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Argonauts

ARGONAUTS

by Alcyon creative

A review by Mawihtec

  • 1-4 Players
  • 60 minutes
  • 10+ Age

Atalanta

Join Jason and the Argonauts on their search for the Golden Fleece. If that does not whet your whistle, STOP go away and watch some of the classic 1963 film (Not the remake). Pelias tells Jason to travel to Colchis to find the Golden Fleece. Jason follows his advice and assembles a sailing crew of the finest men in Greece, including Hercules. They are under the protection of Hera, queen of the gods. Their voyage is replete with battles against harpies, a giant bronze Talos, a hydra, and an animated skeleton army. OK your back, yes yes calm down. You will control at least two heroes. Dependant on number of players up to 8 in a solo game. You will steer the Argo across the known ancient world. Encounter mythical foes, trade, hunt and pray to the gods for help in finding the Golden Fleece.

The Argo.

The lovingly art styled small form box contains all you need for this historical saga,

  • Game board,
  • Hero cards,
  • Legendary encounters,
  • Merchant tiles,
  • Exploration cards,
  • Argo Event cards,
  • Port City cards,
  • Squad tokens,
  • Equipment tokens,
  • Relic tokens,
  • D12 die,
  • Wooden ship,
  • Golden fleece tokens,
  • Resource, Favour, Crew and Damage tokens.

Jason.

Argonauts is a co-operative game. What makes it different is that there are simultaneous actions and point to point movement. You start off with the Argo (your ship) on Iolkos and each player is dealt four random heroes for their squad. Each turn you will move the Argo consuming rations as you go. On each space their will be either, an Argo Event. This could range from stormy seas to dead calm. Attacking monsters through to more success collecting fish. You might instead find a port which will allow you several actions. Trading with merchants, repairing your ship, seeking favors from gods, hold a meeting with the city lord or explore. Not all of these options will be available in every port. Add to this the fact you will only have up to two actions in the port, you will be constantly juggling your options.

Hercules.

Right you want to know what you do with the heroes? Most activities in Argonauts will require you to use hero cards. Your heroes have various skills that could be in areas such as combat, diplomacy, stealth or sailing (there are more to discover). Not all heroes have access to all skills a sailor might not be a good hunter or diplomat for example. The available skills will have different values depending on your characters proficiency. Each player will choose the hero that they think will provide the best chance of success. Once you have all chosen you compare the skills against the target skills required. Exceed the number to achieve a success. You might on occasion need to roll the die to see if your actions have pleased or angered the gods. Each hero has two gods listed on their card, one that favors them and one that is less keen. These will modify your results to possibly have an effect on your result.

Laertes.

All of this makes it seem very simple doesn’t it? Of course things are never as easy as they seem. When you select a hero you exhaust them and they will not be available for at least the next two rounds. You place the selected hero on the exhausted side of your squad board. Hero-ing is a very tiring business after all. They will remain there unavailable until you use another hero for an activity (exhausting) this will cause the first hero to move to the resting side of your squad board. This leaves you with only two heroes to choose from for the next round. Once you exhaust the next hero this will cause the resting one to be moved back to your hand ready for selection.

Argos.

At various points you will experience Legendary encounters. These will consist of famous mythical enemies like Harpies, Talos, Dragons and more. You will have to make a choice between rushing headlong with combat or trying a more stealth approach. This will involve meeting or exceeding one or more skill targets. Win the encounter and be rewarded with relics. Fail however and you might lose Argonauts or suffer damage to your ship. Warning if at any point your number of Argonauts drop to zero or your ship reaches four damage and it is game over, you lose, your all dead.

Orpheus.

Your ultimate aim is to find the Golden Fleece and return to your home port. This is not as easy as it seems. In four run through’s I was able to achieve this only once and that was with a very fortunate one Argonaut and 3 damage to my ship. Not exactly the heroes return I envisaged.

Calais.

I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the balanced level of difficulty provided here. Even though winning is hard and failure is easy. At no point did I think it was “too” difficult I always felt like I could have done better. The gameplay flows in a very simple manner which makes it fluid and easy to follow. Set-up is simple and quick and no excessive “bits of card”

Echion.

Gameplay at one player is just as easy as at four players. I do have one hesitant note. Apart from the selection of heroes for each challenge, I question the need for four players. With one player going through the four squads each round can be a bit tiresome. Where this game shined for me was at two players with each player running two squads each. There was plenty to discuss and decide throughout. Overall another solid game from Alcyon Creative following up from Deus Ex Machina. Look out for their next outing, a space Co-op IRONCLAD

Let the dust settle.

