Pioneers

PIONEERS

From Queen Games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-4 Players
  • 60 Minutes
  • 8+ Age

Stagecoach.

It is the old west. Opportunity and wealth awaits the brave souls willing to travel out west and grasp them. BUT that’s not you. You are much smarter than that. All these intrepid adventurers need to get there first. This is where you come in. Your running a stagecoach company and building the infrastructure that is needed. You have competition though. Will you succeed as the others flounder and fall? Or will you be the one left behind? “Pioneers” it’s wild out west.

Paint your Wagon.

As we have come to expect from Queen Games, nice box art that is evocative of the subject matter. While inside you have the usual 2-3 Language rulebooks along with,

  • 1 Double sided game board (2/3 player and 4 player sides),
  • 24 Coaches,
  • 4 Starting coaches,
  • 49 Pioneer tiles (7 different characters),
  • 8 Covering tiles (for 2 player games),
  • 10 Gold nugget tokens (3, 4 and 5 point varieties),
  • 45 Dollar tokens ($1 & $2 denominations),
  • 4 Player boards,
  • 80 Wooden Pioneers (20 per player colour),
  • 60 Roads (15 per player colour),
  • 4 Scoring markers (1 per player)
  • 4 Shop tiles (1 per player),
  • 1 Wooden Stagecoach marker,
  • First player marker,

Davy Crockett.

OK so you have opened the box. Tipped all the bits everywhere and punched the cardboard bits out. Just what are you meant to do with all these colourful bits?

Well for a start- Tidy them up you messy git.

Done? Good you will use all of these colourful pieces to spread your company’s influence from city to city transporting passengers to their destination and making a bigger profit than that of the competition. After selecting the correct board side for the number of players and using the covering tiles if needed (2 player game). Give each player their board, Pioneers, Roads, Scoring marker, Shop tile and some $$. Shuffle the for starting coaches (larger ones) and randomly deal one to each player. Pioneer tiles are placed randomly across the board on each of the city locations. These tiles represent the type of pioneer that is needed in that city. Your Stagecoach spaces have corresponding colours which will designate the type of pioneer you have on the stagecoach. All players put a pioneer onto the starting space as well and your ready to begin….

Brian what are you doing?……Well stop it there are no dice in a game of Pioneers, YES yes I am about to tell you how to move so please sit down and I will continue.

Oregon Trail.

Turns in Pioneers are played in a series of phases. These are fairly straightforward.

Income:- Player boards have a set income and you can gain Bonus income dependent on having acquired “Banker” pioneer tiles.

Purchase:- On player boards there are spaces to buy Roads or additional Coaches. Roads can be placed anywhere on the board while coaches are placed in front of a player and filled with Pioneers. Initially you only have one purchase option but can unlock up to two more through the game.

Movement:- This is where you move the stagecoach “meeples”. The catch is that every movement (space between two cities) costs you $1 If the route has no road section placed then you pay the money to the central supply (bank). If there is a players road on that route you must pay that player $1 (obviously if it is your colour road it is free).

Movement aim is that you reach a city with a pioneer token matching one of the passengers on your coaches. If you reach a city with a token but do not have a matching passenger tough. you still have to stop.

Drifter.

Right you have collected money, built roads and moved to a spot with a matching tile. Now what? You place the wooden meeples from your matching stagecoach spot onto the city. In return you collect the tile from the city. This will grant you either an ongoing ability or a one time bonus. These will consist of,

  • Banker- a permanent $1 increase in income.
  • Merchant- Extra purchase ability.

Or you might get one off bonuses of extra money, road laying and pioneer placement to give just a few examples. Play continues in this fashion until either one player has used all their roads or all the coaches have been used. Final scoring then takes place including largest road network. Most victory points wins.

Gunslinger.

So how did I find Pioneers from Queen Games? It is an interesting game that is most definitely aimed squarely at the younger end of the target audience of 8+. The amount of decisions to be made are quite small and therefore not overwhelming to younger players. I think there is still enough for the older siblings and parents. I do not however think that it has enough meat on the bones for game groups in general. That being said I do not think it has been targeted at those players. This is a family game, lightweight, accessible, easy to learn and teach, If that fits your bill then this could be a good purchase. I found it reminiscent of Ticket to Ride in terms of play weight. If you have kids and you get a chance to play this then do so you might find yourself enjoying it more than you think.

Pro.

  • Simple play.
  • Easy to learn and teach.
  • Aimed at younger players.
  • Good gateway.

Con.

  • Too simple for the more experienced player.
  • Decisions limited.
  • Mass market components.

I was provided a copy of “PIONEERS” solely for review through the Board Game Exposure group. This game has now been forwarded on to another member of BGE for review. this does not affect my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Merlin

MERLIN

From Queen games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-4 Players
  • 75 Minutes
  • 14+ Age

Excalibur.

King Arthur is old, oh so old. His time is drawing to a close. It is now time for a successor to be found. Which of the knights of the Round Table will be chosen? Are you the most worthy? He has tasked Merlin, the great wizard with the job of finding his heir. Merlin in turn has chosen the Knights he believes the most worthy. You are one of those chosen. Will you rise to greatness and lead the Kingdom onwards to the future? Fulfil missions, gain influence, build manors and defeat traitors. It is all in your hands now.

Holy Grail.

On first look at the box, you are greeted by some rather nice artwork. All of it promising regal shenanigans. Eagerly opening the box you will find yourself smiling at the amount of “stuff” inside,

  • 1 Game Board,
  • 24 Terrain Tiles,
  • 2 Terrain frames,
  • 4 Starting tiles,
  • 55 Mission Cards,
  • 36 Shields (6 per province),
  • 36 Flags (6 per province),
  • 36 Construction Materials (wooden cubes, 6 per province,
  • 24 Traitors,
  • 11 Apples,
  • 1 Holy Grail,
  • 1 Excalibur,
  • 12 Merlin’s Staffs,
  • 28 Manors,
  • 16 Henchmen with Stickers (wooden cylinders)
  • 12 Players Dice,
  • 4 Merlin Dice,
  • 28 Influence Counters,
  • 4 Scoring Markers,
  • 4 Knight Figures (wooden Meeples),
  • 1 Merlin Figure,
  • 1 Round Marker,
  • 4 Castle Boards,
  • 4 Favor Boards (Expansion),
  • 16 Seals (Expansion),
  • 4 100-point Markers,
  • Rules Booklet.

Camelot.

