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Game Nite

Free

the magazine of tabletop gaming

January 2020

Top 10

games of 2019

v

Issue # 41

“Building blocks of tabletop game design�

Richard Garfield Game Designer


In this issue: INTERVIEW 32

Richard Garfield Game Designer

mobile Review 06

Cutthroat Caverns

10

King Tactics: War of the Roses

For Android and iOS

For Android and iOS

book Review 14

game Reviews 16

The Necronomicon Gamebook: Dagon

20

Paladins of the West Kingdom

48

Skulk Hollow

58

HEXplore it: The Forests of Adrimon

68

Return to the Forests of Adrimon

74

Crimson Company

Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design by Geoffrey Engelstein & Isaac Shalev

Reviewed Books Index

Mobile Review index 86 Reviewed Apps Index

Early Game of the Year Candidate.

Assymetrical Warfare. Game #2 in the HEXplore it series. HEXplore it Expansion.

Two Player Strategic Card Game.

Top 10

book Review index 84

Immerse Yourself in Madness.

04

Top 10 Games Reviewed in 2019

Interview Gallery 80

Past Interviews Index

Game Review index 90

Game Review Index

Š Game Nite 2020. 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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Game Nite Issue #41


From across the table

Game Nite ISSUE # 41

I

’m sure that many of you have noticed that this issue was released late. This was due in part to the holiday season, as well as my upping the hours on my guitar practice schedule. I have decided to put the magazine on hiatus for a bit, as I’m currently practicing 6-8 hours a day and I’m trying to reach 8-10, which is a far cry from the 12-16 hrs. per day of my youth, but should still provide what I’m looking for in taking my playing to the next level (I’ve been playing for 43 years), as well as reformatting my first instruction book and continue to work on writing my second book. I want to thank everyone for your kind words and support. I’ve had a great time doing this and I look forward to returning to it again, as soon as my other endeavors become more stabilized.

Cover Photograph by Serge Pierro. Paladins of the West Kingdom © Garphill Games

Follow us on Facebook:

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

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In this issue: I would like to thank Richard Garfield for taking the time from his busy schedule to share his thoughts with our readers. If it wasn’t for his amazing design, “Magic the Gathering”, we all wouldn’t be here! Congratulations to Shem Philips for winning an Editor’s Choice Award for “Paladins of the West Kingdom”! This is yet another great game in the “West Kingdom” Trilogy!

Follow us on Instagram:

@gamenitemagazine Follow us on Twitter:

@GameNiteMag Visit us at:

www.gamenitemagazine.com

Congratulations to Geoffrey Engelstein and Isaac Shalev for winning an “Editor’s Choice Award” for their brilliant book, “Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design”! This is a book that every game designer should own. Congratulations to Jonathan Mariucci for winning an “Editor’s Choice Award for “HEXplore it: The Forests of Adrimon”. The “HEXplore it series has been proven to be a winner so far, I look forward to seeing what the third game in the series has to offer!

Serge Pierro

Editor in Chief/Publisher editor@gamenitemagazine.com Game Nite Issue #41

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Top 10 -

1

Games Reviewed in 2019

Architects of the West Kingdom Renegade Game Studios

2

Rurik: Dawn of Kiev PieceKeeper Games

3

Campaign Trail Cosmic Wombat Games

4

Gugong Tasty Minstrel Games

5

Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done Tasty Minstrel Games

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Game Nite Issue #41

By Serge Pierro


6

Crusader Kings Free League

7

Perdition’s Mouth Dragon Dawn Productions

8

HEXplore It: The Valley of the Dead King Mariucci J Designs, LLC

9

Space Explorers 25th Century Games

10

Call to Adventure Brotherwise Games Game Nite Issue #41

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Mobile Review

By Serge Pierro

Cutthroat Caverns

S

mirk and Dagger Games have been well known for their “take that!” driven games, and Cutthroat Caverns is a perfect example of the company’s commitment for providing such an experience. So, I was intrigued by the announcement that the game has been brought over to the mobile platforms. As far as I know, there is no other game like it currently in the digital marketplace, so I was interested to see how the AI handles the “take that!” element of the game. Let’s gather our group of heroes and find out!

much moaning and laughter in the real life game. There are a variety of encounters in the game that keep things interesting and provide ample opportunity for shenanigans amongst the group. When the app loads you are greeted with the main screen that features buttons for: Play, Options, Tutorial, Achievements, Rules, Bonus and Credits.

The Options button features a barebones selection to choose from: Music Enabled/ For those who are unfamiliar with the game, Disabled, Sound FX Enabled/Disabled and All the object of the game is to defeat encounters Emotes Shown/No EmotesShown. and receive points for doing so, however, in The Tutorial is a series of screens that show order to do so you have to deliver the final blow. What makes this interesting/frustrating the flow of the gameplay. It does a decent job is that your opponents are trying to do the same of showing you how the game is played, and thing and they can play cards that alter your should you be looking for more information, attacks, thus preventing you from delivering there is always the Rules section which goes a the “final blow” and allowing them to step in little more in-depth on several of the topics on and claim the victory. This usually leads to hand.

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For those interested in “perks”, there is a “Bonus” button that can grant access to a screen which allows for a special code to be entered from the Anniversary Edition of the physical game that unlocks a Special Encounter that can be used in the digital game. Of course the main button is going to be “Play” as this takes you to the setup for your game. This offers options for: the length of the game, random/choose encounters, difficulty level, play as a specific character, as well as a Confirm and Play button which starts the game with your chosen settings. A Full game is made up of nine

Encounters, while a short game has only three. I liked the option of being able to either choose the Encounters or let them be chosen for me randomly, as well as having the options for the length of the game. Once you’ve chosen your setting for the game you are taken to the main in-game screen. Here you will find each of the game’s players in the four corner areas of the screen. The Encounter that you are facing will be in the upper middle portion of the screen and their life points will be displayed next to them. Then each player is dealt an Initiative card which will determine the order

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Mobile Review (Cont.)

in which they play. Each player will then select one of the cards from their hand to set aside to be played on their turn. In order to select a card you have to scroll/swipe the card display until the card you are interested is displayed in the middle and then you tap on it to select it and choose it. Then play is resolved in Initiative order. The graphics of the Encounters look great and the in-game screen is clean and not cluttered. The “take that!” emote screens offer some more graphic elements while trying to capture the laughter/frustration of the original game, while there is also a similar screen layout for when you, or someone else, defeats an Encounter. The “You Lose” screen is subdued compared to the aforementioned screens.

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The AI does a good job of handling the different player strategies/types. Though it is not the same as psychologically analyzing your friends from across the table, but it does fulfill its role nicely and fans of the analog game will love to have the ability to face off against a strong AI that is somewhat unpredictable. I have to admit that I was a bit hesitant as to how the game would handle the various possibilities on the “take that!” aspects of the game, but it did a good job, especially at key points in the game. You were never quite sure what to expect each game and you had to try and plan accordingly.


Overall the app does a great job of capturing board game, it will be interesting to see if the app the tension of the analog game, as you weren’t will be offering those in the future. If so, this is an sure what was going to happen at any point. And app to definitely keep your eye on - take that! while it excelled at that, players such as myself who are geared towards strategic planning and such, might be a bit “turned off” to the “randomness” that can result from the “take that!” element of Version # 1.1.200115 $4.99 the game. This is not a game for everyone, but Price: for those who enjoy the “take that!” mechanism Devices: iOS and Android and the randomness it can provide, they will Developer: Cellbloc Studios absolutely love to play the app as it captures the board game in an easy to use way and offers some Recommended nice options for setting up the game. Since there www.cellblocstudios.com are a large number of expansions available for the

Game Nite Issue #41

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Mobile Review

By Serge Pierro

King Tactics: War of the Roses

W

hen it comes to two player board games there are few companies that can compete with the outstanding games produced by KOSMOS. Fans of two player only games have grown accustomed to the wonderful games that have been released by them, and so anytime that one of them has been made available for digital platform, it is always worth a look.

increasing yours. This attack/scoring element of the game is what really stands out, especially when playing against a strong opponent, as each of you will be trying to strategize when it would be the best time to use one of your knights.

For the uninitiated, King Tactics is based on the KOSMOS game The Rose King which is an interesting area control game for two players. What makes the game fascinating is that the player’s hands of cards are open information, so you can calculate several moves and the scoring for the area control is based on the number of consecutive squares connected multiplied by itself. Example: 1 square = 1 point, 2 squares = 4 points, 10 squares = 100 points.

The Free Game is made available once you have completed the two game tutorial in the Campaign section of the app.

The main screen features buttons for: Free Game, Campaign, Online Multiplayer and Offline Multiplayer, as well as options etc.

The post Tutorial Campaign games feature assorted variations on the game to hone your skills, even if they aren’t necessarily ones that you would use in the main game. The Multiplayer options speak for themselves.

Each player also has four knights which are able The Options screen has Music on/off, Sounds to take control of squares already controlled by on/off, Vibration, on/off, Reset Campaign their opponent, thus reducing their score and and five available languages (they appear to

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be: English, German, French, Spanish and that offer it, I’m not sure what to make of the AI. Japanese.) The Easy and Normal are very easy and the Hard doesn’t seem as strong as a good live player. It is There is a separate area for the rules of the game strange that the Hard AI isn’t as strong as I feel and it would be worth the time to read them if it could be, especially when considering the fact you’ve never played the game before. They can that all of the card/banner information is open be read either before or after the Tutorial. to all players, so it would seem to be that it is being limited in the number of branches that it The Tutorial itself holds your hand and calculates. Nevertheless, it is great to have a ready walks you through the first two games of the opponent (AI) available for a game whenever you Campaign mode. It does a good job of teaching want. I would suggest that you go straight to the the game and along with the rules make for a Hard AI, as it will provide the best challenge. solid presentation that will leave no question unanswered. And speaking of challenges, the game does provide the means for a pass and play experience There are three levels of AI, Easy, Normal and with a friend, as there is no hidden information, Hard. Since I rarely lose at this game on sites thus allowing to players to hand off the device

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Mobile Review (Cont.)

to their opponent without any additional actions needed to be taken. It also provides for online play, and like other apps of this nature, the viability of the online experience will be determined by the number of users who are going to use this feature.

you want to attack and then they disappear and an “invisible” battle seems to take place and there are a couple of “sparks” animations from the physics engine and then the control of the square goes to the attacker and scores are recalculated.

The User Interface is fairly straightforward, you have the option to either tap twice on a card to make a move on the board, or you can tap on the board square that you want to move to. Along the right side of the board is the number for how many squares still need to be occupied to trigger the end of the game. Each player’s current score is in the area above their cards.

And speaking of animations, the app seems to have some performance issues, which is a bit strange as there is not a lot going on. All of my moves seemed to be “slow” as compared to other games where a simple double tap would immediately resolve the action. Here there is a bit of a delay. There was even a point in a game where I had scored 490 points that I had to wait for the app to add up the scores, as it slowly calculated the score in groups of “fives”. This type of math should be instantaneous on any device available today.