  • Expansion is included in the box.
  • Best with two players.
  • Gorgeous artwork.
  • Balanced challenge.

I was provided with a copy of Argonauts 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.

Word Slam

WORD SLAM

From KOSMOS

A review by Mawihtec

  • 3-99 Players
  • 45 Minutes
  • 12+ Age

Movie?

Yes you read that right. 99 player games are not only possible, I actively encourage them (more if you can). OK just to rewind a moment. I do not enjoy party games. I have never found one I enjoyed. I would have gone as far as saying it was never going to happen. Then Word Slam hit my desk. Here is a game that hit me over the head with the fun stick. Word guessing from 3 players up, but do not panic. You do not need to have a scrabble dictionary in your pocket. Here you will find “storytellers” who have a deck of cards with “story” words on them. Using only these cards and not speaking at all they will try to get “their team” to guess the correct answer words

Many?

Inside a box that looks like it has run through a paint factory you will find,

  • 4 Card Holders,
  • 1 Die,
  • 1 90 Second Timer,
  • 200 Answer Cards,
  • 210 Story Cards (105 per team),
  • Rule book.

Fictitious?

Rulebook is probably stretching the definition. 4 sides of A4 gives you all the information you could ever need. Including variants and clear picture examples. This is a very easy game to learn.

To start, split into two teams of roughly even numbers. Each team will have their own deck of 105 story cards and 2 card holders. Each team also elects a storyteller. The two storytellers secretly look at the top answer card and roll the die. Each card has 6 answers on it the die result tells the storytellers what this rounds word is.

Once everyone is ready the timer is set and the fun begins. Storytellers must go through their deck looking for words to lead their team to the correct answer. As they find words that could help their team they place them onto the holders. Remember they are not allowed to speak or communicate other than through the cards. As cards appear the team will start to shout out answers. There is not limit to guesses so non stop calling out will ensue. Once a team gets the correct answer or the time runs out. Correct answers get the winning team a card. Unsolved cards are removed from the game.

Small?

Now this might not sound like a lot of fun. On the surface of it you would be right. Where the fun actually starts is with the story cards. The section headers in this review are actual words from the story cards. Can you work out the answer? Now think of a group of people of different ages all yelling out random answers. Add onto this, the opposing team will also be calling out their answers. Will they help you? OR will you shout out a few random off-putting answers to confuse them. While your thinking of the answer to the section header story. Hear is another example for you.

EAT, YELLOW, CIRCLE?

Hmm pancakes? Pineapple rings?

Wait another card,

DIVIDED

so something you eat that is yellow that is a divided circle?

BANANA!

Blue?

Word Slam is a difficult game to write a review for. This is only because the fun is only going to really come out as you play. Conveying teams of people calling out random words as fun is a tough ask.

I can only say BUY THIS GAME.

It is suitable for family groups, good for larger game groups, good for conventions, team size is truly irrelevant as long as you can see the cards you can play. In fact I could easily see myself involved in a mega game at a convention or large meet-up where the teams are fluid as people drop in and out or even swap teams. This is one of those games where “winning” is secondary (at least at the start). You will instead be more concerned with thinking “how the hell where we supposed to guess H.G. Wells from LITERARY WATER CONTAINER?

Another nice touch is that the creator has scaled the difficulties of the answer cards from beginner through easy and experienced all the way to expert. A challenge for any age. This is also a game that is suitable for a kids party. Or a drinks party (after a few drinks).

I was wrong

A party game can be fun to play.

You just need the right game.

This is the right game.

Funny?

Long story short.

  • More fun with more players. Good for all ages. Good in many different settings. Worth having in the collection- Yes.

I received a preview copy of “Word Slam” through BGE to preview. This game will now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

The correct answer was:- The Smurfs

Donning the Purple

Donning the Purple

From Tompet Games

A preview by Mawihtec

2-3 Players

Et-Tu.

193AD The might of Caesar is long gone. The madness of Caligula has subsided. The Roman empire is no longer the mighty force it once was. Well past its heyday. The cut and thrust of politics is more often discussed at the pointy end of a knife. You find a power vacuum, the previous Emperor has been assassinated by his own praetorian guard. You and two other families have decided to take this chance to seize the day and the power while your at it. Do you have what it takes to not only grab the throne but also hold onto it? All the while opposing forces are attacking the empire, famine is widespread and you associates are helping you while holding a knife at your back.

