… Control the Deck of Wonders!

As a parent it can be really hard to find time to indulge in my hobbies.  There is always something to do, somewhere to be, someone that needs attention.  So, when I do find the time to play a board game, it usually has to be fast, and fulfilling.  Unfortunately, those two words do not always go hand in hand.  I have amassed a huge collection of quick solo games.  Not every one of the has the ability to scratch my itch as far as fulfilling.  Many times I’ll play it and walk away, still craving something more.  I’m sure many of you have that same feeling.

Recently I was contacted by Dennis Furia, creator of a new game, currently on Kickstarter, called Deck of Wonders.  Dennis shared that he is a parent himself and was feeling many of the same things as I have been.  So, while I went out searching for more games to add to my collection, he decided to make his own!  He shared that Deck of Wonders was a hand management, legacy card game, completely solo, that plays in under half an hour.  Deck of Wonders was designed by Dennis Furia with illustrations by Lauren BrownLess time than the average baby’s nap time!  He need not say more, I was onboard!  I recently received a promo copy of his game, and spoiler alert, it was everything he said and more!


How do you play?  Good question.  Let’s talk about that next.  Deck of Wonders is comprised of a deck of 28 player cards and 28 villain cards.  These cards are shuffled together to form a single draw deck.  The player decks can be custom made, or created using the pre-constructed decks.  The pre-constructed decks are great fun, and make the game easy to jump directly into.  There may be additional set up instruction for each villain, those will be spelled out on their cards.  Health is tracked on cards, the villain using a numeric card and a portrait card with an arrow.  The player also has a numeric card, but their arrow will also include a handy reference card.  The copy I received had three very different villains included with it, Cullin, the Spoiled Prince being the first. The villain card will let you know the starting health for both sides.  That’s setup!



The game progress over rounds split up into the Player turn and the villain turn.  The player turn has three phases, the draw phase, the play & attack phase, and the end turn phase.  On the draw phase the player will draw a single card, adding it to their hand.  For the first round only, the player will draw four.  Next, during the play & attack phase, the player will chose cards from their hand to play.  Some cards will have costs to play them, usually discarding cards. All minions played are played exhausted.  To attack the player may use an cards that are not exhausted.  They may attack in any order, exhausting those minions, and they may attack any villain minions, or the villain directly, in any order as well.  Attacks may be cumulative.  If the damage dealt to a minion meets or exceeds their health they are destroyed and sent to the discard pile.  All minions deal their attack value back before they go.  If multiple cards are discarded, the player chooses in which order they go into the discard pile.  This is important in that some cards will call the top card of the discard pile back into play.  To end the player turn all exhausted cards are readied and all minion health is restored.  It is now the villain’s turn.


The villain turn consists of four phase, the draw & play phase, the draw battle lines phase, the attack phase, and the end turn phase.  The first phase, draw & play consists of the villain drawing a single card and playing it.  For the first round the villain with draw and play three.  Cards are drawn from the same deck the player used but will be played upside down.  This is denoted in only having two icons on the top of the card, as opposed to three on the player side.  Minions are added to the villains side of the table, at the ready.  Next the battle lines are drawn.  The player orders their minions in priority order, this is a number found on the top middle of the card, from left to right, highest to lowest priority.  If two minions share the same number the player chooses which one to place first.  The player will then order the villain minions, in an order they choose.  Villain minions will then attack.  They will attack left to right, if the attack will not take out the players minion, the attack will be dealt directly to the player.  Attacks can be cumulative, so this makes a bit of a puzzle when ordering the villain minions.  Once all villain minions have attacked we move to the end turn phase.  All villain minions are readied once again and all minion health is reset to full.  Play now moves to the player.  Game play continues like this until either the player or the villain have had their health reduced to zero.


One of the coolest things about Deck of Wonders is the legacy aspect I mentioned.  The more you play the game the more cards you can unlock.  For example, the villain Cullin comes with three Legacy Packs.  One is unlocked by beating Cullin with more than 10 health remaining.  One is unlocked the 8th time you play a specific card.  You can unlock a new villain the 5th time you beat Cullin.  The game continues to unfold and tell it’s story the more you play it, and believe me, you’ll want to play it.  The cards you earn will replace ones in the current deck making sure there are always 28 villain cards, and 28 player cards.  This now opens deck building options that are customized to your play style. After these cards are unlocked every player will have a unique experience based on what cards they choose to add and which ones to leave out.  Each villain also brings their own set of cards, also changing up game play as you progress.


