Spiel 2014 Preview: Colt Express

Posted by James (admin) on August 29th, 2014

Colt Express boxColt Express is a visually impressive looking game but the gameplay also sounds like a lot of fun.  The players are all outlaws looting a train and the player with the most loot at the end of 5 rounds wins.

Players use cards in their hand to pre-program their outlaw’s actions.  Each round a tile is drawn which states how many actions players will program and which of these will be declared face-up (so opponents know what you have planned that action) and which face-down.  To make matters harder, players only have a sub-set of their cards to use each round, so they may not have access to every type of action, plus they have a limited number of each type of action too.  As a result, you will need to work out how to achieve what you want with the cards you have and to factor in what other players may do too.

An outlaw can be located in a carriage or on the roof.  Actions do things like: Move your outlaw (into a neighbouring carriage, or up to 3 along the roof), Move your outlaw from the carriage to the roof (or vice versa), Rob a passenger (take one of the loot tokens in your current carriage), Move the marshall figure (and Johnny Law shoots outlaws and makes them move to the roof), Punch and Shoot.  If you punch an opponent, they drop one of their loot tokens and are moved to a neighbouring carriage/roof.  If you shoot, you can only shoot into the next carriage if inside, or you can shoot to wherever the next outlaw is if you’re on the roof.

If you get shot, you add a bullet card to your deck from the player who shot you.  This card is useless so being wounded can reduce the number of useful cards you have to use for actions (if it’s one of the ones you draw).  Players have limited bullet cards and there’s a bonus for the player who shoots the most. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Francis Drake

Posted by James (admin) on August 28th, 2014

Francis Drake  gameFrancis Drake was one of my favourite games at Spiel 2013.  A game of sailing, looting and plundering, but with strong eurogame mechanics and some psychological interplay between the players.

During the game, players will set sail 3 times and each voyage consists of a provisioning phase and a sailing phase.  The provisioning phase is where the players gather resources for their journey: guns, crew, supplies, trade goods, a bigger ship, special roles, etc.  Players take turns moving along the main street of Plymouth – 18 locations laid out in a long line – and the players take turns using a location by placing one of their 10 action discs to gain whatever the location offers.  However, players can only select locations further down the street from their last location (and never go backwards).  Also, some locations have limited slots/uses, plus some of the actions on a location are better than others.  As a result, players want to progress slowly to use lots of different locations, but move quickly so they can grab what is on offer before someone else does (and they are potentially left without a resource they want).  If you’ve played Egizia (one of my favourite games), you’ll recognise this very engaging game mechanic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lasercut Role-play Terrain

Posted by James (admin) on August 20th, 2014

Lasercut photosI noticed this Kickstarter project the other day which I think looks amazing.  The project is creating laser-cut wood pieces with which you can make dungeons or villages for table top play.

Some of the pieces attach to the base plate(s) and the rest of the items slot together so it’s completely modular and can be taken apart too.  Floors and roofs can be removed too so you can use the inside of the buildings.  Whilst primarily for role-playing and table top games, I think they’d be great as the board for a board game too.

You can read more about the project, pledge levels and watch videos here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/direbadger/direbadger-lasercut-roleplay-town-and-dungeon-terr/

The time lapse video of the project creator making one of the sets is interesting to watch.  Check out the headstones in the graveyard – you can have one inscribed with your name if you want.

James.

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Aquasphere

Posted by James (admin) on August 19th, 2014

Aquasphere game close-upThose of you that have read my blog for a while will know I’m always interested in Stefan Feld’s games as I like how he uses interesting game mechanics.  One of his releases this year is Aquasphere which is on the complex end of the scale.

If you see a picture of it, the game looks incredibly complicated but it’s actually relatively simple as far as the mechanics go – it will be working out how to make best use of your actions (as well as doing so whilst other players get in the way) that will be the trickiest part.

The game is set in an underwater base comprised of 6 sectors which each have 7 coloured sections (1 for each type of action).  Each player has an engineer who programs their bots, bots that carry out pre-programmed actions, a scientist who determines where the bots carry out their actions, and some submarines.  Each player has a player board where their bots and subs are placed, as well as a lab which is where their items are stored (with strict limits).  On your turn, you either program one of your bots, carry out an action with a programmed bot, or pass. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Hyperborea

Posted by James (admin) on August 18th, 2014

Hyperborea game

Hyperborea sounds like it should be an excellent eurogame Civilisation game (and is co-designed by Andrea Chiarvesio who co-designed Kingsburg).  Players explore and control a landscape made of large hex tiles – that’s pretty normal.  The interesting part is the core game emchanic that gives players their actions.  Each player has a bag of cubes and each cube colour represents a different type of action.  On their turn, a player draws 3 cubes and  then allocates all of them to different areas on their player board to activate actions (technologies) or develop their civilisation.

Each of the 6 colours of cube represents an aspect of civilisation; for example red represents warfare, green represents exploration, blue represents science, etc.  Some actions (technologies) on the player boards require 2 or 3 cubes in different combinations of colours to activate them and these have a nice thematic reasoning behind them; for example, 1 red then 1 green cube completes a Warfare technology that lets a player to attack and move.  Players place the cubes onto the various spaces so can pre-fill some combinations ready to complete and use the technology in a future turn; however, players must activate an action that is completely filled (no holding it to use later).  Also, each technology on the player boards has two slightly different versions and you can’t use one if there are cubes on the other – so you can’t just pre-load every technology.  Once placed, cubes can not simply be moved to another technology, so you need to be careful not to commit to actions that may not be useful later or aren’t possible to complete.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Cahoots (iPhone)

Posted by James (admin) on August 15th, 2014

Cahoots iPhone gameIt’s been a long time since I reviewed an iPhone game.  I play plenty of them but, with limited time to write reviews, I usually choose to focus on writing about physical board games.