Carpe noctem.

Component quality in Donning the Purple is looking promising. The art currently on show in the preview prototype is looking attractive and thematic, especially the game board. The quality of the final game components will all depend on what the final funding achieved is and which Stretch goals are reached.

You will encounter Forum cards, Event Cards, Hidden agenda cards, plot cards, a game board, Enemy troops, Roman Troops, Buildings, Aqueducts and Dice of different types. With possibly more to come.

Carpe diem.

OK so you fancy Donning the Purple of the Emperor. What is involved? A game is played over 4 years (rounds) each year is split into 8 phases. Your goal is a simple one. Get as many VP as you can. The other players will be doing their best to ruin your chances. All the while you will be forced to work together. Because if the invading forces ever gain control of your regional capitals or manage to place all their forces. It is game over you all lose.

Ad portas.

8 Phases! I hear you exclaim. While this might initially sound daunting. It is nowhere near as bad as you might think and all of the phases follow a natural progression.

1: Enemies appear and move. Each turn two enemy forces appear in each region. A die is used to determine which province (area). Once placed all enemies move following a set pattern. If they encounter a weaker Roman force they destroy it.

2: Harvest. Each round a region is allocated as a famine spot so produces no food. All the other regions grain goes to the Emperor to allow him to feed the people. Enemy forces stop production.

3: Card Draw. Event cards are drawn and resolved in order. Usually 5 but certain cards can change this. This is followed by a Forum card. This is essentially a new action space for the next round.

4: Action round. This involves players spending precious stamina to build monuments, estates, move on the map or even assassinate the Emperor.

Imperium in imperio.

Half way through the year. Onwards to phase,

5: Place buildings. Where you place buildings (you did not see that coming) this is dependent on their location on a build track.

6: Feed Rome. It is time for the Emperor to feed the people. If he manages to feed all the provinces everyone is happy and all is well. If not happiness drops. Let it drop too far and it is curtains for the Emperor.

7: Tax. Money money money. You collect money from your estates. While the Emperor will collect extra for each province without any enemies.

8: End of year. This is essentially the clean up section of the year.

Felix culpa.

So how does it all feel. Given the number of phases in a round it is surprisingly fluid. Once you have played 1 round you will be pretty much au-fait with the rules. The mix of co-op and Vs mode seems to blend in well with the theme of this game. You will constantly be thinking, “hmm If I do this it will help me but it helps the Emperor as well?”. “OK I wont do it I will try to kill the Emperor instead”. While as the Emperor you really are walking a knife edge. You can do more each turn and you can earn more. But the players your relying on can’t be trusted as they plot against you. In my plays I found the balance seemed to flow nicely with some good decision making. The use of hidden agenda and plot cards to throw spanners into the works is a nice addition. While enemy movement is predictable and can be planned for (but not always managed due to back stabbing plotting senators).

Cui bono?

In short. A very interesting game with lots of potential. Only being 2-3 player might hurt it. A fourth player as the enemy option might have been a nice addition but logistically a more difficult proposition. I will be interested to see this on Kickstarter and suggest it as a definite one to watch at the start of 2018.

For those who’s Latin might be a little rusty.

  • Et-tu – And you
  • Carpe noctem – Seize the night.
  • Carpe diem.– Seize the day.
  • Ad portas – At the gates..
  • Imperium in imperio – Empire within the empire..
  • Felix culpa – Happy fault.
  • Cui bono? – Who benefits?

I received a preview copy of “Donning the Purple” through BGE to preview. This game will now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

Spirits of the Forest

Spirits of the Forest

From Thundergryph Games

A preview by Mawihtec

  • 1-4 Players
  • 20 Minutes
  • 14+ Age

Flowers.

Mythic winds lift the veil. The Spirit world and ours connect. Seraphs who are whimsical by nature. Find themselves drawn to the life force of an ancient forest. They descend through the clouds. Eager to resume their games from time immemorial. You are one of these spiritual Seraphs you posses great power but also great curiosity. You find yourself fascinated by the life force of this ancient forest and eagerly collect Plant, Animal and Sprite. Driven to add them to your mystical menagerie. But you are not alone you must compete with other spirits to collect the best specimens.

Vines.

The box art of Spirits of the Forest is beautiful and has an almost ethereal look to it. Inside you will find,

  • 1 Single player Favor card,
  • 12 Gemstones,
  • 14 Favor markers,
  • 48 Spirit tiles,
  • 1 Rulebook.