As I mentioned, Deck of Wonders is a card game, it’s footprint is really tiny, you can play it anywhere.  Although it is small, the game play is huge.  Right from the setup there are choices to be made to tailor the game to your play style.  You choose which cards to add to the deck prior to play.  Each round offers tons of decisions, from which cards to play to which cards to use to play for other cards.  From what order to place your minions to which order the villain attacks, trying to mitigate the damage dealt to you.


I am a huge fan of multi-use cards.  I love more for less.  The use of the cards in Deck of Wonders as both the players deck and the villain deck is amazing.  The fact that the art is reflected on each card depending upon which side the minion is fighting for is brilliant.  Speaking of the art, it is breathtaking.  When I opened up my copy, I immediately emailed Dennis, I told him that I was instantly struck by the colors of the deck, the art, the vibrancy of it all.  It was gorgeous.  A lot of the art in my copy is placeholder.  I am excited to see the final artwork on all of the cards, the ones that have been revealed have been amazing.

Digital Artbook Mockup

So, tell me what you really think about this game, Wendy!  I love it.  I had an opportunity to play the game with Dennis Furia on Steam a while back, as soon as it was done,  I wanted to play again.  I lost that first game, but my mind was already figuring out what I did wrong and how I could do better next time. Overall I do not like to play games via the computer.  I’m more tactile, but I still loved it.  When I received a physical copy, I loved it even more!!  I love the choices, I love the dual cards, I love the art, I love it all.  There is so much room for this game to grow, and I look forward to watching that happen too.  If this game sounds interesting to you, it is now live on Kickstarter here.

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly tried to control the Deck of Wonders  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, as well as our new YouTube channel, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!


Come Play With E! Sailor Moon Crystal: Dice Challenge- Season III

A while back I purchased a pop up tent for my daughter and I to “camp” out in our living room. It was a big hit, and we regularly have sleepovers in it.  These sleepovers include staying up late (duh), eating lots of junk food, and tons of board games.  The games that we play are different almost every time, with one exception, Sailor Moon Crystal: Dice Challenge.  Every time that tent pops out Sailor Moon comes out.  Emmy loves it, if you want to see just how much you can read our review of the game here.


Recently we read that Dyskami Publishing was releasing an expansion, entitled Sailor Moon Crystal: Dice Challenge- Season III, Emmy was more than excited.  When it showed up in the mail, the tent went up, and the playing began!  Since we went over how to play in our first review, we will skip over all of that, if you want to see how to play, feel free to check out the original review here we’ll wait for you…


All done?  Great!  Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.  Season III gives us more, more of everything we love.  More dice, pink, purple, and black.  For Emmy we could have just stopped there and she would have been delirious.  However, there was still more!  There are 12 new characters to play, with all the cool tokens that represent their new powers.

As with the original the game played quickly, and we loved it.  The components are well made, with vibrant new dice colors to go along with colorful characters.  Emmy had a great time trying them all out, finding her favorite, and then taking me down.  Hard.  As I mentioned in the original review I love the mathematical aspect.  Watching my daughter calculate which dice to spend and figuring out different combinations to do it, is amazing.

The components are once again well done.  The dice are colorful and cool to look at.  The card and tokens are well made and hold up to repeated play. Emmy loves the included lanyard.  Fans of Sailor Moon will be very happy with the art style and the characters represented.


This is a worthy addition to our collection, and a great add on to an already much loved game.  But enough from me, here are the words, straight from her mouth!

Emmy’s take:

“Sailor Moon is a good game.  I like playing it.  The new expansion comes with black, purple, and pink dice which is great.  It has way more characters to add to the other game, like the Demons that can take over for you if you pay one of your die.  It’s a great expansion, and it has cool chips!  I love this game!!”

Sailor Moon Crystal: Dice Challenge- Season III 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!

… Find the Fair Youth!

A review copy of Black Sonata: the Fair Youth 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.

A while back I wrote about a fun solo game published by Side Room Games, Black Sonata.  If you are interested in reading my thoughts about this game, you can find it here.  The original post was written about a Kickstarter preview copy.  Since then the actual factual copy has come to me, and I have played the stuffing out of it.  I even converted a non-gamer to a almost-gamer by introducing her to this game.  The production copy was all that my preview copy was and so much more.  It was beautiful.  It was engaging.  It was hard!  it also kept me coming back for more, and always wishing for more.


