15th June 2021
It's a Tuesday evening at The Sovereigns with the Woking Gaming Club. Continuing a theme, the second and concluding game of the night was another cooperative game.
Previously; we'd defended the kingdom from invaders by rolling for adventure. Now, we're going to defend the kingdom from invaders by being tiny... and epic!
What's in a game?
Like all Tiny Epic games, this comes packaged in a small, sturdy box with a bunch of tiny components.
Artwork on the region cards is nice enough and fairly evocative of their respective regions, meanwhile the art style used for the enemies and player characters reminds of art used in various fantasy videogames, which is no bad thing, it's bright and colourful, which I like.
How's it play?
On to play
To some degree, play in Tiny Epic Defenders is determined by the turn deck.
In each turn, reveal a card from the turn deck and activate it's action.
When the epic foe is revealed, the endgame is triggered. The turn deck is still used, but no new cards are added and play continues until one of the following conditions is met.
The players must reduce the epic foe's health to 0 in order to win.
If the threat level of the Capital City reaches maximum at any time during play, then the players lose.
Tiny Epic Defenders is quick to set up, learn and play, with those artefact tokens it also looks pretty cool when your ITEMeeple is tooled up.
It seems to play a little different to most other cooperative games I've encountered. Those other games tend to make players choose between working towards an objective or managing an ongoing problem of some kind. Tiny Epic Defenders' is mostly about the kingdom and characters surviving the attrition the game throws at them until the epic foe appears, then players have to balance their actions between defeating the epic foe and defending the kingdom.
Like other cooperative games, managing bad luck is vital to victory, in this case it from the turn deck.
This means it's a game about mostly adapting and optimising tactics in preparation for when the epic foe appears and I feel it's particularly important to defend against dire enemies as its the only way to earn artefacts, which can prove vital to victory.
How the turn deck works in conjunction with the horde deck seems like a clever mechanic; players will know how often they get to act and generally how many times enemies attack, but not the order. It makes the game feel like the luck mechanic isn't too unpredictable, which is no bad thing.
Adding cards from the horde deck however, introduces two further elements into this. Firstly, escalating the threat by adding more enemies and secondly, by also introducing a new random facet to the turn deck because the added cards are hidden until they're revealed.
All of this works to raise stakes and tension as the game continues.
Having said that, when defending against enemies, it felt a little unsatisfying and futile when they were only sent to the discard pile instead of being defeated outright, but I guess that's necessary for the turn deck to work.
I also found the tactics a little on the lighter side, ultimately, there were only 6 total locations that needed defending and decisions tended to be between lowering threat in a region or sitting a region waiting to defend it when it was inevitably attacked in an enemy action.
It's not a gamebreaker, I'm just not sure how well it holds up to repetitive play.
If you're looking for a fairly quick-to-play introductory cooperative game to try, you could do worse than look at Tiny Epic Defenders. Or if you like cooperative games and want something a bit lighter, it might also be for you.
30th May 2021
Sunday night gaming on Board Game Arena continues with Dragonwood.
Those woods there, there be dragons in those woods, that must be why it's named Dragonwood! There are many monsters to capture, so to assemble brave adventurers, take your cards and take your dice and head off into the forests, there're adversaries to be struck, stomped or screamed at!
Caveat: We've only ever played Dragonwood digitally online.
What's in a game?
Well, there's not much that can be said since we've only played it digitally. The art on the carts is bright, cartoonish and pleasant, text is clearly written and easy to read.
How's it play?
The objective in Dragonwood is to capture creatures cards which are worth 1-7 points each.
Each turn, the active player will have a choice of 2 actions.
Then it goes to the endgame.
Players score the victory points for each creature they captured.
The player who has captured the most creatures earns an additional 3 points.
Once points are tallied, highest score wins!
Decisions are based around how much you want or need to push your luck and when to or when not to try and capture cards, managing this is key to Dragonwood.
If a creature has a value of 10 for one of it's target numbers, then it's not hard to figure out that 4 dice will give the active player a 50% chance of capturing it and they'll need to play 4 cards to do this. 9 or lower and the odds swing in the player's favour, 11+ and well, it's not a push your luck game for nothing!
