In our very first video interview for the board game column, I am interviewing Michael Coe of Gamelyn Games in a Google+ hangout. In this interview we talk to Michael about releasing his new game Dungeon Heroes in July as well as the expansions “The Dragon& the Damsel” and “Lords of the Undead” that are being released at the same time. Also discussed is some of the things that a small publisher and designer have to know to get their games out there.
Please leave comments on what you thought about the interview and what other content you would like to see in our video series.
Please make sure to follow Michael and Gamelyn Games at the following social media sites:
This interview was originally posted on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/david-lowry-interviews-michael-coe-of-gamelyn-games-about-dungeon-heroes/
The year is 2097 and the earth was transformed from a climate shift of cataclysmic proportions plunging the earth and all its inhabitants into an ice age. An estimated 90% of the earth’s populations was decimated forcing the survivors to join together in tribes. Does your tribe have what it takes to survive? Will your tribe be able gather enough resources, medicine and tools to make it? Can you combat rival tribes for these incredibly scarce resources? In this battle for survival the largest Arctic Scavengers tribe wins!
Publisher: Rio Grande Games
Game Designer: Robert Kyle Gabhart
Ages: 13 to adult
Playing Time: 45-60 minutes
Contents: 1 rule booklet, 1 rule summary mat, 1 junkyard mat, 1 contested resources mat, 1 initiator card, 149 play cards including 20 refugees, 69 mercenaries, 46 junkyard cards and 14 contested resources.
Contents: HQ Expansion – 1 expansion rules summary, 1 engineering schematics mat, 1 storage cover, 49 playing cards consisting of 12 buildings, 10 tribal leaders, 8 junkyard cards, 8 medics, 8 engineers and 3 gangs.
Suggested Retail Price: $34.95
Parental Advisory: Safe for kids
Rio Grande Games originally released Arctic Scavengers back in 2009 but with the release of Dominion and it being the hot game of the moment, Arctic Scavengers really took a back seat to its counterpart. With the new re-release of Arctic Scavengers, it is very possible that you are getting a better game at least from the visual point of view.
In Arctic Scavengers, each player works to grow their tribes as large as they possibly can. They do this through hiring mercenaries, scavenging through the junk pile and winning in player skirmishes against the other competing tribes. The player with the most tribe members at the end of the game is the winner.
The card anatomy is as follows:
The upper left corner is the card type. The upper right corner is the cost of recruiting this card to your tribe. Down the left side you have in order; draw cards, digging, hunt and fight. If any of these spots are empty, then this card does not that have ability as in the card below as it does not have the draw or dig abilities. Finally the bottom left corner is the amount of people represented by the card. This is where you total your victory points at the end of the game as well as it has its part in the player skirmishes but we will cover that later.
Every card has some ability to it. Some have medicine (+) not shown or sub-type actions such as +modifiers to certain abilities. All these are needed to recruit better people to your tribe or to dig deeper in the junkyard or be stronger in the skirmish.
Each player starts with 4 refugee cards (these water down the deck) 3 scavenger cards, 1 brawler card, 1 spear card and 1 shovel card. I should note that one person could only handle one tool such as a spear or shovel at a time. You can’t combine both a spear and shovel with a scavenger for instance.
Each round of Arctic Scavengers is broken up into 3 phases:
The Drawing Phase: Draw 5 new cards and discard any old cards from the previous round. After round 3 begins, the starting player (this rotates each turn) gets to peak at the top card of the contested resources deck that players will skirmish over to set the tone for the bidding war.
The Resource Gathering Phase: Each player uses any resources to gather resources to accomplish the main actions during this phase.
– Draw – Take one or more cards from the deck and add them to the players hand depending on how many draw resources have been played that turn.
– Dig – Here the player digs as many cards out of the junkyard as resources have been played that turn. For instance if 3 resources were played, the player can then draw 3 cards from the junkyard pile, keep 1 of those 3 secretly and put the other 2 back under the pile facedown so no one can see what they are.
– Hunt – This allows the player to produce one or more food for use in recruiting a new member to the tribe.
– Fight – This action is used during the Skirmish. The players commit cards secretly to the table to be revealed during the Skirmish Phase. These cards can not be used for any resource gathering during this turn. Highest score wins the skirmish and collects the contested resource and discards it secretly.
The Skirmish Phase – (following round 3)
– Once all the players have gathered their resources and put down cards they committed to the skirmish (they can’t be used for gathering resources), they then reveal their cards and the winner is determined.
– The winner puts the card in their discard pile and the first player moves to the next person.
There are additional free actions that can be taken as well.
– Hire – Select on mercenary from the table and pay its cost with food and medicine.
– Trash – Select one or more cards from the players hand and place them on the bottom of the junkyard pile.
There are special action cards as well such as the Sniper Team and Saboteur cards. The Sniper Team cards allow a player to snipe another players tribe member and can be played from a players hand or in the Skirmish phase. The Saboteur cards allow a player to disarm another player’s tool and can be played the same way.
Some the key ideas to think about while playing Arctic Scavengers are that a player wants to take all unused cards in their hand to the Skirmish and bluff their opponents into thinking they have played more fight than really has been. Each player may also make multiple actions per round as well as playing multiple cards for single action as that can make the action much stronger. A player may also only perform any given action once per round. Once a players has used one card for once action it cannot be used for a separate action. In order to use a tool, group leader or any card with a modifier to it, it must be paired with a card that has the base ability even if the base ability is 0. If there is no icon in the spot on the card, it does not have that ability. Once again, only one tool per tribe member card.