The Graphics are minimal at best. Everything looks fine, yet the animation for the knights is a bit strange, as they move to the square that

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Overall, I am quite happy to see the port of this classic game made available for digital platforms. The app does a fine job of implementing the game and providing players with the opportunity to play the game against an AI opponent when no other players are available, while at the same time supporting a pass and play, as well as providing an online experience. And while there were some performance “issues� with the gameplay, I’m sure that USM will iron those out if it is something that is happening on other devices. Perhaps my tablet is a bit old (Nexus 7 - Android 6.0.1) and the performance issues are on my end. Even so, I am more than

willing to put up with a sluggish interface in order to play a game of this quality. The Rose King is an underrated game and USM has done a fine job of bringing it to the current market for newer players to discover its charm.

Version # Price: Devices:

1.0.1 $2.99 iOS and Android Developer: United Soft Media

Recommended www.usm.de

Game Nite Issue #41

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Book Review

By Serge Pierro

An Essential Encyclopedia of Game Mechanisms

A

s the hobby expands, so does the range of subjects available for books. With “Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design: An Encyclopedia of Mechanisms”, authors, Geoffrey Engelstein and Isaac Shalev, have written a book focused on the analysis and categorization of Game Mechanisms. Let’s take a look at what this important work has to offer.

Description: The description section is devoted to a short paragraph that explains what the particulars are for the current topic. These are typically two sentences long. Discussion: This is the “meat” of the book. It is here that the authors provide various insights about the subject matter. Sample Games: At the end of the classification is a list of games related to the subject matter. For instance, for WPL01, there are 19 games listed.

The book weighs in at a hefty 500+ pages and is predominantly laid out into thirteen chapters, featuring The back of the book features an index of games and some, topics such as, Game Structure, Auctions, Worker but, not all, of the classifications that they use. Placement, Area Control, Set Collection, etc. A sample listing: Russian Railroads, Ohley and Orgler, Each chapter is further subdivided. For instance, there (2013): ACT-16 Tech Trees/Tech Tracks/Tech Bonuses, are 16 distinct types of Auctions listed in the Auctions WPL-03 Acquiring and Losing Workers, WPL-05 Adding chapter. Each of the subdivisions have their own means of and Blocking Buildings. classification, such as; AUC-01 Open Auction or WPL-01 Standard Worker Placement. It reminds me of the “Dewey Overall, this is an important addition to the library of Decimal System” used in libraries. Game Designs literature. The authors do an excellent job of distilling all of the relevant information into a concise Each subdivision receives a name, a classification, a graphic, package and further enhance it with the inclusion of many a description, a discussion and a list of sample games. examples of contemporary games. While certainly ambitious in its scope, the results are scholarly and useful for both game Name: Standard Worker Placement designers and gamers interested in knowing more about the Classification: WPL-01 subject matter. While not every mechanism is included, Graphic: Daniel Solis provides a graphic element at the top many of the essential ones are, and perhaps we’ll see a second of each of these sections. He does a nice job of conveying book dealing with some of the others. If you are a game the essential elements of the topic at hand with a well designer this is a must have book for your library! designed minimalistic graphic and uses the same graphic design throughout the book. Authors:

Geoffrey Engelstein & Issac Shalev Publisher: CRC Press

Highly Recommended 14

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www.crcpress.com


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The Necronomicon Gamebook: Dagon

By Serge Pierro

Immerse Yourself in Madness

C

thulhu remains a popular theme for board and card games. With The Necronomicon Gamebook: Dagon, Valentino Sergi uses a “choose your own adventure” format as the basis for his game, adapting the H. P. Lovecraft stories “Dagon”, “The Ritual”, “The Hound” and “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” as the foundation for the storyline. Let’s peer into the book/game, and see if we can do so without losing our sanity…

The pages of the book are clay finished and are of a decent paper stock which has no substantial bleed through. There are 80 main “chapters”, as well as a Dreamlands section which contains an additional 10 “chapters”. Five pages are devoted to the introduction and rules. The rules are concise and the combat section features a step by step example.

Also included is a 20 page Diary booklet that is printed in both English and Italian. Ten pages The game comes with a hardcover book and are devoted to each language. This is where you a resealable plastic bag that holds a pencil, die, will keep track of the stats of the game. bookmark, a double sided map and diary. Additional items include an 8 1/4” x 11 3/4” The 64 page hardcover book measures 6” double sided map of Kingsport, a double-sided x 8 1/2” and contains 16 black and white bookmark, a black pencil with a Cthulhu head illustrations. The hardcover is very sturdy, as I graphic, and a custom 3/4” black die featuring an tried to bend it, to no avail. The artwork is done embossed and painted Cthulhu head representing in two different types of mediums: some are the “6”. rendered in pencil and feature an abundance of crosshatching techniques, while the others To begin the game you will decide how you appear to be done in a black, grey and white will allocate your six points amongst the Force guache. and Will attributes. This will be one of your most important decisions in the game, as every

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encounter will deal with at least one of them. A high Force will aid in combat, while a high Will is good for preventing you from losing your mind.

base Force number + your weapon bonus + the die result) and compare it to your opponent’s Force (base Force + the die result) and then take the difference and compare it to the Table of Comparison and apply the results to you and You will also start with a maximum of ten your adversary. Resistance (your health). There are items available that restore Resistance, should you Madness is another factor in the game and suffer loss due to combat, etc. it is possible to both increase and decrease the levels. You start the game Well Balanced and You are limited to having only five items in from there the progression is Stressed, Paranoid, your inventory. You will have opportunities Schizophrenic and Delirium. Each progression to pick up weapons and items throughout the towards Madness adds another level of penalties book. to your die rolls. The Combat for the game is resolved via a One of the more interesting aspects of the game combat table. You take your total Force (your is the section called The Dreamlands. This is Continued on next page>

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The Necronomicon Gamebook: Dagon (Cont.)

where you go if you should choose to go to sleep in order to attempt to recover three points of Resistance. However, there are 10 “chapters” offering various nightmares, encounters and yes, even some peaceful sleep. You will roll the die and partake in whatever is stated in the chapter. It is possible to lose the game while dreaming, as The Dreamlands is a dangerous place to venture in, however, it does offer the chance to regain Resistance points.

some damage on any roll differential of 2 or less, even when rolling a positive value. This is part of what makes the combat within the game a tense experience.

It shouldn’t be surprising that if you are a fan of Lovecraft’s stories, then you are going to enjoy this book, as it nicely captures the atmosphere of his writings, yet at the same time it allows you to be an active participant in the story. This was one of the more immersive “choose your own adventures” that I’ve played and also one of the most challenging, due in large part to the uncertainty of a die based combat system.

Overall this is an immersive experience that will prove to be quite challenging. As this was the first book in the series, I’m looking forward to seeing what the second book potentially has to offer. If you are a fan of Lovecraft or enjoy “choose your own adventure” books, then this is a book/game that you are definitely going to want to check out.

It is important to choose the best allocation of stats at the start of the game so that you can be competitive. The table based combat resolution provides for a tense experience, while at the same time providing some mitigation against unbalanced die results. I’m not a fan of dice based results, but the resolution table does provide for a more “even handed” approach to combat. It should be noted that you will take

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You should be prepared to go through the book multiple times, as the encounters can be brutal and you are going to lose often. Even if you pursue a path that doesn’t lead to “The End”, there’s always a chance that you won’t survive an encounter.

Valentino Sergi Publisher: Officina Meningi Players: 1 Mechanic: Choose Your Own Adventure Ages: 12+ Length: 60-180 Mins. Designer:

Recommended www.officinameningi.it


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Paladins of the West Kingdom

By Serge Pierro

Early Game of the Year Candidate

I

n issue #33 of Game Nite we reviewed Architects of the West Kingdom and awarded it with an Editor’s Choice Award, and since we knew that Shem Phillips likes to design games in a trilogy cycle, we waited with anticipation for the second game in the series. With Paladins of the West Kingdom, Garphill Games continues their tradition of solid game designs and offers a more substantial offering this time around. Let’s take a look at what this “heavier” game has to offer.

to the game’s setup and nine pages devoted to the solo variant of the game. There are many examples throughout the book and it does a fine job of explaining all of the rules for the game. And although there are many actions available to the player, the rulebook does a nice job of clarifying them all. The two panel player boards are double sided, with one of the sides designated for the solo variant, and are made of a thick and sturdy cardboard stock.

The linen finished box for Paladins of the The main board is single sided and composed West Kingdom measures 9” x 9” x 2 1/2” of two sections, each one being a two panel and it contains no insert. board. The two boards are joined together by placing the two river sections next to each The 36 page rulebook is heavily illustrated other. The back of the boards feature a solid, and features two and a half pages devoted black, linen finish.

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There are two different sized cards used in the game, the larger cards measure 2 1/8” x 3 3/8” and the smaller ones measure 1 6/8” x 2 5/8”. Both card types are linen finished and made of a slightly thinnish card stock that shuffles nicely. Sleeving should be considered optional. The cardboard tokens are made of a decent cardboard stock. The rest of the components are custom wooden meeples in various shapes and colors. The blue Jars have numbers silkscreened onto them. The colors of the main worker meeples

of the game are: red, white, blue, green, purple and black. The other components are red, green, blue and black. Since this is a heavier game than “Architects of the West Kingdom”, it should not come as a surprise that the setup is a little longer. The rule book devotes three pages to a step by step setup of the game and you should be up and running in no time. Future setups are easily possible without having to use the rule book. Most of the time is taken by having to place several of the wooden components on their designated spaces of the player boards and displaying cards along the main board. Continued on next page>

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Paladins of the West Kingdom

One of the most important aspects of the setup is the placing of the King’s Orders and King’s Favours cards, as these will both act as a timer for the game’s seven rounds of play. It should be noted that on turn three, both a King’s Order and King’s Favour card are revealed, otherwise each turn there will be only one card will be revealed. The King’s Order cards grant players an incentive for endgame scoring. Each one has a number of victory points printed on the board below it. Should a player meet the card’s requirements, they will receive the designated amount of points at the end of the game. The King’s Favour cards can be considered to be additional “worker spaces” that all players have access to, though once a player has placed one of their workers on the card, no other player may use it that round. Each of the game’s seven rounds is played in a similar manner. The first thing that is done is the next King’s Order/King’s Favour card(s) is turned over to indicate what round you are in and what new opportunities have been made available.

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(Cont.)

Then a number of Tavern cards are revealed face up (# of players +1) and each player will draw the top three cards from their Paladin deck. Each of these decks are identical, with only the card’s background being different. From these three cards you will choose one Paladin to play this turn and then place one Paladin back on the top of your deck and the other one on the bottom of the deck. This is an important strategic decision that needs to be made throughout the game and it is often favorable to forgo a “good” card on your current turn and place it on the top of your deck and spend your current turn preparing to play the card you placed on top of your deck next turn. Each Paladin has a different ability and contributes a temporary Attribute(s) to be used during the current round, as well as providing two colors of workers that you will receive from the supply. Example: Paladin Samson provides a temporary Attribute boost of “2” to both the red and blue Attributes, as well as providing a white and a green worker. His special ability is “”Developing” cost 2 fewer Silver”.


