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NO ESCAPE

No Escape

Game by

OOMM Board Games

A Preview by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-8 Players
  • 30 minutes
  • 13+ Ages

What is No Escape

You have done it. You finally landed your dream job working on the space station Titan. You arrived last week and have been getting your space legs ever since. Tomorrow you are due to start working all your clearance codes and passes have been activated. Suddenly there is a huge explosion and the station shakes violently. Alarms sound and Gas starts to fill the room. Outside you see escape pods launching and the evacuation warning sounds. The electronic display tells you that there is a single seater escape pod left, then the power fails. You are now in a race against the other survivors to try to find the last pod and escape before the station explodes. Will you survive?

What is in my Box?

The copy of No Escape I received for preview was a prototype copy and so quality and quantity were not 100% finalised. At the time of writing No Escape was live on Kickstarter meaning stretch goals could also have an impact.

  • Double sided start board (2-4 & 4-8 player sides),
  • 42 Action tiles,
  • 90 Maze tiles,
  • 12 New path tiles,
  • 8 Player pieces,
  • 24 Energy tokens,
  • 2 Custom (1-3 numbered) six sided dice.

How does it work?

You objective is to be the first player to exit the board while adding to the maze and using Action tiles to slow your opponents or help yourself. All players start on the central start board they also take 3 tiles from a central stack of Action / Maze tiles. On your turn you have several action options to take which include compulsory actions. These are,

  • Compulsory Action,

  • Play Maze tile to extend the maze in a legal direction based on corridor directions. No Maze tile in hand and you discard entire hand then reveal tiles from the stack until you reveal a tile you can place.
  • Roll the dice and move your character which can interact with other players character pawns.

 

  • Optional Actions,
  • Play Action tile from your hand with an immediate effect,
  • Use Energy token to add +1 to your movement.

Once you have done this you redraw back to 3 tiles in your hand. Play passes to the next player.

Sounds simple?

The main method of gameplay in No Escape is very simple. Play tiles to extend the maze making life difficult for your opponents while trying to get off the board yourself. First off the board wins but if the tiles stack ever runs out the station explodes and everyone loses. It really is as simple as that. The main wrinkle comes into play when you start using the Action tiles to aide yourself or hinder your rivals with some mild take that style elements of play. Another method of interaction is when you encounter another players pawn. You make them turn round and push them along the corridor, often in the opposite direction they wanted to go.

Strategy?

Here we have a game that is very ‘strategy-lite’. This does not mean that it is a bad game at all just that the decision on where to place the next Maze tile is usually fairly obvious. The interaction of strategy comes with the use of the Action tiles, of which there are a wide range. Some of these include,

  • Redo – Play any one tile from the discard pile.
  • Tactical Update – Play 2 maze tiles this turn.
  • Switch – Change locations with another player.
  • Supply Stash – Target player draws 3 Tiles.

Who is it for?

No Escape is a very entry level gateway tile laying game most suitable for larger family groups containing some ‘non-gamers’ or meet-up groups when you want a bigger group game to play. Very rules light and easy to teach. I do not see this being used by the Game group setting as there is not enough ‘meat on the bone’.

My thoughts.

This is a tough on for me to call. I say that because having played at 2, 3 and 4 player it felt very flat. I would have loved the chance to play a full 8 player as there could potentially be more room for fun over a beer-n-pretzel style title. Fortunately it does not outstay its welcome and with an average 30min playtime you can easily play a quick game or two. Personally though I do feel that there was something missing, maybe an additional mechanic or take that element. Overall an interesting take on the tile laying mechanic and one that shows promise from an interesting designer.

  • For my shelf – No.
  • Recommend to a friend – Maybe.
  • Play again – Maybe.

I Was provided a copy of No Escape for review through the Board Game Exposure Group. This game will now be passed onto another reviewer. I have tried to make this review as impartial as possible. No recompense was provided or sought for this review from the publisher.

Goblin Grapple

Goblin Grapple

Game by

Silver Gaming.

A Preview by

MAWIHTEC

2-4 Players

What is Goblin Grapple?

  • Is it a wrestling game? No.
  • Is it a new type of apple? No.

Goblin Grapple has you trying to strategically build an army of Goblins before your opposition. Can you get your armies strength to 100 before the other factions? Put you strategy hat on and come with me.

What is in my Box?

The review copy of Goblin Grapple I received came in a tuck box style deck box with a deck of cards and a small rules booklet. The deck of cards were broken down into different groupings of,

Spies, Defenders, Assassins, Mages, Knights, Raiders and Kings.

Each of these classes of Goblin has its own lovingly created artwork that is very evocative of the role that character plays.

How does it work?

The gameplay with Goblin Grapple is fairly straightforward. You can take one or all of the following either once or as many times as you want or are able to.

