are done as before, with the deck randomly shuffled.

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Another setup change has all the regions starting at a threat level of zero as opposed to a threat level of one, as in the first edition rules.  This too serves to give the players a bit of an even playing ground out of the gate.  it was very rare, but there were times in the first edition where a region was completely destroyed before my characters got a chance to play!

Other changes include actions changes on the outer regions, making some interesting choices to be made with your action points.  The Capital City now has a threat level of 7 as opposed to the previous 6.  This gives you a little more wiggle room while making choices.  One of the biggest changes, for me, was how the outer regions fall.  Previously when a card caused an outer region to fall it did its damage, a card from the reserves was pulled and placed face down on the region to show it was destroyed.  The card that caused the destruction was then placed in the discard pile and would show up again next round.  This has been changed for, in my opinion, the better.  Now, the card that caused the region to fall is used as the destruction marker, removing it from play, and giving the players a bit of breathing room in that region.

 

The new changes certainly make the game more fluid and certainly were worth picking up the new edition.  The major reason for me though, was the new Tiny Epic Defenders: The Dark War.  One play of this expansion made it clear that I would never play TED without it again.  The Dark War adds so much to a game that I already loved.  Aside from adding new heroes, treasures, foes, and new outer region cards, there is now a campaign mode, special powers for each region that can be good, or bad for your heroes.  Heroes can now learn skills by earning experience points.  Heroes must now escort caravans of innocent civilians to the Capital City as part of the win conditions, and can interact with 3D constructs within the outer regions.

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There is so much more to explore in TED with the addition of The Dark War.  TED was already a game with a lot of decision making, The Dark War adds so much more to consider with your choices.  Playing solo these choices can be hard enough, add playing cooperatively with three other people and there is a lot of table discussion on how best to proceed.

How does it play solo?  As I mentioned before, it plays two handed, but has never felt that way to me.  I love to play solo, and have logged a ton of hours doing so.  I love the small package, as advertised, and have brought it on overnight hotel trips with me.  I did introduce this to my daughter, and since then have not been allowed to play it alone.  She loves it so much that I almost thought of writing this up on her blog.  It appeals to both of us, and really has us working together to keep everything under control, because believe me, things can go from zero to sixty in the blink if an eye!

The skeptical New Yorker in me is happy to admit that I was wrong.  I am so glad that I took a look at this game, and am so happy that it is coming back to my table again!  The game made serious changes that vastly improve the core game.  These changes are more than worth the tiny price tag associated with picking up another copy.  I am happy to add this to my (not so) Tiny Epic collection.

Gamelyn Game has just launched a new title in their Tiny Epic series, Tiny Epic Tactics.  This new addition to the collection boasts a pretty cool looking solo game experience in a 3D environment!  It was an instant back for me, I can’t wait to play it, and tell you all about it.  In the meantime, if you’d like to check it out it is on Kickstarter until March 7, 2019.

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly defended the Capital City!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

Come Play with E! Mint Tin Skulduggery Edition

If you follow our blog, or have even read a few of our posts you may have noticed there are a few publishers whose games we have covered more than once.  These are people, who continue to put out quality content over and over again.  Most of these publishers we also have the pleasure of calling friends, people whom we have gotten to know through our posts, meetings, and other internet communications.

Picture courtesy of subQuark Publishing- used with permission

One of these publishers falls into all of these categories and more, and I am excited to let you know currently has a Kickstarter for their latest offering, Mint Tin SkulduggerySubQuark Publishing is a small, family owned, game publisher, run by two of Emmy and my favorite people, David Miller, and Kate Beckett.  The duo have made some of Emmy’s favorite games including Mint Tin Pirates, and Mint Tin Aliens (you can read her review of those games here).  David and Kate run their operation out of their home, sorting through every piece of their games, from the tokens to the dice.  They even hand stamp their own tins!  Every component is made in the USA, including coins minted in the oldest private US mint.  Quality means everything to them, and it shows in their games.

