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Game Nite

Issue # 8

the magazine of tabletop gaming

ee r F

y Pla d n e! t a nsid n i Pr me I Ga

GAME REVIEWS “GAME DESIGN” LEWIS PULSIPHER

RYAN LAUKAT RED RAVEN GAMES

GAMES AND EDUCATION BOARD GAME HISTORY PT. 7

AND MORE!


IN THIS ISSUE: HISTORY

REVIEWS

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Boardgame History

Part VII Piquet & Trick Taking

60

Vintage Games

Carrier Strike!

BOOK REVIEW 08

Game Design Lewis Pulsipher

EDUCATION 18

Games in Education Concerted Cultivation

INTERVIEWS 32

Ryan Laukat Game Designer/Artist/Publisher.

SOLO GAMING 48

Glass Road Jeff Rhind

COMICS 63

Comics

Cosmic Run Push Your Luck Filler.

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Imperial Harvest Big Micro-game.

22

Under the Pyramids

24

Bomb Squad Explosive Co-op.

26

Through the Ages New Civilization Edition.

36

Luna Mystical Feld.

40

Biblios Dice Biblios’s Sibling.

44

Trekking the National Parks

Educational Gateway.

52

Fuse Real Time Co-op.

54

Skulldug! Pulp Adventure.

58

Horrible Hex Tile Laying Game.

Eldritch Horror Expansion.

Game Night comic strip.

PRINT AND PLAY

CONTRIBUTORS 64

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Game Nite Contributors

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The Butterfly Garden Dr. Finn’s Games PnP


FROM THE GAMING TABLE

Game Nite ISSUE # 8

T

he boardgame phenomenon continues to grow. “Barnes & Noble” stores will be holding demos during March, local libraries are hosting Game Nights and Game Cafes are appearing all around the world. We are truly living in the Golden Age of boardgaming. Let’s toast to its future -- as we welcome new members into the fold! John Anthony Gulla continues his popular series on “The History of Tabletop Games”. In Part VII, he covers Piquet and other Trick-Taking games. For this issue, Bill Braun reviews: “Under the Pyramids” - an expansion for “Eldritch Horror”, as well as “Fuse” - a realtime co-op game. Jeff Rhind continues his series on playing games solo and features the Uwe Rosenberg game “Glass Road”. We’d like to thank Ryan Laukat for taking the time to share his thoughts with us. A true Renaissance man. Congratulations to Vlaada Chvatil & Czech Games Edition for winning an “Editor’s Choice Award” this issue for their excellent game “Through the Ages:A New Story of Civilization”. We’d also like to thank Dr. Steve Finn of Dr. Finn’s Games for preparing a special version of “The Butterfly Game” for the featured Print and Play game this issue. Give it a try and if you like it, you can go to Kickstarter to back it! If you are a writer, photographer, etc. and feel you have something unique to contribute to the magazine, feel free to contact us. We’d love to have you on board!

Serge Pierro

Cover Photograph by Serge Pierro. Trekking the National Parks © Bink Ink, LLC

Editor in Chief/Publisher: Serge Pierro Editor: Eric Devlin Contributing Writers: Bill Braun David Niecikowski Kevin Lauryssen John Anthony Gulla Kevin Cox Jeff Rhind Photographers: Serge Pierro Bill Braun Jeff Rhind Follow us on Facebook:

Editor in Chief

www.facebook.com/GameNiteMagazine

editor@gamenitemagazine.com

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@GameNiteMag Issue #8

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History

The History of Tabletop Games

By John Anthony Gulla

Part VII - Piquet and Other Early European Trick-Taking Games c.1400 - 1750

E

urope, c. 1535 CE:

Last time, we covered how playing cards were initially adopted into Western culture during the late 14th century, how they adapted in various regions in the 15th century, and their rapid ascent to cultural importance in this time. The standard deck we know and love today, however, was not only guided by those previously discussed regional/cultural differences, but also by what games were developed and being played with them. Some early card games are still known to us, but did not endure, while others became more popular and ultimately developed over time into the classic systems and games that are played in some form even today. Perhaps it is best to first classify types of card games that were initially conceived, in order to avoid becoming bogged down with the great amount of small variations in concepts and multitude of games introduced within these broader classifications during this highly-developmental period in game history. As briefly mentioned in the previous article, trick-taking games, where the objective is to play cards into smaller groups (i.e. “tricks�) and collect points for winning each individual trick, were one of the first systems introduced in Europe for playing cards, and they have never let up

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in overall popularity since the time of their introduction. One of the earliest and most significant trick-taking games in northern Europe during the 16th century was called Piquet. Piquet is a 2-player-only game first played with a 36-card deck that consisted of 4 suits, using denominations of 6 through 10, the three face cards, and the Ace in each suit to make a deck closest in nature to the early Germanic decks (for those of you who recall the differences listed in the previous article in the series). Interestingly, though, the historical record shows that Piquet was not introduced to Germany until the Thirty Years War, almost 100 years after the first evidence of it being played in France in 1535, where legend had it that the famous French Knight Lahire popularized it there. Nevertheless, its popularity in France and England during the 16th century was likely due to the (then) novel ruleset and the moderately complex, strategic gameplay possibilities in a game for just two players. In fact, the extended popularity of Piquet may well have been one of the reasons that the French suit system has largely prevailed over the Germanic suits in the long run. While Piquet does not make use of a trump card, the game is fairly intricate, and consisted of several phases.

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A Game of Piquet - Ernests Meissonier (Public Domain)

The objective of Piquet is to be the first to score a set number of points (typically 100 or 101), in a variety of ways during play. Beginning with the initial “dealing phase,” each player receives twelve cards, with the remaining cards put face down in the center between the players. The dealer is called “The Elder” while the other participant is termed “The Younger.” Once the cards have been dealt, each player then checks to see whether they lack any face cards, and if so, immediately declare “carte blanche,” showing their hand to receive 10 points. Then, during what is called the “exchange phase,” both players will exchange from 1 to 7 cards with the remaining cards from the center of the table, providing the opportunity to craft a better overall hand for upcoming play. The “Elder” player does so first, followed by the “Younger.” Next

up is the “declaration phase,” where the Elder player must declare three things about his or her hand to the Younger in a preset order, which provides some indirect information for the upcoming trick-taking portion of the game as well as the potential for players to score additional points in the process. The Elder begins by declaring “point”, or, how many cards he or she has of the same suit, of any suit they so choose (though they do not need to declare which suit it is). For example, they may say “four of a kind” or “point of six,” to which the Younger player then responds by saying whether he or she has “more,” ”less,” or “the same” amount of any one suit than the number that was declared. The player who is determined to have more “point” (i.e. cards of a single suit) is then awarded as many points

