14th May 2022
It's a Saturday and I'm in Aldershot after a impromptu get together with some friends.
Flip City AKA Design Town is a light and uncomplicated push-your-luck deck building game about developing a city.
What's in a game?
The cards are all the standard quality you'd expect from a card game.
The game uses brightly coloured stylised art throughout and I always like this kind of artwork and I think it looks good here.
additionally, the cards can be placed next to each to make a city landscape. Yes, it's unnecessary but it's a nice touch and shows some extra thought has gone into the presentation.
Flip City uses some iconography, but all of it is clear and easily learned or understood.
How's it play?
On to play
Each's active player's turn will consist of up to 2 phases, a play cards phase in which they play as many cards as they want or go bust and a buying phase.
Play continues until 1 of 2 winning criteria is met.
Flip City describes itself as a microdeckbuilder and it's not really wrong. Most deck-builders come with a supply-market of 10 card types or so but Flip City makes do with 4 types (5 if you include the micro-expansion), although they are double-sided, so there are actually 10 types of card. Even so, it's a very compact feeling game.
For me however, where Flip City differentiates itself from other games of its kind is the implementation of a push-your-luck mechanic.
It works well here, especially in conjunction with meeting the winning conditions, essentially forcing players to continue drawing cards and pushing their luck until they either have 8 VPs or 18 cards in play.
As a result, Flip City is a little different to many deck-builders, which at their core are more-or-less about creating cash-generating engines to purchase cards that will earn them more cash during the early-game or VPs during late-game play.
In Flip City, generating cash is still important because it allows players to acquire more cards but some of those cards will have to work towards being able to draw 8 VPs or 18 cards.
Flip City is a quirky, charming, fairly light and quick to play pocket-sized deck-builder that presents players with some meaningful paths to winning and choices as well as some unusual game play and a nice little risk-and-reward mechanic.
Given it's light nature, I'm not sure how the game will hold up to repeated play but that's sort of missing the point. This is a fun filler game that is good to ply every once in a while.
It's worth a try and if deck-builders are you thing, then this will probably appeal to you.
13th May 2022
Friday the 13th continues and we in Farnborough for some more after work gaming goodness.
Many games have small components that could be considered choking hazards, that however is not the case with... Joking Hazard, a game inspired by the Cyanide & Happiness comic strip.
What's in a game?
There's not much more to say about the cards, they're quality is pretty good, considering the game's origin, the artwork is exactly what is expected and the game uses no iconography.
How's it play?
On to play
Individual cards in Joking hazard essentially have no context and this is a game about putting them into context by constructing jokes out of 3 comic panels, only the comic panels will be to some degree randomly created.
The first player to win 3 points, wins!
Joking Hazard is an accessible party game that can be played by up to 10 participants and is equal parts mildly amusing and mildly offensive. Well... as offensive as the Cyanide & Happiness comic it's based on. So I guess if you're easily offended, you might want to give this a miss.
From a gameplay perspective, you would be forgiven for thinking Joking Hazard is just the same as other 'you be the judge' games. However, Joking Hazard differs because individual cards have no context. There is no statement A and answer B. The players create context themselves, which gives the game a slight edge.
Is it any good though? The answer is; sort of, which to be honest, is not a good answer really and a bit of a cop-out.
But the truth is; this games clearly sits in the domain of beer-and-pretzels. If you're going to be playing it with a bunch of slightly dour-faced gamers who usually play 6 hour empire building, resource managing, epoch spanning games, no one's going to enjoy this.
However, if you play it with some work colleagues or non-gamers who's only understanding of games is 'Is it like monopoly?' then they'll probably have a blast, especially if they've had a drink or two and that's who the game is targeted anyway.
13th May 2022
Friday the 13th! And I'm in Farnborough with work colleagues for some gaming fun.
Viva la resistance! Will you overthrow the tyrannical oppressive government or welcome your new overlords? Let the cards decide.
Resistance is a hidden role card game that is also the predecessor of Arthurian themed The Resistance: Avalon and as such is mechanically almost identical to that game. In fact The Resistance or at least the basic version of it is actually a simpler game than The Resistance: Avalon.
Reading my blog about The Resistance: Avalon will tell you everything you need to know about The Resistance. A full write-up here would be pointless.
There's only 1 notable difference: The basic version of The Resistance only has 2 role cards, resistance fighter and spy. Otherwise the games play identically.
