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Game Nite

Free

the magazine of tabletop gaming

november 2019

v

Issue # 40

133 Page

Holiday Issue!

Jeremy Handel handelabra

Holiday GIft Guide

John Coveyou Genius Games


In this issue: INTERVIEW 20

Jeremy Handel

50

John Coveyou

Handelabra Games

Game Designer/Publisher

mobile Review 06

Aeon’s End For Android and iOS

book Review 10

Game & Puzzle Design Compendium by Cameron Browne

Solo Gaming 112 Parks by Jeff Rhind

game Reviews 12

Marvel Fluxx

16

Draftosaurus

28

Villagers

38

Rurik: Dawn of Kiev

64

Crusader Kings

76

Eternal: Chonicles of the Throne

Mobile Review index 122 Reviewed Apps Index

Game Review index 126 Game Review Index

Drafting Dinosaurs.

Build a Village. Innovative with High Production Values. Marriage and Mayhem. Online Game is now a Deck Builder.

106 Orbital Conflict Conflict in Space.

Holiday Gift Guide 84

Assorted Holiday Gift Ideas

Top 10

book Review index 120 Reviewed Books Index

Make Mine Marvel.

04

Top 10 Games at Essen Spiel

Interview Gallery 116 Past Interviews Index

Calendar 131 December 2019 - January 2020

Š Game Nite 2019. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All information contained in this magazine is for educational purposes only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of release. Readers are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers with regard to the price of their products. All material remains the property of its respective creators. Opinions expressed by the writers are their opinions alone and may not reflect the opinions of Game Nite. Disclaimer: Game Nite receives review copies of games, but does not accept payment for reviews.

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From across the table

Game Nite ISSUE # 40

W

elcome to our largest issue yet… weighing in at 133 pages and featuring our 22 page Holiday Gift Guide. We feature a variety of items, some have been previously reviewed in the magazine, while others have not, but we thought that they were interesting. It is not meant to be a definitive guide, but a mixture of well respected items, as well as some that don’t garner as much attention. I hope that it provides some inspiration for gaming friends or recommendations for family members. This issue’s Top 10 list features the games that caught my attention from the 2019 Essen Spiel. As usual there were a ton of games and picking only ten proved to be a difficult task. Happy holidays, and thank you for all of your interest and support! In this issue:

Cover Photograph by Serge Pierro. Rurik: Dawn of Kiev © PieceKeeper Games

Follow us on Facebook:

www.facebook.com/GameNiteMagazine Follow us on ISSUU:

https://issuu.com/gamenitemagazine Follow us on Instagram:

Jeff Rhind’s Solo Gaming column takes a look at “Parks”. I would like to thank John Coveyou for taking the time to share his thoughts on game design and publishing. I would also like to thank Jeremy Handel for taking the time to share his thoughts on digital app design and publishing.

@gamenitemagazine Follow us on Twitter:

@GameNiteMag Visit us at:

www.gamenitemagazine.com

Congratulations to PieceKeeper Games for winnng an Editor’s Choice Award for their excellent game, “Rurik: Dawn of Kiev”. Congratulations to Cameron Browne for winning an Editor’s Choice Award for his publication, “Game & Puzzle Design Compendium”. If you are interested in contributing to Game Nite, feel free to contact us, as we’d love to hear from you!

Serge Pierro

Editor in Chief/Publisher editor@gamenitemagazine.com Game Nite Issue #40

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Top 10 - Games at Essen Spiel

1

Babylonia Ludonova

2

Era of Tribes Black Beacon Games

3

MaraCaibo Capstone Games

4

Aquatica Cosmodrome Games

5

It’s a Wonderful World La Boite de Jeu

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Game Nite Issue #40

By Serge Pierro


6

Cooper Island Frosted Games

7

Chartae XV Games

8

Frontier Wars Van Ryder Games

9

Pharon Catch Up Games

10

Terramara Quined Games Game Nite Issue #40

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Mobile Review

By Serge Pierro

Aeon’s End

I

have mentioned several times that I’m a big fan of deckbuilding games. And anytime there has been a discussion of people’s favorite deckbuilders, Aeon’s End always seems to be mentioned, and always in high regard. Since I have never had the opportunity to play it, I was quite curious as to why it was garnering so many accolades. Now with the digital release available on various mobile platforms, I will finally have the chance to see what everyone has been talking about and share those thoughts with you.

form the new deck. This places great importance/ strategy on the order in which you place cards in your discard pile. Another interesting thing to note is that you don’t have to discard unused cards at the end of your turn, thus allowing you to further manipulate your discard pile and your hand.

The main screen of the app features several options, including: Quick Play, New Game, How to Play, Card Library, Achievements, Options, Statistics It should be noted from the start that Aeon’s End and Credits. is a co-operative deckbuilding game in which the player will be trying to beat the game. Needless The Options for the game include: Effects Volume, to say, choosing a group of Mages that work well Music Volume, Animation Speed and Card Display together will garner more favorable results. Each of Time. There are also options for Confirming the Mages have a special ability, so it is possible to Ending Main Phase and Automatically End Main assemble numerous combinations, thus adding to Phase. the replay value of the game. To learn the game you have the option of reading An interesting aspect of the game is that the the rules or taking the Tutorial. I first took the discard pile is not shuffled when you run out of Tutorial and found it to be too basic and left many cards. Instead, you just turn the discard pile over to questions unanswered, so after my first game I

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read the included rules in order to gain a better understanding of the game. I would suggest that you start with reading the rules first, and then take the Tutorial, unless you’ve played the game before, then the Tutorial will probably be fine, as you’ll only really need to understand the User Interface. There are two options for starting a new game: Quick Play and New Game. Quick Play prepares a game for you to play, whereas the New Game feature allows you to choose your game’s setup. You may choose which Nemesis you will face, choose what cards are in the Supply, choose what Mages you want to use (1-4 out of 8) and what difficulty level you want to use. Each of the options also have

a Random button to automatically choose for you. I loved having control of all of these options and it became my main choice when starting a new game. The main User Interface contains a lot of information nicely laid out and makes good use of the screen’s real estate. Along the top of the screen are the cards to reveal turn order, how much life the Nemesis and Gravehold have, as well as the inclusion of an “undo” button. Along the right side are the cards in the Supply and any other Mages that are being used. The main part of the screen is devoted to the current Mage and features their four Breaches in the middle of the screen and an area in which to drag your Gems and Relics.

Continued on next page>

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Mobile Review (Cont.)

The UI uses both tapping and dragging in order to accomplish tasks. Overall, it provides a lot of info with very few minuses. However, there are two minuses that really stick out, one is that the other Mage’s cards are small when you have to make them discard and it is easy to tap the wrong card. Fortunately you can use the Undo button to attempt it again. The other problem is that when using your finger over a card to display its “popup” information, your finger tends to cover the info. I’d prefer to see the info displayed in a devoted area of the screen that wouldn’t be affected by your finger position.

Thus far the AI has proven to be quite challenging, even on the beginner setting. This game is not easy to beat, and should provide some serious competition for players of all levels.

The graphics are decent and there’s not a lot of unnecessary bells and whistles. The attacks have animations associated with them, as well as some other animated effects for each Nemesis.

There’s lots of interesting decisions to be made throughout the game, such as: Buying cards, Open/ Focus Breaches and investing in Charges. There is also damage allocation decisions, such as whether

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While I would normally balk at an app that cost $9.99, I must admit that in this case it is almost a steal for the amount of gameplay and replayability that Aeon’s End provides. Clearly a lot of thought went into the development of this app and although there were a couple of times where I wasn’t 100% sure of what do due to the UI, I was eventually able to figure it out and move along.


you should kill a Minion or continue to directly attack the Nemesis. Of course as soon as you lose a game (and you will…) you will be contemplating what changes and decisions you should implement in your next attempt. And speaking of the “next game”, there is a lot of replayability here due to the variety of the Mages and Minions. I can only imagine what the game would be like with all of the expansions that are currently available for the card game. It is easy to see why this is a popular game, however, it does require an investment in time, as this is not a quick filler. Fortunately the game allows you to continue a game should you need to complete it over the course of several sessions.

The best part of the game is that you have a strong AI to compete against, the gameplay is engaging and the app takes care of all of the bookkeeping. This has quickly become my “go to” game when I want to invest some time into playing a challenging deckbuilder. Now please excuse me, I have a town to protect...

Version # Price: Devices:

1.0.1 $9.99 iOS and Android Developer: Handelabra Games

Highly Recommended www.handelabra.com

Game Nite Issue #40

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Book Review

By Serge Pierro

Game & Puzzle Design Compendium (Issues 1-6)

I

n issue #12 of Game Nite we featured a review of Game & Puzzle Design Volume 2, No.1 (2016) and wound up giving it an Editor’s Choice Award due to its excellent writing and interesting subject matter. So, when a compendium for issues 1-6 became available, we felt the need to take a look at what six issues worth of material would be like. And it should come as no surprise that this will also receive an Editor’s Choice Award. Let’s see why… For those who are unfamiliar with this journal, it provides in-depth coverage of many game design related matters, as well as the construction/deconstruction of puzzles. Editor-In-Chief, Cameron Browne has assembled a group of international, knowledgable writers whose occupations range from an Associate Professor of Computer Science to a Nuclear Physicist, each of whom share their intellectual thoughts on the subject matter at hand. This is some serious writing, by serious individuals, who are willing to share thoughts on many fascinating game design related topics.

One of my favorite aspects of the series is that each issue features a specific game/puzzle and then proceeds to insert throughout the issue various challenges for the reader to attempt to solve. In general they start off fairly easy and then escalate to larger and tougher version towards the end of the current issue. With the Compendium we are treated to these throughout the entire book and it will have some readers going back to the beginning of the book and attempt to try and complete them all. For those interested in the thoughts of “name” designers, each issue also features something called “From the Archive” which reprints a previously published piece. Two such features are: “What Makes a Game Great” by Wolfgang Kramer and “Games and Politics” by Richard Garfield. There are also articles by notable abstract designers Kris Burm and Nestor Romeral Andres.

Of note, there are numerous References at the end of each of the articles, thus providing the reader with a great deal of The 10 1/4” x 6 1/2” x 1 3/8” softcover book weighs information to further pursue. These include other books in at a hefty 524 pages. The main difference between and online articles. For instance, the article “Reinvent the the Compendium and the regular issues is that the Wheel” has 32 references, all of which contain different Compendium features a matte paper finish and black and paths to explore/research. white photographs/illustrations, as compared to the glossy paper and color photos and illustrations of the regular issues. Overall this is a nice selection of high quality material, by Nevertheless, the paper quality is good, as there is no bleed a knowledgable group of writers. If you consider yourself a through of the preceding or following pages. Though the serious game designer, then you probably are already reading color/black and white issue was more noticeable when the this journal, if not, perhaps its time to see what you’ve been article referred to an illustration by one of the “colors” that missing, as this Compendium can only make you a better was clearly not present in the black and white. Otherwise, designer. This is not a book that you are going to quickly the black and white illustrations were just fine. scan through, as the material demands your attention and you will be rewarded by the information presented. When you are done reading this book you will have a far deeper appreciation of game and puzzle design. Game Nite Issue #40

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Editor: Cameron Browne Publisher: Lulu Press, Inc.

Highly Recommended www.gapdjournal.com

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Marvel Fluxx

By Serge Pierro

Make Mine Marvel!

F

luxx is a game that has been around for a while (it was invented on July 24, 1996), and part of the reason for it’s longevity is it’s mechanism of having the rules change throughout the game, which has captured the fancy of many gamers. Realizing the success of their product, Looney Labs has expanded their line to include licensed versions of the game. DC comic book fans have had a Batman version of the game, and now Marvel has their own version of the game, which features a nice selection of contemporary Marvel characters. Let’s take a look at what this edition of the game has to offer.

to move or fall out, even when shaking the box. The well for the cards has two “finger” slots to aid in removing the cards. The rules for the game come printed on a double sided sheet of glossy 8 1/2” x 13” and contains some examples and a short FAQ. Newcomers should have no problem jumping in right away after reading the brief rules sheet, after all the rules are going to change throughout the game, so only the core elements of the game are presented.

This is the “Specialty Edition” of the game and it contains 7 bonus cards. Included are, 3 Keepers: Miles Morales, Phil Coulson and Nick Fury, as Marvel Fluxx comes in a 6 1/8” x 5” x 1 1/2” well as 4 Goals: Avenger’s Assemble, Spider-Verse, box that features a 1 1/2” circular cutout on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America’s lower right corner of the box top with a plastic Biggest Fan. pane that displays a Turn token featuring a holographic element of Captain America’s All of the cards measure 2 1/4” x 3 1/2” and are shield. Inside there is a black, custom, plastic made of a decent card stock that shuffles well. insert that features a recessed area to hold the Since there is potentially a lot of card drawing aforementioned Turn token and another area throughout the game, sleeving the cards is to hold the cards. The area for the token allows something to consider, but it’s not mandatory. for a snug fit, which doesn’t allow the token Like most games, I will not be sleeving them.

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As mentioned above, the game comes with a Turn token. This is a nice, quality poker chip that has some weight to it and features a holographic foil image in the recessed central area. This is not a cheap, lightweight, plastic token.

Fluxx. They will either modify the “Draw and Play” rules or put into effect another “global” rule change.

Keepers are the cards that you collect in order to try to win the game. They are played face up in front of you and when you have the proper The setup for the game is quite simple. Each collection of cards that match the current Goal, player is dealt 3 cards and the Basic Rules card is you win. placed in the center of the play area. The deck of cards are placed in an appropriate place and Goals determine the current winning condition and they can (and will) change throughout the the game begins. game. The timing of playing a Goal card is There are four types of cards: New Rules, essential for trying to win the game. Keepers, Goals, and Action. Action cards are “one use” cards that have an New Rules are played to replace a current Rule immediate effect and are then discarded. These in play and have a wide range of effects. These have a wide range of effects and can have a represent the core mechanism during a game of striking impact on the game when played. Continued on next page> Game Nite Issue #40

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Marvel Fluxx (Cont.) At the beginning of the game the Basic Rules card will dictate the current rules of the game, which are: Draw One and Play One. Both of these can be modified by playing the relevant cards in their place. On a player’s turn they will follow the current rules that are in play.

them had abilities, the game would soon escalate out of control.

There is a reason why Fluxx has sold millions of copies, and the Marvel edition of the game continues to channel the chaotic fun that ensues while playing it. It isn’t long before the “quiet” beginning of the game, “Draw One, Play One”, is turned on its head and new rules and situations start to take place. And that’s one of the game’s most endearing qualities, it is alway different, as well as being totally unpredictable.

The gameplay itself seemed to be a notch above the other games I’ve played in the Fluxx series, and we really enjoyed the synergy amongst many of the cards and some of the strong abilities on particular Keeper cards. Needless to say, the theme went over well with many of the comic book fans that played it.

Of course there will be some fans that will be somewhat disappointed with some of the characters used in the game, for instance, Groot makes an appearance, and Daredevil does not. It seems that Play continues in this manner until one player the characters were chosen based on recent Marvel has met the criteria of the current Goal in play, movies, as compared to the long history of the thus winning the game. comic books.

If you are looking for a fun, chaotic, filler game that captures the excitement of the Marvel universe, Although there are several editions available, look no longer, as this is the one your are looking this is the one that I have enjoyed the most, thus for, True Believer. Make Mine Marvel! far. This is probably due in part to being a fan of Marvel comics for 40+ years, as well as the interaction of many of the card’s effects. I can Designer: Andy Looney no longer see myself sitting down to play the Publisher: Looney Labs basic version of the game, as this one is far more Players: 2-6 interesting. Mechanic: Andy Looney has done a fine job in capturing the nuances of the Marvel Universe, and fans will find a lot to enjoy. The only downside is that only a handful of Keepers have special abilities, though it is easy to see that if all of

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Ages: Length:

Changing Rules, Set Collection 8+ 10-40 Mins.

Recommended www.looneylabs.com


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Draftosaurus

By Serge Pierro

Drafting Dinosaurs

A

lthough I enjoy playing in Chess tournaments, often times I just want to play a simple game that isn’t as mentally taxing. One mechanism that seems to always fit the bill is Drafting. So when Antoine Bauza puts out a new drafting game, I’m always interested in knowing more about it. In his latest effort, you are drafting dinosaurs!

Each of the 6 player boards (The Zoos) are double sided and feature two separate game styles. The Summer side is recommended for your initial play(s), with the Winter being used after you are familiar with the gameplay. They are made of a sturdy cardboard stock.

