Newest solo review is online for GameNiteMagazine! It’s a big holiday issue and, as always, it’s free!
I played this solo a few times over the weekend and I really enjoyed it!
The components are top notch and the insert is one of the best I have ever seen. A lot of attention to detail in this little game.
The Rangers “automa” is very easy to run. They essentially block you from spaces (although you can flip your campfire to use an occupied space, but only once per round) plus they take sun or rain resources which when added to their tracker can trigger events.
I plan to introduce this to my daughter for a two player game which I think she will enjoy. I will offer a much more detailed review in the weeks to come as well.
Did I mention the art? Stunning!!
Another New Year is upon me.
I want to cull my collection a bit and sell off or trade away games that aren’t just getting played, or I have lost interest in, or (horrors) have never made it to the table.
I have tried selling on Boardgamegeek via auctions with limited success. Usually I can off load some game there but at prices that are stela of the buyers but not so good for me. PLUS, I have yet to have any transaction where the buyer agreed with the shipping cost. I usually do USPS Flat Rate only because it’s cheaper, the boxes are free and readily available and also I can print out my own labels and them drop them at the post office — in and out.
I have also tried selling off a few (about 10) at a time in a Facebook group or two. Here, buyers want to beat me up on pricing and shipping again. It also gets confusing to manage all the PM’s coming in and keeping track of who wants and gets what. Also, managing a queue of potential buyers of a game. Too much work. This week I sold a couple of games by only offering one game per post — much easier to manage. Slower to be sure, but hopefully, slow and steady wins the race.
Anyway, I swore up and down at the end of 2018 that I would curtail my game purchases. January 2nd rolls around, and what happens?
Yeah, so I pre-ordered it. I think my daughter might like it assuming I can teach it to her. Worse case, it does have a solo option. It does look solid though and the art and production value are off the hook. On the plus side, I will get it in two weeks or so.
So, I am not off to a good start now in 2019 AND I have Kickstarter games on the way through out the Spring, Summer and even Fall. Someone make me stop!!
Today’s Amazon Deal of the Day is Castles of Burgundy.
A fantastic gateway or gateway+ game for families and gaming groups.
The game is set in the Burgundy region of High Medieval France. Each player takes on the role of an aristocrat, originally controlling a small princedom. While playing they aim to build settlements and powerful castles, practice trade along the river, exploit silver mines, and use the knowledge of travelers.
The game is about players taking settlement tiles from the game board and placing them into their princedom which is represented by the player board. Every tile has a function that starts when the tile is placed in the princedom. The princedom itself consists of several regions, each of which demands its own type of settlement tile.
The game is played in five phases, each consisting of five rounds. Each phase begins with the game board stocked with settlement tiles and goods tiles. At the beginning of each round all players roll their two dice, and the player who is currently first in turn order rolls a goods placement die. A goods tile is made available on the game board according to the roll of the goods die. During each round players take their turns in the current turn order. During his turn, a player may perform any two of the four possible types of actions: 1) take a settlement tile from the numbered depot on the game board corresponding to one of his dice and place it in the staging area on his player board, 2) take a settlement tile from the staging area of his player board to a space on his player board with a number matching one of his dice in the corresponding region for the type of tile and adjacent to a previously placed settlement tile, 3) deliver goods with a number matching one of his dice, or 4) take worker tokens which allow the player to adjust the roll of his dice. In addition to these actions a player may buy a settlement tile from the central depot on the game board and place it in the staging area on his player board. If an action triggers the award of victory points, those points are immediately recorded. Each settlement tile offers a benefit, additional actions, additional money, advancement on the turn order track, more goods tiles, die roll adjustment or victory points. Bonus victory points are awarded for filling a region with settlement tiles.
The game ends when the last player finishes his turn of the fifth round of the fifth phase. Victory points are awarded for unused money and workers, and undelivered goods. Bonus victory points from certain settlement tiles are awarded at the end of the game.
The player with the most victory points wins.
The rules include basic and advanced versions.
[ This post originally appeared as an article in Game Nite Magazine # 18 ]
SuperHot is a Kickstarter funded micro-deck builder card game designed by Manuel Correia and published by Board and Dice in Poland. The game features art design and graphics based on the video game of the same name. The 1-3 player card game not only features head to head and 2 vs. 1 play but also co-op and solitaire play.
In solo mode, you lose the game if you ever have four bullet cards in your hand, the bullet deck runs out, the obstacle deck runs out of cards, or you have to refill your hand to four cards and you can’t. There are three levels you must complete in increasing difficulty in order to win. The first level has one goal card chosen at random from a deck of 25. Then, two goal cards in level 2 and finally three goals in level 3. You do get a mulligan once per level but the goal card must be in the next level. Once you complete all goal(s) in a level, you shuffle up all the obstacles cards as well as your own deck and discard pile, and draw new goal cards to start the next level.