After each player has chosen their Paladin card for the round, starting with the First Player each player will receive the workers displayed on their Paladin card and choose one of the Tavern cards, receiving the indicated workers. We liked to flip the Tavern card over after taking the workers so that it would indicate that the card was used for the round. Then each player in turn order will take one of their available actions. Play will continue in this manner until each player has either used all of their workers or has decided to pass. Once a player passes they return all of the workers on their board to the supply and they are no longer able to participate in the round. Once all players have passed, the round ends and there is a quick resetting of the board which is explained in the rulebook, and then the next round begins. Play proceeds in this manner until all seven rounds have been played and then scoring commences.

Placing workers and taking actions is the core mechanism of the game. Each action has a requirement in terms of what color meeples are required to take that action. There are also actions that require either the expenditure of Silver or Provisions. In addition, some actions require a minimum Attribute level in order to take it. There are twelve actions available to each player on their player boards, as well as additional actions that become available when revealed via the King’s Favour cards at the start of a round. Here’s a brief overview of each of the available actions on the player boards. Develop. Develop costs 4 Silver and any two workers. The Develop action is an interesting one, especially early in the game, as it allows a player to build a Workshop on one of their worker placement spaces on the right side of their game board. When built, the Workshop reduces the cost of the action by the amount of spaces covered. Only those

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Paladins of the West Kingdom

workers with a dotted white line around them may be built upon. The maximum number of Workshops you can build is two per action, thus reducing a three cost action down to only one. In addition to the main effect of building a Workshop, you receive a worker who’s color is indicated when you remove the Workshop to place it.

(Cont.)

Hunt. Hunt is another two level action. For one worker of any color you may gain 1 Provision. However, if you place a green worker and another worker of any color at the same time, you instead receive 2 Provisions.

Trade. Trade is similar to Hunt. For one worker of any color you may gain 1 Silver. However, if you place a blue worker and Recruit. Recruit offers two levels of use, a another worker of any color at the same temporary one and a permanent one. The time, you instead receive 2 Silver. temporary usage allows a player to use any Pray. Pray is one of the most powerful worker and take any Townsfolk card at the top of the left side of the main board, spaces on the board, as you can spend 1 black paying any costs associated with the card. worker and 2 Silver to remove any group of The player then receives the rewards granted workers on your board (they are returned to on the upper right corner of the card. The the Supply). This allows you to use that space permanent one requires a red worker and again, if you have the available resources. any other worker to be placed at the same Being able to use a space twice in a round time and they may then take any Townsfolk is a huge advantage and it is something that card, after paying its cost and placing it you will want to implement at least a couple in front of them. The bottom of the card of times per game, if possible. grants an ability that can be used for the rest Conspire. Conspire is another powerful of the game. Example: When you use the Fortify action, the Gatekeeper provides you action, but with a cost. You can use any with one Silver from the Supply. Obtaining worker to trigger the action and you will Townsfolk cards that are geared towards receive a purple worker. Purple workers your strategic goals can really go a long way act as wildcards. However, in doing so you towards making your engine more efficient. have to take a Suspicion card that can grant

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The following six actions are among the you some Silver, yet the more of these you accumulate the greater the chance that you most important in the game, as they allow will have to take an Unpaid Debt cards when you to build an engine to score points and they offer all kinds of flexibility in attaining the Inquisition is triggered. your strategic goals. It is often best to The Inquisition is an in game penalty that specialize in one of them and use another one is triggered when the Silver in the Tax area to supplement and/or enhance your main is depleted. The player(s) with the most strategy. They are: Commission, Fortify, Suspicion cards take on Unpaid Debt card Garrison, Absolve, Attack and Convert. and they may then remove half of their Suspicion cards, rounded down. The Tax area Commission. The Commission action is then resupplied with the amount of Silver requires a green, black and any color worker, as indicated on the main board determined as well as a number of Provisions as indicated on the player board. This allows the player by the player count. Continued on next page>

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Paladins of the West Kingdom

to take a Monk from their board and place it on one of the available spaces on the main board, if they are able to meet the associated Attribute level and there is no other worker already in the space. The player also receives the Attribute bonus that is revealed when the Monk is taken. There are a variety of choices available on the main board, which increase in both availability and strength the further you move along the board. Fortify. The Fortify action requires a green, blue and any color worker, as well as a number of Provisions indicated on the player board. This allows a player to draw a card from the Wall deck and place it on their player board. They immediately receive the Attribute bonus, as well as any other bonuses. Some of these cards have points which are scored at the end of the game.

(Cont.)

(black) and the Garrison uses the Strength Attribute (red). The revealed Attribute bonus underneath the removed Garrison is immediately applied. Absolve. The Absolve action requires a blue, black and any color worker, as well as a number of Silver coins, as indicated on the player board. This level of this action is determined by the Influence Attribute (blue). When the conditions are met, the player removes a Jar from their board, immediately receiving the revealed Attribute bonus, and they may place it anywhere on the right side of their player board. This allows for several different types of effects and can be considered one of the more important areas on the player board. For instance there are two spaces that allow you the same effect as Pray (remove all workers from a location), as well as two spaces that flip an “Unpaid Debt” to “Paid”. As an additional bonus, players are allowed to remove one of the Suspicion cards they may have acquired.

Garrison. The Garrison action requires a blue, red and any color worker, as well as a number of Provisions indicated on the player board. This allows the player to place a Garrison on the main board in a similar Attack. The Attack action requires a red, manner as using the Monk. The difference green and any color worker. Unlike some being that the Monk uses the Faith Attribute of the other actions, it does not require an

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initial Provisions or Silver cost, however, Silver can be spent to increase the “range” of the Attack, in case you want to Attack a card that is outside of the range of your Strength Attribute. This action is simply resolved by declaring an Attack on one of the cards within the range of your Attribute and then taking the card. The upper right corner of the card is used for the rewards. Players immediately receive any of the bonuses listed and the card is placed aside, as there are endgame cards that give bonuses for Attacks. Convert. The Convert action requires a red, black and any color worker. There is also an additional Silver cost, depending on how far along you are on your player board. This action uses the Faith Attribute and works in a similar manner to the Attack action as far as how cards may be obtained within the range of the Attribute. However, the Convert action does not allow for extending the range as the Attack action does. Instead, the strength of the Convert action is that it receives an immediate bonus as indicated on the lower left corner area of the card

and the card itself is placed underneath the player board at the associated section and the bottom of the card reveals Endgame Scoring bonuses. The selective use of Convert can yield game-winning bonuses if you can successfully build an engine around them. The game ends at the end of the 7th round and scores are tabulated. Care should be taken when adding the scores, as there are several paths of scoring, so I would recommend that you use paper and pencil to write down each of the scores. The player with the most points wins. Fans of Solo Variants will be pleased to know that a fine one is included. The difficulty level is indicated by how many King’s Orders cards are used to determine the starting Workshop advantage, which allows the AI to use less workers than normal. However, it should be noted that even on the Easy setting (1 King’s Order card) the AI is more than capable of providing a challenging experience. I found that in the games that I lost it was the slow, yet steady, increase in the AI’s Attribute track that yielded a heavy percentage of the scoring.

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Paladins of the West Kingdom

The gameplay of the Solo Variant is very similar to the main game, however, the other side of the board is used and the AI is triggered by a deck of Scheme cards. The layout of the AI board is a little different, yet you will find its flow to be natural after a few turns. Like many solo AI’s the main thing that can slow down the gameplay is checking the “choice tree” as to what action the AI will take, given the opportunity to choose from several. Fortunately these choices are printed on the board and it’s just a matter of going in order until the “right” move is resolved. I found the AI’s gameplay to be somewhat natural, the only “strange” thing was how it accumulated the bulk of its points via the Attribute track, as in the games I played I was unable to keep up with that aspect of the scoring and had to find other ways to be competitive. All in all, it is a worthy inclusion to the game that will allow players to satiate their desire for a game when no other players are available. Although I really enjoyed Architects of the West Kingdom, I found Paladins of the West Kingdom to not only be different, but in many ways a lot more enjoyable. This is a

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(Cont.)

heavier game than Architects, but it is more satisfying as the gameplay is both deep and strategic, offering a great number of choices and strategies, and it allows players to pursue individual goals without the direct interference of other players. The puzzlelike nature of building a strategic engine will appeal to a great number of players who are interested in an intellectual challenge, and may find themselves having to play a few games until they can find a balanced approach amongst all of the choices. While there is not a great deal of direct interaction, there are areas of the board where players will find themselves contesting for either Townsfolk and Outsider card or for spaces on the right side of the main board. The other area of direct competition would be for the usage of revealed King’s Favor cards. As mentioned above, there are a lot of choices available and you will have to show some restraint or you will find yourself spread out too thin and not be able to amass enough points to be competitive. One interesting aspect of the game is “sacrificing” your current turn to set up your next turn, since you know what Paladin you put on top


of the deck. There were also rounds where I wanted to take an action but didn’t have enough of the required Attribute and had to spend a round to build towards that. I found this to be quite enjoyable as you were able to think/plan several moves ahead. The use of the Paladin deck was interesting, as you were able to choose the card that you wanted for the current turn, but perhaps more importantly, you were also able to choose the card that would be at the top of the deck

for the next round. So, if you were short on a specific Attribute or one of the Paladin abilities was better suited for the following round, instead of the current one, you were able to plan accordingly. Since all of the decks are the same, you will eventually get a “feel” as to how you want to play the game as you can plan for cards that you haven’t seen yet, as well as ditching cards to the bottom of the deck that are not conducive to your strategic path.

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Paladins of the West Kingdom

I’m a big fan of the Hansa Teutonica/ Terra Mystica mechanism of removing a structure from your player board and receiving a bonus from the revealed space, as well as being able to gain benefits by the placement of the structure itself. The discount provided by the Workshops could be considered an essential component for any focused strategy, especially if used early and you are able to exploit it throughout the entire game.

(Cont.)

of their first game were able to “get in the flow” quickly and tap into a strategic path to pursue. Each of them eagerly wanted to play it again, so that they could attempt to build on their experience.

As noted in this issue, my top reviewed game of 2019 was Architects of the West Kingdom, Paladins of the West Kingdom is currently my choice for 2020, I guess we’ll have to see how it holds up to this year’s offerings… We can’t All of the Townsfolk and Outsider cards wait to see what the final game in the series were well designed, and the fact that they has to offer! had both a temporary and permanent ability provided for some interesting choices to be Designer: Shem Phillips & S J MacDonald made during the game. These cards also Publisher: Garphill Games enhanced the replayability of the game due Players: 1-4 to the variety of choices they provide. Mechanic: Worker Placement, Special Abilities 12+ Ages: Overall, this is a game that I will gladly add to my collection. Everyone that has played it thus far has commented on how interesting the choices were, even those who were a little confused during their first couple of turns

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Length:

90-120 Mins.

Highly Recommended www.garphill.com


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Interview

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Interview

By Serge Pierro

• Magic the Gathering • King of Tokyo • Netrunner Richard Garfield - Designer 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?