Picture courtesy of subQuark Publishing- used with permission

Mint Tin Skulduggery is no exception.  Although we have not played the final version, Emmy and I were able to download the rules, and out together a makeshift set.  The rules are simple, the components minimal, making this a great travel, and play anywhere game.  The game begins with each player gaining a crystal skull.  A single die is rolled to determine the spirit number.  Players then take turns rolling three dice trying to roll the spirit number.  One spirit number is worth one point, in the form of a white skull, two spirit numbers will get you a black skull, valued at 5 points, and three spirit numbers will get you two black skulls, or 10 points.  There is a bit of a caveat, you must win by exactly 15 points, go over and you must forfeit the points that you just won.  However, the points can be skewed thanks to those crystal skulls.  They can be used to smash a die, effectively removing it from the game (temporarily).  This can be used to alter your rolls, or that of your opponents.  Each player is granted only one of these skulls at the beginning of the game, so choosing when to use it can be vital.  Fear not, you can get it back.  Roll three of a kind, of any number and you may reclaim your crystal skull.  But wait!  If you already have your skull you will instead call forth the Winged Death Head coin.  Shudder.  This coin comes out into the middle of the table.  If three of a kind is rolled again, without claiming a crystal skull all points are then passed to the player on your left.  Yep, the game can change in the blink of an eye.  Points can also be altered by rolling a 1-2-3, giving a point to the player, or players, with the lowest score.  Rolling a 4-5-6 removes a point from the player, or players, with the highest score.

White & black skull are about 8mm and the crystal skulls about 12mm

Picture courtesy of subQuark Publishing- used with permission

Mint Tin Skulduggery is a fast playing game, one that lends itself to high tension moments, and crushing blows.  Emmy and I have played it more than a few times, and we have had only close games.  The rules make it so that no one is a runaway in this game.  We have had come from behind victories that would be virtually impossible in other games.  No victory is sealed until the last die is rolled.  This makes the game so enjoyable for little ones, since they are never really out of the game.  The play moves so quickly that downtime is virtually nonexistent as well.  I have read there is a solo mode available for Mint Tin Skulduggery, but we have had so much fun playing it together that I have not even attempted it yet!

Until we get our final copy in hand I cannot really talk about the component quality.  However, based on the previous games that we have gotten from David and Kate, I cannot fathom they would be any less than stellar.  I know they will go the extra mile to ensure that each and every gamer is as perfect as humanly possible.  The gameplay is smooth, quick, and fun.  This is a game that has made it into Emmy’s “restaurant bag”, the bag that we take whenever we leave the house, and will also be making the trip to Disney with us this weekend.  It can be played anywhere, anytime, and with anyone.

Art files for the mint's custom dies & our sample which is slightly larger than a US quarter

Picture courtesy of subQuark Publishing- used with permission

If you are looking for a fun, travel game, then Mint Tin Skulduggery more than fits the bill.  If you are looking for a game that has been created by people who truly care about the gaming community and their customer base, then you need to meet David and Kate.  If you are looking for a game that is affordable, then the $13 price tag is for you (although it will go up to $15 if you miss the Kickstarter)  If you are looking for the full package, you will not be disappointed in Mint Tin Skulduggery.  Take a moment to check it out on Kickstarter now until December 9, 2018.

Emmy’s take:

“I love, love, love it!  This game is so much fun!  You never know who is going to win!  It it sometimes me, it is sometimes not me!  If you can, you should get this game!”

Mint Tin Skulduggery gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

Did you like what you read here?  Please follow us here, Facebook, and on Twitter to receive the most up to date posting information as well as other related and unrelated posts!  We have also launched a YouTube Channel where Emmy does playthroughs of her favorite games.  Please, feel free to leave a comment below!

… Lead a Robot Revolution!

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

Here in the States Election Day has just passed.  For most states new appointed officials have been named, while in other the recounts are beginning.  As with every Election Day there are some who are pleased with the results, and others who are less than.  Those who are happy have a few years to relish in their wins.  The unhappy masses, most look for other ways to spend their time, and frustrations, like becoming a robot Propaganda Minister set on brainwashing the citizens into joining your cause, for example.  Sound like fun?  Then I’ve got a game for you!

