Category Archives: Previews

Ladder 29

Ladder 29
Ben Pinchback & Matt Riddle-Designers
Andy Jewett-Artist
Green Couch Games-Publisher

DisclosureWe were provided a preview copy for Ladder 29 from Green Couch Games prior to the Kickstarter which launches on 3/15/2017.

Climbing games, the bane of my existence, in that, I never get to play them and I quite enjoy climbing games, and trick taking games which have some similarities. But the climbing games that I have in our collection all have been fairly difficult to get to the table, Tichu because it is a 3-10 player game and while three players is pretty regular, our third player is fairly irregular, I’m looking at you Gabby, in her picks of what she’ll play. Haggis and Clubs have suffered similar fates. So when Jason Kotarski over at Green Couch Games asked if I wanted to preview Ladder 29 I anxiously jumped in, but was a bit worried about what my family would think about it and if my family would give it a try. My worries turned out to be unfounded, and here is why.

Ladder 29 is a card climbing game for 2-5 players, and like most climbing games or card games like this, the theme here is merely used as a way to teach the game, to make sense of the mechanics, and it works beautifully in that sense. But, I am getting ahead of myself, what exactly do you do in a game of Ladder 29

Ladder 29 consists of a deck of 60 cards of four different suits(Red, Yellow, Green & Blue), with each suit numbering from 1-15. There is a hierarchy for the the suits as well, Blue being the highest, followed by Green, then Red and then Yellow. Also in the game will be 19 “Hot Spot” cards as well, these cards are where you are going to get your scoring from, but also these cards are the Cog in the Wheel so to speak, they give you direction in that they limit you in what you can play, but once again, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Also in the game will be a score track much the same as has been used in previous Green Couch Games titles and some score markers and player reference cards for up to 5 players. So I think it’s safe to say, this will be another lovely little small box game from Green Couch Games to match all the others in their line. Seriously, I’m going to build a small shelf for these, I swear I am.

So, the deck of 60 cards is shuffled and everyone is dealt 13 cards, regardless of player numbers. You are then going to pass 3 of those cards to the player to your left. After everyone has passed cards and you have your starting hand, you are going to draft those “Hot Spot” cards now. In the game there will be one more Hot Spot card out than there are players and there will always be a Start Player Hot Spot Card in the offering.

The Hot Spot Cards are where you will get your scoring for a round. Each player will pick one card, that card will contain a rule for the player to follow for that round and their scoring. In the example above, if the player is the first to go out, they get 8 points and so on down the line with last place always getting zero.

After everyone has drafted their Hot Spot Card a round of play begins. Starting with the current start player, the player will lead either a single card, a pair of cards a triple, a run of three or more or a four of a kind. Everyone thereafter has to follow the pattern, meaning that you cannot play triples on pairs, or runs on singles, etc. Play continues in clockwise order until everyone has to pass, the last player who played then leads another legal play to start another round. All in an effort to be the first person to shed all of their cards from their hands.

There are also some special cards that help you along the way that go along with the 60 other cards in 4 different suits. These cards help you bend the rules so to speak. You have the Chief and the Lieutenant who can only ever be played as singles but they are the highest rank singles, with the Chief being the highest and Lieutenant being second highest. You also have the Dalmatian  that can be played as a single or in runs with a value of zero, OR more importantly the Dalmation can be played as the second card in a pair. Lastly you have the Rookies, apart they can be played as singles or in runs as a value zero as well or paired together, The Rookies become the most powerful Pair that you can play.

Oh, and what would a good Climbing game be without one way to break the following rule? In Ladder 29 a Four of Kind may be played at any time, regardless of what has been led and is called a Flashover, Flashovers are the highest valued plays in the game and can only be beaten of course, by Flashovers of higher value.

After everyone but one has shed all of their cards from their hand, the round is over and you calculate your scores based on the Hot Spot Cards in front of the players. The game is a race to 29 points, once 29 points is hit the game is over and whomever ends up with the most points, wins the game.

I wish I had more experience with climbing games so I could make all the comparisons to Tichu, Haggis, Clubs and so many others, but I don’t, but I will say if you are looking for that, be sure to check out Ryan Sanders’ write up over on The Indie Game Report.