Sure, someone can play it safe and draw cards to get better odds, but this consumes turns while instead, competitors could be capturing those creatures. A handful of adventurer cards scores nothing at the game's end.
Conversely, rashly trying to capture cards and failing will cost players their adventurer cards, it's a clever little balancing mechanic.
Even though the decision to capture a card or not is a simple, almost no brainer decision, the need to outdo other players generally means it never quite a meaningless one.
We found that acquiring enhancements early on (If they appear early on that is.) could be a big advantage. There are enhancements that add 1 or 2 to capture rolls, it might not seem like much, but in a game about averaged dice rolls, it can swing the odds quite a lot.
It's obvious that Dragonwood is a light game that skews towards younger players and with that in mind, I don't think it's appropriate to be overly harsh on it.
With it's fairly simplistic choices and reliance on randomness, fans of 'heavy' games probably won't find much to engage with here, unless they're looking looking for a undemanding filler for around 30 minutes to allow their brains to cool down between other, heavier games.
However, I do think that younger players will find the game enjoyable and dice rolling exciting, casual gamers may also find it entertaining.
30th May 2021
It's a Sunday and I'm logged on to Board Game Arena on my PC, time for the first game of the night.
Monk Tybor Kwelein had spent his life cataloguing the 4 kingdoms of plants, fungi, insects and animals in the pages of the titular Codex Naturalis. Now he is no longer with us, will one-to-four other people take up the mantle and carry on his work in the form of a neat little card game.
What's in a game?
Codex Naturalis is a card game and unsurprisingly, has a lot of cards. All the cards are about half the size of normal playing cards which is sensible, as otherwise the game would have a massive footprint, most of the cards share some similar features.
The scoring board and tokens are pretty standard quality game components and perfectly acceptable.
The cards feel very thick and sturdy (Maybe because of the smaller size?) and seem to be made to a high standard, all the gold cards and numerous resource cards are embossed in actual gold foil, which is a really nice touch and despite their small size, most of the cards all have charming, highly detailed monochrome illustrations themed by their colour. Finally, all the cards are coated in a glossy finish.
The only criticism I have is of the small symbols at the bottom of the gold cards, they are quite small and some players have complaint that it can be hard to discern between the symbols, particularly the blue and the green.
Otherwise, these are some of the highest quality card components I've seen and it all comes wrapped up in a compact tin.
How's it play?
The objective in Codex Naturalis is to create an expanding spread of overlapping cards in their playing area. The basic process of actions to achieve this in Codex Naturalis is simple, a player plays a card, then draws a card, of course there's more to it than that.
points, this card probably scores the most if you can manage to fill the doughnut hole!
Play continues one player's score reaches 20 or more, then the endgame is triggered.
After the endgame is triggered, the current round is completed, then one final round is played.
After this, players count the score from the cards they've played and then calculates the score they get from completing both common objectives and their secret objective.
Score are tallied and highest score wins!
Codex Naturalis has simple rules, but also a fairly deep level of gameplay. Despite only having a hand of 3 cards, players are given a wide variety of choices and strategies to pursue when placing cards.
A lot of this comes from the objectives, you'll obviously need to play gold cards to score but it's important not to ignore objectives, scoring from the gold cards will generally put your score into the low-to-mid 20s, but objectives which are scored after the end and can push your score higher, especially since they can be scored multiple times. That everyone has a secret objectives means that the final outcome is not known until the final scoring and keeps the stakes high.
Players must also learn to manage their hands and objectives, there are 4 colours of card, but only 2 of each type of card is ever displayed face-up, it's likely that player's won't always see the cards they need.
Codex Naturalis can also give players agonizing choices because they'll frequently be given the option to cover up a resource or objective symbol with the corner of another card. When that symbol is covered up, it's gone for the rest of the game, forcing players to choose which to prioritise. Only symbols that appear in the middle in of a card cannot be covered.
Finally, because face-up cards never have more than 3 visible corners, players will need to think how to place cards with future placement in mind, the visible corner of a card can be 'locked' by placing another card with a hidden corner adjacent to it. This essentially ends that line of expansion, which can limit options later on.