Six cards are dealt from the obstacle deck in a row to form the Line with the 7th card on top of the obstacle draw deck to show you what’s coming in the next round. Thematically, this represents the current “room” you are in and the things you can use to hide from the “dudes” in the room, or use to fight them. Additionally, there are items that can help you too like pliers to pull the pull the bullets out of you! In the bottom ten cards of the obstacle deck, a bullet card from a separate 12 card bullet deck is shuffled in. The player’s starting deck is made up of eight starter cards and four cards are drawn to form your starting hand. The player plays defense cards with values equal to the defense cards he or she is trying to defeat. The same goes for attack cards. Plus, there are cards where you may use a combination of both attack and defense together. Cards in the Line are either defeated or knocked out. The unique aspect of this game is cards that are defeated go into your deck’s discard pile, while cards you played or cards that are knocked out (by flipping them over) in the Line go into the obstacle deck’s discard pile to show up in a later round in the line. After the player’s cards are played, the player refills his or her hand to four. Next, the number of cards the player has played will determine how many slots from right to left in the Line are placed in the player’s discard pile whether there is a card in the slot or not. Then, the remaining cards in the Line with effects at the bottom trigger. Not all are bad. Some let you draw a card, or do nothing; while others may force you to place a bullet card into the obstacle discard pile. These are bullets are coming…you know they are! In the last phase of the turn, the Line moves to the right and then is refilled from right to left back to six.
What’s really interesting about this game is how cards you play don’t go into your discard but instead come back to haunt you in a new room later. So, what is critical here is the timing on which cards you play and when. You need to be effective in which cards get defeated into your discard and which go into the obstacle discard to fight you later. Card effects in the line before it refills can have a positive or negative impact on you and affect how you play the game. All of this can be mitigated on how many cards you play in order to defeat cards to your discard pile.
Thematically, the game ties in well with its video predecessor. Only when you move does the game move. As you play cards, things happen, bad guys and bullets move in the room. You see the bullet coming at you. Can you slice it out of the air with your katana or will it inevitably hit you? As a whole, Superhot is a unique micro-deck builder. It’s not overly complex but does offer some interesting decisions. It plays fast and although the game play is very “samey” the large number of goal cards make the game challenging every time as well as offering that “let me play just one more time” feel.
[ This post originally appeared as an article in Game Nite Magazine # 17 ]
“Scheherazade had perused the books, annals and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples and instances of bygone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers.”
– Sir Richard Francis Burton’s translation of 1001 Nights
Shahrazad (an alternative spelling of Scheherazade) is a small box, cooperative tile-laying game for one or two players designed by Yu Ogasawara and published by Osprey Games. The game features beautiful, lush art on 22 tiles by illustrator Kotori Neiko who also did the art on the small box game Birdie Fight! Each tile is numbered 0 to 21 and each belongs to one of four suits or colors.
The solo (and 2 player) game is played over two rounds. The goal is to score as many points as possible by arranging tiles in columns across the table in a checker board fashion with no more than four tiles in a column. To start, a random tile is placed in the center of the gaming area and the player takes two tiles from the shuffled, face-down stack. The player will place a tile every turn adjacent to a previously placed tile and then draw one tile back up to two. The player may choose instead to replace an existing tile with another from her hand. In this case, she would then place two tiles on her next turn. You cannot replace tiles in two consecutive turns.
Once all the tiles are placed, tiles are scored but first some may be eliminated from scoring. First, tiles touching must increase in value from left to right. If one does not, it is flipped over and does not become part of the scoring. Second, tiles must form a valid path from the left side of the field all the way to the right side, in increasing value. If any do not, they are flipped over. Then, you identify the largest group of each connected color and score a point for each of those tiles and subtract one point for each empty space where you may not have paced a tile in a column. You then leave one column behind, shuffle the remaining tiles together and begin round two. This followed by another scoring phase which is added to the previous score for your final tally.
Mechanically there is nothing wrong with the game. Shahrazad is a light, puzzly sort of tile layer; a solid filler perfect for couples and a nice little distraction for the soloist. Although you do have some choices in placing tiles, it is somewhat random in so far as tile draws are concerned and only slightly mitigated by the choice of placing one or two tiles, or replacing one all together to assist in your strategy. There is no theme here as it’s more of placing increasing numbered tiles and trying to get large groups of like colors.