  • Play a Goblin to your Army – Place a card face down in front of you to your “Army Stack”
  • Play a Goblin to challenge an opponent Army – Opponent reveals top card from their Army, highest number wins (assassin always beats king regardless of number) and cards go to victors garrison.
  • Discard a Spy Goblin – Steal a card from an opponent hand.

Once a garrison has 21 points in it the round ends. Each player totals their Army and Garrison cards. If neither player has reached 100+ points then play a second round.

Sounds simple?

Yes Goblin Grapple is a very simple to play game with easy to access gameplay. It is not however bereft of strategy. Making choices every turn over which card to play into your Army, Do you attack? How strong is your attack going to be? What cards do you use this turn or do you want to save them for another turn? All of these decisions and more can make a difference to your chances of victory.

Strategy really?

OK so maybe I should say Strategy-lite gameplay. This is because the better you know your opponent or the better you are at reading them, the more chances for success you will have. The careful use of the few cards with ‘abilities’ can help you make educated guesses as to best tactics each turn. They did however feel to few and far between. Otherwise you are just boiling it down to luck of the draw each time and that would be no fun at all now, Would it?

Who is it for?

Goblin Grapple is a game for families with younger players. Simple rules and gameplay makes this an ideal gateway game for the younger player. Minimal card text and large clear numbering all add to this. I cannot honestly see this making an impact at meet-up or game group play being far to lightweight for both of those settings.

My thoughts.

Goblin Grapple, interesting idea, simply executed. Unfortunately too simply for this gamer. Not enough interaction from card abilities take this from just about OK down to a luck of the draw style game more than anything else. A shame because the artwork is nice but the gameplay just needs something else to make it gel. If there was a ‘player life count attack option’ or some extra mechanic to play alongside it could have helped this gameplay. The base gameplay does not have enough for me to recommend.

  • For my shelf – No
  • For a friend – No
  • Play again – No

I Was provided a copy of Goblin Grapple for review through the Board Game Exposure Group. This game will now be passed onto another reviewer. I have tried to make this review as impartial as possible. No recompense was provided or sought for this review from the publisher.

Tour Operator

Tour Operator

Game by

Keep Exploring Games

A Preview by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-4 Players
  • 45-75 minutes
  • 8+ Ages

What is Tour Operator

As the name suggests Tour Operator has you as the head of a travel agency. As such you will need to manage your resources including fuel for planes and your staffing all the while looking after the needs of the tourists. Get them where they want, with what they want, when they want and into the accommodation they will be happy with.

What is in my Box?

Inside the box you will find quite a lot or beautiful artwork in a gentle nice fun style making it feel very welcoming,

  • 4 Plane/ Office boards,
  • 4 Hotel Boards,
  • 30 Tourist cards,
  • 28 Employee cards,
  • 25 City Cards,
  • 4 Aeroplanes,
  • 200 tokens,
  • 5 Dice, Rules booklet.

These are the components in the preview copy and the starting list of the current Kickstarter. They are very likely to change as goals are reached and components get upgraded.

How does it work?

In a game of Tour Operator you are trying to send tourists on holiday. A game is played over a series of rounds based on the number of players. 2 player games last 7 rounds, 3 players will be 6 rounds while 4 player lasts 5 rounds. At the end of the correct number of rounds the highest scoring Travel Agency wins. Each of the rounds is broken down into a number of phases which consist of,

  • New Tourists appear – Players draft up to 4 new tourists for their Travel Agency.
  • Gain & use resources – Each player will roll the 5 custom dice to gain resources.
  • Previous Tourists check out – Any Tourists that have reached the end of their stay leave the hotel.
  • Tourists fly & Scoring – Any tourists on planes can now be flown to their destinations and Victory Points scored.
  • Tourist Check-in – You will need to locate the Tourists into the preferred rooms If a Tourist cannot be put into a room they gain you minus victory points.
  • Activities & unhappy travellers – Tourists already on holiday take part in activities scoring you bonus points while those sat in your Office spaces become more dissatisfied. If they become angry they leave and you gain minus victory points.

Sounds fairly simple?

The basic rules for Tour Operator are very straightforward and easy to pick up. All the Icons used come across very clearly and easy to understand. This includes the bonus points and accommodation needs icons. Each Tourist has different preferences based on Activities they want to take part in like shopping, discoing or Beach. The room they want to stay in is shown along with the duration of their holiday duration time. Staff you can recruit will have bonus abilities to assist you either as a one off or an ongoing effect. Travel around the locations is based on your fuel each location costs one fuel.

Strategy?

