Infinities Defiance of Fate

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Today we take a look at a game I was very excited to see arrive. Infinities Defiance of Fate is a lot of game. This prototype was provided for the purpose of this written preview. The art and assests are not final and are subject to change. The game is scheduled to go live on Kickstarter on 2/20/18.

Where to start? There is a whole lot of game in this little box. Infinities is several things. It has a story based adventure mode about a world caught between two different times. It has a team based skirmish mode. It even has a free for all skirmish mode. The game plays 2-4 people and takes about 20-30 minutes per player. It is a blend of tactical war game and strategy card play. The board is a hex based modular board that you create as you play. You will each select a leader from a choice of not only two very distinct factions but also multiple leaders per faction. Now this is where things get interesting. Each faction has its own deck. This deck is shared among the players whose leaders belong to that faction. Your leader boards contain most of the information you’ll need as you play. Your play area will look something like the picture below. You will roll dice to determine what actions you take on a turn. These dice can be manipulated using your special abilities. Once you lock a die in (by placing it on your leader board) you may no longer manipulate (change the face of) the dice.

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As you can see your leader board will contain three rows of abilities used to manipulate the action dice. They also have a set of unique powers called gambits. Two of these abilities are activated using the gambit spaces under the leaders picture. The other two are activated by the dice themselves. If you look you will see that there are three spaces on the card that contain white circles. These are your play area for cards and the white circles indicate how many cards can be in that area. There is a hand limit of five. You may have three cards in the prepared area, and a further four in your group. While your hand is self-explanatory let me clarify the meaning of prepare and group. To prepare a card you pay one energy to place it in that area. On the next turn you may pay another energy to activate the card and add it to the group. This allows certain cards to use special abilities but also allows you to play them a little cheaper. Strategically this can be very important. The group is your units that are used for combat. Each card has a cost, specific attribute which affects the tracks on your leader card, and of course an ability. There is another type of card that are not units but just abilities. These are played and then discarded. These are just the barest basics of card play.

The map is modular and consists of both timelines as you can see in this picture.

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The rift is your starting tile in skirmish. From there in turn order you will then play two tiles from either stack. You’ll move your leader (designated by a pawn in the prototype). Now as you can see each tile has a number. That is influence and determines play order. The other symbols give you abilities to use either by going through, starting, or ending a turn on them. This is the most basic of explanations of course. The tiles themselves can be flipped, moved, and manipulated also.

In adventure mode the two factions have branching narratives with asymmetric actions, win conditions, and objectives. The skirmish modes (free for all and team) are a points game. You each have a tide marker that starts at 50. If someone hits 0 or 100 the skirmish is over. There is an objective card chosen at random which gives points for specific actions. So as you can see there are a lot of moving parts at play. I don’t want to spend all of our time together reading you a rule book however. As is customary when I do these previews lets talk about how feel about the game. For more detail on rules make sure to check the board game geek page for the game. Now on to my thoughts on the game.

Well as you can see above I gave a very general introduction of some of the more important aspects of the game. It truly is a very strategic game. It also has multiple layers. You have two separate factions which have different styles of play. You have to be mindful of the map itself as it is being manipulated by other players. Another layer of strategy comes from the cards you get and even the way in which you bring them to the field. I could go on and on about the strategies I’ve thought up but I think it is more fun to discover yourself. The narrative that surrounds the adventure mode is also very fascinating to me. I really am excited to see how the narrative plays out. All three game modes work very well even though the factions are different they are balanced. The art direction is great. The prototype has a lot of place holder art but the art that is there is fantastic and evocative of this very foreign world it inhabits. Allow me to share a couple of my favorites below. The top image is Auren (The Lord of Ashes) one of my favorites from the Ob’dija timeline and the other is W-01A (the World Bracer) from the Xilsen timeline.

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The game is very crunchy though. It will take a couple of plays to really get the feel for all the moving bits. That is before you really start learning the ins and outs of the strategy. In short you’ll certainly get more out of this game than the box leads you to believe. I could ramble on about how much I liked what I played, and how deep a rabbit hole of strategy and quality that this game contains. The important take away and my final word on the subject is that you should back with confidence. This is something special and unique. It is an awesome experience and one I personally cannot wait to dive into once its finished.

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Oh Cluck!

Today we are looking at Oh Cluck! A chicken fighting card game fo 2-6 players. This game was provided for the purposes of this preview.

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Oh Cluck! is a battle card game. The game is split into two decks as seen above. The players will draw a number of green rooster cards to form their coop. The number of roosters is decided by the number of players. Then the players get five of the blue action cards. Their are four types of action cards as shown in the picture below.

