Dale Yu: Essen First Impressions #2 – Dice Games Part 2 – Ka-Boom! and Blueprints

First Impressions from Essen

We’ve decided that we’re going to hold off on writing our group reviews until around Thanksgiving – in order to give as many of our writers a chance to play the games at the fall conventions (Great Lakes Games, Sasquatch, BGG.con, EuroQuest, Basement Con, Lobster Trap, etc) and allow for as many comments as possible on the new games.

In the meantime, I thought I would write up some quick mini-capsule reviews of some of the new games that I’ve played. Most of the games have only been played once, so clearly my opinions are still forming on the games – but I know that many people are trying to figure out which games they want to buy/try first, and to that end, any opinions will be helpful.  These thoughts will eventually be edited/incorporated into the full review that will come in the next few months, but I will try to talk about the new games a little bit at a time until we’re ready for full reviews.  I will try to give a short description of the game(s) in each piece and some quick thoughts about them. The rules are not meant to be comprehensive – merely enough to give a flavor for how the game works.


  • Designer: Roberto and Florence Fraga
  • Publisher: Huch! & Friends
  • Main mechanics: Dexterity building, dice catapulting, table smashing

kaboom box


Game idea: Try to score 16 points first. On your turn, you get a bunch of wooden blocks.  Board is made up of tiles, each with a picture of a different structure made up of those wooden pieces – these tiles are worth between 3 and 16 points depending on the complexity of the shape.  As a sand timer empties, you try to build one or more structures on the matching tiles. While you are doing this, the other players have a supply of dice that they catapult towards your structure, trying to knock it down.  Each die has 1 pirate side – if 2 dice come up “Pirate” the player that launched the second one gets to Ka-Boom! the table – by smashing his fist down onto the table – which likely will cause some wood blocks to fall.  Any structures that remain standing at the end of the timers score points – you collect the tile.

kaboom game

Thoughts: OK, so this isn’t a traditional dice game, but I include it here because it uses dice as a component.  It’s a lot of fun, but all the players have to be in the mood to have fun rather than strictly interpret rules. There are plenty of ways for dice to inadvertently knock things over or for arms to block dice, etc… so this simply can’t be a game to niggle over the rules.  It’s perfect for 15-20 minutes of laughing and trying to put your kids’ eyes out with dice though.  My one complaint is that the more complex structures seem impossible to build, even without people shooting dice at it.  Maybe I just have a bad tremor, but I couldn’t build anything than the most simplest tiles when we played!



  • Designer: Yves Tourigny
  • Publisher: Z-Man
  • Mechanics: Dice drafting

blueprints box

Game idea: In each of 3 rounds, players try to build a building with dice using a blueprint card as a template. There is a pool of dice that you choose from each turn – take that die and add it to your card, following a simple set of building restrictions. Then draw a new die out of a bag, roll it, add it to the pool for the next player.  At the end of the round, you score your building – each of the four colors of dice has a different scoring system, and you get a bonus if you build to the exact specification of your blueprint card.  The player with the highest scoring building takes the gold medal for the round (3vp), silver (2vp) for second and bronze (1vp for third).  Then, bonus VPs can be scored for meeting any of five separate bonus cards – there are available every round and do not change.  Do it three times and see who has the most VPs

Thoughts: I love this game so far. Lots of choices in a 20-30 minute game.  There is a lot of flexibility in the game – lots of tactical decisions.  On your turn, you get to choose from a large selection of dice (between 7 and 9 depending on player number) – and the different ways that each color scores give you plenty to think about. I also like the way that the bonus cards give you alternative ways to score points.  The “best” building gets the gold medal each round, which is worth 3VP. But, each of the 5 bonus cards available score 2VP – I’ve actually seen someone win the game never winning a medal other than bronze, but picking up lots of bonus cards.  This is one of the few Essen games I’ve played multiple times, and it will get many more plays in the weeks to come.

Inside of player screen showing how the different colors of dice score

Inside of player screen showing how the different colors of dice score

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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4 Responses to Dale Yu: Essen First Impressions #2 – Dice Games Part 2 – Ka-Boom! and Blueprints

  1. Diederik says:

    About Ka-Boom!, do you shoot with wooden dice? Sounds dangerous, especially if you wear glasses.

  2. Dan Blum says:

    I liked the building part of Blueprints, but the scoring is awfully sharp; you can build a building which scores well and qualifies for prizes but lose them all to a similar building which has one more tie-breaker die. Playing without the screens would allow for more planning, but would probably also make it take too long.

    • Al Leduc says:

      The screens were added very early in the development cycle, as the potential for AP was high. Also, if you could see what someone else was doing, you could see how well you were doing and this reduced the amount of tension.

      • Dan Blum says:

        That all seems reasonable, but I still don’t think it works that well with the all-or-nothing nature of much of the scoring. If some points were available for people who qualified for prizes but didn’t get them, I would like it more.

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