03 February 2014

Return of the Boardgame: King of Tokyo

Greetings,


Apologies for the lapse, but here is another game review. This is another one that was played on Tabletop, while I wasn't enamored with one of the guests, the game itself was rather nice and simple mechanics and a lot of random chance, dashed with some strategy.






By Richard Garfield

Published by Iello Games

King of Tokyo is for 2-6 players, ages 8+. It is a quick game to play, a 6 player game can take 30 minutes if people know the game well, and there is little deliberation during the players' turns.


In the box you get the teeny-tiny board, a deck of cards with purchasable upgrades or boosts, 6 plastic bases, 6 very thick card monsters, a control panel for each of the monsters (each control panel has two dials, 0-20 for victory points and 12 to skull for health), about 50 green cubes which are used as currency and eight special dice(6 are black with green symbols, 2 are green with black symbols).



The aim of the game is to either be the last monster standing or to get 20 victory points. How you do this is roll the 6 dice (which can be altered by in-game events) and choose to either keep certain results or re-roll any of the dice a further 2 times. On the dice there is six different symbols; 1, 2, 3, heart, claw and energy. If you roll three of the same number you get that number of points. If you roll a fourth, fifth or sixth number that is the same as the triple, you get a further point, for each one of these numbers.



i.e.

2,2,2 = 2 victory points.
2,2,2,2= 3 victory points.


The energy provides currency that can be used to purchase cards which give power ups and extra abilities.



The claw does damage, with a couple of caveats, If the player is not in Tokyo, then the monster(s) in Tokyo are the recipients of the attack, and vice versa if the monster in in Tokyo. 

The basic idea is, those monsters in Tokyo only attack those outside Tokyo and those outside Tokyo only attack those in Tokyo.


The heart heals a single point of damage, but only if the Monster is not in Tokyo.


Anatomy of a game turn.

If the person was in Tokyo from the start of their turn they get two victory points.

The person whose turn it is rolls the six dice and chooses to keep or re-roll any of the six. They can even choose to roll dice that they had kept from the previous rolls. But there will only be a maximum of three rolls.

The dice sides are totalled to check the effects. Damage is scored upon the other monsters as mentioned earlier. 
If a monster in Tokyo has been damaged, they have the option to flee Tokyo and the attacking monster takes it's place AND gains a victory point. If a monster in Tokyo flees the attacker MUST take it's place.

After the attacks have been resolved and the monsters may have moved then the player may choose to buy one or more cards if they have the energy to do so. They also have the option to burn the cards and have them replaced for 2 energy.

The game continues until one of two conditions are met. Only one monster is alive or one of the monsters has managed to get 20 victory points.

Good Points

2-6 players from the box and a small set of rules to follow. Changes to this mainly happens via the upgrade cards.

Lovely artwork which is all in a single style. Only a few things that are remotely gruesome, but it is a game about big, stompy monsters...

High quality of the game pieces.

It is able to be tailored to fit the audience. I remove things, or change the victory conditions so that I can play it with my students.

You can't pick on a single person for long as you get rotated in and out of Tokyo pretty quickly.

Bad Points

Some people just don't like it. It can be too abstract for some gaming groups (one of my classes really found it boring)

There is no real difference between the monsters apart from cosmetic. This has been dealt with in the first add on pack.

Killing monsters is not the best tactic. Going for a victory point win is often much safer. This does depend on your gaming group though. Some of the best games we have had in my classes is when people went for killing other players.]

Players can be eliminated before the end of the game. This does lead to some issues in some gaming groups.

Some of the cards are strangely worded. Their effects are not that complex, but the wording on some of the cards could cause some issues.

2 players isn't enough. You need at least three to get a good swing of power going. 4 or more is better.

Overall

I really like this game. I have used it with my students who, apart from one class, loved it. The older students liked it better, especially when I was able to join in after getting the first expansion (making it a 7-player game with the Evolution cards).  Playing it with my friends has been good on the whole, but since we only managed a one on one it wasn't as fun. This is really a game to be played with more people. 

Thank you for reading and I apologise about the hiatus. Stuff happened. I didn't get around to typing it up.

Comments are welcome.

Regards,

English Pillock

26 September 2013

Board Games 2: Revenge of the Board Games!

Greetings,

Here is my second part of the board game reviews. I don't quite know how many of these I will end up doing, but they are pretty refreshing. The next game was created by Philippe Keyaerts.