Continued on next page>

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History (Cont.) as cards they had in that one suit. Should there be a tie (i.e. the “same”), all cards are counted up for a grand total, with the higher total breaking the tie in their favor. The next declaration is “sequence,” which is determined by the number of cards players hold in sequence of a single suit (e.g. 7, 8, and 9 and 10 of Spades). This is done by the Elder declaring, “sequence of five,” or “run of 6,” etc…, to which the Younger then responds the same way as before, using vague “more,” “less,” or “the same” type responses to determine dominance and who takes the points. Points are awarded on a graduating, set scale based on the extent of the sequence, with a large jump of 10 extra points added for sequences of 5 and higher (e.g., a sequence of 3 only scores 3 points and 4 only scores 4 points, while a sequence of 5 scores 15 points and six scoring 16, etc…). Finally, in the third part of the declaration phase, the Elder player then declares any “sets” he or she has, which consist of a number of the same card type for any of the face cards and aces in the deck (in other words, the 6 through 10’s do not get counted for scoring of “sets”). The Younger player responds, and sets are scored accordingly, with a set of 3 of any kind scoring just 3 points, but sets of 4 scoring 14 points! Once all sets have been scored, points are accumulated in order of the sequence of play, and if one player managed to score a total of 30 points prior to the other scoring anything at all, they score an additional 60 points in what is termed as a “repique!” This rule makes the exchange phase of the game quite important, as a 90 point advantage for one side to start clearly makes for a difficult road for the other player to come back from. (note: it is also possible for a player to score the nominal “pique,” as well, adding 30 points to their score by scoring the first 30 points in the round unopposed during both declaration phase and the forthcoming trick-taking phase. Amusingly, a “pique” is best transliterated into the English word, “pike,” or “spade,” hence the likely naming of the spades suit in the French deck around this time.)

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Now the trick-taking phase of the game can finally begin. Strategy-wise, it is important to remember that, while the potential to score many points during the previous phases of the game is evident, the information obtained during the previous phases is key to succeeding in the trick-taking portion just as well. Play begins by the Elder player playing a card from his or her hand face up on the table and scores one point for doing so, since any player scores a point for leading the trick. The Younger player then must follow suit, if possible (and if not, they may play any card). The higher card (with aces usually considered high) takes the trick. If the player who won the trick was not the lead player (i.e., the player who played first), then they score a point for winning the trick. Should the player who led win the trick, they do not score a point for it, though they will score a point for leading the next trick soon after. Play continues in this way until all cards in the players hand are played, for a total of 12 tricks scored. The winner of the last trick scores a point, no matter who played first. 10 bonus points are then awarded for whichever player won the majority of tricks (no points are awarded in a 6-6 tie) and 40 bonus points are awarded if either player pulls off a sweep, winning all 12 tricks. The standard game of Piquet then repeats the entire process until either player reaches 100 points, at which point that player is immediately declared the winner. While the ruleset for Piquet is neither the most elegant nor the simplest of card games to understand, it did allow for many different ways of playing and in-depth strategy/emergent gameplay to arise. In fact, many variations of Piquet have been noted throughout history, including versions that only use half of the hand of 12 cards for the trick taking phase; playing a set number of rounds rather than to point totals, and some offered more intricate added rules, such as the “carte rouge” variant, which allows for bonus points to be scored if a player is able to use all 12 of their cards in some way during the declaration phase of the game. One thing is certain: Piquet was most assuredly influential and

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Interview has withstood the test of time not only in France, but supporting up to 8 players, but more typically with 4 throughout Europe. It was not, however, the only trick- or 6 players, where teams would seek to win 3 out of 5 taking game of note during this era. tricks in a round to establish victory. Players were all dealt 5 cards, with one face up for all to see. This process Another prominent trick-taking game of the era was was used to establish the trump suit, by identifying the All Fours (AKA Seven Up), which was played heavily in lowest card showing as the trump suit for the round. England and neighboring states during the 17th century, Players then led off and played a card from their hand, maintaining its popularity well into the 19th century. but unlike many other trick-taking games, were not Contrary to Piquet, All Fours used a 52 card deck, and bound to play from the same suit for the trick. Instead, utilized the concept of the trump suit during play. Also they could play any card from their hand, with the unlike Piquet, All Fours could be played not only with highest card in the suit that led off (or the trump suit) 2, but with 3 or even 4 players, either individually or via winning the trick. The winning player then leads off teams. Players were dealt 6 card hands, followed by the for the next trick and play continues in the round until dealer turning up the top card from the remaining deck 3 of five tricks are won by a team. Where Karnöffel to determine the trump suit. The non-dealer player(s) becomes most interesting is in how it orders the trump may refuse the trump suit, giving the dealer the decision suit for dominance. The well-established ranking for of whether to accept the refusal and turn over a new the trump suit in Karnöffel begins with the Jack (or card, or relinquish one point to the non-dealer in order Unter -- also referred to as the eponymous Karnöffel) to keep the original card dealt as the trump suit. Now and not the King being considered the highest possible the trick begins, with the dealer leading and the winner trump card (and thus unbeatable), and things get a bit of the trick having played the highest card in the suit more messy from there. After the Jack, the seven is the (or the trump suit). The winner of the trick then next best in line (but only under certain conditions), leads off the next round, and play continues for the six then the six, followed by the two, the three, the four, the rounds. Players must follow suit or play a trump suit, five, jumping to the King now, then to the Queen (or unless they have neither. Once the six rounds are done, Ober), down to the ten, the nine, and finally, the lowest players tally points for having won the most tricks, 1 possible trump suit card, the eight of trump. Why this point for having played the highest card of the trump odd order was chosen, however, is a bit of a mystery, suit, 1 point for having played the lowest card in the though the cards do have German names that are tied trump suit (Aces were generally considered high), and 1 to religious figures, such as the Pope and the Devil. point for having been dealt the Jack of the trump suit. Still, despite the unconventional (by today’s standards) Cards are shuffled and play is then repeated in this way ordering of the trump suit, Karnöffel, as one of the until one player reaches the agreed upon sum (typically earliest ever trick-taking games, became a forerunner for 49 or 50 points). many card games to come. Finally, the Germanic game Karnöffel predates even the previous 2 trick-taking games already discussed, with hard evidence pointing to its origins in the early portion of the 15th century in Bavaria. As such, it uses the Germanic style deck, with the Ober and Unter in place of the Queen and Jack, and did not make use of the Aces. Karnöffel was said to be more a team game,

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Next time, we will discuss examples from the other popular classification of card games known of during this era in gaming history: combination and matching style games. If you’re a fan of poker, rummy, or similar style games, you won’t want to miss it. Until then, enjoy the beginning of Spring -- and may you play the hand you’re dealt well enough to win!