The 3/4” wooden d6 has custom graphics that are engraved and painted, featuring rounded Draftosaurus comes in a 7 7/8” x 7 7/8” x 2 corners and edges. 1/4” box and has no insert. Of course the highlight of the game is the The game comes with two 8 page rulebooks inclusion of 60 custom Dinosaur meeples. that are the size of the box; one is in English There are 6 different species, with 10 of each and the other is in French. Since the gameplay species, in the following colors: red, orange, is fairly straightforward, the rules for the game blue, green, pink and yellow. Like most kids match the ease of play. The rulebook does a I was interested in dinosaurs and I was able to good job of explaining how the game is played recognize the T-Rex, Brontosaurus, Triceratops, and determining the amount of Dinosaurs Stegosaurus and the Parasaurolophus, the used for each of the player counts. However, sixth one was familiar, but I was unable to we would have preferred to have had a player’s remember its name. Ankama missed a golden aide for our initial plays, as we had to keep opportunity to include the names of the dinosaur passing around/referring to the rulebook until species as an educational guide for younger we had memorized all of the Pens on both players. boards.

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The game also includes a cloth bag with a drawstring to store the Dinosaurs, as well as being used to randomly choose them from the bag. The bag is of a decent quality, however, I would have preferred a wider opening, as it was a tight fit when I put my fingers in the bag. The setup for the game is straightforward, the starting number of Dinosaurs used in the game is determined by the number of players and is indicated within the rulebook. Each player receives a player board (The Zoo) and the first player receives the Placement Die. At the start of each round (2 rounds in a 3-5 player game and 4 rounds in the 2 player version), each player will draw 6 Dinosaurs from the bag, keeping them hidden from the

other players. The first player will then roll the Placement Die. Players will then choose one of the Dinosaurs in their hand and place it in their other hand. After all players have chosen a Dinosaur, players reveal their chosen Dinosaur and place it accordingly in their Zoo. The player who rolled the die can place their Dinosaur anywhere, however, all other players must place their Dinosaurs according to the results of the Placement Die. Example: John rolls the die and a Grasslands is the result. John can place their Dinosaur anywhere in their Zoo, yet the other players must place it in one of the Pens in their Zoo that is located in the Grasslands. After all players have placed their Dinosaurs, the still hidden/held Dinosaurs are passed to the player on their left and the Placement Die is passed to the player on the left. Continued on next page> Game Nite Issue #40

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Draftosaurus (Cont.) Play continues in this manner until the bag is emptied and then the scoring phase takes place. Each of the Pens are scored according to their criteria, each Dinosaur in the River scores 1 VP, and any Pen containing a T-Rex scores 1 VP. The player with the most points wins. Overall, Draftosaurus is a quick filler game that has the feel of a cross between a drafting game and a roll and write. Here, instead of rolling a die and marking the results on your board, you are drafting Dinosaurs and placing them on your board. It should be noted that the two player version of the game is slightly different from the other player counts and we actually preferred it. The reason being, that on your turn you draft as normal, however, you also choose one of the other Dinosaurs in your hand to place back into the box/out of play. We felt that this additional layer of strategy/tactics enhanced the experience. We also enjoyed the timing aspect of the game, as there are certain Pens that will yield greater results if you are able to hold off until later in the game to use them. But, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to draft what you need to do so at that point, so there’s a “push your luck” element as to when you want to take advantage of those opportunities.

Each of the Summer Pens provided a nice variety of ways to score within the game, with both the “The Forest of Sameness” and “The Meadow of Difference” providing the opportunity to score a large amount of points. The Winter Pens upped the ante a bit by having a different approach to scoring, in particular was “The Pyramid” which rewarded players by how they positioned their Dinosaurs within the Pen. Both of the boards were balanced and each one provided players with a challenging environment. I preferred the Winter board, as it was a little more puzzle-like and challenging. It would be interesting to see if there any expansion boards planned for the future. This is a game that will appeal to a wide range of gamers, especially those with children. It plays fast and provides for some interesting decision making. This is a quick filler that I can see being brought to the table often in the future!

Designers: Antoine Bauza & Team Kaedama

Publisher: Players: Mechanic: Ages: Length:

Ankama 2-5 Drafting 8+ 15 Mins.

Recommended www.ankama.com

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Interview

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By Serge Pierro

• Aeon’s End App • Sentinels of the Multiverse App • One Deck Dungeon App Jeremy Handel - Publisher Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with our readers, can you tell us a little something about yourself? After graduating from University School in hunting valley oh, I went to Skidmore in upstate New York for about a year and a half before realizing that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So I dropped out and moved home and started doing some typical 20-something jobs like pizza delivery and coffee shop work. I moved with my fiance at the time, now wife, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for her to go to grad school and while there, I finally finished my undergraduate degree in Information resources, a library sciences degree.

What board/card games over the years have you enjoyed most? Growing up, my favorite board game was Stratego. If you’re not familiar, it’s like Chess, but

with hidden information where your opponent can’t see what your pieces are and different pieces can win different fights. Aside from that, I tend to be a bit boring because my “favorite” tabletop game at any given moment is usually whatever we’re working on. So Sentinels, One Deck Dungeon, Aeon’s End, etc.

What are your favorite video games? Any Mario or Zelda games are easy wins for me - Ocarina of Time being the all time classic. I also have a soft spot for the Mortal Kombat franchise. However, with fighting games, I tend to end up in that annoying middle where I’m not good enough to actually compete, but I’m better than most of my friends. I’m also a long time Civilization player. I started with Civ 3, and I’ve sunk literally thousands of hours into those games over the years. I also rarely turn down a good RPG like Skyrim, Dragon Age, Fallout, etc. Oh and Binding of Issac on Switch. Continued on next page>

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Interview

(Cont.)

When the opportunity presents itself, what What was the impetus to starting games have you currently been playing? “Handelabra” and What is the difference between “Handelabra Studio” and If I have a few minutes, and the switch is nearby, “Handelabra Games”? I play Binding of Issac. If I have longer, I’ll fire up Mortal Kombat 11 on the Xbox One. When I feel like moving, Beat Saber on Playstation VR is great as well. I also have a number of mobile games I play like 2 Dots or Harry Potter Wizards Unite.

It has been said that you are a fan of Heavy Metal. Who are your favorite bands and what is your favorite album? I’m really a fan of just about all kinds of music but when I was in 7th or 8th grade, I saw the video for Metallica’s, “One”, and it was like someone had flipped a switch. I knew this kinda music was really my thing. These days, the bands that get the most rotation are Tool (who just released their first new music in 13 years), Jinjer, a prog metal band from Ukraine, and Coheed and Cambria. I’ve seen them a half a dozen times in the last few years. But really, anything that rocks I can get behind. Others these days are In Hearts Wake, Thank you Scientist, and Unleash The Archers. Favorite album is a tough one because I’m always trying out new music. The latest Tool is pretty great.

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When the iPhone first got the app store, I had an iPhone 3G. I was working in advertising at the time, and I kept assuming someone would make the apps I wanted, but no one was. So I started thinking of creating a company to explore these ideas. One of our early concepts was a photography app that would let you create a history of hairstyles over time. We made another app that would take photos from both the front and rear facing cameras called Couplett. After a few years, we made a game called Uncle Slam which was president on president boxing. It was that project that convinced us that what we really wanted to be was a game studio. In 2013, Handelabra Games was started as an offshoot of the studio to focus on that.

“Sentinels of the Multiverse” was your first board game port… what were the initial problems that needed to be addressed/solved when designing a card game app for the first time?


With any tabletop adaptation, the main challenge is always how to display information. The analog world of tabletop means that literally everything you need is right in front of you on the table, and the players choose what to focus on at any given time. With limited screen real estate on a computer, or even less space on a phone screen, deciding how and when to bring up the most important information, but also

making it easy to see whatever information the player wants is where we spend the lion’s share of our time. With Sentinels, this first manifested as coming up with an icon system so we could make smaller versions of the cards. Then taking it multiplayer brought a whole host of additional challenges. Communal decision making in Sentinels required a voting system with lots of options. Continued on next page>

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Interview

(Cont.)

“Aeon’s End” is your latest release (see our review in this issue). What were you able to learn from your experiences with porting “Sentinels of the Multiverse” that you were able to integrate into this app?

“Spirit Island” is going to be your most ambitious/heaviest game port to date. What are the challenges involved in developing something like this to both the mobile platform and Steam?

So many things! Each of our games has taught us important lessons that we’ve brought forward to our more recent games. One thing that we did with Sentinels is to come up with a conceptual framework for a given game. What we think of as “Watch words”. With Sentinels, that became “comics”. Whenever we needed to make a design decision, we would ask “does this make the game feel more like a comic book”. If it passed that test, then we would run with it. For Aeon’s End, the framework was “magic”. Since you play as a team of strong mages, we really wanted everything about the game to support that feeling. Each spell has its own sound and animation, things like card actions have a distinct feeling of magic to them as well. But probably the most important innovation is the undo feature. That is something that has found its way into all of our cooperative games since Sentinels because players found that having the ability to undo a mistaken play really enhanced the experience.

Spirit Island is the first game we’ve done with an actual board, ie, geography. This is something we haven’t had to worry about in our previous games. You can see some early screenshots of the prototype on the campaign at spiritislanddigital. com. This is something we’re actually really excited to explore honestly. But the rest of the game is right in our wheelhouse - deep strategy, cooperative gameplay, etc. How and when this game might fit on a phone screen is still a very much open question. Many people thought Sentinels could never work on a phone screen but we found a way.

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I’ve fooled around with “Unity” in the past and saw that it had great potential for making card/board games. As a professional company, what aspects of “Unity” do you find conducive to the workflow of your company?


So far, Unity has been a great engine for us. I don’t personally do the development so I can’t speak to the technical side, but knowing that upwards of 80% of our development efforts are platform-agnostic has been really useful for us. Since we actually began life as a mobile company, Unity allowed us to bring Sentinels to Steam only 2 months after we launched the game on tablets. We’re also actively looking at how we might bring our games to other platforms like Switch or Playstation, and Unity supports all of them.

How much time does it usually take to complete a game from start to finish? This varies a lot to be honest. Tabletop games in general are mechanically straightforward, and usually fairly robust by the time they get to us. Most of the “playtesting” is done so our development efforts are not focused on the same things other game studios might be. From the moment we begin a project to the moment a player can buy and play the game has ranged from 4 months to over a year. Early access also Continued on next page>

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Interview

(Cont.)

typically allows people to buy the game before have some pretty detailed internal metrics we look it’s “finished”. In general, I would say 6-12 at. Things like copies sold, time in the market, months is usually a decent estimate depending expansion content/roadmap, etc. on the game.

How does a game become a paid project? Do you send an inquiry to a company whose game you are interested in porting, or do they contact you first? We’ve actually had this happen multiple ways. With Sentinels, we pursued Greater Than Games. Similar with One Deck Dungeon and Asmadi Games. With Aeon’s End, however, Indie Boards and Cards approached us. When a company comes to us, or when we approach them, we

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What does the future hold for “Handelabra”?

Well as you know, our next project is Spirit Island (spiritislanddigital.com). We are also in talks on our next project following Spirit Island, but I’m not at liberty to discuss that just yet. We’re also always looking for ways to get our existing games like Sentinels and One Deck Dungeon in front of new audiences. That sometimes means selling Steam keys on other stores, but it also means looking into porting our games to consoles which is something we’ve wanted to do for a while now.


What advice would you have for anyone interested in designing/developing/porting games for the mobile platforms? Specifically in mobile, it’s rough out there. One piece of advice which I think a lot of people don’t want to hear is - don’t sell yourself short. On mobile, there’s always a race to the bottom when it comes to pricing which can be a real problem to the viability of a business. When we launched Sentinels for instance, we priced it at $9.99 (USD) on mobile and lots of people thought that was too high. But it sold well at that price. We believe strongly that, if you make a good product, you should not be afraid to charge a fair price. I remember someone once telling me “if no one is complaining about your price, you’re probably not charging enough”.

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Villagers

By Serge Pierro

Build a Village

T

here’s a certain satisfaction that is felt when playing a drafting/tableau building game. Step by step you are trying to assemble the pieces of a finely tuned machine. In Villagers, we are presented with a draft system that is the foundation for the building of your tableau (Village) and you are rewarded with a fast paced game that rewards players for putting together the most efficient Village. Let’s stroll along the road and see who is willing to join our Village. Villagers: Deluxe Bundle contains the Villagers game, the Villagers expansion pack and the Coin Chest. What’s nice about the packaging is that even though some of the items arrive separately, they all fit inside the main box, as it was designed to hold all of the items.

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And speaking of the main box, Villagers comes in a 9 3/4” x 4 1/4” x 3 3/8” linen finished box that has a top that stops 5/8” from the bottom of the box. This is the same type of box as used by games such as Paperback. Inside are two linen finished containers that hold the components, with one of them being devoted to holding the cards, dividers and expansion box, while the other one is designed to hold the Coin Chest. If you should buy the game without the Coin Chest, the included punchboards with the coins and a couple of enclosed plastic bags will be stored in that area instead. Since I have the Coin Chest, the punchboards are kept unpunched and store snugly along the edge of the box, as shipped.


The rulebook is the size/length of the box and is 28 pages long. The length is mainly due in part to the book being only 4” wide, so more pages are necessary. The book is well laid out and is heavily illustrated with numerous examples. All in all it is clearly written and will have you playing in no time. Five pages in the back of the book are devoted to the Solo variant of the game.

initial randomization. There’s no real need to sleeve them, however, if you should choose to do so, be aware of the non-standard size.

The game also includes sturdy, linen finished, cardboard dividers to separate the different card types for storage and easy breakdown/ setup. Each of the dividers have art on one side and a list of the pertinent cards on the other, with the tops of both sides displaying It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the the header information. main component of a card game would be the cards. The linen finished cards measure The cardboard currency is linen finished 2 1/4” x 3 1/2” and are only shuffled for the and made of a sturdy cardboard stock.

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Villagers

(Cont.)

The rulebook has an excellent step by step At the end of the Draft phase, and before tutorial for setting up the game, as well as the Build phase, the Road is updated. The providing a clean graphic design for its methodology differs from the 2 player game implementation. and the other player counts. Essentially you are removing cards that weren’t previously The game is essentially made up of two drafted and replacing them with cards from phases per round, a Draft phase and a Build the Reserve (cards that weren’t originally used phase. It should be noted that there are two during the setup for the Road). Market (Scoring) phases as well, and the first is triggered when there are no longer any During the Build phase, players will play cards on the second stack, and the end of the 2 Villagers from their hand to their Village, game is triggered when there are no longer plus an additional Villager for each Builder any cards on the sixth stack. icon they control. Each player plays all of their cards before play moves to the next During the Draft phase each player will player. alternate drafting cards from the Road area on the table. This will include face up cards and During the Build phase there are several the top cards of the facedown stacks. Each things to note about the cards themselves. player will draft 2 cards, plus an additional This includes concepts such as Production card for each Food icon they have present in Chains, Padlocks, Basic Villagers and Special their Village. After drafting a card it is placed Villagers. on top of the Village Square card, in order to keep track of how many cards have been The first concept is that of Production drafted this round. When a face up card is Chains. For certain cards there is a hierarchy drafted, it is replaced by the top facedown that must be maintained in order to be card on the leftmost stack of cards. After all played. Example: The card “Fromager” players have drafted their cards, the cards on requires that a “Hayer” is played first, and the Village Square are added to their hands. then a “Grazier” on top of that, and then a

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“Milk Maid” on top of that, and then the Villager. If no one owns the necessary “Fromager” can be finally played. Needless Villager, then you pay 2 coins to the Bank. to say that powerful cards such as “Fromager” have a longer Production Chain than those Many of the Villagers on the Road require one of the Basic Villagers in order to be having lesser abilities. played. These Basic Villagers allow for two Padlocks are cards that need to be Unlocked. cards to be placed over them, instead of the If you own the Villager that can Unlock your usual, one. To obtain a Basic Villager you card, you place 2 coins from the Bank onto discard one of your cards face down to the the Villager that Unlocked it. If another top of one of the face down stacks on the player owns the Villager that Unlocks the Road and then take the Basic Villager of your card, then you have to pay 2 coins to that choice. Obtaining/Playing a Basic Villager does not count as one of your Build actions.

