… Tame The Forgotten West

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

The Forgotten West, a unforgiving and unfortunate place.  A place not many in their right mind would venture.  You are not like many people, you are a Grimslinger, what that means exactly is not really clear to you at first. You wake to find yourself with the ability to manipulate the elements, tasked with the undertaking to track down and find The Witch King.  Are you up for it?  If so, read on…

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Grimslingers is a sci-fi fantasy deck building card game for 1-6 players, designed by Stephen S. Gibson, and published by Greenbrier Games.  The game can be played in a variety of ways including versus, coop, and solo modes.  The core box also contains a narrative based campaign called The Valley of Death that ideal for the solo player.  This is where the majority of my time has been spent with the game. The Valley of Death can also be played cooperatively with 1-4 players.

The Valley of Death takes you through the story of your Grimslinger, coming to terms with who they now are, and trying to get some answers, as well as find their place in this strange new existence.  The original game, which I have owned for some time now, takes you through the story with the help of a map.  By moving along the map nodes, working towards the objective set for you in the particular chapter you are playing, you will encounter events, the occasional battle, as well as visiting various landmarks.  Events can be good or bad and are determined by an event deck.  There is usually a choice to be made or a D6 to roll to determine the outcome.  The landmarks are different places in the Forgotten West that may offer you an opportunity to heal, gain items, or offer other helpful services.  The newer version, as well as the expansion, The Northern Territory, using a different map system.  The new system uses a deck of cards, ensuring that every playthrough is different.  Whereas before you were able to choose your path to either avoid or encounter more enemies, the new map makes it all random depending on the card that is revealed when you traverse onto it.

As I mentioned, Grimslingers The Valley of Death, and The Child of Light campaign from The Northern Territory, takes place through chapters.  The chapters are short narratives that set up the mission at hand as well as the requirements to the next part of the story.  These requirements may be travelling from one area to another, collecting an item or items, or beating a certain bad guy.  Each part of the story will have its own map setup, as well as list of enemies that you will encounter.  Unless otherwise told you will roll a D6 to see which group of bad guys you will encounter.  The enemies might be a Dune Wurm, Bandits, Specters, Soul Hunters, Wisps, or Magic Mushrooms.  Each groups contains its own creature deck that gets mashed together with a general creature deck to build their hand.  You are equipped with basic spells that can be played, you will earn more through experience points, as well as gaining powerful items.  Hand limits can be hard in the beginning, so can stash limits (the amount of cards you can have in reserve), making for some tough choices.

Battles are straightforward, you play a card from your hand, the creature plays one from theirs.  The card with the lower resolution number activates their attack first.  Play continues back and forth this way until someone falls.  Added to the battle are creature modifiers that may help or hinder the beast as well as dispositions, bonuses that more often than not, help to level the playing field, in your favor.  There are some tough battles, especially in the later parts of the story, but for the most part the game is not going to kill you too much.  Each of the Grimslingers in the game has its own personal deck that they can combine with the basic spells to customize the experience.  This customization helps with replayability as you learn the ins and outs of each character and how they play.

I have played through the entire first game, and have played through one path in the expansion.  Grimslingers is a game that I really like, when I am playing it.  The downfall for me, is the setup.  Once the game is set up and I am in it, I love it.  It’s just hard to get me there.  I love the map system, but it can be a pain to setup, especially in the later games where you are travelling through multiple maps at a time to get to your goal.  I created card covers to help distinguish the different landmarks on the board, it has made my life much easier.  I would love to see something like this offered, and illustrated by Stephen S. Gibson even as an add on pack  I would buy that up in a heartbeat!  The organization within the box itself is not conducive to cutting this time down at all.  Greenbrier Games does sell a collectors box that may help with this issue, but I cannot say for sure.  The cards are made of a different material than I am used to playing with, a matte finish.  This greatly reduces the glare when playing, which I love, but, it makes the first few shuffles difficult.  Once you have played a bit they seem to break in nicely.  I have not sleeved this game, and the cards have stood up to the wear and tear without a mark.  The story is well done, Grimslingers is something that I can see as a graphic novel one day.  It certainly lends itself to that thought for me every time I play.  The artwork on the cards is phenomenal.  I cannot say enough about the art, Stephen Gibson has gone above and beyond with what he has done here.  The characters seems to leap off of the cards with an ethereal feel like I have not seen in another game in a long time.  Each Grimslinger has a distinct personality and feeling, as do the little sidekick anima’s.  The characters are customizable through the achievement trackers and progress point allocations.

There is a lot to love about this game, the theme, the characters, the art (did I mention the art?), if you can overlook the little things that I mentioned above, you are in for a great experience.  I am excited that I had the opportunity to play through the base game again.  It was like reading a book that you enjoyed all over again.  I was happy to see the story in The Northern Territory continued right where the original story left off.  I love the different path options offered in The Northern Territory, all occurring concurrently, allowing you to hop between paths back and forth.  This allows for replayability as well as different experiences between players.  Stephen S. Gibson has made himself completely available for questions, comments, and even complaints.  He has been a tremendous support for this game, and I have had the pleasure of talking with him a few times about this game.  All around this is a game that I can, and have recommended.  I can’t wait to see what there is on the horizon for Grimslingers as well as for Stephen S. Gibson.

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

Want to hear more about my thoughts on Grimslimgers?  Jason from Every Night is Game Night and I interview Stephen S. Gibson on their podcast dropping on 8/3/17!

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Come Play with E! Fabled Fruit Edition

Welcome back again!  This week we are going to look at a game that has been hitting our table almost every night.  A little while back I was looking for a new game that the whole family could play, I popped into a FLGS and saw Fabled Fruit, designed by Friedemann Friese and published by Stronghold Games.  I had seen a playthrough video on this game a while back, and loved the idea of it, but now, well now Emmy was old enough to play it.  I couldn’t get to the register fast enough, and now she can’t get it to the table each night fast enough!