Well, my wish has been granted (now if only my lottery wishes worked this way…).  Side Room Games has just started a brand new Kickstarter for Black Sonata: the Fair Youth, a small box expansion, that offers five, yes five, new expansions that can be mixed and matched, or played individually, to bring a fresh new outlook to this game. The Fair Youth was designed, much like the original, by John Kean, plays in approximately 20-30 minutes, and as I mentioned is for a single player.


The expansion itself is a small box, and if you pack it right, can fit into the base game box.  Overall it includes 13 standard cards, 20 mini Euro cards, 24 tokens, and a pawn.  Please note, all photos of The Fair Youth content is part of a preview edition, and is not final content or design.  As I go through the expansions included in The Fair Youth, I will assume that the rules of the base game are known.  If not, please feel free to pause here and read about them here.  All caught up?  Good.  Here we go!



The first expansion, The Fair Youth, focuses on another mysterious figure from Shakespeare’s Sonnets.  A young man, who seems to hold a very special place in the bards heart.  In this expansion we are trying to find where in the city he may be hiding, and meet up with him.  To play this expansion the board is set up for a normal game.  One of the new Fair Youth cards will be chosen at random and placed next to the game board.  The other cards will not be used in this game, making for a different gaming experience later on.  This new mode will now add a new action available to the player each turn.  you may now ask a bystander which way the Youth has gone.  To do this you will place the Fair Youth card over the card of the city you are currently in.  Then flipping it over you will see a symbol.  That symbol will indicate where the Youth was headed.  There are arrow tokens included that will help to track the young man.  There are a few rules when determining where he may have gone.  He will always travel the shortest route, and unfortunately, if you are in his current location the bystanders will tell you where he went when he left the last time.  Oops.  They get a bit confused.  Once you have deduced his location you may confront him by turning over the Youth card and checking the location printed there.  If you are correct, you may add 20 points to your score.  If your are incorrect, he has gotten away, and cost you 20 points, subtract this total from your score.

The next option available to you is The Rendezvous, cuz, really, who doesn’t love a good rendezvous?  In this mode, you are trying to located the spot where Will and the Dark lady would get together.  Which spot was special to them?  First, set up the game as normal, then chose one random rendezvous card.  Much like the previous expansion, you now have an additional action now available to you, a “seek the rendezvous” action.  If you chose this option as your action, place the rendezvous card on top of your current location.  Flip the cards over and find the number through the key hole.  This number will tell you how many steps away that location will be.  The game includes optional token to help track this information.  There is only one rule to counting steps, you cannot double back on yourself.  When you think you have deduced the location (symbol) of the secret hideaway, and are about to confront the Dark Lady, you may turn the Rendezvous card over.  If the symbol matches to symbol of your current location AND you have correctly identified the Dark Lady, then you win.  If you have the wrong location, or the wrong suspect, then you lose.  It’s all or nothing here.

The third offer is The Rival Poet.   Let’s face it, Shakespeare wrote during the Renaissance, there had to be a bunch of competition at the time. In this mode you are dealing with that competition, and this can either hamper, or help you.  You may chose to play against an Aggressive Poet, making the game harder or an Elusive Poet, making the game a bit easier.  First, set up the game as normal, chose which poet you will be including, and then place their pawn (included in the expansion) in a location that matches the color of your starting location.  A new step is now added to the turn order, updating the Poet’s location.  This will occur after updating the Dark Lady’s location.  Both Poets have two rules they will follow, they will never move into a space that has the same symbol as the one on the current Stealth Card, and they will not move if a Fog Card is next on the deck.

The Elusive Poet will only move when you move into an adjoining location.  If he can, he will move one step away from the player.  If there is more than one option, he will always choose the right-most option.  If you move into the same location as the Elusive Poet he will give you an additional clue about the Dark Lady.  This allows you to discard a card from the Fog Deck while drawing a new clue card, and moving the Poet to a location with the matching color.  At the end of the game subtract 10 points from your total if you played against the Elusive Poet, help has it’s disadvantages.

The Aggressive poet will always try to move one step closer to the player.  He always takes the shortest route, also choosing the right-most if more than one option is available.  Unlike the Elusive Poet, the player may not move into a space with the Aggressive Poet.  if you happen into the same space, your entire turn must be used to move away.  No other actions may be taken.  In this way he, effectively, blocks your progress.  At the end of the game score 10 additional points if you played against the Aggressive Poet.

