Designed by: Steven Aramini, Danny Devine, and Paul Kluka
Art by: Beth Sobel
Published by: Button Shy Games
A Preview by Eric Booth
Circle The Wagons is yet another game in the long line of what has become known as “Micro Games.” IE: “Love Letter” Or in other words games with a very minimalistic amount of components, are very portable, and usually play in around 15 to 30 minutes. So what sets “Circle The Wagons” apart from other micro games? Good question. And I have a good answer for you. “Circle The Wagons” feels and plays like a much bigger game. Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard that before. Well I can tell you it’s the truth with this game. There are many hard decisions that have to be made with a minimal amount of components, and only 2 players.
The game comes with only 18 cards, yes 18. But each of these cards have a wealth of information on them. They are all dual sided. One side will have 4 territories depicting one of 6 different territory types. Then each territory has a symbol on it depicting one of 6 different symbols used for end game scoring.
And this brings me to the other side of the cards. Each of the 18 cards has an end game scoring goal on it. During set up you will randomly choose 3 of these cards as goals to shoot for. So not only do you have these to work towards you also have the base scoring which is 1 point for each of your territory types containing the largest groups of each territory type.
Now how do you get these cards and what do you do with them once you have them? Well, at it’s heart this is a tile laying game. You will be drafting these cards from a circle of cards that surround the 3 end game scoring cards. Players will take turns drafting these cards from the circle. If the active player decides to skip the next available card or cards, these skipped cards are given to the other player as “Free Cards” to put into their town square. I really like this mechanic as it gives you a meaningful decision on which card you want and what you want to leave for your opponent. And also what card is going to benefit you the most for end game scoring. Cards are placed in your town square as per most tile laying games IE: “Hanging Gardens.” You can place them orthogonal to your other cards already in your town square. You can place them on top of other cards but you are not allowed to place cards underneath cards or diagonally, corner to corner, to other cards that are already in your town square.
So that is a basic overview of how the game is played. Now how do I feel about the game. I’ll tell ya partner. I’ve had a rip roaring good time playing “Circle The Wagons.” Oh, the first two games where a bit meh, but that was only because I misread a rule, several times in fact, that made the game very confusing. Once we got the misinterpreted rule correct we played several more games and it just started to shine. And it plays quick enough that we just jumped right into another game, then another. The more games we played the more I liked it. Each game felt different enough with all the options you have for end game scoring that it never felt repetitive at all. Oh there is the opportunity for “Hate Drafting” but that is very minimal as your opponent is trying to work toward whatever end game goal they’ve decided to shoot for. But yes it does happen and sometimes it is very necessary to keep that one card out of that dirty scoundrel’s town square.
Final verdict? I give this two rootin’ tootin’, beer bottle shootin’, hollerin’ and a hootin’, thumbs up. If you’re looking for that quick game to fill in while waiting for the rest of the gaming group to show up, or just something to play while waiting for Cookie to finish cooking them beans, then this is the game for you.
Full disclosure. I was supplied a copy of this game for review at no cost to me. But I assure this had no bearing on my review. Trust me. If this game turned out to have been crap I would have let you know. Look for “Circle the Wagons” on Kickstarter start April 4th.
Art by Ossi Hiekkala, Jere Kasanen(You should check them you on BGG as the art in Flamme Rouge is excellent. I love the 1920s feel of the images.)
You can listen to Eric’s thoughts on Week 100 of the WDYPTW Podcast at the 21:47 mark.
Flamme Rouge, AKA Red Flag, is quick bicycle racing game that takes place in the last kilometer of a race. You will be controlling 2 riders, a Roller and a Sprinter. How you control your riders is done through a clever play of cards. Each rider has their own deck of cards and you will draw 4 cards from one rider and pick one card to play and the ones you didn’t pick are returned to the bottom of the deck face up. (Recycling) them. Then you do the same for the other rider. This choice has to be done one rider at a time. So you are gambling on what cards you might draw for your other rider. Each card has a number on it which will determine how far along the track that rider can travel. You’ll be wanting to try and keep your Roller out in front of your Sprinter to soak up the exhaustion cards you will inevitably be getting throughout the race. Then when you are getting close to the finish line your Roller will be full of exhaustion cards and this is when your Sprinter should start using his big cards to, well, sprint to the finish. It’s a very clever mechanic that is very thematic to how actual bike races work. You have the team pulling (Slipstreaming) the sprinter along then they move out of the way for that last push at the end of the race by your Sprinter.
Now that you know how the cards work, let’s move on to how the movement works. After each player selects which cards they are going to play for each of their riders, all players will reveal them simultaneously. Then in rider order each player will move their rider along the track. A rider can pass through other riders but can’t stop their movement on another rider unless there is a free lane next to that rider. If there is no free lane the rider is placed behind the rider they would have landed on. Which can actually be a good thing as it could save your rider from getting an exhaustion card. This is repeated until all the riders have been moved. After this is done the Slip-streaming phase happens. You start at the back of the pack and you’ll look at each pack of riders, which can consist of only one rider, and see if there is no more than one square between them and the next pack of riders. If there is only one square between them you will move the riders up to the next pack of riders creating an even bigger pack. You will continue to do this until you have closed up all the one square gaps between the riders thus creating one huge pack of riders. If there are more than one square between the packs they are considered to be out of the slip-stream and will not be moved up to the next pack. Oh and there’s optional hills that can be added to the track that add another whole dimension to the race depending on whether you’re going up hill or down hill. There are some more movement subtleties that I’m not going to go over here but they are very easy to learn.
Now it’s time deal out those dreaded exhaustion cards. These are the cards that will gum up your deck with that puny little 2 speed card. Why is this so important and painful you might ask? It’s because the cards you picked to move your riders earlier are removed from the game so they’re out of play forever. So in a weird way this is almost a deck building game, sorta, but your deck just keeps getting worse as the race goes on. So you need to be very tactical on what cards you play and when to play them. How your riders get exhaustion cards is determined by whether or not they have an empty square in front of them on the track after the slip-streaming phase is done. This exhaustion card is added face up to bottom of that rider’s deck to show it’s ugly face later on in the race
This pretty much sums up the game. Very simple with some very important decisions to be made in order to crosse finish line first. Oh yeah did I mention that the person who crosses the finish line first isn’t necessarily the winner? It’s the rider who goes furthest past the finish line that wins. Now let’s find out what I think of Flamme Rouge.
