… 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!

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Come Play With E! Vast: The Crystal Caverns Edition!

A review copy of Vast: The Crystal Caverns was provided by Leder Games.  We would like to thank Leder Games for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

There are some pitfalls to bringing up a young gamer.  One of them is having your games suddenly labeled as “our games” and then finally “my game”.  This happens more than I’d like to admit.  It seems my collection is diminishing while Emmy’s is growing.  Rapidly.  Never was this so clear as when I received a package from Leder Games.  Inside was a copy of Vast: The Crystal Caverns.  I was really excited about the solo aspects of the game, along with the ability to play as five very different characters.  Before the packing material was cleared away the game was claimed as hers.  I tried to play the complexity card, telling Emmy that this game was pretty complex and might be a bit over her head.  Who was I kidding?  She took to the game like a pro.  So, now my game is hers, and my review is now hers as well.

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Vast: The Crystal Caverns, published by Leder Games, designed by Patrick Leder and David Somerville, with art by Kyle Ferrin, can be played by 1-5 players in a little over an hour.  In Vast players choose one of five different different roles to play, The Knight, The Goblins, The Dragon, The Thief, and even The Cave.  Each role has a different win condition and plays completely differently from the other roles.  The Knight wants to slay the dragon and get out of the cave.  The Goblins want to kill the knight.  The Dragon wants to shake off it’s long slumber and exit the cave.  The Thief wants to collect treasure and break its curse.  Lastly, The Cave just wants to collapse and trap everyone else inside.

 

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Vast” The Crystal Caverns breaks the mold for dungeon crawlers.  There is the basic tile flipping as new areas are explored., however, not all characters will flip tiles, some will move across them without doing so.  The Goblins spawn on unflipped tiles based on the symbols, or the specific tribes.  Crystal tiles will appear much, making the Knight very happy,  however if those tiles are collapsed by The Cave, it’s game over.

The components of Vast are amazing, I’m not even sure where to begin.  Even without the Miniatures Expansion, each box contains a cardboard standee of each character or a wooden meeple.  Each character is so well thought out, and each piece that makes up their components was as well.  From the side quests of The Knight, to the omen tokens of The Cave.  The tiles that make up the physical cave are thick cardboard, as are each of the player boards.  The game includes plenty of cardboard tokens and wooden bits to sort through, as well as different decks of cards for almost every role.  If you add on the Miniatures Expansion, you get a ton of, well…. miniatures.  They are very well done with a lot of amazing detail.  They are not needed to play the game, but really g a long way to making it pop on the table.

I have never played a game like Vast: The Crystal Caverns before.  Picking different roles that play so uniquely is something that makes this game really shine for me.  I love how there are different win conditions for each of the roles.  The components, look, and feel for each of the characters adds to the fun of the game.  I really enjoyed exploring all of the different roles, figuring out their dynamics and how they fit into the overall game.  Emmy and I had a great time playing this game, trying to outsmart one another, while trying to win the game before the cave got us!  It was great that we were not only playing against one another but the cave as well!

Emmy loved Vast.  It was clear this was going to be a favorite from the beginning, the artwork drew her in instantly.  She was intrigued by the different character roles, and play styles.  She loved the idea of the board being alive, and taking part in the game.  She loves it so much that she brought it to Dice Tower Con with us this past summer, and played it almost nightly.  She taught some of the other convention goers how to play as well.  It amazed me how well she picked up the different characters.  She has not played them all just yet, The Thief and The Dragon are still a bit much for her to handle.  I can’t see them being out of her grasp for too long though, she just needs to get that pesky reading thing down.

I did get an opportunity to play Vast solo, just don’t tell my daughter!  It was a lot of fun, and I am eager to try all of the characters.  The designers did a really good job of vetting out the rules and making matches based on the number of players to really make it a fun experience for everyone.  Solo play was a bit intense and there were times when all seemed lost for me, only to pull out a win at the last second.  That was pretty gratifying!

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Emmy and I both recommend this game, as a solo experience, or as a group one.  There really is nothing else like it on the market right now.  It truly is a unique experience that really works.  Everything flows well, and it offers enough variety to keep it fresh after multiple plays.  Leder Games recently ran a very successful Kickstarter followup to The Crystal Caverns called Vast: The Mysterious Manor.  The Mysterious Manor offers more of the asymmetric gameplay found in The Crystal Caverns with new characters, as well as a new board, The Manor.  It looks amazing!

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Emmy’s take:

“Hello everyone!  I think that Vast is one of the number one games in the world.  It’s fun to play, you should all learn about it.  There are figures, they are beautiful.  There are all these tiles, and there are these treasures.  I love it!  I always liked being the knight because she’s a girl!  Buy it!  Bye friends!!”

Vast: The Crystal Caverns 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 an Architect of the Future

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

I have always enjoyed deck builders.  Deck builders usually play great solo, do not play the same way twice, and offer endless supplies of expansions.  Deck builders also can fall into a bit of a cookie cutter form, one seemlessly blending into the next, with the exception of a new IP.  It doesn’t stop me from trying them, it just stops them from coming to my table as frequently.