The Darker Ladies, offers a set of replacement cards for the Dark lady cards included in the base game.  These cards contain four symbols, suits, as opposed to the six symbols, flowers, that were on the base cards.  This makes the game much harder than before as it will now require more clues to narrow down your suspects.  The game plays as normal with these new cards.


Lastly, Waypoints and Traces allows a way for the player to mark the map using two new tokes, a footprint and an exclamation point, as well as two cards to help mark the deck with the respective cards.  To mark the Waypoint, you may put the exclamation card on the bottom of the Stealth Deck and the token on the corresponding space on the board.  The next time through the deck you may remove, and reuse this marker.  This is helpful if you think you know the location of the Dark Lady and want to make sure that you are in position to confront her the next time through the deck.  Traces allows you to place a card warning you of either 3 or 5 steps (found on either side of the card) to the Dark Lady.  To do so, remove the number of cards from the bottom of the deck that matches the number you chose (3 or 5) and place the Footprint Card on top, replacing the removed cards in the same order.  The Footprint token is then added to the board in the appropriate spot.  As with the Waypoint you may chose to reuse the Trace card and token once they are revealed from the deck again.


Each one of these expansions offers new and different ways to play the game alone, but when combined they are amazing.  I loved trying different expansions together to see how well they meshed.  I really enjoyed how the continued the theme of an already immersive and thematic game.  I am continually surprised by how much theme is squeezed into one small box, and how Side Room Games was able to add even more.  If you are a fan of Black Sonata, and you want more challenge, less challenge, or even a way to mix things up a bit, it’s all there in one box!  I love how they have done so much more without overcrowding and overcomplicating things.  Simply astounding.

The Kickstarter, which offers the base game, in case you missed it, runs until January 26, 2020.  If this sounds like something that interests you, I highly recommend taking a look at it.

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly found the Fair Youth (and more)!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!


Come Play With E! Color Monster Edition

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

Sometimes it is really hard to be six.  As an adult, who has not been six for a really long time, I sometimes forget that.  To be six means that most decisions are made for you, from what you eat to what you wear.  To be six means that you fell things very strongly, almost all of the time, and sometimes that can be very confusing.  Sorting through different emotions can be overwhelming and taxing for both the six year old, and all the adult with the misfortune of being near it.


In 2012 Anna Llenas, an author from Barcelona, took a stab at sorting though feelings in her international best seller The Color Monster: A Story About Emotions.  In the book, the Color Monster wakes up in a confused state.  It seems that he is in a jumble of emotions, felling happy and angry, sad and calm, loved and even scared, all at once!  With the help of a young girl he is able to sort through them all by placing them into little jars.  While sorting these emotions he becomes more aware of each one and what they all mean.  It is a simple yet powerful book that helps young children sort through their own feelings.


In 2019 Devir Games introduced a board game based on The Color Monster, called, well, The Color Monster.  Designed by Josep M. Allue and Dani Gomez, with art provided by the author herself, Anna Llenas.  Color Monster is true to the book, taking players on a unique journey through their feelings.

The Color Monster is a cooperative game for 2 to 5 players.  It plays in about 20 minutes, with a recommended age of four and up.  Players take turns moving around the board collecting emotions and helping to sort them into their correct jars.  The players win when all the emotions, love, happiness, fear, anger, sadness, and calm have been properly sorted.  Players lose the game when three mixed up jars are revealed.

Set up is quick and easy.  The game board is set out with a emotion counter placed on the corresponding colored section of the board, color side up.  The Color Monster and Girl are placed together on the pink space.  The eight jars are then mixed up and placed on the two shelves with the drawings on the back side, hidden from the players.  That’s it!


Each turn begins with a roll of the die.  There are three possible outcomes, a 1 or 2, allowing the player to move the Color Monster that number of spaces in any direction.  A spiral allows the Color Monster to move to any space on the board.  Finally the Girl allows the Girl to be moved to the same space as the Color Monster.


When the Color Monster lands on a spot containing a color token, the player must then share with the other players something that causes them to fell that particular emotion.  For example, if the player landed on a yellow space they would have to share something that makes them happy.  Once they have shared they may choose one of the empty jars on the shelf.  The jar is then flipped over, if the colors match the token can be placed inside.  The jar is then replaced on the shelf showing the sorted emotion.  If the colors do not match the token is returned to the board and the jar is returned to the shelf, color side facing away.  If the revealed jar is a mixture of colors, the Color Monster becomes confused.  First the player must choose two empty jars on the shelf and switch their positions.  Then the mixed jar is replaced, mixed side showing, returning the token to the board.  If three mixed jars are revealed the game ends and the Color Monster remains confused.