What do I like about Flamme Rouge? Almost all of it as a matter of fact.
The simplicity of the game play along with the tough decisions on which cards to play and when to play those cards. Flamme Rouge doesn’t get bogged down with overly complicated, needless rules. In fact the rules for the game are only 4 pages long and 1 of those pages is an overview of the game components.
There’s no tokens to keep track of. No dice to be rolled. It’s all down to when you play your cards.
I feel Flamme Rouge could be an excellent gateway game to new gamers or your non gamer friends. I know this is thrown around a lot but I really believe it with this game.
The game is very scale-able between whether you want an easier track to a more difficult track by removing or adding the hill tracks to the game to accommodate who you are playing with.
As for the components? They are top notch. Super thick cardboard for the player boards and the track. Highly detailed miniatures for the two different riders which leads me to the one thing that will be in my Dislikes column.
Now what did I dislike about the game? Sometimes if can be very hard to distinguish between which rider is the Sprinter and which rider is the Roller. There is a little itty bitty S on the back of the Sprinter and an itty bitty R on the back of the Roller but they don’t stand out at all. This can lead to some confusion sometimes on whether you are picking a card for the correct rider or not. And this is truly a very minor thing. After a few plays you will just be able to tell them apart easily.
So in conclusion, I’ve really enjoyed every play of Flamme Rouge so far. And, from what I could tell, so did everyone else who played it with me. The simplicity of the game play is what I would call it’s greatest strength. So, if you’re able to get a copy and you’re a fan of racing games then I would highly recommend Flamme Rouge to you.
Orleans Designed by Reiner Stockhausen Illustrated by Klemens Franz Published by Tasty Minstrel Games and DLP Games
Orleans is a worker placement, action selection game where 2-5 players(with the deluxe version) fill their bags with the characters that will best allow them to compete to become the most influential and dominant player in various areas of Medieval France. While fighting for this dominance players will collect various goods, coins and victory points in hopes that at the end of the game they have the most points and therefore, the most influential in all the lands, or at least your table.
Orleans is played over the course of 18 rounds with each round having 7 phases.
In the first phase of the round, the first player of the round will flip over the topmost hourglass tile from the hourglass stack. These tiles have two purposes in the game, the first being that it is the timer for the game and secondly each tile has one of 6 events that will affect the current round.
The second phase is a simple check to see if anyone is alone in the lead on the farmer track, if they are, they gain 1 coin from the bank. Also, if there is anyone alone in last place on the track, they owe 1 coin to the bank. If there are ties for first or last, no one gains or owes a coin.
Third phase of the game is where you get to pull your characters from your bag, yup, this is where the bag building fun starts to rear it’s head. Each person simultaneously pulls character tiles from their bag equal to or lower than the number indicated by your location on the Knight track, at the beginning of the game, everyone starts at four, thus you’ll pull all four of your starting character tiles from the bag and place them on your marketplace which is located along the bottom of your player board. Each player can pull as many characters as their Knight track allows, but can not have more than 8 characters on their Marketplace unless they have a building that allows more, ie The Gunpowder Tower.
Now is when we start planning, each player simultaneously assign their characters from your market to activate actions in Places that are on your player board. Each of these Places will have different actions associated with them and different characters needed to activate them. Place the required characters on the corresponding action spaces of the Place that you want to activate, a Place is considered activated as soon as all of its action spaces have a character tile.
Phase 5 is where everyone gets to carry out the actions that they have activated. In player order, starting with the first player, everyone completes one action around the table until all of the players pass. We’ll dive into the actions after the phase summary.
Resolve the event shown on the Hour Glass Tile of the current round, one tile does not need to be resolved, Pilgrimage affects the entire round as opposed to having one affect at the end.
Pass the starting player token to the player on their left and rinse and repeat.
In that action phase is when a majority of the action of the game takes place, through these actions you are going to build your pool of characters and execute actions that will move you closer to your dominance. When you activate one of the buildings on your player board in the City, you get to take the action associated with it. For example the Farmhouse requires a Blue Boatman and a Brown Craftsman to activate it, when you place those characters on the required spaces to activate it, in return for activating the Farmhouse you receive a Farmer character to put in your bag, you move up the Farmer track and collect the goods according to where you are on the track. Pretty simple, other tracks will let you acquire Knights, the red characters that allow you to increase your draw based on where you are on the track, at most you can pull 8 characters, but remember, only 8 can be in your marketplace. In the Village you get the choice between three actions when you activate it, The Boatman allows you to get Boatmen and gain money for your hard work fishing, The Craftsman allows you to move up the Craftsman track and gain a technology tile which you place permanently on a character spot on your board, the first one has to go on a Farmer space, and there are a couple other limitations. Last in the Villages is the Trader, he moves you up the Trades track and gains you access to a building that will become yours to use the remainder of the game, those buildings grant different effects and still have to be activated just like any other spot on your player board. The University allows you to take a Scholar tile, advance on the track and then gain the depicted number of Development Points. The Development Points and the track are pretty important, as you move up the track, you can gain coins, you can gain followers and you can gain an increase of Development Status which is important to end game scoring as it increases your multiplier, which we’ll touch on at game end. The Monastery action allows you to gain a Monk, these Monks are wild Character tiles, they can be used in place of any of the other Character Tiles.
There are a few other spaces in your village to cover as well On the main board there is a map of France and you have a Merchant, who starts in Orleans. On this map are routes, some roads, some are rivers and there are goods along these routes that your merchant can pick up. The goods are worth varying amounts of points at the end of the game, which once again, we’ll talk about later. But back to these other actions, you can ship, which allows your Merchant to move along the river to the next town and pick up a good along the way. Your Merchant can also use the roads by taking the Wagon actions and do the same thing, except move along the road. Lastly you can build a Guildhall in the town which your Merchant is located. Only one Guildhall can be located in each town, except Orleans which can house one of each player’s Guildhall. If you have the Deluxe version of the game, the Tavern, a building that the Trader action allows you to build, will break those rules and allow you to build a building in the same location as someone else.