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So it only made sense that when I saw Helionox, I was instantly intrigued.  Helionox, published by Zeroic Games, designed by Taran Lewis Kratz and illustrated by Luke Green,  is a 1-4 player deck builder that plays is about 45 minutes.  Set in the distant future where the sun has been depleted, you play as an “architect” trying to influence the remaining population through new technology, operatives, and even establishing embassies on other planets.  Where Helionox separates itself from other deck builders is in these details.  There are plenty of cards to buy, from four different factions, defense, bio, cyber, and transport.  Each of these cards has their own specialty.  Defense cards offer, well, more defense.  Bio cards offer hand management techniques.  Cyber deals with influence and infamy, adding and reducing yours and your opponents.  Transport focuses on, as one would suspect, movement, as well as adding more cards to your hand. Some of these cards will also offer victory points, or influence, at the end of the game.

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Each round event cards are revealed that threaten to shut down planets, make it more costly to enter, to leave, or even to use each planet’s special powers.  These events quickly stack making things spiral out of control quickly.  When the event deck runs out, it’s game over.  This limits the amount of turns you have each game, making each decision per round that much tougher to make.  Waste too much time buying cards and you’ll never have a chance to use them.  Turn your focus away from the events for too long and you may live to regret it. Build an embassy now, or save the credits for something else and build one later?

Credits, this games version of money, can be hard to come by.  They can be used to buy new cards.  They can be used to fly from one planet to another, necessary to take on the events there.  They can be used to dispel an event, or activate a planet’s special power.  This makes money management a big deal too.  There have been many games where the amount of cards that I had acquired from the market was minimal as compared to the average deck builder.  This almost seemed counter-intuitive to me, but somehow, it all works out in Helionox.  Every turn is an agonizing choice.

There are so many nuances to Helionox it is hard to list them all in one place.  Each player chooses an Architect to play.  Each Architect has different abilities they can use at the cost of cyro counters.  Cyro counters are placed on the architect card when abilities are used, one is then removed each round.  Cyro abilities cannot be used until all cyro counters have been removed.  This makes the timing of these powers critical.  You may only have one opportunity per game to use it, so choose wisely!

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As if this were not enough, an expansion, Mercury Protocol is also included in the deluxe version of the game.  This adds more choices for game play including adding illegal tech to your locations, and picking up and dropping off cargo as an income generator.  There are so many layers to Helionox that the replayability is endless.  This game has come to my table more than a dozen times and no two experiences have been the same.\

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The components are really well done.  There are tons of tokens made out of thick cardboard.  Player mats help keep everything organized and also have a handy reminder section for play order as well as a token and symbol guide.  The game board is awesome, and also helps make set up a breeze.  The artwork is phenomenal, helping to tie the theme together with the game play.  Embassies and ship tokens are made out of chunky wood, in bright colors making them a stark contrast to the game board.

I have had a lot of fun playing Helionox.  I have played it both solo and with friends.  I cannot say which way I like it better.  As I mentioned, no two games are the same, and that keeps me coming back for more. I am hard pressed to find something that I do not like about the game.  it plays in just the right amount of time, for me.  The event deck making the game end in a certain time frame really helps to add to the suspense and the tension of the game.  There have been time when I almost found myself biting my nails while making a decision.  Each choice in Helionox can feel like life or death for this struggling population.  I truly recommend this game if you enjoy deck builders and are looking for something outside the box.  Helionox truly offers a unique experience, and I can’tr wait to see what Zerioc Games has up their sleeves next!

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Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly was an architect of the future!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

 

Come Play With E! Robit Riddle Edition

A review copy of Robit Riddle 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.

Like all good geeks of a certain age I absolutely loved Choose Your Own Adventure books from back in the day.  I fondly remember reading through each of my copies until I had gotten every ending, and traversed every path that lead to them.  Therefore, it has been with great interest, and excitement that I have watched the resurgence of this genre, especially when it crossed over into the board gaming world.

My daughter is way too young to have experienced any of this, and sadly those beloved books are long gone.  Van Ryder recently released a really cool collection of Graphic Novel Adventure Books (I did a review of Captive that you can read here).  This collection was also a bit too dark for my daughter, so it almost seemed as if she’d have to wait to experience choosing her own adventure for a few more years.  Almost.

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Recently we came across Robit Riddle, a storybook game designed by Kevin Craine, illustrated by John Ariosa, and published by Baba Geek Games and Atlas Games.  Robit Riddle was initially released through a very successful Kickstarter, one that I was sad to miss.  Now it is readily available through Atlas Games and you FLGS.  The game packs all of the choose your own adventure excitement that I remember experiencing as a child into a family friendly story telling game for all ages.

In Robit Riddle you take on the role of one of six robots looking for their missing pets, known as robits.  Players will work together, choosing different paths in the story, pooling their resources to overcome tests and adversaries, and even making new friends along the way.  The main box comes with 3 different stories to choose from, although there seems to be a hint of more to come.

