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Raptor: 2 player brilliance in the Jurassic era

Raptor: 2 player brilliance in the Jurassic era

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Raptor

  • Designer: Bruno Cathala and Bruno Faidutti
  • Artist: Vincent Dutrait
  • Publisher: Matagot
  • Player count: 2
  • Play time: 25 minutes
  • Mechanics: Action point allowance, hand management, simultaneous action selection.

Mamma Raptor has escaped from her run and laid her eggs in the park. A team of scientists must neutralize her and capture the baby raptors before they run wild into the forest.

Overview:

Raptor is a 2-player, asymetrical card game from the design duo of Bruno Cathala and Bruno Faiduti. 1 player plays a group of scientists who want to capture and study the baby raptors. The other player plays the raptor family consisting of 5 babies and one very cranky mama raptor.

The board is set up using square tiles in a 3 x 2 grid. Also, there are 4 L-shaped exit tiles which go on each end of the board. On each of the double sided central tiles, you place rocks as depicted on the art. These block movement and line of sight for both scientists and the raptors. The raptor player places the mother on one of the 2 middle tiles and one baby on each of the other tiles. The scientist player initially places 4 out of his 10 scientists, each on one of the exit tiles.

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Nowhere to run!

Both players have a deck of 9 cards and will have a hand of 3 available to them during each round. These cards have a number from 1 to 9 on them and an associated action. For instance, the scientists player can set fire to the jungle,call in reinforcements or put baby raptors to sleep. The Raptor player has completely different card abilities. The mother can possibly disappear from the board to ‘scout’ placing her back on any spot after the scientists used their action. He can then wait with selecting a card until after the scientist reveals theirs.

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sample cards

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Sample cards 2

A round resolves as follows: After both players have selected and revealed a card, the card with the lowest value gets to perfrom the action of the card. The other player gets action points equal to the difference between the two cards. If players would reveal cards with identical value, both would be discarded without effect. The action points can be spent on several things, again varying per player. The Raptor player can use these actions to move the raptor babies one space, move the mother in a straight line, eat adjacent scientists, wake up sleeping babies or put out fires. The Scientists can use their points to put to sleep babies or put a sleep token on the mother raptor (restricting her movements in the future), catch a sleeping baby raptor, move scientists one space or calm down scared scientists. One thing to note is that each scientist figure can only do one agressive action each turn, so it’s impossible to put to sleep a baby and capture it with one scientist in a single turn.

Play continues untill one of the victory conditions are met. For the Raptors this means either having 3 baby’s escape off the board or ending a turn without scientists on the board. For the scientist it’s either capturing 3 baby’s or subdueing the mother (putting 5 sleep counters on her).

 

The review:

When I play boardgames, more often then not it will be in a group consisting of at least three players. That being said, I have a really big soft spot for 2 player games. Especially ones with an Asymetrical nature. I’ve read about this game just before Essen 2015 and I was immediately intrigued by the idea. Especially when I heard that my favorite duo of Bruno’s were going to be the designers. It’s taken me quite a while to track down a copy of the game, but I’m really happy I eventually did. Man this game is so good. It ticks all the boxes of what I like to see in 2 player games.

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Box contents

What I like about the game:

  1.  Component quality: The game is beautifully illustrated. From the cards to the tiles. A couple of things stand out: The tiles are double sided, with different art on them. Absolutely unnecessary, but a lovely little detail. The second thing that stood out to me is the 10 unique figures for the scientists. Really nice!
  2. Well presented theme: The art is really evocative and the miniatures help in this regard as well. I can really see myself in Jurassic world while playing.
  3. easy to setup and teach: The rules for this game are very easy to teach and you can get a game going in less then 5 minutes.
  4. Play time: The game easily plays in under half an hour. It’s really easy to play multiple times after each other.
  5. Clever mechanics: I really like the cardplay in this game. Especially the action points you get for the difference between two card. This makes for some very interesting decisions.
  6. Great player aids and rule book: These are just outstanding. They even had Dutch rules which were actually not just thrown through google translate. As this is a bit of a pet-pieve of mine I really think it deserves a special mention.
  7. Dinosaurs: Nuff said!

What I didn’t like as much:

  1. Balance?: It might be a little bit early to say after 5 plays, but to me it seems a bit easier to win as the scientists. I’m pretty sure the game is actually very well balanced and it will equal out after more plays. I do think that the scientists are a tad easier to play at first, though.
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Clever Girl!

Final Verdict: 8,5/10

 

Elysium: Build your own Olympian legend

Elysium: Build your own Olympian legend

Elysium

  • Designer: Matthew Dunstand, Brett J Gilbert
  • Artist: Various
  • Publisher: Space Cowboys
  • Player count: 2-4
  • Play time: 60 minutes
  • Mechanics: Set collection, drafting, Tableau building

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Mythic Greece. As an upstart demigod, you want to earn the favor of the Olympians and become a figure of legend yourself. Gather heroes and powerful artifacts, please the gods and bear their power to write your own epic tale.