The final two action spaces on your player board that I haven’t talked about are the Scriptorum which allows you to move up one spot on the Development track and then the Town Hall which is the only action that permanently removes Characters from your collection. The Town Hall action requires one or two character tiles of your choosing to activate. When you take the action, move one or both of your Character Tiles from the Town Hall to any free appropriate space on the Beneficial Deeds Board. You receive a bonus of coins or Development Points, whichever is appropriate where you have placed your characters. Once these Characters have been placed in the Beneficial Deeds Board, they are there to stay and do not go back to your bag.
So for the most part that is the game, there are some other smaller rules, but we won’t get into those here. Such as penalties if you can’t pay for Census or Taxes. But at the end of the game points are tallied and the winner is whomever has the most. Coins gathered are worth 1 point a piece. Goods are worth varied points from 1 point for Grain to 5 points for Brocade. Your Trading Stations and Citizen Tiles are added together, with the person who has built the most Trading Posts getting the bonus Citizen Tiles. That total is then multiplied by your Development Status point. Add all that together and that’s your points for the game.
Orleans is by no means a heavy, thinky game, but it is an absolute joy to play. The bag building works perfectly here and with the deluxe version there is really nice tactile feeling to pulling your characters from your bag. Now, as with any game that has you randomly pulling things from a bag, there is a certain bit of luck to the game in the drawing and I’ve been on the wrong side of that luck a handful of times and it can be downright frustrating, but with Orleans, there are so many ways to mitigate and so many different things you can do, that will still allow you to progress towards your ultimate goal of more victory points.
I like how the designer has integrated a “culling” mechanic in this and made it a benefit to do in more ways than one, because along with thinning your bag and allowing you to get the character pulls you need, you can also gain benefits by culling them to the Good Deeds board. It’s a nice touch, rather than just sluffing them off like some deck builders where the only benefit you gain from it is that it’s no longer a part of your deck or in this instance, draw bag.
I’ve heard rumors and folks saying the game is broke, but I kind of feel like I’m doing the game a disservice by even bringing it up, because I have yet to see it in our games. Our strategies have been varied and minus one game where Gabby wasn’t all that competitive at the end, all our games have been tightly competitive in the scoring department. It can be a bit point salad-y, and it can honestly it’s more than a bit multiplayer solitaire, especially in the lower player counts, but with more players there are a couple ways to interact or at least negatively affect what your opponents want to do rather than just being a free for all. Honestly, that’s my biggest gripe, it’s too solitary and I like multiplayer solitaire games for the most part, but Orleans just screams for some interaction, some blocking, some honest to goodness meanness, something to push it into that Top 10 of mine. So while I do enjoy Orleans quite a bit, it’s missing that one thing, maybe that’s a good thing, I’d hate to have to bump one of my Top 10 games out of the Top 10, but it could happen.
I wonder what Orleans Invasion brings to the game.
And I do recommend the Deluxe version, while some may say the cardboard chits for the goods are easier to randomly pull from a bag to put on the map, I don’t care, the deluxe bits are fantastic. But, if you can’t, or don’t want to spend the extra money on the Deluxe version, go ahead with the regular, I don’t think you can go wrong here.
So, this past week I was a guest on Docking Bay 94-The Board Game Reviewers Podcast. I had a great time recording with Jason Hancock and Jason Washburn. I learned a lot in doing this, hopefully learned things that I can bring forward into our small podcast.
But anyway, in Episode 14 of the DB94 podcast we talked about games we’ve been playing(imagine that), we talked Kickstarter and we talked a bit about our experiences at GenCons past and what’s in store for GenCant 2015! Was a fun episode to record, and I think that comes through in the podcast.
Give it a listen and if you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to Docking Bay 94 for more great episodes in the future!
Happy 4th of July weekend to everyone and welcome to week 32, I hope that everyone enjoyed the weekend. We had one of our really light gaming weeks, instead of gaming we went to a carnival, rode some rides, ate some food that is really bad for us on Friday. We followed that up on Saturday with a family Bar-b-que and lots of pool time. I did bring board games to that, but it rarely happens that I get to play when I go to my parent’s house, but I always bring them, so I re-read the rulebook to Thunder Alley and Baseball Highlights 2045 in hopes of getting them back to the table soon. After all that, it was fireworks, a couple games and then sleep. You all are mostly here to hear about the games, so let’s get to it!
Arboretum continues to see plays, which makes me quite happy, I was kind of worried that after the push to get a review of it out that it would suffer a bit and possibly get lost, but Gabby saved it as we played a couple games this week. First one was kind of our typical two player game, but Gabby kind of fell asleep and wasn’t paying enough attention to what I was doing and that allowed me to score 35 points to win 35-11. 35 is the highest point total we’ve recorded yet and I really don’t foresee us exceeding that unless someone just blanks out like Gabby did this time. Second match was on Saturday evening after the fireworks and my brain had kind of shut down towards the end. I had everything set up and was going to score a huge Dogwood path, but for some reason I just dropped the wrong card into the discard pile and Gabby was awake enough to pick it up and hold me from scoring that path. I still had enough to win 17-14, but it was a lot closer than our scores have been. In two player games, Gabby has a habit of over concentrating on one tree path in hopes of getting all 8 in a path, but most of the time, I am usually lucky enough to draw a card of that suit and just hold it the entire game and that happened again this time. But she is thinking outside the box a bit more and more as we play and stringing together paths a bit more that weave around a bit, using different tree types. She’ll get me soon I think.