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In Fabled Fruit you play as an animal, turtle, sheep, penguin, elephant, snake, or giraffe, trying to make the most delicious juice possible.  In a three player game, like we play, the first person to make four of these delicious juices in the winner.  Now what makes this game so special is that is is a “Fable” game.  What is a “Fable” game?  Glad you asked.  This is a new concept, that I have never seen before, that bring legacy components to a game, changing the play over time, without the destructive side.  At the end of each game, all the cards that were turned into juices, are removed from the game.  They are not destroyed, ripped up, burned, or blown up, but merely placed in a (supplied) baggie.  This allows the game to be reset at anytime, without the need of a refresh pack.

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After each player has decided which animal she will be they dealt two fruit cards. Players then take turns moving their animal to one of the piles of cards laid out on the table.  There should be 24 total cards on the table, same type cards are stacked together, making the number of piles, and choice varied.  When a player lands on a card they do one of three things, take the action listed on the card, trade fruit cards from their hand to buy the card (turning it into juice), or draw a single card from the fruit stack, if that card has a sign post icon on it.  As cards are bought and turned to juice new cards are added to the game, ensuring there are always 24 cards on the table.  These new cards may add to existing stack, or may add a new option to the game.

 

I had concerns about Emmy playing this game because of the reading requirements and the ever changing rules.  She was so excited to play that we gave it a shot anyway, explaining to her what each card does as we did.  She snatched up her penguin and proceeded to wipe the floor with us.  As new cards were added we would take a minute to explain its effects to her.  From time to time we do offer her advice and remind her what certain cards do, but overall, she remembers her own, and shuns our advice.  She likes the choices she gets to make on her own, and her “plans” that she gets to make.  The theme really gets her too, she loves the little animal meeples, as well as the animals on the cards.  She loves to uncover new cards to see what they can do.  We have played this game about a dozen times, as of right now, and she is tied for the lead in the overall standings.  She may not be able to read, but she can play this game like no one’s business.

The game plays quickly, the downtime is pretty low.  When we play three and four player games Emmy can sometimes get bored between turns.  In this game she is engaged the entire time, trying to see what the other players are doing, and making her “plans” ahead of time to get the juice she wants.  The components are well made, and the animal meeples really make the game for her.  The cards are hearty, which is important when playing with a small ones, as are the cardboard tokens that are added later in the game.  Each game is different, but the same.  The new cards change the rules, making strategies always changing and evolving.  No two games have been the same, and that makes the replayability fresh and exciting.  We all look forward to new cards to see what we can now do, and are sad when other cards leave the game, lamenting the powers that we have lost.

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Fabled Fruit has spawned one expansion that adds a new fruit to the mix, limes.  It also adds some new cards, and mechanics.  We have not made it through the base game yet, but do have the expansion waiting for us when we do.  I’m really glad that we did not dismiss this game because we thought it would be too hard or complex for Emmy.  She has really shown that she may not be able to read the cards, but she can still win.  I took my own advise, and did not underestimate her ability to understand and remember this game.  There are times when I am reading the cards to refresh my memory as to what they do, and Emmy is explaining it to me instead.

This game is great for families, as you can see, but it is also good for adults as well.  I have played this game without Emmy, and still had a really fun, satisfying time.  The game is also priced to not break the budget, which was another nice feature, and can be purchased pretty much anywhere.  If you’re looking for a family game that you can introduce to some of the younger gamers in your life we cannot recommend this enough!

Emmy’s take:

“I like Fables Fruit because it has animals, and you buy stuff, I just love it.  And I love it, and I love it, and I love it. My favorite animal is the penguin.  In Fabled Fruit you are trying to buy the juices before anyone else.  It’s like (the cards) banana, banana, coconut, coconut, and then you see a little smoothie?  That can be anything, any fruit.  There are bananas, coconut, grapes, strawberries, and there’s pineapples.  Bye friends!”

Fabled Fruit gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

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… Get Finished!

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

We’ve all been there, late to work on a Monday morning, walking in to a pile of paper taller than we are waiting for us on our desk, throwing back caffinated beverages to make it to the end of the day.  Sound like your 9 to 5?  Friedemann Friese, in only the way that he can, has somehow turned this mundane tasking of getting your work done, into a quirky, fun, fast, solo game.  Finished! published by Stronghold Games, is a strictly solo gaming experience in which you take on the role of a worker just trying to make it to the end of the day.  Sounds easy, right?  Not so fast!  I did mention this was Friedemann Friese, right?  Anyone remember Friday?

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Finished is a small game, containing only 48 cards, but it plays out in a big landscape.  The game requires memorization as well as hand management, as you try to organize your day.  Let me tell you more.  You start with a shuffled deck containing 47 of the 48 cards, card #48 will be the last card in the deck and will serve as an end of round marker. The deck will be cycled through several times as you try to sort the cards by the time stamp, starting with 00:01 all they way to 00:48.  If you can accomplish this before you run out of coffee, you win.  If you reach the 00:48 card and are out of coffee, you fall asleep at your desk, and game over.

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Each card also contains helpful actions that you can take, sometimes costing Sweets, this games form of currency.  Sweets are in short supply, so manage them carefully!  Actions include drawing additional cards, moving cards into the past and the future, gaining more sweets, and exchanging cards.

Finished! starts off with 7 cups of coffee and 7 sweets in your stash.  The coffee is a timer, allowing you 7 turns through the deck to organize the cards.  The play area will contain three main spaces, the present (middle), or the work you are currently working on, the past (bottom), work you have completed, and the future (top), or work that you have pushed off for later.  You will also have an area for the draw deck, and the finished pile.

 

To start your turn you draw three cards from the draw deck and place them face up in the present area.  Immediately take any sweets as indicated by a card and add them to your stash.  If one of the three cards drawn can continue your finished pile (is the next numeric card in the sequence) you must add it now, drawing a replacement.  You may now choose to perform any actions allowed by the cads you drew, paying any sweets as needed.  If you do not have the required sweet to pay for an action, you cannot perform it.  After performing all the actions you may then sort the cards in the present area in any way you want, mostly numerically left to right.  Once this step has been completed all the work in the present area is moved to the past area.  Cards already in the past will move to the end of the line remaining in the same order in which they were originally placed.  Remove any sweets on these cards and add them to the reserve stash, not your stash greedy!!  If you move a block of 3 or more cards in sequential order you may draw a sweet from the reserve stash equal to the length of the sequence minus one.  If there are more than three cards in the past the oldest cards are placed, one by one, at the bottom of the draw stack.  Finally, the bottom row of future cards are now moved into the present.  That work wasn’t going to be put off forever, you know!  You are now ready to start a new turn by drawing three cards.  When the 00:48 card is moved from the present to the past you must drink one of your cups of coffee, bringing the end of the work day inevitably closer!

