Archive for the ‘Card games’ Category

27
Oct

Review – Smash Up

   Posted by: Jim   in Card games, Reviews

Designer: Paul Peterson
Artists: Dave Allsop, Bruno Balixa, Conceptopolis, Francisco Rico Torres
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
Players: 2-4
Playing time: 45 minutes
Age range: 12+ (can be played by 10+)


(Image courtesy of thatmadgirl@BoardGameGeek)

There are two kinds of classic geek debates: the first is who would win within a single subgenre (e.g. could the Death Star beat the Enterprise); the second is which subgenres could beat the other (e.g. zombies vs. ninjas). Smash Up provides you with a testing group for the second, with an additional twist: you can combine two subgenres together and battle them head to head by trying to take over bases and score victory points.
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20
Oct

Review – Dominion and Dominion: Intrigue

   Posted by: Jim   in Card games, Reviews

Designer: Donald X. Vaccarino
Artists: Various
Publisher: Rio Grande Games
Players: 2-4
Playing time: 30 minutes
Age range: 10+


(Image courtesy of endou_kenji@BoardGameGeek)

I first got a chance to play Dominion as a prototype at Origins and even then knew it was going to be something big. I have to say, though, I didn’t realize that it would start off an entirely new genre of games: the deck-building game. Since I’m going to be covering other deck-building games soon, I thought it would be best to start from the very beginning.

For those not familiar with them, deck-building games are related to collectible card games and “living” card games: each player has their own deck of cards with abilities that are reasonably simple, but can be combined together to create much more powerful effects. However, with those other games you pre-build your deck up front, and play from and add to your hand incrementally. The new mechanic that deck-building games bring is that you start with a very simple and small (usually around 10 cards) deck, draw an entire hand each turn, play what you can, and discard the rest. As the game progresses, you buy new cards which are added to your deck, making it progressively more powerful. These cards are limited, so you’d best buy them while you can…
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Designer: Jeffrey Neil Bellinger
Publisher: Playroom Entertainment
Players: 2-8
Playing time: 90 minutes
Age range: 10+


(Image courtesy of Howitzer_120mm@BoardGameGeek)

During That Board Gaming Thing, there was a flea market. I brought about 25 games, and I figured I could continue my reviews by looking at some of them, just to explain why I’m paring them from our collection.

The first of these is Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot. The name pretty much describes it all — you play bunnies in front of you on the table, arm them, and try to kill your opponents’ bunnies. As the game progresses you will collect carrots. At the end of the game, whoever still has a bunny out and has collected the eponymous Magic Carrot wins the game.

The one interesting wrinkle of the game is that you start the game by playing two cards face down. Then, on your turn, you reveal the first card, push the second card up to the first slot, draw a new card, and play a new card from your hand to the second slot. So you’re always pre-playing your cards a turn behind.

Killer Bunnies is certainly an amusing game, with the humorous bunnies and the ridiculous weapons. But humor is not enough to carry a game that pretty much boils down to collecting lottery tickets. You could spend the entire game eliminating your opponents’ bunnies, and in the end the person who was completely ineffective but just happened to collect one card that’s the Magic Carrot could win. It also, like other games of its ilk such as Munchkin, tends to drag on far longer than anyone really wants it to. As far as I’m concerned, if I never play it again, it’ll be too soon.

Verdict: Avoid

8
Oct

Recent Vintage Review: Pluckin’ Pairs

   Posted by: Jim   in Card games, Reviews

(Part of a series, reviewing games I played in September 2013 at That Board Gaming Thing.)

Designer: Stephen Glenn
Publisher: R & R Games
Players: 3-8
Playing time: 50 minutes
Age Range: 12+

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(Not a picture of gameplay)

Pluckin’ Pairs is a very simple party game. You start by laying out eleven cards with images on them. Then every player has 90 seconds to write down five pairs from the images, with the last card as their outcast. You can use any criteria you like: it could be that the paired images start with the same letter, or have similar colors, or be related in subject. However, as you’ll see, you don’t want them to be too obscure…

Then, to score, you go around and see how many other people have the same pairs as you do — in which case you and they get as many points as the number of players that picked those pairs. The exceptions are if every player picked those pairs, or only you did; in both cases you get nothing. You can also score points for your matching outcast images. You can keep playing for several rounds and in the end highest score wins.

This is a game best in a large group, similar to Apples to Apples. I think if you don’t have such a game, you couldn’t go wrong with this one — it’s fun and it’d probably be even better with a group of people who know each other well. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of party games, and don’t see the need for more than what we already have, but you are a fan or don’t have a lot of games like this one, you can’t go wrong with this (but get Apples to Apples first).

Final verdict: Borrow.

6
Oct

Recent Vintage Review: Love Letter

   Posted by: Jim   in Card games, Reviews

(Part of a series, reviewing games I played in September 2013 at That Board Gaming Thing.)