Star Realms has slowed down a bit, I think partially because I am frustrated sitting at level 9, anytime I put together a run I get knocked right back down. In the league I am sitting at 2-4, got off to a rough start with a couple games where I just couldn’t buy anything, one game I think I had about 8 bases and only 2 ships, it was the worst game I think I have been a part of, my opponent just had to keep pounding on bases and buying all the ships and eventually had more than enough fire power to knock me out. Since then though things have been fairly even. This is just one of those frustrating things about the game for me, especially playing online, just seems that sometimes the algorithms don’t want you to get the cards that you are looking for. But thank you all for the challenges, once again I will always play and if I lose I will shoot a rematch, if I win, I always leave it up to you.
That’s all we played this week, not a whole lot of variety, but we had a whole lot of fun with what we played, two plays of Arboretum and at least fifteen plays of JurassAttack, not to mention the Star Realms.
Podcasts in my Ears
It’s been a bit since I have talked about the podcasts that I have been listening to, and I really should remedy that, so what better time than right now to do so. Over the past week I listened to a few podcasts, I enjoyed the most recent Dukes of Dice podcast where they wrapped up their time at Dice Tower Con which was a lot of fun to follow along with on Twitter. Tony and Edward over on Heavy Cardboard gave us their first interview episode where they got to quiz the two fine gentlemen who run Splotter Spellen and they also gave us a quick rundown of a game that I really want to try out, Brew Crafters. We had a fantastic episode of the Low Player Count podcast this week where they talked about dummy players in games, I couldn’t help but be a bit offended every time they referred to me as a dummy player. Punching Cardboard got me to try out a jazz album and I was quite surprised that I managed to listen to it most of the way through. Give a listen to The Epic from Kamasi Washington if you want to have something in your ears that is probably a bit different than what you normally listen to, well at least different for me. And I still want to get a copy of Kraftwagen. Other than that, I started a couple oddball podcasts that are new to me and not of the board game variety, I started Welcome to Night Vale, which I kind of describe as Twin Peaks’ public radio station and I also started Coverville, which is just a podcast about musical covers. This one has a HUGE backlog for me to dig through and enjoy. I just opened my podcast app on my phone and I saw that on Sunday evening I now have 21 podcasts in my queue to download, my ears will be begging for mercy by Friday, thank you all for keeping me sane.
Nothing new to back on Kickstarter last week, although I will be backing JurassAttack! when it hits on Friday the 10th of July. While I was writing out the notes to the podcast, The Gallerist finished it’s funding run on Kickstarter. Backers on Kickstarter put it at $83k and according to the update after funding, worldwide it hit $119k, which is pretty fantastic for a game from Vital Lacerda as I imagine it’s quite a bit different than what a lot of folks are used to playing, but it looks fantastic and Eagle Gryphon seems confident that here in the states we should see it around October barring any production or shipping issues. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Carson City keeps chugging along with over $165k in US dollars funded with 9 days left in that one. They had a survey sent out to backers about whether folks were wanting to add metal coins to the game and whether they would be willing to do so at an added cost to the backers and while I think the vote may have been closer than they led us to believe, I think the right choice was made to not add them to the game and risk delays and added cost, I’m planning on picking up some nice poker chips for this one anyway. Hocus continues to chug along to $14k in funding with 18 days to go, I love that the game has no stretch goals, I can just push pledge and sit back and wait for updates without worrying about them, I’m sure Joshua and Grant probably feel the same way. Although it is really cool that we’ll all get a nice wooden first player marker to go with the game due to the support they have received so far. In far more saddening news, after I cleared some money by dropping my pledge for Epic, Monster Truck Mayhem was cancelled. It was really struggling and I’m really kind of at a loss as to why, fantastic looking game production and a horribly fun theme from a proven company should have meant no issues, but I just wonder if the lack of stretch goals and a super busy June/July hurt this one.
Nothing, nada, zilch. Only game that came to my doorstep was JurassAttack! and that’s probably a good thing, this section will definitely see some action next week though as I know of at least two games that are showing up, and one is kind of a surprise to me that I decided to pull the trigger, we’ll see how it goes over.
Geeklist and Forums
Was a lot of fun seeing Arboretum get so much action in the Geeklist last week, I hope that we’ve made you all who haven’t played it feel like you should. It really is a fantastic game. Was also really awesome to read the Dice Tower Convention wrap ups from folks who went, looks like you all had a fantastic time and got to play a lot of fun games with some great people! I’m really itching to get a copy of Royals as soon as it’s available from Dice Tower Essentials. Once again, every time I see Mage Knight on the table I get a pang of jealousy, I really need to just bite the bullet and learn it and play it a couple nights back to back to try to keep it all in my head. Landfall at Storm Con looked like a rousing success to me. I’m so back and forth over Marco Polo and this week’s geeklist didn’t do much to help me decide. Another couple middling reviews of Nations The Dice Game on the geeklist keep pushing it further down my wishlist and that kind of makes me sad, I was really looking forward to this one, but the good thing is, Stockpile keeps moving up! Lots of Spyfall I hope everyone is really enjoying it, I am not so envious that they have the game in as much as I am envious that you have a big enough regular group to play it with. Was awesome to see Keith’s Takenoko Collector’s Edition show up as as his birthday gift, love that game and presentation, wish we got it to the table more often. If you noticed Patrick Hillier missing from the geeklist last week, it’s because he was in the hospital, he’s home now but still recovering so send him some good thoughts and prayers to try to help speed up that recovery. Great week everyone!! Let’s do it again this week.
Next week for the podcast I am thinking about doing a list of games that I am looking forward to learning more about once Gencon comes around. I won’t be attending it this year, but I always love living vicariously through Eric Martin’s geeklist on Board Game Geek and through all the folks over on Twitter that just love to rub it in that they are there and we aren’t. But hey, we can’t be too angry, we’ve got #GenCant again this year. I’m trying to come up with a way that I can help with the festivities but thus far I am drawing a blank, hopefully something comes to mind soon as it’s really approaching rather quickly. Also next week I am hoping to play something with a bit more meat on it’s bones with Kerensa so I can get her back on here to talk a bit about gaming, along with AnnaBeth who I think is going to review something for us. She actually recorded a podcast on an old iPhone we have laying around where she reviewed One Night Ultimate Werewolf so I am hoping to be able to save that and salvage some from it, but also I want to get her on the mic and let her go and see what she has to say.
