Mythos Tales – Review

Type: Detective / Co-Op

Time to play: < 60 minutes (Teaching: 10 minutes)

Best played with: 1-4 players (Best with 2)

Sherlock Holmes consulting detective is a classic game where players search across London to find clues to what is going on in the world – including a specific mystery that you have been enlisted to solve! Confused? Yes, that’s right, Sherlock is gone and you are in a new world of pain that builds out of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu universe. You find yourself in Arkham and the challenging mystery you are trying to solve is one that might just destroy the entire universe!

So, that’s the starting point! Thrown into an unfamiliar setting and with an arrogant benefactor (who has already solved the mystery faster than you!); you are asked to solve the puzzle. The concept builds upon the clue chasing Sherlock Holmes game to really challenge the players / team to dig through ancient riddles, crazy characters’ ramblings and off topic disappearances which might help but most probably wont.

Coming to the mechanics though there are two core ways to play this game – the race and the riddle. The race; this is really the focus of solving only the main puzzle but doing it as quickly as possible. The masterful professor has set the challenge but he will have done it in probably half the time he gave you. Can you follow the key path and do it quickly enough not to suffer the penalties at the end for being too slow?

The second options is to answer all the questions; that is to answer the core riddle and to find out everything else that is going on. There will be more questions at the end than the riddle you were set, but if you weren’t seeking these out then you have no chance to score the maximum points. Seek them out, and you will take longer than you should but you will know much more.

Each mission is a new choice and a new conspiracy. From the men hiding in the woods and the ancient writings of the library, there is a lot about Arkham to explore. With all this going on, you have many tools at your disposal – although these are equivalent to many distractions! You can run from house to house chasing individuals to help you. You can visit specialists who might know more about the case than you do. You can also read the newspaper – a newspaper that will often help with what else is going on and a few scarce clues about the main puzzle.

All that in hand, it sounds like you have eight missions of fun to work your way through. However, here’s the biggest problem with this – some of the puzzles are broken. Some of the parts of the rule book are simply incorrect and there are FAQs in place that can help you but this is not a game you can just take out of the box.

Is that all? Well no, I think that this game also suffers from the alpha player disadvantage of co-operative play. If you have a dominant player (perhaps quicker at solving the clues / quicker at realizing the twists and turns ahead) then he or she will push this game and leave other players feeling confused or frustrated.

Redemption for this game is found in groups who enjoy the knocks and set backs of the scrap with cultists. You will get into fights, lose time and get frustrated as likely leads turn in to dead ends. This is great fun at its best – it’s great to see the missions develop and there are few surprising turns along the way. The puzzles are good, the setting is great.

Last notes:

  • If you like to solve riddles and can take a back seat to let other players enjoy this too; then you will enjoy this.
  • If you have an alpha gamer or you are frustrated by reading FAQs then pass this with a wide birth
  • If you win at this game, you have another mission to solve!

Mythos Tales – Strategy Tips

Nothing in the set up here – just keep moving along the missions! However, there’s a few things to think about in the game!

During the game:

Two ways to play: As I discussed in the review – it’s either a race or a need to solve everything. If it’s a race you have actually only about half the allotted time, but if you try to solve everything then watch out for all the small leads and use every bit of the days you have. Both ways are fun, but choose wisely because you will only have one chance at each mission.

Systematically Capture Locations: Each time you speak with people they will tell you about other people, other locations and in particular street / house locations you might visit. If you can capture these you will be in a position to chase every lead – even when the one you had the greatest hope for turns out to be the dead end or worse the lead that nearly gets you killed!

Don’t Double Check: If you know something, then trust yourself. If the book is in the library then perhaps you can read it. However, if the book is not in the library then going to the library is not likely to reveal anything new. This is often the case; perhaps a character is at a location, a character you wanted to find – sometimes it’s better to save that as your guess than to go there and confirm it for certain.