Codex Naturalis is a little too long for a filler and perhaps a little too short for a main game, which is only a minor quibble really. Otherwise, I found it to be a solid, easy-to-learn, mid-to-light game with good replay value and high production values.
Definitely worth a try.
23rd May 2021
It's a Sunday and I'm logged into Skype and Board Game Arena, ready for an evening of gaming.
The first game of the night was Happy City, a cheerful looking, light engine-building card game about building up a city, a happy city no less.
Caveat: We've only played this game digitally on Board Game Arena.
What's in a game?
Symbols are clear and easy to read.
How's it play?
At it's core, Happy City is a tableau-building game, adding cards increases income or score.
In Happy City, the starting player's first turn is slightly different to subsequent turns, as explained below.
Happy City has 2 levels of play; family & expert. This blog describes the family version.
The expert game differs in 2 ways.
All the happy market cards are flipped to their differently coloured sides and laid out, then the players draft one to become the starting card in their tableau and giving them some choice in how they start the game.
Special buildings also differ; the family Special cards give players a boost to their income, happiness or population. The expert special cards however, are different, they confer different benefits, sometimes variable and situational.
The game continues until a player has 10 cards in their tableau, upon which the current round continues until all players have had an equal number of turns.
Each player's score is calculated by multiplying the total value of happiness symbols in their tableau by all the population symbols.
Highest score wins.
Gameplay in Happy City gives players the choice between increasing income or accumulating happiness/population. Income will give the player more buying power but happiness/population contributes towards the end score.
Having 3 decks of building cards at different cost ranges is an interesting mechanic when it comes to drawing cards. The player will always have the option to draw 1 or 2 cards, higher level cards will be better, but may prove more risky to draw. E.g., If a player has 4 coins, drawing a level 1 card will be safe as level 1 cards only cost 1-3 coins each, level 2 cards cost 4-5 coins, so there's a risk that a level 2 card will be unaffordable and will have been drawn pointlessly. It can give players a quandary when drawing building cards.
The game's scoring mechanic also adds an extra layer to decisions, failing to pay attention to how the points are spread between happiness/population can lead to lost scoring opportunities.
While Happy City is simple to learn, enjoyable and fast to play, making it a good filler game, it's perhaps also a little too basic for dedicated gamers. After a few games it was fairly easy to spot an optimal strategy to pursue and it became a race to develop that strategy. So I feel that the game doesn't offer a lot of longevity.
Ultimately, because it's such a light game, it's probably a good game for families or more casual players which is probably who the game is aimed at.
We also played the expert level a few times but felt like it added little to the game.
The varied happy markets are nice and offered a little extra strategy but the expert level special cards weren't so good. The problem was that they seemed harder to acquire than the family special cards, which meant they were acquired later in the game and therefore their benefits were limited, we found it wasn't worth specifically trying to get one, getting one by happenstance was fine, but then that sort of makes having a choice of starting happy market card pointless.
We enjoyed the family version more.
The family version is a game I'd play, but not too often.
18th May 2021
Lockdown restrictions are easing and we're meeting at Simon's on a Tuesday IN PERSON for the first time THIS YEAR!
Today's game was Arkham Horror: The Card Game, you too can have fun watching your character's inevitable spiral into madness as they get caught up in unsettling investigations and tangle with unspeakable Lovecraftian horrors through the medium of flipping over cards!
What's in a game?
The first thing to say about Arkham Horror: The Card Game is that it's actually a Living Card Game, what does this mean? It means it's a game that has lots of expansions, extra character decks, add-ons and so on. This is Simon's game and I have no idea what packs were used, but it doesn't really matter for the purposes of this blog post.
Unsurprisingly, most of the game's components consist of various types of cards.
All of the tokens and cards are made to the typical quality that are expected from games nowadays.
From the cards that I did get to see, they contain a lot of high quality artwork. Iconography is generally easy to read.
How's it play?
In Arkham Horror: The Card Game player's take the role of characters investigating into the Cthulhu Mythos through the form of scenarios and campaigns in a RPG-esque experience that shares the same setting as the seminal Call of Cthulhu RPG.
