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

First Play Thoughts on Carson City-Big Box

Carson City Big Box First Play Thoughts


Carson City 8

Carson City Big Box was a very successful Kickstarter in 2015 for Quined Games. Carson City itself was released back in 2009, to some modicum of praise and success, but never enough to get reprints here in the United States. So this work of Xavier Georges kept going up in price on the secondary market to the point where the ones who would really enjoy it, weren’t going to be spending that much to buy it. So along comes Quined Games, who I believe had a part in initial printings, and they create the Carson City Big Box, which included both expansions for the game and improved the bits in the box 100 fold all for about the price that some were asking for the original at that point. Being a huge Xavier Georges fan, Ginkgopolis is honestly either my number one or two game, just depends on the day of the week. Add on top of that  the fantastic Troyes and Tournay and you know why Carson City was numero uno on my Grail List and is now thankfully in my collection.

Game set up and ready to start
Game set up and first round begun

So, first off, what exactly is the game of Carson City all about? Well, Carson City is really a mish mash of mechanics that I love, you have role selection at the beginning of each of the 4 rounds. You have worker placement, or rather Cowboy or Cowgirl placement. You have tile laying and even a little bit of Area Control and some dice rolling to help with the duels. That’s right I said duels, but more about those later. In Carson City, you are going to be using those mechanics to the best of your ability to build the city of Carson City. It takes hard work to build a city in the Wild West, and you need mines, ranches, saloons and other buildings, but you also have to be quick to claim the right parcel in order to best strike it rich from your careful planning.

Getting closer to the end
Getting closer to the end of Round 4

In a round the players will start off the round in turn order choosing a role. These roles will determine the turn order of the current round, they’ll give the players a specific ability during the round and they will also limit how much cash they can carry over to the next round. After role selection the players take turns placing their cowboys or cowgirls on the action track to take specific actions, or place their cowboys on parcels of land to claim them, or they could even place their cowboys on other players properties in order to steal income from them. Remember those aforementioned duels? Well, in Carson City you don’t block others from taking actions by taking that spot, the other players are welcome to come in and try to take the right to that spot away from you in a duel. The winner of the duel gets to take the action and the loser goes home if they are lucky. The action spots allow the collection of income, the purchasing of plots and buildings and also the ability to turn resources into victory points.  When you claim a parcel of land, you usually do so in order to build on it in the future. Building will produce income and score differently based on what surrounds them and what the specific building wants to be around, like the Ranch, which wants empty parcels all around it, or the mines that need to be built next to mountains. Over four rounds of this your version of Carson City will come to life before your very eyes, roads leading to new areas of the town, drugstores and hotels popping up in the busiest sections.

End of the game Kate had 53, I had 43 and Brad had 26
End of the game Kate had 53, I had 43 and Brad had 26

The first printings of this game had the mountains and buildings strictly as tiles, but in this new upgraded edition we get beautiful components made of wood, nice mountains, houses, roads, guns and even horses. The original game was still fantastic looking with tiles, but the wooden bits give it a bit of that something extra.

Houses and Mountains
Houses and Mountains

I really enjoyed my play on Saturday night, and I think that Brad and Kate did as well. Brad had a couple issues in the 3rd and 4th rounds due to not understanding something I had said about the rules and that in turn caused some bad planning to happen, but we re-wound the game as best we could and helped him fix it up. Still, he finished a distant third with his mostly mining company. Throughout the game I thought the duels would come more into play, but I guess with 3 players the duels may not play as big of a role, I think we had 3 total duels over the 4 rounds and none of us tried to steal income from a building and that really may have helped me get a bit closer to Kate’s score of 53. But as it was I lost by 10. I’d really love to see this one with the full player count, just to see how it goes, the town has to fill up quickly and you’ll be more likely to interact with everyone else I think. We played the game with the basic first play setup, roles 1-7 and just the basic buildings. Next time I think we’ll randomize it up a little bit, while the basic roles were fine, you kind of got the feeling that their is more to the rest of the available roles that we didn’t see, plus each role card is double sided with a more “complex” ability on the other side.

All the STUFF!!
All the STUFF!!