Let your allies achieve their destiny and enter the Elysium, home of the glorious and the brave. Once the stories are written, only one demigod will be chosen to stand at the side of Zeus.

Overview:

Elysium is basically a card drafting game where players recruit cards and quests from a common pool each round, using a very innovative mechanism (more on that later).

The game is played over 5 rounds. During set-up of the games, 5 of the available 8 families are chosen and shuffled together to form the playdeck. The 8 families each have a deck of 21 cards, with every deck being very different from the others. The following families are available in the game:

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a sample of some Hades cards.

  • Zeus (lots of extra scoring possibilities)
  • Ares (introduces prestige points. Another way to score points)
  • Hades (Focuses on transferring cards to the elysium)
  • Poseidon (messes with other players)
  • Apollo (adds the oracle to the game. An additional set of 4 cards)
  • Hermes (uses powers from other player’s cards)
  • Athena (powerfull abilities, but gives opponent something as well)
  • Hephaestus (Focus lies on gold)
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A sample of some Zeus cards

Once a card is recruited, it is immediately placed in a player’s domain. This is the area above his personal player board. Quest tiles, once selected, are placed next to your player board and determine a couple of things:

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Quests

  1. player order (activates in the next phase)
  2. the amount of gold and possibly victory points a player gains
  3. the amount of cards a player is allowed to transfer to his Elysium (the area below his player board)

Each player has a set of 4 different colored columns. These are what determines which cards you can acquire during your turn. Each card has a combination of colors in the top right corner. You need to have the columns in those colors available to be able to take a card. After your selection you need to discard one of your columns. (not necessarily one of the ones you used this turn to bu a card.) This means that as the round progresses, you’ll have less choice. The same goes for quests, apart from the fact that you need to discard the exact color of the quest you took. pic2683021_md.jpg

In some circumstance you might not have the resources to aquire a card during your final actions. In that case, you take a citizen card. (represented by the back of all cards). These count as wild cards f

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A citizen card

or set collection purposes, but penalise you during end scoring. If you don’t have a column left to get a quest, you flip one of the remaining ones and flip it. These broken/failed quests give considerably less rewards.

There are several types of abilities on each card. Some are activated instantaneous once you recruit them. Others are activated once, once per turn or at game end for instance. Below you can seen a nice picture with all different abilities.

Cards only have abilities once they are in a player’s domain. At some point however, players will try to transfer cards to their Elysium and build legends with them, as that’s what scores points at the end of the game. transfering a card to the elysium costs money, depending on the level of the card.  Legends can be built in 2 different ways. either by family or by level. A complete family legend consists of a level 1,2 and 3 card of the same family. For each family in the game there are 2 bonus tokens, rewarding players that complete a family legend first. The legends by level consists of up to 5 cards of different families, but of the same level. There are bonus tokens for these available as well, but these are held onto by the player currently in posession of the largest legend of that level.

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Level bonus tokens

During end scoring a couple of things are scored. Whoever has the most points after this scoring wins the game:

  • per legend points are scored based on the amout of cards in it.
  • bonus tokens
  • points gained during play
  • Chronos powers on cards in your elysium
  • Prestige points (If Ares is used)
  • deduct points for citizens in your elysium

 

The Review

For those of you that have read the entry of my top 10 games for 2015, it might not come as a surprise that I really enjoy this game. The overal presentation is very well done. Each family deck is illustrated by a different artist. Even though ther art styles are very different, it somehow still feels very cohesive. The box insert is very clever. The quality of the components is fine for the price point. I’ve sleeved my copy as I think the cards will suffer from multiple plays. Even though most mechanics used in the game are very familiar, I think the restrictions in selecting your cards was really well done. The game can be easily expanded upon as some of the greek gods were missing from this game                  (I personally would love to see decks for Aphrodite, Hera, Dyonisus and Artemis) Maybe stand alone expansions with other pantheons would be an option as well, but I don’t really see that happening.

In another review I’ve seen a variant where the Oracle, which normally only gets used if Apollo is present in the game, is allways used. I have yet to try this variant, but I think the bit of foreshadowing for the next round could be a welcome addition for some players.

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The oracle

What I like about the game:

  1. Replayability: With only 5 families in each game, there is tons of replayability. Each set-up has a very distinct feel
  2. Overal Presentation: I mentioned most of this already, but I love how this game looks
  3. Rulebook: Well layed out and very easy to understand
  4. Plays well with all player counts.
  5. Clear iconography: No need to check the book very often.
  6. play time: By no means a filler, but the 60 minutes on the box is very accurate. Ideal for it’s ‘weight’.