I was planning to be in mathematics when my first published design, Magic, took off. Although I liked the path I was on, this gave me the opportunity to focus entirely on game design and thinking about the field I loved. So I left academics and went to work full time at Wizards of the Coast designing games.

I have always liked games but didn’t really get completely swept up in them until about 13, when I discovered Dungeons and Dragons. I was blown away by how different than every other game D&D was, and it made me think that there was an enormous world out there I knew little about – and likely there was an enormous amount that hadn’t been done yet.

Several years later, when Hasbro bought Wizards of the Coast, I left the job to be an independent designer. Since then I have worked on both paper and digital games, and have been a consultant for many game companies for many different reasons. I coauthored a book on games, The Characteristics of Games. Some of my recent projects have been Keyforge, Monster Carnival, Half-Truth (coming soon) and Artifact (digital game).

The first game I remember designing was based on what I imagined D&D to be like but before I got my hands on it; it was very much in the style of more traditional games since I hadn’t yet seen what amazing things were possible.

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(Cont.)

What games over the years have you  When the opportunity presents itself, what enjoyed most, from both the point of personal games have you currently been playing? enjoyment, as well as those that influenced It is hard to keep up with games these days your growth as a designer? so my game playing ‘in-box’ is always stuffed. I have made it a point to try and explore as much of the world of games as I can, and when I don’t understand the appeal of a particular game I often try to learn what is fun about it. Because of this, many games and areas of games have contributed to my growth as a designer. Some that spring to mind: • D&D and more broadly role playing games. • Traditional card games, such as Bridge, or Hearts, or Poker.

• Traditional board games, such as Go, Chess, or Backgammon.

• Games by Sid Sackson.

• Diplomacy, Cosmic Encounters, and Titan

• Killer/Assassin

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Most recently that has lead to my playing Just One, Draftosaurus, Tapestry, The Harry Potter Cooperative Game, The Minecraft Game, and Ishtar. I am trying to break myself of the bad habit of playing a game once or twice and then setting it aside for a new game. That isn’t how I grew up with games; one of the things I loved is how games often grew better and better over many plays. I am worried this way of playing games will affect my design in a negative way – and I am sure it reduces my enjoyment of games. I am also concerned that this will push the game play world toward shallower, disposable game experiences. Because of this, I always try to keep some favorite older games in play – like Cosmic Encounter, Innovation, or Hanabi.


Who are your favorite game designers?

what makes games fun – I grow to love so many designers’ contributions. There are very I am going to limit myself to a few that have few designers whose games I have played that passed away. This is not because I don’t have haven’t taught me something. great admiration for many current designers – but because naming some obliges me to name Gary Gygax and David Arneson as the designers so many that the list would be meaningless. It of D&D are, in my opinion, the designers of the is a consequence of my philosophy of learning most innovative game of all time. Continued on next page>

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Interview

(Cont.)

Sid Sackson is outstanding as a designer – his influence on modern games is vast. His book, Gamut of Games, showed me a person who loved to explore and tinker with games, as well as design them. I think he was a kindred spirit, and regret never having met him.

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? There are very few designers I wouldn’t want to collaborate with, in theory. On the other hand, I find it difficult to collaborate, because my design process is slow, reflective, and often intuitive. I do have many interesting game design discussions with a wide variety of folk – I could imagine a design coming out of that interaction more easily than ‘sitting down to design a game’. I have also recently begun thinking about a design I was working on with Antoine Bauza many years ago – and, given the pace of my usual design it is probably about time that was looked at again!

read a review of a game that the reviewer felt was unbalanced. I realized that the idea of an unbalanced game wasn’t just a negative to me, it excited me. These days I see many games which don’t really take a lot of chances. Playing them can feel like exploring an amusement park rather than a jungle. Games like Chudyk’s Innovation or Cosmic Encounter are rare, and I think they might be getting even rarer. I think this might be in part because players don’t repeat playing games as often and as many times as they used to. Designers are rewarded by feeding them as tight an experience as possible in their few plays. My friend Mike Davis once described how important repeat plays were for games with high variation between plays in a way I liked. He said “Suppose I told you that I had the most amazing object. It looks completely different every time I looked at it. Why would you look at that object just once? It would be meaningless. Similarly, you can’t understand a game like Cosmic Encounter without repeat play.”

I would be interested in taking that spirit of wackiness, that requirement for repeat play and The games I am interested in making these applying it to any of the usually more restrained days are games with lots of wackiness and game forms - such as worker placement or area unexpected interactions in them. Recently, I control.

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 When starting a new design, do you start with a theme or a mechanic? My design can start with either theme or mechanic, though probably more often with mechanic. A game like King of Tokyo began with a mechanic – an interactive version of Yahtzee that I was playing with. Generally when I start with a mechanic, once it gets a theme I have to redesign so that the theme is properly reflected

and ideas suggested by the theme are taken advantage of. A game like Netrunner begins with theme – I was setting out to make a hacking card game, and many different mechanical approaches presented themselves before I settled on the final one. Recently I made a game built entirely around a name for a game that I thought was outstanding.

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Interview

(Cont.)

How does having a Ph.D. in Combinational What is your daily design/playtest schedule Mathematics affect your approach to game like?  Do you work on games everyday?   design? A lot of the things I find fascinating or beautiful in Mathematics remind me of things I find fascinating or beautiful in game design. I am sure math has influenced my design, but it is less about particular areas of math having particular influences and more an appreciation of creations that are ultimately abstract. Take a step back from Mathematics in particular, and I think academics have been quite influential on my design and how I view games. I have met designers who like to ‘keep pure’ by not looking at other designs. I could not be more different – I believe games, like all culture, is built upon an intellectual community that extends far back, and, at its best, freely shares its advancements. In Mathematics I was taught to be mindful of sources, and give credit them, and to be generous with that credit. I find little as rewarding as having my contributions to games used to make new games - and when I am inspired by another designer I like to make sure they know that.

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I find games and game play inextricably linked. If I am not playing games it is more difficult for me to design and what design I manage isn’t as good. So, when I am in a good place with regard to design I like to have a couple game nights a week, either focused on a playtest or more often just playing something for fun. Generally I do at least a little design work every day; and try to get in as much play, research, and correspondence as I can. It might be of interest to know that I rarely play my own games for fun outside of playtest. I imagine playing my games filled with thoughts of flaws and redesigns - though once I do get them to the table I usually enjoy them.

What do you think defines your “style” as a game designer, is there a specific mechanic or rule set or… ? Well, I am known for is massively modular games, like Magic or Keyforge. To me those don’t really represent my “style”, because my interest


and design time has been spent far more broadly. For example, I have put a lot onto party games like Hive Mind and the imminent Half Truth, and am passionate about the design ideas there, and they don’t fit neatly into any style box that I can see.

often without any intent of publication. For example, recently I wrote an article titled TitiusBode: The Deckbuilding Game, which is a game made just to see what would happen with a simple card game that modeled the creation of a solar system.

My process is usually one of exploration, I get h t t p s : / / w w w. f a c e b o o k . c o m / n o t e s / curious about new ideas and play with them, richard-garfield/exploring-concepts-ingames/2565285720254302/

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Interview

(Cont.)

I can remember the initial solicitation for Magic the Gathering in one of the distributor catalogs, back when I owned a couple of comic book/game stores, and thought that it was interesting, especially with the captivating Bog Wraith artwork being used to promote Which one of your games, other than “Magic it. I thought that if no one else would be the Gathering”, do you consider your best interested in the game, I’d wind up keeping design, and why? the cards for myself. Needless to say, that It is hard not to put forth Keyforge as my best didn’t happen. What was it like for you to design outside of Magic. Like Magic, Keyforge start seeing Magic take off and ascending challenged such basic things in game design that to the great heights that it has achieved, as I felt I was lost with no map. While it was always scary – it was eventually liberating to free myself well as having a major impact on the entire from the shackles of ‘fairness’ to get the wacky gaming industry? Focusing on exploration as opposed to honing a particular type of game might prevent a particular style from taking hold or at least being easy to identify. Of course it is also possible that, as a creator, I am too close to my projects to see it.

game that resulted. It reminded me that back before I was a professional designer I designed many game experiences that were deliberately unfair, because they were often so interesting, and it was exhilarating to play a position of disadvantage looking for a new angle.

The game design I am happiest with that is within the bounds of a preexisting genre is probably Netrunner. Netrunner was my third trading card game, and I feel like I managed to really change the trading card game playbook with it.

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It was overwhelming and unexpected, and continued to be so for many years. I knew there was something special with Magic, but I also was skeptical about games as a business as a whole. I knew many games that I admired which failed to find a big audience, and expected no different. In some ways I was used to that idea – after all, I was in Mathematics because I was exhilarated by the beauty of the subject, you can imagine that I made peace with the fact that what moved me was not always what moved the world.


“Magic the Gathering” has evolved for a long period of time now, what are your thoughts on how the state of the game is today, as compared to how you originally envisioned it? I am not up on current Magic. This is not because I don’t like it – I return to it from time to time as a guest designer for the game, and always enjoy the experience and seeing where the game is and contributing to it again. The reason I don’t keep up with it is because it could eat my design time up completely, and in the end my allegiance is to games as a whole – not a particular game.

I have generally been happy with the stewardship of the game under Wizards and specifically Mark Rosewater. He is motivated by a love of the game and a love of play, and I think that is reflected in the treatment of Magic. The only times I dissent from their design choices is when the rare cards become too powerful – which I think is abusive to the players. Of all the ideas I had in the original concept of trading card game, I think the best was that common cards should be broad and powerful, so that small investments give a good play experience. When the game becomes about chasing hard to get cards I think it suffers. Continued on next page>

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Interview

(Cont.)

Do you ever feel “pressure” that you latest design will not live up to expectations, due to the success of Magic the Gathering?

The most important design consideration was how to make the game multiplayer and interactive, yet not be entirely dominated by players teaming up with one another. To this end I used the “attack left” method which I had I don’t believe I have ever expected to exceed used to make Magic multiplayer as well, with Magic. Many factors lined up to make that a some success. monster success, some of them my doing but many of them - like the state of the hobby game industry and the state of the internet - were Seeing as how you have a history of designing fortuitous and outside my control. The success top notch card games, what were your initial freed me up to pursue the ideas in games that thoughts about bringing “Keyforge: Call of interested me most, and that is what I have Archons” to the market, and have your design tried to focus on, with no intent on topping or expectations been met? equaling Magic.

To this day, I consider “Jyhad” to be one of the best multiplayer CCG/card game. Since this was still an early card game within the genre, what was your approach to designing a multiplayer card game, while avoiding directly copying “Magic the Gathering”? My design goal for Jyhad, and later Netrunner, was to establish trading card games as a genre with many possible games rather than just Magic. Because of this I was trying to push the boundaries more than usual. With Jyhad I was dealing with my first licensed game, and so I was also trying to figure out how best to honor the original property, while making a good game. I was fortunate in that the property was rich, and the licensor was generous with their flexibility, not micromanaging details or insisting certain elements be there or be a particular way.

