Three Capsule (P)Reviews: This Didn’t Happen, Batflip, Frost (PNP escape room)

As 2022 starts, things are super busy here.  As always, the holidays and the new year occupy much of the calendar, and this year, the continuing rise of COVID and Omicron keep things at work as busy as possible.  We haven’t had as much time for games in the past few weeks as a result, but there are some games I still wanted to talk about.  

this didnt happen

This Didn’t Happen

  • Designer:  John Heffernan
  • Publisher: Island of Bees
  • Players: 1-4
  • Age: 10+
  • Played with preview copy provided by publisher

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This Didn’t Happen is a small card game where the player(s) try to avoid an apocalypse by changing the time stream.  Each player takes on the role of a different time traveler, and each has a unique ability to change time.  The board is set up as an array of tiles, each tile being created by 2 cards overlapping one another in a vaguely heartlike shape.  This setup cleverly combines the icons and words on the two cards to make a unit.  As you change time, you will change the order of the cards exposing the icons on the bottom card and hiding those on top.  You will end up with 3 rows of 5 tiles. 

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The game is played in a number of rounds where the players try to expose red icons to match those seen on the apocalypse cards (thus negating it, and thus winning the game) while trying to stay alive in the process.   You will move around the array of cards, into the three different eras of the game, trying to get resources and do research (look at the hidden icons of a unit).  Each round, players will also have to deal with an event – a randomizer based on the era of time you happen to be in right now.

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There are some neat combination play here, as changing one event in time can often lead to other changes in the stream.  Figuring out how to set up these chain reactions is the big puzzle in the game, and one that was interesting to fiddle with.  Our first game took about 40 minutes, but it did take us a bit of time to get started. The rules that I have are a bit rough, but the game is still a work in progress – or at least the version I got.  

The more polished version is going up to Kickstarter soon, and for those looking for a time travel themed game, this could be up your alley.  It has a small footprint, comprised of only cards, and it plays both solo and multiplayer.  Each game will be different due to the varied setup of the different units, the random events that come along and the different Apocalypse icons you’ll need to find each game.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/82773185/1669989882

Batflip

  • Designer/Publisher: Scorelander Games
  • Players: 2
  • Age: 12+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Played with preview copy provided by publisher

batflip

Batflip is a 2p duel game where players face off against each other in a 3 inning baseball game. The catch here is that you get to draft your team each game, so once you are familiar with the game, you’ll be able to construct a team with specific skills and attributes.  The designers appear to have spent a lot of time with the cards, constructing four teams each with its own overriding style, but then individual cards have their own stats and backstory on the cards.  In each game, you will combine two of the 12-card teams to form your deck.

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In short, one team is at bat, and the other pitches/defends.  In a departure from real baseball, in each inning, each player draws a hand of 5 player cards from his deck, and the batting manager chooses a card from his hand to go to bat (i.e. there is not a fixed batting order).   If you try to walk – The pitcher has a Control stat, and the batter uses an Eye stat to try to hit the pitch.   If you try to hit – the defender can play a card from his hand and compare the defense stat to it; the batter is out if the defense is higher, the batter advances the difference in stats if the defense is lower.  Continue this for 3 outs. Switch sides. Repeat 3 times.

If you’re a fan of baseball, I think that you might like this compact 2p game.  Each game should play out a little differently as you construct different teams each time.  Cards have different stats and some have special abilities, so you can try to get nice combination plays set up if you draw the right cards together.  As you would expect, a lot comes down to the team construction and luck of the draw – because you’re limited to playing the cards in your deck.  You will have to decide if you want a slugger team filled with offensive players that will surely get you hits; but then you’ll have to hope that you can get out of your defensive innings….

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We played a few times, and had fun with it, but as I’m not a baseball fan in general – the theme leaves me a bit dry.  But, one of the local gamers here who still has season tickets to the Reds enjoyed the game enough that he asked to keep the copy – so there’s some evidence that baseball fans enjoy the game.  

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It should be coming to Kickstarter in mid-January, and if you want a baseball duel, you can check it out there.  Also, if you want to play it now, you can test it on Tabletop Simulator now!

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2655600203

Frost – a print and play escape room

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Frost is an experience crafted to delight 10-12-year-old kids, with “puzzles that ignite their creativity and a whimsical story they will cherish unravelling”. In Frost, kids will race in teams of 2-4 to complete the trials of the Winter Faire, and uncover mysterious forgotten memories.

The local adults had played Envy a few months ago, and we reviewed it then. Given the age range required for this puzzle, I had to wait for the holidays to come around so that I could be around some younger relatives.  The theme is (I think) meant to invoke Frozen without any of those pesky copyright/trademark issues, and the whole production is well done. 

When you buy the kit, you’ll download all the files needed.  The main escape room is found in one .pdf which you print out at home.  If you look through the file archive, you’ll also find plenty of other files to help you transform your room with the theme – posters, costumes and other props can also be printed out!  Additionally, they give you the tools to totally customize the puzzles as well (though we didn’t try these).  There’s even a playlist of songs you can listen to (though I’d not blame you if you went and sang Let It Go the whole time…)

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The puzzles here are mostly pen-and-paper style though some will require scissors and are a little bit most dexterity based, and they were solved with only a little help from us by the 8-year-old kids.  They had a enjoyable time with the puzzles, and I do think the level of difficulty was just right. 

As I noted about Envy – Given that an in-person escape room can run up to $25 per person; you can spend that amount to get a kit that multiple people can enjoy – for around the same amount of time.  Sure, you have to do a bit of work to make it happen, but this is a nice way to spend an evening, and something that you might be able to build a whole night around.  

For more info: https://lockpaperscissors.co/frost-escape-room-kit

Until your next appointment

The Gaming Doctor

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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2 Responses to Three Capsule (P)Reviews: This Didn’t Happen, Batflip, Frost (PNP escape room)

  1. Louisa says:

    The designer for This Didn’t Happen is right there on the cover of the box?

    • Dale Yu says:

      Louisa, good catch, that image is from the internet, and in my haste to get this posted, I didn’t see that it has the name on it. There is no such designation on the box/rules that I have. Hope you’re having a great new year!

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