Without further ramblings, I will say goodnight and I’ll see you all on the Geek, Twitter and Facebook this week!!
This preview is also in audio form on Week 32 of the WDYPTW Podcast at the 3:49 mark.
If you follow me on Twitter or on Facebook, you know that our family has been playing a new two player game from Green Couch Games. A couple weeks ago Jason Kotarski contacted us and asked if we wanted to preview a little two player dinosaur fighting game that was going on Kickstarter on July 10th. If you remember, we enjoyed previewing and ultimately backing Best Treehouse Ever, their previous offering, so I jumped at the chance to preview and let you all know how we felt about their newest game to come to Kickstarter, JurassAttack!.
It arrived in the mail this week on Monday. I sat down and read the rules over lunch and I was kind of curious as to how it would work. The instructions read like it was just a variation of War with variable card powers. So I was wondering if this one would be as fun as I was hoping. In JurassAttack each player has a deck of 27 cards, each card is either one of 7 different dinosaurs or Eggs. Each different dinosaur species card has a special power that they can use, it has their Ferocity in the upper left hand corner and their value in victory points at the end of the game in the bottom right. Eggs are strictly victory points that you or your opponent can win. Each player starts with a hand of 5 cards and on your turn, you pick a dinosaur or a pack of dinosaurs from your hand and place them face down in front of you.
A pack of dinosaurs can consist of the same species of dinosaurs or dinosaurs and eggs. There are also specific rules on some cards that allow for dinosaurs to be packed. After you have placed your cards face down in front of you, your opponent places their choice in front of them and then, if you are like us, on the count of three you both reveal your dinosaurs and your dinosaurs “fight”. When you reveal your dinosaurs you are comparing the ferocity level of your chosen Dinosaurs and the highest total wins. Whomever wins takes their opponents dinosaurs and place them in a victory point pile and then they take the dinosaurs that they played and place them in a discard pile. Any eggs that were played also go into the victory pile. After that, the loser of that round draws their hand back up to five, the winner does not, in fact if the winner has no cards in their hand they only draw one card to play next hand. The next round starts with the winner of the previous round being the first to lay their cards down so their opponent can see how many they have played. That’s it, the game ends when one player has no more cards to play from their hand and has no cards left in their draw pile. Each player then counts the victory points in their victory point pile and the highest total wins the game.
The Card Backs
JursassAttack! looks to be the first published game from Ryan Cowler and I believe he has a nice, light, fun game on his resume with this one. The cards, even in pre-production format, are fantastic. I love the art and design on them, and I also love that they are tarot sized, it is about dinosaur fighting after all, so the cards should be bigger than normal, right? The play is quick, which is kind of important in this as it isn’t meant to be a big full game, it’s a fun directly confrontational filler that plays in about 10-15 minutes or so and there are some good opportunities for bluffing your opponent. There are some choices to be made, do I run out of cards here by playing a big pack, or do I hold back and keep a couple just in case. The fight over eggs kind of seems to take a back seat to the dinosaur fighting sometimes, but we’ve had more than a couple matchups that came down to that one point difference so the Eggs did make a difference. The variety of the dinosaurs is pretty nice and the powers that each have can be useful and fun if played at the right time to get the best advantage. I’ve had a good time playing with my 11 year old who has really shown a liking to it, but she lives for games with direct confrontation and our 5 year old has had fun with it as well even though she can’t read everything on the cards. We kind of taught her beforehand who can pack with whom and what each dinosaur can do and she has had a lot of fun with it, even got the two girls playing together without my wife or I encouraging it, so it’s a winner based on that alone. JurassAttack! will be hitting Kickstarter on July 10th and just know that even though we’ll happily be playing our demo copy for quite a while, we will be backing this one to get a production copy as well, can’t wait to see what Green Couch Games does with the production on this one.
Welcome to week 31, a week that turned out to be a pretty active gaming week surprisingly, I kind of figured there would be a bit of a fall off after last week but there wasn’t.
Week started out with a Board Game Arena session on Monday night with the Bullock’s, Bill Corey and Scott Wholley. I was introduced to the wonderful set collection game Coloretto which we flew through a couple times with Bill winning one and Jordan winning the other. Kind of an interesting little game, something that would probably get a bit of love around here if we had a copy, wonder who I should talk to in order to solve that dilemma. After that we played a four player game of Takenoko, I absolutely love Takenoko but it’s been about a year since it hit the table so I had to remember a couple small things that I had forgotten, but all was good and fun with Kimberly winning this one on the tiebreaker over Bill with 32 points, kind of low scoring if memory serves me correctly but it certainly was fun. Then Thursday night we had another short impromptu session with Jared and Todd joining Kimberly and myself for a rousing game of Stone Age. I still haven’t played Stone Age face to face, I’ve only tackled it a couple times on Board Game Arena, and it’s a fun little game, but I need to remember that if I am not going to rush through a stack of buildings before the others can stock up on some nice cards, I should probably hop into the card bonus game as well. I triggered the end game and Todd and Jaren blew past me with their bonuses, with Jared pulling out the win with 126 points, 30 ahead of me. After that Scott joined us for a 3 player game of Can’t Stop in which my superior strategic mind became one with the dice and we won. I love this game, it’s so random and goofy and can lead to some really fun moments. That’s about as active as I have been on Board Game Arena in a long time, 5 games in a week brought me up to 23 total plays on the site in spite of me being a member over there for three years. Hoping I can continue to play more games on there, and I really hope to pick up Polis and get a game of it played online in a learning game, but really with 75 games to play, both in real time and in turn based, there are a ton of games over there to learn without taking the plunge into buying before trying.