The game ends when the last contested resource has been taken from the pile. At this point, all players go through their decks and up all the people in the bottom left corner of their cards and the biggest tribe wins!
Arctic Scavengers also comes with the HQ Expansion for free! The expansion is 4 different modules that can be used any combination in play. The basic premise is a basic headquarters or base camp for each tribe leader as well as being able to construct buildings that can be used during play for strategic use. This introduces new victory paths, new mercenaries and tools. The engineering schematics deck are also included. The basic game is basically the same when the modules are added.
Module #1 – Medics, Tools and Gangs
– Medics have a draw of 1, can be played to represent medicine to recruit new mercenaries or they can be played from the hand to save another tribe member from a sniper attack.
– Save – a new action to protect a tribe member from or leader from a sniper attack.
– Rifle – A tool for hunting and fighting Skirmishes. This gives you a +2 in 2 categories.
– Toolkit – This helps digging for both junkyard and engineering schematics or can be used by another tribe member to speed up building. This also allows for cards to be removed from one building that is under construction.
– Gangs – There are 3 new gangs introduced here for a new concept. These gangs hide back until all the contested resources have been gathered and then try form an alliance with whichever tribe best meets its needs. The gangs are “The Gearheads,” “The Pharmers” and “The Masons.”
Module #2 – Engineering and Buildings
– Engineers may dig in the junkyard but their main purpose is to dig in the engineering schematics pile as they are the only card that can do this. This is of course how you go about building the buildings as well.
– Buildings – Players use engineers to construct buildings at the player’s HQ. These buildings take time to build but offer strategic advantages once built. Buildings are normally used during the players turn and never during the Skirmish.
– Building Types – Amory (stores 2 tools for later use,) Bunker (stores 3 tribe member cards for later use,) Hydroponic Gardens (generates 1 food per round, which does not accumulate) and the Pharmacy (Enables 2 medicine cards to be stored here for later use. Not including medics and not during the Skirmish.)
– Store – a new action that allows the player to take one or more cards of a particular type from their hand and place them, face-down, under a building.
– Retrieve – a new action that allows the play to take one or more cards from an active building and place them in your hand. This can be done anytime except after the Skirmish has started.
Module #3 – Tribal Leaders
– Tribal Leaders – The concept is to give unique capabilities that no other player will have. Every player picks one leader from the two provided at the start of every game. This will impact the players strategy and game play.
– Butcher/Cannibal/Fanatic – Cards that are removed from play cannot be brought back.
– Butcher/Cannibal/Sergent at Arms – Leaders can use special abilities without the need for a refugee.
– Excavator/Fanatic/Gangster/Mentor/Organizer/Peacemaker/Ranger- This requires the use of a refugee to utilize the leader.
– Butcher/Cannibal/Fanatic/Mentor/Organizer/Peacemaker – Abilities can only be used once per round.
– Excavator/Gangster/Ranger/Sergent at Arms – Leaders grant abilities that are always activated and can affect multiple cards in any given round.
Module #4 – Dirty Deeds
– New Saboteur ability – The Saboteur may attack a building and disable it. This makes it unusable. No cards can be played to or from the building until it is repaired. This requires the player to discard a card their hand.
– New Sniper Team Ability – The Sniper Team may now attack a tribe leader, wounding that leader removing their advantage until a medicine is played against the leader to heal them.
Obviously there is a lot I couldn’t put in the review and there is a good amount of depth for this deck-builder. Arctic Scavengers while being a deck-building game offers a fair amount of versatility in it’s game play and separates it’s self enough from other games of the genre to make it a must have game. I really enjoyed this game and highly recommend it to people who love the deck-building genre or who may be on the fence on this since it’s original release in 2009. The interaction with the Skirmishes alone makes it fun.
The components are well done and the artwork is fantastic. The box isn’t to big and it is designed to break the cards down easily although I am not sure it accomplishes that. I prefer slots for starting decks myself to make game set up easier and quicker. Also, if you sleeve your cards, this system will not work as the slots are not big enough. This part could have been better thought out.
All in all, a very good deck-building game that is worth the price and should give you enough of a different feel that you don’t feel like it’s just another deck-builder.
I will go out on a limb and give this game about an 8 out of 10 stars as it achieves the depth I like in a deck-builder especially when the expansion is added. [rating=8]
The review was originally posed on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/arctic-scavengers-review-by-david-lowry/
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Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Martian Manhunter, the world’s greatest hero’s join forces to vanquish the super-villains and archenemies. Each bent on the destruction of the Justice League. In the DC Comic Deck-Building Game, you get to pick the role of one the famed heroes and compete with fellow heroes to defeat all the super-villains lined up to take you out.
Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Game Designer: Matt Hyra and Ben Stoll
Ages: 15 to adult
Playing Time: 30- 45 minutes
Contents: 214 game cards including, 36 punch starting cards, 16 vulnerability starting cards, 114 main deck cards, 16 kick cards, 12 DC Comics super-villain cards, 20 weakness cards, 7 oversized DC Comic super hero cards and 1 rule book.
Suggested Retail Price: $40.00
Parental Advisory: Safe for kids
In the DC Comics Deck-Building Game you are randomly dealt a Super Hero to play. If you are dealt The Flash, you always go first. The Flash super Power allows for you to go through your deck quickly which makes sense, as he is the fastest man alive. Other heroes have benefits like Batman gives you bonuses for playing equipment cards, Superman likes super Power cards, Wonder Woman lets you draw more cards for every super villain you defeated each round.
