Dale Yu: Review of Troll Hunt

 

Troll Hunt

  • Designer: Veli-Matti Saarinen
  • Publisher: Roll D6 Games / Game Salute
  • Players: 2-3
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Game Salute

troll hunt

Troll Hunt is a game from Finland that is being distributed in this country by Game Salute.  In this game, players compete to save their modular landscape from trolls – by shining a light from one of their lanterns directly into the eyes of a troll.

Before the game starts, players must assemble the 18 identically shaped terrain tiles to form a very large hexagon.  There are a few different landscapes on the map (fields, sand, mountains, lakes) as well as 18 letters (A-R) which show the areas where trolls will appear on the map. Continue reading

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Madame Ching

Design by Bruno Cathala, Ludovic Maublanc & Vincent Dutrait
Published by Hurrican
2 – 4 Players, 45 minutes
Review by Greg J. Schloesser

madame-ching_image

Set sail for rich treasures and high adventure, hoping to learn new skills and impress the infamous Asian pirate Madame Ching. Longer adventures are more lucrative, but also more dangerous. Only the bravest and most skillful pirate will win the right to captain Madam Ching’s China Pearl.

Such is the enticing theme of Madame Ching, the new game from designers Bruno Cathala, Ludovic Maublanc and Vincent Dutrait. As with most Hurrican games, the game is well produced with an interesting and, in this case, exotic theme. While there are decisions to be made, there is nothing overly complex present, so it is certainly suitable for family gaming.

The large board depicts a large section of the South China Sea and surrounding waters. A grid regulating movement is superimposed, and there are spaces for the various cards and tiles needed to play. Each player receives a hand of four navigation cards and two “junks”, which are Chinese sailing vessels. Only one is actually needed, with the other apparently serving to denote each player’s color.

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Games that Split the OGers #1: Karnaxis

This is the start of a new series, discussing games that OGers had wildly divergent views of.  There will be a few 2014 games coming in this series, but for now, we look at Karnaxis.

[Yes, Karnaxis came out quite a while ago.  This discussion happened several years ago and was never posted.  In rereading it in light of subsequent Kickstarter releases, I thought it still resonated – the tension between the rough and innovative vs. the smooth and been-there-done-that.  If you disagree, feel free to move along. – Jonathan]

Karnaxis got heavy buzz from the Atlanta Games Fest a few years ago.  Being silly, and on my buy one game a month plan with nothing having been bought that month, I sprang for it on sale.

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Dale Yu: Review of Witness (Ystari)

 

Witness

  • Designer: Dominique Bodin
  • Publisher: Ystari
  • Players: 4
  • Ages: 13+
  • Time: ~15 minutes/case
  • Times played: 8 cases thus far (4 beginner, 3 normal, 1 difficult)

witness box

Witness is admittedly an “odd bird” for these games of ours.  But, don’t take just my word for it – that’s pretty much the opening description I got of the game in Essen from the head of Ystari, Cyril Demaegd.  However, just because it’s odd does not mean that it isn’t good (or at least different enough to give it a try)!

One of the things that sets Witness apart is that it is a game that plays exactly 4 – a condition that is rarely found in boardgames (heck, even Tichu has a version for 3 players…).    The game is set in the world of Blake and Mortimer – two fellows I hadn’t heard of prior to this game. Continue reading

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How Do You Decide When to Buy a Game?

How Do You Decide When to Buy a Game?

jumpstarted by Jonathan

There’s a well known pattern in the gaming hobby: buy a game you played and liked, excitedly start buying a few titles to bring to game night or a family event as the new world opens to you, build a collection in order to host a game night, become jaded/hit your limit/run out of money and slow game buying to a trickle. This has happened to friends whose game nights I attended. This has happened to friends who’ve come to my game nights. And this has happened to me. It happens a lot.

Why a pause?  Well, sometimes it is a moment of reflection where you ask ‘‘Well…How did I get here? ’  Sometimes it is a partner asking why you have received boxes every day the past week while knowing the answer.  Sometimes it is the slight deflation when your family tells you they want to play a game they already know the rules to.