When you first open the board of Merlin, your initial reaction will be one of “Oh my eyes”. This is one busy busy board. Imagine Ikea during a 50% off Kallax sale. Yep that busy. Surprisingly though This quickly subsides as you follow the straightforward set-up guide. And to be honest just by looking at the board all the myriad of tokens and cubes have logical homes that are straightforward to find. The players boards again are simple to set up and the iconography is nicely laid out. In fact once everything is on the boards and set up it is all a logical layout.

The Icons used for the central action wheel (Rondel) are reasonably clear and straightforward. So much so that they are set out as groups in the rules booklet. After reading the rule book once through without the board set up next to me I already had a good handle on the play of the game and through the first play only needed to refer to rules to check on scoring at round ends. Everything is very easy and clear to understand it all quickly flows well.

Lancelot.

Merlin is played over a series of rounds. Each round begins with the players rolling three dice for themselves and one extra dice for Merlin himself. Starting with the first player you will select a die from the four you have rolled. The white Merlin die allows you to move the Merlin figure around the action track either clockwise or anticlockwise, the number of spaces on the die. You will then take the action for that space. All players have their own Merlin die so expect a lot of Merlin movement.

If however you select your own colour die you will be moving your Knight Meeple in a clockwise only direction and using that space action. Initially this feels very restrictive until you remember you have three dice to plan with. There are also ways to mitigate “bad rolls” you can collect apples that allow you to change a die roll. Flags you can collect which allow you to mirror your position (I.e. jump to the other side), reverse your direction and change the number rolled. All this goes a very long way towards cancelling out the bad luck of rolling with die. Yes it is still possible to get stuffed badly but highly unlikely if you plan accordingly.

Gwenevire.

So your moving nicely around the Round Table. What do you do with the actions then. Well on a basic level you will be scoring VP (Victory Points) for Flags, Construction Material and Shields, Some spaces will allow you to collect more items based on where you have gained some influence by dispatching henchmen (another space). There will also be the opportunity to build Manors on a side board randomly constructed which will score you points based on the size of the area. Scoring will take place at the end of the 2nd 4th and 6th (last) round. This scoring focuses on the size of territory you possess with Manors, The amount of influence you have in each Province and if you have been stuck with any traitors (you get rid of traitors by spending shields). There is very little chance to “mess” with other players except with the movement of the Merlin figure, increasing influence in the various regions (provinces) or by building Manors in the same territory as another player. This might sound a lot like multiplayer solitaire and in some ways it is. But at the same time it is not. Just those little bits of interaction make a huge difference

Lady of the Lake.

Overall I like Merlin. It is a nice game with some good mechanisms in place. Despite the initial look of it all and the associated Name of Stefan Feld (oracle of Delphi, Trajan, Macao, castles of Burgundy). Merlin plays quite light. Having played with both two and four players The game in my opinion is much more suited to the higher player counts.

If only because there is much more competition for the Manor territory scoring and the Province influence scoring. In the two player it is quite possible to get a bit of “runaway leader” happening although if you play carefully you should not experience this too much. I can definitely recommend this for playing by game groups and at conventions. In families with older children it will work well but younger children will find the various dice options and planning a bit much. As for me personally I will happily play if someone suggests it but thinking about my usual playing groups I don’t think it is one I will be putting on my shelf anytime soon.

Pro.

  • Clear iconography.
  • Luck mitigation.
  • Simple to learn and teach.
  • Does not outstay its welcome.

Con.

  • Very busy board.
  • Possibly a little light for some.
  • Dice options could induce AP in others.

I was provided a copy of “MERLINsolely for review through the Board Game Exposure group. This game has now been forwarded on to another member of BGE for review. this does not affect my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Kings Abbey

Kings Abbey

by Breaking Games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 1-5 Players
  • 90-180 Minutes
  • 14+ Age

Monk.

Ho there monk. King Sivolc has given you his charge. You are to set forth and construct an Abbey befitting of his Grace’s majesty. He expects Bell Tower, battlements, peasants and associated buildings. Of course His majesty in his infinite wisdom has not tasked just you with this honour. There are others who will try to outdo your achievements. So go hence forth from this place and Recruit, Train, defend, Build, Crusade and Harvest. The King’s time is limited and he will not reward failure.

Postulant.

So you pick up a copy of Kings Abbey and first thing is ooh nice weight to the box. Well actually first thing is ooh that’s a lot of brown, then nice weight. Once you open it your first thoughts are confirmed. There is a lot in the box.

  • 1 Game Board,
  • 5 Player Boards,
  • 5 Player Aides,
  • 50 Monks (Dice 10 per player),
  • 5 Vikings (Dice),
  • 75 Peasants (15 wooden cubes per player),
  • 5 Clergy (purple wooden cubes),
  • 67 Tokens (Tools, Wagons, trade, etc.),
  • 70 Coin Tokens,
  • 98 Buildings (mini cards),
  • 61 Crusade, Event and Remodel cards (standard playing cards),
  • 31 Walls, Darkness tracker and Player discs (wooden components),
  • 105 Resource Tokens (Grain, Wood, Stone and Sand)
  • 24 Sheep and Cows (wooden cubes),
  • Start Player wooden Meeple,
  • Solo Rules,
  • Building Reference card
  • 2 Expansion Modules.

I do not say this often (enough). The insert for Kings Abbey is blooming great. Everything fits really nicely. The player boards fit perfectly to keep everything in place. I even did the shake test (upside down over head shake then open to see if stuff moved) it passed with 99% of stuff staying put (I was very energetic with my shaking).

Priest.

Sounds like a lot of bits. So how well does it come together? The answer is surprisingly well to be honest. Game Rounds initially appear daunting but are actually pretty straightforward. In this order you will,

  • Roll your dice,
  • Draw and resolve an Event Card,
  • Abbey and Crusade Dice placement,
  • Purchase Building Cards,
  • Resource selection (Dice placement),
  • Move peasants,
  • Build,
  • Gardening/Farming/Feeding (mostly Feeding),
  • Darkness Track resolution and advancement,
  • Income,
  • Crusade rewards/buy new
  • Clean-up.

I will give a little more insight below.

Bishop.

