Check out Lords of War Templars vs. the Undead on Kickstarter!

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Check out Lords of War Templars vs. the Undead on Kickstarter!

Ok so here’s another Kickstarter project that I would recommend. I’ve done a review of the first 2 packs in the Lords of War series here –

https://rivcoach.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/review-lords-of-war-from-black-box-games-publishing/

You will see that I enjoy the game but wished there were rules for terrain. Well the jolly awesome chaps at Black Box Games have not only added rules for terrain but for weather as well so I’m in! Hmmm… I wonder if they will give me a credit for the Terrain rules idea…

You will notice that I don’t post too many Kickstarter news here as I only post about projects that I find really interesting. Well this is one of them. So I encourage you to check it out.

Go to –

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/388956994/lords-of-war-templars-versus-undead

Or face the wrath of my Zombie friend here…

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Review – Paradise Fallen from Crash Games

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Review – Paradise Fallen from Crash Games

Design – Andrew Wright III

Art – Jason L. Carr, Darrell Louder

In Paradise Fallen: The Card Game, 2-4 players take on the role of tribes that are attempting to explore and navigate a fallen paradise through hand management to gather valuable powers that will enable them to survive and continue their journey.

Here is a card game from Crash Games which grabbed my attention as the theme sounded potentially very interesting. Could this game be kinda like the TV show Lost? Now that would be fun and cool too. Card games seem to be on the rise and I think its because there is an appetite for simpler, fast-playing games. Since so many card games are coming out, you need to have something special to stand out so let’s see what Paradise Fallen has going for it.

Unboxing

I’m very impressed with the production quality of the components. The cards are top quality and the island tiles are lovely. And Canoe Meeples? Caneeples? yep they are nice indeed.

Components

  • 85 cards
  • 9 island location tiles
  • 20 kanaloa tokens
  • 4 custom canoe meeples
  • Rulebook

The Island cards are used to travel, to identify islands visited, and also have special powers that can b used when an island is visited.

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Apptitude cards are like special events or opportunities that are randomly available and can be very useful.

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Aberration cards are used to effect movement onto and between islands.

The arts is excellent and very evocative of the theme of desperate events happening on the tropical iles. The information and icons are clear and easy to read.

Gameplay

The 9 Island tiles are set up in a 3×3 grid with space between them to place Aberration cards as needed. Players draw 5 cards each and start their canoes in the middle of the grid.

TURN ORDER
Starting with the first player, each player does the following, and play then passes to the next player to the left.

PLAY PHASE
In any order, and as many times as you would like:
 Play cards from your hand. Up to you how many and you can only play Aberration cards as the first cards you play.
 Move your canoe around The Islands. You need to visit a set number of islands depending on how many players there are. Aberrations cards that are played will have effects on movement to and from islands.
END PHASE
1. Discard any unwanted cards from your hand.
2. If you have fewer than five cards in your hand, draw until you have five, otherwise end your turn.
If at any point the deck is empty, immediately shuffle the discard pile to form a new draw deck.

HOW TO WIN
2-Player Game – Explore Eight Islands
3-Player Game – Explore Seven Islands
4-Player Game – Explore Six Islands
The end game is triggered when a player discovers the winning amount of cards but all other players receive one more turn after the end game has been triggered by a player. If there is a tie the player with the most unused Kanaloa Token is the winner. If still tied players share their victory.

Ultimately this is a race as you move and visit islands. Managing your hand of cards is the main engine and it works well. There is a huge “take that” aspect in using the Aberration cards but the movement effects will effect you as well so a lot of the strategy is in placing the Aberration cards but they can come back and bite you.

Yes, there is loads of randomness in Paradise Fallen but I’m fine with that as there is strategy in the use of your cards as in any card game. There are quite a few icons to get your head around and the explanations are most thorough in the rules, not the player aid cards. So there is a bit of downtime and work but as the game plays on it becomes faster and easier.

Did I enjoy Paradise Fallen?

In a word, yes, but I do feel that Paradise Fallen is an opportunity lost as well. The mechanics generally work for me and managing your hand is about optimising the best way to connect cards played to maximise the number of islands visited as fast as you can but the number of icons does add some work and time. So maybe it could have been streamlined a bit but I’m willing to live with it. I like the idea of racing to be the first to visit the required amount of islands too. So, as designed, I liked it and it is pretty solid mechanically. 