Moss.

A game of Spirits of the Forest begins with the layout of all 48 spirit tiles in 4 equal rows. These tiles each depict 1 or 2 spirit icons, with some of them also showing one of three “Power” icons (Sun, Moon or Fire). Straight away you see all the information. No hidden luck of the draw which is a nice surprise from a small box game. Each player takes a number of gems based on player count. The Favor are shuffled and 8 are randomly placed face down on tiles. The remaining ones are put back in the box. You are then ready to begin.

Leaves.

Your aim is to collect as many of each type of spirit and power icon as you possibly can. With points being awarded based on the number collected but hefty penalties for missing some out. You can use your gems to “reserve” certain tiles to help you out. You get these gems back when you collect the tile. However if you want to take a tile with an opponent gem on it, You can. At a cost, they get their gem back while yours is removed from the game. So use it wisely. Collecting the “Favor” tokens will give you extra spirit or power icons, You might even get the special token to retrieve a discarded gem.

Mushrooms.

OK so just how to collect these spirits? Well it is surprisingly easy to play, But what was pleasantly surprising was the amount of thinking that could be involved. On your turn you can choose tiles from either end of the rows only. You are allowed to take 1 or 2 tiles only and they must match and have no more than 2 spirits between them. e.g. 1 tile with 2 spirits or 2 tiles with 1 spirit. These will open up the next tiles in those rows for selection. So when faced with multiple choices of tile. It can be very worthwhile making note of what each players situation is. Also judicial use of your gems can force others to make decisions that will help you later on. At the end of the game each player totals up individual colours with only the highest total scoring of each colour. Failure to collect any of a particular type is -3points to you which is a tough amount to lose..

Fruits.

KickStarter:

  • The base game is going to be approx 10euros which is a great price if I am honest.
  • The next level will have a magnetic box and Player stones not gems making a huge improvement to look and feel.
  • There will also be a collectors edition with colouring books signed posters table cloths and limited edition extra stones to name a few upgrades.

Right then that is the basic bones. But the big question is just how does Spirits of the Forest come together as a whole?

Well lets start with component quality. The copy I played was a preview copy and as such was not retail quality. That being said there was evidence that it was being seriously considered.

What about play itself? This is a very gentle game to play. It is very light with only a few choices available each turn. The chance to play strategically is there but not in a heavy Analysis Paralysis way. Nobody is going to melt their brain on this one. This game is listed as 14+ I think this is purely for a CE testing sake as it can very easily be played by much younger 9+ would be my rating.

What about group suitability? Family play is a definite winner here with no heavy take that or overly cerebral decision making. It is not a long play game either so attention span suitable, for the younger family members. Game group as a filler is a possibility but I do think given its lightness other options would be more likely. Meet-up is another possibly good call not a big table hog short quick play suitable for occasional but not regular appearance.

Theme is very stuck on. Change the spirits to armies or weapons and you have a game about military might.

The creators have included a solo play mode which is very much a solitaire feel beat the deck to gain the most points but most cards are hidden making completion a lot more luck based. Nice to have not missed if not there.

In short

  • Nice light easy to play.
  • Can sit happily on most shelves.
  • Worth a look on kickstarter? one to watch.


I received a preview copy of “spirits of the Forest through BGE to review. This game will now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

Infinities: Defiance of Fate

INFINITIES

Defiance of Fate

From VATAL Entertainment Studio

A preview by Mawihtec

  • 2-4 Players
  • 20-30 Minutes per player
  • 13+ Age

Rift.

We all know the theory of alternate timelines (if you do not, go and watch Back to the Future 2). Here we look at that very thing two alternative timelines that are connected by rifts in the space time continuum. Temporary tears in the fabric of reality allowing the travel between the worlds. You along with up to three others will control avatars in these worlds Either in the form of adventures or going head to head in a skirmish. What will your timeline hold for you

Reality.

Normally at this point I would run through the various components of a game. However as this is a pre-production prototype I will not be doing that. However the pictures accompanying this piece should give an indication of art style.