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Villagers

(Cont.)

the regular game with the exceptions being that you draft as normal, however, after you draft a card you have to draft a card for the “Countess” as well. The “kicker” is that the “Countess” ignores Production Chains and Padlock rules, while she also draws a card at Play repeats as above until one of the stacks the end of the Event phase to place in her empties and a Market card is revealed. Each Village, as well as using it to determine how of the Market Phases has a distinct scoring many Events are revealed next turn. method. During the 1st Market Phase And speaking of Events, the “Countess” players earn Gold equal to the amount of Gold printed on the cards in their Village, as has 2 Event decks, Summer and Winter. well as receiving the amount of Gold equal The Summer Events are used until the first to the amount of coins placed on any of their Market is triggered and then the Winter Villagers. During the 2nd, and final, Market Events are used until the end of the game. Phase players earn Gold equal to the amount You start the game with a “Jester” card which of Gold and Silver printed on their Villagers has a one time use that allows you to discard and they remove the coins on their Villagers an Event. and place them with your other coins. The solo variant proved to be a tough puzzle After the 2nd Market Phase is complete, all to crack, as you are trying to obviously give players tally their coins and the player with the Countess the “worst” cards available, but as the game progresses many of those the most coins wins! cards start to add up due to their synergy, in Like many games these days, Villagers comes particular the Solitary Villagers. Of course with a solo variant. Since I’m a big fan of solo there is also the “problem” of one of the games, I was looking forward to seeing what cards drawn after the Events phase could this one had to offer. You are playing against be a card like “Jeweler” - which is worth 20 the “Countess” and the game is similar to pts! Since I’m not a big fan of randomness The final concept is that of Special Villagers. These can be considered like “action” cards and do not count towards your Build limit. These all have powerful effects, with some of them being discarded after use.

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in games, this element put a damper on an otherwise interesting solo variant. However, if you don’t mind that type of randomness in a game, then you will find that the Solo variant is a challenge and has suggestions for different levels of difficulty.

then this expansion has what you are looking for. I personally wasn’t a fan, though I did appreciate that this style of play was included for those who would enjoy it.

The second module is the Saints expansion. This expansion features some strong special We also took a look at the expansion for the cards that we found to be interesting and game, which contains four modules. useful. We were happy to include them in the standard deck. The first module is the Scoundrels expansion. This features “take that” type cards which The third module is the Profiteers. This might not be suitable for all gaming groups. was the second most interesting expansion, However, if you enjoy that type of gameplay, as it introduces the concept of Bronze coins Continued on next page>

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Villagers

(Cont.)

printed on the cards. These are scored like the Silver and Gold coins, however, they do so at the end of every Build phase. However, you are limited to only scoring 1 Bronze symbol each round. This is another module that we were happy to add to the deck.

from the start of the game are placed back in the box) and it is possible for the token, and the rewards, to change from player to player throughout the game. This really changed the way players “fought� for cards during the drafting phase.

The fourth, and most interesting module is the Development expansion. This expansion features four, oversized, custom wooden tokens that have full color graphics printed on both sides. One of them replaces the First player card, and the other 3 are specifically for the expansion itself. The Development expansion adds a new element to the game, that of a global goals for players to pursue. At the start of the game, one card is drawn from each of the three decks (Technology, Mercantile and Community) and is placed on the table for all players to see. Placed on each card is the relevant wooden token. It also introduces a new phase, the Development Phase, which occurs after each Build phase. Players will check to see if they meet the criteria on the cards, with those meeting it, getting the reward on the card, as well as receiving the related token to show that they currently are the leader for that Development. The 3 cards remain in play for the entire game (the other cards

As mentioned above, we received the Coin Chest as a separate component. The production value on this item is of the same high standard as the rest of the package. In this case there are 150 wooden coins in various denominations that can be used instead of the cardboard tokens. They are of various sizes and colors, and they feel great when handled. These are clearly an upgrade over cardboard coins and they can be used for other games, as the only real graphic element to the coins is their denomination. I’ll gladly use these as replacement/upgrade coins in other games.

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We were quite happy to keep bringing Villagers to the table, as everyone enjoyed the base game, and were impressed with the additional elements. As noted, the production value of the game and its components is quite high, especially if you factor in the Coin Chest, and the overall graphic design is pleasing to the eye.


However, it is the game play that is of prime importance and “Villagers” delivers an enjoyable gaming experience, with or without the expansions. I would recommend playing several games before adding any of the expansions, as you will then learn to appreciate all of the finer aspects of the game as you progressively add each expansion. There were some interesting decisions to be made throughout the game, as all of the high scoring cards required longer Production Chains and you had to keep an eye out for key cards and whether or not you were going to assemble the combo before the game ends. If you see your opponents grabbing the only two “Seekers” in the deck, then either you have to hope for a “Monk” to use in its place, or you have to consider just holding onto the “Jeweler” in order to deny them the opportunity to earn 20 VP’s. So there’s a denial strategy that is running concurrent with your own strategy, which is par for the course with drafting games, yet the “wildcard” nature of the “Monks” make for some interesting possibilities.

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Villagers

(Cont.)

We enjoyed some of the more subtle strategies, such as drafting cards in the early rounds that provided Villagers that could Unlock Padlocks, as they provided a nice source of VP’s throughout the game. We also liked the fact that the Solitary cards also provided an alternate means of obtaining VP’s by Building cards with matching symbols and thus collecting a lot of VP’s during the last scoring round. The only real downside to the game is that there is the element of the “luck of the draw”, as well as your position in the draft, as it is possible to try and put together one of the larger Production Chains only to not have the one card you need show up or gets taken. With its high production values and clean graphic design, Villagers is a welcome addition to our gaming shelves and I’m looking forward to exploring some of the modules more in-depth in the future. If you are a fan of drafting and tableau building games, then this one is certainly one that you will want to take a look at.

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“With its high production values and clean graphic design, Villagers is a welcome addition to our gaming shelves” Haakon Hoel Gaarder Publisher: Sinister Fish Games Players: 1-5 Mechanic: Drafting, Tableau Building Ages: 10+ Length: 30-60 Mins. Designer:

Recommended www.sinisterfish.com


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Rurik: Dawn of Kiev

By Serge Pierro

Innovative Mechanism and High Production Values

W

hile there have been a plethora of games thematically based on Western Europe, the Mediterranean in particular, there have been far fewer games based on the eastern end of the continent. With Rurik: Dawn of Kiev, we are treated to an 11th century themed game that offers an innovative mechanism, “programmed auction”, that provides for a fast paced experience that is full of interesting decision making, as well as an underused theme. Let’s take a look at what this high quality production has to offer.

The first level features an elongated, black plastic insert that has a clear snap on cover that features an embossed “Rurik” logo. This is used to store the wooden resources and the coins (we received the metal coins and they fit inside nicely). Flanking the aforementioned insert are four other square inserts. These also are molded in black plastic and are actually composed of two parts. The top (and most obvious) “lid” is used to store each player’s miniatures and related items. When you remove the lid (not as obvious), there is a player tray beneath it, featuring custom molded areas for each of the meeples and buildings.

Rurik: Dawn of Kiev comes in a 10” x 13 1/4” x 4” box. Upon opening the box The other black plastic, custom insert is at you are greeted with a collection of custom the bottom of the box. This features a clear inserts. snap on cover for the section containing the

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miniatures, as well as slots for the storage of tokens and cards. This is meant to be left in the box and used as a storage insert, whereas the other inserts are meant to be used by the players during the game.

spot. Even the meeples with numbers on them have the number embossed on the storage space so that you know where each item goes. Going this extra yard provides for a much more pleasant breakdown/storage experience.

It should be noted that PieceKeeper Games has not only delivered a top notch Another nice touch is that there is a full production, but they have also taken care of color paper sheet that is included that shows the “little details� which add to the value. the order in which everything is stored in the For instance, each of the inserts contain box! information about what item goes in each

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Rurik: Dawn of Kiev The large 12 page rulebook is the size of the box and is printed on a semi-gloss paper stock. It is lavishly illustrated and contains numerous examples. Pages 4-5 are devoted to a step by step Setup with annotated illustrations. Pages 6-9 feature the rules for the game. Pages 9-11 are for the Solo variant. The back page is a Deed and Agenda card Reference that clarifies the meaning of the various icons on the cards. The rules are clear and a quick read, you will be up and running very quickly.

(Cont.)

The game uses two sizes of cards. The smaller cards measure 1 3/4” x 2 5/8” and the larger tarot size cards measure 2 3/4” x 4 3/4”. Each of them are linen finished and are of a decent card stock. The leader cards feature unobstructed artwork on their backs. The cards are not shuffled or excessively handled during play, so sleeves are unnecessary.

The eight Leader miniatures are gorgeous, which isn’t surprising, considering that they are based on the beautiful artwork on the Leader cards. The 3D sculptor (Heriberto The four panel board has a textured black Valle Martinez) did an excellent job of backing and is made of a sturdy cardboard capturing the likeness of the artwork. Each stock. of the minis measure c.2” and is cast in grey plastic. All of the game’s double sided, player boards are made of a linen finished, sturdy, The Troop miniatures used by each player cardboard stock. The Strategy board has measure 1 1/4” and are cast in four colors: each side devoted to a different player count, red, blue, white and yellow and share the while the Household boards have one side same sculpt. The Rebel miniatures are cast for the main game and the other for the solo in black and also measure 1 1/4”. The Troop variant. I was impressed with the quality and Rebel miniatures are cast in plastic. of these components, as I’ve seen other companies use card stock. The setup for the game is easy and straightforward, thanks to the excellent two All of the cardboard tokens for the game are page setup guide in the rulebook. The player also made of a sturdy cardboard stock that trays go a long way towards keeping each is linen finished and they already come pre- player’s components easily within reach and punched and bagged. sorted.

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The game is played over four rounds, each of which is broken down into three phases: Strategy Phase, Action Phase and Claim Phase. The Strategy Phase is where much of the decision making takes place, as players will be placing their Advisors (meeples) onto the action columns on the Strategy Board. It should be noted that the innovative element of this game is that each of the Advisors has an initiative/power number associated with it. During the Strategy Phase, the higher

the number, the more powerful the Advisor is, and that allows them to take the upper spaces on the action column, while during the Action Phase, these numbers are used for the Initiative, and the lower the number the earlier they will take their action. Higher placement grants more actions, yet lower numbers allow players to take actions earlier. This is crucial to planning within the game. For example: You might want to take two Attack actions and place a powerful “5” atop the action column to do so. Yet, two other players may place their “1’s” on the same column for only one attack action and Continued on next page>

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Rurik: Dawn of Kiev

(Cont.)

have both of their Advisors attack yours and when it is time to resolve your actions, your Advisors are no longer on the board! This interesting mechanism drives your decision making process, and it usually takes a couple of rounds or complete games in order to get a feel for the “correct” strategic order in which to place your Advisors.

actions base on the initiative of their Advisors, with the lowest numbered Advisors resolving first. If there is a tie amongst your Advisors, you get to choose which one you want to resolve this turn, and then you resolve the other one when its your turn to again resolve an action. The actions are: Muster, Move, Attack, Scheme, Tax and Build.

Another interesting concept that occurs during this phase is the use of coins for Bribes. Each coin grants the Advisor +1 power during the Strategy phase, however, it does not affect their Initiative. Example: An advisor with “2” power can Bribe with 4 coins to have a total power of “6”, thus allowing to be placed above an advisor with “5” power that is already on the board, yet when it comes time for the Action Phase, the coins are discarded and the Advisor’s Initiative is “2”.

The Muster action has a range of 3 to 1, with 3 being the top action. When resolving this action you place “X” of your Troops in any area in which you already have at least one Troop. The Move action has a range of 4 to 1, with 4 being the top action. When you resolve this action you receive “X” Movement points which you can assign to any of your Troops. Troops move from their starting area to an adjacent area.

The Attack action has a range of 2 to 1 with 2 being the top action. When resolved you receive “X” Attack points to use against either a Rebel in the area or another player’s Troop. If you target a Rebel, you remove it from the board and place it alongside your player board (to keep track of the number Once everyone has placed their Advisors on of Rebels you defeated), you also receive the the Strategy Board, the Action Phase begins. reward that is displayed on the bottom of the During this phase players will resolve the miniature. (The game comes with stickers to You should be aware that there is a rule that says that you can’t place one of your Advisor’s in a column that already has one of your own, unless you have already placed Advisor’s in three or more different columns that turn.

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attach to the bottom of each Rebel) If you attack an opponent’s Troop, you remove it from the board and return it to their supply. You then move your Warfare marker along the Warfare track one space. Then you check for casualties. This is done by revealing the top card of one of the Scheme decks and checking to see if there is a Casualty Icon (a black silhouette of Troop), if so, then you suffer a casualty as well and you remove one of your Troops from the area and return them to you supply. It should be noted that additional cards may have to be drawn depending on if your opponent originally controlled the region, as well as if there is an opponent’s Stronghold in the area.

The Scheme action ranges from “draw 3 choose 1” to “draw one”. You will draw the appropriate amount of cards from one of the Scheme decks and keep one. If there are any leftover cards, they are placed back on top of the associated deck in any order you choose. This is should be considered a strategic maneuver, as you can place cards with Casualty icons onto the top of a deck in order to inflict casualties on an opponent when they attack. The Tax action has a range of 3 to 1, with 3 being the highest. When resolved, you receive the appropriate amount of actions to Tax a territory. If you Rule the Continued on next page>

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Rurik: Dawn of Kiev territory (More Troops than each other player, including Rebels) you may spend 1 Tax action to collect a Good. If you don’t Rule the territory, then it will cost you 2 Tax actions to collect a Good. Any Good collected are placed on the respective area on the Boat of your player board. The Build action has a range of 2 to 1, with 2 being the highest. You receive “X” Build points to build a structure. It costs 1 Build action for building in a territory you Rule, or 2 Build actions for building in a territory that you don’t Rule. You can build any of your available structures, as long as their isn’t a similar type already constructed there. Example: If there is a red Stronghold in the territory, then no other Strongholds may be built, regardless of the player’s color. The 3 structures are: Church, Market and Stronghold. The Church removes either a Rebel or an opponent’s non-leader Troop from the affected territory and you replace it with one of your Troops. The Market allows you to collect an extra Good or 1 coin, when using the Tax action.

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(Cont.)

The Stronghold counts as +1 Troop for the purpose of determining who Rules a territory. In addition, when an opponent attacks you within this region they draw one additional Scheme card to check for casualties. In addition to all of the aforementioned actions, there are an additional three bonus actions that a player take on their turn: Playing Schemes, Accomplishing Deeds and Converting Goods. If you use the Playing Schemes action you can play one Scheme from your hand per turn. To Accomplish a Deed, you must have a Deed in front of you, if you meet the requirements you gain the rewards and place the card under the top right corner of your player board, as these are worth VP’s at the end of the game. You can flip over one of your Conversion Tokens to use the printed conversion. You may use each Conversion token only once per round. After the Action phase has been completed, the Claim phase takes place. During this phase players will mark their progress/scoring on the Claim Board for the three categories: Rule, Build and Trade. Each category has specific requirements. Once you obtain one of the scoring levels, you can never go lower. Example: If you Rule five Regions, you


move your marker to the 5 VP section on the board. Should you lose control of some Regions and drop below five Regions, you remain at the five Region section. Additionally, players will collect coins based on how many filled columns they have on their boat, receiving one coin per full column. Players will also draw a Deed card from the three face up Deed cards on display. There are also some additional “upkeeps� that take place. And then the next round takes place.

Play continues in this manner until the end of the fourth round, then the game ends and scores are tabulated. Players receive points based on their position of the Claim board, their position on the Warfare track, completed Agenda cards and any Deeds the were fulfilled. The player with the highest score wins. It should be noted that the game also includes an excellent Solo variant. The AI uses an automa deck of cards. Each of the

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Rurik: Dawn of Kiev cards have all of the pertinent information for each of the possible results, and they are read by displaying the bottom card, little by little, to reveal the action to be taken. This proved to work great and provided for a difficult to beat opponent. The other nice aspect of the Solo variant is that there are four different levels of difficulty to choose from and each level uses a different player board. Rurik: Dawn of Kiev proved to be a fast and interesting game that had us wanting to play another game immediately following the one we completed. Although it measures in at 30 minutes per player, the game play is fast and the only thing that slows it down is if someone gets Analysis Paralysis. The Advisors mechanism packed a lot of punch and I expect to see other designers come up with their own variations. As mentioned above, it is quite possible to plan for a “big” turn by placing your most powerful Advisor at the top of a column only to find out that the action is no longer available when it is your turn, as the other players with a faster initiative were able to cross up you plans. The timing of placing your Advisors is of utmost importance, and players will often be jockeying for position in order to obtain the best results.

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(Cont.)