When I first opened the box, I was hoping the art would feature characters and places from 1001 Nights as told by Scheherazade and that the style of artwork be more indicative of Persian culture even if only a westernized version. Instead, it features the names and art suggestive of the 22 tarot cards of the Major Arcana. Plus, most of the illustrations feature famous folklore and fairy tale characters like Puss in Boots, Red Riding Hood’s Wolf, and Gepetto and Pinnochio. I get the “story telling” idea but it’s sort of mish mash. As nice as the art is, I was a little disappointed with the disconnect of the art from the title and what I was expecting.
Osprey seems to be on a roll with its small box games like Odin’s Ravens, the Raven’s of Thri Sahashri, and the Lost Expedition. The component quality is outstanding. The included scoring tiles where one overlaps another to keep score is gimmicky and unnecessary. In fact it’s just easier to use pen and paper.
I can’t imagine anyone pulling this game out often for solo play trying to beat their own score, but all things considered, it is still a solid addition to a gamer’s library especially as it fills a dual purpose as a light co-op, couples game, filler niche.
[ This post originally appeared as an article in Game Nite Magazine # 16 ]
“In the end, when it’s over, all that matters is what you’ve done.”
-Alexander the Great
You are Alexander and with his army conquer their way from Macedon on the Grecian peninsula through Mesopotamia to Indus and finally ending back in Babylon where Alexander would eventually die in 323 BC. If your campaign is successful, he shall be glorified as he completes Prophecies, governs enemy Cities or razes Enemy Strongholds. Can you conquer the ancient world and become history’s most successful military commander, Alexander the Great?
Field Commander: Alexander is a solitaire game published by Dan Verssen Games. The game includes four mounted campaign maps to choose from that include Granicus, Issus, Tyre, and Gaugamela. The Battle of Granicus is the best scenario to start with as other maps add more difficult armies to face as well additional rules. You may also string your plays from map to map for one giant, world conquering campaign! As you overpower more and more areas on each map, you will encounter Prophecies that you may or may not complete. These objectives will allow your Alexander to level up and become more powerful.
Various game counters represent your forces as well as those of your enemies. They include Archers, Light and Heavy Cavalry, Phalanx and Infantry, among others. Each counter possesses a strength value as well as a speed, or initiative, that determines who strikes first in battle. Having the sequence of play printed right on the board is a great reminder of the order of the steps you do on each turn. Initially, you can spend Gold to flip your counters from their reduced side back to full strength. Then, each unconquered Enemy Stronghold gets their chance to execute randomized orders that can build up their city with walls, place more Gold in them for you to loot, or even make them harder to beat by placing a garrison with extra forces within the city. Next, you get to scout ahead to see if the adjacent area you wish to move into offers any resistance or you may have to spend more Gold in order to have enough supplies for your troops.
Engaging enemy forces on the battlefield occur when you enter an occupied enemy region. Each enemy force counter draws a random enemy Battle Plan counter. The number drawn may be modified by Advisors you’ve brought along on your campaign. The Battle Plans give their assigned force an advantage. Likewise, Alexander’s forces get their own Battle Plans based on Alexander’s level as well as those plans that are purchased with Gold. Battle resolutions are based on the speed of the counter denoted in the upper right corner of the counter. Forces of the same speed are resolved simultaneously. Each hit reduces the opponent’s unit to its reduced side, or if already reduced, removes it from play. The game includes a player log sheet (that may be photocopied) to keep track of stats as you play your campaign. It also has an area for your battlefield at the bottom. A free, printable 8.5” x 11” battle mat on BoardGameGeek makes battling enemy forces easier to organize and, quite frankly, more thematic.
If you are successful in your war-like ways, Alexander will gain Glory. Additionally, pivotal areas of the map can be governed (Gold over the course of the game) or razed (a one time Gold pay out). The last step allows you to spend your acquired Gold and Glory on items such as purchasing forces, a City that gains you VPs, random Insight counters or Advisors that both allow for your forces to have special abilities, and you can level up Alexander to make him more formidable and allow you to gain additional Battle Plans to use against your enemy.
This is an over simplification of the rules because like most DVG games, there are some persnickety rules and exceptions, and the rulebooks are generally not laid out especially well or indexed. Also, the game is heavily lucked based since it relies on dice for battle outcomes although those rolls can be mitigated through Battle Plans, Insight and Advisor counters. For those that may be scared that this game, like many war games, comes with a lot of counters, it does not. It’s very manageable. Overall, the system is fairly straight forward to understand and after a couple of plays you probably won’t need to refer to the rules. Deciding which Battle Plans to use against enemy forces, when to Govern or to Raze a pivotal area, and what Advisors to choose, all add juts enough complexity to the game.