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Cogs and Commissars, designed by Matt Haga, illustrated by Zoran Cardula, and published by Atlas Games is a 2-6 player card game that plays in about half an hour.  In this “take that” style card game you take on the role of the before mentioned Propaganda Minster.  You are battling one or more other parties in a race to control the proletariat, bourgeois and commissars rousing them to your cause.  When you have gathered enough support you may attempt a revolution!  Beware, your opponents may be craftier than you think, and squash your revolution before it gets off the ground.

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Cogs and Commissars is a fast paced, action packed game that harkens back to the days of the Red Scare.  The game comes with six preconstructed 30-card decks, or you may choose to build your own.  Each deck has it’s own Faction Leader, with names like Simulenin, Computin, and Automarx granting you a special power.  Once the decks have been chosen or constructed each player gains two proletariat citizens and draws seven cards to begin the game.  The rules are very simple, consisting of four actions each turn.  The first step is to produce citizens.  This is done by flipping the top two cards of your draw deck.  You will gain citizens based on the color of the star on the lower left hand side of the card.  Yellow stars produce Proletariat (worth 1 point), blue stars produce Bourgeoisie (worth 2 points), and red stars produce Commissars (worth 3 points).  It is important to note that citizens may not be traded in for larger point values, for example three proletariat cannot be traded for a commissar even though the point totals are the same.  Certain cards will have effects that target certain citizens therefore making it necessary to keep all citizens their original colors.

The second action is a discard and draw phase.  You may choose to discard any or all of your cards thereby drawing back up to 7 cards.  The next phase, Propaganda allows players to play any number of Propaganda cards from their hand.  The last phase is the Action phase.  Players will play 1 action card (denoted by a yellow gear) from their hands. Blitz cards (denoted by a blue lightning bolt) can be played at any time, as many as the player chooses, both on the player or opponent’s turn.  Play continues back and forth until one player reaches 15 citizens.  Once this number is achieved they may play a Revolution card.  Other players may counteract the Revolution card using cards of their own.  However, if a player manages to recruit 20 citizens their appeal is too strong, their revolution cannot be stopped, and they win the game.

For anyone who even remotely remembers, has read about, or knows anything about the Red Scare, this game holds a lot of fun references.  From the Faction leader names, mentioned above, to the cards themselves, with names like Control the Media, Define the Truth, and Stifle Free Speech.  The artwork on the cards, box, and even the token is spot on, and perfect for the theme.  As with all Atlas Games the quality of the components is amazing.  The cards are made well, the tokens, are a nice, thick cardboard stock.  I love the extra mile that they go with the insert as well.  It is made for just for Cogs and Commissars, making sure that all the components have a perfect space designed just for them.  The game includes 6 reference cards that, after the initial reading, make the instruction manual obsolete.

The one thing missing from this game was a solo option.  I’m not talented enough to design my own, but can foresee that someone may, making this game even more amazing for me.  In the meantime, I have played with various friends, and even my daughter, and they have all enjoyed it.  I introduced it to a friend who is a non-gamer, she really enjoyed the theme, and at times laughed at loud at the references the cards made.  All in all this has been a great game to play with a group of friends when we need a break from heavier games.  I’m sure that by now you are not surprised to hear that I highly recommend Cogs and Commissars.  🙂

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

Come Play With E! Vast: The Crystal Caverns Edition!

A review copy of Vast: The Crystal Caverns was provided by Leder Games.  We would like to thank Leder Games for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

There are some pitfalls to bringing up a young gamer.  One of them is having your games suddenly labeled as “our games” and then finally “my game”.  This happens more than I’d like to admit.  It seems my collection is diminishing while Emmy’s is growing.  Rapidly.  Never was this so clear as when I received a package from Leder Games.  Inside was a copy of Vast: The Crystal Caverns.  I was really excited about the solo aspects of the game, along with the ability to play as five very different characters.  Before the packing material was cleared away the game was claimed as hers.  I tried to play the complexity card, telling Emmy that this game was pretty complex and might be a bit over her head.  Who was I kidding?  She took to the game like a pro.  So, now my game is hers, and my review is now hers as well.

