Patrick Brennan: Game Snapshots – June 2017 (Part 2)

By Patrick Brennan…

And here be the remaining games I played for the first time in June.

 

I’ve also been thinking of adding a spotlight game each article, something I’ve played a lot of over the years and have been re-visiting during the month. So let’s try that out as well.

BETWEEN TWO CITIES

Any game that takes 7 players well, plays at a nice filler length, gives a nice decision each turn, and all with no downtime, is a winner. And so it proves here. The decisions aren’t that deep – there are only so many ways to score and some turns are more obvious than others – but for the market it’s aiming for, it hits the right tone … enough to keep you engaged, without being frivolous or overwhelming. I’m a fan of the novelty factor as well, where you’re simultaneously building a city with each neighbour. It encourages you to make lead plays that you’re hoping your partner will follow, and this generates a satisfying social element. I liked it, centurion. Continue reading

Posted in Sessions | 2 Comments

Dale Yu: First Impressions of Lazer Ryderz

 

Lazer Ryders

  • Designer: Nicole Kline, Anthony Amato
  • Publisher: Greater Than Games / Cardboard Fortress Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Times played: 2, with review copy provided by Greater Than Games

Lazer Ryderz feels like the boardgame version of the Lightcycle races in the classic movie Tron.  In this game, players lay down racing lines as they race to control three different Prizms (at which point they immediately win the game).  The racing surface is defined by the table edges.  In the center of the table, one Black Prizm per player is placed in a circle (of any size which is agreed upon by the players).  Each player chooses a Character of their choice and takes all the pieces of their color as well as a matching small d6.

To start the game, each player takes their ship in their hand, closes their eyes, and then all players simultaneously place their ship on any table edge which they can reach.  In their other hand, they raise anywhere between one and five fingers – signifying the gear in which they would like to start.  All eyes are opened, and each player sets their small d6 matching their chosen gear UNLESS they have chosen the same number as another player.  All tied players stall out and must start in first gear; all tied players set their d6 to “1”.

Then, the first round of the game starts.  Players take their turns in descending speed order with the fastest player going first.  Tied players go in clockwise order from the tiebreaker marker.  There are five phases to each player’s turn.

1 – Change Gear – you can choose to change your current gear by 1 step in either direction OR you can choose to stay the same.  Change the number on your die to reflect your new speed.

2 – Move – Decide if you want to play a straight piece or a turn piece.  You can only play pieces with a number on them that matches your current gear.  You are not allowed to pre-measure a piece, you can only use your eyes to try to judge how a piece fits in.  If you want to turn, you must first roll a d6, id you get a number equal to your current number or higher, then you are allowed to play the curved piece.  If you fail, then you must place a straight piece.  If you do not have a suitable piece available in your supply, you remove pieces off the tail of your line until you have the suitable piece to place at the head of your line.

3 – Score – Check if your newest piece goes directly through a Prizm on the board (either a neutral Black one or one of an opponent’s color).  The entirety of your lazer trail must be within the Prizm piece’s edges.  If so, you replace the Prizm with one of your color.  If you have just placed your third colored Prizm, you win the game!  Note that Prizm is the only piece of another player’s color which is safe for you to drive though.  If it is a Black Prizm, your Prizm piece is placed at the head on your current trail.  If it is another player’s Prizm, your piece goes at the exact same spot of the opponent’s piece. If you have only gone partially through a Black Prizm, you do not capture it but only nudge it.  After your movement, you move the nudged Prizm by the distance of a short edge of a Lazer piece.  If you scored a Black Prizm, given the black Prizm to the player on your right so it can be replaced.  Your opponent simply throws it on the table (Starting from anywhere off the table) and wherever it lands is its new location.  If it is too close to an existing Lazer or ship, move it away by the distance of a short edge of a Lazer piece.  

4 – Check for Crashing – see if your ship or Lazer has touched any other player’s ship or Lazer OR is off the edge of the table.  If so, you remove your ship and your entire Lazer trail from the board.  Additionally, if you hit an opponent’s Lazer, all pieces from the hit piece to the back end are also from removed the table.

5 – Flip over your turn marker to the DONE side so that you don’t mistakenly go twice this turn.