You might be thinking cute graphics, 8+ age requirement, easy rules and easy teaching would be a recipe for a super lightweight game with no strategy? Wrong answer! You will be pleasantly surprised to discover that Tour Operator is (in my opinion) a mid weight title in terms of strategy. There is no hidden info, Dice rolling can be mitigated with the use of Staff abilities, Staff recruitment is based on the draw 3 choose 1 method which will allow you to make useful decisions as opposed to the “get what your given” method. Your strategy for playing starts with deciding which tourists to place on your plane. How much fuel do you have? Where can you reach? Do you want to use all the fuel available? Once you have made those choices you will then look at your competition. What’s that? Looks like Stella needs to visit Tokyo to place all her Tourists? I will fly there instead I can still score some bonus and she will have a Tourist without a room and minus points. Yes you have a little element of take that as well.

Who is it for?

Tour Operator is an entry level mid weight game with more strategic play available if you want to expend the added brainpower. Equally as good as a straight up race for points as a deeper thinky game. Suitable for Family play due to its easy to understand rules and accessible use of graphics. With a play time of up to 75 minutes it just about fits into the meet-up category. I do not think it has the depth or involved play for regular game group but will definitely be one that comes out from time to time.

My thoughts.

Before giving my thoughts I will be honest and say that the game designer Nestor is a designer I have spoken to many times during the development of Tour Operator. Mostly about my opinions over artwork choices. This has not affected my thoughts or review but is for openness and clarity.

I liked Tour Operator quite a lot. It is accessible and easy to both teach and learn. The ability to plan ahead or just play on the fly. Minimal luck with good mitigation means that this is suitable for almost everyone apart from ‘dudes on a map’ exclusive players. Tour Operator felt well balanced and while there is the chance of a hugely bad / good roll your Staff recruitment choices will help you stay in the game.

  • For my shelf Yes,
  • Recommend a friend Yes,
  • Play again Yes.

Tour Operator is live on Kickstarter now with a short campaign finishing on April 28th. Go check it out for yourself and the option for 5Euro discount coupon for the first week as an added incentive makes this a much better value campaign than many others.

I Was provided a copy of Tour Operator for review through the Board Game Exposure Group. This game will now be passed onto another reviewer. I have tried to make this review as impartial as possible. No recompense was provided or sought for this review from the publisher. All images used are from Kickstarter page due to prototype components being received for preview.

Lost my Mummy

Lost my Mummy

From

David Gumbrell

A review by

MAWIHTEC

  • 1-2 Players
  • 20 Minutes
  • 7+ Ages

Lost?

Lost my Mummy is a card game for 1-2 players. The tuck box storage tells you. ‘Lost my Mummy is a family friendly fast paced card-game. Rave your opponent to find your mummy by searching for clues about Canopic jars, Death wishes and Amulets’. So what does this mean to you and me in real terms? Read on to find out

Canopic.

When you open the tuck box you will discover 72 cards, three themed dice (Red, Blue and Green) and a rules sheet. The artwork throughout is a gentle and lighter depiction of Mummies Tombs and general Egyptian paraphernalia surrounding the titular Mummies.

Found.

OK how do you find your Mummy then?

The overarching goal of Lost my Mummy is to find three Mummies. When this happens the player with the most reward money wins the game.

Players start with three Mummy cards valued at 50 King’s Gold Rings. First player rolls the Blue die and draws that number of cards. However if you roll an Eye symbol you forfeit your go. Once you have drawn your cards you choose one to play either a card matching a Mummy or an Action card. If a swap a Die card is revealed the active player gets to upgrade the dice they roll. The remaining cards are discarded play then passes to the next player. Once you have found three matching cards you can turn your Mummy card over keeping it safe and securing your rewards. First player to find three Mummies ends the game and the total rewards from the Found Mummies is calculated highest total wins.

Bandaged.

In an attempt to increase replayability there are three variants included on the rules sheet as well as a solo mode on the makers website. In all honesty these variants only change the number of cards required to find your Mummy. Artisan (100 Gold Rings cards) needs sets of four, Scribe (150 Gold Rings cards) needs sets of five and Grand Vizier allows you to select from the three values and collect the correct number of cards accordingly.

Summary.

Lost my Mummy is a set collection game which is all luck based. Roll a dice, draw cards or miss your go. Pick one to play discard rest. There is no “bad roll” mitigation other than ‘swap a dice’ which allows you to draw more cards. The whole miss-a-go with no mitigation is a horribly outdated mechanic and deserves to be locked into a pyramid along with the Mummies. In one game I played with my son he rolled three Eyes in a row. So for three rounds he sat there doing nothing. He refused to play a second game with me. In fact all players I played with said 1 game was enough.

Pointless, Boring and outdated mechanics mean that at 20 minutes this game still manages to outstay its welcome. I cannot recommend this game even for 7 year olds, there are better games out there.