At the start, each player is given a secret role as a resistance fighter or spy. The key thing here is that the spies know who each other are and are trying to sabotage the missions while the resistance fighters are trying to uncover the spies.
The mission leader chooses a team and all players vote on whether to approve or reject that team. When a team is finally chosen, they all go on the mission. This involves the team voting on whether a mission succeeds or not. Resistance fighters must choose to succeed at missions but spies can choose to either succeed or fail.
All of these decisions and voting are done in secret and resistance fighter will need to watch the voting, who votes in what and the outcomes of the voting. Spies will need to be patient, revealing their hand too early will flush them out.
If by then of the fifth mission, the spies have not sabotaged 3 missions, then the resistance wins. If 3 missions are sabotaged
There's not too much to add here, everything I said about The Resistance: Avalon also applies here, but that was sometime ago and I can't remember exactly what I said. So I'll summarise here.
Mechanically, The Resistance is pretty solid with a easily understood set of rules that give opportunities for lying, deception and deduction. There's nothing to fault there.
The quality of the game though, comes almost entirely from the participants.
Players who love to bluff and mess with other players will revel here and be in their element. Whilst those who aren't fans of this type of game are likely to find it slightly uncomfortable, won't enjoy it and thus probably won't play it as well.
So if you're fan of hidden role games and are playing with like-minded people, The Resistance is definitely worth trying.
30th April 2022
It's a Saturday afternoon and Wogglecon 3 with the Woking Gaming Club is in full swing.
The next game of the day was Machi Koro 2 which is the follow up to the most excellent original Mach Koro and which you can read about here.
Like its predecessor, Machi Koro 2 is a tableau and engine building card game all about constructing a city,
What's in a game?
Components in Machi Koro 2 are all good. The cards are pretty standard cards as you'd expect. The coins feel solid and the dice are slightly larger than usual dice, they're plastic but also rounded, chunky and have a bit of heft to them.
Machi Koro 2 uses an art style that's identical to the original. Brightly coloured stylised almost cartoony illustrations of establishments and landmarks. The colours are very distinct, which is good because colour plays an important part in the game.
There are a few icons in Machi Koro 2, for the different types of establishment and types of effects on landmarks. It's all pretty clear what they mean and it won't provide an problems for players.
How's it play?
On to play
Machi Koro 2 uses the traditional turn order with the active player playing their turn before the the player to their left becomes the active player.
During their turn, the active player has 3 phases to play through.
When any player purchases their 3rd landmark, they immediately win the game.
Machi Koro 2 is a that's fairly easy to pick up and play light-to-mid weight game that has a quick playtime.
The game generally presents players mostly straightforward but meaningful decisions about buying cards.
Should a player spread their cards over a range of numbers to get better coverage, or concentrate on fewer numbers but getter pay outs when the numbers come up.
Players will also need to consider what those numbers are. e.g., 6-8 will come up most often - provided players are rolling 2 dice have a good chance of being activated.
Speaking of rolling dice, in Machi Koro 2 players are able to choose to roll 1 or 2 right from the start. This is another decision that players can make, sometimes they'll want to roll certain numbers or avoiding rolling them and using 1 or 2 dice can alter odds of doing this.
Much of this ties in with how the activation numbers are distributed across the cards. A lot of the 1-6 cards will immediately generate cash but the cards that combo off of them tend to be in the 7-12 range. Going to 2 dice was described by a player as 'going up a gear'.
It can be pretty hard to slowly build up cash over rounds to get landmarks because other players can essentially 'nickel and dime' it away, gearing up makes it easier to get big cash in a single roll to avoid this.
And talking of nickel and diming, another strategy to consider is the red card strategy.
Using red cards to fleece other players of their coins is a pretty effective strategy, it denies them coins and earns them at the same time - but you won't make any friends that way!
The downside of this approach is that canny players will try their best to spend all their coins, the game's timing explicitly states that red activations occur before any other, thus if opponents have no coins, you can't collect them with a red since their blues/greens/purples activate after red.
It means that in a quirky reflection of real cities, players will want to be as close to bankruptcy as possible!
Unlike blue/green cards, reds are not guaranteed to generate income.
Machi Koro 2 is a little on the light side (Not that I consider that an issue.) and perhaps a little too quick to end, which may not be to everyone's taste.