Again, the game continues until one player has all three of his Prizm tokens on the board.  That player wins immediately.

My thoughts on the game

Lazer Ryderz is an interesting game that doesn’t fit into traditional game genre pigeonholes.  It’s sort of a race game (trying to get to Prizms first), and it’s sort of a dexterity game (gotta be able to throw the Prizms onto the table where it helps you) as well as one that really rewards good spatial recognition (no takebacks once you decide on a piece to play).  I was a big fan of the movie Tron, and this game very much feels like the Lightcycles from the movie.

I have a four player set, and it has worked well with that number.  We’ve played on our usual 6 foot table, and we’ve had to make some artificial borders to the play area in order to keep things close… The game is a lot more interesting when you have plenty of obstacles and trails to dodge.  If the play area is too large, the game is admittedly a bit dull.  It might be good for a first game as you’re trying to learn how the pieces fit together and training your brain to figure out where/how the pieces will fit, but once you’ve gotten past that first hurdle, you’ll likely want to keep things close as this makes the game more interesting.

Speaking of that first game, it really only takes a few turns to learn how the game works (less than 10 minutes), and once you have that figured out, you pretty much know all of the rules.  The game is pretty simple.  While this is a great advantage to learning the game, the simplicity also keeps it from developing any significant depth – but not all games need that!  Though I’ve only played two games, I’m not sure how much more there is left to explore with the game.  So, though it might not fit into a genre pigeonhole, it does nicely slot itself into the 20 minutes fun filler box.

The packaging is interesting.  My game comes in a large sleeve with four smaller boxes within.  What it ends up looking like is a old school VCR tape box set.  The artwork also has artificial “wear marks” all over it which also makes me think of my moldy-oldy VHS tapes.  While they look cool, my OCD side complains that it’s not a uniform size and makes it hard to stack nicely on the shelves with the other games.  Additionally, the individual sleeves are a bit loose, and this allows all the bits to move around in the vac trays a bit.  In the end, this might not be a big deal as the sleeve tends to keep everything in the overall package.  We have had one spectacular spill though when one of the “tapes” fell out of the slipcover sleeve.

This is an interesting release from Greater Than Games as they expand from Sentinels of the Multiverse.  After playing this one, I’m interested to see what else they have for us in the future…

 

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it.
  • Neutral. Dale Y
  • Not for me…

 

Posted in First Impressions | 1 Comment

Dale Yu: First Impression of Brutal Kingdom

 

Brutal Kingdom

  • Designer: Michael Rieneck
  • Publisher: Kosmos
  • Players: 3-4
  • Ages: 12+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Thames&Kosmos

In Brutal Kingdom, players take on the role of different animal characters, trying to use their influence to take control of the royal court.  There are twenty different character cards in the game – there are ten with light backs and ten with dark backs.  Each set of ten is shuffled separately to start the game.  They are all seen on a pair of overview cards which also show which characters can eliminate which other characters.  Furthermore, all influence tokens and elimination tokens are placed on the table. Continue reading

Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Dale Yu: Review of Wizards Wanted

 

Wizards Wanted

  • Designer: Nick Hayes
  • Publisher: Mattel (USA)
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Times played: 4, with review copy provided by Mattel (USA)

Wizards Wanted is the next game in the “Euro-game” line from Mattel USA.  This somewhat numbered series started with Voltage and Desert Bazaar back in 2006.  More recent games in the line include Ghost Fighting Treasure Hunters (the Kinderspiel des Jahres winner) and Sail Away.  In this new game, players are itinerant wizards who are working at odd jobs in the countryside hoping to do enough work to gain the attention of the Royal Palace and the fame that goes with it.

The board shows the kingdom and its three predominant landscapes (green plains, white ice and yellow desert).  There are 8 villages scattered around the board, and a Spell Job card is placed at each of those spaces.  The Royal Inspector card is then shuffled into the bottom four cards of this deck. There is also a large wheel in the plains area which is the Pixie Dust Marketplace.  There are a number of numbered stone spaces, and a Traveling Pixie starts on space #1. Continue reading

Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Congratulations to the 2017 Spiel des Jahres Winner (Kingdomino) and Kennerspiel des Jahres winner (EXIT)

Congratulations to the winners that were named today…

Our review… 

 

 

Our review…

 

And… this will probably never happen again – we managed to correctly predict what the jury would award!