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Vast: The Crystal Caverns, published by Leder Games, designed by Patrick Leder and David Somerville, with art by Kyle Ferrin, can be played by 1-5 players in a little over an hour.  In Vast players choose one of five different different roles to play, The Knight, The Goblins, The Dragon, The Thief, and even The Cave.  Each role has a different win condition and plays completely differently from the other roles.  The Knight wants to slay the dragon and get out of the cave.  The Goblins want to kill the knight.  The Dragon wants to shake off it’s long slumber and exit the cave.  The Thief wants to collect treasure and break its curse.  Lastly, The Cave just wants to collapse and trap everyone else inside.

 

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Vast” The Crystal Caverns breaks the mold for dungeon crawlers.  There is the basic tile flipping as new areas are explored., however, not all characters will flip tiles, some will move across them without doing so.  The Goblins spawn on unflipped tiles based on the symbols, or the specific tribes.  Crystal tiles will appear much, making the Knight very happy,  however if those tiles are collapsed by The Cave, it’s game over.

The components of Vast are amazing, I’m not even sure where to begin.  Even without the Miniatures Expansion, each box contains a cardboard standee of each character or a wooden meeple.  Each character is so well thought out, and each piece that makes up their components was as well.  From the side quests of The Knight, to the omen tokens of The Cave.  The tiles that make up the physical cave are thick cardboard, as are each of the player boards.  The game includes plenty of cardboard tokens and wooden bits to sort through, as well as different decks of cards for almost every role.  If you add on the Miniatures Expansion, you get a ton of, well…. miniatures.  They are very well done with a lot of amazing detail.  They are not needed to play the game, but really g a long way to making it pop on the table.

I have never played a game like Vast: The Crystal Caverns before.  Picking different roles that play so uniquely is something that makes this game really shine for me.  I love how there are different win conditions for each of the roles.  The components, look, and feel for each of the characters adds to the fun of the game.  I really enjoyed exploring all of the different roles, figuring out their dynamics and how they fit into the overall game.  Emmy and I had a great time playing this game, trying to outsmart one another, while trying to win the game before the cave got us!  It was great that we were not only playing against one another but the cave as well!

Emmy loved Vast.  It was clear this was going to be a favorite from the beginning, the artwork drew her in instantly.  She was intrigued by the different character roles, and play styles.  She loved the idea of the board being alive, and taking part in the game.  She loves it so much that she brought it to Dice Tower Con with us this past summer, and played it almost nightly.  She taught some of the other convention goers how to play as well.  It amazed me how well she picked up the different characters.  She has not played them all just yet, The Thief and The Dragon are still a bit much for her to handle.  I can’t see them being out of her grasp for too long though, she just needs to get that pesky reading thing down.

I did get an opportunity to play Vast solo, just don’t tell my daughter!  It was a lot of fun, and I am eager to try all of the characters.  The designers did a really good job of vetting out the rules and making matches based on the number of players to really make it a fun experience for everyone.  Solo play was a bit intense and there were times when all seemed lost for me, only to pull out a win at the last second.  That was pretty gratifying!

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Emmy and I both recommend this game, as a solo experience, or as a group one.  There really is nothing else like it on the market right now.  It truly is a unique experience that really works.  Everything flows well, and it offers enough variety to keep it fresh after multiple plays.  Leder Games recently ran a very successful Kickstarter followup to The Crystal Caverns called Vast: The Mysterious Manor.  The Mysterious Manor offers more of the asymmetric gameplay found in The Crystal Caverns with new characters, as well as a new board, The Manor.  It looks amazing!

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Emmy’s take:

“Hello everyone!  I think that Vast is one of the number one games in the world.  It’s fun to play, you should all learn about it.  There are figures, they are beautiful.  There are all these tiles, and there are these treasures.  I love it!  I always liked being the knight because she’s a girl!  Buy it!  Bye friends!!”