As the game progresses players will end on spaces without tokens.  When this happens the player must still share that emotion, but can then roll again.  Whenever the Girl and the Color Monster share the same space she is able to help him relax a bit.  This allows the player to turn one of the mixed jars back around.  Play continues until players either help the Color Monster sort his feelings, or, gulp, fail.



The components are amazing.  The wooden Color Monster and Girl figures are huge and chunky.  Perfect for little hands.  The die is also wooden and chunky.  The tokens, jars, and shelves are made of thick cardboard, and easily can withstand the repeated play of smaller gamers.  The board and pieces are colorful and very true to the story.  It is an excellent adaptation of the original story, extremely thematic and true.


The game play is quick and fun.  I really enjoyed the aspect of sharing feelings.  It is a great way to get people talking.  Through playing I learned some interesting things about my daughter that I never knew before, such as what makes her calm.  Repeated play brings out more and more, and it was a great way for her to see that I have emotions too, and these are the things that trigger them.

There are so many applications for this game, from families to schools.  I think this is a great way to get families, and even friends talking about their feelings.  We originally played this at Dice Tower Con with the awesome Devir staff, and we had a great time.  it was also a great way to get to know people that you may not know well.  The rule book have a few suggestions for parents and professionals included in the back as well.  If you have a young person in you life this is a must have game.

Emmy’s take:

“Hello!  I like Color Monster because it is very good and tells how you’re feeling.  When you move your piece to a different feeling then you gotta tell that feeling and pull a little thing and put it in a jar. There’s different emotions, if it’s all the different emotions mixed together, you don’t want those.  Cuz, three of those make you lose.  It’s a very fun game, and the big chunky characters are cute, and the bottles,and … well, everything about it is just cute.  It’s based on the book The Color Monster, if you’ve ever heard of it.  That’s it!  Bye friends!”

The Color Monster 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!

… Harvest the Most Fruit!

A review copy of Orchard was 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.

Planting, growing, and harvesting fruits trees is hard work.  There is a lot of waiting for just the right moment to pick the fruit.  Too soon and it might not be ripe enough.  Too late and it may be over ripe.  Patience is the key to getting a piece of fruit that is just right.  There’s also some degree of strategy, knowing when and where to plant your trees to maximum fruit production.  No, there is nothing easy about planting, growing, and harvesting fruit trees.  That’s why rather than do the actual work, I prefer to play games about it…


In 2018 Mark Tuck designed and illustrated a 9 card game called Orchard.  It was an instant hit, winning the 2018 Golden Geek Best Print & Play Board Game as well as the 2018 9-Card Nanogame Print and Play Design Contest.  Fast forward a year and it is currently on Kickstarter (fully funded) and to be published by Side Room Games.  Orchard is a solitaire game comprised of nine cards, 15 dice, and two black cubes.  The game plays in about 5 minutes, and has the player trying to grow an orchard, by placing cards, that bears the maximum amount of fruit.

In this small box game the player starts by dealing out 9 cards.  The game comes with 18 cards to help with replayability, as well as a multiplayer option.  The first card of the deck is then turned over, this will be your starting orchard.  The player then tales two cards from the deck as their starting hand.  Each turn a player will take three actions.  The first action is placing a card from their hand.  Cards must be placed overlapping at least one existing card. Cards may be rotated in either 180 or 90 degrees in either direction.  Trees must match the card they are overlapping, or your fruit will rot, more on this later.



The second action is placing dice.  For each tree on the just played card that overlaps a matching color either a new die is added (if there was not one already there), or an existing die will be ticked up.  If there was not already a die on the overlapped tree, the player will take a die matching the color of the tree and place it on the tree with the “1” side facing up.  You have just grown one piece of fruit on that tree.  If the tree had a die there already it will be ticked up.  A one becomes a three, a three becomes a six, and a six, well, it stays a six.  If the tree colors do not match a black cube will be placed on the tree.  This fruit has now rotted.  For the rest of the game this tree may not be overlapped, or harvested any further.  This may happen up to twice per game.