Kerensa and I will probably play this as a two player game next and we’ll utilize the River side of the board to cut the board in half. I do worry about the amount of choices causing a little bit of Analysis Paralysis with her, but I think after a game or two she’ll fly right through it. While it can be a bit of a complex game, the rules are really easy to grasp and once those sink into the background the strategies and everything you need to do should come to the forefront. We have a tendency to play two player games a bit solitarish so I do worry that Carson City may lose a bit of that flair because of that, but who knows, I’ll certainly have fun finding out!

Look for more on Carson City in the weeks to come!!

Carson City Big Box

Teaching the Game-Patchwork

Patchwork

Patchwork Box

A game for 2 players from Uwe Rosenberg and published by Mayfair and Lookout Games

In Patchwork two players are competing to build the most appealing quilt on your personal 9×9 grid. In the game you are going to be purchasing patches using the buttons which serve as the currency in the game and placing them on the grid in hopes of filling the empty space as efficiently as possible. Those blank spaces will cost you in the end. The player who has the most buttons leftover at the end of the game, minus penalties will win the game and have quilted their patchwork masterpiece.

Setup

To start with, give each player their quilt board, either in green or yellow. Also give them their time token of the same color as their quilt board to be used on the Central Time board which you will set in the middle of the table and give each players five buttons to start with, while putting the rest of the buttons off to the side within easy reach. Each player will take their time token and place it on the starting space of the time board, the board is two sided, you can use either the spiral or the square, both have exactly the same number of spaces. Next take the thirty three regular patches and randomly place them in a circle around the time board, this circle will be fairly big so allow some room to spread out a bit when setting up. Next, find the smallest patch, it’s a size 1×2, when you locate it, place the neutral pawn token and place it between this patch and the next patch in clockwise order. Find the special 7×7 tile and sit it off to the side, place the special 1 space patches in their designated spaces on the time board. Decide on the first player, the rules say the player who last used a needle, and you are ready to play Patchwork.

Patchwork all set up and ready to play
Patchwork all set up and ready to play

Gameplay

In Patchwork the player turns are not necessarily going to alternate.  The player whose token is furthest back on the time track is going to be the active player, even if that player just had a turn. Sometimes that leads to multiple turns in a row for a player, which can be a pretty important strategy in the game. If ever both time tokens are on the same space the player whose token is on top goes first.

Okay, so now that that is settled, what exactly do you do on a turn?

Well, on your turn you take one of two possible actions, you can either advance your token along the time track until it is in the space directly in front of your opponent and take one button per space you have moved your time token OR You can purchase and place a patch on your player board. There are five steps to take when you purchase a patch.

First, you choose the patch, you can choose any one of the three patches that are in front of the neutral token in clockwise order.

Secondly, when you take a patch, you move the neutral token into the spot vacated by that patch.

Thirdly, you have to pay for that patch(What? You didn’t think they were free did you?). The cost of the patch is the indicated on the patch itself by the number to the left of the button icon.

Button cost
Button cost

The fourth step of this action is to actually place the patch on your player board. There is only really one rule to remember when placing your patch on your board and that is that your patches cannot overlap.  You may turn your patch however you like before placing it on your quilt board, just make sure you place it where you want it, because you aren’t going to be able to move it later.

Last thing you do after purchasing a patch is that you move your time token along the time track. The number spaces moved is indicated to the left of the hourglass symbol on the patch.

Time Cost
Time Cost

The Time Board has a couple special features that you need to remember. Remember on the board where you placed those special 1 spot patches? The first person to pass over a patch takes that patch and uses it on his player board. These one spot patches are pretty important, they are the only way to fill in those one spot holes that always magically appear on your player board.

1 spot tile on Time Board
1 spot Patch

Also, you may have noticed those buttons on the Time Board. Well, when you pass by a button on the Time Board, you get paid! You receive a number of buttons equal to the number of buttons on your patches on your player board.

Buttons That You Pass on the Time Board
Buttons That You Pass on the Time Board
Buttons on the Patch
Buttons on the Patch

Lastly, remember that special tile I said to sit off to the side, that tile is worth 7 buttons at the end of the game to the first player to completely fill a 7×7 sections of squares on their player board.