And while the timing of the Advisors is crucial to your success, there is also the timing factor of the game itself. There are only four rounds, and they resolve quickly. We were surprised at how fast the game played. You have to make every move count. This is certainly one of those games where you want to do more than you can, however, this is often because of the game’s length and not necessarily the selection of actions per turn. This has now become my “go to” game when I am looking to play an interesting game that has interesting decisions, yet it doesn’t take several hours to play. Everyone who played it was surprised at how quickly it ended, yet the next game they were more focused on trying to squeeze out as many points as possible. You will definitely have to play the game at least once or twice to get a feel for the game’s rhythm. We also enjoyed that there were multiple paths to scoring points. Ruling Regions, Building structures and Collecting Goods were all viable strategies, with each of them providing similar ranges of victory points. Often times the game would come down to who was able to fulfill their Agenda card and/or complete multiple Deeds. Due to the game being only four rounds, you have to have a laser-like focus on what you are


attempting to do, otherwise you could find yourself not being competitive with the more focused players. It is possible to do multiple paths at once, but you really should focus on at least one of them and then supplement it with perhaps another. Of course your opponents will be trying to do the same, as well as attempting to prevent you from accomplishing your goals!

components were of excellent quality and the inclusion of custom storage inserts, with covers, really added to the overall value of the game. With companies these days jockeying for position and trying to earn your hard earned money, it is quality games such as this, that are going to start to become the baseline for the future, as companies continue to look for means in which to separate themselves from their competitors. It also goes to show We were very impressed with the production how a successful Kickstarter campaign can quality of the game. From the plastic result in a high quality product for those miniatures to the metal coins, all of the who are willing to support it.

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Rurik: Dawn of Kiev

(Cont.)

The solo variant is an excellent addition to an already impressive package. I really enjoyed the process of using the automa deck and I can see myself wanting to play this variant again in the future, as the game play was very reminiscent of our two player games. The only downside is the initial game takes some getting used to as you have to become accustomed to a similar, yet different, set of rules for the AI. I would have preferred to have had a separate player aide for the solo game, so I didn’t have to continuously look things up in the rulebook. However, if you are primarily interested in this as a solo game, then you will in all likelihood have the system down fairly quickly, as there would be no confusion with the rules of the base game. With its high production values and innovative game play, “Rurik: Dawn of Kiev” is a game that I will happily be adding to my collection. Fans of quick paced games that have interesting decisions at every turn, are going to want to take a serious look at this.

Stanislav Kordonskiy Publisher: PieceKeeper Games Players: 1-4 Mechanic: Programmed Auction, Area Control 13+ Ages: 30 Mins. /player Length: Designer:

Highly Recommended www.piecekeepergames.com

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Interview

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By Serge Pierro

• Cytosis • Covalence • Subatomic John Coveyou - Designer/Publisher

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with our readers, can you tell us a little something about yourself?

Did you start designing games at an early age? If so, do you remember what your first game design was like?

My name is John Coveyou and I started designing games as a serious hobby back in 2012. After my first few science games took off on Kickstarter in 2014 and 2015, I decided to quit my posh engineering job and start Genius Games, a tabletop game design and development company. Since then I’ve run 11 successful Kickstarters (8 games, 2 sets of children’s books and a set of human anatomy puzzles). My 12th Kickstarter is live right now!

I have actually loved games for a long time... I still remember the first game I designed as a kid…I was 8 or 9… it was made essentially out of note and sketches on graph paper and was set in a sci-fi world. I convinced a bunch of my neighborhood friends to play it. Not too surprisingly, that game was terrible. But, it was a great experience for me and I guess I wasn’t too daunted! Founding and running a game design company wasn’t something that would have occurred to me back then, but looking back, it makes total sense. It’s fun to see that many aspects of what excited me then, still excite me now.

I also teach courses in Tabletop Game Design, crowdfunding and Entrepreneurship at Webster University in St. Louis.

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Interview

(Cont.)

What games over the years have you enjoyed most, from both the point of personal enjoyment, as well as those that influenced your growth as a designer?

Is there a particular designer that you would be interested in collaborating with? If so, what type of game would you be interested in making?

One game that I ALWAYS come back to is Stone Age. I think it is one of the most elegant and easy to learn games, and yet the decision making and strategic options are incredibly deep.

I’d love to collaborate with Ryan Laukart, Rob Daviau, or Ignacy Trzewiczek. I really want to build an entirely novel world and narrative, and build a series of games out of that world.

I really enjoy well-crafted light games like For Sale, Love Letters, and Virulence, but if I’ve got a bit more time I gravitate toward medium weight euro style games that provide a wide range of interesting decisions.  

What do you think defines your “style” as a game designer, is there a specific mechanic or rule set or… ?

Who are your favorite game designers?

Which one of your games do you consider your best design, and why?

What defines me would be the theme first When the opportunity presents itself, what with a focus on science generally and the real world more broadly. Mechanically, my designs games have you currently been playing? try to stay simple and elegant. Offering player few choices, but each choice has significant Lately I’ve been really into San Juan, but my go consequences. I really like games that are simple to games are For Sale and Stone Age. and clean but still really deep experientially. 

I really admire Ryan Laukat and all the work that he does as both a game designer and artist. I would say either Subatomic, or Genotype, but I His games are very compelling in my opinion. also feel very good about Cytosis. It’s really hard

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to pick because they all do very different things mechanically that I am proud of. Subatomic is a deck-building games and has some really interesting ways to use cards combined with an area majority endgame point counter. I find this combination very clever and enjoyable. Genotype is a dice drafting, worker placement

game with some light engine building. Workers are used to modify the odds of the dice rolls and give players priority over certain dice outcomes. So even though it feels like a worker placement game, the core mechanism is the sequences which players select and use their dice. It’s deceptively fun.Â

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As the owner of Genius Games, what made you want to become a publisher?

around the information we were covering in class? And again, nothing like this existed in the hobby. So... I decided to make them.

I used to work as an engineer and also taught chemistry at a local college in the evenings… yes, because I am a nerd, and because I really love learning and teaching science!

What made you choose to focus your company’s product line as being based on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics)?

Anyway, I played a lot of games and being the science nerd that I was, I started looking for games with accurate science themes. Then I realized, there really weren’t any. At the same time I kept running into the same challenges each semester - my students thought science was ‘too hard’, ‘too boring’, ‘too geeky’, etc… they had a hard time concentrating and were very self-conscious about their efforts. But I noticed that after class, those same exact students would often congregate to talk about games they were playing and spout off tons of complicated statistics and principles from those games. And that’s when a light-bulb went off in my head… Why not combine great game mechanics and with real-world science concepts instead of fantasy world information? Why not try to give the students an experience that was social, multi-sensory, involved some friendly competition or even cooperation - all centered

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Great question - well, initially, because that’s where I was working, that’s my academic passion and expertise. I saw that there are so many gamers who are also scientists, or scientifically inclined who wanted real life science content in a game - but games like that didn’t exist. And as I said, students seem to bring a lot of social baggage in with them to study STEM subjects. More and more we realized that we can offer a way to address that underlying emotional stuff. We really believe that if you don’t, it doesn’t matter how many students you send through a traditional STEM course, they won’t do that well. Or maybe they do ok for the tests but what about long-term retain, or even better a long-term passion and understanding of science. We just want to change the whole dynamic of presenting STEM info in a very


dry and impersonal way, so that students have a greater chance of finding something fun or beautiful or meaningful in it, and then taking ownership of their own learning.

Well it means I can design whatever I want, which maybe is not a good thing even though it feels great. I try and let my business side define what I prioritize as a designer, to make sure we have sellable product into the future.

Seeing as how you are both a publisher and designer, how does the business side influence Can you share your design process for your game designs and how does your game choosing a STEM subject and then choosing/ developing a mechanism for it, or vice versa? design influence your business decisions?

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One of the core features of each of my games is that the design begins with the science concept, and that concepts governs how the game will play and therefore how it will be designed. In this way, the rules of the game and the actions you take while playing accurately embody the science theme! I call this interplay of the science and gameplay the “internal logic” of the game. The internal logic is always a foundational biology, chemistry or physics concept. For each of our games, the goal in the back of my mind is to keep the science as accurate as possible, while also looking to make the mechanics as much fun as possible! The MOST important thing is that the fun parts of the game are integrally related to understanding the rules. So if I’ve done my job designing the game, players are rewarded with fun actions for mastering the rules - and, since the rules are actual science facts and concepts, then, when they’ve learned the game, they’ve learned the science, as an unavoidable consequence! This keeps people incentivized to play - because doing the science part is fun.  (You can find plenty of ‘educational games’ that make you work problems or answer questions and then let you do a totally unrelated fun thing… that’s what I’m trying to NOT do!)

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Throughout the development process, those two goals - accurate science, and great gameplay - often butt heads. It would be so much easier to do just one or the other! In some ways the science really restricts what I’m able to do with the mechanics, but in the end, I think those restrictions make the game more unique, because I have to really think outside the box in order to stay within the limitations set by the science.

We have reviewed several of your excellent games and have commented on their value as a teaching medium, how have the games been met with in the education community? Have any schools adopted them for use within their curriculum? I design games to be scientifically accurate, rather than designing them with the goal of being pedagogical. That’s an important distinction to me -  I don’t want to make educational games, I want to make hobby board games themed very accurately around central science topics.  That being said, since the games are so accurate, many teachers around the world use them in their classroom as a jumping off point for


diving deeper into biology or chemistry. We’ve had many interactions with teachers who say that the games have given their students a way to become emotionally engaged with biology or chemistry, or that their students really get into having a tangible way to interact with some of the more abstract concepts. That makes me quite happy.

When I was in fourth grade I became obsessed with reading textbooks on Chemistry, and the Periodic Table of Elements was a focal point of fascination (my favorite element was Galium). How did you go about developing the idea of using the Periodic Table as the game board for “Periodic: A Game of The Elements”?

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We knew from the very beginning that the to do so. It also means we will be publish more periodic table needed to be the staple feature games from designers other than myself, which of the game, it was figuring out how that was I am VERY happy about. the real challenge. We started with cards, and players were trying to build the periodic table through a number of selection mechanism, but What can you tell us about your line of science books for kids? that didn’t work very well.  We finally came up with the idea of playing move their flasks across the periodic table in order to find elements, this worked well but we got stuck for a while on a card driven way for players to figure out how they will move. 

Actually we just licensed those to a book publisher, Science Naturally! They will be printing them moving forward but we will still be looking for new manuscripts to publish under them as well.

Paul Soloman finally tried a few things and came up with the current energy economy that dictated how player move and we fell in love with that almost immediately.

Do you have any plans to release any of your games as apps for the mobile platforms? Not any time soon unless someone wants to do that for me.

Recently Genius Games acquired Artana, the Are there any other upcoming projects that publisher of “Tesla vs. Edison” and other you are at liberty to discuss or announce? games, what does this acquisition mean to We have a lot of really interesting projects I Genius Games? It means we will be focusing on games other than just hard science moving forward. I’ve been wanting to publish a broader selection of games, other than hard science and this will allow us

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am excited about. For the Genius line, we have a series of math games called Math Rush that are super fun. We have a plant cell version of Cytosis, a game about Astrobiology, and an early prototype for a game about Newtonian physics.


For the Artana line we have a game called Empire of the Dinosaurs that was designed and illustrated by an artist who has extensive knowledge of the science and history of dinosaurs. We are in the middle of licensing a game called On The Origin of Species, which is a really beautiful game about Darwin’s journey through the Galapagos, and few other that we can’t announce just yet.

What advice would you have for would be game publishers? I have a lot of advice for would be publishers. Start with a brand in mind, don’t make a game and then start a publishing company to launch it. This might be the best way to launch a single game, but you will soon find out its a bad way to grow a company. Identify exactly what types of games you want to be publishing in 5 years and 15 years, and use that as guidance for what the company which includes bookkeeping, administration, keeping account of everything, you make and publish now. and lastly is generating sales and marketing the From the very beginning, keep your personal products in order to keep the company growing. finances and company finances separate. This If I could do it all over, I’d find a partner that will save a lot of headache.  has complementary skills to me so I can focus In my opinion there are three sides to every on what I am good at and he/she could focus company. One is making something to sell on one of these three items above that they are (or delivering a service), another is operating good at. 

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(Cont.)

What advice would you have for aspiring game designers?

This will help you with a couple things. First, and maybe most importantly, you’ll learn not to fall in love with a certain aspect or mechanic of a game so much that you are unwilling to let it go, even if it doesn’t serve this game well. You’ll learn to take feedback and that a game is just think you’re working on, and how good or bad it is is not a reflection on you. 

First I would ask, do just want to make a game or do you want to be a game designer. These are different things. Anyone can “make a game” that’s easy and it doesn’t mean the game is going anywhere. But to be a game designer, that takes practice, perseverance and the willingness to fail over and over again and the emotional maturity to learn from those failures. And when you do Second, you’ll learn how to really think outside that, you realize there’s no such things as failure, the box and get really creative with all the possible uses of components. This will be a great just another thing you’ve learned. asset in your designer toolkit.  Something that was a huge benefit to me as a new game designer that I heartily suggest is Third, you’ll learn to iterate quickly.  to do disciplined design sprints. Set yourself a short timeline in which to design a small game Another bit of advice that I would give is to learn with a specific limited amount of components, what to leave out of your game. As a designer, say only eight dice. Design it, playtest it, fix you’ll often generate way more content than it, maybe playtest it again, then toss the idea you can possibly fit into a game. Figure out in the trash. Now, create an entirely new game what is truly essential to your game, then strip (can’t use the the same core mechanism as the away what doesn’t enhance or support those previous one) with those same eight dice, and essentials.  repeat. Then do that over and over and over again and once you get totally and completely No once you have a game, here is some advice sick of designing dice games, then repeat the on how to make it better.  whole thing but with tokens… and then tiles… and then cards…, etc…  

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Once you’ve played your rough prototype to see how it functions, here are a few keys things to consider to start developing it into the final product. Fix the Worst Things First. Remember back in school when you made mostly 80’s and 90’s in on all your assignments, but still your overall grade was a 75%... how come? Usually it was because there were one or two assignments that you totally bombed - and that pulled your entire grade down! In the same way, those few elements in your game that are the most irritating to playtesters, the most difficult to explain, or remember, etc. Those are the ones that bring their overall impression of the game Your most Valuable Tool - Listening. Games down. Focus on fixing those worst things first, that offer rich, memorable experiences get and you’ll get a great return on your effort.  talked about more often, get played more often, and get purchased more often. That’s a fact! Find the Fun -  then Amplify It! What actions With this in mind, remember that game design do players enjoy taking most as they play your is NOT about the thing you make - rather it’s game? Make sure these are things that are about the experience people have playing the optimal paths to victory. It would not be a great game. So as you refine your game, you need every experience if the things that win you the game clue you can get about what that experience is are the least enjoyable things things to do, and if really like for people. Listen very carefully for things that were the most fun (and appropriately what’s behind every excited laugh, frustrated challenging) things didn’t get you anywhere in comment, and even minor critiques. the game. 

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Crusader Kings

By Serge Pierro

Marriage and Mayhem!

A

s we continue to see games crossing over from other fields of entertainment, it is always fascinating to see a video game ported over to a board game. The Crusader Kings board game captures the essence of the video game, yet it’s a board game that can stand on its own. Let’s see what it has to offer.

and the aforementioned cover with logo. The bottom insert section has a well for the storage of the bags and player boards, as well as having one edge raised higher to store all of the cards. The previous level of insert rests above the well section and is level with the bottom level’s card section. The first insert sits on top of both. My only quibble with this otherwise excellent storage system, is that the foot soldiers are not stored by groups, instead they are spread across the insert. I also would have liked to have some type of photo, engraving, etc. that said which miniature went into each area, thus making it easier to put the game back into the box without having to go through a “trial and error” routine to find out where each miniature went.

Crusader Kings comes in a 11 3/4” x 11 3/4” x 4 1/2” lightly linen finished box that features custom, storage trays/inserts. The first level of trays is the size of the box and measures 1” deep. The base is made of black plastic which is molded to the shapes of the figures and castles and it features a clear plastic cover to tray that is embossed with Crusader Kings in the font used on the box. The next layer features a tray that is The 36 page rulebook measures 8 1/2” x c. 2/3rds the size of the box and it contains 11” and is sparsely illustrated with a few text the rest of the knight figures mounted on examples. Pages 4-17 contains the setup of horses. This too has a black, plastic base the game and the rules. Pages 18-22 explain

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the game’s concepts. Pages 22-27 are devoted The nicely designed, six panel board has to the solo/2 player variant, along with the a light linen finish and is made of a sturdy five different AI strategy tables. And pages cardboard stock. Each panel measures 10 28-34 are devoted to the game’s six different 3/4” x 10 3/4” starting Scenarios. The cardboard components all come on six While all of the pertinent information is large punchboards that are made of a sturdy contained in the rulebook, it will take several cardboard stock that is linen finished. minutes to read through it all. And while the gameplay is fairly easy and straightforward, The standard size cards are all linen finished there is a lot of text to read without many and are made of a somewhat thin card stock. illustrations to break up the “wall of text”. Since the cards aren’t really “handled” much throughout the game, they are fine as they are and sleeving can be considered optional, though not necessary. Continued on next page>

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(Cont.)