As you would expect the game is played, mainly, through reading a story book.  Certain spots will ask for a choice to be made, flipping to the corresponding part of the book.  At times there will be tests required, or as Robit Riddle calls them, encounters.  Encounters are breaks from the text in which players are encouraged to take on the role of their character and expand upon the story .  Once they have added their part to the story dice are rolled to see if the encounter was successful, if your words had their desired effect.  There are often three outcomes from the dice rolls, a failure and two passes, with one pass being the more favorable of the two outcomes.  During the course of the game players can accumulate story tokens which can also be spent to increase the number of successes.  The story tokens take the form of little metal gears, a really cool touch.  Story tokens can also be spent to add a bookmark to a page.  This mechanic is a nice little touch too.  Once you choose your outcome you may place the bookmark, allowing you to go back to it if you chose poorly.  Once you have resolved another encounter the bookmark is removed, and your opportunity to backtrack is lost.

Robit Riddle is a cute little game, and one that Emmy absolutely loves.  Over the summer we spent an entire night playing Robit Riddle over and over and over again.  She wanted to try to get as many outcomes as she possibly could.  It reminded me of my time with my books when I was a bit older than her.  Her excitement for the story was very clear, she loved the characters, and wanted to save the pets, at all costs.  We played through all three adventures, some more successfully than others, and she consistently comes back for more.  We both hope that there are many more expansions for this game in the future.

If you are looking for a game the entire family can play together, this is for you.  if you like to tell stories and really get into a game, this is for you.  If you want to see your child tap into creativity that you didn’t even know was there, this is for you.  There is hardly a situation that I can think of where this would not be for you.  Emmy and I cannot recommend it enough.  She says we’ve talked about it enough, now we need to go play it!

Emmy’s take:

“Hi friends, it’s me, Emmy!  Robit Riddle is a fun game, and you should try it sometime! It has gears, you should see them, it is so much fun!  There’s cards and the robots are so great!  You take out cards, you play cards, and it’s just like a story game!  You need to buy it!  Bye friends!!”

Robit Riddle 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 new YouTube Channel where Emmy does playthroughs of her favorite games.  Please, feel free to leave a comment below!

… Pilot the Nautilus!

A preview copy of Nemo’s War: Second Edition was provided by Victory Point Games.  We would like to thank Victory Point Games for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

The year is 1870, also known as the “Dark Ages” of naval development.  The seas are a mysterious and dangerous place, full of peril and uncertainty.  Vessels are disappearing, lives are lost, and legends of sea creatures can be heard at every port.  Assuming the role as the infamous Captain Nemo, commander of the Nautilus, you set out to confront these mysterious, tame these seas, and maybe gain some fame and treasure along the way.

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Nemo’s War, designed by Chris Taylor and Alan Emrich, illustrated by Ian O’Toole, and published by Victory Point Games, is a 1-4 player game based on the Jules Verne novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  What exactly was Captain Nemo doing in the Nautilus?  If you’re like me, you probably don’t remember too much about the original story, aside from giant sea creatures and a cranky captain.  That’s okay.  Although the game is based on the novel, you really don’t need to have much, or any, prior knowledge of the text.  You are the Captain, you will make the choices, starting with your motivation.  Why are you out here?  Are you looking for scientific discovery? Are you looking to explore the uncharted waters, finding new lands, and possibly people?  Are you trying to incite a war to overthrow the imperial overlords?  Or do you want to support the anti-imperialism cause, lending your resources to the fight?  Once you have chosen your motivation you will construct a draw pile based on your motivation.  Your end game conditions will also depend upon this choice.  The board is then seeded with hidden ship tokens, representing the growing threat in the seas.

Nemo’s War begins in Act One, playing through Three Acts (unless other end game conditions are met).  As each new act is introduced more dice are added to the dice pool and more ships are added to the oceans, bringing the game to a tense crescendo.  The turn begins with an Event Phase, flipping over a new card in the act deck, resolving any events or trying to overcome a test.  Other cards may be put aside to use at a later date.  Tests are completed with a roll of the dice, the cards are then put into a pass discard pile (netting you points at the end of the game) or a failed discard pile.  After the Event Phase is the Placement Phase where new ships are added to the board.  When placing new ships a number of dice is rolled equal to the current Act.  Then dice may be a combination of black and white.  The dice will show you what waters new ships will be place.  The differential of two of the white dice will also determine the amount of action points you will have to spend this turn.  Finally, the Action Phase, where you will have the opportunity to spend your action points.

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Action points can be spent in a number of ways, from adventuring to attacking other ships, from inciting rebellions to resting, repairing or refitting the Nautilus.  Most of these actions will require dice rolls for success or failure.  You may also leverage your crew, ship, and even yourself to help alter these rolls a bit.  Make no mistake, this is just a glossing over of the rules.  This game is deep, with many choices to spend those precious action points on.  Nemo’s War is more than just a “roll the dice, take the action” type game.  There are many choices to make each turn, many different way to help mitigate your rolls, chances to take, that will probably not work out in your favor.