Read the Newspaper: In the version of the game where you solve all the riddles you will need to read the newspaper. The things happening in Arkham are revealed through the small stories that are played out in the newspaper, and the clues hidden in the words used. Sometimes you need to look back to previous months to find clues of the core story or indeed these side plots. Keep an eye out for them and don’t forget to look at prior months.

Probably a 2-3 player game at most: There’s space for a person to read the clues in locations, read the newspaper, and to make suggestions through out. Beyond three players though forces someone into the role of scribe while others through around ideas. It leaves the game with a likely alpha player. Watch out for these downsides as you build a group of players for the game!

Specialists – well only in the cult: The specialists this game provides you with are often unhelpful. They are regularly disappointingly uninformed or perhaps add little to what you have learnt. The best ones are those who specialise in the occult. They bring something that you may not know but may not be told to you. Sure, enough games of Arkham Horror will help, but these will be your best advisors.

Don’t lose time: The biggest risk is duplication, but there is a lingering risk that you can get knocked out or end up losing time. Sounds simple, but sometimes it’s not just the scary dark warehouse that is the trap. Also, sometimes it’s when you go that matters so think before you decide which order to move in!

Good Luck!

Too Many Bones – Strategy Tips

Mix up the gearlocs and take up a new boss each time to get the challenge of this game. However, for new players you should be taking Picket, Patches and Ghillie; these simple characters allow the tank, healer and ranger strategies which will feel familiar for even for new players to the game.

As this game is vastly asymmetrical I will mention a few generic strategies and then focus on the strengths / themes of the various key characters:

During the game:

Watch Your Health: In the fight you need to watch that you aren’t going to get exhausted and knocked out of the fight. However the more important choices come between the fight – yes, up the attacks / defence / specials but don’t neglect your health. This is a common mistake and when enemies start to amass and are stronger you will quickly see that it’s too late!

Start Right: Generally, you will have a couple of melee characters and a ranged unit. Starting off with that in mind is important, and use the starting position to go after a key opponent. Usually you will group together to take out the most challenging opponent in one or two rounds to avoid their attack kicking in. If you get through the round with four weak, but alive opponents then you will suffer all four attacks!

Poison: Speaking of the dangerous opponents, there are none more so than a poison based attack. The flying creatures are tricky to handle but normally can be killed quickly. The poison creatures, with range attack, striking the weakest players – they are lethal. Once hit, you suffer 2 damage and then 1 subsequent damage. All poison is true damage (no shields!) and if it hits the weakest, it won’t take long for this to finish them off!

Next Bad Guy: Watch out though, as you kill off some opponents you know what’s coming next! If that opponent is difficult to handle / brings another poison attack then it can change who you focus on in the first turn!

Beasts / Machines: Get the beasts or machines onto the board quickly – these little characters have low health and often take the brunt of the damage on the weakest player – keeping you guys alive! They also deal out a couple of turns of additional damage.

Characters:

Patches: The medic of the team, patches will focus on getting some healing dice on the go. Once that’s in place, I tend to bring the attack dice and then the defence dice. There are other tricks in patches specialty dice, but having built a medic you will need to get into the fight – especially if you are only playing as three players.

Picket: The tank of the team; get the defence dice rolling so that you can use that shield bash as often as you can. It’s probably the best back up plan of all characters as it often helps take down the strongest of opponents (stacking dice over multiple turns). Of the special dice; that option to add one shield and then one attack to the locked dice is a significant boost!

Nugget: Build up your slingshot – you are the mixed use character, but your biggest ability is to weigh in on the ranged opponent who has a lot of health. One big attack from that slingshot might take out the Goblin King’s throne or even a high level flying creature!

Ghillie: Ranger, with great abilities to target multiple weak enemies or to summon creatures to the board. Ghillie’s game is played through the special dice – firstly the Wolverine. The Wolverine is the most powerful of the specials and with Hardy special ability it will last a lot of attacks. Once you have this in place, the piercing damage and multiple targets offers you the chance to take out opponents with difficult special powers (shields and flying respectively).