What I didn’t like as much:

  1. Very thin theme: Even though I like the theme, it’s really only pasted on very thinly. I somehow don’t get the feeling I’m a demigod trying to find my place in Olympus.
  2. Take that: It can be very nasty at times.
  3. Ares: I get the feeling that you can simply not neglect prestige points when they are present in the game. The difference between 1st and 3rd place (16 to 4) is very big in my opinion. In my plays with Ares (5 at this point) were never won by the player who scored 3rd or 4th place in Presitge points.

 

Final verdict: 8/10

 

Champions of Midgard: Definitely not a LOW clone

Champions of Midgard: Definitely not a LOW clone

Champions of Midgard

  • Designer: Ole Steiness
  • Artist: Victor Pérez Corbella
  • Publisher: Grey Fox Games
  • Player count: 2-4
  • Playtime: 60-90 minutes
  • Mechanics: Worker placement, dice combat

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Champions of Midgard is a middleweight, Viking-themed, worker placement game with dice rolling in which players are leaders of Viking clans who have traveled to an embattled Viking harbor town to help defend it against the threat of trolls, draugr, and other mythological Norse beasts. By defeating these epic creatures, players gain glory and the favor of the gods. When the game ends, the player who has earned the most glory earns the title of Jarl and is recognized as a champion of Midgard!

Placing workers allows for the collection of resources and warriors, which players may then send on journeys to neighboring villages or across the sea to defeat monsters and gain the glory they need for victory. Resources are used to to carve runes, build ships, and feed your followers. Viking warriors (custom dice) do battle with the myriad enemies the town faces.

Overview:

The game is played over 8 rounds, which each follow the exact same structure. A round is divided in the 5 following Phases:

20151108_132453_8e31: Round setup: This phase has several small steps that need to be taken to proceed.

  • Monsters will be drawn from the top of their respective decks and will, in the case of trolls and draugr, replace any current ones. In the case of the journey monsters, only refill the empty spots.
  • Place a face down journey card on each empty journey space
  • Reveal the top card from the merchant ship deck
  • Add the appropriate die to the swordsmith, hafter and blacksmith locations
  • add a food cube to the smokehouse location

 

2: Worker placement:

In this phase, starting with the player holding the first player marker, players place their workers on the locations on the board. Doing this they gather resources: Wood, Food, Favor, money and warriors (dice) in three different varieties. There are also some spaces on the board where other things can be obtained. Rune cards give the player some additonal abilities during the placement or battle phase. Destiny cards can provide end-game scoring opportunities and ships can be either bought or hired to take your warriors on perilous journeys.20151108_133016_5b4(1)

3: Assigning viking warriors:

Any player that placed their workers on a troll, Draugr or longship location will now assign the warriors (and in the case of a journey food cubes) they wish to send into battle. If a monster has a no spears/axes/swords symbol on it, dice of that color can not be sent into battle with the particular monster.

4: Combat resolution:

The basics of combat are very simple. Each enemy has a wounds stat and an attack stat. If you roll enough sword/spear/axe symbols to equal their wound total it is killed. For each wound the enemy inflicts on you, you lose a die. Wounds can be negated by shield results. You can spend favor tokens to reroll any dice. This step can be repeated by spending additional tokens. Combat ends either when the monster has taken lethal damage or if there are no viking warriors left to combat the monster.

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  • If a player placed warriors in the hunting grounds, he rolls his dice and gains the appropriate amount of food.
  • If a player battles a troll, combat is resolved against the troll. If the troll is not killed, all players take a blame token. If the Troll is killed however, the player may discard a blame token and force another player to take one. If nobody decided to battle the troll menacing their village, all players take a blame token as well. These blame tokens detract points at the end scoring, nicely detailed on a graph on the board.
  • In the Draugr spaces, combat is resolved from left to right.
  • For the journey spaces, follow the following steps, starting with the leftmost location:  Reveal and resolve Journey cards, feed your viking warriors (unfed warriors die and return to the reserve. Food is returned to supply even if there’s any left), combat the monster.

5: Clean up:

Some minor things need to be done in this step. Retrieve your workers from the board. Discard any undefeated Draugr and troll cards. Add 1 money to each undefeated monsters on the bottom and progress the round marker. If you’re in round eight, proceed to final scoring.

Final scoring:

Apart from the points scored during the game, you will score the following things during end scoring.

  1. Destiny cards: If you have statisfied the condition of a card, score the larger amount of Glory points depicted. If you’re tied, score the smaller amount.
  2. Sets of enemies (red/Blue/Gold). Score 5 points for each set collected
  3. Rune cards: Score the amount of glory depicted on the card. (both for used and unused cards)
  4. Private longships: If you’ve built one, score the points indicated.
  5. Favor tokens: Each unspent token is worth 2 glory points.
  6. Gold: Score 1 glory point for each 3 gold you have left.
  7. Blame: Lose points according to the track, depending on your amount of blame tokens.