Vast: The Crystal Caverns gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

Did you like what you read here?  Please follow us here, Facebook, and on Twitter to receive the most up to date posting information as well as other related and unrelated posts!  We have also launched a YouTube Channel where Emmy does playthroughs of her favorite games.  Please, feel free to leave a comment below!

… Become an Architect of the Future

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

I have always enjoyed deck builders.  Deck builders usually play great solo, do not play the same way twice, and offer endless supplies of expansions.  Deck builders also can fall into a bit of a cookie cutter form, one seemlessly blending into the next, with the exception of a new IP.  It doesn’t stop me from trying them, it just stops them from coming to my table as frequently.

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So it only made sense that when I saw Helionox, I was instantly intrigued.  Helionox, published by Zeroic Games, designed by Taran Lewis Kratz and illustrated by Luke Green,  is a 1-4 player deck builder that plays is about 45 minutes.  Set in the distant future where the sun has been depleted, you play as an “architect” trying to influence the remaining population through new technology, operatives, and even establishing embassies on other planets.  Where Helionox separates itself from other deck builders is in these details.  There are plenty of cards to buy, from four different factions, defense, bio, cyber, and transport.  Each of these cards has their own specialty.  Defense cards offer, well, more defense.  Bio cards offer hand management techniques.  Cyber deals with influence and infamy, adding and reducing yours and your opponents.  Transport focuses on, as one would suspect, movement, as well as adding more cards to your hand. Some of these cards will also offer victory points, or influence, at the end of the game.

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Each round event cards are revealed that threaten to shut down planets, make it more costly to enter, to leave, or even to use each planet’s special powers.  These events quickly stack making things spiral out of control quickly.  When the event deck runs out, it’s game over.  This limits the amount of turns you have each game, making each decision per round that much tougher to make.  Waste too much time buying cards and you’ll never have a chance to use them.  Turn your focus away from the events for too long and you may live to regret it. Build an embassy now, or save the credits for something else and build one later?

Credits, this games version of money, can be hard to come by.  They can be used to buy new cards.  They can be used to fly from one planet to another, necessary to take on the events there.  They can be used to dispel an event, or activate a planet’s special power.  This makes money management a big deal too.  There have been many games where the amount of cards that I had acquired from the market was minimal as compared to the average deck builder.  This almost seemed counter-intuitive to me, but somehow, it all works out in Helionox.  Every turn is an agonizing choice.

There are so many nuances to Helionox it is hard to list them all in one place.  Each player chooses an Architect to play.  Each Architect has different abilities they can use at the cost of cyro counters.  Cyro counters are placed on the architect card when abilities are used, one is then removed each round.  Cyro abilities cannot be used until all cyro counters have been removed.  This makes the timing of these powers critical.  You may only have one opportunity per game to use it, so choose wisely!

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As if this were not enough, an expansion, Mercury Protocol is also included in the deluxe version of the game.  This adds more choices for game play including adding illegal tech to your locations, and picking up and dropping off cargo as an income generator.  There are so many layers to Helionox that the replayability is endless.  This game has come to my table more than a dozen times and no two experiences have been the same.\

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The components are really well done.  There are tons of tokens made out of thick cardboard.  Player mats help keep everything organized and also have a handy reminder section for play order as well as a token and symbol guide.  The game board is awesome, and also helps make set up a breeze.  The artwork is phenomenal, helping to tie the theme together with the game play.  Embassies and ship tokens are made out of chunky wood, in bright colors making them a stark contrast to the game board.

I have had a lot of fun playing Helionox.  I have played it both solo and with friends.  I cannot say which way I like it better.  As I mentioned, no two games are the same, and that keeps me coming back for more. I am hard pressed to find something that I do not like about the game.  it plays in just the right amount of time, for me.  The event deck making the game end in a certain time frame really helps to add to the suspense and the tension of the game.  There have been time when I almost found myself biting my nails while making a decision.  Each choice in Helionox can feel like life or death for this struggling population.  I truly recommend this game if you enjoy deck builders and are looking for something outside the box.  Helionox truly offers a unique experience, and I can’tr wait to see what Zerioc Games has up their sleeves next!