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Book Review Game Design

By Serge Pierro

L

ewis Pulsipher’s “Game Design” offers an excellent collection of material for the aspiring game designer, with an emphasis on digging in and getting your hands dirty.

Like many books currently available on game design, Pulsipher takes the approach of showing the perspectives of both board game and video game designers and in doing so shows both the similarities and differences each approach has to offer. As a board game designer you would do yourself a great disservice by skipping over the video game oriented sections, and vise versa, as there is a great deal of important information contained within and the serious designer will want to be aware of this information - even when it isn’t apparent as to how it might be immediately used in your projects. The book is broken down into ten chapters and covers a wide range of topics. As per the subtitle on the cover, the book will show you how to create both video and board games from the initial concept to a finished product. However, this is not a step by step method, but it does flow in a logical manner and presents all of the relevant material necessary for the task at hand. The first chapter focuses on “The Process of Game Design”. For the novice or intermediate designer this chapter covers concepts such as Ideas, Components, Mechanics, and more. The included material presents a strong foundation on which to build your game. Several flowcharts are presented and show the workflow in a compact format making it easier for a game designer to explore the multiple branches. Since Pulsipher is an experienced designer himself, much of the insights he provides are from his experiences in creating his own games and are nice reference points for a novice designer to pay attention to throughout the book. He’s also not afraid to name specific games and hold them up for discussion. Included in this chapter is a “one page” list of “What’s important in designing games” which covers a lot of good advice. The chapter ends with some of his early notes to two of his personal game designs where he shares his thought process.

Chapter 3 discusses a favorite topic within game design books and that is, “What is a game?”. Pulsipher hits the topic from several different angles and gives designers a lot to think about. He then shares his thoughts on what he thinks makes a “good” game. Chapter 5 is all about developing a playable prototype. Both video and tabletop games are discussed here, as well as how to write a video game design document. Chapter 6 is about playtesting and improving your prototype. Various topics are discussed and the games are broken down into core concepts in which the prototype is tested against. There’s also a nice discussion on the different types of playtesters. Clearly this is one of the better chapters within the book and beginners and intermediate designers will learn a lot about the various methods and types of playtesting. There is a lot of great content within this book, as Pulsipher shows himself to be quite knowledgable on the subject. Though most board game designers would prefer to have the book catered towards just the tabletop market, the inclusion of the video game sections does aid in presenting an overview of game design in general. There are many interesting passages contained in the video game chapters that you might think of skipping over. There is also an excellent Reference and Resource section that includes a wealth of topics, including more books on game design. The main strength of the book is how Pulsipher breaks games down and gives the aspiring designer an inside look at the design and development process. Then it is up to the designer to apply the same processes to their own designs and place them under the microscope to see if they “pass the test”. All in all, this is a book that all aspiring game designers should have in their game design library.

Author: Lewis Pulsipher Publisher: McFarland

Chapter 2 delves into the similarities and differences between video and tabletop games. There is also a nice breakdown of traditional games in which their plusses and minuses are discussed. There is a plethora of interesting insights provided in this chapter and it covers a diverse series of discussions.

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Recommended www.mcfarlandpub.com (800-253-2187)

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Game Review

Cosmic Run

By Serge Pierro

Planetary Push Your Luck

W

hile there are many games that have featured codesigners, it is rare to see a father and son design team. With “Cosmic Run”, Doctor Steve Finn and his son Seamus bring their design skills to the table for a “push your luck” dice game. For a quick 30 minute filler game, the rulebook is a surprising 24 pages long. However, the type is larger than average (a white font on a dark background) and there are a numerous images throughout. Also included are several examples, as well as an FAQ. The back page features a summary of the gameplay for quick reference. The Planet tracks and tokens are made of a sturdy cardboard stock. The Space Ship tokens are made of wood have a black space ship silhouette printed on each one. The dice are also of good quality. The card stock is a little on the thin side, but this really isn’t a factor, as the cards are not shuffled during the game. To begin play, each player will start their turn by rolling all six dice and separating the red and blue dice from the others. These dice will be used to determine if a meteor hits one of the planets. This is determined by using the Meteor card that matches the amount of players. Players will check the total of the two red dice and if they equal or exceed the target number on the card, they will place a meteor token on the planet with the number that matches the blue die. If a planet should get hit three times with a meteor, it is destroyed.

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After checking for meteor strikes, the player will use the results of all of the dice (colors only matter for meteor checks) for their first play. On each dice roll they have to place at least one die on one of the Planet tracks, any of the three Alien cards (see below) or their personal Technology card (see below). Once placed, dice may not be moved. After placing at least one die, the player may pick up the remaining dice and re-roll them. They again must place at least


one die and may continue to re-roll as long as they place at least one die per roll. Play continues until all of the dice have been assigned. The effects of each placement are resolved and play moves to the next player.

place it with the previously assigned dice and finally you make another roll and get the final three needed, thus scoring on that planet. However, if after all your rolls you are unable to make the combination needed, you don’t score and you would have wasted those dice.

The push your luck element is brought into play as you place your dice. For instance, let’s say you want to try The main scoring mechanism is the race for the and move up the Planet 4 track, which requires four of points on the Planet tracks. Each Planet has a specific a kind. You roll a pair of threes and assign the pair to requirement in order to be scored. The first planet only the planet. On your next roll you get another three and accepts a die with one pip on it. You may place multiple Continued on next page>

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Game Review (Cont.) “ones”, but no other number may be placed here. The other planets have specific matches that must be met. Planet 2 requires a pair, 3 requires three of a kind, 4 requires four of a kind and 5 requires five of a kind. At the end of the turn, for each die or set of dice assigned to a planet, they will move that amount on the Planet track. Ex: If you assigned a pair of threes and a pair of twos on the second Planet, you would move your spaceship token up two spaces, one space per pair. The Alien cards are what really makes this game interesting, due to the fact that they are useful in mitigating the randomness of the dice rolls. These cards are obtained by matching the dice combinations listed on each card. There are five Alien races and each one has a unique ability. Some allow you to change the result of one die to another, some allow you to take Crystal tokens which are worth VP’s., some even allow you to immediately take another turn. As the game progresses these cards combo in interesting ways, thus making some of the harder to roll combinations feasible. Some of the cards can only be used only one time, while others can be used multiple times. The back of the cards show the endgame scoring mechanism for the collecting of Alien sets throughout the game. When you assign a die to your Technology card you may move the token up a level. You may at any time discard the token at the level it is at and then take advantage of the ability listed. Then the token is returned to zero and ready to be moved again. When a player reaches the top of a planet it is scored immediately with each player receiving the amount of VP’s as indicated by where they currently are on the track. This also includes players having to pay VP’s if they are still in the negative section at the bottom of the track. Players will also score in a similar manner should a planet be destroyed by a meteor strike. Additionally