Example of a completed 7x7
Example of a completed 7×7

The game will end after both player’s Time Tokens end up on the last space of the Time Board. Your move ends on the last space on the board regardless if you still have extra time to count. Also, if you were to take the advance to receive buttons action you do only gain buttons equal to the actual number of spaces moved, you don’t get that one extra to jump ahead of the person already at the end.

Now, it’s time to score those masterpieces of patchwork quilting. Count up the number of buttons you have left in your supply, adding in the 7 bonus points for the special tile if you have rightfully earned that one.  Then, from that score, subtract 2 points for each empty space on your quilt board.

May the best quilter win!

 

 

Mahola Preview

Mahola is a 3-4 player card drafting game from SP Hansen Games. In it, the players are trying to put together the highest scoring Native American dance to win the round and ultimately be the first person to collect three wins.

The game of Mahola itself plays very easily. At the beginning of each round the players are dealt a special character card, there are four different ones in the game, the Shaman, the Maiden, the Hunter and the Chief. Each of these characters have a special ability that can alter your tableau of dances that you are building in front of you and they are kept secret from the other players until you reveal them at the end of the round before scoring. After everyone is dealt their character card, the dealer will then deal each player 5 Dance Cards for their starting hand, placing the rest of the Dance Cards onto the center of the table to act as the draw pile.

Card Examples

Gameplay moves like this, each player will select a card from their hand and place it face down in front of them. Once each player has selected a card, they are revealed and placed into their tableau. The players then choose a card to pass to the player on their left and a card to pass to the player on their right. After they receive two cards in return they draw a card from the top of the deck and repeat the procedure until each of them have five cards in their tableau. The important thing to remember when placing down the cards is that they can only be placed on the ends of the tableau, you cannot place them in between cards in your tableau. After the five Dance Cards have been played to the players tableau, the players then reveal their character card, take the action allowed by the character card, if they so desire, and score their dances.

Scoring Example

The scoring for each round is pretty straight forward, but it has a lot to do with coordinating your plays correctly and getting the cards in the correct order in the tableau. First off, each character card is either red or black, if your character card color matches the color of the number in the upper left of the Dance Card, you gain that many points. If your color does not match, you lose that many points, unless the spirit animal on the Dance Card matches the spirit animal on your Character Card, then you score zero. After scoring those points you add to that the points from the secondary dance icons if they match the card they are right next to. Also, there is a chance to score an additional 2 points on a card if you manage to have the correct dances adjacent to the card. If that all sounds a bit odd, well, it may be that way the first time through, but once you see the scoring in action it makes perfect sense. The highest score wins the round and takes the Wampum token to show that they have one win. You repeat this until someone has three Wampum tokens and that person wins Mahola.

Mahola Cards

To start with, the art for Mahola is absolutely fantastic and those who love the Native American theme will love examining the cards to soak up each and every detail on them, and that’s made a bit easier because the cards are larger than normal playing cards which is another bonus. That all being said, this was a Preview Copy of the game and I can only imagine that they’ve got some ideas to keep improving the look for the final product, and I can’t wait to see what they are.

Mahola Cards

Graphic Design was there were a couple small issues we had with the cards, mainly when trying to score, it was kind of off-putting how you had to look at the lower banner at the adjacent dance and then glance to the top of the two adjacent cards to read and see if you matched them. But it looks like Scott has already thought of that and they have color coded the dances to make them easier to pick up at first glance, which you can see in the photo above. This will be a great help when scoring your tableau.

Gameplay wise, this is a pretty straight forward drafting game that takes some careful planning to build your tableau to perform the best dance. Knowing what to pass off to the other players can be a pretty big advantage for you if you can figure out early on what they are going for. My only issue with it being that in a four player game there is going to be one player that each player won’t interact with at all, so you have to hope that everyone else is paying as close attention as you are when passing the cards. But, that would probably be easily solved by switching up the passing directions and adding a pass across the table as well. The chaining of the dances in the tableau make for a really nice mural that you are creating in front of you, I can’t state this enough that the artwork is fantastic.