Boomer: Get the bombs working – this means a few special dice, but above all else you will need dexterity. Keep rolling those bomb components and build up the frag grenades. Keep an eye on health though as you can be an easy target for flying creatures.

Tantrum: Build your rage; you will be throwing yourself in the deep end with each hit taken and given boosting your special abilities. That will mean you need some health and a plentiful number of attacks!

Tink: The builder / controller; you will build your game out of the machines you control. Focus on getting one to the table and making it powerful. The second is much less important but watch out, because a few defence dice may be needed as monsters rush the machine and then move on to you!

Good Luck!

Too Many Bones – Review

Type: RPG / Co-Op

Time to play: < 180 minutes (Teaching: 20 minutes)

Best played with: 2-4 players (Best with 3)

Just closing out their expansion Kickstarter campaign and Chip Theory Games have another big shipping ahead. If you missed out on all that though, this is one of the rare games that you can actually download the entire game FOR FREE!

I did exactly that, as well as playing other people’s copies and this is a smart little campaign game. Like many new dungeon style games this is all control by automation and every player takes the role of the heroes – fighting through the bad guys to the final boss monster! Okay, the theme and story suffers and as exciting as reading from a card is, there will be D&D players who do not see this as a substitute. However, if you have a social gaming group and enjoy a longer / campaign game then this still has much to offer.

From the smart way the characters and bad guys have health chips (stacked below the character tiles), to the use of “bones” to build a back up plan, there are lots of innovative instances built into this game. However to focus on where the core of this game is – it’s about the character development. Who strikes the final blow and which character collapses in the fight is interesting, but this game goes further with vastly asymmetrical custom dice to describe your character.

Each game gives you the chance to expand that dice pool and add actions – healing others, summoning monsters and creating piercing or poisonous attacks. These unique features drive you to change your movements on the board, target different opponents. This changes how you play as you go through a campaign and you make choices along the way to get the right dice for the final battle.

However, all that is part of the downside of a game – a little less theme and limited play between battles and a constant focus on one final fight. The journey cards played between fights have a limited story and a very closed set of choices. The final battle is the goal for the game – defeating that specific boss. The way that boss plays is vastly different (because of those incredible custom dice) but it’s all about the win or loss of that final fight. What’s more, it’s really all about beating or not beating that individual character! Do that and the game ends instantly (unless you choose to complete the fight).

So is this a clever game with a few limitations, or is it custom dice hiding a simpler game? Well, I would end up on the first of these. The choices you make have real impact and you can play the same character in vastly different ways – partly on who else is in the party and partly on your own choices. Build a shield wall to protect your character, through caution to the wind with a lot of attacks, or use your special dice to boost the party’s chances of victory. Also, like any good co-op games there is so much going on in front of you that it is hard to have an alpha player – someone controlling everyone’s actions.

Unfortunately this can make the game quite long a quite difficult for new players. Some early guidance on the first dice to add is helpful (and I will mention a few in the strategy tips!).

So I would put aside the way you unlock treasure, the slightly weak journey cards, and turn your focus to your character and the diverse range of enemies.

Last notes:

  • If you like character development and very distinct ways of completing the same missions – you will really enjoy the options built into this clever game.
  • If you want a story or a bit of map movement, then perhaps this is not the story for you.
  • If you win at this game, take the next boss along and take a new group of heroes on the journey!

Flamme Rouge – Strategy Tips

The map will vary, but that’s not the choice you are making – that’s the territory you are playing on and must adapt to.

During the game:

Slipstream: Moving an extra space forward – or being pulled forward by the riders in front is a great way to boost your movement during the game. It’s also the key way to close down breakaways. Try to predict and land one gap behind your opponent; even better, end your movement one gap behind your other rider – the slip stream will move you up that last space! Other players will be trying to do this, so you better watch out for it.

Getting Tired? No worries!: Exhaustion is bad, but only if you take too much. Too much exhaustion will lead to late game hands of only two point movements. If you are left with no option but two points, you will quickly get caught. Spread the exhaustion between your riders or between you and others. You will need to lead at some point though, so whilst it can’t be all you, there will be a time to accept it and push out into the lead.

