Illusion (Game Review by Chris Wray)

  • Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
  • Publisher: Pandasaurus (U.S. Release), NSV (Germany)
  • Players: 2 – 5
  • Ages: 8 and Up
  • Time: 15 Minutes
  • Times Played: > 10

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Illusion is a card game in which players attempt to order cards by the percentage of a color — red, yellow, green, or blue — shown on them.  The twist is that the cards form a sort of optical illusion, and the task is trickier than you’d expect. Illusion was released several months ago in Germany by publisher Nurnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag (NSV), and the English-language release was at Gen Con by Pandasaurus Games.  Wolfgang Warsch has been on quite a streak this year — he designed The Mind, Ganz schön clever, and Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg — and Illusion is arguably his lightest game, but like the others, it is kind of addicting.   Continue reading

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Matt Carlson: Thunderstone Quest

In the first wave of deckbuilders, Thunderstone added on a fantasy/dungeon crawl theme to the mix.  About three years (and five expansions) later, a revamped (but backward compatible) Thunderstone Advance appeared.    About six more expansions, and as many years, went by and Thunderstone has reappeared as Thunderstone Quest, with an overhaul of some of the game mechanisms and a much stronger thematic componen.  Initially launched as a Kickstarter, a second Kickstarter is finishing up with the deluxe version available again, and a new solo/co-op option.  As with other deckbuilders, Thunderstone has players purchase cards from a central tableau to improve their starting deck of cards, but it also introduces an area for players to use their cards to defeat monsters for additional points.  Thunderstone Quest, as the third version of the game, polishes up a few rough edges and introduces a story-based campaign mode to link a series of games together.

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DROP IT

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DESIGNER: Bernhard Lach and Uwe Rapp

PUBLISHER:  Kosmos

# OF PLAYERS: 2 – 4

AGES: 8 and up

TIME:30 minutes

TIMES PLAYED: 6, with a copy I purchased
I am horrible at dexterity games. My hands aren’t steady, I can’t gently put that piece on top and I definitely don’t see that perfect spot to slide that piece in without causing a tremor. I often still enjoy them, though. Why? Well, they are usually still fun, even if things don’t quite go your way, and they are simple to teach to gamers and non-gamers alike.  I was recently introduced to Drop It, a game that requires a minimum level of dexterity but otherwise provides that dexterity game experience.

 

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Game pieces

The games is in a large square box. In the box is the vertical game board, four side pieces and two base pieces that indicate goals, nine wooden pieces in four different shapes in four different colors, score markers and a score track.

 

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The Drop Zone

The main component of the game is the Drop Zone, which is a plastic piece with a narrow opening into which players take turns dropping pieces.  In a four-player game each player has a set of identical shapes in their player color; in a three-player game each player has a full set of one color and a share of the leftover fourth color, and in a two player game each player has two colors.

On your turn you choose a piece from your supply and drop it into the Drop Zone, the large plastic board that is divided into eight zones, through the this slot at the top. Simple, right? Well, it’s not quite that easy; there are a few rules related to that.

  • Your piece cannot touch any other pieces of that same shape
  • Your piece cannot touch any other pieces of that same color
  • Your shape cannot be touching any of the edges (side or bottom) that has a symbol indicating that same shape or color.
  • Your piece must fully fit into the Drop Zone and can’t be sticking up out of the top.

Once you drop your piece in, you determine how many points, if any, you have scored. If you violated one or more of the above rules, you score zero points. If you didn’t, you score points equal to the highest level that your piece landed in (1 points for level 1, 3 for level 3 etc). In addition, there are small, medium and large circles printed on the zone; you get bonus points (3, 2 and 1 respectively) if your piece is touching any part of that circle.  

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Lots of scoring violations here. . . .

The game ends after all players have played all of their pieces.The player with the most point wins; if there is a tie all players rejoice in their shared victory.

There are also several variants. In the Beginners variant, there are no restrictions on the edges, which would easily allow the game to be played by players younger than the recommended minimum age of eight. In this same vein is the Jokers variant; each player is given two joker tokens that allows the to spend a joker to ignore the landing rules for one piece and score full points. The Teams variant pairs up alternating players, who play their own pieces but score together and the Color variant, which restricts colors rather than sides on the edges.

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THE GAME

This is a very simple game, but it is also pretty fun. It’s harder than you think it is going to be, and there is some skill related to where and how you drop the piece into the zone, but it is still simple enough that I can easily teach this to non-gamers. There can be more strategy in determining when to play what piece, but not following that path doesn’t affect the enjoyment of the game.  I’ve played with 2, 3 and 4 players, and with both children and adults, and all numbers and ages worked well. It also plays faster than 30 minutes in my experience, so it’s perfect as a filler between more strategic games as well for a family or non-gamer game.