One other thing to mention is that there's definitely a dollop of luck to the game, I'm fine with it and actually think it's an important part of the Machi Koro experience but some players will find this off putting.
I do have a couple of relatively minor issues with Machi Koro 2.
In the original Machi Koro, the card variety in the base game was fairly low, when 'The Harbour' expansion was added to the base game, Machi Koro went from being a 'nice' game to a 'great' game.
I feel the same is true of Machi Koro 2 as well. There are only 20 different types of establishment and 10 will be visible right from the start. After playing a few games, players will have more or less seen everything the game has to offer at a basic level and and will habitually fall into familiar patterns or strategies depending how establishments emerge. An expansion would shake that up, I would love to see extra cards for Machi Koro 2.
Finally, the rules for landmarks having actions that all players can activate in their turn is a little inelegant, requiring players to remember what landmarks other players have acquired or be reminded of them by those other players.
Otherwise, I think Machi Koro 2 an un-taxing (Sic.) fun and breezy game to play that's worth trying if lighter games are your thing.
How does it compare to Machi Koro?
I've heard Machi Koro 2 described as Machi Koro 1.5 and there's definitely a sliver of truth to that. Anyone who's played the original will be familiar with nearly everything in Machi Koro 2. If it's not broken...
So apparently there was also some criticism of the original where it was stated that there was a lot 'whiff' in the early game - where players would roll the dice and nothing would be activated. There was further criticism that the original had too long a play time.
It's clear that Machi Koro has tried to address these issues.
The 3 rounds of buying will allow players to have a better spread of numbers at the start.
Having to only buy 3 landmarks will also make play quicker (Although the cheaper landmarks are way more expensive than the cheapest landmarks from the original.).
Landmarks with ongoing effects that activate in any player's turn also make the game quicker and can add an extra layer of interaction between players, although I've frequently seen players avoid these cards, instead optioning for once-only landmarks and I sort of feel that way myself.
This is the only thing I see as a possible misstep.
Changes to the game have made the red cards a bit more powerful, there's little opportunity to punish players who buy red cards in Machi Koro 2, other than one of the landmarks (Machi Koro had the publisher card to do this.). I don't think this is too much of change though and YMMV.
So anyway, all of this makes the game clearly quicker to play but I feel that perhaps it's a little too quick. Sometimes (Especially when someone gets a good roll or two.) a game can be over before players can adopt an emergent strategy.
I never found that the original was overlong.
Don't let this put you off playing Machi Koro 2, it's of a similar quality as they original. Even though I own the first game, I was happy to buy and play the second and would recommend it to players of the original as well as to people who have never played it.
20th April 2022
It's a Wednesday and we're round Simon's for an evening of gaming.
Unlock! The Escape Game are a series of games drawing inspiration from escape room games and as you'll have gathered from the name, Star Wars: Unlock is a Star Wars themed Unlock! game.
Time to escape Star Wars!
Note: Unlock! games come with 3 scenarios and in the case of Star Wars: Unlock!, we played the Secret Mission on Jedha scenario, one of the harder scenarios and which involved being nasty Imperial spies running round a desert.
What's in a game?
Star Wars: Unlock! is a card game with a map, quality wise it's exactly what you would expect of cards and a small paper map, which is to say; perfectly acceptable.
Art-wise, like all Star Wars licensed games I've seen, the quality is consistently high throughout. I don't know whether the art was created specifically for this game or was sourced from what must be a huge archive of art that has been produced and accumulated over the decades but regardless, it's all looks good and has a appropriately Star Wars feel to it
A few icons are used throughout the game, they're pretty clear and self-evident, I can't imagine they would prove an obstacle to players.
How's it play?
On to play
Star Wars: Unlock! is all about discovery and deciphering clues which will eventually lead to the scenario's conclusion. Functionally, the game works a little like a gamebook where players would get to choose which numbered paragraph to read, except in this game it's done with numbered cards instead of paragraphs. There's also a bit more to Star Wars: Unlock! than most gamebooks though, especially in relation to how the app is utilised.
It's tricky to describe how the game plays, especially without some sort of spoiler but basically, the players collectively try to solve the puzzles presented to them.
What follows are descriptions for actions players can take.
There's no way to lose Star Wars: Unlock! per se, when the countdown reaches 0 it instead simply goes into 'negative time'.
After reaching a scenario's conclusion, the app will then rate the player's collective performance from 1-5.
Computer says you get only 1 Star!