The mini cards are of the same stock and game up. It should be noted that there are six finish as the regular cards and they measure starting Scenarios in the back of the rulebook 2 1/2” x 1 5/8”. and besides offering more replayability, they also offer different play experiences. They The player boards are made of a thin recommend Scenario #6, “The Kingdom of cardboard stock and come/store folded in Jerusalem” Tournament Version, as your first half. The player aides and the Dynasty cards scenario, and I would agree with that, seeing appear to be made of the same material. as how all of the Dynasties start with Casus Belli and the game lasts only two Eras instead The cloth bags all have drawstrings and the of three. The shorter game time provides a larger General Trait bag is the nicest of the good introduction to the overall gameplay bunch. These are all of a decent quality and and Dynasties were able to engage in combat look great. quicker due to the starting Casus Belli. Not surprisingly the main eye candy of the game is the inclusion of the miniatures. Each of the Factions are cast in a different color, as well as having distinctly different poses/sculpts. The colors are: red, yellow, blue, green and black. The sculpts are quite nice, however, the colors proved to be a bit distracting, as they made them look a bit “toylike” as compared to a more “serious” look. The Castles are all molded in solid grey plastic. The rulebook devotes two pages for the setup of the game, as well as providing a view of the man board and player boards, so by following the step by step instructions you should have no problem with setting the

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One of the more interesting aspects of the game, is that of the Trait tokens. When you choose your Dynasty and Scenario you are told what King to start with, as well as the gold bordered, Starting Trait tokens. Example: Having an Italian heritage, I always chose one of the Italian Dynasties, such as Casa D’Altavilla. The starting King is Roberto il Guiscardo and he receives the following Starting Trait tokens to place in your Trait Bag: Clever, Honest, Ambitious and Deceitful. Clever and Honest are both green and Ambitious and Deceitful are both red. Throughout the game you will have to make Trait Checks, by pulling tokens randomly from your Trait Bag. Green will equal success, whereas red will indicate failure.


The game is organized into three Eras. In Once each player has 8 cards the first Round each Era there will be three rounds, each of of the Era begins. During the Dynasty phase, each player, in turn order, may make which, will have two turns. an attempt a Marriage for their King, Sibling Essentially at the start of each Era, in turn or Child. Character cards with a red token order, each player will choose 8 cards from on them are automatic, whereas those with among the stacks of Action cards. Printed green tokens require a Trait Check. If your on the board is the minimum/maximum King gets married, the queen’s Trait token is amounts of cards that each player is allowed added to your bag. to take from a stack. Example: The stack of Tax cards indicates that you can take between During the Plotting phase each player will 0-2 cards. You are not allowed to look at choose 2 cards to play for their two Turns the cards that you’ve chosen until you have this Round and place them in the order in which they will be played. chosen all 8 of them. Continued on next page>

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(Cont.)

On a player’s Turn they will play their Action The Develop Action allows you to buy cards card for that Turn. They will take the Action from the three face up Development cards on listed on the card and then they will resolve the board. The first card costs 1 Gold, the the Event listed on the bottom of the card. second 2 Gold and the third 3 Gold. Once cards have been purchased the empty areas After each player has taken their two Turns are restocked. You can have only one of each for the Round, they repeat the above process Development card and only three Inventions again. If this was the third Round of the and three Councilors. Era, then the players move onto the next Era. Play continues in this fashion until the end The Intrigue cards let you choose between of the third Era, when the game ends and the the Plot or Overthrow Action. scores are tabulated. The game can also end if a player reaches the 10th Crusade space. Of all the Actions, Plot is the one with the most options: Manufacture Casus Belli, The Action cards are the driving force of Incite Unrest, Murder, Bribe and Divorce. the game and offer a variety of choices for the player to make. There are five different Casus Belli gives the player the prerequisite types of Action cards: Realm, Intrigue, War, for war. If the Trait Check is successful, the Tax and Crusade. player will place the appropriate token on their player board and then may Invade in The Realm cards allow you to choose the future. between the Build or Develop Action. Whereas Casus Belli prepares a territory The Build Action requires a Trait Check, to be Invaded, Incite Unrest prepares an and if successful, it allows you to build adjacent territory to be Overthrown. If the a Castle for 3 Gold. Each territory may Trait Check is successful, an Unrest token is only contain one Castle. During the game placed in the target territory. each Castle you control will grant you an additional Gold during a Tax Action, as well Murder is one of the most powerful, and as requiring an additional success when you annoying, options. A successful Trait Check are attacked with an Invade or Overthrow will Murder any character in the game, Action. At the end of the game each Castle including your own. However, a King you control is worth 1 VP. requires 3 successes on a Trait Check draw, instead of the standard 1 success.

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Bribe allows you to steal Councilors from On a successful Trait Check, the Overthrow other players. As part of a successful Trait Action allows you to target an adjacent Check, the bribing player has to pay an territory that has an Unrest Token and remove their Knight from the area, thus additional 2 Gold as part of the action. making it an independent territory. After The Divorce option allows you to remove a removing the Knight, a Character card is spouse of a King, Sibling or Child. They are put in the area and a random Trait token is removed from the game if the Trait Check is placed on top of it. successful. The War cards let you choose between the Not only does Plot have the most options, Mobilize and Invade Actions. but it also allows you to take multiple options by paying 1 Gold for the second The Mobilize Action allows you to option, 2 Gold for the third option and 3 automatically place a Foot Soldier into one Gold for the fourth option. You are limited of the territories you control. to a maximum of 4 options on a Plot card and no two of them can be the same. Continued on next page>

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(Cont.)

The Invade Action uses your Foot Soldiers to attack a territory. There are several associated rules that go with it, however the gist of it is that you have to make a successful Trait Check, while factoring in the defense of the targeted area, as opposing Foot Soldiers, Castles and Duchies each force you to draw an additional successful Trait token from your bag. If you are successful, all of the enemy forces are removed from the area and you place one of your Knights from the supply into the invaded area.

While most of the scoring is going to be done by the area control mechanism, there is the opportunity to score additional points by accomplishing specific Achievements. The Achievements are: Crusader, Builder, Inventor and King of Jerusalem. The Crusader Achievement is awarded to the first player to have 2 Dynasty Shields on the Crusade Track. The Builder Achievement is awarded to the first player who builds the first 3 Castles.

The Tax cards allow you to use the Tax Action, which allows you to collect 1 Gold The Inventor Achievement is for the first per Knight and Castle that you currently player to have 4 Development cards on their control. Though it is possible for this number player board. to be modified by several in-game factors. The King of Jerusalem Achievement is for The Crusade cards are used for the Crusade the player who reaches the 10th space on the Action. One of the rules of the game is Crusade Track, which also ends the game. that you have to send one of your male Characters on a Crusade, once per Era - it Each of the aforementioned Achievements is not optional. If you perform a successful are worth 1 VP each. Trait Check, you are rewarded with the First Player token and you place the Trait Token The end of the game is triggered by either on the Crusade Track into your bag, while completing all three Eras or if a player placing your Dynasty Shield on the relevant becomes the King of Jerusalem. Scoring will space. Until the end of the game you receive then take place, with each territory controlled the effect printed on the Crusade space that being worth 1 VP and each Achievement you completed. earned being worth 1 VP. The player with the most points wins.

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Although Crusader Kings is primarily a 3-5 player game, it does include a Solo variant, as well as a two player variant. Essentially they are the same, as they both use AI “players” for the other Dynasties. What’s nice is that there are five different AI’s to choose from: Aggressive, Developer, Defensive, Lustful and Crusader. I found that the AI games were actually quite interesting, as they were able to provide for a challenging experience and played in a “human” fashion.

We also played with the Crusader Kings: Councilors & Inventions Expansion. The expansion adds 24 miniatures to the game 1 for each of the Councilors and Inventions in the base game. The expansion comes in a 10 3/4” x 7 1/4” x 1 1/2” box and has a black plastic insert that slides out to display the miniatures. The minis are cast in grey plastic and each of them measure between 1” and 1 1/2”, depending on the sculpt.

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(Cont.)

Included is a four page pamphlet that explains the rules for using the miniatures. Essentially, when you purchase a Development card you place the associated miniature on top of it. While it is on the card, the card functions as normal. However, during the Dynasty phase of a Round you are able to either move one mini that you control onto the board, or off of the board and place back on your Development card. When the miniature is placed on the game board, the associated card no longer has any effect. Instead, the miniature grants new abilities. Example: When the Steward is placed in one of your territories, you gain two extra draws for a Trait Check when building a Castle, as well as reducing its cost by 1 Gold. We found that the various new abilities were a welcome and worthwhile addition to the game, as it took the game to the next level. The expansion would be a welcome addition for any group who feels that the game will be hitting the table often, as it offers more strategic choices and interesting decisions. My only issue with the expansion is that the abilities are only printed inside the pamphlet. I would have preferred to have some player aides, so we could see what each miniature did, instead of passing around the pamphlet.

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Overall this proved to be an enjoyable game that everyone liked. And although it weighs in at 3 hours for a game, it never felt like it overstayed its welcome and after each game we were surprised to find out that the game was 3 hours, as we felt like it was much shorter. The idea of the Trait tokens is ingenious. Throughout the game we were constantly calculating the odds of a successful draw and were leery of adding any of the red tokens, though at times it was unavoidable. We found that it was better to Crusade late in an Era, as that way you wouldn’t have to add the red token from the Crusade to your bag until towards the end of the Era, thus providing better odds on pulls earlier in the Era. It was a simple mechanism, but one that proved to be interesting, both in terms of adding a “controlled randomness� to the game, as well as providing for some interesting banter based on the Traits. And speaking of Character Traits, there was just enough information provided for players to role-play their Characters, if interested. They turned out to be more fun than we had originally thought they would be. There were many instances of laughing/roleplaying as a new Character and its randomly chosen


Trait hit the table. Kudos to the design team the game progressed it became harder and for adding this additional element to the harder to avoid the results. experience. Perhaps the only real downside to the game is The “pick 8 play 6” method of card play that the Dynasties were symmetrical. I would provided for some tough decision, both have preferred to have seen asymmetrical as far as what cards to play and when to Dynasties, as they would not only enhance play them. Oftentimes you were forced to the game play, but also contribute to more help an opponent, just so that you could replayability, as players would want to try all implement you own strategy. While other of the Dynasties to see what they had to offer. times you had to hurt yourself by having an Currently the only real “advantage” any of Event affect you. Some of them were more the Dynasties have is their position on the viable at the start of the game, as the effects map, and France is clearly at a disadvantage, weren’t able to affect anyone in play, but as since they are in the middle of the map with potential enemies on all sides. Continued on next page>

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As strange as it may sound, the concept of Marriage and having heirs to the throne, proved to be an fascinating mechanism that greatly influenced the game play. Several players were a bit reluctant to play the game based on the Marriage mechanism, but after playing a game, they really enjoyed it. Another impressive element of the game was that of the Age tokens. This added a bit of an individual timing element to the game, as each player had to stay aware of how much longer their King was going to remain alive and if they had an heir ready to take over when the King died. And while you are able to see how “old” the King was getting, there are events that add and subtract Age tokens, so it wasn’t always “clear” as to when the King was going to die. Overall, this proved to be an excellent game that everyone enjoyed. The scoring was very tight and there were a lot of tough decisions to be made when choosing and playing the Action cards. We felt that building and defending Castles were an important strategy. However, some people felt that murder and mayhem were the path to pursue. Either way, the game proved to be engrossing and although it does take 3 hours to play, we do look forward to having it hit the table again soon! If you are looking for a “featured game” on your game night, this would make for a solid choice.

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Tomas Harenstam Publisher: Free League Players: 3-5 & (Solo & 2 player variant) Mechanic: Area Control, Bag Builder Ages: 14+ Length: 180 Mins. Designer:

Highly Recommended www.paradoxplaza.com


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Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne

By Serge Pierro

Digital Card Game Transformed Into an Analog Deckbuilder

W

hile it is not uncommon to have a card game ported over to an app, it is rarer to have a digital only card game ported over as an actual card game. An adaption of the popular, and free, online digital CCG game, Eternal is now available as a physical card game, Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne. From the company that brought you Clank and the Eternal online card game, we have a combination of the former’s deckbuilding aspects combined with the battling nature of the latter. Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne comes in a 8” x 5 3/4” x 2 1/2” box that features spot varnishing on the logos for the box’s top and sides, as well as for part of the graphic on the box top. Inside there is a black, custom cardboard insert that has two wells,

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one featuring “finger holes” for taking out the cards and the other for storing the tokens and Health Trackers. The 16 page rulebook contains numerous illustrations, as well as several examples/ clarifications. The rules are simple and clear, you should have no problem getting up and running in short time. There is also a two page FAQ, regarding specific cards/situations. As a bonus, there is the inclusion of a special “scratch off” card that can be redeemed for a “Curiox Totem”, 10 packs of cards and a Draft Ticket for the digital game. That’s a pretty nice package, especially for players new to the game. Regular online players will appreciate the inclusion of the Draft Ticket!


The cards are of a decent card stock and shuffle nicely. Due to the nature of this game, I would recommend that the cards be sleeved, especially since the cards themselves lack a linen finish.

Setting up the game is no different from any other deckbuilder, although the rulebook does designate certain areas for certain cards, but experienced players will probably set it up in a manner that is “comfortable” for them. Essentially there is a “buy” row (The All of the cardboard tokens are made of a Forge) and players will play cards in front of sturdy material. themselves. The Health Trackers are made of a thick At the start of the game each player will cardboard stock and come pre-assembled. be given the same 9 cards for their decks. They each contain a rotating dial that displays However, the tenth card is where Eternal: your current Health. Chronicles of the Throne shows an innovation. Continued on next page>

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Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne

Each player’s tenth card is randomly given to them from a deck of ten “basic units”. Each of these units are different and have two different Influences printed on them. These will be familiar to players of the online game, such as Rakano (Fire/Justice), Combrei (Justice/Time) and others. I was happy to see that “Awakened Student” was chosen as the Combrei card, as that is the avatar that I use in the online game. Each of these basic units give the player a bit of a direction in which to consider purchasing cards that would synergize with them. Additionally they also each have asymmetrical abilities, as well as providing either 1 or 2 points of Strength.

(Cont.)

At the start of the game, the first player will draw three cards and the next player, four. Afterwords, everyone will draw five cards. On a player’s turn they may Play a cards, Purchase cards and Block.

Players will play all of the cards from their hand. If it is a spell, they will resolve it. If it is a Relic, it will remain in play, until it is removed. When a Unit is played, it will either be used to Block an opponent’s attack or will be used to attack an opponent. If you don’t Block any of your opponent’s attackers, you will take the damage. At the end of your turn, if you have any Units still in play, they And while I loved the concept of using a will attack your opponent on their turn. useful, random, basic unit as the tenth card, I absolutely hated the inclusion of “Worn Purchasing cards is fairly straightforward, Shield” and “Refresh”. Both of these had you use the Power listed on the cards to buy abilities that can only be use when the Eternal cards from the Forge area and placed into Throne card has been revealed, thus making your discard pile. It should be noted that at 20% of your starting deck useless for most, the start of the game each player receives 2 if not all, of the game. It’s a nice concept, Warp tokens. Some of the cards in the game but poorly implemented, as players were have a Warp icon on them and these can be unhappy anytime they drew these cards.

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bought and used on the same turn by paying their cost and flipping over one of your Warp tokens. This is similar to the “Mercenary” effect in the game Shards of Infinity, yet here it is tied to the use of a Warp token. Once you have used both Warp tokens you will have to wait until you can flip them back to their usable side, in order to use them again. This is primarily done through the use of the card “Refresh” whose ability (Refresh your Warp tokens) is triggered by the Eternal Throne being revealed.

Blocking is done in response to a player’s attack. If your opponent is attacking you, you will have to Block on your turn or take the damage. In order to Block your Unit’s Strength must be equal to or greater than the attacking Unit’s Strength. If a Unit blocks, both the defender and the attacker are placed in their respective discard piles. Otherwise, the defender takes the damage of the attackers and the attackers are placed in the attacker’s discard pile. Any Units that didn’t block for you now become attackers on your opponent’s turn. Continued on next page>

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Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne

(Cont.)

there will be players who will disappointed that their favorite characters/cards were not included in this game, but should the game prove to be successful, perhaps we’ll see them in a future expansion.