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Dale Yu: Review of Grog Island

 

Grog Island

  • Designer: Michael Rieneck
  • Publisher: Eggertspiele
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: 40-75 minutes
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Eggertspiele

grog island

Grog Island is the newest release from Eggertspiele, a company currently riding high after winning the Spiel des Jahres last year with Camel Up.  In Grog Island, players take on the role of retired pirates trying to convert their lives of plunder into solid business investments on the 5 peninsulas of said island.

The large board shows these five peninsulas in the center of the board.  Each of these peninsulas is a different color (yellow/gray/orange/blue/green) and matches up colorwise to a good and a die.  Each of these peninsulas has 7 distinct buildings on it (out of a total of 12 types).   Above each peninsula is a randomly dealt cloud tile which shows a special ability that will be associated with this peninsula for the entirety of the game.  The middle section of the board is reserved for the bidding dice and the bottom of the board has the harbor for the island where the merchant ships can be found. Continue reading

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Preview/First Impression: Dragon’s Path

Preview/First Impression: Dragon’s Path

Designer: Ágoston Erdélyi

Artist: Dorottya Kitka (conceptual artwork) and Béla Lajos Nagy (design)

2-4 players

30-40 minutes

Last month, I got a review game in the mail from Hungary. Not knowing what to expect, I tore open the wrapper and found a beautiful vivid box with dragons and promise of a 3D game inside.

 

Having played Chaostle, a fine game with high drama, I thought I knew what I was in store for . . . boy was I wrong. The rules are one page, but the gameplay is not obvious and it is not yet another two player abstract. The game board is beautiful and basically a 6 x 6 grid. Each player takes a corner space with one of the four dragons. The remaining 32 places receive large tactile cubes in nice indentations in the board where they sit. Each cube has five sides in common, a neutral face and around that one face each for each of the four colors. Given that there are 32 cubes, the color opposite the neutral side is red for 8 cubes, green for 8 cubes, etc.

 

The heart of the game is moving your dragon on to an orthogonally adjacent cube. When you move from one cube to another, you rotate the cube you are leaving, rotating it in the direction you are moving. If you rotate the cube you just left to the neutral color or your dragon’s color, you get to move your dragon again. In this way, the mottled board slowly becomes green when the green dragon moves, then becomes red when the red dragon moves. This creates a pleasing effect.

The goal of the game is to be the first dragon to score 100 points. Points are scored when you are done moving for your turn. Each cube with your color face up at the end of your turn counts as a point, whether you landed on it this turn or not. This is cool because a long move where you rotate lots of cubes to the neutral side face up will not score as much as a shorter move that brings your color face up.

This is an elegant game. I’m betting you have one question now. What if I go into a corner? If you move into a corner, you basically go around the corner to the other cube adjacent to corner space, rotating the cube you left towards the starting space. In other words, once you make your first move from the board, you never land on the board again, just cube to cube. You may not move on to a cube that already has a dragon.

Since you start with all the neutral dragons on top, you both don’t get free points early on and you also have no idea which cubes have your color on the other side.

I love the heart of the game, the cube you leave rolls towards the one you are moving to. This makes for a visceral feeling that the cubes are rolling as you leap to the next one, almost as in a computer game.

In terms of board games, it sort of reminds me of a great little Adlung game called Ebbe & Flut. It is a special game because it has a visceral flow to it that I have not seen elsewhere. It is a two player game where waves almost literally ripple across the table, then back again.

Joe Huber noted that there is also a video game of this sort, Q*bert Qubes for ColecoVision, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtvp5h6pkRY , but Dragon’s Path has a charm and central mechanism that has lasts as only board games can.

I have two small issues. The game is a race game, so there does feel like a first player advantage. The game ends when the first person reaches 100 points, but I wonder if everyone should have an equal number of turns. Second, if you play it more than casually, you will want to look at the cubes from multiple angles, which can only be done by either walking around the table or putting the game on a spinning base, like the one that came with Rumis.