 

Congratulations to the winners!

Posted in Reviews | 1 Comment

Dale Yu: Preview of Numeracy Legends and the Zerda Fox

Numeracy Legends and the Zerda Fox

  • Designer: (uncredited) – or at least I can’t find it on the box or rules
  • Publisher: Shepherd Kit
  • Players: 2-4?
  • Ages: box doesn’t say. The publisher has since told me 5+
  • Time: ~30 minutes

 

Numeracy Legends and the Zerda Fox is a new educational game that arrived in my latest box of goodies from Taiwan.  The game is part of a series, each focusing on a different educational lesson.  The focus of this game is probability.  Taken straight from the rulebook: “Numeracy Legends and the Zerda Fox is a memory challenge and probability evaluation game.  In the game there are multiple uncertainty factors, accompanied by action and route options, building up thousands of probability combinations.  Compared with common probability games, such as dice games, this game makes the existence of probability more explicit, as players can change their probability distribution through memory and decision making.  After a basic gameplay, adults can guide kids through what factors lead to a better chance of success, and discover the true nature of probability.”

 

In this game, players take on the role of a hero who is trying to deliver a cupcake to the Zerda Fox.  The Fox is found at the Ice Cream Truck at the bottom of the board.  In order to get there, you’ll have to travel from your starting tent at the top of the board and through the Colorful Desert to deliver said cupcake.

 

To setup the game, take the five decks of creature cards (can separate by color) and shuffle each deck and place on the appropriate space on the board.  Each of the creature cards has a monster on it – belonging to one of four different races – and each has a different appetite in the number of cupcakes that it wants to eat.  Each play chooses their hero and takes 15 cupcake tokens to start.  Each player places their hero in one of the starting tents; there is no limit to the number of heroes that can start in any particular tent.

 

On a turn, the player must either move his hero downward (towards the ice cream truck) along the connecting paths OR stay in the same space.  You can only move one space per turn.  After moving, you take the top card of the creature deck that matches the color of the space that you ended on.  You read the card and then discard cupcakes equal to the appetite of the revealed creature.  The creature card is then placed on the bottom of the deck from which it came from.

If you stay in the same place, you can either draw a single cupcake token from the supply OR you can collect a scoop of ice cream.  The ice cream comes in different colors which match the color of the different creature races.  You can use a scoop of ice cream to replace a cupcake when you have the same color ice cream as creature color.  The good news is that the ice cream is not consumed when you use it.

 

You can never have more than 15 Cupcake tokens.  If you ever run out of cupcakes, you must return to a start tent – though at least you get a full supply of 15 Cupcakes when you restart your journey.

 

The game ends when any player makes it to the bottom of the board and is able to deliver at least one cupcake to the Zerda Fox.  Note that you must be able to feed the creature on that final space AND then have at least one cupcake left over to give to the Zerda Fox in order to win.

 

There is an advanced version of the game which challenges players to be the first to make three successful trips through the desert – each time starting with only 12 cupcakes.  The game can be further advanced by adding in the race tokens – each player is given a race token, and when you encounter a creature in the game that matches your race token, you don’t have to pay any cupcakes!

 

My thoughts on the game

 

Well, I should start by saying that I haven’t been around any of my nephews or nieces yet this summer, so I haven’t been able to play this with young kids – however, even so, none of them may be old enough / sophisticated enough to really enjoy this one as the oldest relative is not quite 5 years old.

 

I wish that the box or rules at least gave some recommendation on the ages that they think this is appropriate for. The artwork on box certainly looks to be targeting early elementary school ages.  The decision making tree can be pretty simple; you can just move your hero each turn, flip over the card and then hope for the best.  Of course, you’re not learning much about probability if you go about the game this way.  (I have since spoken with the publisher and he has confirmed that the lower end of the age range will be 5+ or 6+).

 

So, my problem with reviewing the game is that I’ve haven’t seen it in action with a youngster to see how they really process it.  The three basic decisions are pretty simple, though I am not sure how easily a 6 or 7 year old would be able to grasp the idea of choosing an ice cream scoop on a turn in order to save cupcake expenditure later in the game.  That is a fairly advanced concept to understand, though the flexibility of young kids’ minds never ceases to amaze me.