For me, what I’m going to say is this, Ladder 29, is a fantastic addition to the Green Couch Games line of games. The artwork by Andy Jewett is beautiful, inclusive and I know that they are taking steps to help with some of the color blind issues that have been pointed out once folks started playing the game more out in the open.

Much like any climbing game or trick taking games the strategy of play comes down to learning your opponents idiosyncrasies I think, but also, you have to know your own as well. The Hot Spot Cards add a huge new twist to your strategies, because not only do they limit what you can or cannot do, but they also are your score each round, so sometimes you have to take that Start Player Hot Spot Card even though it is only 6 points for first, just because you want the lead at the beginning, as you may never be able to get it otherwise. Sometimes you have to take the big points on the nearly impossible cards, just in hopes of making up some lost points even with going out maybe third. They make for interesting decisions to make each and every round and really push the game.

Seven plays so far under my belt, from 2 player to 4 player, I just have not been able to get that fifth person to the table, but we’ve enjoyed it at all player counts, although I will say, Kerensa and I both agree it is probably more fun for us at 3 or 4 than at 2 player. 2 player is once again a lot of back and forth and whomever figures out or at least thinks they’ve figured out, what the other player has is usually the winner.

Ladder 29 is just another fun, well designed, beautifully illustrated game from Green Couch Games. We really can’t say much more than that. If you really like “Great little games, that make great big connections”, don’t let this one pass you up. This one got me Hook and Ladder, I am most definitely a backer.

And I haven’t even mentioned how I am like Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback’s 12th biggest fan!

Be sure to check out Ladder 29 on Kickstarter, you have until April 12th, 2017 at 11am Central!

This preview was written by Brandon Kempf for the What Did You Play This Week Podcast & Blog.

You can hear more of our thoughts on Ladder 29 on our podcast at around the 52:09 mark

 

Rocky Road A la Mode

Rocky Road a la Mode

Joshua Mills-Designer

Adam Maciver-Artist

Green Couch Games-Publisher

 

ICE CREAM MAN!!! Every kid has yelled that at one time in their life, when they’ve heard the ice cream truck music coming down the road. Well now you can relive that excitement from the other side. Now you get to be the Ice Cream Truck Driver and you are driving around town, trying to attract customers in order to sell your fantastical frozen treats in the newest game from the team of Joshua J Mills and Green Couch Games, Rocky Road a la Mode.

Please note that this is the Preview version from Green Couch Games and the game art and components have not been finalized.

Set up is super easy, here we go, first, set up the roads that your Ice Cream Trucks will travel.

Next, line up your Ice Cream Trucks in a random order, the truck on top always goes first.

Then, let’s put some Rocket Pop tokens out on the board on the three pothole spots.

Everyone gets an Ice Cream Truck Card to place in front of them

and three treat cards randomly dealt to them

Stack the rest of the treat cards near the road and lay out three face up next to the draw pile. Also, near the road place out the eight location bonus cards in four coordinating piles with the highest value bonus on top.

Now you are ready to play Rocky Road a la Mode.

In the game you are Ice Cream Truck operators, trying to gain the most loyalty points by selling your ice cream all over town, ultimately the game is a race, sort of, to 9 loyalty points, I’ll explain later how that may not always be the case.

In the game, the players are not going to have a set order, the truck that is furthest back on the road is always going to be the player on turn, like in the game Tokaido or in Patchwork.

So, on your turn you are going to take one of the three possible actions.

  1. You can Restock, which is drawing or taking 1-5 cards from the draw deck or face up row of treat cards. The player must announce prior to drawing how many they are going to take and then must move their ice cream truck that many spaces on the road track.
  2. You can attract customers. To do this, take a look at the treat cards above again, you see that number that is on the top right where the speaker is, you know, that speaker that’s playing that music that makes kids go wild, when you choose a card with the customers you want to attract, you move your truck forward the number of spaces dictated on the card in that spot. Then you take that card and you tuck it under your truck card with only the customers and their wants showing.
  3. The last action you could take on your turn is to Serve your customers that you have attracted, to do so, you start with the topmost customer and you discard treat cards from your hand that match the large treat symbol on the top left of each card with what the customers want. When you serve that customer you slide the card up to cover it up and move your truck one spot along the road track. When you have served the second customer on the card, you take the card and you spin it so that only the icons on the bottom of the card are seen coming from the back of your ice cream truck card.These icons are now permanent bonuses. So the next time you fill a customer order, you don’t have use quite as many cards from your hand. These cards also can have loyalty points on them, these count towards your goal of 9 loyalty points to trigger the end of the game.