  • For my Shelf – NO
  • Recommend to Friends – NO
  • Play again – NO

I was provided with a copy of “Lost my Mummy” to review as part of the BGE group. I have now passed this copy on to another reviewer in the group. This has no bearing on my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Fire Tower

  Fire Tower

Game by

Runaway Parade Games

A Preview by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-4 Players
  • 15-30 minutes
  • 13+ Ages

What is Fire Tower?

FIRE!! You hear the call go up. From your watchtower, you scan the forest. Smoke there in the distance. The wind is blowing this way. Oh No! You will not get any help from the other towers. They just look out for themselves. Quick dispatch the engines, construct fire breaks, order water drops. Wait what’s that? The wind is changing direction. Quick alter your plans. Push the fire towards a rival. It is too big to put out. You need to save your tower. OH NO FIRESTORM………………..

What is in my Box?

Inside a copy of Fire Tower you will find,

  • Fire Gems,
  • Weathervane,
  • Action, Bucket and Firestorm cards,
  • Game board and
  • Firebreak tokens.

The copy I received was a preproduction prototype and as such quality of components was subject to change during the upcoming Kickstarter. That being said the quality was very good for the most part.

Not a Co-Op?

Absolutely not. Fire Tower is a total opposite from the usual fire fighting style games. Here you are totally out for yourself. Protect your Tower and spread the fire towards your opponents. The fire cannot be extinguished and spreads every turn. Your aim is to try to push it towards your rivals and be ‘The last tower standing’. Using cards to change the wind, build firebreaks, add water and vary the spread pattern.

How does it work?

Gameplay in Fire Tower is very straightforward. There are two phases to a game round.

  • Wind Spreads the Blaze:- Following a simple set of adjacency rules the fire spreads in the direction the wind is blowing.
  • Tower Action Round:- You can choose to either play a card from your hand (redraw after action complete) or discard and redraw.

Yep that’s your lot.

Sounds too simple?

Thankfully there is more to Fire Tower than that. How the fire spreads, while the wind dictates the direction the fire spreads. You get to choose which space it spreads to as long as it is orthogonally adjacent the the existing flames. Each player will place one Fire Gem on their turn in the same manner. So changing the wind direction with the use of cards is important. Within the deck of cards there are several card types to assist you or hinder your opponent as well. These are comprised of,

  • Water Cards– Blue cards allowing you to remove Fire Gems according to the pattern on the card itself.
  • Fire Cards– Orange cards used to spread the fire. Helpfully they are not tied to wind direction.
  • Wind Cards– Grey cards that will allow you to change wind direction either by using the cards stated direction or spinning for a random wind direction. They can also be used to add a Fire Gem in the direction on the card.
  • Firebreak Cards– Purple cards that will allow you create a block to stop the fire spreading across certain tiles.

If the fire ever reaches the orange highlighted square of your Tower, that’s it your out. You do have one final line of defence if your threatened with this. A one use bucket of water that can only be used when the flames reach your Tower.

Strategy?

I would say that Fire Tower is very strategy lite. This is because apart from the judicious use of the various cards. Or where to place a Fire Gem on your turn. There is not really a lot of strategic involvement. This is much more a quick down and dirty romp where your just trying to save yourself at the expense of others.

Who is it for?

Here is a game that is squarely sat aiming at the family group with occasional meetup use as well. I would not expect to see this on a games night Except maybe at the start of the session when waiting for a late player to arrive.

My thoughts.

I quite liked Fire Tower but if I am honest it was not as good as I had hoped. A lot less depth of thinking than I personally would have wanted. Not withstanding that though there is a good bit of quick fun to have for family play. The Fire Gems really lift it up a notch or two on the presentation stakes as well. I will be watching the Kickstarter when it launches to see how it develops.

  • For my shelf – No
  • Recommend a friend – No
  • Play again – Yes

I Was provided a copy of Fire Tower for review through the Board Game Exposure Group. This game will now be passed onto another reviewer. I have tried to make this review as impartial as possible. No recompense was provided or sought for this review from the publisher.

Fire in the Library

FIRE

in the

LIBRARY

From

Weird Giraffe Games

A preview by

MAWIHTEC

  • 1-6 Players
  • 30 Minutes
  • 8+ Ages

Story.

FIRE! The Library is on fire! Quick. Save the books. You and your fellow Librarians are rushing to save as many books as possible before the building burns down. Push your luck and retrieve the most books. Books are worth saving and the Librarian who saves the most books will no doubt be made the Head Librarian once the Library is rebuilt.

Index.

The box art for Fire in the Library is set out to give the impression of being a hardback book. Very much in keeping the theme of the game. While the lettering is designed to give a burning fire impression. It manages to pull this off without appearing ‘tacky’ or ‘cheap’. Upon opening this Tome… sorry I mean box. You are greeted with,

  • Book tokens,
  • Fire tokens,
  • Library bag,
  • Score track,
  • Library figures,
  • Library, Tool, Reference and Turn order cards.