 

Whoever ends up with the most points, wins the game.

 

The Review:

Before we address the elephant in the room, let me talk a little bit about what I think about Champions of Midgard itself. I have to say I succumbed a little bit to the Dice tower hype about this game, as they gave it a seal of excellence. I really couldn’t wait to get my grubby little hands on this title.

What I like about the game:

  1. The artwork and style throughout is absolutely gorgeous. The board especially is really pleasing to look at.
  2. Ease of rules. The rules were extremely simple to learn and teach to others. It’s a very beginner friendly game.
  3. Playtime: The gamebox says it plays in between 60 to 90 minutes. For me, the plays are closer to the 60 minute mark, which seems just right.
  4. Use of dice. Off course, dice add a luck element to the game. In this case however, I don’t mind at all. It makes the completion of ‘quests’ or battles feel very climatic.
  5. Small mechanics. As an example I really like that getting an additional worker, costs less when you’re not the first person to do so.
  6. Variable player powers. There are 5 different clan leaders that each have a unique ability. Allthough these are not mind blowingly different, they add just a little touch of variety I like.
  7. The designers are very reactive to questions on the BGG boards. A lot of people initially had some questions, but the team behind the game seems really committed to adress these.20151108_132350_0b7

What I didn’t like as much:

  1. Replayability. With only a small amount of marker tiles, setup will often look similar. Also, the monsters could have been more diverse for my tastes.
  2. The rulebook. I know this sounds a bit double, as I put ease of rules as a plus. For me the thing I didn’t like about the rulebook came down to the layout and they way it was written. The rules themselves are pretty straight forward and easy.
  3. Very limited player interaction. Really, apart from taking a spot someone else wants, there is no interaction. I strongly feel that the game would benefit from an expansion that would tackle this issue.

The comparison to Lords of waterdeep (Because all the cool kids are doing it)

Off course, there are some similarities between both games. In both games you collect resourses and complete quests. Also, both games use a resource that detracts points at game end (technically, the expansion to LOW adds this, not the base game)

Is that a crime? Not as far as I’m concerned. The game also have a lot of mechanics that feel very different. Lords of waterdeep is much more interactive. Resources switch hands and you can screw around with your fellow players. It doesn’t have the thrill of combat that Champions of Midgard has. Also something I really feel where the games take a different route is the way the end scoring works. In LOW, you know up front which type of quests will give you game end bonuses. In COM, the addition of set collection and the destiny cards make for a very different approach. In my eyes one game is not necessarily alot better then the other. I don’t see why you couldn’t have both in your collection.

In the end I liked this game well enough, but I would love to see some interaction and replayability added with a future expansion.

Final Verdict: 7,5/10

 

 

 

 

First Impression: Blood rage

First Impression: Blood rage

This post is a bit of an experiment. I’m not planning to do a full review for this game (as I’ve only played one game so far, but I just wanted to write down some thoughts in it. Please let me know if this is something you like to see more on this blog, or maybe you think I should just stick to the more extensive reviews….

 

A friend of mine shot me a message a couple of days ago, asking if I was interested in trying out his copy of Blood rage. The general consensus seems to be that this is a great game so I was more than happy to oblige. We got a group of 4 together and after a quick rundown got straight into it.

12317430_465174030336201_25577445_nIn this game you are a clan of norsemen trying to gain the most glory by invading and pillaging your way through midgard and fighting glorious battles. It’s played over three rounds, which all start with the players drafting 6 cards out of a hand of eight. You can get upgrades for your clan, setting you apart from your opponents, call in the aid of terrifying monsters and upgrade your warriors, leader and ships. There pic2777360_mdare also battle cards and quest cards thrown into the mix and especially in the first round, we were all still looking for what would work for us. Each clan also has three stats they can improvpic2777361_lge during the game: Rage, Axes and horns. Rage is used as currency for getting warriors and monsters out and moving around the board. Axes depict the amount of glory points you get for winning battles and horns depict the maximum number of figures you can have on the board.

The board is divided into several regions that can each be pillaged. This is where combat between players can (and probably will occur). If a region has free spots left, other players in an adjacent region can answer the call to battle and join in. Every participant plays a card and higher value (figures + cards) wins. The winner gains glory and if he was the pillager an upgrade to a stat. He ditches his card though. The losers mini’s go to valhalla, but he retains his cards.

A round lasts until either all regions have been pillaged or everybody is pic2706844_mdout of rage. Ragnarok happens (in a region marked at the beginning of the round) destroying figures, but gaining glory. Also quest cards you played will be scored. If you have cards left, keep one and then go to the next round. Rinse and repeat two times and the game is done.