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Above you see the main types of cards. The four types of action cards are Dodge, Attack, Counter, and Special. There are also a couple examples of rooster cards. Each rooster has unique health (feather), point value (eggs), and an ability of some kind. There are a couple unique cards but I do not want to spoil them.  The first player to score 12 points wins. Now battles are the real meat of the game. A player will select a rooster as target and play a card. It is important to note that you draw a new card immeadiately. Now the targeted player has a chance to counter that card. So this can actually go back and forth for a bit and adds a really nice sense of struggle to what could of been  War with chickens. Other players can also sometimes affect battles they are not involved in. It is possible to lose all your roosters before somebody scores 12 points. This means that you are eliminated. No worries the game plays quick enough that you will not be out for long.

So on to my thoughts. The game is quick to teach and quick to play. It is a perfect lunch break or party opener. I really like the art style and some of the humor is spot on. The cards are varied enough that you never quite know whats coming from your opponents hand. In short we had a ton of fun playing this game over lunch and I look forward to bringing it out at family get togethers. The preview copy I received is a few cards short of what they would like to ship backers. If you like a quick take that style game I feel more than comfortable recommending you take a look at this games kickstarter. The kickstarter will go live on the 25th of January 2018. Thank you all very much for your time and until next time play some games.

Dashing Crustaceans

Today we are looking at a prototype for Crab Dash. crab1

This is a racing and betting game for 3-6 players. You start by putting the six crabs in the center of the board. Like in the picture below. This was taken after the first movement of the game. crab2

You then remove the event cards from the deck of cards, shuffle, then deal three cards to each player.  You will then give each player a specified amount of pearls according the number of players. You then choose a color and are given ten betting cubes of that color. You will then make a token pool with four spill tokens and a number of reroll tokens equal to twice the number of players. You then assign a first player and place a betting cube on one of the six crab boards and then in reverse order do so once more. The board is divided into lanes and crabs will either move straight or sideways in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction depending on the dice roll. The board indicates the cost of betting depending on the location of the crab (one, two, or three) and also indicates the number of crabs that could be in a space (one, two, or three).

Now that you’ve set up your game its time to play. This is done by rolling the three dice. The white die indicates which two crabs and in what order they move. The red and blue dice indicate the number and or direction the crab moves. They also dictate whether you draw a card or reroll token. During your turn you may pay to place a betting cube either on a lane or crab card. You may also choose to play a card during your turn.

Now on to whether or not we had fun and what I think about the game. Let me open by saying that we had a lot of fun playing this game. The dice do a pretty good job actually imitating a hermit crab race. During our first play through the orange crab literally spun in circles in the middle of the board. This was a source of much laughing as bets were being made and adjusted. The cards have some nice effects that break up just the basic movements. A lot of the games strategy comes to the front in how you use reroll tokens and of course where and how often you bet. I fell victim to over zealousness when I decided the blue crab was destined for victory. He was not unfortunately. This game would definitely be something I would regularly play with my son but also deep enough that my adult friends enjoy it too. The art and pieces in the game are in the prototype stages so they may change. That being said I really like the art on the crabs. They exude great personality. I certainly enjoyed my time with this game and suggest ,if your interested in a good kids game or a game to open up your game night with, that you take a look at this game when it hits Kickstarter soon.

What does the Fox say?

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Today we are taking a look at Kung-Pao Chicken. This prototype was provided by the designer for the purposes of this preview. This is a hidden role game with a twist. You don’t know what your role is but everyone else does. The gameplay is relatively simple. You pass out cards to each player as their role. Once done shuffle the remaining cards and deal cards to each player. You then play three rounds. On round one and three you will pass a card clockwise and then do so again. In round two you do the same thing only counter-clockwise. You then discard the left over cards face up in the middle of the table.  You then take turns playing your cards in each others barns or your own (you each have a barn card in front of you). At the end of the round if you were a fox you score for each chicken discarded from your barn, if you’re a chicken you get a point for each chicken left in their barn. Since all of the cards are played in secret you don’t know whats being played into your barn by other players. The cards work as follows. If you have a fox in the barn all chickens are discarded. If you have a dog and a fox, the fox is discarded and for each fox you must have a dog to counter it. It is that simple. Once the cards have been played you then guess whether you’re a fox or chicken. You score extra points if you guess correctly. That is the most basic explanation on how to play. Ok on the my personal thoughts.

So as I talk about this keep in mind that it is not the final product and some things may change before release. The art is very simple and as a result very easy to understand. It is language independent as the only card with text is a Kickstarter exclusive promo. While the game is simple there is fun to be had. Now on that note I will say the rules need to be improved as they were written poorly and thus more difficult to learn than necessary. The prototype I received also lacked the score card. Neither of these broke the game and the rules only complicated not ruined the experience. If I had to score the game as is I would probably give it a 6 or 7 mostly because of the rules.

So in closing its a fun and simple hidden role style game for up to 5 players. With a little work on rules clarification it will go from being ok to good. Definitely something I’ll enjoy playing again. Look for it on Kickstarter very soon. As always thanks for reading and game on.

Just Another Pawn

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Today we are going to talk about an abstract strategy game for two players called Duress. This copy was provided to me for the purposes of this review. Now the above image may seem familiar and with good reason. You don’t actually use chess pieces however. Instead you set up the board like this.