  • Roll dice→ Each player will roll 9 of their 10 dice (they might unlock the 10th later in the game).
  • Draw and resolve an Event Card,→ The events deck will reveal either a Disaster, Year of plenty or Viking attack, Disaster=Bad, Year of Plenty=Good Viking attack requires players to use some of their dice to combat the Vikings or lose peasants and/buildings..
  • Abbey and Crusade Dice placement→ This is where you recruit peasants, advance on the religion track or allocate dice to crusades
  • Purchase Building Cards→ Guess go on. Yep you buy Building cards.
  • Resource selection (Dice placement)-> Remaining Dice are allocated to collect resources
  • Move peasants→ Move baptised peasants to buildings to unlock bonus’
  • Build→ Construct new buildings by paying resources. Note you cannot put a peasant in until the next round.
  • Gardening/Farming/Feeding (mostly Feeding)→ Feed peasants or if you have built farms then tend Sheep and Cows.
  • Darkness Track resolution and advancement→Think of this as the war and famine track. If you have enough defence you safe otherwise lose peasants and victory points. It increases every round.
  • Income→ Gain 1 coin for each peasant except for those on crusade.
  • Crusade rewards/buy new→Any completed Crusades will yield their rewards now.
  • Clean-up→ Re-set ready for next round

Cardinal.

While this might sound daunting at first. It genuinely is not. After the first few rounds you will pretty much forget about the rule book and just occasionally glance at the reference cards to remind yourself when the build or buy Building actions are. It just flows really naturally from one action to another. As most actions can be done simultaneously there is minimal downtime. There is some very minor player interaction as you might offer to help on a crusade for a share of the rewards. You will all work co-operatively when the Vikings come calling as well. There is a lot to think about each part of the round so making the right decision can be tricky. This has the potential to lead to some Analysis Paralysis. That being said we did not encounter to much in our play throughs.

King.

While there is a lot to like about Kings Abbey, it is not without a few faults. Are they enough to stop you enjoying it? Only you can really decide. The first issue for me was the set up guide. When you are first setting up a new game you need it to be as painless as possible and that includes any graphical depictions of set up being on the same page as the instructions themselves. Flicking back and forth is frustrating. Part of the set up is putting piles of tokens onto the board itself. Nice idea, but in reality make the space big enough please. It is definitely on the crunchy side at the beginning and while this will quite quickly ease be prepared for undoing some moves as you realise you did things out of order. Taking first player involves using a die placement on an initiative space. When your rewarded for doing so and the rules openly state that you can use the space even if you are already first player thus getting the bonus. (House rules possibly required). I will be honest and say that it was not an issue when we played but I was made aware of this by an experienced gaming colleague who suggested the house rule of not being allowed to retain the First Player by taking the spot every turn. (Thanks Martin). Finally some of the components were definitely on the “small” side and at time things did feel fiddly.

Pro.

  • Think-y game.
  • Flows Well.
  • Nice art especially on the event cards.

Con.

  • Lack of player interaction.
  • Rule book is a bit bloaty.
  • Can feel a bit “multiplayer solitaire”.
  • Play time may put off some.

Overall a nice gaming experience with some luck elements. Not so much luck as to make the game swing-y. Nothing groundbreaking but some nice mechanics. Recommended to play before you buy if given a chance. Worth the investment of time but could be too long for some.

I was provided a copy of “Kings Abbeysolely for the purpose of review through the Board Game Exposure group. This game has now been forwarded on to another member of BGE for review. this does not affect my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Iberian Rails

Iberian Rails

by Monsoon Publishing

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-5 Players
  • 70-90 Minutes
  • 14+ Age (seriously this is true)

All Aboard.

Look out Spain. The trains are coming. In actual fact six train companies are vying to be the most successful. You along with up to four other investors. Will compete for control of these six companies. Giving you the power you need to take them in the direction you want them to go. Thus giving you the most return on your investments. Lay tracks. Privately and publicly sell shares. Dividend payouts at the right time can enhance your wealth. Get it wrong however and the company might suffer in the long term.

Calling at.

The interesting rollercoaster-esque design of the box art hides behind its dark exterior.

  • Double sided game board,
  • 27 Shares in the six companies,
  • 126 train meeples (21 in each company colour),
  • 15 Character cards,
  • 15 Character boards,
  • 5 Player markers,
  • 5 Player screens,
  • 40 Hotel tiles (8 in each player’s colour),
  • Cardboard coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 pesetas (old Spanish currency before euros),
  • 6 Wooden cubes (1 in each company colour).

Play.

In Iberian Rails, you are not playing as one of the train companies instead you take on the role of investors. The holder of the most shares is the CEO of that company and makes the decision of growth by laying tracks or selling shares publicly or privately. The options available to you will depend on the character you have chosen for that round. Once the point is reached that four of the companies have sold all their shares or connected twelve cities. The game ends, final dividends are played and the richest player wins.

Details.

How does this all work in actual play then? Players take turns to choose a character. This character will determine what actions are available to you during the round. This will range from

  • Laying Tracks
  • Public Auction (players take turns bidding)
  • Closed Auction (sealed bid style. Hold bid in closed hand, highest wins)
  • Special ability.

These characters range from Hoteliers with a special ability to allow you to build hotels in your colour on the board. Or maybe you would prefer being a Bureaucrat and earning extra money from a train company you control. Have you seen your self more as a dark broody type? Then the Mafioso could be your choice. Their special ability is “making an offer you can’t refuse” (basically paying some money to the controller of a company to act as CEO for the round. Do not get too attached however as at the end of the round you will be replacing characters and picking new ones for the next round. Trick here is you cannot re-pick your existing character OR a character from a player who comes after you and has yet to replace their character.

Once all this fun is sorted out the round proper begins. But it is not player turns but company turns. The companies have a set turn order which does not change. Each round the player who holds the most shares in a company acts as CEO (Mafioso can break this rule. Unsurprisingly). The CEO then decides what that company will do based on the options available on the character card they have chosen.

Play proceeds this way until four of the companies have run out of shares. When this happens the current round completes and final double dividend payouts occur. Players count their cash and highest wins.

Throughout the game various bonus’s are paid out when a train enters a Hotel hex or occupies an already used hex. You cannot just lay track unlimited there is a cost involved and that increases the more track laid each turn.

Special Note: As the player holding most shares controls the train company on its turn. It is a distinct possibility that players may find themselves without an action from round to round. This can lead to a lot of downtime between your interactions with the game in any meaningful way. Especially if other players are prone to the dreaded AP (analysis paralysis).

Extra notes.

If this sounds a little dry? That is because it is. This is reinforced in a big way by the rulebook. I have never come across a rulebook that used phrases like (and this is a direct quote from the rules). “Furthermore, upon laying a railroad companies track into a hotel hex, immediately count the number of tourism city hexes said railroad company is connected to and bank immediately pays that number times 10 in pesetas to the owner of said hotel”. YAWN. The whole of the rulebook is written in this overly verbose semi-legalise style text that appears to be an attempt at adding theme. But in actual fact just makes the entire game less accessible to a lot of players. As a reviewer I see a lot of rulebooks and This is definitely one of the least welcoming. I am all for flavour text but save it for the flavour part. Rules need to be laid out in a clear easy to understand manner. Something that could have been done a lot better here. Yes you can understand what they are saying but you have to concentrate a lot more than is necessary.