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I was pleased with almost every aspect of Keyforge, the game itself, and its reception. I was cautious with my expectations because we had had such difficulty with playtest. Fantasy Flight was able to deliver many playtest groups but very few followed through with playtest in any meaningful way. This was because the game was designed to explore the massively modular game form without allowing deck construction – and to the existing fans of the genre, who are likely to be in the game form in part because they like constructing decks, that seemed like simply a negative – and one they often couldn’t get past. It was to Fantasy Flight’s credit that they saw past this reaction and put the energy and resources into the game that it needed.


When released, I was pleased to see so many people instantly see what the lack of deck construction could offer. I was also happy that so many people played the game in the spirit with which it was intended – that they accumulate a modest collection of decks for play variety, but not feel obligated to find the most powerful decks. I am delighted when I hear of players satisfied with 4 or 6 decks and excited to get a similar number when the cards change. It is very different than the pressure many trading card game players feel to keep up with the best decks, and heartening since it speaks more to the way I like to play games.

You have worked on digital card games in the past. Since there is a great deal that can be done digitally that can’t be done with a physical card game, do you feel that this is the future of card games? No, the community offered by face to face play is too valuable in a world where contact is more and more moderated by devices. But, equally, I don’t think digital card games are going by the wayside either – the convenience of playing whenever you like, and the ease of an automatically moderated experience is far too appealing. Continued on next page>

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Interview

(Cont.)

As far as what can be done on computer that can’t with paper – the more the digital board game environment matures, the more exciting possibilities we see. I am particularly fond of mechanics that modify the cards in your deck in ways that would be painful to implement in real life.

possibilities of drafting games”, but there was remarkably little interest. That frustration lead me to design both Treasure Hunter and Monster Carnival.

Iello did pick up Bunny Kingdom, and they were mostly responsible for the theme. The game was originally called Dwarven Roads, “Bunny Kingdom” was a bit of a departure, and players were clans of Dwarves. Iello wanted a different theme, and went through many, both thematically and mechanically, from including ant colonies. I had misgivings about your other games. What was the inspiration Bunny Kingdom as a theme, mostly because ‘bunny’ suggests a younger audience than the for this design? mechanics are designed for. But, Paul Mafayon’s The design was simply one of my early attempts excellent art won me over, and that is where we to make drafting stand on its own as a game ended up. mechanic. When playing a magic draft the draft portion of it was my favorite, so adapting that In issue #22 of Game Nite we reviewed to a game on its own is natural. I was probably “Characteristics of Games” and awarded thinking about Sid Sackson’s Acquire when I put it together – it is too long ago to be sure. it an Editor’s Choice Award. I thought that It predated the publication of the excellent it provided an interesting perspective on 7 Wonders, I had some difficulty getting it games in general, as well as providing many published before that – though Z-Man did insightful passages. Since the book is ascribed agree to publish it but seemed to be sitting on to three authors, could you tell us what you it indefinitely.

contributed, as far as input and writing?

Once 7 Wonders was published, Z-Man returned the game to me, perhaps thinking a The concepts in the book were shared and drafting game had already been done. I thought developed by all of us, perhaps equally. Skaff Elias “now CERTAINLY publishers will see the and I were teaching a course at the University

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of Washington on the content at the time it pretty excited by the game finally coming out – was being put together. Robert Gutschera did it was designed about 10 years ago after reading by far most of the writing, for which I am very Ken Jennings book Braniac. appreciative. When reading Braniac, I realized that despite Are there any other upcoming projects that the fact I make an effort to learn what makes any game fun to its audience – I had never extended you are at liberty to discuss or announce? that thinking to trivia. I had always thought of trivia in the most typical and shallow ways; you Half Truth, my trivia game, is coming out soon. either know it or you don’t, and the people who It was meant to be out by the now past holidays are good at it will always win. Ken’s book made – but I am assured it will be out by March. I am

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Interview

(Cont.)

me realize that wasn’t the case, and it really made me understand what the appeal was. He saw the players as all having unique and interesting bodies of knowledge that could be leveraged in different ways and that are fun to show off. Bad trivia questions certainly were often of the “you know it or you don’t” variety, but a good one could involve interesting guesswork, intuition, and even some metagaming. Inspired by that, I designed Half Truth with the aim of bringing out these characteristics as best I could – and I invited him to participate as well, bringing his expertise on what makes a good question.

What advice would you have for aspiring game designers? Play lots of games. Play games from outside your comfort zone, and learn what makes them fun for the audience that likes them. If you use a publisher, listen to their feedback. It won’t always be right – but it will often be, and you can often adapt your designs to address their concerns in a way that doesn’t undermine what you are trying to do with your creation.

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If you are self-publishing, be as thorough as possible with your playtests. At least some of the time use players who don’t have a vested interest in the game being good and aren’t tutored beyond the rulebook about how best to play the game. It is easy to end up with a game that is really fun if, say, at least one player is playing in a particular way. Then, if you are always in the game, or are somehow pushing people that way, that is all that is experienced. But in the real world, players may play a different way and the game play may end up suffering. For me, this is the biggest service that a publisher provides, and why I always take their critique seriously.


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Skulk Hollow

By Serge Pierro

Assymetrical Warfare

N

othing has influenced the current Golden Age of Gaming more than the rise of Kickstarter. It is safe to say that without it, we would not be having the “boom” that currently exists. And while Kickstarter has its “ups and downs”, every once in a while a game will emerge that takes advantage of what the platform has to offer. Skulk Hollow is one such product. It is clear that a lot of love went into the production of the game and the backers contributed to making the game “come to life”.

insert. What separates this insert from others is that there is “stone-like” pattern sculpted into the top surface, and more impressively, there are actual bas reliefs of the large meeples that each of the characters use. So when you remove the Raptra box from its well in the insert, there is an embossed version of Raptra at the bottom of the well. And while it adds nothing to the actual game play, it does provide an additional perk to the game, especially if you want to store everything in their original compartments. There are five such wells for the tuck boxes of cards/meeples (see below), as Skulk Hollow comes in a 11” x 11” x 2 1/2” well as an additional two wells for the storage box that features a ton of spot varnishing. of the other wooden components and plastic The UV coating is on the front, sides and cubes. back of the box. I can’t recall any other game that has this amount of coverage. The 20 page 10” x 10” rulebook features This is the first indication of the production a cardstock front and back cover. It is well values of the game. The second indication designed and laid out, with numerous is the inclusion of a green, custom, plastic illustrations and examples throughout. The

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first 13 pages are devoted to the setup and rules for the game, while the remaining pages are used to clarify Hero Abilities and Guardian Characteristics. I liked how each Guardian had an entire page devoted to it. The gameplay and rules are straightforward and you should have no problem in jumping into your first game.

are for the four Guardians. One nice feature of the Guardian mats is that they are rated for difficulty so that you can tailor your choice on how much of a challenge you want, as well as helping handicap the game for new players.

The Guardian player boards are made of a sturdy cardboard stock and are double sided, The five player mats are made of card stock with the reverse side displaying the artwork and feature a graphic on the back. There is of the Guardian without the game related, one for the Foxen Heroes and the other four graphics overlay. Continued on next page>

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Skulk Hollow

(Cont.)

The main game board is made of the same sturdy cardboard stock as the Guardian player boards and is double sided. One side has a grid with white dots on it, while the reverse is the same, yet without the dots. All of the Heroes and Guardians have their own tuck box to hold their associated cards and components. Each box features a bit of back story on the Heroes/Guardian, as well as the aforementioned difficulty rating of the specific Guardian. Upon opening the tuck box you are greeted with a resealable pack of Heroes/Guardian specific cards, as well as the wooden meeples and associated components. The wooden meeples for the Guardians are large. Example: Grak stands 2 1/2” tall. The meeples for the Foxen Heroes measure 5/8” tall.

choose which Guardian they want to play and take the associated tuck box and boards. The Foxen Heroes player will choose which Leader they will use. The other aspects of the setup are covered nicely on pages 4 and 5 of the rulebook.

The overall gameplay is both quick and uncomplicated. On the Main Phase of the Foxen Heroes turn they will have the ability to play at least 3 actions. The available actions will be determined by the cards that they have in hand and if they have a hero that can use that action, or they may use the Prepare action to discard a card to draw two cards. The hero deck contains several Foxen Heroes that can be brought into play as an action. The available actions that are available for use from the Order Cards are: Move, Leap, Melee Attack, Missile Attack Also included are various, custom, wooden and Gain Power. components, as well as translucent, gold, plastic cubes. The Move action allows the movement of a hero to an area that is adjacent to their The setup for the game is fairly current space, in the direction that is listed straightforward. Players will decide who on the card. It should be noted that it is a will be the Foxen Heroes and who will be bit strange getting used to the board being in the Guardian. The Guardian player will a “diamond” shape, instead of the standard

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“square/rectangle” layout, as you have to take in account these new “bearings”. But, the cards are clearly laid out for the designation of movement and you will find yourself adapting to this layout fairly quickly. The Leap action is an important one, as it is the main means of “mounting” the Guardian and inflicting damage via Melee Attacks. There are three different uses for this action. One, is to use it to Attach to the bottom location on the Guardian. The

second use is for a hero that is already located on the Guardian, and it allows that hero to move along one of the paths designated on the Guardian to a new location. The third use allows a hero to dismount from the Guardian. The Melee Attack action allows a hero to inflict a wound of damage at the location that they are currently present at on the Guardian. The hero must have the Melee Attack icon on their card in order to be able to carry out this attack.

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Skulk Hollow

(Cont.)