  • Please note that ALL components are liable to change and improvement prior to publication
  • The components received show that a lot of thought appears to have gone into the design and execution of “Infinities: Defiance of Fate” (Infinities from hear on). The Hex tiles appear to be near production with some attractive and distinctive art work. All tokens and pawns are non finalised but were well suited to use.
  • The dice supplied were not screen printed as is the intention for the final production dice.
  • Artwork what was on show was very appealing. There was still a fair bit of “place holder” art on boards and cards. Some of the cards had minor errors (example reference card).
  • The adventure book only contained 3 scenarios from one side of the adventure and the rule book also needed some further proofing.
  • I say all of this for clarity and because the developer is continually in the process of fine tuning and improving. All these should be addressed by the proposed Kickstarter launch of 20th February 2018. and if enough stretch goals are unlocked who knows how sweet this could end up looking

Assets.

OK. So a game is not just about looks. We all know that. Just how does Infinities play? All players start on the Rift tile you then uncover various tiles based on the scenario or set-up as required. You will then have your avatars player boards. These will be used to keep track of your

  • Power (attack value) used to attack damage and destroy.
  • Tide (momentum) used to activate abilities or prepare and play cards.
  • Fortitude (preservation) used for blocking movement and manipulation of map tiles.
  • Gambits (unique special abilities) Each of the twelve (yes 12) avatars have 4 special abilities that gambit tokens will allow access to and fuel for.
  • Health (toughness) this is the life of your units or how much damage they can take. Different abilities will allow modifying this amount.
  • Influence (turn order) This is a figure normally represented by the tile your currently on.

You will also have a hand of cards (5 initially) that will contain units to bring into play or abilities to be used. These cards will be able to be played directly for their face cost or you can for a potentially lower cost prepare them. This is like a pre-play section. Then for an extra cost bring them into play. Why would you want to do this? Well some cards have a prepared ability which activates while they are waiting to be brought into the play area.

Skirmish

or Adventure?

When you play the Skirmish mode you will be attempting to complete objectives from one of the randomly drawn Skirmish Scenario cards. These have 2 Objective Sets on them and you need to complete the first part of one objective to be able to complete the second. (Think of it like primary and secondary objectives).

When attempting the adventure side of Infinities you will start of with the adventure guide setting out the scenario and telling you the objective. At the end of the game the scenario is concluded based on certain conditions and this will dictate the various resolutions to allow for the next part of your adventure. (this is a little like a choose your own adventure style except the decision is defined by the result of the game).

Abilities.

What I have experienced so far from Infinities: Defiance of Fate. Has to me shown a lot of promise. While the artwork and component quality is not finalised I see a lot of potential for promise here.

In respect of the Skirmish mode I liked the scenario cards they reminded me a little of combat video games. Skirmish combat is not the highest of my attractions to gaming be it board or video. Even allowing for that I still found myself enjoying this aspect. This was down to the strategy of card use and movement affecting starting order. I hope to see this fleshed out a little more in the final release.

Adventure mode was the aspect that most appealed to me with Infinities and I felt this shows a huge amount of promise. We were only able to experience a taster of this but what was evident was that lots of thought has gone into it. If this quality continues we could be looking at a very good adventure romp.

The theme is not the usual overused tropes. This is so refreshing as too many designers fall back on the Cthulhu, Alien, Dungeon crawl aspect so common in the board games industry.

Eco.

INFINITIES: Defiance of Fate. Lots of promise. Looking forward to seeing if the designers can deliver on this promise when it launches in February 2018. My advice is put it in your diary and stay up to date on their Facebook page.

I received a preview copy of “Infinities through BGE to review. This game has now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

Oligarchy

OLIGARCHY

From Entropic Games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2+ Players
  • 15 Minutes per player
  • 13+ Age

Corporate.

You are an Oligarch (A leader with a lot influence usually wealthy). You are in control of formidable faction. Use your cunning to crush the opposition. Wield power whilst you engage in brutal struggles, comebacks and hideous desperate comebacks. A savage and ruthless world where the strong survive and the weak are erased from history in this Collectable Card Game (CCG) from Entropic Games.

Media.

The set I received for review contained 4 pre-constructed decks. With cards from all 8 factions. Also enclosed were 4 Affluence/ Influence Trackers, 8 Power Trackers, A quick start guide, A selection of counters and two dice. I was also supplied with 4 booster packs.

Crime.