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Finished! is a fun, quick game that requires a lot of memorization.  Trying to gather all of the cards in the right order, remembering where each card was and when, using sweets wisely, can be almost as stressful as a real day of work!  Somehow it all comes together into a much more enjoyable experience than the real thing though.  The cards are really nicely done, the illustrations showing the slow demise of your poor character.  When placed in the correct order the pictures make a flip book, showing the effects of the day.  I thought this was a great little touch, and something that really made me smile.  Sometimes it’s the little things that have a great impact, on me at least.  The sweets and coffee are represented with nice chunky wooden pieces.  I love the art on the box, it depicts a computer screen with an old school smiley face, pre-emoticons.  If you have ever played Friday, you know what to expect from Friedemann Friese.  Finshed! is challenging, I played it more than a few times before I actually got all of my work done.  I won’t even mention how much real work was postponed until my fictional work was completed!  The more I played the game, the more intuitive it felt, my first few playthroughs I could not manage to remember the iconography on all of the cards, never mind where they all were in relation to what I was doing.  After a few plays I got the hang of it, and didn’t fail quite as miserably.  The game is really small, and I was able to play it almost anywhere.  I love the idea that I can throw this in my bag and play it at lunch, you know when I am taking a break from my real job.  Or something like that.  All in all I like this game a lot, the replayability is great, and the game itself offers four different levels of difficulty.  This is one game that I am definitely not “finished” with!

 

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly finished all of my work!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

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… Help Ghillie Take on Mulmesh

Hello again everyone!  Last week’s post, which chronicled the epic battle between Ghillie and the tyrant Nom was pretty well received.  Enough so, that we have decided to continue the series.  If you missed last’s week and would like to catch up, you can do so here.  This week Ghillie is setting his sites on Mulmesh.  The journey will be long, treacherous, and fraught with hardship, but we are determined to see this through to the end.  Won’t you join us?

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I mentioned this in our last write up, but it bears repeating, as I write this playthrough I am going to try my best to keep it as spoiler free as possible, as I start each new day I will tell you which card I pulled from the Encounter Deck, but will stay away from the story.  I will let you know if I chose the first or second option, without saying what they reference in the story.  Although I will try my best to avoid spoilers there may still be some, so read on at your own risk.  If you’re ready to go, so am I!

Day One, we join Ghillie as he is “Leaving Obendar”.  As usual we decide to take the first option.  We need Training Points (TP) badly, there’s really no other choice for us at this juncture. We use the 2 TP we earned to grab our first Defense die as well as #5 Multi-Arrow.  We also grab one Progress Point (PP), our journey is officially on it’s way!

Day Two, Ghillie is “Hardly Out of the Gate” when things begin to get real.  An attack, he chooses option two and gets ready to battle.  The Baddie Queue (BQ) is comprised of two 1 point Baddies, a Kobold Tracker and a Clay Golem.  Really bad luck to get a Golem right out of the gate, Break really has the ability to, well, break us.  Rolling a 6 on initiative will help Ghillie out of this, but it won’t be easy, why didn’t we take the first option?  The Golem is too far away from Ghillie to worry about for a bit, so we focus our attack on the Kobold, taking him out in the second round.  Now it’s just Ghillie and that Golem.  The Golem does not waste any time in breaking our attack dice.  We make sure we get some good damage from them before they go, however they are not enough.  The last few rounds see Ghillie running circles around the baddie, waiting for exhaustion to set in, which it finally does, in Round 7.  Ghillie escapes with 1 Health Point (HP), weary but victorious we gain 1 PP, a loot (Last Battle Stew, which we take 3 HP from right away) and 2 TP.  We take an additional HP as well as another attack dice from our TP.  Since we ate some delicious stew there is no need to rest and recover.  Instead we choose to Scout, revealing a 1 point baddie, Bog Pole.  No poison for me thank you, to the back of the line he goes!

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On Day Three we decided need to be “Crossing the Sibron”, and option one is the way to go for us again.  This gets us even closer to Mulmesh, with 2 PP.  We also earn one TP which nets us #1 Rusted Spikes.

The fourth day of our journey we fall into “A Trap of Our Own Making”.  We are face to face with another tough battle.  The BQ is set by the encounter, giving us two 5 point Baddies to deal with, a Kobold Fanatic, and another Stone Golem!  Didn’t this guy learn?  Ghillie immediately seeds the field with his newly acquired Rusted Spikes.  Rolling a 5 on the ini die means we get first strike.  The encounter helps us in this battle, hitting each baddie for 1 true damage each time they move, including entering the battle.  Since both of our baddies are melee characters, this is something we play to our advantage from the start.  Our trap does it’s job costing the Golem 2 HP, making it that much easier to take him down by round three.  The Koold follows in round 5, and we are once again victorious.  This battle has cost Ghillie some health, but nothing some delicious stew cannot help him recoup.  We have earned 1 PP, a loot (Tattered Map) as well as 2 TP.  We use our training points to gain another dexterity and #15 Call Wolverine.  It’s time to meet Ghillie’s little friends!

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Well fed and no longer alone on his journey Ghillie finds himself suddenly “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” on Day Five, choosing option two.  This encounter is one of my favorite, and it has the player taking control of a 20 point Golden Golem for the first three turns.  After turn three the Gearloc enters the battle, and the Golem turns on you.  The BQ to start this encounter was one 5 point Bog Lurk.  The Golem (me) does some serious damage to the Bog Lurk straightaway.  We allow the Bog Lurk to poison the Golem, hoping to whittle away his health, making him easier for us when we come into the fray.  The plan works well, the Bog Lurk falls quickly as Ghillie comes to the skirmish.  A round later the Golem also falls, making this one of the easier encounters that Ghillie has had thus far.  Ghillie gains 1 PP, a loot (Mechanical Assistance), a Trove Loot (2-3-3) and 2 TP.  This trove loot is pretty easy to get into, we pick that lock in our first attempt (maybe it’s all that Triplock we’ve been playing recently?) and we earn a Dex Infuser.  Ghillie chooses to add another pet to the fold, using one of this training points on #13 Call Falcon.  The second training point adds another HP.