The Missile Attack action allows a hero to shoot an arrow at any location on a Guardian, as long as they have the Missile Attack icon on their card. There are two variations, Fire, which requires that the hero is presently at an adjacent space to the Guardian on the main game board, and Hurl, which is used when the hero is in the same space as the Guardian. The Gain Power action is the most powerful action in the game, as it essentially acts as a wildcard for any of the abilities that a hero may have. There are two different types available on a card, one with a value of one Power and the other a value of two Power. When played, the player will take the amount of Power cubes indicated o the card and place them on the Pool section of their player mat. During the Cleanup phase you can allocate any of the cubes in the Pool to any of your heroes that have an available space on their card. These cubes provide an additional action of any type available to that hero and are extremely useful throughout the game. In order to use the Power cube, you discard it from the card and take your action. These actions are in addition to your standard three actions per turn and it is possible to setup some strong attack/combos. I liked to have my Rogues equipped with two Power cubes

and then have them wreak havoc by having additional movement and attack actions on the Guardian board. After taking all of their actions during the Main Phase of their turn, the Foxen Heroes will then proceed to the Cleanup Phase where they will allocate any of the Power Cubes they might have obtained that turn onto available slots on their hero cards. Any Cubes that are not allocated are placed back into the supply. Power is not accumulated in the pool, from turn to turn, it must be immediately placed on hero cards or it is lost. Once the Power Cubes have been allocated and/or placed back in the supply, the Foxen Heroes will draw cards until their original hand size is met. If they are already at their maximum hand size, the still draw one card, regardless. The Guardian’s turn is conducted in a similar fashion, with a Main Phase followed by a Cleanup Phase. The Guardian carries out their actions in the same manner as the Foxen Heroes, with the main distinction being that since each Guardian has different abilities and win conditions, they each have their own set of Continued after following page>

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Game Nite Issue #41

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Skulk Hollow

(Cont.)

differences. But, for the most part their turn and has 3 Health, and her special ability is to spend 1 Power Cube to remove a wound is similar to the Foxen Heroes. of any Hero. The “Prince of Guile” can The Guardian Cleanup Phase is the same hold 2 Power Cubes and has 2 Health, and as the Foxen Heroes, Power cubes are taken has the special ability to be able to spend a from the pool and placed on the Guardian, Power and take a card from the discard pile while excess cubes are discarded back to and place it in your hand. The “Princess of the supply and they draw cards up to their Tactics” can hold 2 Power Cubes and has 2 maximum hand size or one card if they are Health, and her special ability is to spend a Power to allow a Banded Hero (essentially a already at their maximum hand size. bodyguard, they take damage instead of the Play continues in this manner until one of Leader, if in the same space as the Leader) to the victory conditions is met. For the Foxen take one of their available actions. We found Heroes, they must eliminate the Guardian that the “Prince of Guile” and the “Queen of by placing Wound Tokens on all of the Blessing” were the most interesting/useful of Guardian’s Wound Spaces. The Guardian the lot, with the “Prince of Guile” being our wins either by eliminating the Leader of the favorite Leader. Foxen Heroes or if they meet the special victory condition present on their player Whereas there are four choices for Leaders, there are also four choices for the Guardians. mat. “Grak” is considered the easiest to play and One of the more interesting aspects of he has a fairly straightforward win condition, the game is that the Heroes, Leaders and he must eliminate eight Heroes. Both his Guardians all have different abilities. “Gaze” and “Throw” abilities proved to be Choosing a Leader for the Foxen Heroes will quite troublesome at times. “Apoda” is a step influence how you play them. The “King up in difficulty and their ability is collecting of War” can hold 2 Power Cubes and has the four Rune tokens via the Burrow action. 3 Health, but has no special ability. The “Apoda’s” “Sizzle” action proved to be quite “Queen of Blessing” can hold 1 Power Cube powerful, by inflicting a point of damage on

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any Hero located on “Apoda’s” Slam, Stab and Sizzle locations. “Tanthos” is a top level Guardian and he can win if he has all 6 Root tokens on the map at the same time. His special abilities of “Crush” and “Pull” were a nice combo, as “Pull” brought Heroes to a space with a Root token and “Crush” deals 1 point of damage to all Heroes in a location that has a Root token. “Raptra” is the other top level Guardian and he has a somewhat interesting win condition, if the Leader is the only Hero left on the map, “Raptra” wins. “Raptra” also has the ability to fly, thus making it tougher to mounting your Heroes on him. His “Shriek” action does 1 point of damage to all Heroes in Forest and Town spaces on the board, however, he must be “inflight” and he has to spend 2 Power to do so. It should be noted that one of the most interesting aspect of playing the Foxen Heroes is attempting to “shut down” the powerful abilities of the Guardians. When an ability has taken all of the Wound Tokens that it can, the ability is no longer available to the Guardian, unless they can remove one of the tokens, in which case it becomes active again. The order in which you surgically

remove the abilities is important to your survival and winning chances. Often times an ability was “shut off” only to have it reactivated at a later time, so time is of the essence and you’ll want to use those Power Cubes on the relevant characters in order to facilitate an optimum strategy. It should come as no surprise that with the success of the game,“Root”, we would start to see other asymmetrical games start to hit the market. “Skulk Hollow” carries on that tradition with an engaging two player game. The replayability and variances within the strategic elements of the game, warrant this game getting a serious look for those of you who are interested in two player games. I was impressed with the variety of play and enjoyed playing all of the Guardians. Each Guardian’s ability/win condition was what made the game interesting and players were often clamoring to play one of the Guardians. However, the Leaders didn’t quite measure up to the same level of use. The “Prince of Guile’s” ability to retrieve a card from the discard pile and the “Queen of Blessing’s” healing ability proved to be much better than the other two Leaders and I found

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Skulk Hollow

(Cont.)

myself only using those two after a while, though the “Princess of Tactics” wasn’t a bad choice at times. Other than our first game, the “King of War” never saw play again.

proved to be the only real “downside” of the game, and unlike many other games, this game could have actually benefited from their inclusion.

With the escalating price of games and the flooding of the market with product, companies are starting to have to find ways to differentiate their games from their competitors, or at least provide something of “extra value”. It is much harder for a game to make an impact in the marketplace unless it has a little something “extra” to push it over the top. When comparing Skulk Hollow to a game of equal quality/design, it is the production values that will have you reaching for it over a similar game with lower production values. This is starting to be seen across the board, in particular with the proliferation of games with miniatures. And although the custom Guardian meeples are “interesting”, in this day and age the game was screaming for them to be miniatures instead. True, it would have added to the cost of the game, but the Guardian meeples

Having said that, this is an interesting game that has nice production values and lots of replayability. The game itself is fast paced and contains enough variety of play that it will keep hitting your table often. If you’ve never played an asymmetrical game, this would be an excellent game to start with, as the rules are easy and the game play is strategically challenging. With all that it has to offer, Skulk Hollow is a game worthy of your attention.

Keith Matejka Publisher: Pencil First Games Players: 2 Mechanic: Assymetrical, One vs. Many Ages: 8+ Length: 40 Mins. Designer:

Highly Recommended www.pencilfirstgames.com

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HEXplore It:

The Forests of Adrimon

By Serge Pierro

Reforge Fragments Into Mighty Relics

I

n issue #39 we took a look at HEXplore it: The Valley of the Dead King and awarded it with an Editor’s Choice Award, due to its excellent gameplay and replayability. So when we sat down with the second game in the series, HEXplore It: The Forests of Adrimon, we already knew that the game was built upon a solid foundation, however, we were expecting it to be a slight variation of the previous game, yet this one is very different, while maintaining the feel of the previous one. Let’s take a look at this latest offering and see what it offers on its own, as well as compared to the previous game. HEXplore It: The Forests of Adrimon comes in a 13” x 11” x 2 3/4” box, that like its predecessor, looks like a book when displayed on a shelf. Inside are two custom, black, plastic inserts, one of which is removable and the other remains in the box. The removable insert is tray that stores

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the markers, Relic/Race cards and miniatures. When removed, the lower insert is displayed and it holds the tuck boxes of cards, dice and cardboard components. The other side of the lower insert stores the player boards and the additional cardboard components. It’s always a pleasure when a game comes with custom inserts. The 5” x 7” rulebook weighs in at 88 pages, though keep in mind that this is due in large part to the small size of the rulebook. If it was printed at a larger size it would be much smaller. The book features a card stock cover and is printed on a quality paper stock. There are numerous illustrations throughout and a table of contents and an index further enhance the book’s usefulness. All of the pertinent information is present and you should be up and running quickly after reading through the rules.


Also included is a 6 1/4” x 8 1/4”, 64 page, Story Book, which adds some story elements to the game and augments the roleplaying feel to the series. Like the rulebook it features a card stock cover and is printed on a quality paper stock. This will prove to be of great interest to those who enjoy an immersive narrative. Perhaps the most noteworthy production element of the game is the inclusion of 7 dry markers and the associated player boards. Each of the coated 10 1/4” x 6 1/4” player boards are made of a decent cardboard stock with stats on one side and artwork of the

character featured on the other side. The markers have black pigment and have a large eraser as their cap. There are three tuck boxes of cards included. There’s one for the Power Up deck, Circumstance deck and one for Destinations & Fragments. Each of the cards measure 2 3/4” x 3 1/2” and are made of a decent card stock that shuffles nicely. Sleeving can be considered optional, as the cards are not handled throughout the game. I loved the inclusion of tuck boxes for each of the different card types, as it makes storage/setup much easier. Continued on next page>

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HEXplore It:

The Forests of Adrimon (Cont.)

The Race and Relic cards measure 2 3/4” x 4 1/4” and have square corners. These are made of card stock and here’s no real need to have them sleeved. There are numerous tokens and Hex tiles for the board that are made of a sturdy cardboard stock. The game comes with five different colors of custom dice, green, yellow, blue, turquoise and purple. The purple die is a d6 with a “HEX” icon for the “6”, the blue, yellow and green are d10’s with a “Hex” icon for the “1” and the turquoise is a d8 with a “Hex” icon for the “1”.

twelve Race cards. Players can either choose what they would like to play or determine the combination in a random manner. Since there’s a large amount of potential combinations, we felt it was best for us to choose a character that would be best suited towards working together as a group, for our first attempt we went with a Sapper (Soul Reaver) and a Striker (Stormcaller). The five available Role types are: Striker (Damage), Assist (Buffer), Healer, Sapper (Debuffer) and Utility (Specialty). Once a Role has been chosen, the next step is to choose a Race card. We used a “deal 3 and choose 1” method for selecting the Race. There are 12 Races available in the game. Our first group was a Sapper Faun and a Striker Briarkin. It should be noted that the Races for this version of the game are all thematically based. This includes Races such as: Wood Elf, Sprite, Fairy, Nixie, Brownie, etc. We felt that this added an additional layer of immersion as we explored the forests on the map.

There are two miniatures included. The first one is a Reaper Miniature that has a familiar look to it. I’m still a fan of this method of using minis, as the licensing of the mini saves on production costs, which can then be used to maintain a lower price point for the game. The other miniature is called “The Magi’s Acropolis” and it covers seven hexes! Let’s take a quick look at the Striker Briarkin This structure represents the lair of Adrimon. combination. This will be the location for the final battle of the game. The Striker Role board (Stormcaller) has several areas that will be marked with the The first thing that you are going to want dry marker throughout the game. Alongside to do is choose your Hero and their Race. the left edge of the board is the main stat The game comes with eight Heroes and area. This contains: Attack, Defend, First

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Mastery and Second Mastery. Each Role has a starting number that is modified by the Race card. In this instance the Stormcaller has a base attack of 3. The Briarkin Race card modifies this by +1. You would then take the dry marker and write “4”, in the appropriate hex. Each of the hexes on the Role board may be potentially modified by the Race card. The First and Second Mastery sections are the special abilities that the Hero has. The lower edge of the board is devoted to the following Skills: Navigate, Explore and Survival. The Race cards also provide a special ability. There are also sections for

tracking Gold, Food, Energy and Health, as well as a larger area for keeping track of what items your Character is carrying. After everyone has updated their stats on the Hero boards, it is time to set up the actual board. Fortunately, this is quite easy and the rulebook has an easy to follow section on assembling the map/board. Then all that is left is to roll the d6 and place the center of the “Magi’s Acropolis” on the hex of the associated Enthralled City. Players will then roll the die again in order to find out which Enthralled City they will place the Group miniature. Continued on next page>

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HEXplore It:

The Forests of Adrimon (Cont.)