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Nemo’s War, for me, has been immersive, each game bringing new things to overcome, and new ways to do so.  I love the choices, right from the beginning the tone of the game is set with the choice of the motive of Captain Nemo himself.  From there the choices multiply.  Should we start clearing out the seas?  Should we look for treasure?  Do we need to upgrade our ship?  How about starting a rebellion in some far off lands?

Nemo’s War was built with the solo gamer in mind, and that makes all the difference to me.  This was far from a mode that was added on through stretch goals in a Kicistarter.  I have played this game as a solo game, as well as a multiplayer game.  I prefer the solo game by far.  It feels like this game was made to be played purely solo.  Everything, from the tokens to the artwork on the cards is done with prefect detail.  The game draws you into the story, you truly feel as though you are the captain of this ship, making tough choices, and just trying to survive one more day.

Nemo’s War offers a challenge, and many times I have suffered defeat.  Even a “win” is measured by how successful you were, offering five different epilogues for each motive.  The replayability has been immense.  I have not yet played all the motives, instead I keep trying to do better in the ones that I have played already before moving on.  The tokens and gameboard are all very well done, thick cardboard, and well illustrated.  The cards contain quotes from the book, move the story forward, and also are beautifully illustrated.  Everything has been made with attention to detail as well as staying true to the original material.  If you are looking for a solid solo game to add to your collection, look no further, Nemo’s War has it all in one package!

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

… Survive the Genestealers!

There have been many a time when I have been late to the proverbial party.  Never has it been more sad than with Space Hulk: Death Angel, now out of print, once published by Fantasy Flight Games.  I was lucky enough to find a copy for pretty much retail price, not the crazy, ransom-like prices that it is now going for.  I had seen a lot of solo gamers talking about what a great, albeit frustrating, experience this was.  So, I looked into it, tracked down a copy, and gave it a spin.

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Luckily I didn’t know too much about the game when I ordered it, I may have, on initial glance been turned off by the Warhammer 40,000 tie in.  I’m glad that I missed that part. I’m sure that Warhammer is a fantastic game, so delete the hate mail you were just typing, but it just isn’t my type of game.  To each his own, however, I am willing to admit this game, Space Hulk: Death Angel is.  The game play is quick, as your Space Marines will probably be picked off by the dreaded Genestealers in no time flat.  This is in part to the, well documented, evil red die.  The game is hard, this is no walk in the park, people.  Every time you turn around there are more and more Genestealers popping up, the die seems to be working against you, and time is running out.  As a space marine is killed the swarms that consumed him move onto their next victim, until no one is left to hear you scream.  (Did you really think we’d get through an entire post about alien attackers without me working that one in???)

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The game is played by puling an even card, resolving it’s effects, and then placing new genestealers according to the color coordinated blocks on the bottom of the card.  Genestealer can then move, also denoted on the event card.  It is then your turn to try to combat this craziness.  Each team of Space Marines must choose one action per turn to take, and it cannot be the action they took last turn.  They may attack, move & activate, or support.  Each team also has a special power that goes along with each action choice.  To resolve an attack the Marine must roll the die, rolling a skull icon to be successful.  Moving allows the Marines to do just that, move, one space up, or down, and can even change facing.  They can also activate any cards in front of them that have the activate ability on it.  Choosing support allows you to put a reroll token on any Space Marine.  Once the Marines have taken their turns it is the Genestealers turn to attack.  Each Marine must roll the (evil) die to see if they successfully defended the attack.  This is accomplished by rolling a number higher than the number of Genestealers you are currently facing.

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Easy, right?  Sure, that’s what I thought, and then I played it.  I actually won my first game too, and I was feeling invincible.  Then I lost, and lost, and lost again.  Then I was feeling miserable.  Through it all, I wanted to play again, to redeem myself mostly.  The game plays so quickly that it was easy to play again after a failed attempt.  I love the feeling of accomplishment when things go your way and you are able to take out a swarm of Genestealers.  I also like that I get upset when I lose a Space Marine.  Some Marines have special abilities listed on the cards, and losing them can mean losing the game.  I get attached to those poor guys, and am really sad to see them get devoured…  I have to admit that I have never played this game multiplayer, which is a true testament to how good it plays solo.  I like making the tough choices of which action to take, especially when I attacked last round and cannot do it again!  Gulp!!

 

The components are well made, the cardboard tokens are sturdy, and even thought the die does require an exorcism, it is still well made.  The cards are all linen finished, and standard thickness.  The rule book jumped around a bit, but luckily, the internet had plenty of references to go to figure out rules questions.  The box is also well made and has survived the trip all the way here from Canada (where I ordered it from) without a scratch.  My biggest complaint, and this is entirely on me, is that the expansion packs are nearly impossible to get without mortgaging your home.