Final thoughts.

I have to say I was very disappointed in Iberian Rails. When I first received the game I was excited by the prospect of building trains across Spain, running train companies and getting into characters. Even the artwork while a little heavy on the dark browns and darker shades looked interesting and a bit of fun. Imagine how I felt when I started reading the said rulebook in the aforementioned game box containing the previously said game. Still moving onto playing I was hopeful the false start was only a minor hiccup. Wrong, all our players experienced moments of frustration as they were left twiddling their thumbs and playing on their phones as they had virtually nothing to do for one or two rounds at a time. Not one I can recommend or finding a home on my shelves.

Pro.

  • Train meeples.
  • Character cards.

Con.

  • So dry it is arid.
  • Down time.
  • Outstayed its welcome.

I was provided a copy of “Iberian Railssolely for review through the Board Game Exposure group. This game has now been forwarded on to another member of BGE for review. this does not affect my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Asking for Trobils

asking for

Trobils

by

Breaking Games

A review by

Mawihtec

  • 2-7 Players
  • 60-90 Minutes
  • 12+ Age

Introducing.

Asking for Trobils was originally released in 2015 by Kraken Games following a successful Kickstarter funding campaign. It was quite well received in the game community. With some notable reviewers speaking well of it. Now we fast forward to 2017 and Breaking Games in association with Kraken Games is releasing a second edition. So what has changed and how well does it play two years on (a veritable lifetime in board-gaming)?

Bits.

When you first hold the game box the first thing that will strike you is ORANGE! Lots and lots of orange. The artwork has definitely been tangoed (google tango ads if you don’t understand that reference). There is Orange writing, orange monsters, orange spaceships, orange…well you get the idea. Open the box and the contents are (apart from orange there is lots of that).

  • Circular Game Board,
  • 32 Riff-Raff Cards,
  • 20 Trobil Cards,
  • 8 City Cards,
  • 12 Riff-Raff Standees,
  • 48 Connection Cards,
  • 7 Ship Cards,
  • 22 Mega Traps tokens,
  • 46 Space Slugs tokens,
  • 46 Space Carrot tokens,
  • 46 Trap tokens,
  • 44 Credit tokens (1 & 5 value),
  • 10 Resource tokens,
  • 28 Ship Miniatures,
  • 40 Acrylic Ore,
  • 40 Acrylic Crystals.

Quick note for those with the original first edition. Here is a quick rundown of the changes in the second edition.

  • Art→ Some tweaking and refining.
  • Components→ Wood cubes and discs now full art punchouts.
  • MSRP→ reduced.
  • Riff-Raff cards→ More Orangified, some wording tweaks and some re-balancing to reduce overpowered cards.
  • Ships→ NO change.

Play.

OK so how do you play Trobils? Asking for Trobils is at heart a worker placement game. Add on touches of pick up and deliver, resource management and very mild take that.

The titular Trobils are a space vermin (think weird orange space rats with lots of eyes and teeth). No one knows where they have come from. They have started to appear on the planet Paradise. You and your competing Trobil Hunters have been tasked with eradicating the infestation. You will need to use all your talents to acquire space carrots, space slugs, traps, mega traps, ore and crystals to ensnare the Trobils. If you cast them into the sun (the only known way to destroy these pests) you will be rewarded. Ship upgrades and mercenaries will help and hinder you and your competitors. Who will prove the most successful once the infestation is cleared?

Details.

Each player starts with 1 or 2 ships (depending on player count), a few credits and a ship card. On your turn you can place a ship on any of the locations on the board to take the relevant action. This will range from collecting Carrots, Gems or Ore. Just for visiting the location, to spending some resources or money to get better resources or even ships. You will need to do this to allow yourself to have the amount of resources required to visit Paradise and capture one of the Trobils. Each Trobil card shows the amount and type of resource required to capture it. You can only capture one Trobil at a time so repeated visits will be needed. If you visit the sun in the centre of the board you can cast the captured Trobils into the sun gaining a number of credits based on how difficult they were to catch. At the end of the game all Trobils count towards your final points tally regardless of if you have cast them into the sun or not.

As the game progresses you will capture Trobils and eventually reveal City Cards. These signify the clearing of the planet of its infestation and blocks Trobils from re-entering in those spaces. Once all spaces are blocked the game ends and you calculate the points to find the winning Trobil Hunter.

Extra notes.

All very simple and straightforward so far. Now we move onto a few actions that makes Asking for Trobils stand out.

The first of these is You can upgrade your ships. These upgrades apply to all of your ships only and is cleverly implemented. When you visit the Space Station you can for 2 credits purchase a Connection (upgrade) you place this upgrade adjacent to any side of your ship card. You ship card is six sided and has an icon matching 6 of the game locations. From that point on every time one of your ships visits that location you receive the extra resource depicted on your connection upgrade. Want to get more than one bonus per visit? No problem simply attach extra connection upgrades at an increased cost and you are good to go.

Next we look at the Riff-Raff cards. Think of these as hired guns or mercenaries when you visit the “Broken Planet” space you can receive 2 credits and a Riff-Raff card which is used immediately. They can earn you resources or credits or even protect you from other players Riff-Raff. Some of them are instant reward others will have a standee placed on the board and provide some form of benefit over time.

The final quirk in Asking for Trobils, and for me the most interesting. Is the “bumping” mechanic. Normally when you play worker placement games, once a space has been used. That is the space blocked for the rest of the round. Here things are a little different. Even if the space you want to use is occupied you can still use it. But, it comes at a cost. When you place your spaceship on the occupied space you need to hand the opponents ship back to them. This in effect gives them a free extra turn. The question you are left with, is the use of the space worth enough to you to allow an opponent an extra turn? In fact in a 7 player game this can cause a cascade effect. With several players getting an extra turn one after the other. Making for some interesting decision choices.

Final thoughts.

Here we have a game that is greater than the sum of its parts. One the one hand it is a simple light family weight gateway worker placement game. While on the other hand there are some clever game mechanics in play that encourage deeper thinking. Without going to heavy. The Art work is appealing to probably most people (except those that hate orange). Iconography make the game simple to learn and also teach. My 9yr old son really enjoyed playing as did my wife and a couple of people from gaming circles. No it is not heavy but it is gentle and warm. Recommended for the shelf and at the lower 2nd edition price point will not burn a hole in your pocket. At time of writing $45 (approx £35) on Breaking Games website.