De-optimising: The counter to point one above is that you can predict where players may land – dropping into that gap between their riders denies them that extra point of movement and keeps you in front. This is the second best way to frustrate the opponents!

Blocking: The single best way to frustrate the opponent is to move up to the same space as your other rider, or as another player who went earlier in the turn. Two riders in the same row will block a player landing there – this might cut short their move by a point or more if multiple rows are blocked. This is worst when it blocks them at the top of the hill – you can slipstream forward and they get left taking exhaustion and being capped in their next move!

Boosts & Uphill Struggle: Up and down hills can be predictable – players aiming to go the max five points up but only off five point cards, and players using low value cards downhill to go five points. However, this makes you predictable – allowing players to block you at the top of the hill or to slipstream on the downhills. Great options including attacking with high cards of the downhill to start a breakaway, slipstreaming other players off of the last downhill space (so they lose the benefit next round), or rushing to the uphill and ending on the space before so that you can minimise the turns that are caped.

Inside Corner: At the end, ties are split by the player on the inside corner – i.e. in a straight race between those two players, the one that was leading last turn wins the race. If you think it’s between just two riders, this makes the early attack the likely winner. You take away the risk of the highest card not making it to your hand in the last turn, potential leaves the other player in a separate group drawing exhaustion, and gives you the edge in the finish. Watch out for a player breaking away in that last turn therefore!

Starting the Attack: Starting the attack to the finish should be calculated. You want to breakaway and not get caught. If you end up with the pack closing you down then there will be players who slipstreamed / closed down without using all their attack cards and they will have the edge at the end. Some early attacks can work but normally a breakaway of 2-3 riders is needed; even if that’s split with another player, you can still make the most of it. If you are the minority in a breakaway though, you might want to deliberately help the peloton catch up! Normally the last corner is the place to attack but watch out for chances to breakaway earlier, or for hills on the finish that need mid range cards to complete.

Breakaway: Managing a breakaway is tough in the base game. Playing with two players controlling two teams makes this easier, but assuming you are in a group of four you want to watch out that (a) you switch the lead and (b) you keep attacking after the initial break. If you don’t switch the lead then one player will drop out as they take too many exhaustion cards – that can be the bridge that gets other riders back in. Continuing the attack is key as well otherwise the uphill and downhill sections can start to bring the group back together. If you see the breakaway go – look for these hills to plan an attack and close the gap (or join the lead group!)

One and Only: Lastly, don’t forget that only the first rider to cross the line matters – if you finished first and last, you win. Having two riders in second and third may seem impressive, but it means that you didn’t optimise for one rider to win the game. Keep this in mind when taking exhaustion – and plan the route when thinking about which rider will be best placed to win.

Good luck!

Flamme Rouge – Review

Type: Race

Time to play: < 30 minutes (Teaching: 10 minutes)

Best played with: 2-4 players (Best with 4)

The cross over between board games and cycling is not obvious; and even if you wanted to, making a board game about a team sport with years of training feels like an uphill struggle (pardon the pun!). However, Flamme Rouge has done just that. It’s created a fast paced game of managing your deck – managing your fatigue – to get these cyclists over th line.

In this review, I will cover only the base game – there’s an exciting expansion that takes this to six players and throws in more road tiles of different types, but let’s save that for the future!

So, you start this game by setting up the road – building it out on the table is a quick and easy set up. Once you have set these tiles in, you take your two riders and in turns place one at a time before the starting line. Turn by turn, you simultaneously select and then reveal a card for each rider. Each rider’s pack is different, and the choices are limited to four cards drawn each turn from each. Having moved, you then see if riders are at the front of a pack or indeed can slipstream off a rider one space in front!

This exhaustion or slipstream is a key mechanic. Get your positions right and you get to squeeze up a one space gap to the cyclist in front (if they move up too, then you are pulled with them). I have seen players squeeze four free moves out of this – that’s more than a whole card. However, find yourself two spaces behind other riders or at the front of the pack, and then you will take an exhaustion card – a two point card that might restrict your future movement!