Star Wars: Unlock! pulls some clever tricks with how it uses cards and how it combines them with the app to provide some engaging obstacles to overcome.
We're not geniuses by any stretch but nor are thick, so for the most part the scenario was well balanced, we were stumped for a while on a couple of occasions and referred to the app's hint system for a card once. Otherwise the game was more or less straightforward.
The play time is fairly brisk in Star Wars: Unlock! with players facing with some unusual problems to solve while under the pressure of a ticking clock.
The box states that 1-6 people can play but I'm sceptical about this. I just don't think that there's enough to do to occupy 4 people, let alone 6! By the the game's very nature, there tends to be a lot interconnectivity between cards and the clues they represent. This means that it's not particularly conducive for solving challenges to split cards between players and as a result, the cards will tend to be be hogged by some players while others are left twiddling their thumbs.
Playing with 3 people might be OK, 2 players and you're golden.
I'm also not a fan of app-driven games and licensed ones even less so: Eventually that game license will eventually and what happens to the apps distribution then?
Having said that, there's little replay value to the game, once all 3 scenarios are completed successfully, players will have no reason to return to the game.
Putting those (Non game.) criticisms aside, if you like puzzles and problem-solving, then this may well appeal to you and if you also like Star Wars, then doubly so. Especially since it's also a fairly accessible crossover or gateway game the could attract fans who are non-gamers.
15th April 2022
It's a Friday and we're logged into Board Game Arena for some afternoon gaming.
Take a road trip across America, visit the landmarks, go wildlife spotting, play some sports, end where you started? Send a postcard (Or write a letter from America.), walk 500 miles, maybe walk 500 more...
OK, enough of the tenuous references.
Boomerang: USA combines set collecting and roll and write mechanics into a point salad of a scoring game.
Caveat: We've only ever played Boomerang: USA digitally.
What's in a game?
The only artwork in the game appears on the 28 cards and is obviously referencing the locations the cards represent. It's pretty artwork too, with blue skies and bright colours.
Using letters/symbols for cities is a smart move and easily understood. Boomerang: USA makes use of 4 types of sets to collect and each set will feature its own range of icons, it means that the game has a fairly large array of icons. Luckily, it's clear which icons belong to which set and players don't need to reference a rulebook to know what they mean since the game is about matching icons in their respective sets.
How's it play?
Boomerang: USA is played over 4 rounds and uses a drafting mechanic where players pick a card from their hand and then passes the remaining cards to their left, then all chosen cards are revealed (Or not for the first card.) simultaneously. This continues until all cards have been selected and players have acquired 7 cards.
Once the 4th round is completed and scored, players then total their final score from across all 4 rounds.
Points are tallied, highest score wins.
On a basic level, Boomerang: USA is a straightforward drafting game. It's point salad of scoring mechanics makes the game complex, most of the blog above talks about the 7 ways to score VPs.
Some of the scoring methods have pretty standard elements, collecting matching pairs or 1 kind of set are common, however, restrictions on how these are scored, particularly for Americana activities add an unusual twist.
The throw and catch mechanic is the standout here, presenting players with a clear risk and reward choice right at the start of a round especially when this is when they'll have all 7 cards to choose from.
Play a 1 as the throw card and it's guaranteed to score but is only worth 1 VP. Playing a 7 as the throw card earns 7 VPS but requires a 7 as the catch card; since player have no control over what their last card will be it's a risky proposition.
Typical for a game of this type, it's more or less impossible to score well in all categories at the same and the dilemma of what a player should prioritise is what drives the gameplay.
Should a player concentrate on getting locations and regions (Which are another type of set really.) over other sets?
Is it a good idea to have a steadily increasing Americana score over round, or go high then score 0 to score high again?
When is a good time to try and get a good score in a particular activity?
A lot of this will be contextual or unpredictable, it's the nature of this kind of drafting game. Players will probably start a round with no clear direction and will need to adapt to a strategy and recognise what to prioritise as it emerges from whatever cards they pick.
There's also a higher level of play where players can watch their opponents to try and gauge what they're concentrating on and deny it to them: If it looks like an opponent is trying to complete coast-to-coast, a player might chose and play a card with the location needed themselves in order to deny that other player.
Although I'm not sure that denial tactics are that effective though, it's entirely possible blocking a opponent will involve blocking yourself as well.