It seems Fantasy Flight lost the rights to produce Warhammer themed games, thereby having to stop producing this game.  It would be great if they could take these mechanics and slap them on another IP that they own, perhaps Arkham?  Think about it, poor Arkham investigators searching rooms in a mansion and finding creatures, like the Cthulhu behind every door.  With the vast popularity of the Arkham games this would fit right in, and would work well.  But, that’s just my opinion.  🙂

 

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

 

… Be the Best Driver!

A preview copy of Rideshare Wars was provided by Zuroovi Games.  We would like to thank Zuroovi Games for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

At some point in everyone’s lives they will utilize a rideshare service, be it Uber, Lyft, or the classic yellow taxi cab.  Zuroovi Game puts you in the drivers seat, running your own ridershare corporation.  Think you can “hack” it?  (Pun totally intended)

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Rideshare Wars, designed by Peter Madara, illustrated by Manuel Berbin, is a unique card game that plays 1-4 players in about 45 minutes.  In Rideshare Wars you are a rideshare corporation battling for the biggest share of the city.  In a unique twist on set collecting you are collecting riders, from different cities as well as zones of these cities.  Getting the most zones will net you a milestone card, as will collecting all the zones in a particular city.  Collecting 6 milestones in a 2 player game will result in an immediate win, so keeping an eye out for these bonuses is extremely important.  If the milestone criteria is not met the game ends at the conclusion of the evening shift, the player with the most points then wins the game.

To begin set up three different rider decks are built based on the number of players, 20 riders in each of three decks for a solo game.  These three decks will represent the morning, afternoon, and evening shifts of your rideshare business.  Four riders will be layed out to begin the game offering a starting pool of fares, descending from the draw deck.  Each player will also start out with seven driver cards, effectively the currency of the game.  The driver cards will be used to pick up on of the fares from the pool, the cost ranging from one to four driver cards.  The card costs will depend on the placement in relation to the draw deck, the card closest to the draw deck being 4 and farthest away 1.  A taxi stand will also be set up, these riders can be acquired as well, just not the traditional way of using driver cards.

On your turn you will begin by drawing a tool card.  Tool cards can be good or bad for you, and may be played for their effects right away, placed into your hand for later used, or used as payment for an optional action later in the turn.  After drawing a tool card the player may choose to displace a rider, this costs a tool card, and discard the rider from the game.  Next the player will acquire a new rider from the pool paying it’s cost, and adding it to their hand.  The player will then choose a rider from their hand to play into their play area.  They may then choose to activate one or two optional action, .  There are many different optional actions to choose from gaining another tool card, to gaining a rider from the taxi stand.  The player will then check to see if any milestones were achieved, collecting the corresponding card, and finally refiling the rider pool by sliding all cards down and adding a new one to the top.

Rideshare Wars packs a lot into a small box.  There are many different choices to makes, from optional actions to what riders to pick up and when.  The riders also contain different effects that can be beneficial to you, or negative to your opponent.  Some riders can net negative points but give great effects.  Other cards can give you bog points but may not have great effects.  If you run out of driver cards you can gain a loan, gaining three new drivers, however if they are not payed off at the end of the game they will cost you negative four points.  There are times when you will find yourself picking up a rider to stop an opponent from doing so, or because you have no other choice.  This can mess with a plan that you have meticulously been working on, forcing you to reconsider your tactics.

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The copy of Rideshare Wars that I received was a prototype, therefore all pictures of the content are subject to change.  With that said, the game presents well.  The cards are well done, colorful, and the artwork is perfect.  The colors pop off of the cards, and the cartoony style really went with the theme, in my humble opinion.  The rulebook is pretty long, and can be a bit intense at first, but with a few plays under your belt things start to fall into place and make sense.  For beginners I recommend leaving out the option actions.  There are a ton of them, and can make the game a bit overwhelming.  The theme is truly unique, one that I have not come across in tabletop yet.  I love the idea of getting behind the wheel, looking for these riders, from the grumpy old guy to the socialites.  The tool cards are great too, sometimes giving a boost at just the right moment, and other times really blowing it all up.  The captions on the tool cards are funny and light, and made me chuckle out loud on more than one occasion.  The game is light, but can be heavier based on all the decisions you have to make.

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I recently took Rideshare Wars on vacation with me.  It made it to the table, and we had a great time with it.  The theme was accessible to everyone that was there, gamer, and non-gamer alike.  The basic game play was also accessible to everyone at the table.  We made some minor tweaks to accommodate newer players, like removing some of the optional actions, as I previously mentioned.  That seemed to make the game much easier to them to understand and enjoy.  Overall everyone who played it enjoyed it, and would like to play it again.  A huge compliment from non-gamers!

Rideshare Wars is currently on Kickstarter.  If this sounds like a game that you might enjoy please consider backing it here.  Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly became the best driver!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

… Survive the Zombie Virus

A preview copy of After the Virus was provided by Lion Rampant Imports.  We would like to thank Lion Rampant Imports for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

A little while back I wrote a review of Terraforming Mars, the blockbuster hit from FryxGames.  After playing, and loving TM I immediately began to wonder what other games the Fryxelius brothers had created.  I am so glad that I did because I stumbled upon, what has now become, one of my favorite deck builders of all time, After the Virus.