players will have the opportunity to obtain Crystal tokens throughout the game and since these are face down players don’t know what is available or have already been taken. These range in value from 1-3 VP’s. The last scoring method is the amount of VP’s for the sets of Alien races. The game ends when either all of the planets have been scored or destroyed, all of the Alien cards have been taken, or if all of the Crystal tokens are taken. I’m always interested in solitaire versions of games and the one included here is challenging, as the play is more tense than the regular version. It has lots of options and a much more anxious feel than the main game. Since it is unknown as to when the planets might be destroyed by meteors, there is a sense of urgency to race as fast as possible up the tracks on planets that have been hit by one or two meteors, so as not to get stuck with negative points when the planet scores. The multiple scoring methods led to various strategic paths. The hidden value of the Crystal tokens added additional tension to the game as players were unsure of how many points their opponents had. Meanwhile, the Alien cards proved to be interesting and provided a lot of opportunities to be creative. This is yet another quality filler game by Dr. Finn’s Games, and I believe that this is going to one that many gamers are going to enjoy.

Designers: Steve Finn & Seamus Finn Publisher: Dr. Finn’s Games Number of players: 1-4 Mechanic: Dice Allocation, Push Your Luck Ages: 8+ Length: 30 mins.

Highly Recommended www.doctorfinns.com

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Game Review

Imperial Harvest By Serge Pierro

A BIG Micro-game

A

lthough Imperial Harvest advertises itself as a “tactical micro-game”, the gameplay itself is far from what one would expect from a micro-game. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer. The game comes in a small 4” x 5 1/4” x 1 1/2” box and upon opening it you can see it is packed with an assortment of components. This is certainly not Love Letter. The 24 page rulebook is packed with information. It covers the rules of the game, the abilities of the characters and various board configurations. There was some confusion as to how attacks were initiated. Oddly enough this is not explained, but we eventually figured out that only characters with the attack trait were able to do so. This omission led to confusion and wasted time as we read and re-read the rulebook trying to find the pertinent passage. Surprisingly there were sections on how combat was resolved, yet nothing on how it was initiated. One of the unique aspects of the components was the inclusion of a cloth board. This could be used to set up the game quickly instead of assembling the modular board. Each tile of the modular board is made of a thick cardboard stock. Besides being able to be setup in various formations, each of the main tiles is double sided, further adding to the game’s replayability.

While the board and tokens are essential to the game, it The various tokens are from the same punchboards as the is the cards where the game really comes alive. The large tiles and obviously share the same sturdy qualities. Kudos tarot shaped cards are double sided and contain the basic and to Broomstick Monkey Games for the inclusion of a advanced modes of each character. Also included are two copious amount of resealable bags for storing components. player aides and a turn order card.

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For the purposes of this review, we are going to include the optional expansion Merchants and Magic. This adds some new character cards to the game, a deck of equipment cards, as well as nice wooden blocks to replace the cardboard character tokens in the basic game. While these are not necessary in order to enjoy the game, they do add another layer of strategy, as well as making for a more appealing game experience.

After setting up the board as per the instructions in the rulebook, players will then draft the three characters that will make up their team. After playing a few games we found that this was one of the more interesting aspects of the game, due to the fact that there was a wide variety of characters to choose from and each combination would yield a very different strategic experience. Continued on next page>

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Game Review (Cont.) On a player’s turn they will have two active characters and one character that is covered with the “Blanket” card and is considered resting. At the start of each of your turns you have to bring the rested character into play and place on of the previously active characters under the “Blanket” card. At various points throughout the games we played, this concept proved to be interesting and somewhat frustrating, though in a good way. It lead to even tougher decisions when each character had a Royal strawberry on their card. (see below) Each character card has a number that indicates how may actions they can take per turn. The basic actions include: Move one space orthogonally, Pluck a strawberry from the space they are at, deposit a strawberry into their camp and passing an item or strawberry to an adjacent character. Characters also have their own special abilities that may cost an action to use. The game revolves around the gathering and depositing of the Royal strawberries. Besides being the main focus of the scoring mechanism (deposited strawberries are worth 2vp, a plucked strawberry 1vp and strawberries on a character card 1vp, each) they are also used to activate the unique abilities that each character has. As soon as a player obtains a strawberry they may activate the associated ability. Since these abilities are often strong and essential for your plans, it does present a challenge as to when to carry a strawberry to trigger an ability, as compared to when to deposit it for the extra points. The game includes a Turn Order card that designates by color which player will move first that turn. There are 14 turns to a game, however if the “Raiders” end their turn with no strawberries left on the board, the game ends earlier.

For such a small box there’s a surprisingly hefty amount of gameplay contained within. While the game has a lighthearted strawberry theme, the characters and gameplay are deeper. There are multiple layers of the game that can be enjoyed. From the start you have the opportunity to draft/build the board in different configurations and strategic placement of boards with the hedges is interesting. After the board is built the next level of strategy is the placement of the bridges and camps. Then comes the important phase of drafting characters. Since there are fourteen cards in the basic set and three in the expansion, there is a great deal of variety in the teams that can be fielded and the draft was one of the more interesting phases of the game, as players adjusted their strategies based on what their opponent just drafted. The use of the “Blanket” was also an interesting concept, as it essentially made players rotate characters into and out of play, often times against their will. It is a simple mechanism, but it has a great deal of influence on how the game is played. This is a really nice two player filler game that has strategic depth. With all of the different permutations that are available amongst the components, this is a game that you will want to play many times in order to experience all of the depth it has to offer.

Designer: Justin Call & Jarom Chung Publisher: Broomstick Monkey Games Number of players: 2 Mechanic: Pick up & Deliver Ages: 10+ Length: 20 mins.