Important Note. This is a preview copy of the game and as such components, rules, presentation and quality are all subject to improvement as the game runs its course on Kickstarter and achieves stretch goals.

Chapters.

OK so Fire in the Library is based around saving books from a burning Library. You and your fellow Librarians try to gain the most Knowledge by saving books. Get to the books before your competitors and earn yourself Bravery points as well. A game of Fire in the Library is played Over a series of variable turn order rounds. During these rounds books will be destroyed by the fire. As this happens the remaining books in that subject will become more valuable. But because the fire rages on the chances of saving those books becomes harder to achieve. Once any section of the library completely burns down the game will end and the Librarian with the greatest amount of combined Knowledge and Bravery will claim the win.

Non-fiction.

A game begins by sorting the Library cards by both book section (colour) and Value (lowest to highest). You will all then claim a Librarian token and a colour coded reference card (I could find no reason for the colour coding as all were identical). Book and Fire tokens are put into the draw bag. Players are dealt Tool cards. Turn order is randomly allocated and your ready to begin, in following rounds you will choose your turn order with lowest score choosing first.

  • On your turn you have a few options to choose from based on what has happened to you earlier in the round.
  • Save a Book- Draw a token from the bag placing it onto your turn order track.
  • Play a Tool- Play one of your Tool cards. (these may allow you to score a card twice, continue your turn or steal books).
  • Score Knowledge- Stop saving books and gain Knowledge.

You need to be careful though because as you try to draw books to save them you risk causing the fire to spread. The more books players save the more the chance of a spreading fire happening. When this happens the player tries to use Tools to stop the fire spreading, if they cannot do this they lose the books they have collected. The Sections of the library connected with each of those book’s colours are destroyed as well. This will increase the value of that section of the Library but also mean that there are less parts of that section left. They score no Knowledge, return their tokens to the bag. Adding extra fire tokens as indicated and drawing a new tool card. Play then passes to the next player.

Reference.

Scoring within the game is based on the current value of that section of the library (Knowledge) and on how much risk you took on your turn order card (Bravery). After all players have had a turn a section of the library burns. As soon as the last card from any section is burned the game ends and scores are tallied.

Librarian.

Here we have a game which is unashamedly luck reliant on what you draw. BUT and yes it is a big but the potential rewards and options for clever play choices. Do you try for that extra book? Do you have a Tool to help stop the fire spreading and gain you an extra decision? If you are behind you get to choose earlier for the next rounds turn order Gaining a possible scoring advantage in the next round. All these decisions will affect your chance of claiming victory. So clever thinking over the risk over reward level is the key to victory.

Shhhhhhh!

So final thoughts time. Fire in the Library is a nice little game that plays quickly. It feels well balanced with the Tool card powers. I enjoyed the solo variant and there was a nice AI option built in to add an extra challenge. If you can allow for the heavy luck element and take it for what it is as a lightweight quick filler you will find it a bit of fun. Suitable for family play and meet-up play. Game group play occasional as a quick snack between meatier products. Like a lot of push your luck games. If a player has a couple of really good draws it can force you to push your luck more than you would do otherwise in an effort to try to catch up. I say this as getting off to a flying start first round and then going a little more conservative in the following rounds. Or maybe even drawing to try to force a spread of the fire to try ending the game quickly are sound tactics. This can be combated by good turn order choices going forward.

So in short, Quick, Lightweight, Luck heavy, Fun. With some luck mitigation possible.

  • For my Shelf—Maybe.
  • Play Again—Yes.
  • Recommend a Friend—Maybe

I was provided with a copy of Fire in the Library to preview as part of the BGE group. I will now pass this copy on to another reviewer in the group. This has no bearing on my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Kitty Cataclysm

Kitty-Cataclysm

Game by

BEZ

A Preview by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-5 Players
  • 10-15 minutes
  • 7+ Ages

What is Kitty-Cataclysm?

You and your fellow felines are a bunch of temperamental squabbling cats. You are keen to gain the most ‘Meowny’. You will strut your stuff scratching and biting your way to the top. You won’t think twice about stepping on the shoulders of others to get there (or their tails, heads or any other bits actually). Will you have what it takes to claim your rightful place as the Top-cat?

What is in my Litter Tray?

Inside the box of Kitty-Cataclysm you will find, A deck of cards and a rules sheet. Yes that’s it. No you do not need anything else. Well apart from other players, but they never come in the box. Although as it is all about being cats you might find one of them trying to sit in the box.

Cat-art?

At the time of writing Kitty-Cataclysm has just successfully funded on Kickstarter. Bez has now gone to work on refining the artwork (well to be honest Bez is now starting the art). The preview copy I received was full of hand drawn sketches which if I a, honest I really liked and if they had been given a touch of colour I would have said they were good to go. Sometimes simple is best.