On to play
Broadly speaking, the objective for the investigators is to accumulate clue tokens by moving from location to location and also advancing the act deck. How is this done? Read on.
In Arkham Horror: The Card Game, a round is divided into 4 phases.
Ending conditions will vary from scenario to scenario, generally play continues until the characters are defeated or certain conditions dictated by either the act or agenda deck are met.
There are also various levels or winning or losing, depending on the scenario and what players accomplish during the game, this is especially true during campaign play, where different win or loss conditions will lead to different, branching scenarios as a result.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game has some interesting gameplay dynamics, the exploration and investigation elements blend quite well the unpredictable changes brought about by the changing of the agenda and act decks. Players can't take anything for granted as twists and unexpected events occur. Challenges and enemies provided by the encounter deck are varied and interesting.
Finally, I like how the chaos bag works, I like how it's stacked against the characters and playing skill and event cards is how tests are overcome, it's suitably pessimistic. I also like how the bag's effect on gameplay can be tailored and can evolve over a campaign. It's a nice mechanic.
This brings me to the campaign play, campaign scenarios seem to feature at least 3-4 outcomes that influence the next scenario with interesting changes, which is pretty good.
Characters also earn experience points from scenarios, these points can be used to buy better cards to swap into the player deck, progressively making characters better.
Being a living card game, there are a lot of accessories, expansions and extra campaigns available to purchase, these can extend the game
Rules-wise, there are a lot of rules in Arkham Horror: The Card Game about specific situations and events. Despite this, as a game it's actually in some ways fairly straightforward, player's have three actions to perform per round, that never quite feels like enough, which makes you have to prioritise and try to come up with optimal strategies, which is a good thing.
However, like other games I've played that try to provide GM-less RPG-like gameplay, the game gets fiddly and complex when managing 'GM' elements and this seems to be where the bulk of the rules are applied, especially to enemy behaviour.
It seems like a lot of effort for what somehow ultimately feels a little bit like average gameplay. The rules and glossary run to over 30 pages, in contrast, there're Cthulhu Mythos inspired pen and paper RPGS that have lower page counts.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy playing Arkham Horror: The Card Game because I did, I'm just glad that I played with someone familiar with the game.
24th March 2021
It's a Wednesday evening and I'm logged into Zoom and Board Game Arena on my PC.
It was time for a game that spanned the ages and the creation of massive monuments and the civilisations they represented. Luckily, it doesn't take that long to play 7 Wonders!
Caveat: We played the game online but have previously played the physical copy. Photos were taken for this blog post.
What's in a game?
The purpose of the game is for each player to create their own civilisation through the construction of various types of buildings and ultimately create one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.
7 Wonders is card game played over 3 sets of rounds (or ages). Each age has its own set of cards which are used. There are numerous types of cards, some of these types can be more or less common in different ages.
The text and icons are all mostly clear (I tended to confuse stone and ore icons, because the ore icon looks like a pile of stone to me.), the symbology used for special rules on cards is also generally clear, the rulebook does a good job on clarifying these in cases of confusion.
I also like how the layout allows cards to be more or less stacked while still displaying pertinent information.
In terms of art quality, the wonder boards are quite large and very nicely decorated in eye-catching illustrations of the 7 titular wonders. Art on the cards are of a similar quality but obviously on a smaller scale.
How's it play?
7 Wonders is a 3-7 player game but also contains some special rules to allow 2 player games. This blog post talks about the normal 3-7 player game.
On to play
Each player in 7 Wonders is neighboured by a player to their left and right; why this is important will be explained below.
Each player takes a card from their hand and plays face down in front of them, then they pass the remaining cards clockwise to the next player, the direction of play alternates between rounds.
Once every player has chosen a card, all player then simultaneously reveal their card, plays it and executes one of the 3 actions below.
Once all players have completed their action, everyone picks up their new hand of cards and play continues as described until all players have used 6 cards each, the 7th card is never used and is discarded out of the game. The game has reached the end of the round, now conflicts are resolved.