The lat action is to draw back up to two cards in hand.  Play continues until all cards have been played.  Scoring then occurs by adding all the values of the dice showing on the cards, subtracting three points for each rotten fruit (black cube) in your orchard.  The rule book has handy little chart in the back that lets you compare your harvest to find out just how fruitful it was.

Orchard is a quick game, with endless replayablilty.  It is a great little puzzle that challenges you on every turn to figure out the right way to play your tress to get the most out of the placement.  The footprint is very small.  I have a copy in my backpack, and have played it a few times during lunchtime.  The playtime is perfect for a quick game, but challenging enough that it is satisfying at the same time.  Although Orchard only takes 5 minutes to play, it is a game that you want to play over and over again.  I recently taught Orchard to my 6 year old daughter.  We now have contests to see who can build a better orchard.  It is fast, simple, and completely engaging for young and old.  For me, it is a perfect little game, in a perfect little box, that I will return to again and again.

The copy that I was sent was a prototype, all components shown here are subject to change.  The Kickstarter will also unlock some upgrades not shown here as well.  The game that I played was near perfect, and in my opinion, all upgrades are just icing on the cake!

Orchard is live on Kickstarter until September 22, 2019.  If you feel this is something that you may enjoy stop by and give them a little love!  Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly harvested the most fruit!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

Come Play With E!- Fairytale Gloom Edition

If there is one thing that my daughter inherited from me is it the gift of storytelling, she is always asking me to tell her a story that I’ve made up, or entertaining me with one of her own.  Many of her stories are based on experiences in her life, from the everyday, to even the games that we play together.   After playing some of her favorite games, her creativity gets fired up, and she brings these worlds alive.  From writing her own fan fiction story about her favorite game, Too Many Bones, to pretending that she is escaping a dark dungeon like in One Deck Dungeon.  It’s amazing, as a Mom, for me to watch.  She is now learning to read and write on her own, and this has opened up a new world for her, this includes all new games that she could not play before.

Enter one of my all-time favorite games, Gloom.  I own a lot of versions of this game, I told you, it was one of my favorites, but I thought she might be most interested in Fairytale Gloom.  Fairytale Gloom is the brainchild of Keith Baker, published by Atlas Games, and illustrated by Jaume Fabregat.


Unfortunately Gloom does not have a solo mode, so it was not coming to my table as often as I would have liked it to.  On a whim, I took it out the other day, and showed it to Emmy.  I could not have expected a better time.  From the moment I described the game to her, she was hooked, and she was ready to play.  I explained the objective and the rules.  Here, let me do that for you too.

I any version of Gloom that you play the objective is always the same, be the first person to make your family, or in this case characters, so unhappy that they succumb to the dark and, well, die.  I know, kind of bleak, and dark, right?  Many of you might be questioning my parenting skills right now, but cancel that call to DCF, it’s not that bad.  While the game does want you to off your people, getting them to the grave can be pretty challenging and hilarious.  Fairytale Gloom sets its sights on beloved fairytale characters, Rapuzel, Big Bad Wolf, and even the beloved Cinderella are not safe from these sad tales.


Once you have chosen your victims, uh, I mean, characters, you are dealt a hand of five cards.  two story cards are dealt to the middle of the table, more on that later, and play begins.  Each player, on their turn can begin the game by weaving a backstory for their characters, a tale of misery, and woe.  On each turn players are allowed two actions.  You may play an event card, which has some immediate effect, these cards are one use and then discarded.  You may play a modifier on one of your characters or an opponents character.  These cards are the meat of the game, and will cause the characters to increase or decrease their self worth, effectively making them happier or more miserable.  Modifiers have titles on them, usually alliterations, such as Purloined Porridge, or Trapped in a Tower.  These titles or names are what will be weaved into the story that you are telling about your character.  If played on an opponent you will also be using the card to interject into their sad story, shining a little light into their miserable lives and making them happy.  These cards may also include an effect that may increase or decrease your hand size or make other alterations to your gameplay.

Once your character has a negative self worth, and only as your first action, you can also play an Unhappy Ending card.  This is pretty much what it sounds like, the last card for your character.  These cards are also used to finish up your story and might say something like, “Used up Nine Lives”, or “Died From Bad Blisters”. Additionally, you may discard your entire hand, drawing up to your current limit, or pass one or both of your actions.