How does it work?

When playing a game of Kitty-Cataclysm you need to be ready to mess with your opponents at every opportunity. Take no prisoners and show no mercy. You start a game with five cards. The starting player plays a card in front of them into a personal ‘Kitty’ then completes the action on the card. Play passes to the next player and so on. If on their turn a player cannot play a card due to having none in their hand. Or a draw from the central stack cannot be completed due to too few cards, the game ends. Count up the ‘Meowny in your ‘Kitty’ and your hand, highest total wins.

Sounds simple?

On the surface Kitty-Cataclysm is a very simple game. To be honest, under the fur Kitty-Cataclysm is a very simple game. But the action on the cards do lead to some surprisingly deep thinky moments. Will you choose to steal 2 cards from another player or try to offload some of your less helpful cards by choosing a card with ‘Donate X’ on it? Some cards are worth negative ‘Meowny’ as well. Do not fall into the trap of hoarding cards though as should a ‘Cat-aclysm’ or ‘Cat-astrophy’ card be played you will lose all your cards over a certain number.

Strategy?

Kitty-Catalysm is very strategy-light. Choosing which card to play when and who to target with an action is in reality the sum depth. This is more a game of Chaotic pun filled dickery or the highest order.

Who is it for?

Here is a quick lightweight game that is suitable for everybody. Yes even those who dislike or are allergic to cats. 7 year olds can easily play this independently. It is safe for Family play, quick meet-up fun and also suitable for a game group when your waiting on a player to turn up or a quick ‘snack’ in between meatier games. In a direct quote from the Kickstarter page

This game is chaotic.

You can be a dick to your friends and family.
There are many cat puns.
You need to think about what card to play.

That is pretty much the entire game.”

My thoughts.

I really like Kitty-Cataclysm. It is a bit of fun that can fit in your pocket, Only takes minutes to play, Suitable for everyone even cat-hating non gamers down the pub. Full of Cat puns of the highest order. Sometimes it is good to just lose the Cat-titude and take a mewment to have a litter Claw-some fun. Do yourself a favour. Contact BEZ and by this game when it is released on BEZ-Day in August 2018.

  • For my shelf – YES
  • Play again – YES
  • Recommend a friend – YES

I Was provided a copy of Kitty-Catalysm for review through the Board Game Exposure Group. This game will now be passed onto another reviewer. I have tried to make this review as impartial as possible. No recompense was provided or sought for this review from the publisher.

Dice Town

DICE TOWN

From

Matagot

A review by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-5 Players
  • 45 minutes
  • 10+

What is Dice Town?

Back in the days of the old west, Poker was the game. Bankers, Sheriffs, Landowners, Prospectors and crooks all played. Fortunes and land could be won and lost on the turn of a card. Matagot have taken that concept and changed the cards to dice. Can you use the luck of the dice, a hint of a bluff and clever tactics to become the wealthiest citizen?

What is in my Box?

Dice Town’s box is illustrated in beautiful imagery that helps to conjure up the western theme. When you open up the box you will find,

  • Rulebook,
  • Gold Nuggets,
  • Dollar Bills
  • General Store, Property and Elixir cards,
  • Sheriff badge first player card,
  • Dice and Dice cups,
  • Game-board.

Quality?

The dice provided in the box are standard poker dice. These will allow you to form hands using the 9,10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace faces. The dice cups are a nice sized plastic moulded shape with a sheriffs star logo. I found them reminiscent of bullet heads in their shape. The ‘gold’ Nuggets look like you might have just dug them from your claim. Money in Dice town is of the paper variety. Where Matagot have been clever is they have given the money a plasticised type finish this will help ensure the life of the notes despite regular handling. All the cards in Dice Town are of a nice durable quality so will stand up to repeated handling. Game-boards in dice based games can be a hit or miss affair. With this version of Dice Town the board looks nice with spaces marked out for where the cards need to go. If you were playing with a group of players who knew the game very well you would not need the board. The art however is nice enough to make you want to put it onto the table.

How does it work?

Playing Dice Town is a simultaneous affair for most of the game. Each player shakes the dice in their cups and up-ends them onto the table, being careful to keep them hidden from all other players. You will all secretly look at your dice you will choose one* to keep and clasp the rest in your hand to hide all the information from other players. Once everyone has selected their die to keep, you all reveal your die then repeat the process until you have built a ‘hand’ of five dice. Depending on which dice have been kept players will be allowed to claim Nuggets, Money, Bonus cards or Land. You might even decided to focus on stealing a card or becoming the sheriff (you decide the winner in ties). If you find yourself outwitted in dice selection you will be able to claim Doc Badluck’s Elixir cards to help you.