Footnote:- The review copy we received came with a punchboard error. Even though it was “just a review copy” Breaking Games were horrified and did their best to rectify this issue as quickly as possible. If only all publishers were this quick and efficient.

Pro.

  • Bright.
  • Easy to learn.
  • Easy to teach.
  • Some interesting mechanics.
  • Suitable for wide age range.
  • Family friendly.
  • Fun artwork.
  • Not too heavy.

Con.

  • Possibly too light for some.
  • ORANGE.
  • Artwork a little too childlike for some.

I was provided a copy of “asking for Trobils” for review through the Board Game Exposure group. This game has now been forwarded on to another member for review. this does not affect my review or my final thoughts on the game.

49

The Game of

49

by Breaking Games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-5 Players
  • 30 Minutes
  • 10+ Age

Introducing.

Imagine just for a moment.

What would the love child of Bingo & Connect4, conceived in an auction house look like?

Good, good, you have just visualised The Game of 49.

The aim of the game is to successfully get four of your counters in a row before any or your opponents. But instead of just placing the counters anywhere you need to win the space at auction. And all spaces are drawn randomly.

7 X 7.

When you open your game box. You will find,

  • 60 Cards,
  • Player tokens,
  • Auction space marker token,
  • First player marker token,
  • Money in 1, 5, 10, 20 denominations,
  • Game board,
  • Card tray,
  • Money tray,
  • 2 Player rules reference card,
  • Rules booklet.

Now it needs to be mentioned that the box art immediately gives you a feeling of mass market style game….

Come back here!

Did I say that was a bad thing? No it does mean that it could potentially have a much broader appeal than niche or hobby games. When we look at the contents it is clear that the “mainstream” feel is still in evidence. Both paper money and Tiddlywinks style tokens are there. I know this does not make it a bad game. You do need to be aware that component quality is not high end.

Speaking of the players tokens leads me to the biggest problem. Colour! With the five sets of tokens all being translucent obviously colours are muted. That being said there is NO excuse these days for not thinking about colour blindness and accessibility in games. It literally costs nothing to ensure most people with a colour sight deficiency can tell which token is which. The worst offenders in this case are the Red and Orange tokens. Grab a handful and even with 20/20 vision it take effort to separate them properly.

42 + 7.

The play style of. The game of 49 is deceptively simple. On a players turn a card is turned over. Players then take it in turn order to pass or bid on the card. If you pass you cannot bid again. Highest bid wins the card and places their token on that number. Get 4 in a row (3 in a row in 5 player) and you win.

50 – 1.

If that sounds too simple? It is because it is. There are a couple of wrinkles to the basic premise which start to take The Game of 49, up a level or two. In the first instance as you all start with a set amount of money, it is all too easy to bid too high and find yourself not able to win the number you need. At the same time you need to bid enough on the other numbers to stop other players completing their row of 4. There are several “payoff-wild” cards. When these appear they allow you to bid in the same way as single number cards. Only in this case. If you win you get to place your token on one of a range of numbers, 1-24, 25-40, 41-48. this starts to bring in some tactical positioning of tokens. Can you block an opponent while giving yourself an advantage?

Further to this, once a token is placed its position is final. Except for the 49 centre square. There are several 49’s in the deck these allow for a little bit of smart thinking. The winner of the 49 card places their token on the central space. If however they already have a token there? They are then allowed to place the token on any empty space on the board. If another players token is on the 49 space then it can be knocked off and returned to the player.

The “pay-off” part of these bonus cards is that after tokens have been placed, all players collect 7 money for each token they have on the board up to 49 total.

6 X 8 + 1.

So how does this all pan out then? If you take “The Game of 49” for a family fun type game you will likely not be disappointed. There is no highbrow mental brain burning here. I can see this being played at family gatherings. A perfect example is Christmas. Simple to learn and teach. Nothing to scare those who are only used to monopoly and cluedo type games. In fact I can easily see myself sat there feeling pretty smug. Knowing that I am almost certain of winning because no-one can afford to bid high on the number I need when BAM!!! Auntie Mabel bids everything she has just to stop you (all because you forgot her birthday two years ago geez, get over it Mabel I said sorry). If that made you smile then you are the target audience for this game.

I struggle to see this being seen at meet-ups or game nights.

Player count? Is I have to say a touchy subject. I personally think at 2 player this is much more “solitaire” depending on numbers drawn. 5 Player is too chaotic especially with the aforementioned red-orange colour issues. 3 player is OK. 4 player is the sweet spot there is enough take that style blocking without it becoming un-wieldy.

56 – 7.

Not a “bad” game. Just not a great game. OK for family fun more than serious gaming. Components functional at best. Card tray awkward to use. Money tray is OK. I would be happy to play with my son and wife but would get bored after a few plays. For me not a long term game. But OK for occasional family fun with non gamers.

Pro.

  • Simple to learn.
  • Simple to teach.
  • Accessible to all ages equally.
  • Won’t scare off non-gamers.
  • Not too think-y.

Con.

  • Components.
  • One trick pony.
  • Very luck based.
  • Too simplistic for some.

I was provided a copy of “The Game of 49” for review through the Board Game Exposure group. This game has now been forwarded on to another member for review. this does not affect my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Dawn of the Peacemakers

DAWN

of the

Peacemakers

Preview

by

Mawihtec

Currently live on kickstarter

Dawn.

Dawn of the Peacemakers is created by Sami Laakso. If the name sounds familiar? It should. He is the same creator and artist behind the brilliant Dale of Merchants & Dale of Merchants 2. Right off the bat you can tell Dawn of the Peacemakers is set in the same universe as the DoM games with the anthropomorphic characters of birds, lizards, foxes etc. Unlike those previous games where profit wins the day. Here the only way to win is by stopping a war.

WAR !?!

Where Dawn of the Peacemakers tries to be different is that instead of stopping a war before it begins. Conflict has already started, your role as a group of adventurers is to turn the hostilities in such a way that both sides are ready to call a truce and withdraw. Yes this is a co-op, campaign, skirmish game with legacy style elements.

Wait what?

Yes you did just ready that right. Dawn of the Peacemakers is a co-operative board-game where as the game progresses through the campaign you will unlock different abilities and environmental attributes (Not all are guaranteed to assist you) to turn the tide of hostility. Be careful though as fail to achieve the balance can leading to escalation and ultimately loss for all involved.