But…

The main issue for me is that this is a game crying out for theme. As it stands, the theme rarely makes an appearance. It is painted on in terms of the artwork but doesn’t really feature in the gameplay. The mechanics are there but I so wanted a story to come out of playing it. I wanted to get the sense of a desperate search and race against time for survival’s sake. Even the Aptitude cards were just things unrelated to anything else. There was a tremendous opportunity to make this a very thematic and richer experience but its just not here.

So on the whole, I’d say Paradise Fallen is a nice appetiser. Tasty, but not enough on the plate, teasing me with what might have been.

For more information go to – http://crashgamesaz.com/

Review – Council of Verona from Crash Games

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Review – Council of Verona from Crash Games

Design – Michael Eskue

Art – Darrell Louder, Adam P. McIver

In Council of Verona, players take on the role of influential citizens of Verona and act to use their influence to either add characters to the council or cast them into exile.

Ah, Romeo and Juliet got all the publicity and celebrity but what about all the shenanigans between their warring families behind the scenes? What was up with those Capulets and Montagues anyway? Well Crash Games brings you Council of Verona, a game of intrigue and family feuds and most of all wielding influence. Before we go any further, I will say up front that this is a light game, not a heavy Euro game with tons of mechanics but a social deduction/bluffing game easily playable in a short time.

Unboxing

Components

A card based game, you would probably class this as a “micro” game. There isn’t much at all in terms of components –

  • 17 cards
  • 20 tokens
  • Rules

Yep, that’s it. I love the art which is somewhat Disney-ish and I think it really suits the game. The cards are of an excellent standard and will stand up to many plays. I think it was a bit risky using the Old English font but it works and the cards and easy to read. If anything, I would say that the the tokens are too small. It would have been nice if they were larger. But its not a problem really.

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Gameplay

Before the game starts the cards everyone gets their first card randomly but then you get to choose the others in your hand. Interestingly, the cards you start with don’t belong to you, as they are just played. And you don’t pick cards into your hand. Effectively you play a card each round and tally up the score. Plays pretty fast.

Turn Sequence
1. Play one card. The card may be placed in one of two locations:
The Council or Exile.

2. Use the Action on the played card. This is OPTIONAL and only applies to cards that have an Action listed on the card.  The actions are simple to understand and bring the “influencing” to life beyond just placing the tokens on the character cards.

3. Place one Influence Token (face down). This is OPTIONAL and the Token may be placed on any Character Card that has an Influence icon.

The Influence tokens have numeric values and are placed on character cards on Influence icons as you are trying to have the most influence over characters who complete their agendas by the end of the game. The numeric values remain face down so you can try putting lower value tokens down to bluff your opponents. The icons have value modifiers as well. 

A mini expansion adds Poison and antidote tokens which I really like as this adds more uncertainty and bluffing and backstabbing which increases the fun.

The process goes on until all the cards have been played and players have a final chance to play an Influence token. Then, the players’ Influence tokens are scored for the characters who have completed their agendas. The winner scores the most Influence points.

There aren’t many choices to make but enough for a fast playing game. Its very easy to understand and the game process works smoothly.

Did I enjoy Council of Verona?

I am fast becoming a fan of micro games as they are quick to play and very social and I’m all for both of these. Micro games are great for introducing non-gamers to cool games. Easy to teach, fun to play. So for me, Council of Verona ticks a lot of boxes. There is nothing earth shattering here but the design is solid and stands up well. I do agree with Tom Vasel of The Dicetower that you have to play with the Poison expansion as it adds more sneakiness and increases the replayability. Without it, Council of Verona would probably not be very interesting after a short time.

The theme is nice but not deep and could be interchangeable with almost anything else but in a micro game I’m not bothered. Its the gameplay in a micro game for me and the social interaction.  This game is reminiscent of games like Love Letter and Coup and you could easily play in it a pub which is the aim of Crash Games’ Pub game series. The quality of the cards is very good which is a nice touch too.

Overall, Council of Verona is good fun, nicely done and fits well along side similar micro games. The kind of game that is great to break out for some fast, light fun and social interaction which is one of my favourite things about playing games. Nice one!

For more information go to – http://crashgamesaz.com/