… 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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