You are also gaining a skirmish style game as well where you can control one of the armies each and go head to head with an opponent in battle. You will be able to utilise the unlocks from the campaign mode missions to assist you. So the skirmish battle after 10 missions will be hugely different to the one you have out of the box at the start.

Supplies

The copy of Dawn of the Peacemakers that was sent to BGE reviewers was not the final production copy. So component quality was not comment-able. If however the standard of the preview copy is anything to go by, then it is showing a lot of promise. During the Kickstarter campaign upgrades and enhancements will become available. Also the copy received did not have the miniatures but standees. The following list is the planned set for the game before stretch goals are added.

  • 420 Cards,
  • 1 Double sided game board,
  • 2 Double sided boards
  • 30 Miniatures,
  • 30 Custom miniature bases,
  • 30 Double sided terrain tiles,
  • Custom Die,
  • Various tokens (damage fortification etc.),
  • Campaign rulebook,
  • Skirmish rulebook,
  • Index rulebook,
  • Undisclosed unlock-able components.

Noon.

You and your fellow adventurers have been called upon to stop the brewing war between the Ocelots and the Macaws. So how do you achieve this? You are on the battlefield stood between the two hostile armies and feeling decidedly vulnerable. You will each in turn use cards from your hands to allow you to move, fortify, heal, damage or a myriad of other things. While you will not come under direct fire yourself. You must work together to ensure that no one side becomes dominant. If that happens then the stronger side will win and war will ravage the land (you lose). An army that loses its leader will lose the will to fight and surrender (you lose). An army whose motivation to fight drops to low (you lose). You see the pattern? The only way to succeed is not to stop the fighting but control the losses on either side, ensuring both sides lose the will to fight on at the same time (at least in the beginning). Over the course of the campaign you will encounter many scenarios. You do not need to win every one (it would help though). Instead you need to focus on the bigger picture of stopping all out war.

Theme.

The story weaved through the game (as experienced so far). Is one that has depth and engagement. You will start to care about your characters and how they achieve their goals. Your allies in this adventure will work with you assisting you along the way. The rules were well explained if a little complex initially due to the new terminology encountered. The Index book is a good addition allowing you to look up a particular term for a clear explanation.

Evening

Overall I really enjoyed Dawn of the Peacemakers. I do think it has the feel of a gateway to legacy/co-op style games due to the friendly artwork which hides some of the depth to come. The first intro campaign explains the base rules well. A problem I did encounter was with the enemy order decks. Which while a great idea, due to a bad draw of them lead to my first play of the intro campaign taking much longer than was needed. This was because we had managed to get to a point where we just needed one soldier to die and we would win the scenario. It took 8 more rounds for this to occur with nothing much happening in the meantime. NOTE this was not repeated on the second play as it flowed much better and the unlocks allow for much more flow reducing the possibility of this happening. But it does need mentioning. I could see this working well in a family setting as well as a regular game group. It is a game that demands the investment of time to play the campaign so is less suited for the ad-hoc game night. I am looking forward to seeing the finished product on sale.

This pre-production copy of Dawn of the Peacemakers was sent to Board Game Exposure for preview. No money changed hands and no obligation for review content was inferred with the supply of the game.

Scythe

SCYTHE

From

Stonemaier Games

A review by

MAWIHTEC

  • 1-5 Players (7 with expansion)
  • 90-115 minutes.
  • 14+

Introducing.

Scythe is set in the alternate history 1920’s region known as Europa. The great war leaves scars on the memories of all who survived. The War was fuelled by the mysterious city-state known as “The Factory”. It supplied huge heavily armoured mechs to all of the surrounding faction states. Now it has closed its doors leaving the land uncontrolled and resource rich. You have been given the task of asserting your factions dominance in the region. A word to the wise however. The native farmers while peaceful will not support you if you try to be tyrannical. Show them a better way and they will follow you happily to victory.

Constituents.

To start with you will discover a beautiful box. Seriously stop and take a little while to admires the scene your faced with. Quite simply sumptuous artwork from Jakub Rozalski . Lifting the lid of this heavy box (yes it is heavy) you will discover.

  • 1 Game board.
  • 20 Custom “wood” tokens.
  • 20 Custom “oil” tokens.
  • 20 Custom “metal” tokens.
  • 20 Custom “food” tokens.
  • 42 Combat cards.
  • 28 Encounter cards.
  • 23 Objective cards.
  • 12 Factory cards.
  • 5 “Riverwalk” reference cards (1 per player).
  • 5 “Quick-start” cards (1 per player).
  • 23 “Solo-play” automa cards.
  • 2 Rulebooks (1 normal and 1 solo play version).
  • 1 Quick reference guide.
  • 1 Achievement sheet.
  • 2 Power dials.
  • 80 Cardboard coins.
  • 8 Resource multiplier tokens.
  • 11 Encounter tokens.
  • 6 Structure Bonus tiles
  • Plastic bags and plastic containers.
  • Insert for the miniatures.

Phew quite a haul. But wait we are not finished yet we now come to the components for the players themselves.

  • 20 Mech miniatures (4 per player).
  • 5 Character miniatures (1 per player).
  • 5 Wood action tokens (1 per player).
  • 30 Wood stars (6 per player).
  • 40 Custom wood Meeples (8 per player).
  • 5 wood popularity hearts (1 per player).
  • 5 Wood power tokens (1 per player).
  • 20 Custom wood structures (4 per player).
  • 20 Wood recruit tokens (4 per player).
  • 30 Wood tech cubes (4 per player).
  • 5 Player mats (1 per player).
  • 5 Faction mats (1 per player).

Now you can see why the box is so flipping heavy. What is nice to note is that where some designers might have chosen to just use cubes, hexes and circles for their player pieces. Here we have Popularity tokens shaped as hearts and Buildings that look like buildings. The players worker meeples are each faction specific styled as well as different colours. The players characters are each beautifully realised with their companion animal and the factions mechs are each differently designed to give that sense of ownership.

Note. There are special, premium and collector editions of Scythe where some of the components have been upgraded even further. Metal coins, more cards, more containers and realistic resources are all available.

Play style.

When you first look at the artwork from Scythe you are presented with an interesting contrast. On the one hand you have farmers toiling in the fields for the harvest. Meanwhile soldiers ride into battle on horseback foot and inside huge steam powered battle machines. So is it a game of conflict? Well yes it can be. But that is not the only way to play. You can just as easily play with zero conflict and win comfortably. Here we have an Engine building, strategy game with many different elements and many paths to victory. If you want all out war and conflict I suggest you look elsewhere.

Play.