The field is getting more and more crowded with these small box games that play in 15-30 minutes. It’s getting tougher and tougher to set yourself apart from the field and I think that Scott has done that with this one, the unique theme, the fantastic artwork and the ease of play with decisions to be made each round make this one an easy choice to back at $15, or $18 if you want the Wampum Beads to go with your game.

Mahola is scheduled to hit Kickstarter on the 26th of January.

Be sure to check out the preview page ahead of the launch!

Imperial Assault Insert from The Broken Token

WDYPTW Note-I’ve been trying to get more of the family into reviewing things and talking board games, and one of them finally took the bait!! YEAH!!!!

A Review by Brad Morrow

So for Christmas I got The Broken Token Imperial Assault Organizer and when Brandon asked me to give a review on it I figured I would give it a go.

I have had my copy of Imperial Assault since last Christmas and have enjoyed the game itself but had been slightly frustrated with how difficult it is to store all of the components and have them easily accessible while playing the game. About a month after I got Imperial Assault I did some measuring and DIY’d foam board inserts, bought some Plano boxes and even found a website to create my own custom card boxes. The biggest issue with this was the more Ally and Villain packs I got the less room in my card boxes and custom foam board inserts I had. So when talking to Brandon about possible ways to better organize it he suggested checking out Broken Token.

The Before Image
The Before Image

After checking out The Broken Token’s website and looking at the insert, I thought it looked like a really good solution to my storage issues so I put it on my wishlist. On Christmas I was happy to see that I had received it as a gift and couldn’t wait to put it together, luckily I was able to work on it the night after Christmas. I unwrapped the set to take a look at what I was getting myself into. The set contained 15 sheets of Baltic Birch with lots and lots of pre-cut/etched pieces and an instruction booklet. I grabbed a TV tray to get setup and started looking through the instructions, they seemed pretty straightforward. They included diagrams of all the sheets of wood and then letters assigned to each piece. On this particular set the letters range from A – MM, with some being duplicates since there are actually 83 pieces to punch out.

Wood!!
Wood!!

I began on step one because that’s the smart thing to do. I had heard both good and bad things about this part of the process. The bad was while punching out the pieces of wood you could end up breaking or splintering something. The other thing I heard was that when putting together not all the pieces would fit quite right. The instructions themselves did “Note: Some glue may be required when assembling the token trays.” Luckily, with the exception of one small piece I did not have any of these issues. As far as the punching out went I did not run into any issues since I went against my normal demeanor and was patient which I believe helped. In the end I had no problems with pieces coming out with any kind of splintering or malformations.

One thing I feel I should mention is that as I was putting together the trays, there was an unexpected loud click when I snapped pieces together. It was a scary click and was very loud and my wife even commented that she’s thought I was breaking the pieces as I was putting them together. Luckily, I was not breaking them and they were just snapping together with a snap tight fit. All the pieces that snapped together seem to hold with plenty of tightness with the exception of a couple pieces, specifically the divider section for the mini figs, that slid together so that you can adjust sizes. You can take them apart in case you change the size you want to allocate to a figure. I ended up doing this after getting all of my figures out and packing them in the new storage trays. After getting that first tray put together I was giddy with excitement at the outcome; I smiled, looked at my wife and said “check this out!”

Check This Out!!
Check This Out!!

I continued piece by piece, section by section putting together my new organizer. Everything was going smooth and working out just fine until I had to turn to the back page of the instruction booklet. It’s not that the instructions were poorly written or confusing it’s just that the guide showing which pieces to punch out was on the inside of the manual. So when the next piece I needed was piece AA, I would have to flip to the inside of the booklet to find out which piece of wood contained the AA piece so I could punch it out. So essentially you have to flip back-and-forth between pages for the rest of the instructions. Personally, I feel like there could be some better ways to do this. Either by printing all the instructions on one piece or one side of the piece of paper or I guess during setup you could mark out with a pen next to all the pieces their respective letters. I did mention this earlier, but I’ll mention it again now that there were duplicates of each piece so you may have two or three B pieces but might have just one D piece but then C has four pieces, so there were quite a few pieces to search through and correctly identify. Nonetheless, once I got past the flipping back-and-forth between the back page and the inside I kind of got into the groove of finding all the correct parts and then punching them out and setting them in small stacks. I could then easily take the small stacks following the nicely drawn instructions to put together the next set of pieces.