Add this to mechanics from the terrain: uphill and downhill segments that set a cap or floor to your speed and you can gain or lose additional points of movement off these areas. In all the tracks, you have enough to get to the finish line but these small differences are the opportunity to get ahead.

Lastly, choosing your point of attack is key. Coming into that last turn, and finding all your high cards in one hand – well then perhaps you are too late. Attacking off the front of the course, and your sure to be drawing hands full of exhaustion by the end of the race. Balancing these two mechanics is difficult; and perfecting it to get that front space over the finish line is even harder. It’s not about crossing first, it’s about crossing and finishing furthest ahead – I have seen plenty of races where the lead changes after the line!

These mechanics all come together to strike lighting quick turns, and for great stories. Opportunities for two players to work a breakaway if they are careful with how they play there cards. Chances to slipstream large gaps between riders. That single rider breaking away two turns to the finish or the one who caught him on the line! All these stories come out of reading your opponents, planning the course and managing your deck.

It may sound easy but it’s not, and course variety gives you a vast amount of replay-ability. However, this is a race game with little direct interaction and a fair bit of luck in the last few hands. If you want to block, or stop an opponent there is little you can do – this can at times feel like a solo game for four players. It also can at times feel crushing when that sprint card is the only card of five you didn’t get in the final straight. Sometimes that’s just the way it happens.

The only other thing to watch out for is that this game strongly favours experienced players. New players will struggle to predict the slipstreaming and will plan an attack too late on average – leaving those high value cards too late and sometimes unused.

All that being said, this is still a game that I enjoy and am really enjoying the expansion!

Last notes:

  • If you like fast turns and a variety of maps – this game brings that and more!
  • If you want to build or develop an engine, or push other players back – this is a simple race game.
  • If you win at this game, try a new course – one that favours the other rider! However, you are probably odds on to win against new players!

Essen Spiel 2017

Okay, so there are a million and one “Essen” reviews and I am not going to try and make a long run through. However, the reason there are so many reviews are because these first impressions can actually be really helpful for the retail releases later in the year. Given my aim is to help people identify games to buy and strategies to play I will make a short comment on the game and the strategies from just a first impression:

Istanbul (Dice Game) – Short dice game based on the theme of the original market game. Roll the dice, make the combinations and trade the goods. You can play a variety of strategies – from getting coins, to getting goods or getting buildings. There are lots of paths and different ways to create chains. Sure you would need to block as much as optimise, but also worth noting this is a rush to a small number of points! Interesting, and one of our group did end up taking this one home!

Pile Up Rush – Balance wooden pieces on a small wooden disc – if you run out you win, if you knock the pile over you lose. Great mini version of junk art and good in teams or solo play because it’s quick and simple, but the shapes and the base allow you to create really clever balancing. Watch out not to leave smooth surfaces for the opponent to just pop a piece on to!

Ice Cool – Time to start flicking! As a dexterity game it’s an interesting game of chasing the other characters around the board. Do you risk going near the hall monitor to get the fish, and can you bounce round the wall to get two in one turn?! Tough choices, but more likely because you won’t be able to aim that much at first!

Masmora – It’s interesting to take the dungeon crawl mechanics and make a competitive game. The challenge however is that this feels like a slightly arbitrary exploration game with an ability for players to gang up due to turn order. Yes, you can chase down leaders but a shrewd player will play for second and then rush into a room full of monsters with a few good cards and snatch an early win (or have the cards to rush passed the player that triggered the final round).

Dragon Ranch – Tableau building card game with set collection. The innovative elements of the eco-system are very smart but the game was still a prototype with a few confusing icons from previous versions. Would definitely watch out for this one as it comes back round, especially as the strategy changes by the points tiles revealed in the first and second rounds of the game.