You start with a hand of 7 Punch cards worth one Power each and 3 Vulnerability cards worth nothing. These effectively water down your hand and need to be purged as soon as possible. Each of your Punch cards comes with 1 Power, which is the currency in the game to either buy additional cards or defeat Villains and Super-Villains. You shuffle and draw 5 cards for each hand. Once you have played your hand any cards used or drawn are discarded and then 5 new cards are drawn for your new hand.
The main deck comprised of 114 cards (not including Super-Villains, Punch, Kick, Vulnerability or Weakness cards) is shuffled and placed in the middle of the table. Place 5 cards out in a line for the line-up. This is where most of your deck will come from.
The Super-Villain stack is set off to the side of the main deck on the table. The Super-Villain deck can be comprised of 12 different cards but usually 8 cards are used unless you prefer to play a longer game. The Super-Villain card Ra’s Al Ghul is always the top card to start any game. All the other cards are placed facedown underneath the Ra’s card. Make sure to shuffle this deck and randomly draw out the cards not being used so that the deck is unknown to the players.
The Kick and Weakness cards are also place at the end of the Line-Up with the Super-Villain cards. The Kick (+2 Power) cards are always available for purchase at the cost of 3 Power if the cards in the Line-up are either to expensive to purchase or the players doesn’t like the current cards in the Line-Up. Weakness cards are given to the players in the form of an attack either played by the Super-Villain cards being revealed or a player invoking the attack of a villain they put into play. Weakness cards again water down the hand and provide a -1 victory point per card at the end of the game.
Once play begins you can purchase cards from the Line-Up to improve your decks and can purchase as many cards as your total Power allow. The purchase or defeat cost is on the bottom right corner of the card in the Line-Up or Super-Villain stack. Once you purchase a card, the space in the Line-Up is left there until after that players turn is done, then the Line-Up is refilled back up to 5 cards.
Cards are played in any order and the text on the cards is resolved immediately. This makes it very important to know what is in your hand and what order to play the cards in. Villain cards played may have an attack against the other players, Equipment cards may give you bonuses or allow cards to be destroyed, and Location card text may be triggered as well as your Super Hero Card. You may purchase cards from the Line-Up at anytime during your turn even if you haven’t already played all of your cards. During a players turn, if they defeat a Super-Villain and completed all their actions, they draw back up to 5 cards and then the next Super-Villain card is flipped up and the First Appearance text is resolved against all players in the game.
If during an attack be either a player or a Super-Villain, a player may have a card in their hand with a defense. They can then play this card if they chose to ward off the attack and resolved the text on the card for defense. Once the player has finished their turn, all cards purchased or defeated go face-up in the discard pile to be redrawn later, this includes all Villain and Super-Villain cards.
Once all of the Super-Villains have been defeated the game immediately ends and the players count up their victory points on the bottom left corner of the cards in their deck.
Cards my have certain benefits such as Location cards once played stay out in front of the player the rest of the game and may be triggered each and every turn. Super-Hero cards like Superman for example, have their abilities triggered every time a Super Power (orange) card is played.
There are quite a few variants of the game that can be played as well:
Two Heads are Better Than One – This variant is a 1 on 1 game, where each player plays two different Super Heroes at the same time. This allows for game text to apply to both Super Heroes.
Team Game – This 2 on 2 variant has one team working together to defeat the opposing team. Teams alternate turns and are free to discuss strategy. Attacks do not affect your teammate but if you are attacked, you may defend your teammate. Once the game is over, both players add their totals together and the team with the highest total wins.
On Patrol: This is basically the standard game except you may immediately fill any holes in the Line-Up on your turn after a purchase or defeat of a villain. If any attacks appear during the refill of the Line-Up they affect you and only you.
The game cards are good quality and weight and the artwork is extremely well done. The rule book is laid our fairly well and easy to understand making the game easy to pick up quickly and get playing immediately. The Super Hero cards are of a much larger size than the playing cards and unfortunately don’t fit well into the box. The space provided makes it very difficult to get them out and could lead to damaging the cards. The other cards slots leave a lot to be desired as well. If you decided to sleeve your cards to protect them, the current box will provide major fitting issues for putting away your game. Good box design is critical for deck building games and this is one area where the game fails but I am glad to say the only area.
The DC Deck-Building Game is really a lot of fun. It’s a very easy game to learn and teach. It’s playing time make it an easy filler while waiting for other people to show up or something you are able to play several times in one sitting for those that really get into it. While not as strategic as some deck building games it really fills the void for those looking for something that keeps the action going and this game will suffer a lot less from those people with analysis paralysis. While the theme is DC Super Heroes, the theme isn’t really a factor in the game. When you are supposed to be a Super Hero like Batman, but yet you are playing villain cards that you previously defeated, that really doesn’t make sense but it’s okay. The game delivers on many levels while any little nit picking things really don’t matter or take away from the game play. After playing this game at many different game nights and teaching it to other people who don’t normally play board games or usually only play Magic: The Gathering, the response has almost been very favorable and the game store it was played and demoed at sold all their copies to these people.
I will give this game about a 7.5 out of 10 stars as it does lack depth but it is certainly worth the price and wins in the fun department. [rating=7.5]
This review was originally posted on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/dc-comics-deck-building-game-review-by-david-lowry/
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Forbidden Island is a co-operative board game designed by master game designer Matt Leacock and published by Gamewright (www.gamewright.com.) In this game you join a team of adventurers trying to capture 4 sacred treasures on a perilous paradise that is sinking into the ocean. Will you have enough time? You and your team must race against the rising waters to accomplish your mission before you are swallowed into the watery abyss!