I felt like the travelling, roll and write element was a bit out of place here, adding extra layers of what seem like unnecessary complexity the game. So while the game has depth thanks to all these scoring opportunities, it actually felt like it was perhaps a little detrimental to the experience, increasing thinking time and inducing some analysis-paralysis as a consequence.
Otherwise I can't really find fault with Boomerang: USA, it's not a bad game by any stretch, it just somehow didn't appeal and seemed a little unengaging. Maybe the theme of being a tourist did quite gel with me?
I feel that there are other mechanically similar games that are a little more accessible and quicker to play.
Obviously, YMMV, a fan of card drafting games who plays them often might find the roll and write part of Boomerang: USA a fresh take in the category.
10th April 2022
Sunday evening is here and we're logged into Board Game Arena for a night of gaming.
'Viva Las Vegan!'
'Millions of cabbages, cabbages for me.'
'Millions of cabbages, cabbages for free.'
Err... wait...? No... that's enough of that!
Las Vegan is a umm.. vegetable-themed trick taking card game?
Caveat: We've only ever played Las Vegan digitally and not sure if a English language version is even available in hard copy?
What's in a game?
There's fairly minimal art throughout Las Vegan. The cards feature illustrations of vegetables on a slot machine reel and the cabbage machine cards show either vegetables or numbers across 3 reels.
Nothing bad but also nothing to write home about.
There's no iconography to speak off, just plain and simple numbers as well as the icons for the 4 types of card.
How's it play?
On to play
Las Vegan is played over 1-4 rounds, each round follows the typical turn structure for a trick taking game, with the first or active player playing a card and the player to the left the 'following' that play.
Las Vegan can end in 1 of 2 ways.
If during scoring at the end of any round, any player's cabbage tokens (VPs.) reaches 0 or lower, it ends the game.
The game will also end at the end of the 4th round regardless.
Once the game has ended, players tot up their remaining cabbage tokens.
Points are tallied, highest score wins.
The first thing to talk about is the scoring and particularly the casino chips. The values on the chips go from -3 to +1 and obviously skew heavily towards the negative, it's even worse than that though. There are 4 double-sided chips and +1s only appear on 2 of the 8 sides (Although in some regard this is quite logical as most numbers only appear twice across the chips.), thus it's skewed both in value and probability.
The golden casino chip is negative on both sides.
All of this means thhat this is a game about how little you lose, minimising your losses and not really how much you accumulate.
Las Vegan appears to be themed ont slot machines and one-arm bandits and maybe this is part of that theme; 'The house always wins?'
Even so, it all seems negative and doesn't feel like fun.
Despite my reservations about the scoring, the casino chip mechanic itself is pretty interesting.
When a player gets the opportunity to deploy a chip, they'll want to try and remember what cards they and the other players have taken. E.g., if the '3' cabbage machine card is in play and a player knows an opponent has taken several 3's, they may want to put a big negative on that card to hit them. Conversely, a player may try and use a +1 if they've collected 3s this round.
This is also affected by when 7s appear. The earlier that 7s appear, the more of a gamble it is using the casino chips, if they appear later, it's a lot easier to predict scoring. It's also that chips might appear right at the start or end of a round, or several may appear in single trick.
Players will need to calculate and adapt when using the casino chip, remembering plays opponents make made will be helpful too.
There's not too much to say about the mechanics for the actual game, which are very straightforward and about as basic as a trick taking game can get - and that's not a bad thing, it makes the game accessible and easy to learn, as well as playing fairly quickly . Las Vegan could be a good filler or finisher for the day.
Having said that, the scoring mechanics feel a little clunky, counterintuitive and unnecessarily fiddly.
The game's depth comes from strategies that will emerge once casino chips are starting to get played on cabbage machine cards and then players will look to how they can manipulate or win or lose tricks to optimise their scores.
For me; I found the game's simplicity a little unengaging, a little too run-of-the-mill while the depth the scoring brought to the table (sic) did not add enough to make me want to play more. The negative scoring also left me feeling frustrating.
Not a game for me.
5th April 2022
It's a Tuesday and we're at The Sovereigns with the Woking Gaming Club for some gaming goodness.
'I enjoyed Muffin the Mule.'
'You can get locked up for that.'
No wait, this isn't about Muffin the Mule, its about Muffin Time.
'I enjoyed Muffin Time.'
Not sure that sounds better? (Apologies for the old Goodies joke.)