In a game of Oligarchy your aim is to reduce the power of your opponents Faction or Factions. To Zero. Do that and you will dominate. You will attempt to achieve this by the use of Influence and Affluence to bring characters and abilities to bear on your target. Be careful they will be doing the same to you. You will need to defend from attacks at the same time you try to destroy. You can use just one Faction or Combine two in an attempt to create combinations that will allow you to win. Before you start a game you will construct your deck of at least 50 cards. Of these you will include Affluence and Influence cards in a fine balancing act of having enough of either come out as and when you need it. You will have access to “Incident” cards like “Back Stab” where you make an opponents card attack them. Items like “Quantum Grenade” which can be sold. Characters are varied from Fanatics to Managers to Corrupt Banks to Bartenders.

Military.

CCG. Deck Building. Pre-Constructed? Yes this is a game that plays in a very similar fashion to those other CCG’s like Magic and LOT5R and as such I have to in all honesty hold it up to these style of games. Oligarchy uses a nice theme to the CCG concept of games where Affluence and Influence work as the equivalent of Land cards Characters are akin to Monsters or Creatures. I will say it now I did not find enough depth here to make me want to go and buy booster packs. The pre-constructed decks worked well and from the plays I had seemed to be fairly well balanced. What was noticeable was that there was not enough cards of each faction to play a single faction deck. This was a shame as part of a CCG is experimenting with deck construction. The booster packs did not contain any Affluence or Influence cards this again restricted the ability to play with balance. This was especially the case if you wanted to play 4 player. So while it has a nice feel I do not see enough depth to keep you coming back for more or wanting to go and buy boosters.

Media.

If you were to just buy the base box then you would have a game that you can play out of the box which allows you to play a little with deck construction. While not having the expense of getting heavily into buying lots of booster packs. I applaud the attempt at opening up the field of CCG’s. But I cannot find a home on my shelf for this game. It is a shame as this game showed some potential as a head to head or 4-way battle game if it was all self contained. The desire to go the CCG route was a shame as that is how it has to be judged.

Eco.

Big gripe time. Rule Book Legibility! Oligarchy has a rule book that to be honest is not accessible. If you have 20/20 vision you will struggle let alone if you have any sort of sight deficiency the Black background makes the white text less readable add in the dark purple and greens of the Affluence and Influence are almost impossible to see. Also some of the text print examples were slightly blurred. Just not good enough. So many games show so much promise and it is ruined totally by a bad rulebook. All publishers need to learn to spend a bit on editing and proofreading in this day and age.

Pro.

  • Nice ideas.
  • Variety of Factions.

Con.

  • Rule books bad.
  • Not enough depth for a CCG.
  • Other games do it better.

I received a copy of “Oligarchy through BGE to review. This game will now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

Letter Tycoon

LETTER TYCOON

From Breaking Games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-5 Players
  • 30-45 Minutes
  • 8+ Age

H is for?

Hypothesis. Imagine if you will, just for a moment, that you can own letters of the alphabet. Not just own but get paid for when others use them. A little smile is forming, I can see it. Now imagine you owned the letter “S”. Just look at this short passage. How much would that earn you?

Now think about owning the patents of other letters. Yes yes good that’s right. Welcome to the world of Letter Tycoon. You can buy patents of the letters, Stocks for big words and money. Lots and lots of lovely money. Will you manage to create the biggest alphabet empire?

C is for?

Content. Here we have a very stylish looking box art. When you lift the lid you find a nicely thought out and organised content which consists of,

  • 102 Letter Factory Cards,
  • 26 Letter Patents,
  • 35 Coins,
  • 18 Stock certificates,
  • 4 Goal Cards,
  • 5 Scoring Reference cards,
  • Rule Book,
  • Zeppelin Starting Marker.

No I don’t know where the Zeppelin comes from either but it fits perfectly into the stylised steampunk-ish art work.

P is for?

Playing. Those familiar with certain tile laying word scoring games. Should find the general gameplay to be fairly familiar. But for those who are not. You will each have a hand of seven letter cards. In the centre will be three “community” cards. On your turn you will attempt to form as long a word as possible using the community cards and your hand of cards. The longer the word the more money you earn. Get over a certain length and you also earn stocks. Example “Jewels” at six letters would earn you $4 and 1 Stock Certificate. Then you may buy a letter patent of one (only one) of the letters just used in your word. “J-E-W-L-S” would be your options here. The more common a letter is the more it will cost to buy. Some letters will also grant you a special ability for example “Z will allow you to add S to the end of a word to extend it” From that point on any time an opponent uses your letter in their word you will get paid for its use. Used cards are discarded and new ones drawn. Next player will follow the same process and so on until the target score is reached. The target score is dependent on the number of players and could range from $45 down to $21 for 5 players. Obviously all words need to be legal words. Before you begin you agree on a word source for authentication (dictionary, google etc.).