When both actions have been used, the player draws back up to their current hand size and play moves to the next player.  Story cards, the ones placed in the center of the table at the start of the game, can be claimed by any player, by using an action, once their requirement is fulfilled.  But be careful, they can be stolen as well, only the player who controls the card at the end of the game will be granted their end game benefits.



Once all of your characters, the game usually plays four or five per player, have expired the game ends.  Players add up the negative points on only their expired characters, the player with the most (or I guess least) points wins.  Fairytale Gloom plays a bit on the longer side, especially if you play with a group of gifted storytellers.  I have never played a game that did not leave me laughing and wanting more.


But wait!  There’s more!  I haven’t even told you the coolest thing yet.  Gloom, and in this case Fairytale Gloom, was one of the first games that I ever played with transparent cards.  Modifiers are played right over your character card, stacking so that all pints can be clearly seen.  Once an Unhappy Ending has occurred another picture will cover your characters portrait, so one can clearly see that character is out of the game.


As I mentioned there are a bunch of Gloom games.  The base game, which has a Gothic feel also spawned some expansions that are compatible with all other Gloom games.  You can pick up Unhappy Homes, Unwelcome Guests, Unfortunate Expeditions, Unpleasant Dreams, and even the Unquiet Dead.  All these expansions add on to the base games, and add a new level of complexity to the game.  As for genres there is a Cthulhu Gloom, Munchkin Gloom (based on the wildly popular Munchkin series), Gloom in Space, and most recently, funded through Kickstarter, Gloom of Thrones, based on, you guessed it, Game of Thrones.

I love this game so much.  There is nothing that I don’t love, other than trying to find gifted storytellers to play it with.  It engages all players for the entire game, listening to their stories, and planning your next wicked move.  The theme is a bit dark, but in a lighthearted way.  There are a lot of tongue in cheek moments, through the flavor text, inspiring more stories.  Emmy loved the storytelling and as I write this she is begging me to play more!  The stories unfold as the game plays and really keep you on your toes, always trying to weave in your cards into the narrative that you have already started.

I love this game, but enough about what I think, here is what Emmy herself has to say about it:

Emmy’s take:

“Fairytale Gloom is a very fun game.  I play it a lot with my mother and I just love it a lot because it has my favorite characters the princesses.  I get to play fun stories on them.  I love this game, I don’t like the killing people part, because I’m not really a killer person, but it’s really funny how you tell the stories.  That’s all for now, bye friends!”

Fairytale Gloom 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!

… Save Hara Before It’s Too Late!

A review copy of Champions of Hara and Champions of Hara: Chaos on Hara were provided by Greenbrier Games.  We would like to thank Greenbrier Games for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

I have a confession to make.  I’m a sucker for really good game art.  As a matter of fact, it can either make or break a game for me, and one more than one occasion has been the deciding factor in whether or not I back a Kickstarter or not.  To me the art is an extension of the game, it needs to feel natural, as if the game were built around it and flows from it.  Corny, I know, but hey, we all have our things.


Right from the start I was attracted to Champions of Hara for just this reason.  The artwork seems to just pop right off the box cover.  One of the artists that worked on Champions of Hara is Stephen Gibson, whom I never run short of good things to say (if you don’t believe me, check our my review of Grimslingers).  Champions of Hara, developed by Leaf Pile Media, is published by Greenbrier Games, designed by Walter Barber, Ian VanNest and Andrew Zimmerman, with beautiful artwork provided by the aforementioned Stephen Gibson, Hannah Kennedy, and Jason Piperberg.  Hara plays up to four players and can be played anywhere from half an hour to two hours depending on the number of players and which game mode you choose to play.


Champions of Hara can be played in a versus mode, a cooperative mode, or even through scenarios.  The scenarios is where this game truly shines for me as a solo player.  Each of the playable characters, there are six in the base game with an additional four added in the expansion, has their own unique deck of cards that plays different from all the others.  Getting to know each of the characters strengths, weaknesses, and play style has been a lot of fun for me.

A typical game plays through a series of steps.  The first step is the Dawn phase, where the player draws a card from the World Deck on each of the six worlds.  The card will be either an event or a monster.  Monsters are played face up, while events are played face down, each placed on the numbered space that corresponds to the current day.  From there each player may take their turn.  Players are allowed to take three actions, actions are usually spent on playing cards from either their hand or the board.  In a unique twist, cards that are played from your hand are then rotated 180 degrees and placed on the board.  This card now has a different effect that will be triggered when played from the board.  Cards that are played from the board are then rotated 180 degrees and returned to your hand, thereby changing that effect as well.  Cards go back and forth from the players hand to the board with the abilities constantly changing.  Playing the right cards at the right time are key to success in Champions of Hara.  After cards have been played all monsters within range of the player will attack, this ends the current players turn.  Once a player has taken their turn if there is a Corrupted (bad guy) on the board they will take their turn, if not the next player will go, continuing until all players have taken their turns.