In a game of Scythe you will take on the role of one of five factions each with a unique leader and his/her own special backstory and a faction specific set of abilities. You will start of in your “home” territory and only a couple of workers to assist you (very reminiscent of the old school civilisation builders). You will need to produce resources allowing you to develop and grow. This will in turn allow you to produce your mechs these will allow you to cross water to the central land. Gaining access to more resources and eventually reaching the gates of “The Factory”. Along the way you will achieve milestones which will grant you stars. These can be awarded for winning battles, completing objectives, building, upgrading, recruiting, employing all the workers, becoming super popular (18 points) or super powerful (16 points). These last two are harder than you might think. As soon as a player has received their sixth star the game ends. No “finish the round” here. But getting your sixth star will not guarantee you the win. The aim of the game is money! Richest power wins. It is quite possible to be in control of over half the board with mechs and buildings everywhere. Only to find that Humble Howard in the corner is so popular he is showered with bonuses by his adoring people and you are confined to a footnote on the page of history as a tyrannical upstart with ideas above your station.

Let the dust settle.

So how does this all come together as a whole? Surprisingly well actually. Each turn you have a set of four options available. Well except you don’t you have three. This is because the option you used in the previous round is unavailable for the current round. You also have a series of secondary options available as well (more in a moment). Your main options consist of Moving units from one territory to another. Increase Power or number of combat cards. Production of resources or workers and increasing popularity or trading of resources with the central supply. When selecting a main action you also have access to the four secondary actions (these are set out in a different order on each players board). These secondary actions will give you the chance to build structures, Enlist recruits, upgrade abilities and deploy your mechs. You are allowed to do both the main and secondary action or you can choose to do one and not the other. The differing layout of these boards when combined with each factions different base ability adds a lot of replay-ability to a game of Scythe. Once you start to deploy your mechs you will then activate further abilities to assist you in your strategy be that by using riverwalk (you can cross a river to a certain land type), more movement, extra combat ability or special movement/turn rules. It is how you choose to utilise these abilities that will make the difference between first and last.

You will have noticed that several times I have mentioned combat, but I have not waxed lyrical about huge armoured machines grinding into each other with machine guns blazing send hot molten death in all directions. There is a good reason for that. It is because combat is well a sort of non-combat really. If you move into a territory controlled by an opponents units combat happens. If it is just their workers they run home and tell the world how nasty you are and your popularity drops. “Boo hiss you big meany”. If however you encounter the mechs or character of an opponent you need to make some serious decisions. How much power will you spend to try to win the battle? Remembering of course that if you max out your power you get to play a valuable star, so every unit of power spent is an extra one you need to regain. You can supplement your combat with the use of a single (normally) combat card to assist you. Once both players have secretly chosen their totals you both reveal and highest number wins. Loser goes home Winner gets access tot he resources on the space and if it is the first or second battle they have won they get to place a star as well. Yes honestly it is as simple as that no random dice roll no massive stats charts needed.

In summary then.

Scythe is a multilayered game. When it was first released there was quite a lot of people disappointed because they were expecting big mech battle warfare with resource management to fund it. That is just not what Scythe is. If you want big battles look somewhere else. What Scythe is however, is a beautiful theme heavy area control, engine building, resource management, game and to be honest when you look at the style of games that Stonemaier Games normally produce you get more of that but bigger better and more beautifully realised. The mechs are fantastically detailed as are the characters. Each of them have their own backstory which is well worth reading. The rulebook is one of the easiest to understand I have come across. I really like the designer’s notes that they have thoughtfully included in the main rulebook. This gives us an insight on the philosophy of the game design and the reason certain design choices were made. It would be nice to see more developers do this. Jamey Stegmaier and his team have been very clever with the way victory is decided. It is almost impossible to keep track of how each player is doing during the game. You can even get penalised for trying to do so. Timing when to make your dash to place that sixth star to try and give you the win is such a knife edged balance. It is only when the dust settles and the money is counted that you will know if you picked rightly or wrongly. Warning though this is a big game you will need to use the dinner table if you want to appreciate the beauty on offer with this feast. I for one like to bring my appetite when playing.

Sys-op.

It is not farming nor is it war or area control or resource management it is all of those things and more deceptively simple yet deep and nuanced

Pro.

  • Beautiful Artwork.
  • Deceptively simple but challenging gameplay.
  • Many paths to victory.
  • Brilliant miniatures.
  • Challenging Solo mode.
  • Easy rules but with hidden depth.
  • Theme everywhere.

Con.

  • NOT a wargame despite the mechs.
  • Strategy lovers are the real target here.

I received a copy of Scythe to review through BGE. This in no way affects my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Folded Space Boardgame Inserts and Organisers

Folded Space

Board Game Inserts and Organisers

From

Folded Space

A preview by

MAWIHTEC

Introduction.

Normally I review and preview board and card games. Today is different. Boardgames are not cheap these days they often come in between £50-£100 or even more. So not insignificant amounts and as a board-gamer I have often despaired at the standard inserts and trays that come in modern board games. Yes they may look pretty but unless the game is staying flat on the shelf and only ever being moved back to the table. They tend to be as much use as a chocolate fireguard (calm down at the back there yes I know some are good). If you have a number of games then a common practice is to store them sideways on, book like on shelves. This lead to the contents moving and potentially getting damaged.

Alternatives.

Once you have been in the hobby for a while you will start to encounter various solutions to this. Realistically there are 4 mainstream options currently available all of which have their negative points.

  • Use zip-lock/resealable bags (baggies) to hold the contents in a sorted if somewhat untidy fashion. Whiles this is a very cheap solution. Bags still move around in the box and the potential for damage is still present,
  • Use foam-core art and craft board to fashion an organiser that fits the box better and holds everything in place. Cheap to use. Can be very time consuming, messy and frustrating trying to create a suitable solution.
  • Purchase a wooden after-market organiser. While they are usually very good designs with a lot of thought into layout. They are usually very expensive often costing almost as much as the original cost of the game again.
  • 3D printed storage. A newer entry to the market as hobby 3D printing becomes more popular. If you are lucky enough to be able to afford a 3D printer the actual production of an insert is not that expensive (the printers are not cheap though). So unless you already own a printer you are relying on purchasing someone else’s design. This is normally a slightly expensive route as you are also paying them for their time on-top of the materials required

So as you can see, while all these options do provide a possible solution to the problem of improved storage and protection of your games. They also have their negatives be that in cost, Time, protection offered or skill required to construct. If only there was a way to incorporate the best of all worlds……..

TA-DA!