Along with getting permanent bonuses from the cards, if you collect the correct number of bonuses you gain location cards that grant loyalty points. Players can only collect one location card of each type.

Along the road, when you land your truck on the Rocket Pop Token, you get to take that into your collection and it can be used as a wild to fill customer orders. When spent, the Rocket Pop Token goes back on to the road in the Pothole space that is in front of the truck token that is furthest ahead on the track.

The game ends when one player has nine or more Loyalty Points. Play will continue however until the player who triggered the end of the game’s Truck Token is furthest back on the road. This player does not take another turn. Be careful, in our games the player who triggered the game end has been the furthest back on the Road Track several times, meaning no one else gets a turn, gotta get those points when you can, and do it quickly. Everyone adds up their Loyalty Points and the Ice Cream Truck driver with the most Loyalty Points wins the game!

Great little games that make great big connections. Every time I preview one of these titles from Green Couch Games, I think that Jason could not have come up with a better tag line for the company. These little small box filler games are quickly becoming the jewels of our collection, from Fidelitas to Avalanche at Yeti Mountain we’ve enjoyed each and every title in our family. Rocky Road a la Mode continues that tradition.

This is a fun set collection game that gives off a bit of a Splendor feel, the collecting of cards and using those cards to fill orders to gain permanent bonuses that allow for easier filling of future orders. But it plays quicker and let’s face it, the theme is a ton more fun, I know I’d take selling ice cream over jewels, and that kind of shows if you get to meet me ever in person.

It’s fun trying to build your engine in Rocky Road a la Mode but you better be well aware of what the rest of the players are doing, focus too hard on getting yourself rolling and forget to deliver the goods that can gain you Loyalty Points, and you’ll find yourself scrambling to catch up as this one plays quick, 20-30 minutes tops but there is a lot of fun and decisions to be made in those 20-30 minutes.

I can’t wait to see the finished product, and I should have asked Jason some of the plans for the Kickstarter before writing this, but he’s been a busy man at Origins this week. I can envision some cool Truck tokens and the Rocket Pop Tokens will surely be a lot of fun as well, and probably another play mat for the road!! Oh man, now I’m really wondering what they’ve got in store. One thing I don’t have to wonder about is gameplay though as Rocky Road a la Mode is fun, a lot of fun.

Watch for Rocky Road a la Mode on Kickstarter, 6/20/2016!

House of Borgia Preview

House of Borgia

  • Designed by Scott Almes
  • Artwork by Ian Rosenthaler and Benjamin Shuler
  • Published by Talon Strikes Studios and Gamelyn Games
  • Kickstarter Campaign is Live!!

It is 1492, and the pope is dead. As a cardinal who served under the late Pope Innocent the VIII you have always vied for the position, but you could never win the election yourself. The Conclave already knows of your “gray” methods of getting things done. However, some of the other Cardinals are less hardened than yourself. More malleable. If you could position yourself as their advisor and get them elected then it would be you pulling the strings. 

Let’s go ahead and admit it, you’ve always wanted to pull the strings, you’ve always wanted to be the one who made sure that the right people, your right people are in charge, but you’ve never had that opportunity before. Well puppet master, now you do in the newest game from Scott Almes and Talon Strikes Games, House of Borgia.

If you’ve ever played Liar’s Dice or one of the other myriad of games using that same type of mechanic, you’ll take to House of Borgia really quickly, but even if you haven’t, like me, you’ll take to it with minimal effort. House of Borgia is quick to teach and learn, but hard to master as I’ll be the first to tell you. You gotta know when to make your move and you can’t be too obvious or you’ll be found out and never have the chance to exert your power.