All that being said, it is a very enjoyable game. It’s a light-weight, dice rolling war game. But make no mistake, it’s not necessarily easy to win. The best experience you can have with it is to play the entire linked campaign. Or if time, and for many of us, space is an issue, you can play just one of the maps instead of all four.
There are other games in the Field Commander series including Rommel and Napoleon. Coming soon from DVG will be a Robert E. Lee version. So, depending on your interests, there might be a Field Commander game just right for you. This game is a great entry-level game into the system and a fantastic way to dip your toes into the shallow end of the war gaming pool. Heavier war games are out there for sure, but if you want something light, fast and quick, you can’t go wrong with Field Commander: Alexander.
[ This post originally appeared as an article in Game Nite Magazine # 15 ]
Roll Player is a dice drafting and manipulation game for 1-4 players from Thunderworks Games. Designed by Keith Matejka, players create RPG characters with the usual tropes of stats: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Class, Skills, Alignment, Traits and Equipment cards can also add complexity during play as well as scoring opportunities.
To start, choose a player board; this establishes your race i.e. Dwarf, Human, Orc, Elf, et cetera. Next, randomly assign yourself a doubled-sided class card. This establishes what profession your character will be: a rogue, monk, wizard, cleric, druid, and so on. Each class has different stat requirements that score reputation stars (victory points) based on the total pip value of dice in that stat’s row. Additionally, the card lists a special ability that can have an ongoing or a once per round effect. A random alignment card is placed on your home board with a cube that tracks whether you are good or evil; lawful or chaotic. This is not only a way to score more points but also used to enable certain special skills that you may acquire. A backstory card is also randomly chosen. This card sets up your pre-game history with some flavor text to give you some insight into your character and displays how additional points can be scored.
To start the game, take 6 random dice form the bag and roll them. Then place them on your board in whatever stat rows you’d like as long as you place dice all the way to the left. In other words you can’t put dice in random places like the middle of the far right side of a row. You’ll also start with 5 gold. Initiative cards numbered 1 through 3 are each placed above three Market cards. Then, three random dice from the bag are rolled and placed from least to greatest (ties are arranged by player choice) one on each of three initiative cards – the number two card also has one gold on it.
At the beginning of each round you will take a die. If you select the first card, the AI will not take any cards in the Market. If you take the second die, you will get a gold but the AI will roll 1d6. A 1, 2, or 3 will trash (destroy) its associated card (a 4-6 does nothing). If you take the third die, a 1/2 will destroy the first card, 3/4 the second and a 5/6 will destroy the last card.
Once you have placed your die on your player board you have the option of discarding a Market card, if you are not interested in buying one, which gains you 2 gold. Otherwise, you purchase one of the remaining cards by paying its gold cost. Skill cards, which can be used at anytime during the game, can only be activated if you can move your alignment cube as indicated by the arrow on the card. If you can’t move it, you can’t use it. If the arrow is next to its cost then, if possible, you must move your alignment cube as indicated when purchased. Weapons and armor cards may also be available to strengthen your character but only one Market card may be purchased each round.
The other two dice are put back into the bag, the left most card is discarded and any other remaining are destroyed and therefore removed from the game. You replenish the Market, roll and add three more dice to the initiative cards with no more than one gold on the 2nd card, and continue with the next round. Each time you place a die in a particular row you activate that stats’ special ability as indicated. Abilities may allow you to re-roll a die, switch dice around, flip one to its opposite side, or shift your alignment cube. Once a row is complete, you will also gain a gold and when your player board is completely filled with all 18 dice, the game ends and you calculate your final score.
This game in a word is fantastic! It’s a great puzzly, solo experience as you decide which die you should take to get your stats where they need to be. The obvious choices are high valued dice, however there are trait cards that allow you to have a low valued stat and still gain points. Skill cards, although affect your alignment, gain you valuable ways to adjust your dice. Although Roll Player can seem a bit random, there are some interesting decisions to be made as to when you should bail out of trying to hit 17+ on your strength and utilize a trait card to get 8 or less, for example. Armor cards allow for a set collection element. There are limitations on how many weapons you can carry. (After all, you only have two hands.) Dice colors that match your class gain you additional points and gold dice give you one gold each time you place them.
The game has its critics wishing there was more than just creating a character or that it’s too random, but then again it is a dice game. At game’s end you have an RPG character with a backstory, completed stats, special skills and equipment ready to go on an adventure. But that’s it – no more. Enter the next Kickstarter! A campaign is in the works by the publisher that will add a module to the game where your completed character will battle a beast or monster! I, for one, cannot wait for this added gameplay.