Enter Folded Space. Currently live on Kickstarter. Here is a company that is just entering the field of inserts and organisers with a new approach. What they have attempted to offer is a Precut designed insert die cut (a similar process as the punch-boards for in-game tokens) for accuracy (whereas the wooden inserts are usually laser plot/cut which is a much more expensive machine process). Using EVA foam board coated for strength This is different to the normal foam-core craft material. It has more similarities to the foam in yoga mats so is more forgiving of knocks and bumps. At a much reduced cost (enter bags and 3D printing). That requires the minimal amount of effort to construct and only has a need for a little PVA (craft/wood) glue. How have they faired/ Well lets find out. Folded Space were kind enough to send me a prototype copy of their Voyages of Marco Polo insert to evaluate and preview.

Inside Space.

So what we have in essence is a foam-core style board that is in sheet form and die cut for accuracy. What they have not done I am please to say is just make random boxes. They have looked at each game from a selection that they currently offer (see list below). And designed the insert specifically for that game. Looking at storage and gameplay suitability. They wanted to create an insert you can pretty much just lift out of the box and then play the game. Making set-up and tear-down a doddle.

Details dammit details.

The package I received was four sheets with all the component pieces pre-cut. Also included was an assembly instruction sheet. Looking at the instruction sheet I immediately was reminded of a cross between Lego and Ikea style of instruction. Language independence has been a consideration here with clear and easy to understand graphical images. Here is where my one (yes it is my only one) issue was Trying to decide which sheet was which when there were several similar shaped pieces was a bit of a pain. A simple A/B/C/D or 1/2/3/4 identification for the sheets would have been a perfect solution.

Assembly.

On separating the relevant pieces from the sheet they came away cleanly. These previews were not die-cut but still machine cut so straight and clean. The finished products will be cut to a higher standard than the sample I received so this just bodes well overall. After separating several of the pieces I started to “test” assemble. All the pieces fitted together cleanly and more importantly straight. The fit of the connections was smooth and clean but not too loose or tight. I found that they held together reasonably well even without glue (you will need to glue them for game use) I was genuinely impressed at the quality I saw especially as a preview piece. Once glued and fully assembled I think these inserts will last quite well to the use they are intended for.

Range Offered.

Currently on offer on the Kickstarter are the following game inserts.

  • Agricola.
  • Agricola Family Edition.
  • Caverna.
  • Concordia.
  • Dead of Winter.
  • Eclipse.
  • Eclipse Expansions.
  • Eldritch Horror.
  • Forbidden Stars.
  • Gloomhaven.
  • Istanbul.
  • King of Tokyo.
  • Living Card Game (LCG) generic design.
  • Orleans.
  • Russian Railroads.
  • Terraforming Mars.
  • Voyages of Marco Polo.
  • Tzolkin.
  • Folded Space Dice Tower.

Where possible they have tried to design the inserts to accommodate game expansions as well. Example of this being Istanbul which will accommodate the base game and the “Mocha & Baksheesh” and “Letters and Seals” expansions.

Opinion.

So My opinion on Folded Space inserts is that they are a worthy and affordable option to the board-game insert and organisation after market. I strongly suggest that you give their Kickstarter page a look and see what you think of their range. After all anything that protects my games but still leaves me extra money to buy more is onto a winner in my book.

DISCLAIMER.

I am a backer of this Kickstarter project, having backed for the Istanbul insert. The insert received for preview was for Voyages for Marco Polo. I have now passed this insert to another member of BGE for their appraisal of it. None of these factors have any bearing on my opinions. They are stated here for openness and clarity.

Arena the Contest

Arena

the Contest

From

Dragori Games

A preview by

MAWIHTEC

  • 1-8 Players in Player Vs Player
  • 1-4 Players in Player Vs Environment (Co-op)
  • 45-90 minutes.

Introducing.

Arena the Contest is aiming at the lofty heights of success by being a turn based tactical combat game. But at the same time being a full blooded co-op dungeon fight style game. Normally any game that sets out to achieve this usually ends up failing miserably at one or both of these endeavours. So how does Arena the Contest fare? Lets find out.

Artefacts

First up a disclaimer. The copy of Arena the Contest I received was a prototype version. As such, none of the components were production quality. The creators are planning to have some very nice looking miniatures, the renders of which can be found at their website for the game http://arenathecontest.com/

Play.

Games within Arena the Contest take place on a grid board. What immediately grabbed me about this system was instead of limiting the experience. It was in-fact focused much more. There is an almost limitless amount of variety in the set-up options for the PvP game. The rulebook will contain preset configurations. Or the two teams each consisting of up to four players can each will be able to randomly select 4 pieces of scenery each and take turns to place them how they like. This can lead to some nice “bottleneck” areas on the board or some tactical “cover” situations. Play is alternate between the teams one character at a time based on the order of placement.

In the PvE arm of the game you will be able to select from Epic Quest or Boss battle in a quest guide. These will have layouts assigned for each of these games. Where things get interesting in PvE though is instead of the usual “turn order” you normally see in this style of game using things like initiative, speed or just some random number the creator assigned. Dragori games have been quite clever in offering a more tactical approach. At the start of the round the players can choose the turn order of both heroes and villains. And they can even change it during the turn just as long as each character (good or bad) only gets one turn. This can allow for a situation where “Bob the Bard tries to kill a vampire. But due to a cursed die misses with his garlic laced mandolin. So Satsuma the samurai who was about to blow a door open changes his mind and thanks to his enchanted die cleanly slices the vampires head off as it was about to bite Bob” (yes I made it up so shoot me). As you would expect some characters are more proficient than others in differing fields. Healer, Hero, Ranged fighter and close up meat shield. Yes these and others are all evident here.

This is not all though Arena the Contest has another trick up its sleeve. It will also have a campaign mode. This will allow players to gain experience points which they will be able to spend on “Level Up” cards, Scrolls and Artefacts to boost a hero.

Let the dust settle.

Despite not having the finished quality components and only one PvP setting to test. I found Arena the Contest to be engaging and enjoyable to play. The combat experience appears to be well balanced with some nice options available to the player. I was not able to try out campaign mode but some of the text work evident was well written and shows promise for the rest of the mode. Overall I would say that Arena the Contest will be one to look out for as it shows quite a bit of promise in not just one or two but all three modes. Is it different enough to stand out from the crowd and rise head and shoulders above the rest? It is too early to tell. There is a lot here that will feel comfortably familiar to dungeon crawl aficionados, possibly too comfortable? Time will tell.

I received a prototype copy of Arena the Contest to preview. This in no way affects my review or my final thoughts on the game.