Once conflict has been resolved for age 3, the game is over only scoring is left.
Victory points can be scored from a variety of sources, once these are tallied, highest score wins.
I'm going to nit-pick a couple of things about 7 Wonders.
Set up feels a little long for a game that's quite short, having to sift through all 3 decks at the game start feels irritating, probably because there's 3 decks to construct instead of 1 and if the player count changes between games, then all 3 decks will need to be rebalanced.
The game is quite involved and perhaps a little too complicated for its expected playtime. I found myself frequently forgetting the rule about chaining buildings
Scoring is convoluted, specifically scoring the scientific cards where each symbol will scored twice. I wouldn't be surprised that more time was spent making sure this was correct than the rest of the scoring.
Like other drafting games of this style, early in the game players will struggle to decide what's going to be important to them or not, but by looking at their wonder board, players will see what they need to build their wonder and what benefits it gives them as some guidance.
One interesting feature about 7 Wonders is how players can pay to utilise their neighbours resources and goods and of course, players will want to keep and eye on their neighbours' military forces. It's a nice little spin that adds to the game.
Since there are 7 ways to score points, players will have a lot of options on which strategy to pursue.
For example, civic buildings give a lot of victory points, but nothing else.
Military strength can score a lot of points (and cost your neighbours a few), but only if you dominate, getting caught in a war of escalation can be distracting and costly.
Quibbles aside, 7 Wonders is a straightforward game to learn that has a quick turnaround and is a fun game to play, players will want to strategize, but the luck of the draw means they will need to adapt to circumstances.
The game always provides players with meaningful choices, which is what you want.
22nd March 2021
Monday night gaming on Board Game Arena continues with the final game of the evening; Sushi Go!
Like sushi? Like conveyor belts? Then you'll like this.... probably!
Caveat: This was played online, but has also been played with the physical game, photos are from my copy.
What's in a game?
Sushi Go! comprises of a single deck of 108 cards with 8 different types of cards.
The art is clear, distinct and colourful with appropriately themed cheerful faces on all the foods.
My copy came in a little steel tin.
The only component that the game is lacking are scoring counters, as it stands, scores at the end of each round need to be recorded somehow on scrap paper or a phone or something. On the other hand, adding scoring tokens would increase the game's size, making it less of a neat compact little package, so your mileage may vary.
How's it play?
Shuffle and deal a hand of cards face-down to each player, the hand size depends on the number of players, the remaining cards form a draw deck for later rounds, then the game is ready to begin.
On to play
Once the 3rd round is over and scored, the puddings are scored.
Scores are tallied, highest score wins.
As you can see from the short length of this blog post, Sushi Go!'s rules are simple, accessible and easy to learn. The game's depth comes not from rules complexity but from decisions available to each player, which is great game design in my opinion.
The game also fits the theme of having food going round on a conveyor belt remarkably well.
Sushi Go! constantly forces players to make decisions and some of these decisions will be gambles, based on the hope that another right card will come around further along the game.
Players will also get the right card at the right time on random occasion, but this isn't perceived as a no-brainer, they're seen as spots of good luck to be exploited.
Canny players will try to memorise hands that get passed along, they might also spend time looking at what cards others have put down, trying to predict their decisions. If 2 players look like they're trying to collect the same set of cards, then they're going to be a premium and those players aren't going to pass those cards on.
Then there's puddings, the wrinkle in the rules that produces the pudding war of escalation that forces players to think about what cards might be played in the future rounds and play cards just to avoid losing points!
It makes Sushi Go! a blend of calculation and unpredictability. There is no winning strategy, players must adapt to not only the cards dealt to all players but other player's strategies
Sushi Go! comes in compact package, is easy to learn, quick to set up and play and enjoyable experience. A great filler game.
14th March 2020
It's a Sunday night, I'm on my PC in my living, logged on to Zoom and the Tabletopia website.
In Paleo each player controls a tribe of cavemen and is a cooperative card about life & times in a prehistoric times. According to Paleo, our caveman ancestors were pretty obsessed with woolly mammoths, either chasing or running away from them!