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Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly was an architect of the future!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

 

Come Play With E! Robit Riddle Edition

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

Like all good geeks of a certain age I absolutely loved Choose Your Own Adventure books from back in the day.  I fondly remember reading through each of my copies until I had gotten every ending, and traversed every path that lead to them.  Therefore, it has been with great interest, and excitement that I have watched the resurgence of this genre, especially when it crossed over into the board gaming world.

My daughter is way too young to have experienced any of this, and sadly those beloved books are long gone.  Van Ryder recently released a really cool collection of Graphic Novel Adventure Books (I did a review of Captive that you can read here).  This collection was also a bit too dark for my daughter, so it almost seemed as if she’d have to wait to experience choosing her own adventure for a few more years.  Almost.

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Recently we came across Robit Riddle, a storybook game designed by Kevin Craine, illustrated by John Ariosa, and published by Baba Geek Games and Atlas Games.  Robit Riddle was initially released through a very successful Kickstarter, one that I was sad to miss.  Now it is readily available through Atlas Games and you FLGS.  The game packs all of the choose your own adventure excitement that I remember experiencing as a child into a family friendly story telling game for all ages.

In Robit Riddle you take on the role of one of six robots looking for their missing pets, known as robits.  Players will work together, choosing different paths in the story, pooling their resources to overcome tests and adversaries, and even making new friends along the way.  The main box comes with 3 different stories to choose from, although there seems to be a hint of more to come.

As you would expect the game is played, mainly, through reading a story book.  Certain spots will ask for a choice to be made, flipping to the corresponding part of the book.  At times there will be tests required, or as Robit Riddle calls them, encounters.  Encounters are breaks from the text in which players are encouraged to take on the role of their character and expand upon the story .  Once they have added their part to the story dice are rolled to see if the encounter was successful, if your words had their desired effect.  There are often three outcomes from the dice rolls, a failure and two passes, with one pass being the more favorable of the two outcomes.  During the course of the game players can accumulate story tokens which can also be spent to increase the number of successes.  The story tokens take the form of little metal gears, a really cool touch.  Story tokens can also be spent to add a bookmark to a page.  This mechanic is a nice little touch too.  Once you choose your outcome you may place the bookmark, allowing you to go back to it if you chose poorly.  Once you have resolved another encounter the bookmark is removed, and your opportunity to backtrack is lost.

Robit Riddle is a cute little game, and one that Emmy absolutely loves.  Over the summer we spent an entire night playing Robit Riddle over and over and over again.  She wanted to try to get as many outcomes as she possibly could.  It reminded me of my time with my books when I was a bit older than her.  Her excitement for the story was very clear, she loved the characters, and wanted to save the pets, at all costs.  We played through all three adventures, some more successfully than others, and she consistently comes back for more.  We both hope that there are many more expansions for this game in the future.

If you are looking for a game the entire family can play together, this is for you.  if you like to tell stories and really get into a game, this is for you.  If you want to see your child tap into creativity that you didn’t even know was there, this is for you.  There is hardly a situation that I can think of where this would not be for you.  Emmy and I cannot recommend it enough.  She says we’ve talked about it enough, now we need to go play it!

Emmy’s take:

“Hi friends, it’s me, Emmy!  Robit Riddle is a fun game, and you should try it sometime! It has gears, you should see them, it is so much fun!  There’s cards and the robots are so great!  You take out cards, you play cards, and it’s just like a story game!  You need to buy it!  Bye friends!!”

Robit Riddle gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

Did you like what you read here?  Please follow us here, Facebook, and on Twitter to receive the most up to date posting information as well as other related and unrelated posts!  We have also launched a new YouTube Channel where Emmy does playthroughs of her favorite games.  Please, feel free to leave a comment below!

… Pilot the Nautilus!