A game of House of Borgia plays out like this. Shuffle up the Puppet cards and deal out one to each player, put the unused cards in the box, unseen by the players. Keep your card secret, this is the Cardinal that you are wanting to influence and manipulate to the top. Then you are going to shuffle up the Cardinal Cards and place them in a row in the middle of the table. Put your influence cubes nearby as you’ll be using them quite often during the game. Each Cardinal will start the game with 2 influence on them so go ahead and do that now. Each player is now going to receive a set number of dice based on the player count. Now put the rumor cards out on the table as well next to the Cardinals for use as the game progresses. Also, don’t forget the Anti-Pope marker, place it out there as well. Now, you’re ready to exert your influence.

The game is played in a series of rounds and ends when one player has no more dice remaining in their pool.

The round is played out as follows:

  1. Bidding and Action-At the beginning of a round the players will roll their dice and keep them behind their player screen, making sure no one can see them. All the dice have 5 symbols on them and one “Fate” symbol, which is a wild card, it counts as any other symbol as needed. To make a bid you choose one of the actions and bid on how many of those symbols you think are on the table behind all the player screens, so you could say “Three Judgment” if you think there are three total out there. The next person clockwise may then either call the bluff or they can let the active bidder perform the action that they bid on. After that action is taken, the next player in clockwise order gets to bid but they must increase the bid by at least one, so they could say “Four Bribe” and then it’s up to the next person to call or let it go. Now, what are those 5 actions?
    • Bribe– the player moves one of the Cardinal Mats to the very top or to the very bottom of the ladder of Cardinals. One has to be moved
    • Poison– the player removes two Influence Tokens from one of the Cardinal Mats, it can be two tokens from one or 1 token from two different Cardinals
    • Judgement– the player moves two Influence Tokens between Cardinal Mats, once again it can be two from one Cardinal or 1 from two Cardinals, but you can’t just move influence back and forth amongst the same two Cardinals
    • Accusation– This action allows the player to place the Antipope marker on one of the Cardinal Mats therefor this Cardinal cannot gain or lose Influence, but it can still be influenced by Bribe
    • Rumor– the player throws a rumor card at another player, accusing them of being in control of that Cardinal. Rumors can only be removed if someone else starts a rumor about you. Then the rumor card in front of you is replaced by the new rumor.
  2. Calling a Bluff– If the next player in turn order calls the bluff of the current bidder, play is stopped to determine whether or not they have the proper amount of symbols to complete the action. All players reveal all their dice behind their screens and if the bid is the truth then the active player gets to take the action and the caller loses one of their die. If the active player was bluffing, then the active player loses a die and takes no action.
  3. Rallying Influence– In this phase the Cardinal Mats will game Influence Points based on their position in the Influence Ladder, with the top Cardinal gaining three, second Cardinal gaining two and the third Cardinal in line gaining one. If one of the Cardinal Mats has the Antipope Marker they do not gain any influence and the influence does not trickle down.

After that if all the players have at least one die left in their possession you set it up to play another round with the player who just lost their die starting everything out. If one player is without dice, the game ends and the Conclave is now ready to vote.

All players reveal their secret card and the Cardinal with the most influence, after everyone adds two Influence Points per die they have left in their possession to their Cardinal, is elected the next pope and the player that controls that pope wins the game. If there is a rumor card in front of you and that rumor is true, you cannot win no matter how much Influence you have.

So, do you think you have what it takes? I hope so, because I surely don’t. I love a good deduction/bluffing game and especially one that throws a unique theme and some fun mechanisms. I’m just not good at them. My wife, my daughter, my game group, heck my Mom will probably tell you the exact same thing. I don’t remember the last time I even won as a villager in One Night Ultimate Werewolf. But in spite of that track record with these kinds of games, I keep coming back and trying, and this one, will probably be a fixture for me in our collection.

The art, even in prototype form is absolutely spot on and amazing, Jason and Scott did a fantastic job in finding the right artist for this one. Rules wise this was a breeze to teach and it was a breeze to play and I am pretty sure the only thing that anyone disliked about playing it, was that they were playing it with me, the worst deduction/bluffing game player in existence.

I really like the dice rolling nature to this and the risk management that always gets a bit more tense as a round progresses. Someone is going to lose a die, it happens every round, but when it happens is the fun part. Knowing when to call and when to just let the action go through is really crucial, along with knowing when and how to manipulate your Cardinal so that others don’t catch on. Don’t do like I did one game and immediately move my Cardinal to the top via the Bribe Action in the first round, I thought for sure folks would think I was bluffing, but it didn’t work and almost immediately I had a rumor card on me and my Cardinal was dead in the water.