EVO (2nd Edition)

By Philippe Keyaerts
Produced by Asmodee (This is the US portal site for Asmodee)

The basic background of the game is that small tribes of humans were alive before a tiny event happened 65 million years ago. These humans had an ability to alter the genetics of the dinosaurs. This obviously takes time, but each turn is over a few thousand years to show climate change. 
Speaking of climate change, there are two main things in the game that force people to alter their dinosaurs. The climate will most likely alter from one turn to the next. The map has 4 different coloured regions, white, yellow, brown and green. Every turn a counter is flipped and a dial is used that will show how the climate alters. These changes to the environment will show which region are fine to inhabit and which will need fur or thermo-regulation adaptions for the dinosaurs to survive. There is also one or two regions that are completely unable to support any life. If you are in here when the climate change occurs then your dino is a kebab....

The way to survive is by using adaptations. You can get extra feet (+1 move), horns (extra attack and defence), fur (one dinosaur can survive in a cold zone for each fur), thermo-regulation (same as fur, but for hot zones), eggs (+1 baby per turn) and special. Ignoring the special for the moment. These evolutions are one of the better parts of the game. It makes people want specific evolutions to survive the current round, but it will also allow them to play for the long game since they have a rough idea of the likely climate changes if they have played it a few times.
How people get these adaptations is by bidding for them. You can bid from 0-6 points. If you bid 6 points you get the evolution automatically. There is always number of (players -1) evolutions on the bidding board. The final slot is taken up by a card which is normally pretty powerful, but it will only work a single time. The fur/thermo-regulation adaptations are always good to have, but eggs and feet work on a more regular basis. Horns are the one that is kind of strange. Unfortunately, you can't build an effective strategy around attacking people with horns. The pay off just isn't there.
There is also a number of special adaptations. These range from extra feet (+2 move), and flying (one dinosaur can move 2 spaces instead of 1 for the cost of one move) to Killer Babies (in the birthing phase you can place a baby in an opponent's space and roll the combat die. You have a 2/3 chance of killing the opponent no matter their horns) and chameleon skin (your dinosaur token isn't removed if you lose a fight, if there is an available empty space to move to).
There is also a regular token that reduces the cost of adaptations during the bidding phase, but we don't use this as it detracts from the game itself and makes it a lot less fun.

Good Points

2-5 players. There are 2 double sided boards in the box one for 2, 3, 4 or 5 players.

Wooden dinosaurs. These are cool, especially if you are used to card or low quality plastic tokens.

Lots of variation due to the different tokens for the adaptations.

The artwork. I know some people would buy the game for the player sheets and frame them. They are that good.

The box fits everything in there without any muss or fuss after you have finished playing. This is an insane boon to anyone who buys games and wonders why they can't fit back in the box after they have opened it.

Bad Points

There are some lethal combos. Killer Babies (see earlier) and Hardened Shell (babies can be placed up to 3 spaces away). Tactical nuclear killer babies was the phrase we coined... This was devastating.

Wooden dinosaurs. How can this be a good point and a bad point, I hear you ask. Well, there are 5 different player sheets showing 5 different dinosaurs. The wooden dinosaurs are all Apatosaurus... It is annoying being the Tyrannosaurus and having your blood curdling dinosaurs being represented as a bleeding herbivore!

Colour choices for the players is.... interesting. Red, blue, black, purple and pink.... Why not yellow or green?

Overall

The game is a lot of fun. There is a chance for huge swings in momentum where one person trying to benefit from one adaptation becomes hampered when another one is, for the moment, more beneficial.

It is also pretty easy to make small changes to suit the players. I have played a slightly watered down version with some of my students in Korea (no cost reducing vial and 3 of the more complex cards were removed from the deck), which was really blood thirsty. The other was with some of my friends. The wife of one is totally freaked out be frogs. One of the tokens looked like a frog and it was hurled across the room we were playing in. That token was removed in future games....

I hope that you liked this review. Comments, as always, are welcome.

Regards,

English Pillock


24 August 2013

And now for something completely different.....

Greetings,


This is my 100th post. A rather significant milestone, but I had wished to have reached it about 18 months sooner.
I have been doing a lot of painting and gaming recently, but not a lot of posting due to the horrible heat in Korea at the moment (mid to low 30's Celsius during the day and no colder than 24 Celsius for the past month or so at night) and the insane humidity (80%+ everyday) which makes the temperature feel 5 to 10 degrees hotter. This coupled with a new boss at work, new responsibilities, picking up an extra 10 hours teaching and doing a project with a friend , etc... All of these things make my brain go wibble.