 

On the Sixth Day Ghillie chooses to “Trust Your Gut”, option two, and it turns out to be a bad decision.  The BQ is seeded with two 5 point baddies, as indiciated on the encounter card, a Dragon Delinquent and a Dire Wolf.  The combo of dragons and dire wolves is one that proves to be too much for Ghillie and his pets, they fall in the fourth round.  Here lies good ole Ghillie…

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Lucky for us Ghillie has more lives than a werecat, he brushes off his defeat, squares his shoulders, and starts off again on Day Seven.  Using his Tattered Map he pulls two encounter cards, put the Tyrant Encounter card on the bottom of the deck, wondering if this was a good decision, or a “Risky Payoff”.  Choosing option two, he avoids a battle, but still gets 1 PP and 2 more TP, #2 Woven Snare, and #14 Call Tiger.  His menagerie is complete!

Feeling good, strong, confident, and surrounded by all manner of beast and bird, he decides to partake in a little “Midnight Warfare” on Day Eight, challenging Mulmesh!  Ghillie has learned, on this journey, to fight hard and fast, he decides to come at the Tyrant with everything he has, right off the bat.  He first lays a trap and his snare for Mulmesh.  The Tyrant complies by falling right into them both, losing 2 attack die, and 1 heath point before the battle even begins!  Ghillie uses his Mechanical Assistance to grab 3 more dex for this round, allowing him to roll, Growls, Lil Yeti, Talon, 1 defense, and 1 attack die, after moving 2 spaces!  Growls comes out on his 3/2 side, Yeti hides coming up bones, and going back to the mat, Talon comes out on his 1/1 side, the defense also comes up bones, and Ghillie gets 1 hit on his attack die.  Round 2 has Mulmesh rolling his Tyrant die and getting a Howl.  Ghillie responds with attacks by both of his pets on the mat.  He then uses his backup plan extension to get one more dex from the Dex Infuser to roll Yeti, 3 attack die, and 1 defense die.  This is all he needs to take the tyrant down for god, rolling Yeti on his 3/1 side, 3 hits on the attack die, and 1 shield on the defense die.  The tyrant is defeated and Ghillie is once again victorious.

Last week we saw Ghillie take on Nom without the use of his pets.  This week, as promised they made their debut, making all the difference in my battle.  The match was pretty exciting, I was sure that Ghillie was doomed after he fell to the dragon and the wolf, but he really showed me what he was made of.  I’m really having a great time playing through these tyrants for you guys, and I appreciate each and every one of you that has taken the time to read this.  Please let me know what you think of the series so far, I’d love to hear from you.  Do you like the format?  Can I change something, do something better?  Do you want to see more detailed battles, such as including what I am rolling each round?  Or do you like it just the way it is?  Please let me know!

If you are enjoying my playthrough series and think that this game might be for you it is currently, as of this writing, in stock at Chip Theory Games.  Undertow should be coming in the next few weeks, but can also be preordered on their site.  I cannot recommend this game enough, Too Many Bones was ranked as my top solo game of all time in the Top 6 Solo Games article that I wrote for Meeple Mountain.  I hope that you are enjoying it as much as I am!

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Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly helped Ghillie overcome Mulmesh!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

Our very first giveaway is now LIVE!  Please click this link to enter!

… Help Ghillie Overcome Nom (maybe)

Hello all!

As I may have mentioned before I am a huge Too Many Bones fan, published by Chip Theory Games.  If you didn’t know that, well then you can read my previous post about this game here.  Or the one that I wrote about my daughter’s love of this game, here.  Or you could check out one of my many Instagram posts here.  Or Facebook posts here.  If you already know this, then you also know that I am pretty excited about the soon to be released expansion/stand alone game, Undertow.  As I count down the weeks, and then days to its release I decided to do a playthrough of my favorite character, Ghillie taking on each of the tyrants in the original game.  Since I was playing through all the tyrants I thought that I should share this with all of you as well!  You can thank me below, in the comments section.  🙂

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As I write this playthrough I am going to try my best to keep it as spoiler free as possible, as I start each new day I will tell you which card I pulled from the Encounter Deck, but will stay away from the story.  I will let you know if I chose the first or second option, without saying what they reference in the story.  Although I will try my best to avoid spoilers there may still be some, so read on at your own risk.  If you’re ready to go, so am I!

Day one had Ghillie “Leaving Obendar”, this shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise, it’s the standard encounter.  I am really looking forward to a variety of beginning encounter cards with the new sets, but I digress.  Ghillie chose the first option and as a result moved one step close to Nom by gaining 1 Progress Point (PP), as well as 2 Training Points (TP).  He spent his TP on a defense die, Ghillie, by default, has none, so this was a big must, and he opted for another Health Point (HP).

Day two Ghillie was “Hardly Out of the Gate”, again no surprises here, this time he chose Option 2.  Since this is a solo game with one Gearloc the Baddie Queue (BQ) only had two 1 point baddies in it.  He faced off against an Orc Peon and a Dragon Hatchling.  The Orc was dispatched in Round 2, and the Dragon followed in Round 3.  Although the battle only lasted three rounds, Ghillie was left clinging to life with only 1 HP.  For his troubles, Ghillie earned 1 PP, a Loot (Mech-Pick) and 2 TP.  The Training Points were used to pick up #5 Multi Arrow and another Dexterity.  Ghillie wisely chose to Rest and Recover after the victory.