Ages: 10 to adult
Playing Time: 30 minutes
Contents: 58 playing cards, 24 island tiles, 6 pawns, 4 treasures figurines, 1 water meter, 1 water level marker and the rules of play.
Suggested Retail Price: $17.99
Parental Advisory: Safe for kids
Creative Child Magazine Game of the Year
FunFare All Star Award
FamilyFun Magazine Toy of the Year Award
Parent’s Choice Recommended
Games Magazine Top 100 Game
BoardgameGeek.com Golden Geek Award
MTV Geek, Top Board Game of 2010
Benefits for children: Cooperation, strategic thinking and problem solving.
In Forbidden Island your team of adventurers must work together to try and keep the island from sinking long enough to gain the 4 treasures and then get out alive by flying off the island at Fool’s Landing. To do this you will pick from a team consisting of an explorer, pilot, engineer, diver, messenger and navigator. Each team member has its own special ability to use in the game, which allows for greater teamwork and cooperation.
You start the game by shuffling all 24-island tiles and randomly placing them face up (non blue & white side) in a 4×4 square and then adding two tiles each side in the middle. Then you place your 4 treasures, The Earth Stone, The Statue of the Wind, The Crystal of Fire and The Ocean’s Chalice on the outside of the corners of the island.
Then you take your flood deck and shuffle it and place it face down on one side of the island. This forms the Flood draw pile. Draw the top 6 cards and flip over the tiles to the flooded (blue & White) side they represent to start the island sinking. Now place your pawns on the appropriate start tiles for each player.
Shuffle the Treasure deck and deal 2 cards to each person. Each person lays their cards face up in front of them so all team members can see what everyone has and how to best trade cards later in the game.
Now set the Water Level Meter to difficulty you wish to start at for the game. By no means think that this game is easy so if it’s your first time playing, set it the Water Level Meter to the novice level.
The order of play is as follows. Take up to 3 actions, draw 2 treasure cards and then draw Flood cards equal to the current water level. During your 3 actions you may move, shore up (sand bagging,) give a Treasure card to another player or capture a treasure. Moving allows you to move vertically or horizontally. You many never move diagonally unless you are the Explorer. That is the special ability of that card. The Pilot may move to any tile once per turn. The Navigator may move any other player up to 2 adjacent tiles per turn and the Diver may move through one or more adjacent flooded or missing tiles for 1 action. Shoring up allows you to flip one tile over to prevent it from sinking and obviously transferring cards to another players allows that player to capture a treasure on their turn in they have 4 of the same treasure card.
In order to capture a treasure, one player must get to a tile with a treasure symbol on it and turn in 4 corresponding treasure cards in for once action before that tile sinks. Each treasure has two tiles in the game.
After a player has taken their actions, they then draw 2 treasure cards into their hand. Draw one card at a time because if you draw a Waters Rise card you then follow the instructions on the card and this is when tiles either get flooded or sink. Move the water level marker up one on the Water Level Meter and then shuffle the discarded Flood cards and put them on top of the Flood deck. Now draw the number of cards indicated by the Water Level Meter and flip any tiles over that you draw. This will with flood a tile or sink it. Once a tile is sunk, there is no brining it back so it is critical that you manage shoring up properly in certain areas and also that players don’t get stranded where they can’t get back to the Fool’s Landing. If any player gets left behind you lose the game.
In the game you have special action cards that can help the team. You have Helicopter Lifts and Sandbags cards. Playing one of these cards does not require and action.
If the team recovers all 4 treasures and all players are able to get back to Fool’s Landing while playing a Helicopter Lift card, they then win the game. There are 4 possible ways to lose the game. If Fool’s Landing sinks, you automatically lose the game. If both of one treasure’s tiles sink you lose the game. If a player is on an island tile that sinks and they can’t swim to an adjacent island tile you lose the game. If the water level reaches the skull and crossbones on the water level meter you also lose the game.
Component wise, the game has incredible pieces. The tiles are thick and don’t fray on the edges, the cards are of good quality with a texture feel and the treasures are nicely done as well and could look even better for those that like to paint their minis. The game pawns are simple colored pieces of wood which actually work perfect so it doesn’t distract from the art on the tiles or the treasure pieces. The artwork is amazing which makes the overall appeal of this game even higher. My only complaint is the tin box. Although the box art is awesome, a tin box is hard to stack with other games and many times the lid comes off very easily causing major spillage. Fortunately, both of my copies of this game the lid holds tight. The box fits all the components perfectly so when you open the game it is nice and neat and easier to get set up.
Forbidden Island is an outstanding gateway game to teach new players about co-operative games and for children. It has simple mechanics but also adds a good amount of tension and fun interactive game play between all the players. This game is not easy by any means and you will be stretched with basic strategy and challenged every time you play it. The ability to switch different levels of difficulty from the start also gives it replay value. This is also accomplished, as the tiles are never the same at the start of the game so you basically never play the same game. If you are looking for a good family game or a gateway game to either get in the board game hobby or to teach other new players, this is a great one to start with. Obviously it has won many awards and although it’s not a “deep” game for experienced gamers I still feel is extremely enjoyable and offers enough challenge for just about any level of gamers. The fact that it is so good for kids is a real bonus.
Although my star rating may not show it based on the level of difficulty , depth of play and tin box, that in no way should reflect negatively on this game. It is a solid effort and a great game for people who love to interact, be social and want a challenging game that isn’t a brain burner.
I give it 7.5 out of 10 stars. [rating=7.5]
You can find the original review posting on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/forbidden-island-board-game-review-by-david-lowry/
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StelCon: Infinity designed by Russ Rupe is a space battle board game published by Conquest Gaming, LLC pits Marshal’s of interstellar fleets against each other while trying to colonize regions of space nearby in other galaxies to grow your dominance and propagate your species.