*normally you may only keep one die but if you are willing to pay you can choose to keep extra. This does however let others see more of your hand sooner allowing them to play accordingly.

What about the Dice?

One of the nice things about Dice Town is the ease of understanding. When you reveal your 5 dice the decision of the winner in each Location. Whoever has the most 9’s will get nuggets, the most 10’s allows you to rob the bank, with Jacks you get a card from the general store (you get the idea). This works for all the Locations until you reach the Town Hall to claim Land you will need the best overall poker hand. Do not expect a simple pair to win. Three of a kind or four, a straight. All are achievable. Helpfully the Land cards have the ranking of the hands on their backs. This allows you to easily decide who is going to gain Land. Why is Land important? Each Land card is worth bonus points for the end of the game. Winning Dice Town is as simple as having the most points once all the Land cards or Nuggets have been claimed.

Strategy?

Dice Town is not a heavy strategy title by any measure. This is not to say there is none. The decision to focus on trying to gain a land card could cost you dear especially in the higher player counts. You can easily find yourself shut out. Paying attention to the other players revealed dice and adjusting your choices accordingly is something you will be doing every round. But not to such an extent as to melt your brain. This is light fun with some thinking involved.

Who is it for?

For the most part I would recommend Dice Town for meet-ups and as a filler for game nights. This is because it plays up to 5 players with ease and is definitely better at 3, 4 or 5 players. It does play nicely for family game nights if you are happy with children playing a dice representation of poker (I did not have an issue with this but feel it worth mentioning).

My thoughts.

I like Dice Town…….. A bit. ……….Oh you were expecting more?

OK then. Dice Town is a light gentle fun experience in a fast food type of way. To clarify this weird statement. It is quick and easy to consume. It will satisfy that boardgame hunger but is not ultimately filling in the long term. I enjoyed it while I was playing but was left wanting more. It does what it sets out to. Which is provide a light 5 player experience for those times when heavy is not an option due to time scale.

  • Add to my shelf No
  • Play if asked Yes
  • Recommend to a friend Maybe

I received a review copy of “Dice Town” through the Board Game Exposure group to review. This game will now be forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

Auztralia

Auztralia

A Game by

Martin Wallace

&

ShilMil Games

A Preview by

MAWIHTEC

  • 1-4 Players
  • 90 minutes

What is Auztralia?

Auztralia is a strange beast to nail down. It is a semi co-op exploration, mining, farming, resource collection & exchange, Fighting Zombies, Cthulhu and all sorts of crazies game. Set in the South Eastern corner of Australia. There that makes it so much clearer doesn’t it?

HUH?

This latest release from Martin Wallace released by ShilMil Games is set in the period following ‘A Study in Emerald’ and while not a sequel as such it is inspired by that game. Sherlock Holmes has led the victorious uprising against the Great Old Ones. Mankind has thrown of the shackles and is now starting to venture forth into the world (something previously banned). A new world is discovered and you as one of up to four players lead the race to explore and harness the valuable resources available. But you have stumbled upon the last retreat of the Old Ones on this plane. They along with their minions and loyal followers are not going to be happy when they find out your there.

What is in my Box?

The copy I originally received was an earlier prototype and as such all components were upgraded following the successful Kickstarter. Inside you will find,

  • Game board (now double sided with western Australia map as well),
  • Player boards, Cubes, Disks, Farm and Railway tiles, Character cards,
  • Survey tiles, Old One tiles, Military units, Personalities,
  • Old One cards (for movement and combat), Event cards,
  • Solo and Two player Variant cards, Realistic Resources,
  • Old One sanity, VP, damage and time markers (all purple)

How does it work?

Players start a game of Auztralia by setting up their ports. Laying out survey tiles which allocate the resources and Old Ones to the board. As there are more survey tiles than required you have a large variety of set up possibilities giving lots of potential for replayability. For each action a player wishes to take it will cost them ‘Time’ from laying track to mining to recruiting military units all of it takes varying amounts of ‘Time’ this is measured using an outer ‘Time’ track on the board. The player at the back always goes next. This means it is entirely possible to find yourself taking two or three turns in a row. Once all players have passed a certain point on the Time track the Old Ones awake and start to take actions as well. This is done through the use of Dual-purpose cards and an events deck. As you vie with the other players for resources and gold. You will all need to work together to stop the advance of the Old Ones.

Ha-ha sounds simple?

At first glance Auztralia might feel very complex. But once you have played 3-4 rounds you and your fellow players will have it all down pat. Do not be fooled into thinking you can just load your port with military units and hope to win though. Should one player lose their port the game ends immediately and you all lose. Should you and the board all reach the end point of 53 on the Time track The unrevealed Old Ones will score double points. It will also score for each blighted farm and several other ways (do not want to spoil all your fun now) making it very difficult to beat. This effectively forces you to move forward and to face the Old Ones in an attempt to not only claim Victory points for beating them but also to stop them from gaining points.