Cahoots is a trick-taking game with a bit of a difference.  Four players are each dealt cards: 6 suits (colours) and numbered between 4 and 8 with some duplication.  (Suits and colours mean the same thing so I’ll just use the word colour from now.)  Each round, the four players take turns playing a card and do this twice until 8 cards have been played.  The colour with the highest total wins the round.

Players are each allocated 3 colours at the start of the game – I’ll call these scoring colours.  As there are only 6 colours in total in the deck, each player shares each of their colours with a different opponent.

Once 8 cards have been played, the colour with the highest total wins that round and each player who has that colour as one of their scoring colours scores 2 points.  If there’s a tie between colours, all players earn 1 point for each scoring colour that tied the round. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Abyss

Posted by James (admin) on August 13th, 2014

Abyss game set-upBruno Cathala has a been a busy guy this year as Abyss is yet another game co-designed by him – this time with Charles Chevallier.

The goal of the game is to be crowned King of Abyss by having the most Influence Points (IPs) at the end of the game.  Abyss is a stunning-looking, fantasy world set deep beneath the sea.  During their turn, a player can do one of 3 actions: Explore, Request Support from the Council, or Recruit a Lord.

If the current player chooses the Explore action, they draw a card (could be an ally or a monster) and place it on the exploration track.  If it’s an ally, each player in turn has a chance to buy the ally with pearls (giving them to the current player).  Each player can only buy one ally during the current player’s turn, and each ally purchased increases the price of the next one.  If no other player buys the ally, the current player can choose to take it for free.  If the card is a monster, the current player can either immediately defeat it (earning various items based on how high the threat level is), or leave it on the exploration track which raises the threat level (which increases the gains from defeating a future monster).  If the current player did not take the ally, or defeat the monster, they draw another card and repeat the process.  When a player does take the ally or defeat the monster (and they must do that if the exploration track is full), their Exploration action ends and all the cards on the exploration track are placed in face-down stacks according to their type (in the Council area of the board). Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Madame Ching

Posted by James (admin) on August 12th, 2014

Madame Ching game set-upMadame Ching looks like a really interesting eurogame.  Players send their boats on expeditions across the sea by playing cards (each showing a number, a colour and a symbol) - so far that sounds very normal, but the central game mechanic is unusual.

At the start of each round, players simultaneously reveal one card from their hand of cards.  In order, based on their card number (highest to lowest), players each take a turn playing the card they revealed.

If a player’s card has a higher value than their previous card, the player’s ship advances across the sea grid of numbered spaces moving it one space to the right.  If the card has added a new colour to their expedition’s cards, the ship also moves down one space too.

Whilst not essential to understanding the game, there’s one bit I want to highlight because I think it’s rather clever (especially as I admire the maths of it).  Each space on the grid shows a number.  If a player wants to check if their ship is on the correct space, they look at the cards in their expedition and multiply the number of cards by the number of different coloured cards.  The total number matches the space’s number.  Clever. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Black Fleet

Posted by James (admin) on August 11th, 2014

Black Fleet gameFresh from their SdJ nomination with Splendor, Space Cowboys are releasing the very fun-looking, pirate game of Black Fleet.

The board shows a sea full of Caribbean islands and ports.  Players each have a pirate ship and a merchant ship, plus there are 2 navy ships on the board too.  On their turn, players play a movement card from their hand (usually only 2 cards).  This states how many spaces their merchant ship, their pirate ship, and one specific navy ship can move.  The ships can be moved in any order and each can perform one action during its move too.

Pirate ships not already carrying treasure can attack an opponent’s merchant ship if in a neighbouring space earning 2 dubloons and taking 1 of its cargo (plus sinking the merchant ship if it has no cargo remaining).  Pirate ships carrying treasure (stolen cargo) can bury it on specific islands to earn extra dubloons.  Merchant ships can deliver goods at ports that will accept for them (ports pay different amounts for different colours of goods, but don’t accept all colours).  Selling goods means the merchant ship then gains a full load of goods of the colour that matches the port too.  The navy ships can be moved next to opponent’s pirate ships to sink them (earning 2 dubloons too).  Sunk ships may be inconvenient but they are back in play at the start of your next turn so you’re never without all your movement options. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Samurai Spirit

Posted by James (admin) on August 10th, 2014

Samurai Spirit gameI’m always interested in the games that Funforge create as their production quality is superb and I’ve liked a lot of what they’ve published, such as QuantumPony Express and Tokaido.  This year it’s a co-operative game called Samurai Spirits.

Up to 7 players each play a Samurai hero defending a village from some raiders.  The board shows a village with some barricades, farmsteads and families. On their turn, a player can choose to fight a raider, support another player, or pass.  When a player chooses to fight, they draw a raider card and either confront it (placing it on the right of their player board), or defend against it (placing it on the left of their board).  The total attack strength of all raiders on the right of a player’s board is marked on their ‘battle track’ and, if it equals the highest value, the player performs their character’s kiai ability.  The Kiai ability not only has a special effect but it also removes their earliest fought raider which usually results in the total attack strength going down.  If the total attack strength exceeds a player’s battle track, they have no choice other than to pass on their turn. Read the rest of this entry »

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