Play continues in this manner until one player has been reduced to zero life, at which time they lose. The remaining player is the winner. However, in a multiplayer game there is a Bounties system where the player There is certainly an added level of who takes an opponent down to zero gains 5 Health and takes any card from the Forge excitement/interest in playing the game area for free and puts it into their hand. The because of my familiarity of the characters and such, though I wonder if the lack of last player remaining is the winner. knowledge of the online game would damper Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne is a welcome the experience for someone unfamiliar with addition to my collection of deckbuilding the online game. I tend to think that the games. While it doesn’t offer anything game is able to stand on is own, as the game “revolutionary” in terms of mechanisms and play itself obviously doesn’t contain the such, it does offer a solid deckbuilder with scope or depth of an online CCG, but it is interesting combos. Dire Wolf Digital has certainly a solid deckbuilder. put forth an assortment of interesting abilities The most interesting aspect of the game that do a good job of capturing the essence of the online game, while at the same time comes from putting together some of the providing players who are unfamiliar with game’s more interesting combinations. On your initial plays you might be tempted the online game a pleasurable experience. to just buy the “best cards”, however, on Online players will enjoy seeing stalwarts repeated plays you will want to start to work such as Vara, Kaleb, Rolant, Jekk and others, on building more synergy by focusing on in a physical card form. They will also gains a specific Influence or two. This would be a deeper appreciation of the artwork, as it is in the same manner of when you had first larger than it appears on screen. Of course played “Star Realms”, and then later focused on exploiting a specific synergy.

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Although it would be quite difficult to distill many of the best aspects of the online game into a physical card game (The “War Cry” ability comes quickly to mind), there are moments where there are some similarities. For the most part, the use of tokens, especially the Grenadin tokens, help to capture some of the flavor of the online game. The use of the Warp tokens added an additional level of strategy and decision making. Since you have only two tokens you have to time their usage for the best results. Of course if you pursue an Eternal Throne strategy you will be able to use them more often due to the card “Refresh”, but on the other hand, your opponent will be able to do the same. I enjoyed the game quite a bit, unfortunately there were some things I didn’t like. As I have previously mentioned, I disliked having both “Refresh” and “Worn Shield” as part of my initial deck. Both of these cards were useless, unless the Eternal Throne was revealed, and they just took up space in your hand. This really put a damper on the play experience, as players audibly groaned when they drew both of them in a hand and were unable to

buy anything of importance. We didn’t like being “penalized” right from the start of the game. And speaking of the Eternal Throne, I thought it was an excellent concept, however the implementation left a lot to be desired. First of all, in order for the Eternal Throne to be revealed the “Seek Power” cards on top of it have to be purchased. Costing “3”, “Seek Power” provides “2” Power and when the Eternal Throne is revealed it can be Banished to put a temporary “2” Strength Cavalry token into play. We never found this to be very useful, especially since the “Veteran Mercenary” card cost only “2” and produced “1” Power while providing a constant “2” Strength throughout the game. There just wasn’t enough of a reward to use an “Eternal Throne/Seek Power” strategy. I’d love to see this tweaked, as this is an excellent idea that I’d love to see fully realized. Another aspect of the game that I’d like to see more of is the availability of cards that have the Banish ability. There were only a handful of cards that allowed you to Banish (“Trash”) cards in your discard or hand. Since one of my favorite aspects of deckbuilders is

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Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne

(Cont.)

the customization of the deck on the fly, I Other than some of those aforementioned consider these card types to be essential for points, overall I really enjoyed playing the game and continue to “leave it out” for an interesting game. when someone stops by and wants to play We found the Attack/Defense system to be a quick game. I have happily added this to fast and fascinating. The choice of whether my collection and hope that the game gains to block or not made for some interesting enough traction so that Dire Wolf Digital decision making throughout the game. At and Renegade Game Studios would decide first it would seem that you would always to release an expansion. If you play the want to block, but on further plays there online game, then this is a no-brainer, as you are many opportunities to instead take the will love having the opportunity to play with damage and harvest a better return with the characters/cards from the online game. your own attack instead. Many of the card’s If you are a fan of deckbuilders, then this is effects within the game made this even one that you might want to take a look at, as more interesting. Example: “Recurring the cards themselves have interesting abilities Nightmare” has “2” Strength and Flying. and the Attack/Defend decisions will prove If it damages your opponent it remains in to be interesting. play. This proved to be quite powerful when facing an opponent without any Flyers, as it would attack each turn and stay around in Designer: Paul Dennen order to do so again, until either they were Publisher: Renegade Game Studios able to bring a Flyer into play or I needed to Players: 2-4 Block. Mechanic: Deckbuilder

Ages: Length:

12+ 30-45 Mins.

Recommended www.renegadegamestudios.com

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Holiday Gift Guide

By Serge Pierro

Abstract

When it comes to contemporary Abstract games, I feel that Tzaar is by far the best one currently available. Part of Kris Burm’s GIPF series, Tzaar is a game that uses simple rules to provide for a complex strategic experience. If I was going to recommend any non-Chess Abstract game, this would be the one!

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Kris Burm Rio Grande Games 2 12+ 30 Mins.

www.riograndegames.com

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Another amazing game in the GIPF series is Dvonn. What makes this one so fascinating is that when a group of pieces become disconnected from the a group containing one of the DVONN pieces, they are removed from the game. Thus shrinking the “board” and changing the possible movements of the remaining pieces. Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Kris Burm Rio Grande Games 2 12+ 30 Mins.

www.riograndegames.com

One of the most striking Abstract in recent memory would be Rui Alipio Monteiro’s Trench. From its beautiful black and white aesthetics to its engaging game play, Trench has found its way onto many gamer’s tables, as well as appearing as a featured game in the Mind Sports Olympiad.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Rui Alipio Monteiro Outer Limit Games 2 10+ 45-60 Mins.

www.outerlimitgames.com


Themed Abstract

I consider Hive to be amongst the best Abstract games available today. With its deep, strategic gameplay and its ability to be played without a board, Hive is a portable game that can be enjoyed almost anywhere! Players who enjoy calculating moves several plies deep, will certainly enjoy this game!

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

John Yianni Gen42 Games 2 9+ 20 Mins.

www.gen42.com

Onitama is an excellent example of a card driven Abstract game. With its innovative use of cards that determine the moves a player can make, and it’s excellent production values, it is a game that is always greeted with excitement when brought to the table - even with my nongamer friends.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Shimpei Sato Arcane Wonders 2 14+ 15 Mins.

www.arcanewonders.com

Of the commercial Abstract games currently in the marketplace, you would be hard pressed to find one with higher production values than Santorini. A solid Abstract that is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of “god” cards, which give each player different abilities, thus increasing the depth and replayability of the game. Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Gordon Hamilton Roxley Games 2-4 8+ 20 Mins.

www.roxley.com

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Holiday Gift Guide (Cont.)

Sports

As an avid fantasy baseball fan, I’ve played several of the classic stat based games of the past. However, when it comes to contemporary baseball games, Mike Fitzgeralds’ Baseball Highlights 2045 is an ingenious deckbuilder that appeals to both gamers and non-gamer sport fans.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Mike Fitzgerald Eagle Games 1-4 10+ 45-60 Mins.

www.eaglegames.net

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As a cyclist, I’m always on the look out for a quality bicycle racing game. I’m happy to say that Flamme Rouge fits the bill, as it does an excellent job of capturing the grind of a professional bicycle race… complete with exhaustion. The ability to construct custom tracks is another bonus.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Asger Sams Granerud Lautapelit.fi 2-4 8+ 30-45 Mins.

www.lautapelit.fi

Automobiles is actually one of my favorite games, due in part to its brilliant design and ease of play. Besides capturing the spirit of automobile racing, it provides a system that is both elegant and innovative. The various maps and cards, it provides excellent replayability, and it really shines with the expansion!

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

David Short AEG 2-5 14+ 45 Mins.

www.alderac.com


Eurogame

When it comes to deep, strategic Eurogames, “Terra Mystica” provides perhaps the best experience of its type. From the wide range of Factions available, to the “no luck involved” game play, there’s a reason why this game is at the top of many serious gamers “best game” lists.

Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Jens Drogemmuller & Helge Ostertag

Z-Man Games 2-5 14+ 60-150 Mins.

https://zmangames.com

With its innovative Mancala mechanism and its board of several “mini-games”, “Trajan” is my favorite Stefan Feld designed game. There are multiple paths to victory and each game is intellectually challenging as you try to manipulate the Mancala mechanism to provide favorable strategic setups. I never get tired of playing it. Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Stefan Feld Passport Game Studios 2-4 13+ 30 Mins./player

www.passportgamestudios.com

Splotter is well known for their well designed and deep strategic games. And while the board graphics might be a bit underwhelming, “Food Chain Magnate” is easily one of the best games currently available. This is a “gamer’s game” and features an innovative card driven mechanism that provides for a rewarding gaming experience.

Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Jereon Doumen & Joris Wiersinga

Splotter 2-5 14+ 120-140 Mins.

www.splottershop.com

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Holiday Gift Guide (Cont.)

Co-op

Although I am generally not a fan of Co-op games, I must admit Pandemic Legacy: Season One was one of my most memorable gaming experiences. Due to its surprises, production vallues and tense game play, it is easy to see why this has become an instant classic.

Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Matt Leacock & Rob Daviau

Z-Man Games 2-4 13+ 60 Mins.

www.zmangames.com

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If you are looking for a Coop game that is just plain fun, then Magic Maze is going to be the one you’ll want to play. With its “no talking allowed” rule and a pawn used to “tell” a player to move, the game quickly becomes a frantic scramble, followed by laughing.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Kasper Lapp Sit Down! 1-8 8+ 15 Mins.

www.sitdown-games.com

I remember when this game was first released and how innovative it was with its “players vs. game” mechanism. This is where the whole Co-op craze basically started and it still proves to be challenging to this day. Reiner Knizia captures the essence of The Lord of the Rings in a Co-op experience.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Reiner Knizia Hasbro 2-5 12+ 60-90 Mins.

https://hasbrogaming.hasbro.com


Dice Based

One of my favorite games in recent memory is the underrated “Raja of the Ganges”. Although it is basically a race game, there is a lot of interesting decisions to be made for moving along the dual scoring tracks , as well as building on your player board. Visually stunning.

Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Inka Brand & Markus Brand

R&R Games 2-4 12+ 45-75 Mins.

www.rnrgames.com

“The Voyages of Marco Polo” is one of the more interesting dice based games available. There are many choices as to how to use your dice, based on both value and quantity. Traveling around the board grants additional options, while the asymmetrical Characters really enhance the gameplay and the replayability.

Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Simone Luciani & Daniele Tascini

Z-Man Games 2-4 12+ 40-100 Mins

www.zmangames.com

When it comes to dice based games, Stefan Feld’s “The Castles of Burgundy” remains at/near the top of the list. This game appeals to a wide range of gamers and is couples friendly. It features what I consider the best means of dealing with dice mitigation. A classic for a reason!

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Stefan Feld Ravensburger 2-4 12+ 30-90 Mins.

www.ravensburger.us

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Holiday Gift Guide (Cont.)

Worker Placement

One of the best Worker Placement games to come out in recent memory is “The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire”. There’s a lot of interesting decisions to be made throughout the game, some interesting mechanisms and some excellent production values for the components. An Editor’s Choice Award winner for a reason! Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Luke Laurie & Tom Jolly

Minion Games 1-5 13+ 60-120 Mins.

www.miniongames.com

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Another recent “Editor’s Choice Award” winner is “Architects of the West Kingdom”. For fans of Worker Placement games who are looking for something a little different. The innovative worker placement mechanism is this game’s main draw, and rightly so. It’s proven to be a crowd pleaser every time that it hits the table. Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Shem Phillips & SJ MacDonald

Renegade Game Studios 1-5 12+ 60-80 Mins.

www.renegadegames.com

“Russian Railroads” seems to be one of those underrated games that appears from time to time. With the addition of the “German Railroads” expansion, it is elevated to another level. For those looking for a Worker Placement game with literally different tracks of scoring to pursue, this along with the expansion makes for an excellent game! Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Helmut Ohley & Leonhard Orgler

Z-Man 2-4 12+ 90-120 Mins.

www.zmangames.com


Story

When it comes to innovative and absorbing story driven games, “The 7th Continent” stands on its own. There is literally nothing else like it. One of my all-time favorite gaming experiences. An “Editor’s Choice Award” winner and a “Game of the Year” award winner, for a reason.

Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Ludovic Roudy & Bruno Sautter

Serious Poulp 1-4 14+ 1,000+ Mins.

www.seriouspoulp.com

Ryan Laukat has developed a line of games that feature his talents as a game designer, as well as the artist for the games. Withe “Near and Far” he adds “Storyteller” to his list of accomplishments, as he delivers a Worker Placement game that has a separate book that adds a storytelling element to the game.

Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Ryan Laukat Red Raven Games 2-4 13+ 90-120 Mins

www.redravengames.com

Fans of building characters in games such as “Dungeons and Dragons” will really enjoy what “Call to Adventure” has to offer. You build your character over the course of the game’s three Acts and at the end of the game you will have a fascinating story - whether you win or lose!

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Chris O’Neal & Johnny O’Neal

Brotherwise Games 1-4 13+ 30-60 Mins.

www.brotherwisegames.com

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Holiday Gift Guide (Cont.)

Underrated

It’s nice to see that Tasty Minstrel Games has brought back “Gold West”, as this was the game that put designer J. Alex Kevern on the map. This is still his best design, due in part to its Mancala-like mechanism and Area Control game play. A solid game in only an hour.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

J. Alex Kevern Tasty Minstrel Games 2-4 12+ 45-60 Mins.

www.playtmg.com

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“The Builders: Middle Ages” is one of my favorite filler games. It is quick, yet provides some strategic planning and resource management. This is a game that I’m always willing to play and I hope that others will be exposed to its charm, as it doesn’t seem to get the love it deserves.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Frederic Henry Bombyx 2-4 10+ 30 Mins.

www.studiobombyx.com

When talking about Underrated games, “Spyrium” has to be included in the conversation. This William Attia (Caylus) design is always welcome at the table and new players are always surprised that they had never heard of it. Perhaps it just got lost in the “Cult of the New” at one point, but it deserves a better fate.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

William Attia Ystari Games 2-5 12+ 75 Mins.

www.ystari.com


Deck Builder

One of my favorite mechanisms is Deckbuilding. Until recently, “Star Realms” was my go to Deckbuilder. But, “Shards of Infinity” has overtaken that slot due to several improvements over “Star Realms”. With the innovative Mastery, Shields and Mercenaries, “Shards of Infinity” has raised the bar on Deckbuilder games. Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Gary Arant & Justin Gary Stoneblade Entertainment

2-4 10+ 30 Mins.

www.shardsofinfinity.com

Sometimes some of the best ideas are actually the combination of two other good ideas. With “For the Crown”, designer Jeremy Lennert has taken Chess and combined it with a Deckbuilding mechanism to have a game that features the best of both worlds. Fans of Chess and Deckbuilders should enjoy this one. Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Jeremy Lennert Victory Point Games 2 13+ 60 Mins

www.victorypointgames.com

One of my all-time favorite Deckbuilders is “Paperback”. Designer Tim Fowers brilliantly combines the Deckbuilding genre with “Scrabble” to yield a game that appeals to numerous players - gamers and non-gamers alike. If you have a decent vocabulary and like Deckbuilders, then this Editor’s Choice Award winning game is for you! Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Tim Fowers Tim Fowers 2-5 10+ 45 Mins.

www.paperbackgame.com

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Holiday Gift Guide (Cont.)

Tile Laying

I always have a soft spot in my heart for “Carcassonne”, as it was one of the early Euros that I remember playing upon its release. Perhaps the most accessible Tile Laying game, it is always welcome amongst gamers and non-gamers. An essential Gateway, Tile Laying game.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Klaus-Jurgen Wrede Z-Man Games 2-5 8+ 30 Mins.

www.zmangames.com

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One of the most popular themes is that of building cities, and with “Suburbia”, Ted Alspach delivers a Tile Laying game that captures the sprawling nature of building a city that in the end will prove to be the most successful. This is one of those games that seems to belong in most collections.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Ted Alspach Bezier Games 1-4 8+ 90 Mins.

www.beziergames.com

Although it had gone out of print, “Glen More”, is certainly one of the best Tile Laying games that you should be looking to obtain. With its strategic nature and interesting combos, this is considered by many to be a classic - and for a good reason!