There are lots of opportunities to score, and Roll Player has just enough in game crunchiness that makes the game a little “thinky” but also allows it to be played really fast. I don’t think you will play one game and put it away. Many games can be played in one session as you try different boards, classes, backstories and alignments – the possibilities are endless.
[ This post originally appeared as an article in Game Nite Magazine # 14 ]
There’s been a lot of hype online for One Deck Dungeon and I decided to pick up a copy to see what all the fuss was about. It’s a small box with cards, lots of little dice, some cubes, and a little rulebook. It’s a solo or two player game out of the box. Higher player counts require additional copies of the game. I tried it out solo – Wow! There is a lot of game in this little box!
Designed by Chris Cieslik and published by Asmadi Games, One Deck Dungeon is essentially a mini dungeon crawler. You take on the role of your usual fantasy class types, Mage, Rogue, Paladin, etc. Interesting to note however is that all the classes are women. No male characters at all. My 8 year-old daughter liked that a lot!
After choosing your character, and choosing your dungeon rated easy to hard, you assemble your initial dice. The dice are different colors and represent strength, agility, and magic and differ from character to character. Moreover, you will have special abilities that allow you to gain additional hero dice or heal damage. On your hero card is indicated your health or hit points. On your turn, you expend time by discarding 2 cards in your dungeon deck, and you can “Explore” which adds up to four possible rooms (Encounter Cards) to enter or you can “Enter a Room” which results in Combat Encounters or Peril Encounters. Lastly, on the Turn Reference card, a white cube is placed on the potion section. Each cube represents one use of any potion placed under the card including the one already printed on it.
In Combat encounters, creatures have special abilities that will make your battle more difficult. You roll dice and place them on the card to meet the required numbers or higher based on the type of dice required. Two dice of any color can be exchanged for a one-time use black hero die of the lowest value of the two dice you exchanged. You get those colored dice back at the end of the encounter. This helps mitigate requirements that might be too difficult because perhaps you don’t have enough strength or agility dice to meet the check. It’s very possible that you can still “beat” the creature, take the loot but pay the consequences which is usually made up of losing health points and possibly time (discards of the dungeon deck). Lose too much health and you lose the game. Health can be regained with various potions.
Peril encounters are handled a bit differently. Here you will have a choice between two checks both require a different type of die and one is always harder than the other, and each with its own consequences should you fail.
If that weren’t hard enough, in either case, as you roll dice to beat your foe, you will also need to beat the dungeon floor or suffer the consequences. Once you get through the dungeon deck and you reach the “stairs” card at the bottom, you advance down to the next level of the dungeon. Shuffle up the encounter cards and start another round. After three, you will face the dungeon boss on the flip side of the dungeon card. Hopefully, you have gained enough XP to level up, have more dice, potions and skills necessary to fight the horrible beastie — they are tough to beat.
When you can claim a card as loot, which may or may not involve suffering consequences, that card is multi-purpose. Once you choose, you can’t voluntarily change it to something else. Although there are some cards that allow you to convert one type of loot to another. A claimed card can act as experience points that allow your hero to level up or it can be equipment, which means you can get an extra die or more. It can be a special skill/new ability that you place at the bottom of your hero card or it could be a new potion you place under the Turn Reference card.
All heroes begin at level one which limits how many potions they can have, how many skills they can use and how much equipment they can carry which translates into how many of each die type they are allowed to roll. Leveling up is key to winning the game as well as playing the included campaign mode.
I wish the box was a bit bigger for those of us that like to sleeve cards. Although not a huge issue if you toss the simple insert. However, what about expansions? This game is the new solo hotness right now and I think more cards and “stuff” would be very welcome. Depending on what gets added, the box might get a little tight.
This game is an ingenious design. Having the encounter card be a multi-purpose loot (reward) card is a great idea. What type of loot will you use that card for? XP? More dice? Or a really cool special ability that comes in handy later? Don’t forget about those potions! That’s where a lot of the strategy in this game resides – the risk/reward from the choices you make. Sure, it’s a bit random with success hinging on the card flip and the required die rolls but the strategy in this game comes from the balance of how you use your dice, skills and potions together.
One Deck Dungeon has a lot of replayability. Nothing heavy here to be sure and a fair amount of randomness. Lots of variety on the encounter cards. Different heroes to play. Different dungeon difficulty levels. Different bosses to face in the end. Although the rulebook does have some ambiguity in it, a visit to the BGG forums should address most questions. Otherwise, One Deck Dungeon is fantastic compact card-based, dice chuckin’ dungeon crawler worthy of the hype train it’s currently on.