End of Last Will on our table
So, last week on the podcast I mentioned trying to get Gabby to play “heavier” games, and in doing so I mentioned Last Will. It was rightfully pointed out to me that Last Will really isn’t a heavy game, but what I kind of meant by that is that I want to get Gabby playing games that she hasn’t played before and maybe have different mechanisms or different ways of playing than she is used to, she’s kind of become the old gamer of our family group, she doesn’t want to learn new games as much as she used to, she just wants to play what she knows and likes. But anyway, on Friday morning I saw a tweet from Paul Grogan, asking if anyone wanted to take a look at his new Last Will rules overview video and check it for audio and graphical issues, so of course I offered to check it out and in the meantime I got to refresh my brain on it in hopes of getting it to the table. Well it turns out that Gabby and her cousin had plotted out a sleepover so no Gabby at the house, so I corralled Kerensa into playing it with me as a learning game. Last Will is at its heart an economic game where the object is to lose all of your money instead of gaining as much as possible. This is done through some Action Point Allowance, Worker Placement and tableau building mechanics. At the start of the round, the players choose their plan, this plan sets how many cards the players will draw, how many helpers the players will get to use and how many actions they get on top of any actions granted by cards in their tableau. Players can use their helpers to gain new cards, they can adjust the real estate prices, they can go to the opera for a couple bucks or they can add a new space to their tableau. After the helpers are done, players then use their allotted actions to place cards into their tableau or activate cards already in their tableau in order to spend money. You play six rounds to the game, and if no one declares bankruptcy by the end of the 6th round, you play one more round and whomever has the least amount of cash is the winner. I left a lot out of the description there, like the card types and such, but I think that covers the basics of how the game is played. I quite enjoyed this one and in our game I only had one property and let it depreciate as far down as I could before I just started spending money for upkeep. Kerensa on the other hand had three total properties at one time or another during the game, including two farms, so she was doing more of a real estate juggle than I was, but in the long run, both of us ended up declaring bankruptcy in the 6th round, with Kerensa winning by being in the hole one more dollar than I was. I really enjoyed playing this one, but just like any other game that Kerensa and I tackle for the first time, the game time on the box is just mocking us, I’d say it took us a good 2 1/2 hours or so to play it, sure there were rules and iconography to look up and even a couple AnnaBeth or dog interruptions, but we took a long time. So I am really looking forward to playing this one now that we know the rules and how it plays a bit more, and I’m hoping that Gabby is willing to join in with us as I think she’ll have fun with it too, especially if we get into the theme of it a bit more as the rules and mechanics move to the background in our heads. So thank you Paul, for helping me get Last Will off of the shelf and onto the table.
(As soon as the video is out and available, I will post it here for all to see as Paul does fantastic work)
Saturday was filled with Farmer’s Market fun and culling out old clothes for the donation bins. But on Saturday evening we went over to Brad and Kate’s house for some grilling and a game. We were all set for a 5 player game of Transylvania: Curses and Traitors but Kate and Brad’s little one was a bit fussy so Kate stepped out and it became a 4 player game. Transylvania: Curses and Traitors is a Thematic, exploration and adventure game where the group of explorers are trying to collect the right combinations of knowledge cards and get back to the Church, or kill a monster to win the game. What are these monsters? Well during the game, there is always a chance that the players could turn into one of three monsters, either a vampire, a werewolf or a zombie, if that happens, the monsters need to kill half of the players in order to win. Throughout the game players are exploring to new areas and expanding the map, when a new tile is put down, tokens are placed in specified spots that the explorers can make checks against in order to draw discover cards which is one way to find the knowledge cards that you need to collect. There are also events that can happen and you’ll have to roll checks against to overcome the effects that could happen due to the event. In our game I was the Hero, Kerensa was the Inventor, Gabby was the Big Game Hunter and Brad was the Witch Hunter, well, at least that’s what everyone started out as.
Gabby was the first to turn and she became the zombie. Her first move was to teleport to me due to a horrible item that I had to equip, some stinking necklace that allowed me extra health, but also allowed the monsters to teleport to me once per game. So she came at me and hit me pretty good, but never could follow that up with another attack as I could out run her, next to go was Brad and he changed into the vampire and next to go was Kerensa who turned into a werewolf, so there was the hero, all alone and on the run. I had some space, but the bad thing was, I couldn’t draw the right combination of knowledge cards to get back to the church to win and I was hurt from encountering Gabby’s zombie so I didn’t think my best course of action was to take it to one of the monsters, so I ran, but eventually Brad killed me. I thought the game was over, but Brad informed me that for the monster to win, they have to kill half the players, so he needed to kill me another time. So I respawned as another hero on the church tile and I tried to run in circles for a bit to discover knowledge cards, but the dice failed me and Kerensa got me this time rather quickly. Okay so now the game is over, right? Nope, now Kerensa and Brad both needed to kill me another time, because this isn’t a co-op, so I respawn and this time I respawned as the Templar, pretty good attack but low movement, so I figure I am completely out of it now, with the werewolf and the vampire both breathing down my neck. So on my turn I do a bit of exploring around the Church tile and I find the Bible! Perfect card as it gives me +6 to attack since there are three monsters out on the board, the tide shifted to me. Brad was already hurt and didn’t want to come into the church to get me, as after taking his 2 damage for entering the church tile he’d be down to 2 health points, so he opted to let the Werewolf come at me. She rolled her 10 dice and got 12 pts damage, I rolled my 11 dice and got 19, enough to kill the werewolf and win the game as the lone hero. For those of you who listen to the podcast or know a bit about what we normally play as a family, you know that this isn’t our normal fare. Brad and Kate backed this one on Kickstarter after playing it at Geekway last year and finally had it show up after a bit of a shipping debacle a couple weeks ago. Brad and Kate were wanting to play it so we agreed to give it a run, and we enjoyed it quite a bit. Well, technically Kerensa and I did, Gabby fell asleep a bit after turning into a zombie so we just kind of played her character for her the rest of the game. I was into it, even enough that I think I was kind of annoying everyone else. But hey, that just meant I was having fun. Now, while I enjoyed it, I know a big part of that is the way the game ended and how the dice were in my favor, if that had flipped I would have still enjoyed the game for the most part, but I may not have been as happy with it. It’s thematic, it’s fun but like anything with dice, they can turn on you at a moment’s notice and ultimately I don’t like being out of control like that too often, although maybe I should as I seem to lose quite a few games where there is little to no luck involved. Glad this one is around and I look forward to playing it again, and this time I hope that Kate gets to sit down with us and play.