 

My thoughts:

I’m not entirely sure how I should rate Blood rage. The card drafting was really fun and it was nice to see everyone explore different strategies. The mini’s are stunning and the game has a nice pace to it. Somehow though, our play kind of left a very bad taste in my mouth. One player was going for a ‘loki strategy’. Through a combination of cards, losing battles and models got this player more points then all players winning battles. He sapped the other players of combat cards (you have to commit a card during every combat) and then went ahead and lost, gaining a crapload of points and keeping his own cards. A viable strategy to be sure, but somehow this really felt counterintuïtive to me. The monsters were great and had some pretty nice abilities, so that was a plus for me. It also felt less ‘ameritrashy’ to me then I expected (Hooray for diceless combat). To be completely honest, it actually felt like I was playing an area control game with really nice looking miniatures.

All in all, there is a lot speaking for this game, but I’m not nearly as enthousiastic as most other people I’ve heard about it. I think I’d rather play chaos in the old world..

Initial rating: 7/10

Signorie: Another gem from what’s your game

Signorie:  Another gem from what’s your game

Signorie

  • Designer: Andrea Chiarvesio, Pierluca Zizzi
  • Artist: mariano Iannelli
  • Publisher: What’s your game
  • Player count: 2-4
  • Play time: 90-120 minutes
  • mechanics: Dice selection, influence, set collection, rewards

Italy during the 15th century was a country full of intrigue and magnificence. The tumultuous political conditions created the perfect breeding ground for the birth of a new form of government (called Signoria) and the rise of the most ambitious noble families. After having acted in the dark for a long time, the time has finally come for them to take control of the cities and shape Italy’s future. Their stories will go down in history.

Overview:20151027_222203

In Signorie the players take on the role of a lord of one of the most prestigious families during the Reneissance. The game is played over 7 rounds, regardless of player counts. At the start of each round, the pool of dice gets rolled (1 die per player per color) and get placed in the appropriate space. 10 assignment tiles will be placed randomly on the available slots on the board. Each player starts with 3 male and 4 female meeples, representing their children. They will also start out with 5 Florins. Each round in turn order players can take an action by taking one of the dice from the pool and placing it on their board. You have up to 4 of these actions available to you each round, but you can only ever have one of each color of dice on your player board. pic2680074_mdThe value of the die you select matters, as you have to pay an amount of florins if you place a dice with a lower value then the slot it is place on, equal to the difference. Does that mean you should always try to go for a high a dice as possible? Not necessarily, but I’ll get into that a little later.

When you place a die, you can perform any of three actions:

pic26800951: Hire a helper: When you chose this action you take a white helper disc and place them on one of the 3 available slots of the color indicated on your action space, paying the amount of Florins depicted in the spot. This doesn’t do anything for you at this point, but it can help you in the future during other actions. You can have multiple helpers active at any given time and you can chose whether to activate them or wait for a better opportunity. Once you take the helper action, the disc is removed from your board.

2: Signoria action: The Signoria action is different depending on the color of dice you choose. A brief description:

  1. Yellow: Take 3 florins from the bank
  2. Red: Arrange a marriage for one of your female family members.
  3. Purple: Offspring. Your married children produce offspring. Roll a white die for each White worker on your board and take new meeples from the supply depending on the result
  4. Grey: Send one of your male family members on a dimplomatic mission.
  5. Turqoise: 4 movement points on the initiative and career tracks.

During these actions you are allowed to take any helper actions available in the column of the same color you placed your die in, don’t forget.

3: Assignment action: At the beginning of the round the 10 assignment tiles are randomly placed on the available slots. When you decide to use this action, you can spend meeples depicted on the spaces to perform actions. For each color there are 2 actions available and you can chose to take either one or both actions. To do this, pay the amount and type of m

pic2680076_mdmeeples as depicted on the tile and board and perform the action. Some have set numbers you need to pay, others give you an option to pay up to three. In that case perform the action an amount of times eaqual to the meeples you have spent.

Next, I’d like to get into some of the actions in more detail, as this is where the real meat of the game comes from in my opinion. The board has five cities printed on them, each with room for 10 meeples and 2 spaces for alliance tiles. Alliance tiles are drawn from a face down pile and show 6 different family crests and a point value ranging from 2 to 5.

Diplomatic missions: With one of the dice actions as well as with one of the assignment tiles, it’s possible to send your pic2686591_md(grand)sons on diplomatic missions to one of the five cities. This is a multistep process. First off, your sons are place on one of the career tracks (Poltical, Clerical and Military.) There are several actions available to move your sons along on these tracks. When you send a son on a diplomatic mission, remove a meeple of your choice from any of the tracks and place him on one opic2686592f the spaces of the city, immediately gaining points equal to the value he was on said track. These values can go up to thirteen points! You always place the meeple on the lowest available spot, but you need to take into account the rank it was on on the career track. It needs to be at least as high as the value depicted in the spot you want to place it. Then, take one of the available alliance tiles and place them on the corresponding spot to the right of your player board.