Muffin Time is a light, off-beat party game that's easy to pick up and player with supposedly 20 minute play time.
What's in a game?
The game utilises comedic and cartoony black-line illustrations with a dash of bright colour for the borders and card titles that suitability fits the game's style.
There's no iconography in Muffin Time to speak of and the game's filled with unusual or unique cards and rules exceptions. Consequently, all cards contain specific text on how they function.
How's it play?
On to play
The objective in Muffin Time is for a player to acquire exactly 10 cards at the start of their turn.
The game uses a typical turn order, at least it does at the start with the active player acting and play progressing to the left.
There are 2 phases to each turn.
Play continues until any player has acquired exactly 10 cards in hand, upon which they must immediately shout 'It's Muffin Time!'
If, when that player becomes the active player they still have exactly 10 cards, then they win the game!
Despite being a rules-light game, there's a couple of interesting elements at play in Muffin Time.
Firstly and most obviously, are the trap cards: They require players to pay attention to the behaviour of their opponents in order to trigger traps. However, there's also a higher level of play at work, where participants can try to induce other players into falling into their traps, such as my aforementioned attempts to get the other players to yawn. It add an unusual and interesting facet of playing the player and not the game to the mix.
Secondly, is the action economy: Play a card or draw a card, it's a simple rule but it has an interesting effect. Essentially, playing a card gains the player whatever benefit that card gives them but it also loses them that card from their hand, thus making their goal 1 step further away. Does the benefit of playing it outweigh the cost? The answer will always be contextual, especially since some cards do stuff that's just funny and players will end up playing them just for the sake of playing them. The same quandary is actually also true of counter cards.
The core gameplay is highly situational, it requires players to adapt to unpredictable turns of play and exploit events as they occur with the cards they have in hand. This is not a game of planning ahead too much.
It's also bit of a silly game with some silly card actions such as 'Last player to stand up discards 2 cards.' There are also cards that may change the win condition, turn order etc.
If this sort of thing is an anathema to you, Muffin Time is probably one to skip.
Otherwise there's not too much to add about Muffin Time really. it's an easy to learn, pick and play party card game that can be a lot of fun if you don't take it too seriously and allegedly has a 20 minute play time and can be a good filler or finishing game.
I say allegedly 20 minutes because circumstances and certain card plays can dictate otherwise - games can go on considerable longer, is that good or bad? Muffin Time can be very enjoyable but it can also outstay its welcome. So, YMMV.
Don't let that put you off though. I feel that Muffin Time is good party game when played with the right mindset and is worth trying.
20th March 2022
It's a Sunday and we're logged into Board Game Arena for an evening of fun.
Hanabi is a cooperative game about lighting a series of larger and larger firework displays. The catch is that everyone must rely on other players to give them clues to do so. Get it wrong though and the show could end early.
Who thought fireworks could be so stressful, well... other than pets!
What's in a game?
All the artwork on the cards are understandably themed after fireworks in their respective colours. For the most part it looks clear but I've found that in dimmer light, the colours can look a little weak.
Hanabi makes minimal use of iconography, the cards are cleared numbered while icons are also used to designate different colours. 2 symbols are used on tokens.
How's it play?
On to play
The objective in Hanabi is to create a stack of face-up cards for each colour by playing them in numeric order, starting with the 1 and finishing with the 5.
All of this must be done without any player looking at their own cards. Players should hold their cards up with the backs facing them so that all others can see what cards they have.
Players then provide clues to each other and use these clues to deduct which cards to play.
Hanabi uses a standard turn structure with the active player taking a turn before play progresses to the left.
The active player must perform one of the following actions.
Play continues until 1 of the following 3 criteria are met.
Win: If the 5th card of all 5 stacks are correctly played, the players immediately win the game. They have achieved a perfect score of 25.
Lose: If the 3rd and final storm token is flipped over, the players immediately lose, scoring a big fat 0!
Deck depletion: If play progresses until the last card is drawn from the deck, all players get one more turn.
After this, the game is scored and the players collectively gain a score equal to the value of the top card on each stack, thus the maximum score of a incomplete game is 24.
One of the things I like about Hanabi is that it's a small, fairly easy to learn cooperative game that provides a solid challenge, it has a reasonably quick playing time and would work well as a filler game.
What's interesting in my opinion are the mechanics for clues and also clue tokens as they are inextricably linked. The game does a good job of balancing the usefulness of clues with their scarcity.