Stelcon:Infinity (hereafter SI) is a light strategy game that plays 2-6 players at around 30-45 minutes per player. A six-player game is kept shorter by having three teams of two players execute their turns simultaneously. The list price is $79.95.
The game comes with 6 map boards, 6 star docks separated into three sections, 222 punch out pieces, 115 conquest cards (each unique), 50 sector cards (each unique) 3 dice and rule book.
While choosing from six races which each have their own strengths to explore the galaxy with all the players taking their game board and making a circle (the boards are properly angled to allow this) to connect their sectors. Each race has its own strength so players need to read their board carefully. Each player starts with a hand of 5 cards dealt out from the sector cards. All 50-sector cards must be gone through before the conquest cards come into play. You also start with a double squad MOD and 1 fuel crystal on your home world.
Turn order is as follows: 1. Star dock, Fuel check and Building. 2. Show all moves. 3. Combat, Scouting and Exploration. 4. Draw up to hand limit.
Each turn a player has many options. They can bring in ships, MODs such as scout ships; engines or fuel crystals (money) or they can play cards from their hand if able. You can do as much during your turn as your resources such as fuel crystals or cards allow. To start your turn, you count up your fuel crystals and subtract the cost of what you have in play i.e., a ship may cost three fuel crystals for one and five for another. After subtracting the cost what ever is left over is what you can now bring into the game such as scout ships or MODS to enhance your ships or sectors. Then you may play cards, which enhance your sectors, hurt other players or help in combat. Some cards are playable on your turn only, other anytime and others only on certain types of other cards. This has a “Munchkin” flavor to it but due to the cards uniqueness it offers lots of replay value.
Home worlds, ships and outposts can hold one MOD each. MODs can be guns, engines, fuel crystals and squads. Guns give +1 firepower and cannot be scuttled later. Engines give +1 movement and cannot be scuttled. Production MODs (fuel crystals) can be built on the home worlds or outposts but not ships and cannot be scuttled. Squads are MODs that can be built only at the home world either in a MOD slot or on a ship. Squads give +1 firepower but cannot attack alone. They must be in a MOD slot or be destroyed at the end of your turn. They can also move 2 moves per turn but again must be in a slot at the end of the turn.
Players can jump to other players sectors via jump lanes and conquer their sectors. Whatever cards are played on those sectors maybe taken over by the attacking players and then those cards abilities now stand in favor of the conquering race, certain cards can also neutralize this as well.
Combat is simply resolved by counting the number of guns on each sector and/or ship plus any MODs and totaled up against each other. Then cards can be played to either enhance your total or hinder the other player and then you roll a d6 and the highest score wins. The losing player is forced to retreat squads if able and ships are scuttled back to the player’s shipyard. Damaged ships can be brought back into play by paying a fuel crystal cost per turn to move them through the repair process.
During your turn you can have combat, scouting or exploration. Combat is obvious and scouting can be done when a player moves into an empty sector. Sectors that haven’t been scouted or explored yet have a militia you must combat and is represented by the number of guns printed on the game board. Once the player has won the combat they must explore the sector.
Ways to win:
The first person to conquer an opponent’s home world is the victor.
The Victory Point Variant: You get one victory point for every battle you win against an opponent. You get one victory point for every sector you control at the beginning of your turn that is on an opponents map. You get 5 victory points if you conquer an opposing players home world. The first player to 8 victory points wins in any combination of the above-mentioned victory point scenarios.
The 2-player variant: Using 4 player maps, opponents sit directly across from each other. The T-Sectors will connect the opponents via the wormholes.
The 6-player variant: 3 teams of 2 with team mates sitting across from each other and taking turns simultaneously. You win if you conquer an opponent’s home world or if using the Victory Point variant the points are shared.
The game components are well done and the artwork is good. The slots in which the MODs fit might take a bit of work at first but don’t seem to get to loose after many game plays so that shouldn’t be an issue. My only gripes here would be need to buy two different size card sleeves for one game that already is a bit up there in price and the rule book could be a bit better as to one of the victory conditions.
Now granted I didn’t cover everything here, it’s much deeper than I wrote so please check it out before making a decision based on this review. SI is most definitely a fun game with just the right amount of light playability and tension. It is a social game that has just enough strategy to keep it fun and “gamers” entertained and feeling like there was enough depth to the game to make it worth their time. It has a ton of replay value as all the cards are unique and the 6 different races having their own strengths. It’s easy to learn, fun to play and easy to teach.
If you are into space themed games but want a version that isn’t as heavy as Twilight Imperium Third Edition then Stelcon: Infinity may be for you. It’s a great way to scratch that space itch when you can’t get the big dogs to the table.
I give it 8 out of 10 stars with the caveat it’s a light strategy game but great fun! [rating=8]
This review was originally posted on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/stelcon-infinity-board-game-review/
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One of my favorite 2 player games of all time is “Balloon Cup” from Rio Grande Games. Now comes Pinata, a re-implement of “Balloon Cup” in a new package with a few new rules from designer Stephen W. Glenn. I was excited when this came in the mail because it’s something I new my daughter would also love. It is rated at about 45 minutes or less to play and for ages 13 and up although like I said my 10 year old daughter has no issue playing this game.In order to win you need to be first player collect three of the five “medal” cards. The rules are a bit simpler than “Balloon Cup” and provide an easier time learning the game and a slightly easier dynamic.