What I have been doing recently is playing a number of board and card games. This is mainly because they take up a lot less time to set up and pack away than a 2000pts Fantasy army.
I have been playing (in no particular order), Smash Up, Small World, EVO, Shadows Over Camelot, Blood Bowl: Team Manager and Pandemic. Links to each game's web page and the company producing the game (if any) will be placed on the game or company name at the start of the review.

I will start with two games in this post and follow up with more in later posts.


By Jay Little
Produced by Fantasy Flight

Blood Bowl is a passion of mine. The miniature game is one of the most enjoyable games that Games Workshop have EVER produced. The mechanics are complex on appearance and the number of skill have the appearance of being broken in the extreme. Multiple platforms to play the basic game or minor variants allow the game to be played at a dizzying array of levels.
Blood Bowl: Team Manager allows Players to play through a season in a much shorter amount of time. Typically 4 to 6 rounds, each round consisting of 2-3 games per player (2 games normally, 3 games potentially if there is a tournament being played that round).

There are 6 teams in the basic set (Humans, Dwarfs, Wood Elves, Skaven, Chaos and Orcs), along with a multitude of cards and tokens. This was my second game from Fantasy Flight, so I was well aware of the high level of quality of the components in the box. The tokens are thick cardstock. The cards come in two different sizes, basic playing card size for the game cards and half sized for the upgrade cards. There is also a pair of custom dice that represent the block dice in the board game.

The game is primarily a card game. Each player either randomly selects a team or chooses one to be for the entire game. Orcs and Chaos are more damage output orientated, Dwarfs are more into defensive plays and denial, Wood Elves and Skaven are more into running or passing, while the humans can do a bit of running or hitting. the teams as the cards go are pretty balanced and they are like their tabletop compatriots.
As soon as they upgrade cards are added the game starts to work in a number of different ways.

the game can be played with 2-4 players and I have had fun with all of the different number of players, but the best fun is really with 4 players. I have played this with gamers and with people who didn't think that they were gamers.

Good points.

Lots of humour in the cards. It is similar to the actual board game with the insanity of the universe.

It is pretty easy to pick up and play. Normally after one round players are understanding the mechanics of the game pretty well.

Banter... This game brings out the best/worst in you. The banter my gaming group uses isn't as bad as some as other groups I know of, but the taunting and abuse hurled between the players has made the game run a little longer than normal, but it had been more enjoyable because of it.

Bad Points

For my own preferences there would be no Humans or Wood Elves in there. Humans appear to be very bland, although I do win with them lots, and Wood Elves are tree-hugging-hippies. 

Skaven upgrades can be an issue. The Skaven team gets a lot of thematic upgrades that makes any loss almost as good as a win. It means that they will always get points even if they lose. It may even be better for them to lose instead of win depending upon the available matches.

Cheating tokens. You will need more. Due to some of the cards and events that are available we almost ran out of tokens.

You need the FAQ. The rulebook is a little unclear on some of the interactions between the cards.

Other points.

There is an expansion pack (Blood Bowl: Team Manager Sudden Death). There are three new teams; Vampires, Dark Elves and Undead. My issue with this pack is that it came and was sold out quicker than I could buy it. The three new teams add a different mechanic during play. Check the link for an idea of it. Since I haven't got the add on I can't really comment about it.

Overall.

The game is really fun, seriously. If you like Blood Bowl, give it a go.


By Paul Peterson
Produced by Alderac Games

I saw Smash Up on TableTop, hosted by Will Wheaton. This game looked AMAZING! It was actually one of the most watched episodes of S2 of TableTop that I have watched. A nice simple concept of multiple different decks of 20 cards.
Choose two of the decks. 
Shuffle them together. 
Play. 
It is that simple.
The box has 8 different decks (Aliens, Dinosaurs, Ninjas, Pirates, Robots, Tricksters, Wizards and Zombies) with the cards being either Minions or Actions. There is also 16 'Bases' which the players fight over. Each base awards a number of points whether you come first, second or third, the winner is the first to 15+ points. The bases sometimes have an attribute that can alter how points are gained for the final victory or they will alter how Minions are moved once the base has scored.

The Rules are simple for the game. Each turn you can play one Minion and one Action. The description of the cards effects may allow more actions accordingly.You can get some ridiculous daisy-chained combinations. A Wizard and Robot deck I had made me put down 9 cards in one turn.