I is for?

Issues. OK you have what at heart is a word making game. So immediately you will have the same issue that plagues all games of that genre. The more words you know the better you will potentially do. There is no honest way that this can be avoided. In saying that Breaking Games have tried to mitigate this factor as much as possible. The use of their method of word formation and a finite score based on word length instead of letter scores. We have to mention the example of Scrabble here. Quixote in Scrabble would score you 73 points (without any bonus) in Letter Tycoon you get $6 and 1 Stock, Scraper in Scrabble would score you 61 points in Letter Tycoon you get $6 and 1 Stock. Both words are 7 letters long, isn’t it better to score the same for a word of the same length of word. Yes you will likely still perform better the broader your word knowledge, but having 10 cards to choose from will help to balance things. The other major balance is that in Scrabble and similar word games the knowledge of 2 and 3 letter words can be massively important (Q-i, Z-O for example). This is useless to you here as all words must be 3 letter minimum and each word is a separate entity. Even with these efforts there can be a little bit of runaway leader syndrome.

T is for?

Thoughts. Breaking Games Letter Tycoon is a very respectable attempt to create a word game that does not reward eating a dictionary before you play. It is not perfect but despite those little issues which will always occur in a word game, I enjoyed playing Letter Tycoon. The component quality is nice and I do love the Zeppelin first player marker. I am hoping to get a copy of Letter Tycoon on my shelf at some point in the future.

S of for?

Summary. Nice component word making game reasonable balancing with some minor issues endemic in word construction games. Good for families. Game groups might enjoy dependant on the group.

Pro.

  • Zeppelin First player marker.
  • Interesting Art.
  • Concept is solid and new.
  • Scales well 2-5 players.

Con.

  • Reliant on word knowledge.
  • Runaway leader possible.
  • Word knowledge will usually determine leaders.

I received a copy of “Letter Tycoon through BGE to review. This game will now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

Xenon Profiteer

XENON

PROFITEER

From Eagle Gryphon Games

A review by Mawihtec

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

Oxygen.

There you are head of a state of the art air separation facility. You make a handsome profit separating the valuable gas Xenon. You niche market is becoming cramped as other companies have noticed the profits to be made. Now you need to harness the latest technology, Upgrade your facility and make the biggest supplier of Xenon.

Nitrogen.

Inside the stylish box you will discover,

  • 25 player tokens (5 per player),
  • 28 Coins,
  • 1 Game end marker,
  • Rules booklet,
  • 216 cards.

Krypton.

Xenon Profiteer is a lightweight filler game with a nice amount of involvement into a novel theme. First you will set up the centre tableau of gas cards alongside them you will have two lines one of contract and the other of the upgrade cards. All players will have the start of their own console and an initial starting deck of 10 cards of which they will have a starting hand of five random cards. You will be able to distil (discard) some gas cards in an order of priority. This is with the aim of having only Xenon left in your hand. This will be held in storage for fulfilling contracts. And earning more money.

Xenon.

After you have finished distilling gas you will be able to big or buy contracts or upgrades. Buy speaks for itself you pay the cost of the card and then have an extra cost to Install it in your system. Installed cards will allow you access to improved actions, for example extra distil actions allowing you to discard more gas cards. Bid on the other hand is slightly different. Instead of the expected auction. In the bid phase you can place a personal bid token onto a card in the centre. This stops it from being cleared. Also if another player wishes to buy the card they must also pay $1 to you. You only have 5 of these bid tokens so use them wisely.

Air.

Play continues like this until one player has completed 5 contracts or 5 upgrades. All other players will have a final turn. The player will then have a privilege token which will allow them to have either 3vp or one final turn. Highest amount of VP wins.

Profit.

I will be honest here and say this was a game I very nearly passed on reviewing. This was because when I first opened the rule book I was taken aback by the fact that it was laid out and worded like a science manual. At first this felt a little inaccessible. But I am glad I persisted. Once you get past the technical jargon you will find the game instructions to be quite clear. Here is a game that will not outstay its welcome. Is quite easy to teach and has a novel theme as its concept. For a 30 minute filler game this works very nicely in game groups or meet ups. I can also see this working in a family situation with older children.

Pro.

  • Nice theme.
  • Thematic artwork.
  • Easy to teach.

Con.

  • Rulebook wording.