A preview copy of Nemo’s War: Second Edition was provided by Victory Point Games.  We would like to thank Victory Point Games for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

The year is 1870, also known as the “Dark Ages” of naval development.  The seas are a mysterious and dangerous place, full of peril and uncertainty.  Vessels are disappearing, lives are lost, and legends of sea creatures can be heard at every port.  Assuming the role as the infamous Captain Nemo, commander of the Nautilus, you set out to confront these mysterious, tame these seas, and maybe gain some fame and treasure along the way.

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Nemo’s War, designed by Chris Taylor and Alan Emrich, illustrated by Ian O’Toole, and published by Victory Point Games, is a 1-4 player game based on the Jules Verne novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  What exactly was Captain Nemo doing in the Nautilus?  If you’re like me, you probably don’t remember too much about the original story, aside from giant sea creatures and a cranky captain.  That’s okay.  Although the game is based on the novel, you really don’t need to have much, or any, prior knowledge of the text.  You are the Captain, you will make the choices, starting with your motivation.  Why are you out here?  Are you looking for scientific discovery? Are you looking to explore the uncharted waters, finding new lands, and possibly people?  Are you trying to incite a war to overthrow the imperial overlords?  Or do you want to support the anti-imperialism cause, lending your resources to the fight?  Once you have chosen your motivation you will construct a draw pile based on your motivation.  Your end game conditions will also depend upon this choice.  The board is then seeded with hidden ship tokens, representing the growing threat in the seas.

Nemo’s War begins in Act One, playing through Three Acts (unless other end game conditions are met).  As each new act is introduced more dice are added to the dice pool and more ships are added to the oceans, bringing the game to a tense crescendo.  The turn begins with an Event Phase, flipping over a new card in the act deck, resolving any events or trying to overcome a test.  Other cards may be put aside to use at a later date.  Tests are completed with a roll of the dice, the cards are then put into a pass discard pile (netting you points at the end of the game) or a failed discard pile.  After the Event Phase is the Placement Phase where new ships are added to the board.  When placing new ships a number of dice is rolled equal to the current Act.  Then dice may be a combination of black and white.  The dice will show you what waters new ships will be place.  The differential of two of the white dice will also determine the amount of action points you will have to spend this turn.  Finally, the Action Phase, where you will have the opportunity to spend your action points.

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Action points can be spent in a number of ways, from adventuring to attacking other ships, from inciting rebellions to resting, repairing or refitting the Nautilus.  Most of these actions will require dice rolls for success or failure.  You may also leverage your crew, ship, and even yourself to help alter these rolls a bit.  Make no mistake, this is just a glossing over of the rules.  This game is deep, with many choices to spend those precious action points on.  Nemo’s War is more than just a “roll the dice, take the action” type game.  There are many choices to make each turn, many different way to help mitigate your rolls, chances to take, that will probably not work out in your favor.

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Nemo’s War, for me, has been immersive, each game bringing new things to overcome, and new ways to do so.  I love the choices, right from the beginning the tone of the game is set with the choice of the motive of Captain Nemo himself.  From there the choices multiply.  Should we start clearing out the seas?  Should we look for treasure?  Do we need to upgrade our ship?  How about starting a rebellion in some far off lands?

Nemo’s War was built with the solo gamer in mind, and that makes all the difference to me.  This was far from a mode that was added on through stretch goals in a Kicistarter.  I have played this game as a solo game, as well as a multiplayer game.  I prefer the solo game by far.  It feels like this game was made to be played purely solo.  Everything, from the tokens to the artwork on the cards is done with prefect detail.  The game draws you into the story, you truly feel as though you are the captain of this ship, making tough choices, and just trying to survive one more day.

Nemo’s War offers a challenge, and many times I have suffered defeat.  Even a “win” is measured by how successful you were, offering five different epilogues for each motive.  The replayability has been immense.  I have not yet played all the motives, instead I keep trying to do better in the ones that I have played already before moving on.  The tokens and gameboard are all very well done, thick cardboard, and well illustrated.  The cards contain quotes from the book, move the story forward, and also are beautifully illustrated.  Everything has been made with attention to detail as well as staying true to the original material.  If you are looking for a solid solo game to add to your collection, look no further, Nemo’s War has it all in one package!

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