Arranging marriage: When you arrange a marriage, take one of your available female workers and place them on the lowest available spot on one of the cities. Then, you pay at least the amount of Florins depicted on the spot you took and take 2 points for each Florin spent. You can chose to pay more, up to a maximum of 4. If there’s an alliance tile available, take it and place it on the corresponding spot next to your board.

At the end of the game, you can score these alliance tiles. You score each row where you have placed at least three tiles of pic2686593_mdthe symbols matching your player board. It’s unlikely you’ll score all 4 of these, so it might be a good idea to focus on some of them.20151027_222332

At the end of a round there is a reward phase. 7 reward tiles are laid out at the beginning of the game, showing an end round bonus for each of the rounds of play. Remember I said it didn’t have to be a good idea to take high numbered dice? I’ll explain why: Each player who has a total value of 13 or less on their dice gets to take either the bonus action or 3 florins. Apart from that, you can also place a white token on your board, marking the amount of your sons which are married. This amount influences the amount of dice you get to roll during the offspring action. In later rounds in the game, you also get an additional 2 florins. The tiles for round 6 and 7 are taken from a seperate pile and instead of a bonus give scoring opportunities. In these rounds, players qualifying for the round bonus also have the option of trading in 5 Florins for 5 points. After 7 rounds, payers score their alliance tiles and score half the points for any meeples they have still on the career tracks (rounded down). The player with the most glory points wins the game.

The Review:

To be very short: I love this game!!!

Now that would be too simple, wouldn’t it? I’ll try to elaborate on the points that really make this game shine for me. Components are of good quality and enough are supplied with the game. I personally like the artwork, but I’ve heard some people call the board a bit bland, which I can relate too. I personally love the dice that come with the game, especially the color choices.

I have a thing for multi purpose options in a game. Be it cards or in this case dice. I think the mechanic they use with the dice in this game is pure brilliance. It gives a player a lot to think about. Should I save my money and take a high dice or should I spend a bit to make sure that I reach the end round bonus, lovely. The number on the dice also effect some of the helper actions, so that gives it yet another layer of thought.

Money is really tight in this game. It’s a real balancing act to make sure you have enough to do everything you want. There are several ways to earn money during the game and to me it give a great sense of fulfillment when I can minimise the amount of actions I need to take just to get more cash.

There is no real direct player interaction in Signorie, but it doesn’t feel like I’m doing a solo thing. Interaction comes in the form of players taking the dice you might have wanted, beating you out on the initiative track or t20151027_205000aking the alliance tile you needed to complete your set. This is exactly the kind of interaction I like in a euro-game.

I have played several what’s your game games over the years and so far they have yet to disappoint me. Out of their 2 essen releases this year I’m not sure which one I’d rate higher, but both are remarkable games that any eurogamer should at least look into.

Final Verdict: 8,5/10

Disclaimer: I’ve used a couple of images from board game geek user and creator of great overview videos: Paul Grogan. The photographs are my own.

The Bloody inn: murdering for profit and pleasure

The Bloody inn: murdering for profit and pleasure

The bloody inn

  • Designer: Nicolas Robert
  • Artist: Luis Francisco, Weberson Santiago
  • Publisher: Pearl games
  • Player count: 1-4
  • Play time: 60 minutes
  • Mechanics: Hand management, multi purpose cards

France 1831: In a remote corner of Ardèche, the little village of Peyrebeille sees numerous travelers pass through. A family of greedy rural farmers is determined to make its fortune and has devised a diabolical stratagem to achieve this goal: Invest in an inn so they can rob traveling guests, allowing them to get rich without arousing the suspicions of the police! Whether or not their plan will work out, one thing is certain: Not every guest will leave this inn alive….

In The Bloody Inn, you are one of the competitive innkeepers, bent on amassing the most wealth. Unfortunately, your morals hinder you from robbing your guests… at least while they’re alive. Fortunately, your scruples have no qualms with murder. Of course, you can’t just have dead bodies piled everywhere: It’s bad for business, and besides, what if the police drop by for a visit? It’s all so much work! Perhaps you could employ some of the guests as accomplices? Everyone has a price, after all!

Overview:

bloody inn setupAt the start of the game each of the inkeeper receives 2 peasant cards, some markers in their color and a cheque for 10F. Further they receive a player aid, which doubles as an Annex. Play resolves around a central deck of visitors, which are used in several ways. The game ends when the deck is depleted for the second time. Whoever is the richest at the end of the game is declared the winner.