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After the Virus is, as I mentioned, a deck builder for 1-3 players, that plays anywhere from 15 minutes to just about an hour.  In the relatively small box there are three identical decks of cards, four character boards, red, white, and green tokens, a rule booklet, and a campaign book.  Yep, there is a campaign built into this little game.  That alone hooked me, and it hasn’t really let go since.  So let me share a bit about the game, and see if it doesn’t hook you too…

The dreaded virus has hit, and as fortune has foretold, the zombie apocalypse is here.  The entire world has been affected, well almost the entire world, somehow, you and your group of rag tag friends have somehow managed to survive.  The fate of the world now rests in your hands!  I know, I know, there is nothing too griping about the premise.  Zombie apocalypse is a pretty consist theme in games right now, but I promise, there are some big things that will keep you playing, just be patient.  Ahem…..  So where was I?  Oh yes…  After the Virus contains 15 missions that will lead you through the entire story.  No spoilers here, so I won’t say too much more about that, but each mission has different set up and goals, helping the game to remain fresh, new, and challenging.

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Once the mission is selected (or not, you don’t have to use them) players will be guided through the specific set up.  Each player receives their own personal deck, containing 40 identical cards.  From this deck they will pull their starting card based on the character they chose.  Some of these cards are the same no matter who you picked, like Safe Houses, Run cards, and yep, even this zombies.  You knew they had to show up sooner or later, didn’t you?  Well, right off the bat some are shuffled into your starting hand, this number varies, dependent on player count.  Each character also starts with one, predetermined, card in play.

Once your starting hand has been removed from the deck, the rest of the cards are shuffled and form the “area deck”, more on this later.  Zombie cards that were not added to your hand are placed in a “zombie pile” in numerical order.  Oh, did I forget to mention these zombies are not alone?  Zombie cards range from one to four zombies, with each zombie needed to be dealt with individually.  The “zombie pile” will be placed directly below the “area deck”.  Below that will be your “draw deck”, the starting cards you built earlier, to the right of this will be the character card.  Set up is complete, quick, easy, and now we’re ready to play!

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Like any deck builder play begins with a draw phase.  Players will draw 5 cards from the “draw deck” into their hands.  Any zombie cards drawn this way will be set to the right of the “zombie pile”, this area is known as the “attacking zombies” (aptly named, no?) they are now facing you, and must be dealt with.  If there are less than 5 cards in the draw deck you will need to reshuffle, duh, right?  Well, not so much.  You see, in this game, every time you reshuffle you add more zombies to your draw deck.  Gulp!

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Next up is the action phase, where you can play an event card, immediately taking the effect and discarding it.  You can play a non-event card from your hand, placing it sideways in your play area.  It cannot be used until it is prepped.  You can scout, discarding one card from your hand in order to flip the top card of the “area deck”, placing it to the right of that deck in what’s known as the “scouted area”.  You may retrieve a card from the “scouted area”, placing it sideways in your play area, until it is prepared, discarding the number of cards shown in hand icon as payment.  I know, I’ve talked about preparing cards, and guess what?  You can do that too, just discard cards from your hand equal to the number of cards below the yellow arrow.  Turn the card right side up to show that it is prepared.  You may decide to use a prepared card, following the effects listed on it.  Lastly, you may attack zombies.  It had to happen, they weren’t going to stand there looking at you forever.  It’s time to engage!  Unfortunately, if you do not have something to attack them, they’re gonna attack you, causing a wound.  You may choose where to take the wound, the leg, which prevents you from playing the “Run!” card, the arm, this means you are only allowed 1 prepared item in your play area, as opposed to the normal two.  The last wound is the brain, and I really mean this is the last wound, a wound here means game over, can’t live without your grey matter, so protect it!  There are cards that allow healing, use them wisely.  Game play continues until your objective is met.

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Let’s talk about components.  The little I have been able to find about this game seems to fixate on the same thing, so let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the art work.  Is this the best, falling over, art work that I have ever seen?  No.  Is it the worst either?  No.  The art work was done by one of the Fryxelius brother, and I love that they kept it in the family.  To me, it is reminiscent of an older game, perhaps from my parent’s time, when games were not so flashy and glossy, and that’s okay.  Now that we got that out of the way let’s talk about the other stuff.  The cards are nice quality, and have really stood up the the hundreds of reshuffles.  The poison, wound, and wave markers are simple wooden disks, again nothing flashy, but they do their job, and that makes me happy.  In a surprising twist the player boards are actual boards, nice and thick, and containing a brief bio of the character on the back.  Very cool.  I was really happy with the components, not a single complaint here.