Spaghetti – A dexterity game of picking up shoestrings from a ball of shoestrings. Okay, some how that sounds harsh but that was the sum total of it. You had to take recipes that dictated what you could pull out, but the reality was that after two rounds you probably can’t actually complete the contracts. At that point, it’s a bit confusing as to what happens. The strategy is definitely to take the shoe strings that are worth more points… but that’s about all I can say.

Time of Crisis – A GMT war game across the roman empire; the fall of it specifically. The game is a deck management game where you can draw any cards from the deck each turn but then discard them. Once discarded you have to run through the rest of the deck to get them back. It’s a challenge therefore to map what you will need this turn and next. War is a dominant strategy here, but there’s lots to be said for using political capital to simply abandon your initial locations and expand on the other side of the map. This incredible flexibility is a really interesting part of a map focused game – expect a review of this in the not to distant future.

Outlive – Post apocalypse colony development, but this worker movement game only has 8 actions and you each have 4 pieces. You can’t move where you already have a piece, and you can’t stand still! Managing where you can go is tough, and managing your rations through each night phase is a real challenge. However, this is a competitive game so you need to collect bullets and defend yourself. Also rush for the points – this is a short game!

Zombie Dawn – Keeping the theme going but adding a take that element to the post apocalyptic world. You play cards to explore and move, but also to throw zombies at your opponents. Gang up on the leader but don’t leave yourself unable to move or unable to defend. Make the most of the ability to run from the big fights, but trap others! Card management is key.

Zoo Ball – Get those flicking fingers back in motion and try to get your attacker to the opponents goal. Don’t forget to leave a defender behind. These guys need to cover the key areas of the field and make sure you aren’t exposed to a single long shot from your opponent! Great with two and four!

Mountaineers – First time to climb a mountain at Essen (but not the last!) and here you have to fight your way across the mountain. Try to complete your missions in the limited turns and manage your tokens as efficiently as possible. It’s all about climbing as much as you can on the limited supplies, but also in limited times. Get an upgrade that suits you, start in the right place, and watch out for the change in weather! About to come to kickstarter!!

Bonk –  Remember the bowling device for kids aim with – well they are back in mini form and this time you are throwing metal balls at a larger wooden ball rolling between the two teams. Very much a team game, but a lot of strategies at play – including starving the opponent of balls and using clearing shots to make the balls come back to you (shot on the diagonal).

Circus Top – Stacking circus acts to match the cards in your hand. Nice and simple, but watch out but your action might complete someone else’s cards. Watch what others do and try and get them to help you completing the patterns.

X Wing – How I have not played this until now is a mystery to me and even more so after playing it. This tactical game about movement and marginal choices is challenging. the core set will only give you a taste but the options and strategies for bluffing / sneaking behind / soaking up fire are fascinating!

Captain Sonar – The game was such a big hit last year, and normally I don’t talk about price but that’s the only reason I think I hadn’t got to this. It’s a group game, but it plays well with 4. However, at the price at Essen this just wasn’t value for money. The frantic game can be fun, but for a co-operative experience of this mayhem simply download Space Team from the app store and let real time chaos commence.

Mountains of Madness – Speaking of madness, this was a fun party game for serious gamers. I say that because the fun in this game is being careful to only speak when the group is meant to speak. That’s the part of the game when the madness takes hold. The madness cards are very mixed and create lots of fun. If you are trying to win though, watch out to not spend too long on the mountain – the top tiles offer a few ruins on the way to escaping!

Wanted Rich or Dead – A shoot out based on revealing which building you choose simultaneously. Exhaust the cash in the middle to finish, but watch out for that final round where a turn of the card could steal some key equipment for your opponent. Key to watch the other players, but also watch out for the asymmetric nature of each player’s hand.

Gangs of Britannia – Prisoner’s dilemma multiple times between multiple players. That is not an easy starting point. Through in intel cards and upgrades and this becomes an interesting and very tight game. Watch out though, because tricking and betraying the other player at a key moment is core to the game – this could break some friendships! Still on kickstarter (at the time of posting – so go check this out!)