All in the Box
All in the Box

I continued through this process relatively easily and I think the overall process took me less than an hour to do. That includes small breaks for watching TV, taking sips of soda and talking with my wife. I then began to take apart my current setup of Imperial Assault organization. Once that was done and after looking at the instructions again to see the proper stacking alignment of the multiple different trays I was able to put all my pieces into all the trays. Then with some slight adjustments for storage of the cards, of the cardholder tray, and the trays that hold the figures I was able to get everything I had into all the organizational pieces. As a side note I own the base set and then six expansion packs, including Stormtroopers and the Hired Guns set both of which have multiple figures, not just single figures like Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker. I was easily able to fit quite a few more cards into this organizational box. I then stacked them and put them into the original game box and except for a little bit of space needed for instruction manuals and expansion side missions/skirmish mission inserts that come with the expansion packs, the box lid fit like a glove.

Box Closed
Box Closed

Overall, I am very pleased with this product and would recommend this for anyone that plans on expanding their base set of Imperial Assault. I am also looking forward to possibly trying out some of their card holders if I can find the size I need to accommodate all of my X-wing expansion.

 

First Play Thoughts on Patchwork

After listening to everyone enjoy Patchwork for over a year, I finally bit the bullet and purchased a copy for us to try out.

Patchwork is another game in Uwe Rosenberg’s small box two player line of games. We’ve enjoyed our time with Agricola All Creatures Big and Small but we haven’t tried the others.

In Patchwork the players each have a 9×9 grid and they are trying to best utilize and fill that space with pieces of quilt. Think Tetris only the pieces are not moving, you are just filling the board with oddly shaped tile pieces representing the patches of quilt.

In the center of the table is a board with a track for players to track their time spent patching in a section of the quilt. Each tile has an hourglass symbol with a number, that number represents the spaces that you move on this time track, the game will end when both players reach the end.

The really neat part about the game, other than actually placing the tiles, is the way that the tiles are purchased. The 33 regular patch tiles are arranged around the time board in a circle randomly. At the start of the game the players find the 2×1 piece and they place the neutral token to the left clockwise of that piece. What this shows is that the three pieces clockwise from that neutral token are available for the active player to purchase. When the players purchase a tile the token moves into that space thusly moving around the tiles in a clockwise manner.  It’s really a fantastically simple way to limit what is for sale to the players and can make for some fun choices about whether to buy or just take income and stick your opponent with the unwanted choices.

There is an interesting income mechanic and also a way to get 1 spot patches on the time track but we’ll save all that for another day, I just wanted to give a brief look at this and our play.

I had warned Kerensa last night before our play that scores would be low and that we may see negative numbers. It’s just that kind of game, the end game scoring is simply the number of buttons in your possession(this is the currency), minus empty spaces multiplied times two.

I mean, come on, does this look like a 4 point quilt?!?!

This one is fun, it’s light, but yet it has some really fun and fairly important choices to be made during game play. We’re suckers for tile placement anyway, some of our favorite games are tile placement, but this one may have a chance to shoot to the top if Kerensa doesn’t get too frustrated over the scoring and spatial elements. Look for more on this one in the future!!

Week 58!!!

Alright, we’re not calling this a resolution, but we’ll call this an attempt to blog a bit more.

The holidays were fantastic, but they are always busy, if you ask AnnaBeth she’ll tell you that we had 6 Christmas celebrations and we all looked forward to each and every one of them and always had a fantastic time. But sandwiched in there was a fantastic mountain vacation and we spent that with family as well, but we had no plans, no schedule, we just went and did what we wanted and most importantly, we relaxed. It was a great way to refuel for the upcoming year, which is now upon us. I am looking forward to what we’re going to do both personally as a family and what we’re also going to be doing as a podcast family, I have lots of ideas that I hope to try out and get working this year.