 

 

How does it solo?  Perfectly.  As a matter of fact this seems like a solo game with multiplayer added on.  In a multiplayer game everyone is pretty much doing their own thing, with the ability to help out a friend, if they want to, when they want to.  Otherwise everyone is pretty much playing solo, together.  So, for me, this is a perfect solo game, and I have mainly played it this way.  I admit, I have only played this once multiplayer, and it was much more fun, for me, solo.  Although, FryxGames recently posted a new character and a new competitive mode on their website that I am eager to try out!  The simplicity of the set up, the small footprint, and the campaign mode has made After the Virus my go-to deck builder recently.

I am not sure why this game has not gotten more love, it has definitely flown under the radar of a lot of people.  I really hope that more people take a moment to look at it, After the Virus is a great game.  Overall game play is quick, and very satisfying.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a very challenging game, I lose a lot more than I win.  The difficulty only serves to make those precious wins that much more of an achievement.  The rule book does include ways to adjust the difficulty of the game in either direction, so if the difficulty scares you, don’t let it.  The zombies should scare you, not the difficulty.  Seriously.  The zombies.  If this sounds like something that you’d enjoy pop over to Lion Rampant Imports for a copy, and make sure to tell a friend about how awesome it (and my blog) is.

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

 

Come Play With E! Sailor Moon Crystal: Dice Challenge Edition

A review copy of Sailor Moon Crystal: Dice Challenge was provided by Dyskami Publishing.  We would like to thank Dyskami Publishing for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

As many of you know my daughter is only 5 years old.  This means that she has not been exposed to a lot of different things that many of us are used to.  One of these things is anime.  I’ve been hesitant to show her too much in the anime world, mostly for obvious reasons.  Recently she has become interested in different shows than she is used to seeing on the Disney Channel, and somehow decided that she wanted to see Sailor Moon.  I’m not sure where she got this from, but I decided that it wasn’t too bad of a place to start.  We sat down one Saturday morning and tore through a bunch of episodes. She was hooked.

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When Sailor Moon Crystal: Dice Challenge , by Dyskami Publishing was announced it was natural that she wanted to get her hands on it.  The release coincided with her new interest in the anime, so it was a natural progression for her.  We had previously played, reviewed and loved, Button Men: Beat People Up by Cheapass Games.  Sailor Moon is the same game play mechanics set in the world of Sailor Moon.  Players can choose to play as one of 24 characters, both good and evil included in the base set.  Each character card contains cool art from the show as well as some new gameplay mechanics.  If you are unfamiliar with the Button Men mechanics, you can read our review here, in this review we will assume you know how to play, and review that changes that Sailor Moon offers.

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Each character card, like in Button Men lists the dice that are available to the player.  In addition the game now offers a reserve dice pool.  These dice become available to players when they lose a match, effectively helping to balance out mismatched opponents.  These extra dice can be really helpful at times, the size varying from character to character.  In addition each character now also include power tokens available to them.  These tokens are also varied in number and ability, some examples include giving the player an extra turn, re-rolling a die before attacking, and recovering lost die.  Using these power tokens at the right moment can often mean the difference between a loss and a stunning victory.

Sailor Moon Dice Challenge, like Button Men, plays fast, with most matches lasting no more than 5 minutes.  There is very little downtime, which helps to keep my little one engaged throughout the entire match.  As in Button Men, I love the educational bonus this game brings, having my daughter figure out dice totals, as well as the best way to utilize what she has rolled.  She loves the quick play, the fun art, and the colorful dice.

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The components are great, this set includes 24 dice in bright, vibrant shades of red, blue, orange and green.  The character cards are bright and well done.  The core box also included two lanyards with cards announcing that you are looking for a battle.  This was perfect for walking around a convention, looking for others to pick a quick game with.  My daughter loves to just wear the lanyards because she loves the artwork so much.  The game is highly portable, and we have played numerous matches from our tent.  Sailor Moon has become a game that we go to when we are looking for something light and fast to play.  Sailo Moon Crystal: Dice Challenge come highly recommended by both Emmy and I.  If you are a fan of Button Men, this is a no brainer, if you have not yet played it, then you are in for a treat!  But don’t just take it from me, read what Emmy has to say herself!

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Emmy’s take:

“Sailor Moon is a great game.  It’s really, really, really cool.  I liked everything about it, you should buy it because it’s fun.  You roll dice, in the dice tray, you take people’s dice, if you roll higher or the same.  If you are using two dice it has to be the exact same.  At the end you have points, and when people can’t go anymore you get half.  If you get three victory tokens, you win.  That’s about it, bye friends!”

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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 new YouTube Channel where Emmy does playthroughs of her favorite games.  Please, feel free to leave a comment below!

 

… Save Ourselves!

How many times have we read some version of the following, “The knight leaps off of his trusty stallion, races to the top of the tower, kicks in the door, and rescues the poor, defenseless maiden”?  Nope.  Not this time.  This time the strong, independent maiden saves herself.  This time, she’s not waiting around.  This time she’s coming for her captor.  This time she’s ready to fight!