In Pinata you must play on your side if can before playing being able to play on your opponents side. This takes away much of the “screw your opponent” mechanic although it does say to use the old rule as a “variant.” Also new are the “wild cards” which can be used at any time on any side. The cards aren’t numbered as high in this version and you can start with the mats in any arrangement as far as high or low sides.The mats are at least twice the size as before and very thick in stock. The come with two sides, one being the “high” side and the other the “low” side. The card quality is nice and the art work is great and I am sure will be loved by the kids. After testing it out with my daughter, she loved the version just as much as the original.
Candies are used in place of cubes in this version and the colors red, green, yellow, purple and pink. The number of colored candies on each tile is the amount of cards you need to play on each side. For example, if you had a green, pink and purple candy on the mat 3 with the high side up, then each player plays on card of each color (or a wild/s) as high in value as their hand allows. When a player plays a card, they draw a card from the draw pile to keep their hand size at 8 cards. When all six cards have been played, then whomever has the highest total on their side gets the candies. The cards are discarded, the mat flips over and three more random candies get put on the low side. Once you get low on candies and can no longer fill a mat, the mat is discarded and the game continues until with fewer mats until some one wins.
The wild cards add a different feel to the game but a positive one. When the wild card is used on a mat, the player doesn’t announce the color of the wild card. This way it doesn’t restrict the placement of cards on the mat later in the game.All in all, Pinata is still a fun, quick game to be enjoyed by people of all ages. The suggested retail price is $29.95 and I feel it is worth it and justified based on the quality of the components. A great game for couples and kids!
I give it 7 out of 10 stars. [rating=7]
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In the board gaming world there are many different types of games to choose from. You have strategy, family, children’s, deck building, thematic, abstract, co-operative, war and party games. So how do you determine what type of board game is right for you? I am going to break down the different types and through in a few examples to help you understand the difference so maybe when shopping for a new board game, you can more easily identify the type of games you like and make the decision easier.
Obviously with strategy games you are in for a brain burner usually. These games can be classics like “Go” or more current ones like “Twilight Imperium 3rd Ed.” Many of these games can be all day games. Now granted there aren’t a lot of people who are into spending all day playing one game. I am, but only if it is a game that is able to hold my attention not only with game play, but strategy and theme. You can have to player games like “Tide of Iron” which is also a war game or a eurogame like “Caylus” (one of my personal favorites.) Luck plays almost no role and these games and many board game purists love that. Many people don’t like a luck factor like say a dice mechanic in the game. They feel it takes away from the strategy. You won’t find those here.
Family games are just that, great for family and friends who come over and want a more social gaming experience. These are great also for introducing new people to gaming until you figure out what they really like and can pull out board games more to their style. “Settlers of Catan,” “Ticket To Ride” or “Lords of Waterdeep” are great games for this type of experience. Games like “Lords of Waterdeep” can fit into many different areas but fits just as easily here. Easy to learn, understand and have amazing replay potential. I have played two of these games hundreds of times each. They never get old.
Children’s games are self-explanatory. Finding games suitable for a child can be challenging but then also finding games for the right age as well. My daughters favorite is “Catan Jr.” based on the popular “Settlers of Catan” series, this game is very easy to understand but fun and teaches how board game mechanics work so learning harder games later becomes much easier. Other great games here are “Gulo Gulo” and “Zooloretto.”
Deck building games are all the rage now in board gaming. Some people consider “Magic: The Gathering” the Godfather of deck building games but it wasn’t until “Dominion” came out that these games took on a whole new audience. The object here are to develop a deck of cards that is efficient and allows you to win the game with as little clutter as possible in your hand. You will draw new cards every turn, typically 5 and try and strategize how best to use each hand each turn. Some deck building games have a board game component included as well. Publishers like Fantasy Flight Games have come up of a “Living Card Game (LCG)” system that allows you to purchase expansions separate packs but you always know what you are buying, unlike CCG’s in which you never new what you were getting. Some great games here are the new Marvel Superhero game “Legendary,” “Mage Wars,” “Android: Netrunner (LCG)” and “Sentinels of The Multiverse.” Realize there are many more great games, I am just throwing a few out there.
Thematic games are just that, thematic. They could be based on a show, book series, or a previous game. Some great thematic games are the Dungeons & Dragons “Castle Ravenloft based of their popular book series and RPG,” the popular TV sci-fi series “Star Trek: Fleet Captains,” the cyberpunk feeling “Android,” and the classic H.P. Lovecraft inspired “Arkham Horror.” Here the experience is in as much the theme itself as in the game play.
Co-operative games are basically a team of people working to achieve the same goals and not pitted against each other… usually. A few great games to play here and are also highly themed are the TV show themed”Battlestar Galactica,” a vampire deductive game “Fury of Dracula” hot on the heels of “The Walking Dead” “Zombicide” and the King Arthur inspired “Shadows of Camelot.” Three of these games have an antagonist in them, in both “Battlestar Galactica” and “Shadows of Camelot” there may or may not be one and you have to figure who they are. In “Fury of Dracula,” you know who it is but you have to find them on the board through revealing hidden location cards. All three are loads of fun and on my game table often.
Abstract games are low on luck and tend to be high on strategy. Games like “Chess,” Reversi,” or more recently “Tsuro.” Many of todays abstract games are classics that never grow old.
War games are always popular with a certain group and obviously usually very thematic. These can very on theme from the historical wars we have suffered as a world or through fictional wars from books or movies. Games like the World War II themed “Memorior ’44,” “A Game of Thrones” literal battle scene “Battle of Westeros” or again the classic World War II inspired “Axis and Allies” are popular war style games that done a great amount of family and friend bonding. The aforementioned “Tide of Iron” fits in here as a great one as well.
