Review: Yggdrasil

Posted by James (admin) on 13th April 2011

Yggdrasil is a co-operative game where the players are Norse gods trying to stop the evil ones causing the end of the world.  The first thing that strikes you is the artwork which is colour-rich, polished and seems almost backlit – which will be familiar to you if you’ve played or seen Ghost Stories as it’s by the same artist.  The board shows the great cosmic tree that supports the nine worlds.

During the game, the 6 evil ones advance across the 8 spaces towards Asgard.  Each turn, the current player draws an evil one card and then takes 3 actions.  Each evil one card shows which evil one advances 1 space towards Asgard and each evil one has a power too which get stronger as they advance.  The players lose if 5 evil ones go past the 3rd space, 3 evil ones go past the 5th space, or 1 evil one reaches the final 8th space (Asgard).  The players win if they can exhaust the evil one deck without losing, so they need to force the evil ones back and this is done through combat and the Norse gods will need the support of Viking spirits to stand a chance of beating them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Pirates 2nd Edition: The Governor’s Daughter

Posted by James (admin) on 12th April 2011

‘Pirates (2nd Edition): The Governor’s Daughter’ (which I’ll call Pirates from now on) was launched at Essen last year at the same time as ‘Merchants & Marauders’.  From reading the rules, Merchants & Marauders seemed like it would be the detailed game and Pirates would be a more simple Eurogame so they both interested me.

The Goal – In Pirates, players are racing to be the first to rescue the Governor’s Daughter who has been kidnapped by the Dread Pirate Roberts.  To save her, a player needs to obtain both parts of the map to Roberts’ island, then go there and either pay him 50 doubloons or intimidate him (with 30+ reputation).  Each player has their own character with a unique ability and, during the game, players can upgrade their ship’s battle strength and cargo capacity.  Also, players have a hand of up to 5 cards which can be battle cards (altering battle strength), missions cards (giving personal goals usually involving sailing to a space and fighting) and crew cards (such as +1 battle strength for the next round). Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Khan

Posted by James (admin) on 29th March 2011

Khan was released at Essen in October 2010 and I finally got my chance last night and it was worth the wait.  The setting is 1244 and each player is chasing out the existing 8 Mongol leaders in order to conquer more territory than their opponents.  Each player their own coloured set of counters representing their yurts (which are like large tents) and starts with some special action cards and a hand of 4 random cards.

The board shows various terrain areas with a river passing through some and the 8 Mongol leaders start on the board.  Next to the board are various Tetris-ish shaped tiles.  The goal is to place and own these to score points. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Charon Inc

Posted by James (admin) on 26th January 2011

Charon Inc is designed by Emanuele Ornella who designed Assyria and Il Principe among others (and who I interviewed last year).

In Charon Inc players place flags to take control of different areas of a moon in order to get gems which are used to build buildings to score victory points (VPs) – most VPs at the end of the game wins.  It may sound like pretty standard stuff but there are some clever game mechanics that create lots of interaction and tactical decision-making.

At the start of each of the 5 rounds, players place one of their flags on each of the 5 special ability spaces.  Then, players take turns removing any one of their flags from a special ability and placing it onto the board.  The moon is divided into a grid with gems placed in the areas (gem colours in each area are random but the quantities are fixed).  A player can place their flag on any empty corner, side or centre of an area.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Crows

Posted by James (admin) on 25th January 2011

Crows was on my radar when I read the rules before Spiel, so I bought a copy there and finally got to play it this week.  Crows is a simple game for 2-4 players but contains a surprising amount of tactical play.  The game consists of tiles (most showing a tree with 0, 1, 2 or 3 crows on each), some special ability tiles and lots of crow meeples.  Each player gets a coloured gem (shiny object) too.

A player’s turn consists of: 1. Draw a random tile and add it to those on the table; 2. Place their shiny object on an empty tile; 3. (Optionally) play one special ability tile.  Once each player has had one turn, the crows move towards the nearest shiny objects and players score points based on how many crows are on the tile with their shiny object.  If there are 6+ crows on a tile, they scatter.  Finally, the starting player moves on to the next player and another round begins.  When there are no more tiles to place, the game ends and the player with the most points wins.