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As you can see in the image above you have what looks like scrabble pieces in three seperate colors and a batch of white squares with chess pieces printed on them. The object of the game is to be the person who moves more of your letters onto the pieces in the middle. The catch is that you can only move your letters like the chess pieces. You determine which chess piece by pulling one of the white squares from a bag. That is how the game is played. It is deceptively simple and very much easy to learn. So the question as always is whether or not it is any fun.

Well the good news is the board has variable setups. So you can set the intial layout up a bunch of different ways and that can lead to some very interesting games. The game is not ground breaking but it is interesting enough that I shall happily play it again. Most importantly we had a good time and at the end of the day thats all you can ask from a game. However the basic setup the game suggests is lacking balance as the red side can move two of its letters straight and claim points. Blue does not have a similar setup to this. The pieces are of a quality expected for the low cost of the game. The bag your supposed to pull the chess squares from was mistakenly left out by the manufacturer. If you contact the company however they will ship the bag to you. None of these are game breaking issues as you can easily adjust the setup at the beginning of the game and the other issues are addressed either by the developer or your expectations. All this being said I would award this game a 7/10. It is a fun however slightly unremarkable game. If it weren’t for the initial setup feeling so unbalanced and the fact that chess movement is used to death I would probably score it higher. I have played far less fun games for under $20.

As always thank you for your time and game on.

Archmage Origins

Today we are going to take a look at a small card game from SolarFlare games. Archmage Origins is a 2-4 player card game that can be played in 10-20 minutes and was provided for review purposes by SolarFlare games.

In this game you play as mages fighting to control monsters. You do this by setting the monster cards up in a 4×4 grid. You then choose whose playing which mage. You can choose from Demonologist, Necromancer, Technomancer, and Elementalist. Each player will have a 10 card hand containing 8 numberd cards, a hold monster card, and a unique spell card. Players take turns secretly peeking at two monster cards one at a time. You may then choose to swap the two cards. Then on the outside of the grid you will place one of your numbered card to attempt to take control of a row of cards. Imagine a blank play space next to each side of a card in the outer edges. So four on top, bottom, and each side. Every space may contain up to two cards played by either the same player or two seperate players. After this is done you may choose to use your hold card (making sure a monster cannot be seen or moved by another player during the game) or your unique spell card which in can bend some rules in your favor. After all your numbered cards have been played you then score the monsters to whichever player has the highest score for the row. Whoever controls the most monsters wins.

Ok thats a brief overview on how the game works. The big question is whether or not its fun. I am happy to report that it is a very fun micro game. The strategy is all in the monster manipulation and the placement of your numbered cards. Certain monsters have abilities that benifit specific players or may harm other players. Thus it becomes very important to idetify the rows and columns you really want and then remove the monsters that you don’t. The strategic depth is enough to ensure playing is never boring. The spell cards add a nice little wrinkle to the standard strategy and allow some more advanced card manipulation. We had a lot of fun stealing cards from each other. I also want to draw special attention to the art. It is very nice and I would love to see more from this team.

In closing I would like to award a score of 8 out of 10. If you would like your own copy it can be found at SolarFlaregames.com

 

Kids at Heart

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Today we are taking a look at Pretending to Grownup designed by Jason Anarchy and published by Golden Bell Games. This copy was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.

So let me run you through the gameplay basics first. Pretending to Grownup is a take that style card game for 2-4 players. You will each receive a hand of five cards. There are three different types of cards with the red bordered cards being optional.

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As shown above the blue and red cards have time, money, and energy stats on them. The purple cards allow you to bend the rules in some pretty spectacular ways. The point of the game is to be the first to ten points. This is achieved by winning showdowns with other players. These showdowns take place between atleast two of the players. All players may choose to participate however.  The player whose turn it is will start by declaring I have the most time, energy, or money and playing a card facedown the player to their right can then choose to respond and so on around the table. The responding player or players will then decide whether they would like to play a card a declare they have more. If a player responds and wins the hand they score a point for each card on the pile if they don’t or if nobody accepts the challenge the original player scores a point for each card. Your turn consists of one action either you play your card or accept more responsibility (draw two cards). Most of the purple cards state when they can be played, though some of them can be played when you would normally play a card. The other action you may choose to do on your turn is take the unipegasaurus from the middle of the table (shown below).

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Having control of this piece gives you an extra point when winning a challenge. He can of course be stolen and if he is requested too often he will return to the middle of the table. Thats it for the gameplay folks but thats all there needed to be. The game is classic fun. It doesn’t break new ground but thats ok in a game like this.

The part of this game that does really stand out was the art and theme. I mean look at those adorable cards. The sense of humor is also present in spades. It’s this art and theme that raises this game above being forgettable fun and in to being something we will play again and again. I give this a 7/10 for fun gameplay and excellent art and theme.