The next step is the dusk phase.  Cards are drawn from the dusk deck equal to the number of players plus 1.  These cards are spawned via the roll of the dice.  One die will decide which world, the other which space it will occupy on that world.  Players will then take another turn, as outlined above.  Once all players and monsters have taken their turns a new day will begin.  A new day requires the players to draw from the World Shift deck.  This deck is aptly named as it will literally shift the board around causing the players to move the world tiles, switching them around, and causing great chaos.  Play continues on, following these steps, until the day determined by the scenario has been reached.  At that time a winner is declared, also outlined by the chosen scenario.

Gameplay is further enhanced by collecting items and colored mana from the defeated monsters.  Colored mana is tracked on the player board, when certain thresholds are reach the player levels up in that color and can add a new card of that type to their hand.  This offers more choices in the game.  Some of these cards add a lot of value to your hand, getting them early enough in the game can make a huge difference!  Event cards often add a way to get more mana as well.  Different items can be useful, or just okay, and can be pretty easy to come by.  Closing rifts that open on the board can also be a nice way to get useful items, regain health, or energy.

I have to admit that I have been playing Champions of Hara for quite a bit, wanting to make sure that I got the full flavor of the game before I told you all about it.  As a solo game I have had a great time.  My biggest complaint is that I want more.  Unfortunately the solo scenarios are limited to one for each of the characters.  That makes 6 solo scenarios in the base game.  I played them all, and loved each one.  The scenarios are as unique as the characters themselves, some are serious, such as saving one character from the clutches of a Corrupted.  Others are more silly, trying to throw a huge party on all the worlds before time runs out.  They all challenge their respective characters in different ways, and are tailored for each of them as well.  The scenarios are challenging, and offer replayability in that respect, but I want more.  I would love to see a supplemental booklet or PDF that offers more solo scenarios.

As a multiplayer game there are much more options.  There is almost endless gameplay, and many more scenarios to play through as well.  The storylines were interesting and ones that I enjoyed following.


Let’s talk bit and pieces.  Champions of Hara is well done.  I have already gushed about the feast of the eyes, but there’s so much more than that.  The game includes miniatures of the characters and the Corrupted.  These minis are very well done and help to add to the overall effect of the game.  The player boards are sturdy, and I love the cutouts for the little counter cubes.  There are plenty of cardboard chits of varying sizes and abilities.  There are a ton of cards too.  Many are oddly shaped, which makes shuffling an adventure, but luckily shuffling is kept to a minimum.  The world tiles were very well done, and hold up well to the moving around cause by the World Shift Cards.

The expansion, Chaos on Hara, also adds more characters, Corrupted, and some interesting new cards to add to your decks.  The instruction booklet adds a nice Game Flow chart on the back too.  I’m hoping future printings of the base game will include this really handy tool as well.  I love how Chaos on Hara gives a subtle nod to Grimslingers with the inclusion of The Witch King as a character.  I’ll admit, I geeked out a bit over that.

Overall I think Champions of Hara is a great game.  There are plenty of unique bits to make this game really stand out for me.  I love the card system, and the choices that it causes you to make.  It can be mind breaking trying to decide when to place a card down and when to pick it up.  I love the deck building aspect that the leveling up adds to the game.  Moving the board all around via the World Shift Deck can be so frustrating, moving all across the world only to have the space you need move back where you just came from, ugh!!! Did I mention the art?  I loved checking out the new monsters as they entered the board for the first time.  All of the colors really pop on the game, and each monster is unique and fun.

I am really excited about what the future might hold for Champions of Hara, and can only hope that Greenbrier Games hears my pleas for more solo options.  C’mon guys, please???  Overall I recommend you give this game a try.  Although the solo scenarios might be my one complaint, but they do take some time to play through.  Multiplayer is definitely fun, and I can recommend that as well.  Give it a look, you might surprise yourself!

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly saved Hara before it was too late!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!


… 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.  🙂


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!!


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.


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?


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.


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!