Each round is divided into three phases. In the Welcome Travelers phase, cards are placed from the top of the deck into the empty rooms of the inn. The amount of cards that come out vary for each player count. There will always be some neutral rooms as well as a single room in each player color at the start of the game.

In the next phase, players each have 2 actions they can perform, one at a time. for 4 of the 5 possible actions, players use the cards currently in their hand, so let’s dive into the anatomy of a card before going any further.pic2649765_md

Each card has a color, paired with a symbol. This symbol depicts the aptitude that travel has. Below the illustration we have a value depicted in a gold circle. This is the amount of Francs a player receives when he buries said guest. Most cards have a house symbol in the bottom left, marking the card can be used as an annex. The text next to the house is the ability that you gain when the card is built as an annex. Finally, there is a number above the house symbol. This depicts the rank of the card. Values range from 0 to 3 and these mark how many cards need to be used to use the card in any way.

There are 5 actions available for players, so let’s go over them quickly.

  1. Bribe a guest. This action is used to take extra cards into your hand. you play an amount of cards equal to the rank of the guest you want to bribe, discarding any without an aptitude for bribing. Then you take the selected card into your hand. A player can opt to take up to two peasant cards from the bistro instead of bribing a guest in a room.
  2. Build an annex. This action is used to place a guest card as an annex. You play an amount of cards equal to the rank of the card you want to use as an annex, discarding all cards apart from those with the appropriate aptitude. You then place the card in your play area next to your player aid card, unlocking the ability on the card.
  3. Kill a guest. The principle is the same as with the other actions, play the amount of cards equal to the rank of the guest yu want to kill and discard all cards apart ftom the ones with the aptitude symbol for murdering. You then flip the card of your target to it’s ‘dead side’, showing a coffin with it’s rank and the money they are worth. These corpses stay in fron of you until you bury them with another action.
  4. Bury a corpse. Apart from the fact you need to play the correct amount of cards to bury  corpse, you also need to have an annex available. Each annex has a place to hold up to the amount of corpses equal to it’s rank. A funny thing is that you are allowed to use the annex of another player, simply splitting the profit. Once you bury a corpse, immediately gain the amount of Francs depicted on the corpse.
  5. Launder money and pass. You can also opt not to take an action and liquefy your assets or vice versa. Move down the francs track in increments of 10, and receive cheques or hand in your cheques to move up the wealth track.

After each player has taken two actions, the last phase (end of round) happens. During this phase, you follow three steps.

  1. Police investigation. If there’s at least one police card (gun symbol) left face up in the inn, they start an investigation. Every player with unburied corpses needs to pay 10F for each of them and discard them. If you don’t have this amount left, pay what you can and discard the corpse.
  2. Traveler’s leave. Each player receives 1F for each guest left in a room of their color. After that, the cards are discarded as the travelers leave the inn none the wiser of the maccabre machinations.
  3. Pay wages. All players pay 1F for each card they have left in their hand at the end of the round.

At the end of the game, players check the extra money scored with some of the rank 3 annexes and then tally up their total points. Whoever has the most money is declared the winner.pic2649767_md

The game can be played in either a short or a long version. This has quite an impact on the playtime, cutting it by at least a third. There also some alternate scenario’s available to be played, one of ehich is a solo variant. I have to say I have not played any of these yet, so I won’t take them into account in this review.

The Review

What drew me to this game was the maccabre them and the striking artwork. Pearl games has done some incredible games in the past (troyes, Deus, Bruxelles …) so even the fact that this is the designer’s first published game didn’t scare me off. I’ll start off by listing some of the things I really like about the game. I’ve already mentioned them and art style, but the best point about this game is the multiple ways you can use the cards. Since you only have 2 actions each round, it’s all about timing to be succsefull. You don’t want to be caught with unburied corpses, unless you don’t care about the consequences. I’m really on the fence about the 2 modes of play. In the short version I somehow get the feeling I’m not able to do enough with my available actions. The game can be over before you’ve built your ‘engine’. In the long game however, the game can drag out a bit too long. Ideally I would like to have something in between, but I’m sure that messing with the number of cards to put in the deck would be able to solve this personal gripe of mine.

In my eyes, the game can be pretty punishing. An example: At round end, you are left with 6 F, an unburied corpse, and 4 cards in your hand. To your horror, you realise there’s a policeman left in the in and they investigate. Not only do you lose the last of your money, but also your corpse. To top it off, you need to discard your cards becuase you’re left without money to pay them. Off course you should try to avoid such a situation, but the fact that this can happen and leave you crippled for the rest of the game bothers me.

I feel the good certainly outweighs the bad for me and The bloody inn is a neat little game. The fact that it can be played within an hour regardless of player count and the easy to understand rules will help this get to the table more often.

Final verdict: 7/10

Floating Market: A game of diced fruit

Floating Market:  A game of diced fruit

Hey there guys!