Designer: Seiji Kanai
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group (among others)
Players: 2-4
Playing time: 20 minutes


(Image courtesy of thatmadgirl@BoardGameGeek)

So I’ve been hearing about Love Letter for a while — that it’s a simple, elegant game that has only 16 cards, plays quickly, and provides a rich gameplay experience. So when I saw it on the shelves at That Board Gaming Thing, I thought, “Well, I have to play this.” So my wife Mur and I sat down and gave it a try.

In Love Letter, you are trying to send a love letter to the Princess of the Kingdom. However, you can’t reach her directly, so you must rely on intermediaries, who will both try to deliver your letter, and stop others who are trying to attract her affections.

The cards represent your intermediaries. They have a ranking from 1 to 8, and if played have very basic results. For example, if you play the 8-ranked Princess (presumably a different Princess than the one you’re wooing), you’re out of the round immediately (not smart, but you might be forced into it). If you play the 3-ranked Baron (or Knight in the Japanese version), you compare hands (just one card, remember) with another player — the one with the lower rank is out of the round. If you play the 1-ranked Guard (or Soldier in the Japanese version), you name another card type and a player — if they have that card, they’re out of the round. And so on. There are eight card types and two of each type in the deck.

Gameplay is very simple, and consists of a series of rounds of play. At the start of the round, the deck is shuffled, the top card discarded (the top four for 2 player games), and one card dealt out to all the players. Then, on your turn, you draw one card and play one card in front of you. The round continues until all but one player is eliminated or the deck runs out. In the latter case, the remaining players compare hands and the player with the highest ranked hand wins a point for that round. Then you reshuffle and start the next round. The game continues until one player has won enough rounds to win (7 for two players, 5 for three players, 4 for four players).

So what did we think? In short, we weren’t very impressed. On the first two rounds, one of us ended up being forced to play a card that knocked us out of the round immediately. On the next two, there was a little more back and forth, but we really weren’t seeing a lot of emergent gameplay. In the end, we stopped before the game was over. That said, we could see that maybe with more players it would work better, and after talking to someone about it later, he said that was true: it’s best with 4 players. So I don’t feel like we really gave the game a chance in its best configuration, and when I get a chance to play with 3 or 4 players I’ll come back and revise this review. Still, I can’t recommend it for 2 players — it just wasn’t fun.

Tentative verdict: Avoid (2 players), To Be Revisited (3-4 players)

So much for every Monday. I let the links pile up until I felt there was enough for a post, and then got overwhelmed. Ah well, time to dig in.

In old RPG news, we have a few items. First, there’s the concluding articles to Ken Denmead’s Top 10 D&D Modules series: #7 Finale. I approve of both choices (but still no Barrier Peaks?).

Second, Allen Varney (no roleplaying slouch himself) has an interview over at the Escapist with Marc Miller, creator of Traveller.

The retro videogaming department is busy this week. For recent homages, we have Greg Costikyan at Play This Thing! with a review of a Japanese rogue-like and Z over at GeekDad with a review of a NES/SNES clone. For the latter, I’m glad Mur has her old SNES — this thing sounds like a cheap knockoff.

In nods to the past, Marc Cerny, creator of Marble Madness and contributor to many a Naughty Dog and Insomniac game (disclosure: I work for Insomniac Games) has been inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame. And around the same time Marble Madness came out, there was Starflight, one of the most complex games of its time. Erin Hoffman at the Escapist covers the story of its development.

Finally, a rather interesting story about how partnerships can go awry. Apparently, Konami, the creators of Yu-Gi-Oh, discovered that someone was creating bootleg cards, thereby both profiting from their creation and polluting the market with counterfeits. Little did they suspect that someone was their partner, Upper Deck… Cult-Stuff has all the details.

At long last, the annual Origins episode of The Vintage Gamer. As this is the third year, this officially makes it a cherished tradition. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) there was no podcasters panel so instead I went around and did some interviews at some of the small press booths. A big “Thank You” to all who participated — if what you hear interests you, please support them with your dollars.

For a fuller picture of the show, I recommend you check out The Spiel Origins episode for a lot more show floor interviews, and the Dice Tower Origins episode for more info and a nice interview with (Spiel des Jahres winner!) Reiner Knizia.

Featured interviews:

Pictures of my trip to Origins including most of these folks can be found on my flickr feed. You can also see the lovely new sewer line.

23
May

The Vintage Gamer #33: Illuminati

   Posted by: Jim   in Card games, Podcasts

Oh my stars and garters, it’s another Vintage Gamer! This time I cover the 80s conspiracy game, Illuminati. Lie to your friends, stab them in the back, all to take over the world (sounds like Diplomacy — or a bizarre version of Lifeboats). All this, plus some Vintage Gamer news and feedback!

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28
Aug

The Vintage Gamer #31: Nuclear War

   Posted by: Jim   in Card games, Podcasts

Back from the abyss with an actual game review show. This time I talk about the darkly humorous game Nuclear War, designed by Doug Malewicki and published by Flying Buffalo, Inc. I also cover what’s been happening with me over the past few months, discuss some recent gaming news (vintage and otherwise), and talk about possibilities for future shows.
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And right on the heels of the last episode, a Halloween-themed show, where I cover some vintage board and card games with horror themes.
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