As you can see, it seems like a very simple game on the surface but it delivers some interesting game play.  Read the rest of this entry »

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On The Radar: Letters From Whitechapel

Posted by James (admin) on 24th January 2011

I like Scotland Yard and think it’s a great game for both new and experienced players so Letters From Whitechapel is very intriguing as it sounds like Scotland Yard with more meat.

One player is Jack the Ripper who needs to perform a series of murders and the other players are the police trying to catch him before he has completed his grizzly activities and escaped.  As with Scotland Yard, Jack moves invisibly on the board so the police need to find his trail and get ahead of Jack.  The core element of the game is trying to read the other opponent(s) and predict where they will go next.

First, Jack places tokens representing his targets on the special murder sites but some of them are bluffs.  Next, the police place their men but some of these are bluffs.  The targets are then revealed (bluffs are removed) and Jack can choose to strike immediately or wait; if he waits, the targets wander the streets but Jack gets to reveal police tokens to find and remove police bluffs.  However, Jack can only wait so long and must strike soon.  As soon as he murders a victim, the clock is running – he starts at the murder location and must make it back to his hideout before dawn (15 turns) and without getting caught by the police who start moving as soon as the murder is announced.  An extra twist is that Jack returns to the same hideout after each murder so the police can start to deducting this location as the game progresses. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: 7 Wonders

Posted by James (admin) on 24th January 2011

7 Wonders was the most anticipated game of Spiel 2010 with a very effective pre-launch campaign and general word-of-mouth. During the game, each player builds various buildings including developing their wonder of the world.  The winner is the player that scores the most victory points (VPs).

The game lasts 3 eras and each era consists of 6 turns.  Each turn, players pick one of the building cards in their hand and either:

(a) Build it
– Paying resources (if their built buildings produce enough or bought from neighbours)
– For free (if they built the pre-requisite building, or if it’s a basic building requiring zero resources)
(b) Discard it for 3 cash
(c) Use the card to build the next stage of their wonder (with the relevant resources)

Sounds pretty standard, right?  Well, there are several game mechanics that make 7 Wonders very different to other games. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Loch Ness

Posted by James (admin) on 21st December 2010

Two games about Loch Ness were released at this year’s Spiel in Essen.  This one is by Ronald Wettering, who designed Lifeboats – a great game where players vote each other’s people out of sinking life boats.  With such a great (and humourously vindictive game) in his repertoire, I was automatically interested in Loch Ness.

Players have 3 photographers (numbered 3, 4 & 7) who are trying to take photos of the Loch Ness monster (Nessie).  The better the position when Nessie appears, the more victory points (VPs) you will score. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Grand Cru

Posted by James (admin) on 20th December 2010

Grand Cru is one of several wine-making themed games released at Essen this year.  Each player owns a vineyard (board) where they will place the wine they make and any tiles they buy – each tile shows either one type of vine or a special action.  There are 5 types of wine each represented by a different colour (which represents a type of grape/vine).  Players take out loans during the game (each worth 7 cash) but must pay interest each round.  Each round players take turns performing just 1 action each.

Developing a Vineyard
As an action, a player can choose one of the newly drawn, face-up tiles and start an auction for it by placing one of their markers on their bid price (1-6).  On their turn, any other player can use an action to raise a bid (max price 6).  If a player is still the highest bidder, they can use an action to buy that tile.  Also, a player can use an action to immediately buy any face-up tile (whether being auctioned or not) for 7 cash. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Asara

Posted by James (admin) on 17th December 2010

Asara piqued my interest because it’s by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling – the designing partnership that created games like Tikal, Torres and the more recent Tikal II.  Over 4 rounds, players build towers to score victory points (VPs) based on their colours, height and quantity and most VPs wins.  Now this all sounds like standard stuff but Asara has some clever game mechanics that makes it very entertaining.

Each round players receive 20 cash and some worker cards (which come in 5 different colours).  Then, players take turns performing one action each until all players have used all of their cards.  To take an action, a player must place 1 of their worker cards face-up onto one of the limited set of spaces for worker cards next to the selected action.  However, if a worker card has already been placed on that action’s spaces then any new cards for that action must be of the same colour as the card already played.  If a player can not (or doesn’t want to) play a matching colour card, they can place any 2 cards face-down instead. Read the rest of this entry »

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