Each turn of the game is made up of 5 phases: Movement, Skills, Circumstance, Event and The Magi. We won’t go in-depth on all of the intricacies, but the following is a general overview. Movement: There are four types of movement available. These include: Camp, Cautious, Normal and Reckless. Each of these have their advantages and disadvantages and the group will have to decide which one they will want to use that turn. Players will then move onto the Skill phase to determine if they reached their destination or if they Wandered about. Skills: During this phase each player will roll their three colored dice. Green will represent Navigate, yellow will represent Explore and the blue will represent Survival. The concept of Navigate is interesting, half of the group will have to succeed on their Navigate roll in order to arrive at their planned destination, if they fail, they Wander and a d6 is rolled and you adjust the movement one hex according to the graphic printed on the board. The Navigate skill is one that can by upgraded, and it would be advised to have at least half the group do this, in order to not Wander while moving.

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A successful Explore die roll will allow that member to discover 2 Gold. This is another skill that can be upgraded, and we felt that at least one member of a large group should focus on increasing this stat so that they have an additional source of income. The Survival skill was another interesting mechanism. A successful roll meant that you foraged for food that turn, however, if you fail, then you have to consume food equal to your Food Rating. One of the main differences between this game and The Valley of the Dead King is that there are more opportunities to obtain food throughout the game, so there is less of an immediate need to boost this stat. Though as we shall see, all three of these skills need to be upgraded throughout the game in response to an escalating Fate Tracker, so that must be kept in mind. After players have rolled and resolved their Skill phase, they will either move onto the Circumstance or Event phase, depending on where they finish their movement. Many times you will be rolling a d6 to determine what Circumstance is going to take place that turn. There are five face up Circumstances on the board and a roll of 1-5 will choose which one will come into play.


On a roll of a 6, the top card of the deck is turned over and used instead. There are different types of Circumstances available in the deck and there’s enough of them to make each game a unique experience. Once chosen, the group will have the effects take place, this can include engaging foes in combat, or having some other effect take place. If you should end your Movement in a Destination, Enthralled City, Waypost, Battle Site, Eloven’s Grove or Boss location, then you don’t roll for a Circumstance, instead you partake in the particularities of the location.

One of the main features of this version of the game is the use of Destinations. At the start of the game you will randomly choose 4 Relics and place them on the relevant section of the board. You will then randomly place two Destination cards on top of each one. Thus you start the game with eight Destinations revealed and if they are available on the board, a Destination token is placed on the associated spot on the board. Since the game has a “pick up and deliver” aspect to it, the completion of the Destinations is imperative to success, as they lead to various rewards, and more importantly, they are the main means to gather Fragments, which can Continued on next page>

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HEXplore It:

The Forests of Adrimon (Cont.)

be used to assemble the powerful Relics. Play continues in this manner until either Each Relic has three associated Fragments all of the Characters become Mindwiped/ which must be collected and then brought killed in combat or if the Characters engage to a Battle Site in order to reforge the Relic. and defeat Adrimon. The last phase of the turn is devoted to the Magi. During this phase the Fate Tracker is increased by one. When it reaches “6”, the Fate Cycle is increased by one, the Fate Tracker is reset to “0” and a Sentinel is placed on one of the Battle Sites.

When we reviewed HEXplore it: The Valley of the Dead King in issue #39, we awarded it an Editor’s Choice Award for it’s interesting game play and replayability. It offered a wide variety of potential Character/Race combinations, as well as even more value by using the Return to the Valley of the Dead King While the Magi’s phase of the turn is fairly expansion. So, I was quite interested to see “un-eventful” at the start of the game, it what this version of the game had to offer. becomes increasingly more dangerous as the game progress, as Sentinels appear at the I was pleasantly surprised to see that while Battle Sites to engage you when you attempt many of the core elements of the original to reforge a Relic, but more importantly the game were present, the actual gameplay itself Fate Cycle will affect the players themselves. was quite different. Whereas the first game had the Villain moving about the board as To understand how important the Fate both a timing mechanism and disruptive Cycle becomes as the game progresses, one element, in “The Forests of Adrimon” the first needs to know how players becoming Villain is stationary and the Characters Mindwiped. If the Fate Cycle’s number engage in a “pick up and deliver” exercise is equal to or higher than one or more of in order to gain Fragments to reforge a the player’s Skill levels, that Skill level is mighty Relic. This change of gameplay had considered a Critical Fail any time it is a seemingly “slower” pace than the original, referenced. Should all of a player’s Skill levels thus allowing players more time to explore are equal to or less than the Fate Cycle they the Hex Tiles. Many of us welcomed this, as are considered Mindwiped and are unable to we felt that exploration was underutilized in engage in combat and for the most part are the original game, due its “faster” pace. considered “dead”. Needless to say one of the main aspects of this game is to make sure that you Character’s Skills remain above the current Fate Cycle’s number.

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We enjoyed the slower pace of exploration as we moved about the map, while keeping a constant eye on the current level of the Fate Cycle. In our first game our strategy was to focus on gathering the Fragments for “Kejel’s Great Sword” and then engaging Admiron. In doing so we spent most of our time exploring and building up the necessary stats to engage Admiron. Surprisingly, we only encountered one of the Bosses, whereas in the first game we battled several of them. Another surprise was that Food was not as much an issue in this game, as compared

to the previous one. There were many opportunities to pick up food throughout the game, which was much scarcer in the original game. We all felt that this was a big improvement, as we felt that too much attention was being paid towards having food available. For players who enjoy the story aspects of a game, I felt that this game offered a bit more in that department do to the extensive exploring that took place, as we got to intermingle with the environment and engage in more confrontations while searching for the needed Fragments. Continued on next page>

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HEXplore It:

The Forests of Adrimon (Cont.)

And speaking of the Fragments, we loved the whole concept of the Fragments and the Relics. This was an excellent addition to this game and really added to the atmosphere. The only thing I didn’t like was that only one Relic could be used at a time in combat, even if you had more than one of them. This was my main point of disappointment with the game, as we invested a lot of time into gathering the Fragments to reforge the Relics, only to have some of them gather dust in a player’s inventory or deciding not to reforge the other Fragments and just focus on one Relic. Nevertheless, Relics are essential when facing Adrimon! If you enjoyed the first game, then you’ll be happy to know that the second game is different enough to be worth adding to your collection. If this series is new to you, then you can choose which game style you would prefer, the faster paced The Valley of the Dead King or the slower “pick up and deliver” The Forests of Adrimon. It is inevitable that I’m going to be asked which game I preferred… and to be honest, I don’t know… They each offer something

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different in terms of gameplay, so I guess a lot would depend on my mood at the time. However, if I had to pick one, I think that I might prefer The Forests of Adrimon mainly for the “pick up and deliver” system that was quite enjoyable and allowed for a more immersive experience, while the Fate Cycle was there to keep us “honest”. I don’t think that you could go wrong with either game, if you are into these types of games. Both offer interesting gameplay and have high replayability - if you should choose to explore all of the Character/Race combinations. And because of that this game also recieve an Editor’s Choice Award!

Jonathan Mariucci Publisher: Mariucci J. Designs, LLC Players: 1-6 Mechanic: Pick Up and Deliver 14+ Ages: 60-180 Mins. Length: Designer:

Highly Recommended www.hexploreit.com


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Return to the Forests of Adrimon

By Serge Pierro

HEXplore It Expansion

I

n One of the more interesting aspects of the “HEXplore it” series of games, is that each of the base games also has an expansion for it. Not surprisingly these expansions offer a great amount of replayability to a line of games that already offers a substantial amount of replayability, due in large part to the number of combinations of characters that the players can play. Return to the Forests of Adrimon offers much of the same substantial additions as the Return to the Valley of the Dead King did for its base game. Let’s take a look at what this expansion has to offer.

previous expansion, the box measures 13” x 11” x 1 1/4” and provides for an attractive shelf presence when displayed with the other offerings in the series. Once again there is a custom black plastic insert that has separate areas designated for the various items, as well as a nice “multilevel” section for storing player boards, rule book and cards.

The 5” x 7” rule book contains 52 pages and is in a similar format to the other rulebooks of the base games and expansion. In other words, another quality component of the game. All of the relevant topics for the expansion are covered, as well as focusing on the use of This expansion continues with the same Sentinels and playing as Adrimon. high production values as seen in the previous base games and expansion, and Included are six new dry erase boards, three like the others, it features the same graphic for the Heroes and three for the Villains. design that mimics the look of an old The Hero boards are more powerful than the book when stored on a shelf. Like the standard ones and will provide for a more

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intense experience, and that will be needed, as the three Villain boards feature Adrimon and two other boards. Two of the new Bosses feature an escalating stats that are tied to rolling a particular number. For instance, “Hyperion” on a roll of “2” has “Patch Up” which provides an initial block of “20” at the start of each round, yet each time it is rolled an additional “5” is added to that amount, thus making him harder and harder to kill. We found these escalating stats really added a lot to the combat experience.

Like the previous expansion, there are an assortment of cards that can be added to the main decks of cards. There were several interesting ones amongst them and several of the Power Ups really caught my attention, in particular the one that gives “+1” to all of your stats! Also included are new Fragment and Artifact cards that should provide for yet even more variety of play and add a great deal of interest, since they play different than those in the base game. Continued on next page>

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Return to the Forests of Adrimon (Cont.)

There are seven new Races added to the Playing as Adrimon is a little different game including a Feathered Dragon, while in this expansion, than that of playing the the others are a bit more thematic, such as a Dead King in the first one. Here the use of Treant and a Forest Guardian. the Fate Tracker is still an important timing mechanism in terms of both game length There are twelve new Traits, each of them and impending doom for players unable to providing an interesting ability. For instance, keep up with it. the “Aggressive” trait, when triggered, allows you to reduce your Defense by 1 and increase However, perhaps the most important your Attack by 1, and at rank 6 your attacks addition to the expansion over the base game become Piercing Damage. is that Adrimon’s ability, “Renewed Orders”, allows him to bring a Sentinel into play. And Since the main point of the expansion is although he is limited to having four normal to be able to play the game as Adrimon, it Sentinels in play at one time, he now has should come as no surprise that he gets his the ability to move them around the board. own deck of cards, nicely stored in a tuck It should be noted that there are ways of box. The 66 card deck provides for a wide bringing some of the unique Sentinels into variety of experiences for players to engage play, in addition to the four normal ones. The in. unique Sentinels can be brought into play by either a specific Ambition or three of the The other components include some Rituals. This provides the Adrimon player cardboard tokens for Adrimon, as well as with the means for aggressively pursuing the three custom dice for use with Adrimon. Heroes around the board. The dice colors are: red, grey and black and each of the 10 sided dies feature the custom “HEX” icon for the “1” on the die.

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Not surprisingly, this expansion, like the previous one, adds a great deal of replayability and interest to the game. If you are a fan of the first game and its expansion, then you will find the latest offering and its expansion to be well worth a look.