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Matthias Cramer Ravensburger 2-5 12+ 75 Mins.

www.ravensburger.us


Two Player

When it comes to Drafting games, “7 Wonders” is considered a classic standard. So it’s no surprise that a two player version designed by Antoine Bauza and Bruno Cathala would be of interest. Building upon the original game, “7 Wonders Duel” provides an amazing 2 player experience that actually outshines the original! Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Antoine Bauza & Bruno Cathala

Repos Production

2 10+ 30 Mins.

www.rprod.com

“Lost Cities” is one of my alltime favorite games. Although it appears to be a “simple” card game, every time that I play it I’m impressed with game’s tension and depth. With its ingenious scoring system and interesting game play, Reiner Knizia delivers one of his most excellent and enduring designs!

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Reiner Knizia Kosmos 2 10+ 30 Mins

www.thamesandkosmos.com

“Targi” is a card game that plays like a board game. The outer cards are laid out in the same fashion each game, while the inner cards are revealed differently each game. With its innovative use of placing meeples and the strategic nature of collecting goods, this is a game that everyone should experience.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Andreas Steiger Z-Man Games 2 12+ 60 Mins.

www.zmangames.com

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Holiday Gift Guide (Cont.) Card Game

“Race for the Galaxy” is the classic simultaneous action selection card game where players spend cards in order to play cards. Although the iconography can be initially daunting, you will quickly grow accustomed to it, as you will probably be playing it quite often. It’s a classic for a reason!

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Tom Lehmann Rio Grande Games 2-4 12+ 30-60 Mins.

www.riograndegames.com

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“Guildhall” could have easily been placed in our “Underrated” section, as for some reason it has never really received the attention that it deserves. The mechanism that uses the amount of cards in a stack is ingenious and the game play is both highly tactical and strategic. AEG has also released/repackaged this with a fantasy theme. Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Hope S. Hwang AEG 2-4 10+ 30-45 Mins.

www.alderac.com

Trick taking is a popular genre of card games, and “Tournament at Camelot” takes this premise and builds upon it by adding an interesting theme and asymmetrical character abilities. I have found that this game has had great appeal to both non-gamers and veteran gamers, and has been a hit at conventions and regular gatherings. Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Ken Shannon Wizkids 3-6 14+ 45 Mins.

www.wizkids.com


Party Game

I’m not much of a “party” game person, however, I do happen to absolutely love, “Codenames”. Vlaada Chvatil’s brilliant design is so elegant and it provides for an entertaining experience for all of those who participate in the game. This is the one “party” game that should be in everyone’s collection!

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Vlaada Chvatil Czech Games 4-8+ 14+ 15 Mins.

www.czechgames.com

Bezier Game’s “America” is a “party” game that will appeal to many gamers. Due to the initial concept by Friedmann Friese, the game has more of a game like structure than other “party” type games. The trivia aspects of the game are entertaining, while at the same time providing some gamer friendly competition - while strategizing to score points. Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Ted Alspach & Friedmann Friese

Bezier Games 2-6 13+ 45 Mins.

www.beziergames.com

Okay, I realize that this is an unusual choice for me to recommend, however, several years ago one of my cousins initiated a “tradition” of playing this after dinner on Christmas. I guess it has become somewhat of a “guilty pleasure” and a bit of a departure from playing real games.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Endless Games Endless Games 2+ 14+ 30 Mins.

www.endlessgames.com

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Holiday Gift Guide (Cont.)

Educational

Genius Games offers a quality line of educational/science games that combine modern mechanisms with accurate scientific knowledge. “Cytosis” is a worker placement game based on biological cells. I believe this is their best game, thus far.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

John Coveyou Genius Games 2-5 10+ 60-90 Mins.

www.gotgeniusgames.com

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Genius Games offers a quality line of educational/science games that combine modern mechanisms with accurate scientific knowledge. “ION” is a drafting/set collection game based on chemical compounds. With each play, players will become more knowledgable with the subject matter.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

John Coveyou Genius Games 2-7 8+ 20-30 Mins.

www.gotgeniusgames.com

Genius Games offers a quality line of educational/ science games that combine modern mechanisms with accurate scientific knowledge. “Covalence” is a Cooperative Deduction game based on molecular construction. This is an excellent resource for the teaching of molecules and their structures.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

John Coveyou Genius Games 2-4+ 8+ 20-40 Mins.

www.gotgeniusgames.us


Childrens

When it comes to children’s games, HABA is amongst the best. Offering interesting games that cater to children, yet offer fun to adults as well. “Animal Upon Animal” is a stacking game that helps children develop their motor skills and hand/eye coordination. And adults love it too!

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Klaus Miltenberger Haba 2-4 4+ 15 Mins.

www.habausa.com

While Haba makes games that are targeted towards children, there are some that have a large crossover into the adult market as well. “Rhino Hero” is one such game, as its card stacking appeals to gamers of all ages. It often seems that the adults are laughing and having more fun...

Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Scott Frisco & Steven Strumpf

Haba 2-5 5+ 5-15 Mins

www.habausa.com

With the success of their wildly popular “Rhino Hero”, it should come as no surprise that HABA would eventually release a sequel. “Rhino Hero Super Battle” is the long anticipated stand alone sequel that introduces new characters, yet maintains the tense moments of the original card stacking game.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Scott Frisco & Steven Strumpf

Haba 2-4 5+ 10-20 Mins.

www.habausa.com

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Holiday Gift Guide (Cont.)

Gateway Game

When one speaks of Gateway Games, the title “Ticket to Ride” is often near or at the top of the list. And that’s for a good reason, the simple, yet engaging, gameplay is satisfying for both newcomers and veterans. It’s a classic for a reason!

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Alan Moon Days of Wonder 2-5 8+ 30-60 Mins.

www.daysofwonder.com

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I have yet to meet a gamer that was new to the hobby that wasn’t enthralled with “Lords of Waterdeep”. This entry level Worker Placement game is loved by D&D players, as well as many veterans. However, the game really starts to shine with the inclusion of the “Scoundrels of Skullport” expansion.

Designers: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Peter Lee & Rodney Thompson

Wizards of the Coast 2-5 12+ 60-120 Mins.

https://dnd.wizards.com

Gateway games are an important element for introducing potential gamers into our hobby. With its stunning artwork by Vincent Dutrait and quality components, the game offers a lot of fun for those looking for an entry level game that has some depth. It won an “Editor’s Choice Award” in issue #6.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Chenier La Salle Blue Orange Games 2-4 8+ 30-60 Mins.

www.blueorangegames.us


Biblical

“Battle of Souls” is an excellent two player game that really captures the essence of the forces of good and evil battling over the souls in the game. Featuring excellent artwork from the likes of Michelangelo, Raphael and others, the game plays as well as it looks. It’s no surprise that it won an “Editor’s Choice Award” in issue # 17.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Robert Burke Robert Burke Games 2 14+ 30-60 Mins.

www.robertburkegames.com

“Wisdom of Solomon” is an above average Worker Placement game with a Biblical theme. Designed by Philip duBarry, the game does a fine job of implementing the theme, as well as providing a solid Worker Placement gaming experience. This will certainly appeal to many Christian/Jewish gamers, as well as those who are into solid Worker Placement games. Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Philip duBarry Funhill Games 1-5 14+ 30-75 Mins

www.funhill-games.com

“Kings of Israel” is a coop game based on the Old Testament Kings of Israel and it nicely captures the theme. This is a game that would be of interest to both Youth Groups and Bible Study Groups, and it does a good job of helping to memorize the lineage of the Kings.

Designer: Publisher: Players: Ages: Length:

Lance Hill Funhill Games 2-4 14+ 30-60 Mins.

www.funhill-games.com

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Holiday Gift Guide (Cont.)

Game Design

Having read many books on Game Design and Game Theory, there is always one that I come back to as the authoritative and preeminent book on the subject matter, and that book is Jesse Schell’s outstanding “The Art of Game Design”. Hands down the best Game Design book currently available. A must read!

While there have been many books on Game Design, many of them approach the topic in the same manner. However, “Characteristics of Games” looks at the subject matter from a different perspective. It’s not about design or theory, but about characteristics of specific game that can be applied to your own designs.

Author: Jesse Schell Publisher: CRC Press

Author: Richard Garfield Publisher: MIT Press

www.crcpress.com

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https://mitpress.mit.edu

Although I have only just started to read it, it’s already clear that “Building Blocks of Game Design” is going to be an essential book for serious game designers. For those interested in game mechanisms, this is looking like the definitive text on the subject. A full review will be featured in issue #41.

Geoffrey Englestein & Issac Shalev Authors: Publisher: CRC Press

www.crcpress.com


Books About Games

For those looking for an indepth look at the history of the gaming industry, and in particular, Eurogames, then this is the book that you will want to read. Stewart Woods gives a scholarly approach to the world of Eurogames and its permutation. A must read for those interested in knowing more about modern games.

Author: Stewart Woods Publisher: McFarland www.mcfarlandpub.com

This book takes a look back at many of the top games published prior to 2007, the date of its publication. However, what makes it fascinating is that it is a collection of essays by top designers about top games that they didn’t design. Example: Martin Wallace talks about “Power Grid”. Fascinating insights.

While there have been many books focused on Game Design and related topics, there are few that are devoted to the personalities/designers themselves. In “Wizards of the Tabletop” we are treated to some concise coverage of many industry personalities, as well as some playful photographs. Each of the designers also has one of their games featured.

Author: James Lowder Publisher: Green Ronin Publishing

Author: Douglas Morse Publisher: Grandfather Films Press

www.greenronin.com

www.tabletopmovie.com

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Holiday Gift Guide (Cont.)

Accessories

As someone who has travelled to other states to compete in CCG tournaments, one of the most valuable items to have is a Quiver bag to store all of my decks and trade stock. With its classy looks and generous interior, this is an essential accessory for the serious card game enthusiast.

Since I live on an island, I often have to walk to the ferry to meet friends on the “mainland” in order to go to game conventions. This bag is not only well designed and solidly constructed, but it is also quite comfortable - even when walking 40 minutes with it completely loaded with games.

Company:

Company:

Quiver Time

www.quivertime.com

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Top Shelf Fun

https://topshelf-fun.com

With the amount of components that are appearing in games these days, one of the major concerns is how to store all of them. Fortunately “The Broken Token” has taken it upon themselves to supply an assortment of storage related products for many of the most popular games on the market.

Company:

The Broken Token

www.thebrokentoken.com


Prototyping

Building a robust collection of components is an important endeavor for many game designers. Fortunately, these days it is fairly easy to find large quantities of cubes in various colors. The one centimeter cubes are great for prototyping. They can usually be found at educational sites and also on Amazon.

Although I am quite happy to use sleeves for prototyping my card games, there are those who prefer to use a light card stock and like to go the extra distance to round off the corners. The Sunstar Kadomaru Pro corner cutter is an excellent tool for this task.

Company:

Company:

Various

www.eaieducation.com

Sunstar

www.amazon.com/s?k=sunstar+kadomaru+pro

One accessory that most gamers and game designers can never get enough of is card sleeves. I find that buying them in a variety of colors allows me to color code my playtesting decks, especially for games that use more than one deck. Needless to say they work great with CCG’s and other games as well.

Company:

Ultra Pro

www.ultrapro.com

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Orbital Conflict

By Serge Pierro

Swedish Space Themed Card Game

I

remember the early days of the hobby when we would sit down to play games with hand typed rules translated from the original German rulebooks. Over time we’ve grown accustomed to seeing more and more countries being represented in the marketplace. This time we will take a look at a game from Sweden, Orbital Conflict, which is a space themed card game. Orbital Conflict comes in a 9” x 6 1/2” x 1” linen finished box and contains a black, cardboard insert. The insert has 3 wells, one for the mini-cards and the other for the full sized main deck.

The Station cards are standard sized with a “heavy” linen finish. The card stock is good and they shuffle nicely. Sleeving is not necessary, though if you insist, be aware that the back of the cards are used during the game, so the sleeves would have to have clear backs. The Investor mini-cards measure 1 3/4” x 2 3/4” and feature the same finish and card stock.

The number of players will indicate how many cards will randomly make up the Station deck, 48 cards for a 2 player game, 72 cards for a 3 players and all 96 cards for 4 players. All 36 Investor cards are used for all player counts. Once the proper amount of cards are chosen the decks are The 12 page rulebook is heavily illustrated shuffled and each player receives 5 cards from and has several examples and covers all of the the Stations deck. The first player receives the pertinent information. After reading the rules Initiative card. you should be up and running with no major problems.

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A turn is made up of three phases: Draw, Main and Combat. Each of these phases are done separately in player order. Example of a 2 player game: player 1 Draws, player 2 Draws, player 1 Main, player 2 Main, player 1 Combat and player 2 Combat. During the Draw phase each player will draw 2 cards from the Stations deck and place them in their hand. Then they will draw 2 cards from the Investor deck and place them face up in front of them.

After all players have drawn their cards, the Main phase begins for each player. On their turn each player will assemble Modules that will represent their Space Station or they will build Extensions to already existing Modules (see below). After finishing their assembling/ extensions for their turn they will see if they meet the criteria of any of the Investors. If so, they may choose only one of them and set it aside for end game scoring. However, you are only allowed to have 3 Investors at any point and it is possible to “push� one of your Investors off of the row and have a new Investor join instead. Continued on next page>

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Orbital Conflict

(Cont.)

To assemble a Module there are certain requirements that need to be met. Any card that has a Shield on it may be used in a Module, this includes using the back of any of the cards, as each back contains an Energy icon and a Shield icon.

If you choose to give one of your Modules an Extension, you place the relevant card either on the bottom of the Module, revealing only the left edge of the card, or you may place it on top of the Module, covering up the Abilities of the card below it.

The most important icon is the Energy icon as it is the foundation for building up your Modules. Each icon is either green or red. Green indicates that the icon produces the displayed Resource, while red indicates that it consumes the pertinent Resource. You need to have green Resources equal to, or greater than, the number of the red requirements. Example: “Solar Panel” produces 2 Energy, so it can supply Energy to any other card(s) that add up to 2. Your Station uses the Resources of all of the Modules. The source of the Resources doesn’t have to be contained in an individual Module needing it. There are four different Resources that are available: Explore, Crew, Energy and Ship.

It should be noted that when you are building/ extending Modules, you are limited to only adding 2 VP’s worth of icons per turn. This puts a cap on the amount of VP’s you can build each round, but it does not include those icons that are covered by other cards.

When building or extending Modules any card that is placed on top of another card will cancel the abilities of the card below it, as only the top card’s abilities are usable. However, the cards are placed in a manner that allows the Resources to continue to be displayed along the left edge of the cards.

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If one of your Modules is unable to meet the Resource requirement it is turned 90 degrees and is considered Deactivated, thus it does not contribute its Resources or Abilities. You get to choose which Modules become Deactivated. They can be Activated again by providing the necessary Resources in your Station. Besides playing the cards from your hand to your Station, you have the ability to discard cards to use their Discard ability. These don’t require any Resources, but they are placed in the discard pile after they’re used. These cards have white text against a black background and each of them will indicate which phase they can be played in.


Another point of interest is the use of Special rules. These are black text on a white background and can only be used when it is the top card of a Module. Unlike the Discard cards, these cards stay in play after using their Ability.

a Defense Rating of 2 faces an attack of 4. Since it is successful, the Defender will lose 4 cards, starting with the bottom card of the Module, 4 cards will be removed and the remaining 2 cards will stay in play, being activated or deactivated depending on what was destroyed.

During the Combat Phase players will choose from amongst their Modules which of them After all players have completed their Combat will attack, as well as playing Discard cards from phase, play repeats as above until the end of the their hand to augment or initiate attacks. game is triggered by the last card of the Station deck being drawn and the Main phase ends. A player may combine Modules to target another player’s Module or they may have Scoring is tabulated by the amount of VP’s Modules attack separately. Modules may only showing on your Modules, plus the total VP’s attack once per turn. displayed on your Investor cards. If there is a tie, then those players will play another round. Combat is resolved by comparing the attacker’s This continues until there is a clear winner. Combat numbers vs the Defender’s Defense rating. If it is equal to or greater than that Overall Orbital Conflict proved to be a light number, the attack is considered successful and game that had a couple of problems. damage is dealt. The amount of damage dealt is equal to the amount of the original attack, First of all, many of the abilities were lackluster. and the Defense rating does not absorb any of As someone who has designed cards for major the damage. Example: an attack of 4 against CCG games/companies, I am well aware of a Module with a Defense rating of 2 will do 4 how hard it can be to come up with new and points of damage. interesting ideas for abilities on cards. As a designer, this is one of the most important Damage is dealt by removing the same number subjects to address, as a series of interesting of cards from the Module as the strength of the abilities will make for a more interesting game. attack. Example: A Module with 6 cards in it and The abilities here were underwhelming.