Caveat: Paleo was played virtually on the Tabletopia website, so I cannot attest to the quality or lack of regarding the components.
What's in a game?
Paleo is a card game with a lot of different types of cards, the majority are encounter cards (Explained Below) but not all cards and tokens are used in every game.
Paleo uses a base set of encounter cards and also employs a module system which determines which other sets of cards are used, each game uses 2 modules from a selection of 10, this will also affect the games difficulty. The rules suggest combinations to use for easier and harder games ranging from 1 to 7 in difficulty. Ultimately you can even choose your own set ups. Modules can add a narrative flavour to the game as most modules are themed.
How's it play?
Paleo is played over any number of rounds, each round has a day phase and a night phase. The vast majority of gameplay occurs during the day phase, the night phase is mostly for managing what happened during the previous phase.
What actions a player can under take will depend on the situation and what encounters they errr.... encounter!
Play continues during the day phase until all player tribes have gone to sleep, the day phase is now over and the night phase commences.
The night phase is much shorter than the day.
All tribes must collectively discard an amount of food equal to the number of people cards in all their tribes. If they cannot manage this, a skull is added to the night board.
Furthermore they must also meet the conditions required on the 2 module specific missions. Each one they fail adds another skull to the night board.
Once the night phase is concluded, all the cards on the discard board are put into a single deck, shuffled and dealt out to the players again, then the next day phase begins.
Play continues until the players have accumulated all 5 victory tokens, in which case they immediately all win.
If 5 skull tokens are placed on to the night board, then the players immediately lose.
Some mystery cards may contain alternate ways to win the game.
First thing I'm going to talk about are 2 interlinked mechanics.
The exploration mechanic of drawing 3 face-down cards and choosing one from the card back is excellent. It feels a bit like exploring, does a player choose to go to the forest or the mountains? They'll have a pretty good idea what to expect but it's not guaranteed. They most likely will get the wood or stone or whatever they're looking for but they might encounter a rockfall or a dangerous animal.
Additionally, players will also get an idea of what's coming in future turns
It's a great mechanic.
The other equally great mechanic is how each player's own deck also represents their tribe's time & energy, completing encounters frequently forces a player to discard 1 or 2 cards from their deck, so when it's depleted - so is the tribe for the day. When the game begins on day 1, players will have 15 cards, so it's possible to burn through a deck very quickly, why is that significant?
Essentially the encounter deck is another resource that needs to be managed. In most games, my instinct would be to gather as much food/wood/stone/resource as possible but in Paleo you sometimes have to fight that urge. You have to ask the question, what resource do I really need?
For example; near the end of a day I had 3 cards left, 2 in my deck and a forest encounter. Turning the card over, I had the option to discard 2 cards for 3 wood, 1 card for one wood or help another tribe. The others didn't need help from me, so I was free to collect wood but collecting 3 wood would send my tribe to bed. Because we knew the top 2 cards on everyone's deck, I knew that another player potentially had a mammoth hunt coming and would probably need help. We didn't need the wood for now so I chose to ignore my card and I also ignored my other 2 encounter cards just so my tribe would be around for 3 more turns to help other tribes if needed. Realising this gave me an appreciation of the game's subtleties.
As well as managing encounters, players will need to ensure they generate enough resources to pass the night as well manage discoveries and crafting.
Creating a few tools gives the game a good sense of progress as it increases the capabilities of a tribe significantly. You can almost feel a the game transition from scrabbling to survive encounters to being able to go on mammoth hunts, it's quite gratifying to complete encounters that had to be ignored earlier in the game.
Like all good games, collectively there were always meaningful decisions to make. Before long we learnt that we needed to communication and coordinate on which encounter cards to keep and when they were then revealed we frequently had to coordinate on which encounters to complete, rarely did all players manage to individually complete their encounters.
For example; if all players for some reason chose mammoth hunt encounters, it would be most likely that all bar one would be ignored. Mammoth hunts generally required a lot of strength thus cooperation but also gave significant rewards, including on occasion victory tokens. Coordination is vital and it feels like players coordinating.
As a result I liked Paleo quite a lot, it's a game I'd happily play again.