And finally we have party games. The always fun and easy to get a crowd of people into especially if they are non-gamers type of board games. Some fun games here are the vegas-style bidding game “Wits & Wagers,” the fantasy themed “Dungeon Fighter,” the spy and co-operative “The Resistance” where there are a couple traitors and of course the often funny”Apples to Apples.”
All of these games are fun, provide a great gaming experience and would be a great addition to your game shelf. So if you are looking for a new game, or new type of game then start here, click on the links and see what piques your interest!
This article was originally posted on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/what-type-of-board-games-are-right-for-you/
“Winter is Coming” – House Stark
With the Game of Thrones TV show at an all time high, I thought this would be a great time to introduce the A Game of Thrones The Board Game 2nd Ed. to those fans who many not know about it or who or not savvy with the latest rage of board games. A Game of Thrones The Board Game 2nd Ed. is put out by the board game publishing juggernaut Fantasy Flight Games located in Roseville, MN and is based on George R.R. Martins bestselling book series “A Song of Ice and Fire.”
A Game of Thrones The Board Game 2nd Ed. is set up to play three to six players. With rules to adjust for the amount of players in the game. The game itself is not for the casual gamer per sey. It’s a long game of strategy that can easily go over four hours but oh what a four hours it is! All the theme and feel you could ever want in a strategy game is locked in this incarnation. All the houses: Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Tyrell, Greyjoy and Martell, are in this game as you battle for territory in Westeros with political intrigue, back stabbing and hard fought war campaigns.
First off let me tell you about the quality of the game itself. The components are outstanding. The board and artwork are top notch and to me really provide a rich, warm gaming experience which I love. I think it’s important to feel like you are a “part” of the game in the sense of actually being their and the new version does this a bit better than the original version released 10 years ago. The map is large and easy to grasp and gorgeous in imagery and laid out so no matter where you sit, everything is easy to reach and understand.
The rule book is pretty well laid out so that even though there is a lot in it, it is not real hard to understand. If you read it a couple times you should be able to get a good handle on the basic operation of the game and only need to refer for special situations hopefully. Also included in the game are two quick reference sheets help shorten the game by not needing to dig in the rule book. Each player gets a screen to hide their tokens with more quick reference tidbits which is another great help to keep gameplay time down.
You vie for control of the Iron Throne while trying to be the first to acquire a total of seven castles and strongholds before the 10th round ends. If no one has acquired seven castles by the end of the 10th round, then whomever has the most wins.
During the game you have phases that you go through that the player order is determined by who controls the Iron Throne and the order of players that follow down the influence track (which is bid upon during “The Clash of Kings”.) You have the Westeros Phase” (skipped in round one), the Planning Phase and the Action Phase.
The Westeros Phase concludes advancing the game round maker, drawing Westeros cards which may have to be resolved and advancing the Wildlings track. You may have to deal with the Wildlings in which the players secretly bid an amount of power tokens to stop them. There is a consequence to the players who bid the least if the threat is not beaten.
The Planning Phase is where you assign orders (in secret by placing them upside down on the board) such as raids, marches, defense, consolidate power or support tokens. Raid tokens allow you to possibly interrupt another players token, hence messing up their plans and causing a bit of frustration. Always a fun tactic in a game like this. March tokens allow to advance on another players position or empty position for combat and taking over that territory if successful. Defense tokens are self-explanatory and help bolster your defense from attack from opposing players. Consolidate Power tokens allow you to gain power tokens for bidding later in the game or to muster units (armies) into an assigned area.
The Action Phase begins with resolving raid orders based on the order of players on the Iron Throne Track. All moves in this phase are based on this order. Note this means that if you have a five player game, then the first player resolves one order, then the second player etc… in order and comes back around to the first player if any tokens are left to be resolved. March orders are next, again one battle at a time per player and finally Consolidate Power tokens. Then you clean up the board making sure armies and tokens are removed from the board.
Combat is resolved by first a call for support. Here you may ask for a players support and they may or may not help you. They may decide to help the other player instead. This gives said player a bonus based on the support played. You then calculate strength of both sides and include the “Valyrian Steel Blade” token (explained later). Then you choose a “House Card” from your hand to help you with a strength bonus and hopefully a text that will hurt the opponent. This is then calculated as the Final Combat Strength. Combat resolution is: Determine the victor, casualties, retreating and routing and clean up.
During the game you will have the opportunity to silent bid on the three tracks when the “Clash of Kings” card appears during the Westeros phase. The first track is the Iron Throne Track which determines the order players go in and allows who ever holds this token the ability to break ties outside of combat. The Fiefdoms Track allows whomever holds the “Valyrian Steel Blade” to win all combat times and add +1 to their combat strength. This may only be used once per turn. The King’s Court Track determines the amount of special order tokens available to each player. It also allows the holder of the “Messenger Raven” token to change on of his or her orders that was placed before the action phase begins and the order tokens are revealed.
You also have ports and ships in the game. This allow for unit movements over large areas and ship to ship battles as well. An extremely important part of the game and critical to winning in my opinion if done right. Obviously House Greyjoy starts off strong in this type of unit.
The units in this game are Footman (1 unit each), Knights (2 units each), Ships (1 unit each) and Seige Engines (2 points each.) Based on your Supply Track on the board determines how many units and the size of each army allowed per house. Taking over territories with barrels in them and holding them when a “Mustering” card comes up will allow you to increase your army of force you to decrease in the case of having more units than you can support with food.