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Orbital Conflict

(Cont.)

For instance, “Armor”. This is a card that provides one Defense Rating and a Victory point, yet its ability is to either Discard to look at a player’s hand or Discard to look at the top two cards and take one. The problem is that this card provides two strong attributes (Defense and a VP), yet the ability is very weak. We never played this card for its ability, especially having to give up a VP in order to do so, and we couldn’t find any situation where it was worthwhile. The only cards that seemed viable for the Discard mechanism were those that provided Combat or otherwise prevented it. And then there is Missile. Unfortunately the game revolved around this unbalanced card. While most attacks with Modules and cards were in the 1-3 damage range and the high end Defenses were in the 4-5 range, Missile does 6 damage, usually totally destroying a Module and crippling an opponent who was then unable to get back into the game by drawing the standard two cards per turn. The only way to stop a Missile is by countering it with another Missile or playing a Failure card. We eventually decided to remove the Missile cards from the deck.

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It should be noted that the quality of the cards were good and that they were printed in Poland. It’s nice to see other countries, besides China, manufacturing quality components. If you are looking for a light, space themed card game, then perhaps this will satiate that desire. However, I would remove the Missile cards before playing.

Designers: Filip Stjernberg & Kim Astor

Publisher: Players: Mechanic: Ages: Length:

Steel Cave Studio 2-4

Tableau Building 12+ 30-60 Mins.

Worth Trying www.steelcavestudio.com


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Solo Gaming

By Jeff Rhind

Parks

W

ho doesn’t like pretty games? Parks from Keymaster Games falls into that category, for sure. Recently funded and delivered through a Kickstarter campaign, Parks is a 1-5 player game where players take on the role of a pair of hikers walking trails to see sites, take photos, observe wildlife, and visit beautiful national parks. Designed by Henry Audubon, Parks features art by dozens of artists. Game play is pretty straight forward over the course of four rounds. Tiles are randomly arranged to create a trail that the player’s Hikers and the AI opponent (Rangers) move across from left to right, picking up resources (sun, water, mountain, and forest), and allowing for special actions. Each round an additional random tile is shuffled in and placed that makes the trail just a little longer. Season cards allow for discounts for purchasing Park cards. Each card also dictates extra resource

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tokens (weather tokens) that are placed on the trail starting with the second tile. Additionally, the player will select one of two Year cards dealt to him/herself at the start of the game that will give the player additional points at the end of the game if he/she can complete it. Lastly, a randomly Canteen card is dealt, where a water resource token can be spent to gain some other resource or benefit once per round. On a player’s turn you can move either of your Hikers down the trail to any tile of your choice and take the action there as well as collect the extra resources on the tile, if any. Some actions allow the player to gather resources, trade out two resources for two others, or trade in resources to take a photo or take a wildlife token — both worth end games points. The catch is, if you want to take the action on an already occupied tile than you flip your Campfire token over but then you can’t copy an action using that token until the next round when it refreshes. The other


Photo: Jeff Rhind

catch is you can’t move backward. This invites some planning for the round. However, the Rangers you are playing against could block you on a subsequent turn and you will need to adjust your strategy on the fly. Gear cards that you can buy can give you special abilities and extra “bonuses” to help your game while at the beginning of the Ranger’s turn, a gear card is flipped and it’s cost determines how many tiles forward a Ranger will move down the trail. This part is a little random, but it also forces you to

readjust your strategy on the fly, and can make for some difficult choices on your turn. Also, as the Rangers pick up weather tokens, they are placed on a tracker that once fills up, activates Event cards that can affect you. When you reach the Trail End, your first Hiker may Reserve a park card by removing it from the display and adding it to your hand for Visiting on a later turn. Alternatively, you can also buy a Gear card, or Visit a park from the Continued on next page>

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Solo Gaming (Cont.)

display or one you have reserved by paying the resource cost at the bottom of the card in sun, water, mountains, or forest tokens (sometimes discounted by the current Season card) and you will gain those points at the end of the game. At times, the Rangers will beat the Hikers there, which will affect first player the next round, or could remove a Parks card from the display, or force a reshuffle of Gear cards on display. If the Rangers reach the Trail End first, then all the Hikers must immediately be moved to it and the round ends. The AI doesn’t score points; it only blocks you from various spots. After scoring your points, they are compared to a chart to see how well you did.

All those issues aside, I think Parks is a solid game and a very good solo experience. Not to sound like a broken record, but the quality and production value of the game is so incredible for a game of this size and price point, that relishing in the beauty of Parks is easy. Parks is an eye-popping game that will definitely turn heads and grab people’s attention on the table. Jeff is

a single father in Boston who dabbles in other writing projects, as well as playing the acoustic guitar. Gaming for many years has allowed him to share his love of the hobby with family, friends, and on social media. As much as he likes solo gaming, he always prefers playing with others, especially his 10 year-old daughter who is currently a fan of Wingspan and Splendor. His 21 year-old son, when not playing the PS4, prefers competitive/head-to-head games. You can follow Jeff on twitter @jeffrhind

Photo: Jeff Rhind

The components of the game are nothing short of truly amazing. Some of the best I have seen. The art on the tarot-sized parks cards are lush and beautiful to look featuring art from many illustrators. The stained, wooden tokens are well done, including the individual wildlife tokens. Iconography on the cards and tiles are simple and easy to understand. With some help from GameTrayz, Parks also features an incredibly designed insert, where every card and token has a place. A marvel!!

Parks doesn’t do anything that is either new or innovative. Although the game shines at a lower multiplayer count, the solo experience is fun, relaxing, and enjoyable. There may be some limited replayability, as repeated plays tend to feel “samey.” At the same time, Parks plays pretty fast and I found myself playing multiple games in a single session. There can be some agonizing decisions to be made each round since Rangers can block trail tiles you want to visit. Careful planning is certainly necessary and your plans can get messed up by the Rangers and that sort of randomness may be a turn off for some.

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115


Interview Gallery

Steve Jackson #1

Dan Verssen #1

Paul Herbert #1

Reiner Knizia #2

Franz Vohwinkel #2

James Ernest #2

Mark Copplestone #2

Reiner Knizia #3

Peter Adkison #3

Brom #3

Chenier La Salle #4

Ryan Dancey #4

Brian Snoddy #4

Beth Sobel #5

Bruno Faidutti #5

Tom Jolly #6

Antoine Bauza #7

Dennis Lohausen #7

Ryan Laukat #8

Chad Hoverter #9

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Matt Leacock #9

Greg Isabelli #9

Ignacy Trzewiczek #10

Jacqui Davis #10

Johan Koitka #10

Jamey Stegmaier #11

Michael Menzel #11

Kay Wilke #11

Vincent Dutrait #12

Mike Fitzgerald #12

Sandy Petersen #13

Mihajlo Dimitrievski #13

Bruno Cathala #14

John Ariosa #14

Friedemann Friese #15

Joshua Cappel #15

Eric Vogel #15

Mac Gerdts #16

Keldon Jones #16

Steve Finn #17

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Interview Gallery (Cont.)

J. Alex Kevern #18

Richard Ham #18

Ludovic Roudy #19

Bruno Sautter #19

Phil Walker-Harding #20

Luke Peterschmidt #21

Mike Richie #22

Grant Wilson #22

Curt Covert #23

Daryl Andrews #24

Rob Dougherty #25

Nestor Romeral Andres #26

Leonard Koh #27

Rui Alipio Monteiro #28

Luke Laurie #29

Darwin Kastle #30

Serge Pierro #31

Justin Gary #32

Tom Lehmann #33

Shem Phillips #34

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Philip duBarry #35

Sen Foong-Lim #36

JT Smith #38

Sandy Petersen #39

Jeremy Handel #40

John Coveyou #40

Phoebe Wild #39

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Book Review Index

Issue #1

Issue #2

Issue #3

Issue #4

Issue #5

Issue #6

Issue #7

Issue #8

Issue #9

Issue #10

Issue #11

Issue #12

Issue #13

Issue #14

Issue #14

Issue #14

Issue #15

Issue #15

Issue #15

Issue #16

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Issue #16

Issue #17

Issue #17

Issue #18

Issue #19

Issue #20

Issue #22

Issue #24

Issue #26

Issue #32

Issue #33

Issue #39

Game Nite Issue #40

121


Mobile Review Index

Issue #12

Issue #13

Issue #14

Issue #15

Issue #16

Issue #17

Issue #18

Issue #19

122

Game Nite Issue #40


Issue #20

Issue #21

Issue #21

Issue #22

Issue #23

Issue #24

Issue #25

Issue #26

Game Nite Issue #40

123


Mobile Review Index (Cont.)

Issue #27

Issue #28

Issue #29

Issue #29

Issue #30

Issue #31

Issue #32

Issue #33

124

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Issue #34

Issue #35

Issue #36

Issue #37

Issue #38

Issue #39

Issue #40

Game Nite Issue #40

125


Game Review Index (Isuues 1-15)

• This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the 2-4 of Us • Small World • Stella Nova • Shoot Out • Postcard Cthulhu • Postcard Empire

• Tile Chess • Cards of Cthulhu • Samurai Spirit • Golem Arcana • Pairs • Sutakku • Timeline

Issue #1

Issue #2

• Baseball Highlights 2045 • Samurai Sword • Paperback • For the Crown • Trench • Firefly • Cutthroat Caverns • Rise of the Zombies Issue #3 • Shadow Throne

• Rhino Hero • Attila • Spurs and Sprockets • Chaosmos • March of the Ants • Aquasphere • Fidelitas • Rise of Cthulhu Issue #4 • Maha Yodah

• Animal Upon Animal • Sushi Draft • Stones of Fate • WWII: Stalingrad • Stockpile • The Magnates • Sentinel Tactics • Flip City • Space Movers 2201 Issue #5 • Dark Tales

• Nevermore • Gold West • Arcadia Quest • Dragon Flame • New York 1901 • Lift Off! • Tesla vs. Edison • Yashima Issue #6 • Targi

Issue #6

126

• Outer Earth • 1944: Race for the Rhine • Runecast • Cycling Tour • Witkacy • Firefly: Fistful of Credits • Dozen Doubloons • King Down

Game Nite Issue #40

Issue

#7

• Steam Works • Web of Spies • Cartography • Xia: Legends of a Drift System • Orleans • Raiders of the North Sea • Hoyuk • Wizards of the Wild • Myths at War • Ring It! • Hogg Wild for Wealth • The Martian Investigations


• Cosmic Run • Imperial Harvest • Under the Pyramids (Eldritch Horror)

• Bomb Squad • Through the Ages: A New Story... • Luna • Biblios Dice • Trekking the National Parks • Fuse • Skulldug! • Horrible Hex

#8

Issue

Issue

#10

• JurassAttack! • Oh My Gods! • Looting Atlantis • 13 Days • Apotheca • Tiny Epic Galaxies • Automobiles • Daxu • Slaughterville • Kheops • Scoville: Labs • Ancient Conflict Treasure Chest

Issue

Issue

Issue

Issue

#9

• Imhotep • In The Name of Odin • Centauri Saga • Draconis Invasion • Dastardly Dirigibles • Flamme Rouge • Haspelknecht • Hansa Teutonica • Star Trek Panic • Theomachy • Commissioned #12 • San Ni Ichi • Small City

#14

• Hanamikoji • Element • Villages of Valeria • Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition • 7 Wonders Duel • Oceanos • Herbaceous • A Feast For Odin • Schotten Totten • This Belongs in a Museum

#11

• Cuisine a la Cart • Foragers • The Shadow Over Westminster • Scoville • Valeria: Card Kingdom • Onitama • Knit Wit • World’s Fair: 1893 • Flip City: Reuse • Gruff • The Walled City • Empires at Sea • Dr. Eureka • Stockpile: Continuing Corruption • Sugar Gliders • Dawn of the Zeds: Third Edition • Vast: The Crystal Caverns • The Networks • Grifters • Trajan • Conspiracy! • Secrets of the Last Tomb • Best Treehouse Ever • Matryoshka

Issue

Issue

• Kanagawa • Lunarchitects • Hero Realms • Santorini • Vinhos: Deluxe • Colony • Sun Tzu • Bermuda Crisis • Tavarua • Explorers of the North Sea • America #13 • San Allies • Crisis

#15

• Ninja Taisen • Space Invaders Dice! • The Dresden Files Card Game • Pyramids • Quests of Valeria • Amun-Re • Cultists of Cthulhu • Magic Maze • Knot Dice • The Cohort • Crazier Eights • Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu

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Game Review Index (Issues 16-31)

• March of the Ants:Minions of the Meadow

Issue

#16

Issue #18

• Honshu • Web of Spies • Saga of the Northmen • Tournament at Camelot • Haspelknecht: The Ruhr Valley • Plague Inc. • Zephyr • Terrible Monster • 5ive • Duress

• The Climbers • Whistle Stop • The 7th Continent • Witches of the Revolution • Viral • Sentient • Road Hog • PeltaPeeps

• Joraku • Michael Strogoff • Minute Realms • Castle Dukes • Rajas of the Ganges • Cytosis

Issue #20

Issue

• Fantasy Realms • Space Race • Isle of Skye • Unearth • ION • Escape From 100 Million BC • Battle for Souls • COG • Near and Far • Terraforming Mars • Caverna: Cave vs. Cave #17 • Pocket Mars • Terra Mystica • Hafid’s Grand Bazaar

• Mini Rails

• Ancestree • Exodus Fleet • Tak • Mistborn: House War

• Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion

• The Ruhr • Summit • Seikatsu • Tulip Bubble • Covalence

Issue #19

• Expedition: RPG Card Game

Issue #21

• Shutter Bug • Divinity Derby • Wakening Lair • Planet of the Apes

Issue #22

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• 7&7

Game Nite Issue #40

Issue #23

• Vast: The Fearsome Foes • Vast Miniatures Expansion • Vast Bonus Cards • Wildcatters • Alexandria • Tzolk’in


• Gretchinz! • Button Men • The Flow of History • The Game of Nines

Issue #24

• Dicey Peaks • Coldwater Crown • Thanos Rising • Peak Oil • Wordoku

Issue #25

• Zombie Dice: Horde Edition

• Codenames: Marvel • Fog of Love • Cthulhu Dice

Issue #26

• Gearworks • Grackles • Maiden’s Quest • The Veil

Issue #27

• Outpost: Siberia • Outpost: Amazon • Root • Planetarium

Issue #28

• Wish You Were Here • Onitama: Way of the Wind • Master of the Galaxy • Hero Realms: The Ruin of Thandar • Shifting Realms • Hero’s Crossing Issue #30

• Shards of Infinity • Blood Rage

• Mistfall: Chronicles of Frost

• The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire • Barker’s Row

Issue #29

• Star Realms: Command Decks

• Your Town • Wu Wei • Star Realms: Frontiers

Issue #31 Game Nite Issue #40

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Game Review Index (Issues 32+)

• Darwinning! • GoVenture Card Game • Highlander the Board Game • The Forbidden Sanctuary

Issue #32

• Highlander: Princes of the Universe • Architects of the West Kingdom • Tricky Dungeon • Perdition’s Mouth: Revised Ed. • Warigin

Issue #33

• Tara Wolf: In Valley of the Kings

Issue #34

• Timebreaker • Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done • Perdition’s Mouth:Traitor Guard • Frazetta: Card & Dice Battle Game

• RevoltaaA

• Embark • Kings of Israel • Terminator:Rise of the Resistance • Cheese Quest • Libraria Issue #36

Issue #35

130

Game Nite Issue #40

• Campaign Trail • Gentes • Vivaldi • Wizard’s Garden

• Space Explorers • Montmartre • HEXplore it:

Issue #37

• UnderLeague • The Lords of Rock

Issue #38

• Fortresses & Clans • Call to Adventure • Gugong • Wisdom of Solomon

Valley of the Dead King • Return to the Valley of the Dead King Issue #39

• Chakra


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Issue #41

Profile for Game Nite Magazine

Game Nite Magazine Issue 40  

Game Nite: The bimonthly magazine of tabletop gaming. Featuring Boardgames, Card Games, Miniatures and more!

Game Nite Magazine Issue 40  

Game Nite: The bimonthly magazine of tabletop gaming. Featuring Boardgames, Card Games, Miniatures and more!

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