I have not gotten to play it at all player counts, only at 4, 5 and 6 players, but I think like most games of this nature, the more the merrier, although if I do get to play it at lower counts I will ammend the preview and let you all know what I think.

Be sure to check this one out on Kickstarter, it’s scheduled to launch on the 15th of February 2016.

Use this link to preview the campaign and click the star on the campaign preview to be notified when it goes live!

 

Fog of Love Preview

Fog of Love

Fog of Love Cover

Fog of Love is a 2 player card game where the players are using card play to tell the story of their love affair, from the first sparks of attraction to the hopefully happy ending. All the things that can happen in between may or may not happen, fights, reconciliation, meeting the in laws, children, you just never know.

First things first just to get this out of the way as I know this will be the first thought among some people. Fog of Love is much more than just a game that tells a story, there are choices to be made in this that ultimately lead to one of the three possible endings. Both players can win, one player can win, or neither can win, it just all depends on how they play their cards and where they take their relationship.

I’m not going to go to in depth with the setup here, I think I’ll add a video of that to show the setup, just know that the setup is ultimately where you start the game. You do have choices to make here that will ultimately help determine what direction you take the relationship. So in essence, the game starts as soon as you start setting up. The first choice you get to make is the scenario, now, we only had 2 scenarios in the preview copy but there will be more. The scenario sets the four chapters of the game, we’ll talk about that more in a minute.

Chapter Card Backs

After you decide on the scenario everyone goes ahead and chooses color and decides on the sex of their character they are playing. Based on that choice some story cards may or may not need to be removed from the game.

Then, we get down to  the choices that need to be made, think of this as “rolling” your character if you were playing an RPG. You get to decide on some traits that may, or may not, carry with you for the rest of the game. Your traits are yours and yours alone, you do not share this information with your partner. The traits will give you some direction in where you want your choice points to go on the game board, which we’ll discuss later. Each player gets 5 random traits from the trait deck and gets to keep 3, the rest go in a face down pile on the board.

Traits Features Occupation

Next, your character has to have a job right? So you both get to choose an occupation. Deal out 3 of the occupation cards to each player and then each player selects one and places it face up on their player board, the rest are discarded and put away back in the box. After occupations, deal out each player 5 Feature cards. Each player will then take a turn choosing 1 of the 5 Features and assigning them to their partner until you have given your partner 3 Features, discard the rest and put them back in the box.

Game Setup and Ready

Now that you have your Occupations and your Features you’ll notice that there are symbols on the bottom of these cards, these symbols will tell you where to place your beginning choice points on the Personality Factors. There is a symbol to tell you which Personality Factor is affected, and an arrow to tell you which side of the track to place the token on. The Trait cards tell you where you want your choice points to be at the end, if at the end of the game you meet your Trait requirements, you will gain Heart, or Love points. The Occupation and Feature cards in theory should get you started on that road, but sometimes they can conflict and make things a bit difficult. Luckily, throughout Fog of Love, there are cards that do help invoke personal change, allowing you to change the way you are.

Three Personality Factor Tracks

Board After Choices

Now we deal out 5 of the Story Cards to each player. On the board there are three different sets of story cards, Sweet cards which are the more romantic experiences, they are the building blocks but they also do not have much larger consequences. There are Serious cards, these are the more important and serious things that happen during a relationship, these help evolve the relationship. Lastly are the Drama cards, these have bigger effects and lots of risk, these are the cards that evoke change in the relationships, secrets, conflicts, surprises. Each player starts the game with 3 Sweet Cards, 1 Serious Card and 1 Drama Card.

IMG_2881

You are now set to begin your relationship.

Part of the attraction to Fog of Love for me was the ability to sort of “role play” if you want to. While this is not necessary for the game to be fun or to even be played, it can add a little bit of excitement and a bit of flavor to the game. We do the whole introduction of our characters to each other, we give them names and we try to tie in our features and occupations to that description as best we can. It always helps to know that Stasia is sitting across from you, as it may help distance yourself from personal feelings during the game. While I may not want to make a choice in real life, Rico may have no problem with it regardless of the effect of that decision.