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Day 3 had Ghillie “Crossing the Sibron”, as the last of the standard cards we will now get into the solo deck, and may encounter some cards that you may not want to know about.  Last chance to bail!  Still here?  Okay then, onward.  Ghillie chose the first option here, and wound up rolling a 6 on the D6, all was well.  For a job well done he earned 2 PP, (we’re coming for you Nom!) and 1 TP, which he used to up his Attack stats.  He passed the skill check without issue.  Since Ghillie was well rested, mostly due to lack of combat, he was able to Scout ahead, rolling a 4 on the D6.  He chose to look at a 1 point Baddie and saw an Orc Scout.  Knowing there are always more Orc around, he wisely chose to cycle this one to the back.  Be gone foul smelling Orc!

Day 4 he learned “What Goes Around…” and chose option 1.  This option added a 5 point baddie to the top of the BQ along with the four 1 point baddies our day counter brought.  The 5 point baddie was revealed as a Orc Rager.  Whew, good thing we got ride of that Scout earlier!  We then revealed three more 1 point baddies, a Kobold Tracker, Orc Peon, and Troll Romper, leaving one in the queue for later.  Lucky for us the Kobold saw us and immediately died of fright, or maybe it had something to do with the option we chose, I’m not sure.  Taking advantage of his Multi Arrow die, Ghillie was able to slay the Troll Romper, and the Orc Peon in the first round!  Round two added a Troll Brute to the fray, remember him lurking in the shadows from earlier?  Lucky die rolls took out the Orc Rager in the second round.  It took a bit to get rid of the Brute, the fourth round to be exact, but I still came out on top.  I was also able to use my Backup Plan in this round to obtain a Fortunate Discovery of die #4 Extra Mech Leg.  I ended the battle with 4 HP, 1 PP, 3 Loot (Oggot Herbs, Reflex Powder, and a Sparring Weapon) and 1 TP.  The Sparring Weapon was discarded, it was heavy, and Ghillie did not want to drag that thing all over Daelore with him.  The training point was used on die #9 Piercing Arrow (this one is for you, Nom Nom!)  Ghillie felt good enough to choose to Scout, rolling a 1, and finding a Kobold Greenthumb.  Bring it Kobold, we’ll see you soon!

Day 5 had Ghillie falling into “A Trap of My Own Making”, and chose the first option.  The BQ was set for us by this card, bringing in two 5 point Baddies.  Lucky me, I got 2, count ’em, two, Troll Enforcers.  The card let me roll in an attempt to stun them for the first two rounds, I split it, the first was not, the second, I bonked him on the head pretty good.  In the first round Ghillie tossed back some Oggot Herbs, and was now back to full strength, since one of the brutes was safely in La La Land, we focused his energy on the first one.  It wasn’t until the second round that Troll # 1 was felled.  Piercing Arrow took out Troll # 2 in Round 4, getting through that Thick Skin was brutal, and the addition of defense die, whew!!  This earned Ghillie 1 PP, 1 Loot (another Fortunate Discovery, he chose #12 Bait) and 2 TP.  Getting more HP was important so the first TP went to that, the second was allocated to doe #1 Rusted Spikes.  Since Ghillie ended this encounter with just 1 HP he chose to rest and recover.

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On Day 6 Ghillie decided to “Trust Your Gut” and go with option 2.  The encounter had us build the BQ with two 5 point Baddies, this time we got an Orc Warmonger, and a Orc Rager.  Grrrr, I hate when they can use Raiding!  The ability to “kite” and move 3 spaces after attacking was what really kept me alive in this battle.  As a matter of fact, I only took 2 hits.  The Rager went down in the second round, and the Warmonger followed in Round 4.  I was awarded 1 PP, 1 Loot (a Gadget Arm), and 2 TP.  This time I decided to gain more attack die, using my first training point, and my newly aquired Gadget Arm to get to 4.  The second TP was used to grab die #2 Woven Snare.  Spying Nom in the distance, Ghillie chose to rest and recover.

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On Day 7 it was time to go “Clubbin’ With Nom”, no options here boys and girls, just mano a mano!  Since this is solo, there was no BQ, just me, and Nom!  Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  Round One!  Nom’s initiative was a 2, we easily beat it, rolling a 5.  Ghillie got to go first.  Before the battle began we placed my Rusted Spikes and Woven Snare down on the Battle Mat.  Come closer, said the spider to the fly…  Ghillie rolled four attack dice amassing 5 points of damage right out of the gate.  Unfortunately, Nom’s Thick Skin absorbed 3 of the hits, knocking 2 off.  To start his turn Nom, annoyingly, healed 1 HP, but then fell into Ghillie’s traps.  The Rusted Spikes did 2 true damage, and the Woven Snare disabled 2 of his attack dice.  No dice for you!!  He was down to 3 health before his first roll.  His roll consisted of bones on his defense die, and the Om Nom on his Tyrant die.  No biggie.

The second round begins!  Fiiiiiiiight!  Ghillie once again rolled 4 attack dice, amassing another 5 damage, it was insane!  Nom, again, absorbed 3, knocking 2 HP off of him.  Ghillie also rolled a bone, which was stored in my Backup Plan, you never know!  Nom healed himself for 1 HP, taking him from 1 to 2 health.  He then rolled got 1 shield, and his Club.  He thundered my poor Gearloc to the upper left corner, hitting Ghillie for the first time.  Round three, Ghillie felt it was time to get serious.  This time, he chose his Piercing Arrow along with 3 attack dice.  His Piercing Arrow easily removed Nom’s shield, and also, temporarily removed his Thick Skin.  Rolling 2 attacks was enough to do the Tyrant in!  Game over, Ghillie lives to fight another day.  Nom slinks back into the shadows, never to be seen again.

It was an exciting match, I have always had a bit of a problem with Nom solo, so I went into this a bit nervously.  I decided to play a bit out of my comfort zone a bit this time, choosing Skill Dice that I may not have used before.  You may have noticed, that Ghillie, who is much known for his pets, did not acquire a single one this time around.  Trust me, the Talon, Growls, and Lil’ Yeti will not be on the sidelines for very long.  I have also added the Companion Chips add on to my Undertow order, I can’t wait to start playing with them!

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Well, what did you think?  Did you like the format?  Did you want to see more of something, or less of it?  I changed it up a bit for the Tyrant battle, do you prefer to see more of that style for the days leading up to the final battle?  Do you have any strategies that you’d like to share?  Drop me a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!  I hope that you are as excited about this playthrough series as I am.  If you are interested in the original game or the new standalone expansion, please visit Chip Theory Games!