Gang Up – A card game with some serious swings of power. It’s all about timing your run on the finish; if you go first other players will block you. Leave it too late and perhaps a card will hand a surprise victory or two players will earn the joint win! Co-operate at first, but there will be time to turn that trust to dust!

Space Freaks – A rush for points in the space first person shooter. Make your character and send your men out to fight. This is very reminiscent of old computer games where you try to achieve king of the hill win conditions and respawn when the other players catch you out! Watch out for the points – these are key to the win (more than the vengeance fights!)

Klask – Atari style table top game with a great physical design. Watch out for the other player pushing the white magnets onto your side. These could cost you the game. Also, try to push your opponent in their own goal by pressing them back.

Army-Mals – A tank movement game, similar to Space Freaks but with more controlled starting characters. Watch out for the power of the mill in the middle! Oh and don’t let your opponent steal that flag!

So that’s Essen or was Essen – watch out for many of these games in the next 12 months!

 

 

Raxxon – Strategy Tips

Different starting characters and a few difficulty levels give you variety; so don’t go for an optimal selection here, just try something new each time to mix up the game.

During the game:

Clear the board: It’s a small and probably already used tactic, but try to be careful not to end a day with cards still to flip over – there’s a good chance they are infected. I am always managing the board down to zero – first and foremost – each day. Once that’s on track, the rest of the below falls into place.

Contain – Contain – Release: Containment is one of the options for removing the infected. It’s my preferred in many games as discarding them will bring them back next round, meaning finding that healthy person in the draw pile becomes really difficult. At first this is not so important, but as the healthy population thins out the only way to thin out the infected is to contain them. So may Day 1 and 2 other methods should be used, but then as you start to use containment you will see that you have a problem the next day – you need to re-contain last rounds infected! They don’t cause a problem that day, but at the end of it they will increase the number of infected in the draw pile. However, the trick here is that this caps out at 4; so a couple of turns of containment and then no containment will mean a big outbreak, but far below the cumulative outbreaks you could have suffered!

Watch out for end of day conditions: The biggest issue with both of the above is the risk that four hostiles or three carriers end the day early. Such outcomes lead to flipping the remaining cards and suffering outbreaks for loose infected tiles! If you start to get these piling up – look at how many cards the next player has to turn over, and start working out the odds. If it looks bad then focus on getting those cards off the board before anything else. They can end your plan early with very bad penalties.

Re-occurring Raxxon: However, watch out for the players who use actions that trigger a Raxxon card or two every turn. It might not seem like much, but especially as the game scales, this is a quick way to move Raxxon’s power to 8 and that’s game over. Delay those choices, or get those players to drop out of the day early.

Adding too many tiles: Clearing the board can be done each day, but again watch out for the player who needs to add two or more tiles a turn – they might be making the day harder to close out – if their action round won’t take three off the board, then perhaps its time for them to drop out for that day.

Clear the big row (even if you have to create it!): Lastly, using the powers efficiently is key. Crowd control and clever tile placement can create for you the really efficient evacuations or card discards that save your day! Look for these opportunities as you get the crowd under control.

Good luck!

 

 

 

Raxxon – Review

Type: Co-Operative / Tile Placement

Time to play: < 30 minutes (Teaching: 5 minutes)

Best played with: 2-4 players (Best with 2)

In the Dead of Winter series you get the full experience of the zombie apocalypse; from the outbreak of the disease to the latest war between colonies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Raxxon takes place right at the start of that sequence, and despite being only released by special promotion codes it looks like it’s set to go to full retail release later this year.

So what is this game, and why the special launch? Well, it’s a basic tile placement game where you manipulate the small grid or crowd to evacuate the healthy and either kill or contain the disease. That all sounds nice and easy, but the characters you and the team you are in are quite limited. Each attempt will take days to manipulate the crowd, and all the time the virus will grow and the power of Raxxon, the “benevolent” sponsor of this effort, will grow. If either of these threats gets out of hand, you and your team will lose.