While playing the game there are a few things to remember. Do not reveal your Story Cards on hand, do not reveal your Story Ending Cards(which we’ll discuss in a bit), Do not reveal your traits and your goals and do not openly discuss decisions to be made on individual and simultaneous choices. Follow those rules about open information unless directed differently by a story card.

Chapter 1

The first played card of any chapter is the Chapter Card that starts the corresponding chapter. The chapter card is going to tell a bit of your story, the first chapter card will be how you met, what do you remember. There is a choice on the Chapter Cards and these will ultimately help you or harm your choices. The first Chapter Card in the scenario we’ve played awards Heart/Love points if you and your partner pick the correct corresponding answers. The Chapter Card also will list how many cards are going to be played during this chapter and will tell you what Story Card pile or piles you can draw from to replenish your hand to five after playing a card.

Sweet Story Card Example

Let’s get into actual card and game play and how a chapter is played out, it’s really pretty simple, but don’t let the simple game play mechanics belie that there choices to be made here. A wrong play of a card and suddenly your choice points balance has fallen all out of favor and you have to struggle to make things work in your favor later. Anyway, what a player does on their turn is they play a Story Card and then you resolve the choice on the card. Most cards will have either a choice for the other player or a simultaneous choice for both. Based on these choices the players will get choice points on the Personality Factors and sometimes even Heart/Love points. The active player places their played card in the discard pile and refills their hand to 5 cards from the appropriate stack or stacks. There are other types of cards that can be played, Location cards impact the next card played, Reaction Cards can be played as a reaction to a response, sometimes a response of your partner’s or your own and then there are Secret Cards that are played and played face down and not flipped unless a story card instructs otherwise. If they are not flipped during the game they will be flipped at the end and will have choice points or Heart/Love points for you to score.

Now may be a good time to tell you a bit about those Story Ending Cards that are in front of you, because as you progress through the game, some of the Story Cards or the Chapter Cards are going to tell you to discard Story Ending Cards or retrieve them from your discard pile. The story ending cards are basically your end conditions that you need to have met in order to win the game and as you discard and retrieve, you have to pay close attention to what you are discarding and how you are doing on the choice points during the game as ultimately if you chose the wrong ending to shoot for, you lose. Some will simply require you to have choice points in a certain row, along with Heart/Love points and your partner to not break up. Others will require more of a concentrated team effort of choice points and Heart/Love points.

Story Ending

After the final Chapter Card is revealed, the players will begin scoring and seeing ultimately where their relationship will end. First reveal your Story Ending Cards, as I said, these ultimately give win conditions for the players. Secondly, resolve any Secret Cards that may have not been revealed. Thirdly, we are going to score trait goals. each trait goal achieved is worth 5 Heart/Love points, each trait goal not achieved costs the player 3 Heart/Love points. If for some reason you have 2 Trait Goals that are similar, same personality factor in the same direction, the balance requirements for the second trait goal are doubled and tripled if there is a third. Now, consult those Story Ending Cards and find out how the relationship ultimately moves on to Happily ever after or if things are so irrevocably broken that it falls apart and the partners go their separate ways.

Whew, that was actually more than I thought I was going to talk about with Fog of Love, I hadn’t intended on actually giving the rules that thoroughly, they just kind of came spilling out as I was writing this out.

From the beginning, Jacob had set out to create a game that isn’t like other games, that doesn’t necessarily play like other games. What started out as a game that Jacob and his wife could play, turned into something different, it struck a chord with people who played it so he continued to share the game with others and more and more folks started taking notice of how games could be designed a bit differently from the conflict heavy games that dominate our landscape now. The game is personal, it can evoke emotions and in tabletop this is a rare thing unless you are playing an RPG, at least it seems that way to me.

Design wise, Jacob and his wife Lotte have nailed it on this one, it looks the part of a modern designed board game that isn’t like anything else even in its preview form. The card design is well laid out, easy to read and the art on the cards really makes it really stand out. I really can’t wait to see this in final form with the actual board and wooden choice point markers, I really do wonder what they have in store or if they are going to go with the simple Blue and Pink wooden circles, they work perfectly fine if a bit fumbly for my non-dexterous fingers, and that is a small an issue with a game that tracks points on different sides of the board. But once again, I’ve not seen the final plans yet, only preview copy.