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly helped Ghillie overcome Nom!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

Our very first giveaway is now LIVE!  Please click this link to enter!

… Find the Dark Lady!

 

A review copy of Black Sonata was provided by Side Room Games.  I would like to thank Dustin Culbertson and Side Room Games for supporting my blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are my own.

Stop the presses!  Alert the media!  Call a press conference!  I have big news to share, and being loyal readers of my blog, I will share this news with you first!  I have singlehandedly identified William Shakespeare’s Dark Lady!!  Why are you looking at me like that?  What do you mean “what dark lady?”  Sigh… let me back up a bit.

Many of us are well versed in the works of William Shakespeare.  At the very least, at one time or another, we were exposed (subjected) to them at some during our education.  He wrote plays, the likes of which had never been seen before, or some would argue, since.  Aside from the plays, he also wrote poems, and sonnets, 154 of them to be exact.  Of these 154 sonnets there were 28 that were written about a mysterious woman, known as the Dark Lady.  Although the true identity of this woman has long been debated by scholars, her true name has not been known.  Until now!

I recently received a package in the mail from Side Room Games, a small and mysterious package.  Intrigued I carefully opened this package.  Inside was a box adorned with a picture of William Shakespeare and a title, Black Sonata.  As I opened the box I realized that I was gazing upon something that I had never seen before, a game about unveiling the Dark Lady herself!  A solo deduction and hidden movement game designed by John Kean, and is now live on Kickstarter.  This is a serious game in a little package, that began its life as a free print and play.  As a matter of fact, in 2017 Black Sonata was a nominee for the Golden Geek Best Print & Play Board Game.

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Opening the box I was instantly hit with a breath of fresh air.  Black Sonata is not your average game.  To begin with, it is a strictly solo game, that alone made me sit up and smile.  The theme is something that I had not encountered before, a trip through Shakespeare’s London in search of a mysterious figure.  The hidden movement mechanism was also new to me, simple yet graceful.  The game works on so many different levels, producing a one of a kind experience that beckons you to play over and over again.  The puzzle Black Sonata offers can be mind bending, but yet so satisfying!

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Okay, but how do you play this game?  I’m getting to that, right about now as a matter of fact!  Setting up the game, is extremely quick and easy to do, assuming you know your ABC’s.  A random Dark lady is chosen from the 11 available cards, the remaining cards are shuffled, one dealt to you, the rest making the clue deck.  Next, the game board is laid out, placing your player pawn on the location of your choice, and the fog card deck is shuffled.  The stealth deck is then assembled by choosing one of the eight movement sequences, represented by letters of the alphabet.  Once the sequence has been chosen the cards are then ordered alphabetically, cut once (to make things interesting), the countdown card is added to the bottom, with the number 2 showing upright, and you are ready to play!

Every turn will be comprised of two steps, moving the Dark Lady, and your action.  The Dark Lady moves in conjunction with the stealth deck.  Each turn the topmost stealth card will be moved to the bottom of the deck revealing a new card.  If the countdown card has popped up, your running out of time!  Flip it from 2 to 1, or from 1 to 0, and reveal a new card.  The Dark Lady has now moved to a location that shares the revealed icon.  It is now the player turn, during which you may do one of four things.  You may move to an adjoining location, you may search for the Dark Lady at your current location (if you are at a location that shares the newly revealed icon), you may use a fog card (of one was revealed), or you may pass.

Most of the actions are pretty straightforward, moving is, well, moving.  The game board has clearly lined pathways that connect the locations, making it easy to see where you can go next, if you so choose.  Searching for the Dark Lady is what this game is all about, and this part of the game does not disappoint.  If you choose this action take a fog card from the fog desk placing it under the current stealth card.  Then take the location card that matches your current location and also place it under the current stealth card.  Now flip the location and stealth cards over.  If the Dark Lady appears in the little magnifying glass she is here (!) you may reveal the top card in the clue deck.  If she does not appear, she is not at your location.  Either way the stealth card is discarded face down, and the stealth deck is then advanced by one card for each clue that you have, including the one that you may have just obtained.  Each clue card will contain vital information about the Dark Lady’s true identity.  This information is given through characteristic icons.  Was she literary?  Musial?  Promiscuous?  Married?  Linked to Shakespeare?  Did she have children, or court connections?  All of these questions are insight into who she was.  The clue cards will depict icons referring to these characteristics on one side of the card.  The other side of the card will show how many of her characteristics also apply to the Dark Lady herself!  Using the clue cards players must deduce who they believe she was before time runs out.  A player may lose the game if the stealth deck reaches zero, the fog deck runs out of cards, or if you incorrectly identify her.  That’s how you play!

I may have mentioned the box was small, there are not many components to Black Sonata, making it perfect for travel.  Game play itself has a very small footprint making set up possible almost anywhere!  The game comes with a game board, 11 dark Lady cards, 32 stealth cards, 11 location cards, 10 fog cards, 1 countdown card, and 7 deduction tokens.  Along with a player pawn, that is it!  It amazes me how John Kean was able to do so much with so little.  The game truly feels like a much bigger experience than that components would lead you to believe!  The copy of Black Sonata that I played was a review copy and therefore not the same quality that backers of the Kickstarter will receive.  I was still pretty impressed by the components.  The game board was a really cool rendition of 1560 London map.  The portraits of the possible Dark Lady’s was also great to see.  Each of the location cards had quotes from the sonnets Shakespeare wrote to his mistress on the back sides.  I loved the keyholes on these cards as a way to see if the Dark Lady was close to your location.  There was so much to love about this game, and nothing to not.  I cannot find a single thing about Black Sonata that did not work for me.

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Black Sonata is simply put, for the solo gamer, a must have!  This game is not easy, I have let the Dark lady slip away far more than I have ever tracked her down.  For me, I find it to be much more thematic that way.  After all, if identifying her was easy then it would not still be a mystery 400 years later!  However, I did find out who she was, and I am sure that you can too, but first you’ll have to back the Kickstarter!  I changed my mind, I’m not going to tell you who she is, I am going to let you find it out for yourself!