As mentioned with the review of the previous expansion, the only real downside is that the game will now take a little longer as there is now a human player taking on the role of Adrimon and thus there might be some “downtime� as they think out their Continued on next page>

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Return to the Forests of Adrimon (Cont.)

turn. Of course the tradeoff for this is that the game takes on more of a roleplaying type of feel as storytelling becomes part of the lore of the game and each encounter becomes one that players will talk about in the future. We felt that the small addition of time was well worth it, as the game became more RPG like to those involved. And needless to say, should you have an experienced DM at the table, the richness of the story would be greatly enhanced. Return to the Forests of Adrimon is yet another essential expansion to the “HEXplore it” line of games. It should be noted that at this time there has been another successful Kickstarter campaign, which was funded in 2 hours, that will bring the third game in the series, HEXplore it: The Sands of Shurax to the market. It will be interesting to see what that game has to offer to this fine line of games!

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“And needless to say, should you have an experienced DM at the table, the richness of the story would be greatly enhanced.” Jonathan Mariucci Publisher: Mariucci J. Designs, LLC Players: 1-6 Mechanic: Pick Up and Deliver 14+ Ages: 60-180 Mins. Length: Designer:

Highly Recommended www.hexploreit.com


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73


Crimson Company

By Serge Pierro

Two Player Strategic Card Game

W

hile it is often fun to sit down and play a deep 2-3 hour euro game, there are times where you just want to play a quick little game, but you want it to still have some depth. “Crimson Company” looks to satiate that desire by presenting a strategic two player card game that plays in around 20 minutes. With a table presence elevated by the use of Castle “miniatures” and well designed interactive combos to explore, there’s a lot of substance in this small package. Let’s take a look. “Crimson Company” comes in a small 6 1/2” x 4 1/2” x 1 1/4” box that contains no insert. However, no insert is needed, as the components of the game fit comfortably within the box with the enclosed plastic bags and have minimal movement when moved.

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The 24 page rulebook is printed on a nice paper stock and the only illustrations are for the setup of the base game, as well as a couple of the variants. The first half of the book is devoted to the regular game, while the remaining pages are used for playing variants with multiple players and multiple copies of the game. The center of the book has clarifications for many of the card’s effects and we left this open on the table as a reference for use during the first several games. The standard 2 1/2” x 3 1/2” cards are linen finished and are made of a nice stock that were printed in Germany and they seemed to be slightly better than many of the cards coming from China these days, as they have a heavy linen finish and a nice “snap” to them. It should be noted that the 30 main cards for the game features gorgeous artwork by Janna Sophia.


Each of the cards are unique and with many of them featuring excellent renderings and interesting characters. While the 7 Castle cards are double sided, three of them have a basic “no ability” front and a special ability on the back and the remaining four cards are double sided with unique special abilities on both sides of the card, clearly making for a higher replay value.

can be placed upon the Castle cards to make for a nice table presence and help to casually distinguish the Castle cards from the others. Each Castle is 2 1/2” tall and molded in a grey plastic. The other perk is the inclusion of two different types/sizes of metal coins, “1” is in silver (similar in size to a US dime) and the “3” is in gold (similar in size to a US nickel). They both have a nice tactile feel and add to the Since we are looking at the Deluxe version of playing experience. the game, it should come as no surprise that there are some nice upgrades. The first of which There is also a 1 1/4”, wooden, Flag “meeple” is the inclusion of three sculpted Castles that used for the “current player” in the multiplayer variants.

Continued on next page>

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Crimson Company The game is very easy to set up. Three Castle cards are placed in the middle of the play area with a Castle placed on each card. The Offer area is four face up cards placed alongside the deck, which has its cards facing up so that players can see what card is next going to be added to the Offer. The starting player gets 3 coins and the other player starts with 4. On a player’s turn there are three main phases, along with a possible fourth scoring phase. The phases are: Income, Recruitment, Deployment and Score. At the start of a player’s turn they will receive 3 coins from the Income phase. It should be noted that there are cards that can modify the amount of coins received during this phase. The Recruitment phase is where players will be purchasing cards to place in the lanes on each side of the Castles. You must place a minimum of one coin on one of the four available cards in the Offer. One of the things that makes this game interesting is that after you place your “bid”, your opponent has the option of matching it. If they match it, they receive the card and you receive all of the coins placed on the card. The card they received is placed in front of them and will be placed during their

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(Cont.)

Development phase. If they pass, then you put the coins into the supply and take the card and place it in front of you. After a card has been Recruited, the Offer is immediately refilled. While there is a good amount of strategy involved in Recruiting cards from the Offer, it is during the Deployment phase where the real strategy and tactics takes place. You may place, in any order that you like, any cards that are in front of you into any of the available lanes of the Castles and resolve the effect that is printed on the card. Example: Your opponent has a Demon with a strength of “5” and you play an Assassin (a “1”). The Assassin’s ability is: “Destroy one of your opponent’s cards in this lane.” So the Demon is removed from the game and you now have a “1” in the lane. The object of the game is to win two out of the three Castles. In order to do so, during the Score phase players check to see if any player has four or more cards in their side of a lane, thus triggering a Scoring phase. If the aforementioned conditions are met, each side checks their total numerical value, taking in account effects that are triggered during this phase, and the player with the highest number wins the Castle. The Castle is given to the winner and all of the cards from both players at this Castle are destroyed and removed from the game.


Play continues in this manner until one player there is also the more subtle influence of the has won two Castles. currency itself, as players will find that this is an important aspect of the game, especially towards I’ve mentioned many times that I’m a big fan the end. (see below) of two player games, as they provide the type of intellectual challenges that I enjoy. Being able Everyone agreed that the both the production to sit across from one opponent and engage in values and the artwork were all of a high quality, a “meeting of the minds” is what I enjoy most especially when considering the size of the box. about them, thus letting the results fall as they Although they are not absolutely necessary, the may, without the influence of other players Castles do add quite a bit to the enjoyment of the interferring. “Crimson Company” provides game, as they elevate it from purely a card game such an experience, as players have to plan their to something just a little more interesting while moves in a Chess-like fashion, as there are four also providing for a nice table presence. Janna cards available for purchase and one card on the Sophia’s artwork elevates the game’s experience top of the deck that foretells what’s about to by providing some of the best in-game artwork become available. This forces players to consider that I’ve seen in a while. I believe that this might the order in which they purchase the available be her first card/board game endeavor, however, cards. And while that in of itself is interesting, it is clear that we should be seeing more of her work in the future. Continued on next page>

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Crimson Company

We enjoyed the abilities on the cards and how they interacted with all of the others. In particular we liked how there was a variety of special abilities printed on the Castle cards that provided for a substantial amount of replayability, as well as allowing players to engage in different scenarios each game, depending on what cards were chosen. Example: one of the Castles has the ability: “This lane is scored with 3 instead of 4 cards on either side”, while the other side of the card has the ability: “This lane is only scored, if there are 6 or more cards in total on both sides combined”. One thing that we had a little concern about was that an early game was determined by a player being able to “guarantee” a win by accumulating enough coins at the end of the game to be able to “muscle” a card away from their opponent on the penultimate turn and then purchase a card on their turn and place the final two cards needed to win the game, and the opponent was helpless to stop this. So, this is something that you need to be aware of and make sure that you don’t put yourself in that position.

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Overall, this is a fast “filler” type game that provides for many interesting decisions and the exploration/exploitation of various combos that change the game’s environment, as cards can be destroyed or flipped over, as well as stats being boosted and weakened - there’s a lot going on in a small package. And at an estimated 20 minutes of gameplay, this is one of the “meatier filler games” that you will find in that length of time. I’m always happy to add a new two player game to my collection and with its gorgeous artwork and “no luck” game play, this game will happily take a place amongst my collection of two player games.

Designers: Fabian Fischer & Darian Reinhardt

Publisher: Players: Mechanic: Ages: Length:

Crimson Company 2

Card Abilities, Lane Scoring 14+ 20 Mins.

Recommended www.crimsoncompany.cc


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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

Phoebe Wild #39

Sandy Petersen #39

Jeremy Handel #40

John Coveyou #40

Richard Garfield #41

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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 #40

Issue #41

Game Nite Issue #41

85


Mobile Review Index

Issue #12

Issue #13

Issue #14

Issue #15

Issue #16

Issue #17

Issue #18

Issue #19

86

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Issue #20

Issue #21

Issue #21

Issue #22

Issue #23

Issue #24

Issue #25

Issue #26

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Mobile Review Index (Cont.)

Issue #27

Issue #28

Issue #29

Issue #29

Issue #30

Issue #31

Issue #32

Issue #33

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Issue #34

Issue #35

Issue #36

Issue #37

Issue #38

Issue #39

Issue #40

Game Nite Issue #41

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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

Issue #1

Issue #3

Issue #5

90

• • • • • • •

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

• • • • • • • • •

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

• • • • • • • • •

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

#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

Issue #2

Issue #6

• • • • • • • • •

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

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

• • • • • • • •

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

Game Nite Issue #41

Issue #4

Issue #6

Issue


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

#8

Issue

Issue

• • • • • • • • • • • •

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

#11

• • • • • • • • • • • •

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

#13

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

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

• Under the Pyramids (Eldritch Horror)

#9

#10

Issue

#12

Issue

#14

• • • • • • • • • • • •

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

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

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

• • • • • • • • • •

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

Issue

Issue

Issue

Issue

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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

#17

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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 Pocket Mars Terra Mystica Hafid’s Grand Bazaar

• Mini Rails • • • • •

The Ruhr Summit Seikatsu Tulip Bubble Covalence

• • • •

Ancestree Exodus Fleet Tak Mistborn: House War

• • • • • •

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

• Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion

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 #41

Issue #23


• • • •

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

Issue #24

• Zombie Dice: Horde Edition

• Codenames: Marvel • Fog of Love • Cthulhu Dice

Issue #26

• • • •

Outpost: Siberia Outpost: Amazon Root Planetarium

Issue #28

Issue #30

Dicey Peaks Coldwater Crown Thanos Rising Peak Oil Wordoku

• • • •

Gearworks Grackles Maiden’s Quest The Veil

Issue #27

• • • • •

Issue #25

• Shards of Infinity • Blood Rage

• Mistfall: Chronicles of Frost

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

Issue #29

• • • •

Wish You Were Here

Onitama: Way of the Wind

Master of the Galaxy Hero Realms: The Ruin of Thandar • Shifting Realms • Hero’s Crossing

• Star Realms: Command Decks

• Your Town • Wu Wei • Star Realms: Frontiers

Issue #31 Game Nite Issue #41

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Game Review Index (Issues 32+)

• • • •

Darwinning!

GoVenture Card Game Highlander the Board Game

The Forbidden Sanctuary

Issue #32

Issue #34

Issue #36

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

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

• RevoltaaA

• • • • •

• • • •

Fortresses & Clans Call to Adventure Gugong Wisdom of Solomon

• • • •

Campaign Trail Gentes Vivaldi Wizard’s Garden

• Space Explorers • Montmartre • HEXplore it:

Issue #35

Embark Kings of Israel Terminator:Rise of the Resistance

Cheese Quest Libraria

Issue #37

• UnderLeague • The Lords of Rock

Issue #38

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• • • • •

Game Nite Issue #41

Issue #39

Valley of the Dead King • Return to the Valley of the Dead King

• Chakra

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Game Nite Magazine Issue 41  

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

Game Nite Magazine Issue 41  

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

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