We’ve played the game both procedural and with trying to act out the parts as much as we felt comfortable with, my wife and I are not well versed role players, so this is kind of a newer experience for us, and almost an exercise and I’m sure she will mention that in our audio review where we talk about playing. But what I want to reiterate though is that we enjoyed our plays either way, because at it’s core, this is a card game, it’s just that the cards aren’t providing the main answers, we are. The cards are the nail and we are the hammers so to speak, sure the cards will hold the game together and make it what it is, but without the outside influence and personal choices made by the players it doesn’t work. What I mean is that you don’t play a card to answer a card like we do in so many card games. You have to come up with the answer on your own.

The first few turns of Fog of Love really do feel like that “getting to know you” phase of a relationship, the cards are generally lighter in meaning and meant to be a way to find out who your partner really is. As Fog of Love progresses, the questions get heavier and the decisions have a more lasting effect and can be more difficult to answer in a way that truly helps you in the game, but may help your partner. The possibilities of an unplanned pregnancy, or a sex tape being discovered or even infidelity by one of the players could come into play and completely change how the game progresses. Which Story Ending Cards you choose to discard becomes increasingly difficult as you move deeper into the relationship, are you staying together or is it going to end in a break up, it’s hard to tell sometimes.

I am curious how non-couples will adapt to this and play the game, I did not get to play with anyone other than Kerensa even though I really wanted to give it a try and I still may and if I do I will amend here and let you know how that goes. The only reason I wonder is because, well people may still have hangups about how to act or play a game with sexual implications with people that they don’t know that well or even someone of the same sex, I don’t really think it should be a problem but I do imagine that may mean that it isn’t a game for everyone, which is kind of sad.

Fog of Love will launch with 3 different scenarios and I imagine that more are in the works via stretch goals, but I have no verification of that. We’ve only played the one scenario and each time it has played a bit differently, but having more scenarios is always welcomed, along with more of those fantastic story cards that drive the game. We do have one other scenario in our possession and it’s a more traditional cooperative scenario and I’m hoping we get to that one soon and it’ll be part of the audio preview.

Launching on February 14, 2016 on Kickstarter for $39 including shipping here in the US and France, Fog of Love is really a no brainer for people who want a two player game that they can play with their significant other that has fun role playing and story telling elements, but most of all Fog of Love should appeal to people who want a truly unique and fun gaming experience unlike anything they have played before.

Kickstarter should be live at 2PM Danish Time which I believe is 7 am in the Central Time Zone in the US. 

 

Wok on Fire!

Wok on Fire 8

Wok on Fire!

Note: This game is still in prototype/preview form, things may change during production to make things look a bit different. Originally distributed in Japan by Poki Design, this one is being brought to the rest of the world via Green Couch Games.

Have you ever thought that you had what it takes to be the world’s finest stir fry master, should you be flipping vegetables into the mouths of adoring customers who show up as much for the show as they do for the food? Well now is your chance to try it out without the fear of hurting yourself or others, well, mostly without that fear, I guess there is always that chance.

Wok on Fire! is the newest in the Green Couch Games line of “great little games that make great big connections”. We’ve had fun battling for supremacy in Fidelitas, we’ve built our treehouses to the sky in Best Treehouse Ever, we’ve battled our dinosaur packs in JurassAttack! and we’ve raced Yetis down the mountain in Avalanche at Yeti Mountain. Now, it’s time to cook!

Avalanche At Yeti Mountain should be here in a couple months to join the Green Couch Games Collection
Avalanche At Yeti Mountain should be here in a couple months to join the Green Couch Games Collection

Wok on Fire! is a set collecting, dexterity game about cooking the best stir fry. Every player will get a spatula card that the players will use during the game, they’ll also get two player aids that they will place in front of them that will act as the boundaries of the wok. There are 50 ingredient cards in the deck, shuffle those up then deal 24 face down to form the draw pile and then disperse the remaining 26 as evenly as possible within the boundaries of your wok. Now, you are ready to show your prowess in stir fry flipping and cooking.

The player's weapons, I mean spatulas!
The player’s weapons, I mean spatulas! Plus Player Aids that also serve as boundaries in the game.
Wok Area
Wok Area

On a player’s turn, you have three things to do in specific order.