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

Our very first giveaway is now LIVE!  Please click this link to enter!

Follower Giveaway!!

Hello everyone!

We are having an unscheduled post here to the blog to update you on a very special giveaway.  A while back we promised a giveaway once we hit 200 subscribers on our Twitter account.  We have reached that number, and then some!  Hooray!!

As promised we will be having a giveaway of not one, not two, but three Mint Tin games in celebration!  We will choose three lucky winners who will receive one of the following:

1 copy of Mint Tin Pirates (see Emmy’s review of this here)

1 copy of Mint Tin Aliens

1 copy of Mint Tin Apocalypse (Deluxe version!)

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All you have to do to enter is click this link and follow the directions!

We will be running the competition on Gleam, starting on Tuesday 6/12/18 through Thursday 7/12/18.

Come Play with E! Pretending to Grownup Edition

A review copy of Pretending to Grownup was provided by Jason Anarchy Games.  I would like to thank Jason Anarachy and Jason Anarchy Games for supporting my blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are my own.

Recently, while on one of my numerous trips to Target, I found, in the dollar section, a Shopkins card game.  It was cheap, Emmy loves Shopkins, so I picked it up.  The game turned out to be a Shopkins themed version of Top Trumps.  I will admit that before playing this version, I had never heard of Top Trumps.  Apparently, this was a wildly popular kids game in the 70’s and 80’s in the UK.  Speaking with a few of my European friends confirmed this was indeed true.  After playing a few round rounds with Emmy we instantly saw the appeal.  Nice story, but what the heck does this have to do with anything?  Well, I’m getting to that!!

A few weeks back I received a copy of Pretending to Grownup by Jason Anarchy Games.  Normally I would not think that one of Jason’s games would be something that I would play with a 5 year old, but after reading the rules I realized that this was one that I definitely could!  Pretending to Grownup takes some of the same gameplay that Emmy liked in Top Trumps and gives it a new spin.  The box states the game is rated for 13 and up, but we all know Emmy by now, and that was not going to stop her.  Let’s talk about gameplay, and then we’ll get back to Emmy, her thoughts, and all that other stuff.

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Pretending to Grownup is a card game in which players are attempting to prove that they are more grownup than their opponents.  The first player to collect 12 grownup points is crowned the winner.  Points are collected through playing cards from your hand and “squabbling” with your neighbor on the right.  To begin, each player is dealt 5 cards as their starting hand.  The remaining cards are placed in a draw pile in the center of the table along with the Daydream token, a cute wooden meeple of the phantasmagorical  “Unipegasaurus”, more on that later.  The rules state that they player who most recently complained about being tired goes first, so in our games, it was always me!

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On your turn you may take one of three actions, you may squabble with your neighbor, take on more responsibilities, or you may daydream.  Squabbling is the primary way to earn grownup points, and is done by playing a card, from your hand, face down on the table in front of you.  You must then declare, to your neighbor, which resource you have more of than they do.  Resources are found on the lower left hand side of the cards, and come in three different types, time (a blue circle with a clock icon), money (a green circle with a dollar icon) or energy (a red circle with a bicep icon).  Each circle will contain different numbers, it is this numbered resource that you are pitting against your opponent.  The challenged player may choose to counter squabble by playing a card face down on the table.  The player to their right then has the option to also join in on the squabble.  Potentially every player at the table could join in on the squabble, as long as the previous has continued the chain.  Players may also chose to add Unipegasaurus cards to help alter their values.  Once all cards have been played they are all revealed simultaneously, the player with the highest value of the resource is declared the winner, and collects all played cards and points.  It is important to note that each card is counted as a single point, not as the value of the resources.  The challenged player, can instead, choose to ignore the problem, not playing a card, and conceding a point the original player.

Instead of squabbling players may choose to take on more responsibilities, this simply means drawing two more cards from the draw pile.  If this would bring their hand total to more than 10, cards must be discarded until they have 10 or less.  Lastly, a player may choose to daydream.  Daydreaming allows a player to take the wooden Unipegasaurus from the center of the table.  If someone has already claimed the meeple, it can be taken from that player.  The meeple cannot be taken on two consecutive turns, if this happens it is returned to the center of the table.  While in possession of the Unipegasarus all resources a player uses gain a +1.  Play continues until one player has amassed 12 grownup points.

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Pretending to Grownup is a very quick game, easy to learn, easy to follow, and lots of fun.  What keeps me coming back to this game, pure and simple, is the cards.  Until now I have not really touched upon the cards, but they are really the stars of this show.  Each card, and there are 100 in the base game, is completely unique.  The cards are beautifully illustrated by Megan McKay, who some of you may recoginze from her popular web comic Doodle for Food.  Each card depicts a grownup task, such as building a deck, or buying a new smart phone, each with accompanying flavor text.  The cards are a gem, in what was already a fun game.  This was all over Emmy’s head, but for me, was a constant source of amusement.  I looked forward to each card as it came into my hand.  They are so well done, and so thematic!  The copy that I received contained additional cards, with a red boarder, that was done by guests artists.  I instantly recognized many of them from my own Twitter feed, including Cyanide & Happiness, Fowl Language, The Awkward Yeti, and Lunarbaboon.

Playing this game with Emmy was a no brainer.  There was no questionable content involved to have to hide or explain.  I did have to explain why I found certain cards so amusing, and I did get the “my mom is crazy” look.  She loved the game, the illustrations made her laugh, and she could not get enough of the Unipegasarus.  The components stood up to playing with her, the meeple even survived some non-gameplay adventures afterwards as well.  I can wholeheartedly recommend this game to younger players.  It will get a grin out of the real grownups while the younger set wipes the floor with us.  Or maybe it’s just me, I dunno.

Emmy’s Take:

“Pretending to Grownup is like my Shopkins game, like Top Trumps rating, but full of laughter and fun.  You will really enjoy it, seriously, really enjoy it.  There’s a uni-creature, and you’ll seriously get some good stuff with the uni-creature.  Don’t play with 2 people!  Please play with 3!  Uhm, I don’t care who the 3 is, just make sure there’s 3.  Pretending to Grownup is a really great game, bye friends!”