This is a smart game of tough choices and all this happens in a relatively short play time. Each day you have a new crowd, and each day you need to clear the healthy ones. There’s a few ways to approach it and enough different characters to give you some variation in path selection. Plus, like any good co-op/solo game, this game can be made more difficult with a simple change to the set up.

Taking just the basic game mode (there’s more online from the publisher) this gives you a nice filler game which always feels in your control. There’s luck to the draw, but there’s so many ways to manage the cards that turn up, you feel that any win or loss is owed to skill and not just the turn of the cards.

The game adds to the basic swapping cards, removing cards and adding cards buy limiting each type of action and adding consequences that re-occur based on your choices. This light system of tracking and limiting choices pushes you to solve the puzzle quickly and efficiently each time.

If all of that sounds good, then perhaps you are wondering the downside? Well before the retail launch occurs; the cost for shipping for what was a reasonably priced game was a significant one. Now that’s in the past, the main issue is the replay-ability of the game. The puzzle is interesting but it’s short and whilst I have not gotten to the end of the replay value of this game, I am close.

It’s also notable that turning up the difficulty on this game doesn’t change the mechanics, or bring a new level of challenge; it brings more infected into the game. This is harder, but the concept is the same, the card counting likewise. Even the archetype of disease control, Pandemic, feels a bigger step change when you add that last epidemic.

So all-in-all, its a well balanced, highly enjoyable filler game. However, it’s value for money for the games you get, and a good limited action mechanic.

Last notes:

  • If you like quick co-operative games with easy to explain mechanics and a part of the zombie apocalypse universe
  • If you want to get a game that’s going to last through the years and give a more comic / challenging experience – I would stick with the other Dead of Winter titles
  • If you win at this game, try switching a few of the characters around and going again!

Concordia – Strategy Tips

Identical starting cards, and all starting in one place? Better get to your turn based choices then!

During the game:

Getting the colonist: Simple and straightforward; when you pick up your cards if you can’t play a colonist you have really missed a chance! Getting that tool and wheat to play that colonist opens up your warehouse and gets you expanding further across the board. If it’s not this card, you have to buy another card type and play it!

Look for short supply: At the start, the seeding of provinces is semi random, and as such you should take a quick look – what’s gone in Britain or Syria, or in other words, what is the furthest away and in short supply. Other players will build their quickly and may well Prefect it more than other regions! Being there, and being there first, will pay.

Let others Prefect for you: It’s another simple one, but if others are playing Prefect for the regions you are in then you are getting things outside of your turn. They are a bit more varied, so make sure you have one major area to build / trade from, but this is always going to help you to expand quicker and score more points.

Spreading out!: Building lots of cities is great, but it’s almost always better to spread them more. If you are only producing in two regions it’s going to take time to keep re-activating those regions due to the way the Prefect rules work. Spreading across 4+ regions is going to give you more time to allow others to re-activate all regions.

Efficient trading: You can only trade to TYPES; if you buy one and sell one, that means you need to really have a decent number of the sold good to make it worth your while. If you are the main producer of a good, you can really use this to your advantage. Secondly, trade for a few turns ahead – trade to get the city and the colonist, or the city and the card, but not just one (leaving you needing to trade again later).

The better merchant: The basic merchant gives you 3 coins, but buying the card from the board offers you that chance to trade with 5 coins. It might not be your card you need though – watch out for the chance to use your Diplomat to copy the better Merchant rather than buying an expensive one from the board.

Watch out for the cards: The normal end game is the cards; watch out if you are about to put someone in the position to finish out the game and gain that 7 point bonus. Also, watch out if you are about to make a great card, a very cheap card!

Timing the end game: This is a point optimisation but it’s hard for other people to predict the optimal move, and their optimal move may not be the same as the best move to block you. However, towards the end of the game you have cast your scoring structure and you are entrenched on the board. You need to therefore be very careful in these last few turns to points maximise based on when the end is coming. Buying to run out of goods at the end (and not one turn short or long) is tricky. If you can do this well, it might swing 10 points in a c. 100 point game.

Good luck!