Edit: In the video we show picking up ingredients by using the spatula, I’ve been informed that we’ve been creating our own variant for the game and making it a bit more difficult than intended, when you pick up ingredients you use your hand, not the card. 

First you perform two “Stir Fry” actions. To do this the player takes their spatula card, slide it underneath an ingredient card that is in the wok and then they will flip that ingredient upward in hopes that they flip it to land face up to know what it is. Do this twice, you do need to at least flip one ingredient so if both times you try you fail, try again, practice will make perfect, young wok star.

The next step that the active player takes is that they are going to choose two face up ingredients and then attempt to pick them up and bring them to your player area. There are a few rules for doing this, you do need to indicate which ingredients you are going to pick up before you start, both ingredients. You need to do your best to not disturb and move around other ingredients in the wok. The center circle of the ingredient card must be visible, you don’t have to see the entire picture of the ingredient, but the circle does at least need to be visible. At least one corner of the ingredient card must also be visible as well. Lastly, if there are ingredients falling out of the wok area, they may not be chosen, with one specific exception that we’ll discuss later when we discuss the specific ingredient cards. These rules do mean that if there are fewer than 2 ingredient cards face up, you’ll pick up fewer than two on your turn.

Some ingredients flipped
Some ingredients flipped

The final thing that the active player will do on their turn is they will perform the “chop” action. What the chop action is, you take two ingredient cards from the top of the draw deck and place them face down in your palm with your palm above the wok area. Then with your other hand you take a “chopping” type motion chopping those ingredients into the wok, some may land face up, some may land face down, leave them how they land, unless of course they land outside the wok area. If there are cards outside the wok area, pick them up and chop them back into the wok, this includes any ingredients that may have been flipped or dropped outside the area during your turn as well.

Play then passes to the player on the left and continues until the ingredient deck runs out, when this happens, each player will get one more turn each.

Shrimp, Pork and Mushrooms
Shrimp, Pork and Green Peppers
Wok on Fire 3
Onion, Garlic and Mushrooms

Now the question arises as to why we are doing those things, why are we flipping and collecting ingredients, well, we do this in order to make the best possible dishes which will score us the most possible points. Because of course, the player with the most points will be the winner. What you will do is you will consult your player aid and see the combinations of ingredients that will score the most points for you. Each ingredient can only be used for scoring one time, meaning you can only use it in one combination or by itself. There are currently 11 different ingredient cards in the game and each of them will allow you to score things a bit differently. Take for example, the chicken. The chicken by itself is worth two points each. But if you pair that chicken with a garlic, you can triple the points of that meat. Or, if you combine the chicken with one vegetable and the rice, you get a flat 15 points, or if you use the chicken with a vegetable, one condiment and the noodles you score 25 points. So you see, how you collect and arrange your sets will vary quite a bit, it’s all about maximizing what you’ve collected.

Score Cards
Player Aides with scoring on them

One other note about the ingredient cards, remember when I said there was one exception earlier? Well, some ingredient cards have specific instructions for them whenever you pick them up, like if you are picking up the chicken, you must pick up all viable chicken cards at once as one single pick up action when you are gathering them, or the Green Pepper, which if there are ANY green peppers visible when you are picking up ingredients you must always pick them up first, even if they have fallen out of the wok, plus the first time you pick up a green pepper on your turn you immediately perform another stir fry action and then pick up another face up ingredient, if there are any.

So that’s all there is to it, you have some dexterity, you have some fun set collection and decisions to be made on how to combine your ingredients to best score your points. The cards special powers do add a bit of thought and a little bit of tactical strategy in the game since sometimes you can’t always pick up exactly what you want to get. Getting the most out of each turn by picking up the garlic or the green pepper can always add a lot to your collection. The dexterity involved is a bit harder than it seems, sometimes the cards flip nicely, sometimes they don’t, also, picking up specific ingredients can prove a bit challenging from time to time, especially if you are picking up something on the bottom of a stack of ingredient cards trying to get a little extra for your collection.

All of this is done in a span of about 20 minutes, the game plays fast, loose and fun, more than living up to that motto of Green Couch Games. We’ve had a great time with this one.

Wok on Fire 2