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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

… Become the World’s Most Famous Superhero!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…Defend the Capital City!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come Play with E! Mint Tin Skulduggery Edition

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

Picture courtesy of subQuark Publishing- used with permission

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

Picture courtesy of subQuark Publishing- used with permission

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

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

Picture courtesy of subQuark Publishing- used with permission

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

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

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

Picture courtesy of subQuark Publishing- used with permission

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

Emmy’s take:

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

Mint Tin Skulduggery gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

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

… Lead a Robot Revolution!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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