THOUGHTS OF OTHER OPINIONATED GAMERS

Matt Carlson: I pulled this out recently and my family has been playing it practically non-stop.  My wife isn’t much of a gamer but she loves the shapes and colors in this one. I like how all the kids (elementary to tween) can play it and be competitive.  Recently I’ve played some vs games with my wife and was pleased that there was some longer term strategy I could employ (saving the right pieces, watching to see what she had left and trying to block, etc…)  I’d rate the game as an “I like it” for me, but it is bumped up to “I love it!” since it is such a hit with my family it’s a game I can pull out anytime.

Greg S:  I purchased this one simply from seeing a photo of it being played.  I figured it would be light fun, perfect for family gatherings and parties…which it is!  It is very simple and there is very little strategy or tactics, but still it is fun. Almost the definition of a perfect party game.  If only it could accommodate more players.

Nathan Beeler: The pieces bounce more than you’d think they would. I’ve only played once, which isn’t enough to know if this introduces fun chaos or a frustrating inability to apply skill. I did enjoy the game though, and would happily keep trying to discover the answer.

Dale Y: I like Drop It – there is actually a fair amount of challenge given the restrictions of the placement rules, and I like the fact that the game setup is mutable – so that successive games feel a little different.  As Nate noted, it’s actually quite surprising how much movement you get out of the pieces when you drop them – and I think that this gives a nice level of unpredictability to the game.

RATINGS

I love it!: Matt C.

I like it.: Tery, Greg S., Nathan Beeler, Dale Y

Neutral: James Nathan

Not for me:

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Matt Carlson: GenCon 2018 (Cabinet of Curiosities)

I was recently overseas checking out some royal digs.  I found it interesting that people were in the habit of collecting various knickknacks of interest and putting them in a private collection to show off to the “in” crowd.  DaVinci had a whole wall of his writing room dedicated to his collection. In the spirit of the interesting, strange, or downright weird I submit this photo journal of “stuff” I came across at the convention.

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Matt Carlson: GenCon 2018 (Digital)

Back in the day, videogame companies were rampant at GenCon’s dealer hall.  MMOs were gearing up (I still use my “Champions” backpack I got one year), and many of the big videogame names were there.  Several companies had their games set up to play on the show floor. (I even heard rumors of the head of a currently well-known publisher belting out the tunes at a karaoke style setup someone had located across from his/her booth.)  Those days are past (hmm, BGG karaoke contest anyone?) but the promise of digital adaptations of boardgames continues to grow so we now come full circle with more and more digital content shown off at the show. It’s nearly impossible to get decent screenshots so here’s a rather screen-lite rundown of games I came across.  (Double bonus today – look for my other heavily pictorial report on random stuff I found interesting at the convention.)

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Matt Carlson: GenCon 2018 (R to Z)

If you’re back for more, there’s more.  We finish up our three day tour (not a three hour one or we’d all be lost) of boardgame publishers….

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Matt Carlson: GenCon 2018 (G to P)

Post two of three of my main GenCon boardgame coverage.  Today’s post includes mention of at least twelve different expansions and fourteen uses of the word “epic” (yes, including that one and the ones in photos) Share and enjoy…

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Matt Carlson: GenCon 2018 (A to F)

The jury is out among my acquaintances whether the RPGs (role playing games) or TCGs (trading card games) are waxing or waning at GenCon.  However, it seems to me that the boardgame contingent of GenCon continues to increase. I was able to snag short overviews of many, many games, so I will be breaking my notes into several posts this week.  So many games, so little time and all that..  Here’s the first of three posts covering the main group of medium and heavyweight games.

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Matt Carlson: GenCon 2018 – RPGs

GenCon started out in the infancy of RPGs (role playing games) and has traditionally been THE place to buy, play, and learn about them ever since.  Here’s what the “big names” are doing as well as some smaller titles and various tools and accessories for gaming.

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Matt Carlson: Gen Con 2018 – Parties and Kids

It’s Indianapolis, and 60,000 people have come and gone, which must mean GenCon 2018 is finally over.  Once again, I had the privilege to prowl the aisles in search of hidden gems (or the obvious ones that I somehow miss.)  As a gamer with children (and a writer for GamerDad.com) I have a special place in my heart for games I can play with my kids.  This year I’m also lumping in Party games to the mix for this post. Many Kid’s games would work as a party game, and vice versa.  The following are some of the titles that grabbed my attention as I cruised the dealer hall. Some of the “official” kid’s games are not going to hold the attention of an adult, but a surprising number work well for a quick-playing game for grown-ups.  The idea of a Party Game is fairly nebulous so I’m including games that have relatively simple rules, and work well with large groups (8 or more.)

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