Pretending to Grownup gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

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

 

… Escape the Dark Castle

A preview copy of Escape the Dark Castle was provided by Themeborne Ltd..  We would like to thank Themeborne Ltd. for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

Escape the Dark Castle is a cooperative game for 1-4 players, playing in approximately 30-45 minutes.  Published by Themeborne Ltd. and designed by Alex Crispin, Thomas Pike, and James Shelton, and In this game players take on the role of escaped prisoners trying to make their way out of the dark castle in which they have been wrongfully imprisoned.  The style is definitely reminiscent of the choose your own adventure, dragon crawling of the 1980’s.  The game itself is fast and fun, and full of random events and battles.  Let me tell you more…

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Each player is represented by a die and character card, one of six included in the box, customized to their character.  The characters have different strengths represented by symbols on their respective die, wisdom, cunning, and might.  The character cards denote this with hash marks next to the symbol for each trait.  These hash marks also represent the number of times that symbol appears on their custom die.  This makes it very easy to balance out your team, especially in solo play.  Once characters are chosen it is time to build the deck of cards that will make up the castle itself.  Game play takes place over a series of turns that involve revealing chapter cards from a randomized deck.  The deck is built from the bottom up starting with a boss chosen randomly from the five included in the base game.  Set up continues by shuffling the remaining 53 chapter cards and randomly choosing 15 to place on top of the boss card.  Lastly add the, aptly named, start card to the top of the deck.  Shuffle and place the item cards into the play area, and add the nine black dice as well.  Set up is that easy, you are now ready to play.

Players start the game with varying hot points dependent on the number of player.  A solo game has the players beginning with 18 HP.  Since this is a cooperative game, it is all for one, and one for all.  Of one prisoner is caught, or killed, the whole party loses.  There are ways to prevent this from happening, from using items to heal to resting during battle to replenish HP.  Turn order is also important, as the person turning over the cards can become the target of the cards effects, for good and bad!  Make your choices wisely!  The castle deck draws its own pool of dice from the black dice, called chapter dice,  included in the game for combat situations.  Icons on the bottom right of the card show what dice must be placed beneath the card prior to combat.  People symbols represent wild dice, these are additional chapter dice that must be rolled equal to the number of players.  This helps to add to the randomness and replayability as well.  Once the chapter dice haven been set players take turns rolling their character dice trying to hit the monster.  Character die that match a chapter die remove it from that monster.  When all the chapter die have been removed the monster has been defeated.  Character die also contain two sides with a shield symbol.  When a player rolls this symbol they have successfully blocked the monster’s attack.  If no shields are rolled the player will suffer damage equal to the number on the bottom right hand side of the card, deducting this from their HP total.  Successful combat will earn the party one item from the item deck. Each player can only carry two items at one time, one for each hand, unless the item is two handed.  Once the monster, or event, has been defeated or completed, the next chapter card is turned.  Game play continues until the players are defeated or the final boss falls.

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How does it solo?  The short answer is, amazingly well!  It is recommended to play with two characters when playing solo.  Normally I balk at playing two handed, preferring to play true solo.  However, for this experience it was easy, intuitive, and helped balance out my plays so that I had a better chance at winning.  Speaking of winning, Escape the Dark Castle is not brutally hard, nor will you win every time, either.  I like how the story progresses almost seamlessly from one chapter card to the next, truly laying out a story for me.

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There has been a lot of complaint on social media about the art on the cards.  For me, this brings me back to a time when games focused more on mechanics and less on the artwork.  (Do I need to remind anyone of the infamous Mega Man cover art???)  This was not a deal breaker for me, I took it for what it was, a throwback experience, and for me, the artwork fell in line with that.  I’m glad this did not hold me back, I would have missed out on a great game experience.  With the big complaint out of the way, let me tell you about all the good stuff, and there is a lot of it!

The large chapter cards are plentiful and provide almost endless replayability.  It is nearly impossible to have the same experience twice.  The cards themselves also play out differently dependent on their dice pool, making encounters you have previously faced still new and exciting.  The items can give you the little bit that you need to get by at just the right time, and are plentiful as well, with 35 in the box. Playing Escape the Dark Castle truly felt like I was part of a living story, turning each new chapter card over, like turning the pages in a book, was so thematic and engrossing.  I wasn’t sure what was lurking around the next corner, or in this case, card.  I love the options some of the cards bring, and the unknowing, right up to which boss will be your final obstacle.  The components are well made, the cards are all linen finished.  The large cards are, well, large, and very easy to read.  The iconography is easy to understand, and remember.  There is no need for a reminder sheet here.  The dice are big and chunky, making the symbols easy to read.  Themeborne has even gone the extra mile and included a pad and a few small mini golf pencils to help track your HP.  How old school is that?  I truly felt like I had uncovered a lost game from my youth.  Even better yet, was that it was a game that was still fun today!  The best part of all is that there is virtually no end to what can still be done with Escape from the Dark Castle!

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Escape the Dark Castle already has one expansion that was launched with the base game,  Cult of the Death King.  This expansion adds 3 new characters and their die, 15 new chapter cards, 1 new boss, 3 new items, and a new cultist die.  Three more expansions have recently landed on Kickstarter, Scourge if the Undead Queen, Blight of the Plague Lord, and The Collector’s Box.  Each of these expansions adds new content, mechanics, and of course dice and cards!  There is no end to what Themeborne can do to add to Escape the Dark Castle.  I’m excited to see all the new content.  I have been watching the Kickstarter with great interest, anticipating it’s launch for some time now!

Overall Escape the Dark Castle has been a really good, light, fun game for me.  This is definitely something that you can use as a gateway game for friends and family that are not gamers.  The game scales well for any number of players, so it is perfect for 1-4.  I highly recommend adding this game to your solo library for those times when you need a fantasy fix, but don’t have endless hours to commit.  It’s also perfect for travelling.  If you think this might be a game for you, I encourage you to check out their Kickstarter here!

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly sought to escape the dark castle!  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! 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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