Recommended

www.broomstickmonkey.com

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Education

Concerted Cultivation By David Niecikowski, ABD, MAED/CI

D

uring my doctoral methods classes in the spring of 2013 I conducted pilot observations encouraged by Annette Lareau’s (2011) study on the differences and similarities of parenting approaches and expectations by social class. Her findings indicate that middle-class families favor concerted cultivation and that working-class and lowerclass families favor natural growth. Lareau (2011) defines concerted cultivation as an organized activity or experience, controlled and/or encouraged by parents to develop a child’s talents and natural growth is an approach where parents do not structure their daily activities and have children play on their own to develop independence at an earlier age. Lareau followed up on her initial findings ten years later and found that the concerted cultivation intervention approach and middle-class financial and knowledge resources of the families she studied resulted in the majority of these children completing high school and attending post-secondary education toward a professional degree whereas children of working-class and lower-class families she studied either dropped out of high school or did not attend post-secondary schools (or if they did, they did not complete all course work) and were working jobs that did not require a college education. Lareau argues, based on a discussion of 12 out of 88 white and African American families she studied, that social economic status, regardless of race, impacts the skills children develop that they will use in the future as adults. So what does this have to do with games and game literacy? As mentioned above, according to Lareau (2011) middle class parents encourage their children’s talents with concerted cultivation through organized leisure activities and structured experiences. Some of these structured activities may include after school sports, music lessons, mentoring, and tutoring. Lareau (2011) generally classifies play as unstructured activities when adults are not involved in monitoring but middle-class children “often feel entitled to adult attention and intervention in their play”, making play

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a structured activity (p. 81). Thus, middle class parents “feel an obligation to cultivate their children’s talents” by voluntarily “participating in children’s activities, playing board and word games with them…” (Lareau, 2011, p. 97). By comparison, children of working-class and lower-class families engaged in play such as card games but it was not structured and children often played independent of adults.

Lareau’s (2011) findings inspired me to conduct pilot observations and interviews of four middle class families from varied ethnic backgrounds with children of different ages playing games. The observations and interviews focused on differences and similarities in how and why parents cultivated their children through game play. Below are some of my observations and associated connections to academic literature:

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Education (Cont.)

Observation 1 All interviewed parents indicated the reason their childhood families played games was to connect with each other, have family time, bond, have fun, and/or encourage socialization. Freysinger (2006) offers an explanation as to why the interviewed parents passed on the tradition game play as parents to their own children, “Previous experience also influences subsequent participation; that is, if individuals pursued a hobby as children, they are more likely to participate in that activity as adults” (p. 59). Observation 2 All parents stated that they purposefully play games with their own children to have fun, build relationships, and develop social skills in their children such as sportsmanship. All families played games together at an average of once every two weeks. According to Fromberg and Bergen (2006), “…all children can have optimal growth opportunities when play and playful learning approaches are integrated with their everyday lives” (p. 242). The fathers interviewed emphasized enjoying game play with their children. Freysinger (1994) found similar results and suggested that “… leisure with children is one of the only times/ways that fathers interact with their children; hence, it may be more valued and more psychologically beneficial.” Observation 3 All three families with boy/girl siblings stated that family game play helped the brother and sister bond since the siblings often socialized and participated in other activities apart from each other. Ramsey’s (2006) suggest that “…while girls tend to prefer same-sex partners, some want to join in male-typed activities. In contrast, boys very rarely venture into female-dominated

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activities and interactions. As a result of all these factors girls tend to be wary of boys and avoid intruding in their spaces or fighting back when boys disrupt their play” (p. 268). Oden (2006) adds, “Yet developmental and educational psychologists consider that sibling and peer play make important contributions in the ecology of children’s development” (p. 297). Observation 4 A Hispanic father indicated that he specifically played games with his children when they were younger to develop their language skills such as storytelling. Thus, he is only parent interviewed of the four families that specifically mentioned having his children play games for educational purposes. The fact that he is the only parent who is a classroom teacher might be a correlating factor. Observation 5 All interviewed children reported that they played games with their family to have fun and enjoy time with their family. One parent couple specifically stated that games were played to reconnect with their children since custody was shared with an ex-spouse and the children took turns at each parents’ house. Observation 6 In all observed post interview family gameplay, all children asserted themselves as equals to the adults in the interpretation of game rules and participated in guiding the structure of the game play. As a possible explanation, Devries (2006) states that “Following mutually agreedupon rules puts everyone on an equal basis in a social system regulated by the players themselves” (p. 123). Devries (2006) adds:

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“In a game with rules, the adult authority and system of rules is temporarily suspended. Players can practice cooperation among equals when adult authority is put aside in favor of rules to which adults, too, must conform… In games, adult authority can decrease while children’s power increases. When power is equalized, coercion ceases to be the regulating force, and autonomous cooperation can begin.” (p. 123). Bodrova and Leong (2006) suggest that “Games are the context in which children learn more about rules: how to follow the rules, negotiate rules, and reestablish rules” (p. 172).

Freysinger, V. J. (2006). Play in the Context of LifeSpan Human Development. In D. P. Fromberg & D. Bergen (Eds). Play from birth to twelve: Contexts, perspectives, and meanings (2nd ed.). (Kindle Edition). Retrieved from Amazon.com

These observations are presented to generate discussion as to whether game play as concerted cultivation can impact children’s development. In other words, what impact does the promotion of game literacy have on children’s social and academic skills or talent development and does the approach to promoting game literacy differ by social economic status? I piloted a process of observations and interviews that can lead to formal research that might help answer these questions.

Fromberg, D. P., & Bergen, D. (2006). Play from birth to twelve: Contexts, perspectives, and meanings (2nd ed.). (Kindle Edition). Retrieved from Amazon.com

References Bodrova, E., & Leong, D. J. (2006). Adult Influences on play: The Vygotskian approach. In D.P. Fromberg & D. Bergen (Eds). Play from birth to twelve: Contexts, perspectives, and meanings (2nd ed.). (Kindle Edition). Retrieved from Amazon.com

Freysinger, V. J. (1994). Leisure with children and parental satisfaction: further evidence of a sex difference in the experience of adult roles and leisure. Journal of Leisure Research, 26(3). 212-226. Retrieved from Infotrac.

Lareau, A. (2011). Unequal childhoods: Class, race, and family life (2nd ed.). Berkely, CA: University of California Press. Oden, S. (2006). Sibling and peer influences on play. In D. P. Fromberg & D. Bergen (Eds). Play from birth to twelve: Contexts, perspectives, and meanings (2nd ed.). (Kindle Edition). Retrieved from Amazon.com Ramsey, P. G. (2006). Influences of race, culture, social class, and gender: Diversity and play. In D. P. Fromberg & D. Bergen (Eds). Play from birth to twelve: Contexts, perspectives, and meanings (2nd ed.). (Kindle Edition). Retrieved from Amazon.com

Devries, R. (2006). Games with rules. In D. P. Fromberg & D. Bergen (Eds). Play from birth to twelve: Contexts, perspectives, and meanings (2nd ed.). (Kindle Edition). Retrieved from Amazon.com