When giving clues, players will want and need to give clues as efficiently as possible, it takes 2 clues to clearly define what a card (Both colour & number.) is and this uses a quarter of the available clues which is a lot! Frequently that means a clue might need to have a implicit meaning attached. E.g.; the clue, "You have one green," might implicitly mean 'Play that green card!'
Players receiving clues will need to interpret and deduct meaning from the information they have now been given, combining it with the information they see in other players' hands before deciding what to do. Sometimes they won't have all the information they want, sometimes they'll need to gamble on a decision.
Flipping clue tokens back to their unused side can be vital to doing well, usually this will involve discarding cards and it also allows players to draw cards and put new options into play. Blindly discarding cards can be tricky though, if a 5 is discarded, there goes the chance to get a perfect score. - Not that getting a perfect score is easy, it's not!
Consequently, it's sometimes a good idea to give players clues about what to get rid off. not keep.
It should also be noted that like many cooperative games, luck can play a big role in Hanabi. If those lower value cards don't until later in the game, players will end up discarding higher value cards to get to them.
Hanabi does have some minor drawbacks though. Having to constantly hold up cards so others can see them feels a like a little bit of a pain. The same is true of drawing new cards and remembering not to look at them.
When a player is given clues about their cards, it can be a chore to remember not only what the clues are but also the location of those cards in their hand. Otherwise that can lead to some pretty devastating plays!
Interestingly, the digital version of Hanabi remembers the clues for players.
I also found Hanabi to be slightly frustrating, although this may be due to the behaviour of other players. It's definitely stressful watching another player not get the hint when they've given a clue.
These are minor quibbles and Hanabi is a unusual and challenging cooperative game that forces players to think hard and logically, provides meaningful decisions and some solid fun: Some big gameplay delivered in a small package.
Hanabi is definitely worth trying.
15th March 2022
It's another Tuesday evening with the Woking Gaming Club at The Sovereigns and we're playing Regicide
Is Regicide a cooperative game about recruiting heroes from a local tavern to go fight epic battles and raid a castle against a series of bosses (Who happen to be regents!), or is it just a deck of cards?
Turns out it's both.
What's in a game?
Well... there's not much that can be said here. It's a game that can be played a deck of ordinary cards and that's what it look like.
The official Regicide deck is nicely illustrated with some stylised and quirky fantasy themed artwork but it's still recognisability a standard deck of card.
And the game's iconography, well they're clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades. You get the idea.
How's it play?
On to play
In Regicide, players must coordinate actions in order to prevail, however, they cannot communicate with each other.
During their turn, the active player uses one or more cards in their hand to attack the current enemy before then using more cards to resist the enemy's counterattack.
Play then continues to the next turn and the player on the left.
Play progress until 1 of 2 conditions are met.
If the players defeat the 12th and final enemy, then they collectively win.
If at any time a player cannot discard enough cards to cover an enemy's attack, then the players collectively and immediately lose.
On a basic level players are faced with 4 choices when attacking and how to use the 4 suits and their respective abilities when playing Regicide is vital. The advantages of each ability are contextual and players will need to learn recognise when to use which suit. Suffice to say, players will need to make use of all the suits appropriately.
Of course it's not as simple as I'm making it sound. As with all cooperative games, luck plays an important part here and players will frequently find themselves lacking the cards they want, the immunity rule can also well and truly throw a spanner in the works too.
This forces them to make tricky decisions or find other approaches to how they attack and or indeed manage defence.
It should also be said that Regicide is a very hard game, very hard! I heard someone state that players can expect to win about 1 in 6 times but I feel this is an underestimation of the game's difficulty. We've played it numerous times and never won, we barely ever made it to the kings! Not only is the game hard off the bat, it just gets harder and harder!
I would argue that the Regicide is too hard, which would be my one gripe with it. Although it's entirely possible that there's some strategy that we overlooked.
Regicide has a fairly quick playtime which is in part due to it's brutal difficulty curve and could be a good filler game, although bear in mind that it definitely tests the grey matter.
It's a fascinating game that condenses a fair chunk of cooperative gameplay into a deck of 54 cards and gets a lot out of it. The rules are as impressive as the game is ruthlessly hard.
Regicide is a game worth trying if only to experience how such a game plays, just so long as you don't mind losing.
I play, I paint.