We’ve got a couple Kickstarter previews lined up that should be coming our way and thus your way. We’ve got our 10×10 Challenge to look forward to and hopefully do a written review of each game as we play them. I want to dig in deeper into our collection and play games more often, rather than play more games. I want to do some more interviews on the podcast, I really enjoy doing them but they are out of my comfort zone, so I’m hoping we can do more of those so I can get more practiced and also provide more content for everyone who listens. I want Gabby to join us more often, but that may be the biggest challenge of the year. I also want to interact with folks who listen more and do more fun things with the show. So I’m going to try to be more active on Facebook and the Board Game Geek Guild so click over there and join!

Personally, I am going to try to drop some weight, 260 for me is entirely too heavy and quite honestly isn’t healthy.  We’re going to work on fixing up our house and get it together enough to possibly be that family that likes to actually have people over to visit and have some game nights or just nights with friends. Just lots of things that we want to do in 2016 and I am actually looking forward to this year more than I have previous years.  Let’s do this!

Here is what is on the Week 58 podcast:

Hey we’re back, I hope everyone who listened last week enjoyed the show, but we’re back to regularly scheduled programming once again.

AnnaBeth is back with a story

Kerensa and I talk about

Terra

Smart Ass

Concept

Mysterium

Eric is back with a much more impressive What He Played segment than what we had

Fields of Arle

7 Wonders Duel

Viticulture

Ora et Labora

Champions of Midguard

Warhammer Quest: TACG

Patchwork

Derek continues his evolving review of Mage Knight and talks a bit about his 10×10 thoughts.

And Patrick closes us out with a review of the Kingdom Builder app and some other fun stuff.

Week 52!!!

Well, it’s happened, we made it an entire year of doing the podcast!

We celebrated by having a round table discussion with all of the contributors to the show and special guest Jason Hancock of the Docking Bay 94 Podcast.  It was a good time talking with good people about a hobby that we all clearly enjoy.

Also on the show, AnnaBeth gave us another rousing story from her Rory’s Story Cubes and Kerensa joined me to talk a little bit about Project Dreamscape and just some random babbling about our bad movie parenting.

I hope that all who traveled to Dallas for BGG.Con had a fantastic time and have arrived back home healthy and rested. I hate that I didn’t attend this year, but I hope to start figuring out a way to make that not the case next year. My only issue is that I hate to leave half of my family out of the hobby that is also theirs. I would push for BGG.Fam in the spring but that’s too close to the end of school and our favorite convention, Geekway to the West, so that isn’t happening .

In the queue for the blog I have a couple games that I’d love to do reviews for and I think I am going to get started on those this week. We’ll also do a bit of a review of them on the podcast but I wanted to devote a bit more to the written review as the podcast is kind of becoming what I wanted it to be, a variety show for people to talk about what they’ve been playing. I’ll still do Kickstarter previews on the podcast for games that I want to do previews for that are offered. I love doing those for people who focus on the family aspect of gaming. But for the time being, I’ll be doing written reviews here on the blog and I think Eric Booth will be doing reviews on the podcast and Derek Davis will be doing an ongoing review to see how his views of a game change over a course of 10 weeks or so.

I did pick up Pandemic Legacy for the family as a Christmas gift and I kind of want to incorporate that into a blog post as well, but I have to figure out how to do that and not spoil other’s enjoyment of the game. I may just say to heck with it and put SPOILERS all over the post but warn people, but we’ll see.

Other than that, there are a couple things bouncing around in my head that I’d like to explore, it’s just a matter of finding the time to sit and write it all out.

In closing, I do want to thank everyone who has helped with the podcast over the past year either as a guest or as a contributor:

Contributors: Eric Booth, Ray Shell, Patrick Hillier, Chris Renshaw, Joe Brogno, Bill Corey and joining the show soon is Derek Davis.

Interviewees: Travis Hill, Dave Ferguson, Paul Grogan, Ken Grazier, Matt Wolfe, Brad and Kate Morrow

Most of all thank you to my family for tolerating what has turned into my Sunday ritual of writing, recording, editing and releasing, all in one day and more recently, even being a part of the show more and more.

And to everyone who has listened and read, even if it was just stopping by one time, thank you as well!!

Alright, it’s time to start on the next year!!

AnnaBeth’s Story Cubes for this week
Our Secret Santa was awesome!!