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Game Review

Under the Pyramids Eldritch Horror Expansion

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eveloping an expansion for an existing board game can often be a tricky proposition. Some board games scream for an expansion right out of the gate, while others are content to make do with the game’s original concept and design. Some expansions bog down gameplay and unnecessarily add un-needed and un-wanted mechanisms. Other games may have difficulty staying relevant without the addition of an expansion. Finding that balance, responding to the needs and wants of the gaming community, and acting appropriately is sure to have kept many a game designer and publisher awake at night. Under the Pyramids, the fourth expansion (and second bigbox expansion) for Eldritch Horror - a cooperative board game for 1-8 players designed by Corey Konieczka and Nikki Valens, and published by Fantasy Flight Games – leads investigators on an expedition beneath the pyramids of Giza to uncover the dark history of the Black Pharaoh. It includes new investigators, Ancient Ones, Monsters, and encounters, while introducing mechanisms that involve a new side board and Impairment tokens. Although I have been in love with Eldritch Horror since it was first released, the level and frequency of attention FFG has given the game is reminiscent of its predecessor, Arkham Horror. Can too much of a good thing eventually turn fans of the franchise sour, or is Under the Pyramids a must own? Gameplay Because Eldritch Horror has been widely available since 2013, I intend to focus exclusively on that which is new and specific to Under the Pyramids. For starters, new Encounter, Expedition, Mythos, and Other World cards, along with an increased variety of Artifact, Asset, Spell, and Condition cards bulk up and already card-heavy game. But that’s a good thing. No, scratch that. That’s a great thing! More cards bring more adventures to your gaming experience. Eight new Investigators are added to the pool of the unfortunate …. I mean brave … victims…. um, adventurers.

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By Bill Braun

Most notable is Rex Murphy, whose character card reads – “If you do not have a Cursed Condition, gain 1 Clue, improve 1 Skill of your choice, and gain a Cursed Condition”. This ability adds an interesting conundrum to the mix of gameplay. Having a Cursed Condition can make passing skills incredibly difficult (only 6’s count). However, each time a Reckoning comes into play there is the chance that Rex may discard such a condition. On the one hand, he may be a Clue generating beast, on the other, a useless meat bag. Additionally, two new Ancient Ones – Nephran-Ka and Abhoth - each provide their own set of unique Mystery, Research, and Special cards. While all good, what does Under the Pyramids bring to the table that changes gameplay in an interesting way? The most obvious is the Egypt side board that is utilized when facing Nephen-Ka as the Ancient One, or when the Under the Pyramids Prelude card has been selected. This side board allows investigators deeper access to Egypt and the region surrounding the Great Pyramids, along with a wealth of ancient knowledge, relics, and unspeakable horrors. Several spaces on the main board and side board are connected by Local or Ship paths, allowing investigators to move between boards with the Travel action or any other effect that allows an investigator to move. Investigators on the Egypt side board are granted access to a number of thematic encounters specific to a variety of locations including Alexandria, Cairo, Tel el-Amarna, and the Bent Pyramid. Impairment tokens are also a new mechanism that interacts directly with the investigators’ skills. Although randomly occurring and based on a variety of conditions, Impairment tokens represent a permanent skill impairment and a reduction in the total number of dice rolled when attempting to complete a skill test. When an investigator impairs a skill, he gains an Impairment token for that skill with the “–1” side up. If an investigator already has an Impairment token for that skill, he flips that token to the “–2” side instead. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse than gaining a Cursed Condition ….

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Photo: Bill Braun

Theme The theme of Eldritch Horror is the primary reason why I continue to be absolutely head-over-heels with this game. Each adventure provides a new and memorable experience. Winning continues to be incredibly difficult, but the story that is told along the way is what always brings me back for more; and the same can be said about Under the Pyramids. Whether it’s the interesting backstories of the new playable characters, or the ability to scour the desert sands of Egypt in search of an ancient relic, Under the Pyramids further enhances a very strong Cthulhu tradition that Fantasy Flight Games has all but mastered. Final Thoughts When the Under the Pyramids expansion for Eldritch Horror was first announced it took me all of about 30 seconds to convince myself that it would be added to my ongoing collection. Fantasy Flight Games continues the strategy of releasing expansions for Eldritch Horror that focus almost

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exclusively on providing the player with more of the same, while thoughtfully and smartly including new and interesting mechanisms to the gaming experience. If you’re a fan of Eldritch Horror like I am, Under the Pyramids will undoubtedly be added to your collection.

Designers: Nikki Valens Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games Number of players: 1-8 Mechanic: Co-operative Ages: 14+ Length: 180 mins.

Highly Recommended www.fantasyflightgames.com

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Game Review Bomb Squad

By Serge Pierro

Nailbiting Co-op

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ombining the mechanisms of Hanabi and RoboRally, as well as interjecting the crazed atmosphere of a realtime game, Bomb Squad brings a nail biting experience to the table as players are members of a bomb demolition team. Can you and your friends work together to free the hostages and disarm the bomb? Let’s take a look at this realtime co-op offering from TMG. The box comes with a cardboard insert that is sectioned for both the cards/components, as well as the many of the main board pieces. There are some pieces that are too long for the insert, but they may be placed lengthwise on the top of the insert and also serve as an aid to keep items from moving around excessively. The game comes with both a rulebook and a missions book. The 16 page rulebook is nicely laid out and is complete with examples and sidebars referencing the relevant rules sections for quick reference. The 8 page mission book is designed with two missions per page and includes two training missions and twelve main missions. The thick, cardboard modular board is composed of an adjustable outer frame that is held together by “puzzle piece” tab/joints and holds within it various numbers of large square tiles. This is a nice design as it allows for various sized boards to be constructed on the fly. The only problem we had with it was that the tolerances were a bit tight and it took some effort to get the internal pieces to fit. The components include: wooden pieces for doors, plastic cubes for tracking the robot’s battery level and various tokens for in game usage (bombs, hostages, cameras, robots, etc.) Also included is a deck of 54 cards which are used to program the robot, as well as 15 role cards that players can use to give them special abilities within the game. I was a little disappointed that the game didn’t come with a timer, as it is a necessary part of the game. I have played other realtime co-ops that have included a timer (Rise of the Zombies - Dan Verssen Games). However, the free app that can be downloaded from TMG is outstanding! It really adds to the gaming experience with the various soundtracks and the fact that it can keep track of the countdown of multiple bombs. Players will begin the game by choosing one of the missions from the mission book and then build/setup the board as per the diagram. The clock is then started and play begins. There are two parts to the game. The first borrows Hanabi’s mechanic of “holding your cards with the faces held away from you” and it is used to select cards to place onto the programming slots on the board. The second part is influenced by the programming mechanism from RoboRally in order to move the robot around the board, determined by the order in which the cards are played.

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To place cards in the programming slots on the board, players will first point to another player’s hand and give them a hint. Example: “These 3 cards are red” or “This card is a door”, etc. If a player believes that they know what the card is and thinks it will be useful for the mission, they will place the card onto one of the programming slots. This will continue until either all of the slots are filled or a player decides to activate the robot. If activated, play moves onto the next step, programming.