Here is a very basic overview of the different decks.

Aliens- they can move enemy cards back to their owner's hand making them go over the 10 card limit. They can also disintegrate cards putting them at the bottom of the players draw deck.

Dinosaurs- aggression, aggression with a side of outright devastation on the side.

Ninjas- Stealth, last minute points seizing and assassinations.

Pirates- give faction mobility and other smaller movement shenanigans along with the mass slaughter of low power Minions.

Robots- Powerful abilities that boost Minion power and allow extra Minions to be placed as a single action.

Tricksters- Masters of denial. Not overtly powerful, but they can be really f#%@^$* annoying.

Wizards- They can do multiple actions. One of the best companions for Robots. Extra Minions and extra Actions.... YES PLEASE!

Zombies- uuuuuuuuhhhh...... They are Zombies. Their discard pile is their best friend.

I have played the game as 1 on 1 and a 3 player. Both versions of the games were pretty good, but I do want to play a 4 player game.

Good Points

Pretty cards. The art design is very good on the cards.

Simple gameplay rules. The play a Minion and an Action a turn works nicely.

Different decks. Each deck does play very differently from the others, some of them compliment each other very well, some not so much. There are no useless pairings though.

The box holds the basic set and it has enough slots for both of the add-on packs.

Bad Points

The colloquial nature of the rulebook. For people who don't have English as a first language the book is pretty hard going. It uses a lot of colloquial English and it can be hard going if you are unaware of its usage.

The card rules can start HUGE chains of cards and it can be rough for the players to keep track of all of the things going on at the same time. Check the TableTop video to see what happened to Will Wheaton during the Smash Up video.

Other Points

there is one expansion pack out now Awesome Level 9000 which has 4 new factions (Killer Plants, Steampunk, Bear Cavalry and Ghosts) and 8 new Bases. There is another expansion set out in September; The Obligatory Cthulu Set. The second expansion pack includes 4 more factions (Cthulu Cultists, Elder thingsa, Miskatonic University and Innsmouth) and 8 more Bases. These two packs bring the decks to 16 and 32 Base Cards. All oif these decks can be mixed for a much more varied game.

Overall.

This game takes some time to get used to it. It is really fun after you have got a few games under your belt. After you have a bit of experience it is an amazing game.



I hope that you find these reviews helpful for you.

Comments are welcome, as always.

Regards,

English Pillock

30 July 2013

Fish and Ships II: Revenge of the Haddock

Greetings,

It has been a long time since my last post as the busy workload that I mentioned about in my previous post has increased (.....yayyy.....).

Here are my latest offerings for the Aquan Sebrutan Fleet.

Tsunami Heavy Cruisers
These vessels are bruisers. They work better in a full shoal of 4 as they can target enemy vessels with silly amounts of firepower and they each have a shield, which can stop some of the incoming fire from becoming too hideous. They can also take a lot of damage as they have 5 hull points instead of the normal 4 for cruisers.


Poseidon Battleship MkI 
The Poseidon is a pretty good workhorse for the fleet. It is fast and has a relatively high damage and critical rating with 2 points of shields in tow. The torpedoes and mines are a nice addition too, but I need more luck with them.


Manta Battle Carrier
This vessel makes the Poseidon look like a girl. Better firepower, more hull points and carrying 9 wings over 3 for 30pts more. The benefit to having both in one list is that the Manta's cost comes out of the Carrier allowance and not the Battleship allowance, so I can have both, whereas other fleets have to choose.


Storm Class Cruiser
These are a joke, and not a good one. You have to get within 8-16" to do any good with your weapon load and that means that if you don' kill something pretty damned fast you will lose some of these to the enemies retaliation. No shields and a low damage and critical rating means that these are only taken if points or numbers are neeeded.

Xelocian Hantari Cruisers
Oh these ships....

I have wanted to get these since I first saw them, years ago. Their stats are not bad for their price of 65pts. Long range torpedoes. close to medium range boresight forward guns, and slightly weaker broadsides. But the caveat to the vessel, 2 shields. These things shrug of damage like no ones business.

Now the only issue that I have with them is their constrction. The engine and main hull is resin. The orange/red energy thingy in the center is plastic, bit the rest of the model is metal. This thing is rather over-balanced. And getting the three metal strips to match up in actuality and not just by eye was a pig.

I would still like two more though.


Comments are welcome, as always.

Regards,

English Pillock

p.s.

This is my 99th post too....