… Engage in La Petite Guerre!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come Play With E! Time Breaker Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emmy’s take:

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

Time Breaker gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

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