Once the robot is activated, players will communicate with each other on what order they wish to resolve the cards (programming the robot). The robot is then moved accordingly on the board. The game continues until either the victory condition is met or the bomb goes off. Each mission has a scoring chart that determines the level of success of the mission. Although this is not my kind of game, it is clear that there are going to be people who are going to love it. I did enjoy it more than I expected to and it really captures the urgency of the theme. This is an excellent marriage of a theme with a design. If this sounds like a game that you would like, then I think you will be very happy with the gameplay. There is a lot of replayability contained within, especially if you are trying to get high/ perfect scores.

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Designer: Dan Keltner & David Short Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games Number of players: 2-6 Mechanic: Realtime Co-op Ages: 13+ Length: 30 mins.

Worth Trying www.playtmg.comÂ

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Game Review

Through The Ages By Serge Pierro

A NEW Story of Civilization

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here’s a good reason why Vlaada Chvatil’s Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization is at the time of this review ranked #5 on Board Game Geek’s top 100 list. However, there were some flaws. The new edition of the game addresses them, so let’s take a look at how an excellent game just got a whole lot better. The box, which is noticeably larger than the previous edition, contains a custom plastic insert that has room for not only all of the components, but enough room for several card expansions. I loved how there was a concerted effort to design the tray so that the various game boards could be placed in a specific order and location to form a virtual lid. The game comes with two oversized books, the Handbook and the Code of Laws. The Handbook can be thought of as your main rulebook and will assist you in learning the game. At 24 pages it may seem to be overwhelming to the new player, but it is laid out logically and contains concise sections that clearly presents all of the relevant material. The 12 page Code of Laws will be used by players who are more familiar with the game and need to look up a rule quickly. Both of these publications do an excellent job of explaining the game. There is a great deal of information contained within both books and one shouldn’t expect to be able to digest it all in one reading. There are three types of boards included: 4 Reference sheets, 4 Player boards, and the 4 main boards. The Reference sheets are noticeably thinner than the original edition, but they are still of a decent quality. The Player boards are also thinner, but they are also much nicer for game play as the graphics and the modified “end of turn sequence” go a long ways towards enhancing the gameplay. The original edition contained one large game board. This edition features four boards that can be laid out in various manners in order to make best use of the available table space. I like when companies use this production design as it allows for a variety of setups that are best suited for a particular gaming environment.

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One of the most dynamic changes in this edition are the cards. Not only is the artwork gorgeous, but they are also larger than the previous cards. Everyone agreed that the new artwork really elevates the aesthetics of the game. Another major change is that of the various tokens. Instead of the cylinders which were a nuisance, since they were prone to rolling around, this edition includes


translucent plastic cubes. The tokens used for keeping points. The main currencies in the game are Food track of the various levels and score are made of wood and Resources. You will also build ratings in Science, and the game also includes a sheet of stickers to apply to Military, Happiness and Culture. them for additional bling. There are four eras that you play through: Antiquities While the new version of the game plays quite and Eras 1-3. Antiquities gets the game started, but it is smoothly (once learned), there is a lot going on within in Eras 1-3 that the game really takes form. the game, so I will just present a very basic overview of the gameplay. On your turn you will: draft cards from the card row, produce food and resources, play a political action, The main focus of the game is managing the resources spend military actions, as well as build structures and generated by your player board, as well as drafting from wonders, etc. the available cards via the spending of Civil action Continued on next page>

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Game Review (Cont.) During the Political phase you may play an event card to the future events pile. This will trigger the top card of the current event pile and it will resolve. You can also play an Aggression or War card against a specific opponent. These are the main means of conflict within the game. You can also play a Pact with another player and both of you will reap the pertinent benefits.

as no surprise that I would be interested in this game. Although the box states the game is 2 hours+, in reality it is closer to 5 hours for the complete game with four players. Fortunately there are partial game variants that are viable in a shorter time frame, yet the five hours for the complete game is well worth the investment of time. I’m sure that the length of time can be cut, once everyone fully understands the rules and take their turn The Action phase is where the bulk of the game is quickly. played. This is where you will spend Civil actions to draw cards from the card row. These cards are the This edition is a large step forward for the game, foundation of the game and they include: Farms and on both the artistic/production front, as well as the Mine upgrades. Leaders who grant your civilization actual gameplay. Cards such as “Work of Art” in the certain powers. Urban buildings that increase specific first edition have been removed and many other cards ratings. Wonders, which grant special abilities have been rebalanced and replaced. While the Military when completed. Military units to build your army. aspect of the game has been tweaked, I still feel that it Government cards. Technology cards. As well as Action can be a bit too strong at times, in particular in the cases cards that grant a one time ability. Each of these cards of War. It just doesn’t feel right that the defender just cost one Civil action to play from your hand after you gets to sit there and not respond other than trying to have drafted them, except for the Wonders which are build units on their turn. placed immediately into play. Another stipulation is Although a long game, it is one that I would happily that Action cards that were drafted on the current turn may not be played until next turn. Also, during the bring to the table on any night. The more your group action phase you may spend Military actions to build plays it, the better the experience is for all players, as everyone understands the consequences of their actions. your army and play Tactic cards. There have been many attempts to capture the feel of a The game continues until the Age 3 Civil deck runs civ building game, but this is the best implementation out of cards and the player turns are resolved as per the I’ve played so far. There is so much to this game that rulebook, then the civilization with the highest Culture you will want to keep playing it in order to experience rating wins. all of the riches it has to offer. There just isn’t enough space to delve into the depths of this game. The above is an extremely short overview of some of the concepts that are available. I didn’t even touch on the nuances that make the game even more amazing, such as tracking the happiness of your civilization so that there isn’t an uprising or the end of an era effects such as all civilizations losing two food and potentially losing antiquated cards - both in hand and in play.

Designer: Vlaada Chvatil Publisher: Czech Games Edition Number of players: 2-4 Mechanic: Drafting, Resource Managment Ages: 14+ Length: 120+ mins.

Highly Recommended

Seeing as my favorite computer game of all-time is the Sid Meier’s “Civilization” series, it should come

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www.czechgames.com

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Interview

Ryan Laukat

By Serge Pierro

“Ryan Laukat is a Renaissance man within the gaming industry.”

Renaissance Man ART:

What is your favorite type of music?

Do you come from an artistic family?

I love orchestral music, jazz, and film scores.

I came from a musical family. My parents both play saxophone and many other instruments. From a young age we were singing, playing piano, and other instruments. When no one was looking I got in a sketch or two on the side.

Who are your favorite groups and or musical artists?