Strategy?

There is a lot of scope for strategic play within Auztralia. From the placement of your port to the direction of your laying tracks, building farms, which resources to collect and which military to build. Each military unit is better suited against different types of Old One being strong against some and weaker against others. Balancing the use of your Time is also important. Will you use two or three cheaper actions in a row or will you use a larger action using all your Time? There is a constant juggle over which action to take.

Who is it for?

I think Auztralia sits firmly into the Game Group category. I feel the complexity is a little too high for general family play. While the play length is potentially on the long side for a meetup evening. Definitely suited for those that enjoy having to think about their actions a little more but could be prone to those susceptible to AP. With the Dual purpose cards being used for combat in place of dice rolling, those who dislike luck based battle outcomes might be put off. That being said battles are not always fought to the end and the option to retreat and attack again later is always there.

My thoughts.

I really liked Auztralia a lot. I say this even with the fact that I had an earlier prototype copy of the game. I enjoyed the complexity but felt it was still easy enough to learn and teach. The Solo option in the prototype was refreshingly brutal (no hand holding there). All of the Kickstarter improvements and design tweaks that were made after I received my copy have only served to make the game even better. This is no easy win game you need to be prepared to lose hard on your first few plays. This is only going to serve you well as you try different strategies to beat the game (and each other). Trust me when I say the first time you beat the game you will just be glad of that even if you do not personally win overall.

  • For my Shelf YES
  • Recommend a friend YES
  • Play again YES

I Was provided a copy of Auztralia for review through the Board Game Exposure Group. This game has now been passed on to other reviewers. I have tried to make this review as impartial as possible.

Seikatsu Review

Seikatsu

From

IDW Games

A review by

MAWIHTEC

  • 1-4 Players
  • 30 Minutes
  • 10+ Ages

Sei-what-su?

Every so often you want to put away the dice. The cards do not need shuffling. The miniatures need rest and the desire to send the meeples out to work has passed. You want to sit, relax, watch the birds and smell the flowers. The sun is shining and life feels good. Enter Seikatsu which is a word that means Life in Japanese. You and up to three friends have a garden to tend and birds to watch. Waxwing.

Inside the gorgeous art on the box of Seikatsu you will find,

  • Rulebook,
  • Cloth bag,
  • Garden board,
  • Score pawns,
  • Garden tiles,
  • Koi Pond tiles.

Tulip.

To call the Garden and Koi pieces is to do them a disservice. They are in fact similar in size to poker chips. But they do look a lot nicer. All the components in Seikatsu look spectacular. The only thing that you could create a grumble about is the score trackers. While they are wooden and flower shaped they are a little on the small side. Another 2 or 3mm diameter would have made them perfect (I am having to be very picky here). The insert holds all the components well but to be fair like a lot of boxes is on the big side. It could have been half the depth and still held everything with room to spare.

Primrose.

How is a game of Seikatsu played? Each player starts with two tiles in their hand. On their turn they draw a third tile from the communal bag. They then choose one of those tiles to lay onto the board following some basic rules.

  • Tile must be placed adjacent to a previously placed tile onto an empty space.
  • That’s it.

Seriously I told you the rules were simple.

Bluebell.

Where Seikatsu is interesting is how you score your points and the placement of those tiles becomes critical. This is because the Garden tiles each have flowers and a bird on them.

When you place a tile you instantly score for matching with adjacent birds creating Flocks. So far so easy, You also have Some Koi ponds ‘wild tile’ that when played allow you to call them as one type of bird. Still sounds too easy doesn’t it.

However it is the end game scoring where you will have been thinking towards for the entire game. Once all the tiles have been placed you will score for the flowers. Even though all players score using the same Flowers, what makes it different is you score based on your view of the garden. Each straight line from your garden viewpoint scores exponentially more points based on the largest group of Flowers. Thus what might be a group of 4 for your view will only be individual flowers for all other players.

Scarlet Tanager.

And the strategy becomes clearer. Will you place a tile to score birds now or flowers later? Which is the optimal move for points? Does that tile you just placed score an opponent 11 points at the end of the game? Is a Bird in the hand worth two in a bush?

Summary.

Seikatsu is a game of contemplative reflection. It is a gentle easy to learn and easy to play game. Light on rules, with a hidden depth that is joy to uncover. Great for families and meet-ups and worth bringing out at game groups. One point to note is this a good with solo play a nice puzzle. 2 and 3 players really shine. 4 Player does feel a little “tacked on” but do not let that put you off. Seek this game out then sit back and relax.

I was provided with a copy of Seikatsu to review as part of the BGE group. I have now passed this copy on to another reviewer in the group. This has no bearing on my review or my final thoughts on the game.