Strongholds are the larger castles that allow of two points of mustering and castles allow for 1 point of mustering. Again this happens when the “Mustering” card appears during the Westeros Phase. If you control enough territories with barrels then new units will appear at these places.
The alliances you form in this game are a major part of the game play. You can try and align with a player but beware as there are no rules to the players actually doing what is agreed to. They may be secretly plotting with someone else at the same time. While you may align with someone, you are never allowed to show hidden order tokens or silent bids. You also may not bribe anyone with power tokens, dominance tokens, cards or any other type of piece of the game. This part is all about trust and not for the weak of heat.
“I did warn you not to trust me.” – Littlefinger
There are other parts of the game that come into play such as Neutral Force or Garrison tokens. This stops you from just walking in someplace to take it over. You have to actually commit units to a battle to grab that territory.
In my opinion this is my favorite game of all time. The amount of political backstabbing, tension from the placing of orders and whether or not you just made a mistake based on alliances with other players provides so much atmosphere and incredible game play that is hard not to love. You don’t find that a lot in games these days.
Although there is a lot to it, the game is pretty easy to grasp after a couple of rounds. Don’t let the length of time dissuade you from trying it. It is well worth the time and money it costs ($59.95 retail). The theme is excellent, the game itself is well done in terms of art, components and rules.
I give it a 10 out 10 stars and highly recommend it to any board game fan and especially to Game of Thrones fans. [rating=10]
This review was originally posted on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/a-game-of-thrones-2nd-ed-board-game-review/
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For those of you looking to get into tabletop board games, but not sure how, a great place to start is with Geek & Sundry’s show TableTop hosted by none other than Star Trek The Next Generation’s Wesley Crusher, Wil Wheaton who does a fabulous job of explaining the games and keeping the interest level high.
TableTop is a very successful web series that effectively focuses on what are known as gateway games. In other words games that are fun, easy to learn and provide a great experience into this new world of board games. Just entering into it’s 2nd season, TableTop has done a great job of putting out high quality videos with stars and well known personalities in the geek culture such as Felicia Day (who run’s Geek & Sundry,) Veronica Belmont, Colin Ferguson (Eureka) and many others.
Each episode runs 20 – 30 minutes as the group plays a board game of the week in kind of a “celebrity poker” format. Will starts each episode with a basic run down of the game and its basic rules and then its jump right into it. As the game is being played, on screen hints and tips help to explain the rules so you know what is going on as the game is “paraphrased” in content. The players get little spots in the video where they can discuss their strategy and make jokes about the progress of the games so far. They don’t show the whole game being played as that would get a bit monotonous, they edit it down to key moments and funny bits.
Last season demonstrated great board games such as Pandemic, Settlers of Catan as well as card-based games like Gloom and Fluxx. You really couldn’t find a better primer into the world of today’s board games. Don’t worry, there won’t be any games that are too heavy as the show’s focus is to bring new players into gaming and not have them overwhelmed with deep strategy games.
For more information about TableTop, visit the Geek & Sundry website: http://tabletop.geekandsundry.com/
Other links to TableTop:
This article was orginally posted on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/geek-sundrys-tabletop-board-game-web-series/
Hello! I am David Lowry and welcome the first article written for the tabletop board game section of Geek Eccentric.
In this primer I hope to help educate those of you not familiar with the ever-growing popularity of designer board games and the types that there are. Most of us are familiar with American mass-market games like Monopoly, Scrabble or Pictionary. While these can be fun, they often suffer from fundamental design flaws and can create runaway winners making it not fun for the other players involved.
So let’s look at these other great options.
Over the last few years, the popularity of board games has grown dramatically with the release of a game called “Settlers of Catan” referred to by many as the new “Monopoly” or “board game of our time.” Released in 1995 it had sold over 15 million copies by 2009. It has since had many expansions, revisions and has even become a video game.
Many of the board games today are also available as apps for your smart phone or iPad. This is a great way to try board gaming out while not committing to a bigger investment. These board games will range in price from around $15 up to $100 dollars depending on the type and size. They can also go for several hundred dollars if they are out of print on eBay. We are passionate about our board games!
Today’s designer board games are usually classified in two basic ways, either Eurogames or Ameritrash, although there are of course other categories but for the purpose of this primer we will focus on these two different types.
Eurogames (aka German style board games) such as the aforementioned “Settlers of Catan,” focus on being well balanced and streamlined. With less of a focus on theme and more use of abstract games mechanics. In these types of games, players often compete for points or resources, rarely is there player to player combat involved and players are never eliminated. Eurogames can be heavily themed but that may have little to do with the game play.
Examples of games would include:
Caylus (my personal favorite)
Popular publishers of this genre would be:
Ameritrash games tend to be heavily themed and dramatic in their game play style. There can be developed characters, factions or heroes. Player conflict is more likely and the games can feature a fair amount of luck involved.
Examples of Ameritrash games include:
Popular publishers of this genre would include:
There are many different types of board game classifications such as deck building games, war games, co-operative games, strategy games, family games, thematic games, abstract games, children’s games, customizable games and party games and I will be covering these in future articles.
Here are a couple of resources to help you learn more about tabletop board games:
Board Game Geek – Is probably the best resource on the web. You will find every board game you can think of and thousands you can’t here. Complete with videos, reviews, and game play blogs and news, this is the ultimate resource for checking out games and learning to play.
The Dice Tower – One of the more popular reviewers of board games and family friendly.
I hope this piques your interest in the wonderful world of tabletop board gaming! Make sure you check out your local hobby or game stores for these and other wonderful board games.
This primer was originally posted on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/the-geek-eccentric-table-top-board-game-primer/