All in all, a really nice abstract for 2-4 players that takes some thought as well as some fortunate alignments to win the race to 100.

 To learn more, you can follow the project here:

 

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Dale Yu: Review of King’s Pouch

 

King’s Pouch

  • Designer: Kee W. Kim
  • Publisher: Dive Dice (Korea)
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 60-90 minutes
  • Times Played: 3, with review copy provided by Korea Board Games at Essen

kings pouch

King’s Pouch was one of a number of games at Essen 2014 that used a “new” mechanic – pouch building.  This mechanic is sort of a brother-in-law to the deckbuilding mechanic started by Dominion back in 2009.  In this game, you get a pouch in which you keep wooden pieces – you will draw pieces out of the bag (akin to dealing cards from a deck in a deckbuilder) – though the way the bag works means that you can more easily “shuffle” the bits in the midst of a round.

But, before I get ahead of myself, let’s get back to the game. In King’s Pouch, players are feudal lords fighting for control of their Kingdom.  The Kingdom is represented on a central board – a single island split up into a number of different regions.  Each player also gets his own player board that represents his particular capital city.  Each city starts with an identical set of four buildings, but the rest of the spaces are empty and each city will grow in its own special way to grant its owner specific abilities and actions. Continue reading

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Review: The Next Great American Game (Movie Documentary)

Editor’s Note: The Opinionated Gamers was asked to preview “The Next Great American Game”.  In true OG style, a few of us got together for a virtual screening, and we have written a review roundtable style.  The main website for the film is http://www.tabletopmovie.com. The YouTube trailer is available at http://youtu.be/DJeO3s6YtdA

 

Contributors to the discussion include:

NB- Nate Beeler

DY – Dale Yu

MJ – Mark Jackson

JF – Jonathan Franklin

JG – Jennifer Geske


ngag

DIGGING IN

 

NB: “The Next Great American Game” is an uncomfortable documentary about an awkward human being.  The title comes from a phrase we hear repeatedly from the mouth of the film’s subject, would-be game designer Randall Hoyt.  He believes his game, Turnpike, will be an instant classic along the lines of Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, or Pictionary.  Yes, this man has more than a dollop of self importance.  We get a clue to its possible origins right from the very beginning, when we see Hoyt wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the word “Bipolar”, as he’s assembling parts for his board game prototype in a hotel at Gen Con.  This will be just the first of many times that he assures us that Turnpike is the next great American game that everyone will love it if they just give it a chance.  The evidence for this heartfelt belief is that his friends always have a good time when they play it together.  Throughout the bulk of the film, Hoyt stands by this belief, despite a wave of contrary evidence that the game is too long, badly themed, poorly designed, not developed, too random, too expensive to produce, outdated, and not fun.  You probably know the type of game and person I’m describing.


Continue reading

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Dale Yu: First Impressions of Versailles

 

Versailles

  • Designer: Andrei Novac
  • Publisher : NSKN Games, EN distribution by Passport
  • Players: 2-5
  • Ages: 12+
  • Time: 45-75 minutes
  • Times played: 2, with review copy provided by NSKN/Passport

versailles

In Versailles, players take on the role of competing designers of the great French palace – the player who can best design and decorate the rooms in the palace will win the game.  The large board shows the area around Versailles.  The palace (yet to be built) is in the center of the board, and surrounding the building site are 7 different areas important in the construction of said palace.

Players start the game with a number of workers (5 meeples in a 4-player game) that are strewn across the board according to a chart in the rules.  On your turn, you must move one (or more) of your meeples to a new location.  In general, you are able to move one meeple one space – though you do have a supply of two “double move” tokens which allow you to either more one meeple twice OR two meeples one space each along an identical path.  If you choose to do a Double Move, you flip over one of your tokens to the exhausted side.   Whenever you move, you place your “Activation Marker” on the newly-arrived-at location. Continue reading

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