I received a copy of “Xenon Profiteer” through BGE to review. This game has now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

Merchants of ARABY

Merchants of ARABY

From Daily Magic Games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-5 Players
  • 45-60 Minutes
  • 14+ Age

Camels.

You have started out life learning a merchants trade. Now the chance has presented itself for you to claim the crown of the wealthiest merchant prince or princess in all of Araby. Establish an entourage or allies to assist you. Summon Djinn, Negotiate shrewdly and make clever investments in caravans. Watch out for the bandits though by trading and dealing with the other merchants. Be warned they may deal with you now but they are after the crown as well. Be ready for those deals to turn sour as well.

Caravans.

Inside the clever box (more on that soon). You will find,

  • 5 Merchant cards (1 per player),
  • 16 Caravan Cards,
  • 19 Virtue Cards,
  • 14 Djinn Cards,
  • 27 Ally Cards,
  • 5 Player Tents (1 per player),
  • 25 Wooden Camels (5 per player),
  • 70 Coin Tokens in 1,5,10 values.

Conniving.

You need to know from the outset that Merchants of Araby is a full on trade and dealing game. It is possible to play a full game without any trades or deals with other players. But you will only do it once though. As you will miss out on everything that makes this game what it is. So make sure you have your dealers hat on and get ready to trade.

Trade.

You start by laying out the game board. Oh you noticed that I did not mention the board in the contents list. There is a very good reason for that. The game board is in fact the lid of the box. A magnetised fold out game board that double as the game board is a nice way of stopping the game needing a bigger box than necessary. There are spaces for caravans money drafting area and deck/discard spaces. Your tent is a self assembly affair to hide your money in. Everything else is public knowledge. You also receive a random Merchant. All the Merchant cards have a male and female side and other than the gender they are the same. The Djinns, Allies and Virtue cards are shuffled and dealt out 5 per player.

Merchants.

To play Merchants of Araby you will be “buying” allies and merchants to provide you with resources needed to locate your Camels onto the caravan cards trying to make the most profit possible. You will also have access to single use cards, Djinns and Virtues. Your initial Merchant Persona card is a free cost card which will provide you with one resource. Other cards will require you to pay money and/or resources to place use them. If however you do not have the correct resources available you can discard cards from your hand that match the required resource. You will frequently encounter a situation where you cannot create the resources or money to take an action. This is when trading comes into its own.

Djinns.

Trading in Merchants of Araby is totally free-form. There are almost no restrictions. In fact the only restriction is that you cannot trade for a resource to allow you to place a camel. Any deal you make to trade in that turn must happen straight away. Future promise deals are allowed as well. You need to be careful though as a promise of something later on cannot be enforced. So you are totally reliant on “the word is as good as the bond” mentality. If the other player decides to not fill their side of the bargain tough. That is the risk of trading.

Bandits.

The best way to earn money in Merchants of Araby is by sending out caravans. Unfortunately Bandits know this and target the caravans. Each turn you resolve a caravan card. Daily Magic have tried to cleverly implement a straggler gets targeted style mechanic. Any Camels that do not form a complete line (regardless of colour) are immediately discarded. Then the Bandit attacks this is done by each of the camel spaces having a number. If the bandit number matches the number of a camel, that camel is discarded. The remaining camels can then receive payouts based on risk level. Low risk payout less but are less likely to get hit by Bandits and conversely the higher risk returns face a greater chance of being targeted. Once the last caravan has been drawn. Money is counted and highest total wins.

Tents.

So how does all this come together? That is a tricky question to answer. I say this because without the trading there is nothing much to the game and I would be saying “nope, don’t bother” However if you are with a group that are up for all the negotiating and deal making. You will find a fair bit of fun. Word of warning King making is possible in Merchants of Araby. In a three player game with my wife and son, My son had the hump with me because I told him off in the morning. He sat there and blatantly said “I will not do any deals with you daddy. Because I want mummy to win” and he kept to his word even making deals with her that were super generous. Needless to say my wife found this hysterical. Yes in case you were wondering she did win. But that aside there is some nice engine building and I can see it being fun in the right group.

Pro.

  • Nice concept.
  • Interesting artwork.
  • Not too long.
  • Very lightweight.
  • Good use of trading mechanic.
  • Better at 5 player.

Con.

  • Not a game if you don’t like trading games.
  • King making possible.
  • Not much variety to the actions.
  • Not as much fun as 2 player.

I received a copy of “Merchants of Arabythrough BGE to review. This game has now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

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.