Final map right after I flipped the last tile
The winning hero and her Bible
After that it was midnight and everyone was ready for some sleep, even those who were already asleep, so we packed up and headed home to rest up.
Sunday so far has only consisted of some goofing off with AnnaBeth and Gabby with One Night Ultimate Werewolf and a two player game of Arboretum. The One Night Ultimate Werewolf doesn’t necessarily really get played, even though AnnaBeth understands the rules, she has issues with being the Werewolf to the point where if she gets the werewolf to start, we have to re-deal out cards, but hey, she’s just 5 years old so I go with it. Sooner or later she’ll understand that the werewolf is actually the most fun to play in this game. As for the game of Arboretum, I think it is one that Gabby would rather forget as I beat her 31-0. I thought I may have had a chance to break her high score, which is 31, but she managed to knock me out of scoring one small path so I was stuck with only tying the high score. I think she was a bit aggravated that she got shut out, but I reminded her that I’ve scored 2 points before, which is basically like being skunked as well.
The acquisition section is blank this week, I’m trying to watch what I spend on gaming over the next couple months as I know these Kickstarters are going to fund pretty soon and I can’t really afford to be adding other games as well. But, once the last Kickstarter currently on my list funds, there are a couple that I am really looking forward to picking up and trying out. Currently I’m eyeing Historia and I would love to pick up a copy of Glen More if I can find an affordable copy.
So the first news here is that I did indeed drop our backing of Epic. The more updates we received of it, the more I could see it never getting played. It’s not a game that Kerensa would take to, at least it doesn’t look like one and I don’t know how much Gabby would want to play it either. I think Brad and Kate would enjoy it so I am hoping they at least pick up a box as I’d love to try it, just don’t think that we need to have our own physical copy of it. With 52 hours left as of time of writing out the podcast, the project was closing in on $410k, so obviously they don’t need my help and I may not know what I am going to be missing. I am holding steady on The Gallerist and on Carson City, they don’t really need my help either, but there is no way that I am missing these two games this time around. The Gallerist is still going strong in spite of the kerfuffle that popped up between Martin Wallace and Eagle Gryphon Games over the rights to produce Brass. Thankfully the funding for The Gallerist keeps going up and they’ve even added a couple new art stretch goals, one with a fantastic story behind it, be sure to check the forums on Board Game Geek for that one if you are interested. It’s hard to tell just how well the campaign is going as Eagle Gryphon is running multiple campaigns for it around the world, but the Kickstarter campaign is at almost $56k at the moment and reported on the 26th to be over $75k for the campaign in total. Carson City keeps on chugging along with 16 days left in the campaign and currently sitting right at $138k, not much to add about the campaign, currently just working on the final listed stretch goal and on the 26th they announced a contest for backers to get a face on one of the personalities in the game, but Kickstarter doesn’t allow contests so everything about this is up in limbo at the moment, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. The new Kickstarter of the week for me is the initial game from Hyperbole Games, Hocus. Hocus is a card game for 2-5 players that plays in 30 minutes. The origin of the idea was: “what would poker be like with spells?” Hocus is about using your unique spells, carefully managing the cards in your hands, and scoring big when your opponents aren’t watching. Be sure to check out the Kickstarter page on this one, it’s affordable at $15 with free shipping in the continental United States and it looks like it’s a lot of fun. It’s got a bit of a wait to get delivered, but all backers over $5 do get the high resolution print n play files so you can play it a bit while you wait. Oh, and it is already funded and sitting a little over $8k, but with this one you there are no stretch goals as they basically put all of their stretch goals already in the game for the price you pay, there may be some extra goodies down the road, but right now, Hocus is what you see.
A little slower week in the Geeklist and thread, I am going to assume that’s because everyone was getting ready for a big week this week. I do expect to see at least a couple good Dice Tower Convention write-ups, I believe that Steph was down there, and probably more that will pop up. Lots of great games talked about in the geeklist, saw a play of Carson City from Jon, who also posted a really nice photo of some bunk beds he’s made, awesome work! Lots of hexes on that front page from Battlelore and Clash of Cultures and then some circles with some bright Aquasphere. Still have not seen a copy of it in the wild to get a play. Scott got a play of Polis in, looks like it was on Board Game Arena, so maybe I’ll have to poke around for some tips from him just in case I ever get a play in! Sarah had a ton of plays in, and kicked my rear end more than a couple times in Star Realms, so just know, a couple of those wins she listed are against me. Spyfall is starting to get some geeklist and thread love, if I had a big enough group to regularly play this it’d be in the collection already, but as it is, I have too many big group games that don’t get played enough, but it looks like a ton of fun. Even Scattergories is getting some love! I went and tried to get a copy of Spinderella thanks to Scott, but by the time I got over to Amazon.de it wasn’t going to be in stock again until September, even had a copy of The Game in the shopping cart until I noticed that date!! Lots of great games this week folks, I have no doubt that this week will be just as good!
In a broad term, an Abroretum is a collection of trees, modern times it has become a term to describe a botanical garden dedicated to trees and woody plants. Even more modern is the 2-4 player hand management, set collection, card placing game from Dan Cassar and Z-Man Games. In Arboretum players compete against each other building the Arboretum that will score them the most points. Sporting a small box that contains 80 cards, 10 different tree varieties (or suits) with 8 cards in each and a 30ish minute play time, Arboretum packs a lot of punch.
Arboretum’s gameplay is deceptively simple. Each player starts with a hand of 7 cards and a discard pile. On each player’s turn they do three things. They draw two cards, they can draw from the draw pile or they can draw from the top of one of the discard piles on the table, including their own. You can mix and match these draws, one from a discard pile and the next from a different discard pile or the draw pile or some variation of that, as long as you draw two cards. Next you play one of your cards in front of you to create your Arboretum. In subsequent turns when you place a card in your Arboretum you have to place it adjacent to one of the previous cards that have been played. Next you discard a card from your hand face up onto your discard pile. The game continues this way until the draw pile is out of cards and the player who exhausted the draw deck finishes their turn. That’s it, that’s how you play the game, the real trick in Arboretum comes in how you score your points.