For my first couple of posts on this blog, I’ll be putting up reviews of some of the new games in my collection. With Essen Spiel 2015 in the books, my collection has again grown considerably (as have those of my gaming buddies). I expect to post on here on a daily basis, so there will be lots of content for you to enjoy. If you have tips or comments, please feel free to leave them. As this is officially my very first review not in Dutch, I’ll probably have some area’s to improve on. I’ll tell you guys a bit more about myself in a different post at some point, but for now let’s get on with the show!

Floating Market

  • Designer: Ben Pinchback & Matt Riddle
  • Artist: John Ariosa
  • Publisher: Eagle Gryphon Games
  • Player count: 2-5
  • Play time: 30-45 minutes
  • Mechanics: Betting, Dice rolling, Worker placement

Ama is tired. It has been a long day of chasing her grandchildren, and she needs a break. Ama has been around for a long time and she has a few tricks up her sleeve. With the promise of her famous fruit salad, Ama sends her grandchildren down to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market to collect fruit… and to get out of her hair! Collecting different fruit is no easy task, as the fruit boats –full of Mango, Banana, Papaya, Guava, Grapefruit, Rambutan, and the famous Starfruit – are constantly shifting around the Khlong Damnoen Saduak Canal of Thailand.

Players are eager grandchildren, competing to be the first to collect five different types of Fruit for Ama… AND get the first bowl of Fruit Salad!

Overview:

pic2703854_mdEach round of Floating Market is divided into three phases: Assign Customers, collect fruit and round end. During the first phase of the game, each player has 3 customers to place on the various available spaces. There are 7 boats, each carrying a different kind of fruit, where the players can place their Customers. Further, there are several buildings with varying effects. These add some manipulation of the dice pool and the places/order where the customers can be placed. There’s also a fruit market, where you can exchange 4 coin cards for a piece of fruit of your choice. When a player places their first cusotmer each round, they also add a die of their personal set to the dice pool for the round. Each player has access to A D12, D10, D6, D4 and a negative D6. All positive dice match the player’s color and the negative die is white. This makes it a lot easier to work out the totals in the next phase.20151021_184725[1]

In the collect fruit phase, the start player for that round takes all dice in the pool and rolls them. Taking into account any modifiers the score is totalled up and the boat on the spot with the correct total is activated. Any player on this boat collects the piece of fruit that boat produces. Players in adjacent boats receive w money cards and players with a customer on the right dockside collects a single money card. Easy as Fruitcake!

20151021_184950[1]In the round end a couple of things happen. The dice the players submitted for the round are placed next to the board and are unusable until a player uses an action to retrieve them. All extra dice are returned to their spots on the board as well as any modifier tokens. He then has the option of switching some boats around for the next round. Play continues until one of the players collects their fifth piece of fruit and is declared the winner.

The review:

I own several products from Eagle Gryphon games, so it feels like I’m getting used to the high component quality that their games tend to have. This game is no exception. The tiles are nice and thick, the cards have a very sturdy linnen finish and the customer meeples are vibrant in color and unique in shape. The dice used are of great quality as well and they add a lot of visual appeal to the game. One thing that always stands out to me is the inlay Eagle gryphon uses. As can be seen in the picture, they have nice big compartments, cut outs in the box bottom and a plastic lid that lies on top of the insert. To me, that’s the little things that make all the difference. 20151021_184123[1]John Ariosa has produced stunning artwork for this game. From the box cover to the board itself, it looks amazing and helps bring the theme to life. One little nitpick from my side: I would have gone with actual coins instead of coin cards.

Floating markets is a them that has been used in the past (Bangkok klongs and Manila for example) but somehow it feels pretty nicely integrated into the gameplay. The game is very accesable for a large variety of gamers. The rules are very simple and the playtime is at just the right spot for a betting and ‘racing’ game.

Now let’s talk a bit about the dice. Do they add a luck factor to the game: yes, in a way. However, the ability to adjust the dice pool to your benefit and some simple math skills to work out the odds does come a long way to mitigating that luck. Personally, I don’t mind the luck element all that much. The box tells us the game can be played with two to five players. I feel the game shines at the higher player counts. There are some mechanical adjustments for the lesser player counts, which do help in keeping the game enjoyable, but this ‘fix’ feels like a necessary evil.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by Floating market. I bought it on a whim at Essen, because I thought it would only be available for demo and with the low production run ( I believe 2000 copies in total) it somehow piqued my interest. The thing I was most surprised after actually playing, was the amount of gamesmanship the game provided. All players try to manipulate the dice pool in their favor and when it came down to rolling it often felt very tense.

Floating market is a really well produced and enjoyable game. If you like dice games with some strategic elements, this is definitely one to check out.

Verdict: 7.5 / 10

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