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In Maiden’s Quest, designed by Kenneth Coleman Shannon III, and published by WizKids, you take on the role of a fair maiden who is done waiting to be saved.  She’s taking matters, and weaponry into her own hands, deciding her own fate, and taking out some bad guys along the way.  The game is comprised of a deck of cards and play entirely out of your hand, making this the perfect on the go game.  The deck is built based on your choice of a maiden (there are eight to chose from) and her captor (10 of these to choose from).  The maiden and captor each contain instructions on which cards to include in your deck for this particular encounter.  The maiden card will offer starting health cards, random items that she found laying around her tower, an heirloom, and of course, her dress.  This is no ordinary dress, nope, this is a dress that will help get you out of some sticky situations.  The captor card will include the obstacles the maiden will face, mostly minions, treasure she may unlock, and even a savior or two to help out here and there.  Once all of the cards have been assembled they are shuffled together to form one large deck, two rest cards will be added to the back of the deck to signal the end of the round, as well as your current level.  That’s the entire setup, you are now ready to play!

 

Before we get into gameplay, let’s look a bit closer at the cards themselves.  There are several types of the cards in the game, health, equipment, obstacles, the maiden, the captor, treasures, and saviors.  Health cards are denoted with a light blue side.  These cards offer the health of the maiden in the form of heart symbols.  If your maiden ever receives damage and no longer has a heart to pay for it, the game ends.  Health cards can also have symbols on them as well, this will assist in combat.  Equipment cards act the same, without the inclusion of hearts, offering just symbols.  These cards are denoted with a dark blue side.  Each of the cards can be upgraded by turning them 180 degrees, offering more symbols to add to combat, as well as abilities, such as adding another card to the fan, or running away without penalty.  Captor and obstacle cards will list what combination and quantity of symbols will be required to defeat them.  These symbols will need to be present in your fan to be successful in the combat.  The maiden card will offer a special upgrade to one of your cards, treasure can be unlocked with the presence of a key, and saviors provide a little combat boost as well.

 

The gameplay is just as simple as the setup.  Players will cycle through their cards, placing them onto the back of the deck stopping when they reach a obstacle, the captor, or your maiden.  The obstacles and/or captor can be fled from, this can be free if they are a higher level than you currently are, or can cost a piece of equipment to be downgraded if they are the same level or lower.  If you choose to encounter the obstacle simply fan out the next five cards in your deck applying any or all symbols to satisfy the requirements listed on the encounter.  If you succeed the obstacle card is flipped over, rewards are gained, and often they now offer symbols of their own to use in future combat.  Loss may result in downgrading a card, flipping an equipment or health card over the its backside, or back 180 degrees if it has been upgraded prior.  Some cards offer downgrade options that are better than the original, so it is important to pay attention to the cards that you have already seen.  If you are able to overtake your captor, or if you can find an exit you win.  Otherwise, it’s back to the tower for you.

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While it feels like the game is comprised of mostly luck, there is a bit of strategy involved.  Deciding which cards to upgrade, and downgrade, based on what is in our deck will be the difference between escaping the tower and getting thrown back into your cell.  In this way you can customize your deck to what you need to optimize your chances of success.  Knowing when you flee rather than fight is another choice that can be made based on what you have already seen in your deck.  Do you know what you only have a few dragon symbols and most of them have already cycled through, maybe it might be a good idea to flee the obstacle that requires three dragons rather than suffer the consequences of a loss.  Maiden’s Quest offers a plethora of choices in this regard.

 

That’s the basic gameplay, but Maiden’s Quest offers much more than the basic solo experience, and this is where the game really starts to set itself apart from other games that I have played.  The completely portable nature of the game is a great change.  Since Maiden’s Quest has no table presence I have played the game while waiting at doctor’s office, waiting for a movie to start, and pretty much everywhere else.  The game is perfect for conventions, which is where I happened to pick up my copy.  However, the game also offers a serendipity mode that was perfect for walking around a con.  See another person playing the game?  You can drop in and out of other games offering your cards to help other players in combat, sharing in the spoils, or the damage.  Several promo cards have been released that encourage seeking out other players.  Getting these “gift” signed by other players levels them up adding powerful cards to your deck.  Cooperative play is also offered, allowing players to take turn encountering obstacles and tackling them together.

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The box offers enough cards for two players to build their own decks.  This is great because once my daughter discovered the game it became hers.  She plays when I am cooking dinner, or doing other grown up things that prevent me from playing with her.  She loves the idea of the maiden saving herself, and it is something that she can play anywhere I am.  The game is the prefect solo game, and can be played in short spurts when needed.  Need to stop?  Just put the deck down and pick it up later, continuing your journey right where you left off.  I had a great time walking around Dice Tower Con playing Maiden’s Quest, and got to meet a bunch a new people through the gameplay alone.  You can tell the designer, Kenneth Coleman Shannon III put his heart and soul into this game.  It comes across in its presentation, his presence in the gaming community to support it, and his excitement over seeing it in the “wild”.  I can see this game being a huge hit at cons, but it shouldn’t just end there.  For me, this is a game that will stay in my bag, for on the go play.  I highly recommend that it goes in your too!

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