 

The final page of the rulebook does try to help analyze the game and explain how to apply the probability issues in the game.  In short, you have to memorize the cards – or play the game enough to remember what the cards are.   The game wants you to know which cards you might find in each stack AND then remember the order that they were revealed in during the game (So that you know when they might come back up again) in order to plan your moves.

 

I think that this is definitely a good way to teach this concept, but I just don’t think that you can do this with a younger kid – and the artwork and otherwise simplified gameplay don’t seem to be right for a middle schooler (which is about the level of sophistication that I think you need in order to be able to memorize card distribution as well as revealed card order during the game).  Maybe things are different in Taiwan – actually, I’m pretty sure that they are given some of the poor scores that American schoolkids have been getting – but there seems to be a mismatch between the graphic presentation of the game and the level of reasoning needed to play it.

 

This game is an interesting foray into world of educational games, and I hope that they are successful attracting younger gamers to these titles…

 

Rating – Honestly, I can’t give a rating to this as I haven’t been able to play this with either a child of suitable age.  I am going to give this game as a gift to my nephews (5yo) later this summer, and I will try to report back with their experiences.  Perhaps I am grossly underestimating the abilities of youth these days… I can see a younger child being able to memorize (or become quite familiar) with the types of cards in each stack with multiple plays – as kids often have unbelievable memory skills – but just how good is that memory?  Not sure without seeing it myself.  I have passed the game onto my nephews, and I await a report back from them later this summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Preview | 1 Comment

Dale Yu: Review of Pinball Showdown

 

Pinball Showdown

  • Designer: Diane Sauer
  • Publisher: Shoot Again Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 13+
  • Time: ~30 minutes
  • Times played: 4, with review copy provided by Shoot Again Games

Pinball Showdown uses a theme that I haven’t seen in previous games – from the rules: “You are a pinball inside a pinball machine.  Multiball has just begun and it’s up to you to score more points than the other pinballs by bouncing off better combinations of playfield devices than your opponents.” Continue reading

Posted in Reviews | 1 Comment

The Opinionated Gamers (Try To) Predict the Spiel Des Jahres and Kennerspiel Des Jahres

The Opinionated Gamers (Try To) Predict the Spiel Des Jahres and Kennerspiel Des Jahres

For the past few years, our group of gamers has taken their best guess at trying to read the minds of the Spiel des Jahres jury members.  We’ve had varying levels of success… last year, we correctly predicted that Codenames as the winner of the SdJ, but missed the boat on Isle of Skye (we voted for Pandemic Legacy instead).

The format for our voting hasn’t changed this year…  Once the short lists were announced, all of the writers were allowed to vote, assigning 3 points to the game the felt would win the prize, and then 2 points and 1 point for the next most likely.  The votes were tabulated, and our pick for the Spiel des Jahres is… Continue reading

Posted in Commentary | 2 Comments

Review of Slide Blast

Slide Blast

  • Designer: Evan Song & Samgoo
  • Publisher: FoxMind
  • Players: 2-6
  • Ages: 7 and up
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Times Played: 5
  • Game provided by the publisher for review purposes.

Slide Blast

Introduction

Slide Blast is a tile laying game in which players compete to build the longest slide. Players will ride those water slides to earn points and determine the best slider in the world. Bonus points are also scored for helping other players extend their slides. When the game is over, the players will have created a stunning water park together for everybody to enjoy.

This game debuted at Essen Spiel 2016 from Mandoo Games, and a new edition with rules in English and French is now being released by FoxMind.

Continue reading

Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Dale Yu: Review of Blinded by Science – GIVEAWAY!

 

Blinded by Science

  • Designer: not credited
  • Publisher: Outset Media
  • Players: 2+
  • Ages: 14+
  • Time: ~10 minutes
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by ThinkGeek

Blinded by Science is a new trivia game which is being exclusively distributed by ThinkGeek – a website which is one of my favorites for scientific/geeky/quirky gifts and gadgets.  ThinkGeek contacted me to look at the game and they have graciously offered to provide a few copies as a giveaway to our readers.

Continue reading

Posted in First Impressions | 2 Comments