27th October 2020
Gaming night at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking continues in what would the last game of the last meetup before Lockdown 2 came into effect.
The third and final game of the evening was 'Skulls of Sedlec', in what seems to be a game about digging up skulls and then errr... proudly displaying them in a pile for all to see?
Skulls of Sedlec is a microgame that comes from microgame publisher Button Shy who appear to specialise in creating games with 18 cards.
Their games are hand crafted and they aim to release 1 a month.
What's in a game?
As is befitting the name microgame, Skulls of Sedlec is small enough to fit in your pocket.
The wallet is of course a bit of a gimmick, but it's a nice addition and I like it.
How's it play?
The objective of Skulls of Sedlec is to create a pyramid shaped layout of cards. Points are scored depending on how cards are placed in relation to other cards.
The size of the pyramid depends on the number of players but always has 3 layers of cards and thus 6 layers of skulls. Layers of cards are 'offset' (Like bricks in a wall.), this is important when calculating which cards are 'adjacent' to other cards.
On to playing
When 'building' a pyramid, players must start at the bottom and work up, thus there must be at least 2 cards in a layer before a card can be placed on the layer above.
In their turn, a player can perform 1 of 3 actions.
Play continues until all cards have been taken and played into pyramids.
Then pyramids are scored, there are 5 class of skull and thus 5 ways to score points.
Highest score wins.
Simple to learn, but lots to think about. Skulls of Sedlec packs a some solid gameplay into a tiny package.
I really like that the face-down stacks of cards visually represent a graveyard and 'digging' turns them over. It's a clever touch and good example of maximising what's available in a game. Less can be more.
The 2 card hand limit is a great mechanic too: It gives players enough choice to give them tricky decisions, but it stops players from hording cards - making their decisions easier.
Every card can potentially score points, so every decision when playing a card is meaningful and you really can't ask for more from a game in my opinion.
Skulls of Sedlec is a 2 or 3 player game. It's worth noting that that there's an expansion that takes the player count to 4, adds a new class and increases the deck size up to a heady 24 cards!
A good little microgame that is a perfect filler with some depth. One I'd like to own and that's not just because it comes in a neat wallet (Although it does add to the appeal.).
I'm just glad that the publisher hasn't started numbering their wallet games, that would be too hard on my real wallet!
6th October 2020
For the first time in nearly 7 months we're in Woking at 'The Sovereigns'. The last we were here was the 17th March!
The Woking Gaming Club isn't really back up-and-running yet, but a few of us have raised our heads above the parapets to wave the flag and of course; play some games.
The first game of the night was 'Medium', a light word-association card game.
What's in a game?
How's it play?
Before play begins the deck must be created, the number of cards used depends on the number of players. The deck is shuffled and the 3 crystal ball cards are shuffled into the bottom third of this deck.
6 cards are then deal to each player.
Finally, the scoring tokens are laid out with the scores face down and the 1, 2 and 3 numbers displayed.
Play continues until the 3rd crystal ball card is drawn, which triggers the endgame. The game then continues until the current round is completed and all players have had an equal number of turns.
Each player then tallies up the scores from the tokens to their left and right, highest score wins!
There's not much to say. As you can see from above, Medium is a light game that may appeal to casual players, it is a game that can be quickly learnt.
It's not a deep game either, random chance can play a part and sometimes you'll get 2 words that have no obvious commonality. There is some room for strategy in Medium though. The player that goes 2nd will have the opportunity to play a hopefully suitable second word.
We didn't play the game extensively, but it seemed if a common word wasn't guessed first time, the 2nd and 3rd guesses weren't going to be any better.
It's a strangely stressful game, I think it's because your guess will also affect your partner's score.
Conversely; when it's not your time, observing how other people play is fun.
One potential issue was the scoring, each 'level' of scoring has a 1-point variation in its score and some people are not fond of it. We house ruled it and used the other side of the tokens for scoring, a successful first guess would get 3 points, down to 1 for a successful 3rd guess.
If you like somewhat stressful word-association games, then you might like this. Easy to learn and play, it's a reasonable little filler game.
I play, I paint.