The tricky part, the true gameplay of Arboretum is how it’s scored and what the players can do to influence who scores points and who doesn’t. First off, players have to gain the right to score a path that they have built. To do this, the players go down the list of tree types/suits and everyone compares who has the highest sum of those cards in their hand, the highest sum gets to score that suit if they have a path of at least two in their Arboretum. There is one exception to this rule, if a player has the eight of a tree type in their hand and another player has the 1 of the same tree type in their hand, the value eight is reduced to a zero and the person with the one card wins the right to score. If no player has a card of a particular suit in their hands then everyone who has a path of that suit gains the right to score as well.
Now, you may be asking yourself, well, I know how to gain the right to score paths, but how do I really score them. In order for a path to be scored each card in that path must be greater in value than the one preceding it. So because of this, the smallest path that can be scored is a two card path of the same color and the longest would be an eight card path that must start with a one and end with an eight. In order to create a path though, the only cards that have to match are the first and the last card of the path, the color of the cards in between only matter in determining the value of the path, but they do still have to be in ascending order. Now that we’ve established what a path has to consist of, you score a path by giving one point for each card in a path, you gain an additional point for each card in the path if it is a path that is at least four cards in length and they are all of the same tree type/suit. Additionally you score 1 point if the path begins with a one card and you score two additional points if the path ends with an eight. In the event of a tie the player with the most different tree types/suits in their Arboretum wins, if at that point it’s still a tie both players will plant a tree and wait five years, the player’s tree that is the tallest at that point is declared the winner(I love that tiebreaker).
So, I really dig Arboretum. I don’t know that there are many games that can give this kind of feel with this small of a footprint, sure the footprint while playing can be a bit overwhelming, but the footprint in the box is super small. It’s really a constant tug of war, if I pick this up and play this, then I am left with this to discard, but I don’t want to discard that because someone else is looking for that card and they can still use it. Thirty minutes of this kind of thinking can probably wear on some players though, the constant decisions could cause folks who tend to overthink everything to bog down quite a bit. Having played it at all player counts, I have to say that I prefer the three and four player games, although I will always play two player as well, but that’s mainly because Gabby really likes playing it this way. With two players the luck of the draw seems a bit more prevalent and it becomes more of a solitairish kind of game to me. You know every discard is potentially wanted by your opponent across from you because you aren’t building anything of that suit, so it ends up being more of a card counting situation and discard the one that hurts the least. Also in two player I’ve seen you just get every card out there in a suit, discard the wrong card early in the turn and your opponent scoops it up and gets every good draw thereafter setting up a huge score on one path which is awfully hard to overcome. That’s about all that I can come up with negative about the game and a lot of people won’t even see those as negatives. As far as the components go, the card stock is pretty nice and the rulebook is well put together and on a nice looking, thick stock. The insert works perfectly and holds the game nicely, even horizontally as long as you have the score pad in with it to hold everything in place. This game is just calling for a nice digital scoring app, so someone with more skills than I should get on that with Z-Man.
Be sure to check out the Week 31 Podcast with my thoughts and also Kerensa’s thoughts on Arboretum.
You may be asking why this one is being numbered 25 ½, I’m doing that because I am just going to do a real short episode tonight and release it so folks don’t forget me over the week, then next week I’ll do the big Geekway wrap up, this gives me all week to get together with Kerensa, Gabby and AnnaBeth, plus see if I can get anyone else to talk about Geekway with me, to top it all off though, I am just one worn out human being. I tried recording a little bit as I went through Geekway but it didn’t turn out very usable so I’m just going to do it all over from home. I will be doing a geeklist about Geekway 2015 on board game geek, and that will be up this week at some point, but the main event will be next week’s podcast.
I’ll say that we played about 30 games over the 4 days, you always think that number is going to be higher, but then you have to factor in the fact that you just can’t sit in the same spot every hour playing game after game, you gotta get up and move and eat and sleep and drink and see the fountains. Of the games I wanted to play, only Arkwright didn’t get a chance, and that was just because it wouldn’t have been fair to the other players if I had a kid emergency or something of that nature, really wish I could have done that as I know the person teaching it would have done a fantastic job and I’m envious of the others who got to play with him as they got to learn it from one of the better teachers I’ve played with at Geekway. There were a few folks I didn’t get to meet that I hope to get to meet at future Geekways or maybe even at DieCon in June if I get to head up that way.
I will do a brief acquisitions section since I did pick up some games while at Geekway, mostly from the Math Trade. Gabby picked up the Adventure Time Card Game starter box and Cardline Globetrotter. In the math trade I walked away with Blue Moon Legends, Asgard, Toledo and Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age. Also, because Geekway is an awesome convention, everyone who has a pass gets a free game, so I ended up getting the Uncanny X-Men Dice Masters Set, Gabby got Rise of Augustus and Kerensa got High Command. Oh and someone walked up and handed me their copy of Sedition Wars that they got but ended up not wanting. So once again, I came back from Geekway with more games than I left with, for the 3rd year in a row.
Did you know that Wombats poop cubes? I didn’t either, but Eagle-Gryphon Games and designer Matt Wolfe are going to teach you that they do indeed poop cubes in their new game called Wombat Rescue. Apparently the science community believes that they do this since they can’t see well, and have to use their sense of smell to navigate their environment, and you can’t have your navigation system rolling all over the place, so Wombats have adapted to poop cubes to prevent the movement. In Wombat Rescue you play as Mom Wombat and you are trying to save your four wombat babies who were scattered after the horrible dingo raided your burrow. To lead your babies back you have to use your poop cubes to help the poor baby wombats navigate their way back to safety.
This one hit Kickstarter on the 15th of May, right smack dab in the middle of Geekway for me, but I did make sure to be a backer as soon as I heard it was live as I’ve been anxious to try this one out since I heard it mentioned over a year ago on a couple podcasts after an UnPub event. As a matter of fact this one was on my Top 10 list of games I am looking forward to this year, way back in episode 4. Which also reminds me that I need to find my way over to the Stronghold Games website and get my pre-order of Dark Moon in!!