What instruments do you play? I’ve played trumpet for twenty years, and I also play drums now and then.

Who is your main musical inspiration for your instrument? For trumpet, I’d have to say Empire Brass, Arturo Sandoval, and the Brecker Brothers.

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Ryan Laukat Designer/Artist/Publisher Above and Below Artifacts, Inc. The Ancient World Islebound www.redravengames.com

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My favorite composers include Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Holst, Grainger, Erich Korngold, John Williams, James Horner, Joe Hisaishi, and Danny Elfman. I’m also a fan of The Beatles and The Police.

What are your earliest recollections on drawing/painting? When I was supposed to be paying attention during math in kindergarten, I’d instead be drawing pirate ships on my assignment.


Are you self taught or did you go to school for art?

Who are your favorite board game artists?

Art has always been a hobby for me—I have had very little schooling or private instruction.

I love Miguel Coimbra’s work, and Michael Menzel’s work.

What is your favorite medium to work in?

What is your favorite piece of art for a game that you’ve created?

I’ve gotten very used to painting digitally— it’s where I feel most comfortable. I like how flexible it is and how it’s so easy to go back and change things. Before working digitally I used watercolor.

Who are your main artistic influences? Hayao Miyazaki, Paul Kidby, and Bill Waterson

My current favorite is probably the board for The Ancient World.

If you could do the artwork for another game designer, who would it be and what would you like to do? It would be fun to illustrate a game by Uwe Rosenberg. I quite enjoy many of his designs with their many intricate, moving parts. I imagine I’d like to do art for a game set in a mythical setting. Continued on next page>

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Interview (Cont.) remained one of my favorites for years. I also love Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell.

The storytelling aspects of “Above and Below” were well received, will you be featuring this approach in any of your future projects? The last three prototypes I’ve made have included some sort of storybook. I plan to make it one of the main features of my future designs.

DESIGN What advice would you give to aspiring board game When did you first become interested in designing artists? games? Do projects that interest you, and avoid signing onto deals that pay very little. Also, stick to illustration and avoid signing on to do graphic design if you can (unless you’re a graphic designer and not an illustrator).

I’ve been designing games since I was twelve years old. Collectible card games got me very interested in game design at first, and when I discovered role-playing games, all I wanted to do was design and play them.

STORYTELLING Who are your favorite authors? I grew up reading Terry Pratchett, and I love Ursula K. Le Guin, Susanna Clarke, and Tolkien.

What are your favorite books? The Hobbit had an amazing influence on me when I picked it up as a ten-year-old, and has

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What are your all-time favorite games? Race for the Galaxy, Puerto Rico, Tales of the Arabian Nights, and Agricola

Who is your favorite game designer? Uwe Rosenberg

What would consider the quintessential Ryan Laukat game? And why? Above and Below, because it combines all of my interests—writing, art, and game design.

If you had the opportunity to work with another game designer, who would it be and what would you like to collaborate on? It would be fun to collaborate with Tom Lehman, because he’s worked on so many designs, and I love Race for the Galaxy so much.

How do you go about playtesting your games? Playtesting is one of the biggest challenges when designing. Most of the early playtesting is done by my wife and my brother. In later stages I rely upon volunteers, who usually get a prototype in the mail which they can play with their own group. For Ilsebound, I used Tabletopia, and it was extremely effective because I could listen in on Skype, and play at almost any time.

When you approach a new game what usually comes first? An artistic vision, a storytelling concept, mechanics or a theme? Many times I start with the vague hint of a theme and the vague hint of a mechanism that might fit it. As I design, I let the theme influence the mechanics, and an artistic vision arises when I sketch out plans for the layout of the game.

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Interview (Cont.)

Since you are capable of handling all of the elements of a game, can you give us an idea of the order in which you put all the elements together?

As a publisher, do you think about curtailing some of your designs, in order to bring productions costs down?

First, I start with a sketch of what the name might be, and what the cover might look like. From there, I sketch out the mechanics and the layout of the board and cards on a few sheets of paper. The art style and colors come slowly as I work on the prototype, and often change as playtesting moves forward.

Before I was a publisher, I almost never thought about that, but now that I have to produce the games, I’m always thinking of ways to make the production cheaper! I actually think it helps hone the design, because it forces me to cut unnecessary mechanisms.

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What advice would you give to aspiring game designers? Playtest your game with many people you don’t know. Study and play many other popular games. Also, be willing to put a design on the shelf if it isn’t working so that you can go and design something better!

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Game Review

Luna

By Serge Pierro

Mystical Feld

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lthough the theme of a Moon Priestess is a bit unusual for a Stephen Feld designed game, the gameplay is immediately recognizable by the brilliance of his designs. Let’s take a look at a Feld game that was previously out of print and recently brought back by Tasty Minstrel Games. To go along with the unusual theme, there are some unusual components. There are seven islands that are placed around the main board and each of them provide the opportunity for unique actions. Upon opening the box you are greeted with a bubblewrap bag that holds the board segments and the islands. This is a welcome packaging endeavor as it keeps the pieces in place, as well as providing protection when moving the box around, as there is no insert to hold the components. The large 8 page rulebook is amply illustrated and has a setup section, as well as sections for explaining each action. There is also a page devoted to the solitaire variant. Four player aides are included. These list the various actions and scoring phases. We found these to be confusing upon our first play and found it easier to just memorize the actions. The meeples, temples and scoring pieces are all made of wood, while the other tokens in the game are of the same cardboard stock as the board. Also included are cardboard standee pieces that make use of the enclosed plastic bases. After setting up the game, players will begin a “draft” in which they will take their 8 meeples and place them onto the islands. They will do this by placing a pair of meeples on an island and continuing to do so without repeating placements. After the four pairs have been placed, each player will then place one of their Shrines on one of the three remaining islands that don’t have any of their meeples. They will then collect the two Favor tokens from the two remaining islands.

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There are four action types that a player can take on their turn. To perform an action, a player must use two of their Novices (meeples) or one Novice if they have a temple on the island. We placed the Novices “in the water” around the island to show that they were inactive. Isle Actions: These include, using the Priest’s Favor (making two Novices inactive) to obtain the relevant Favor token from the island. Recruiting, by using two Novices to gain an additional one, all three of these Novices are then inactive. Use two Novices and a


Shrine Favor token on an island that has the Master Builder on it, in order to build a Shrine. Use an Herbal token to make 1 or 2 inactive Novices active again on one island.

Novices. The third action is the Ship token and it allows you to move 1 or 2 active Novices from one Island to another and they remain active at the new Island.

Movement Actions: These actions are perhaps the most subtle upon your first play. As you play it more, it becomes apparent that these are important actions within the game. There are three types available. The first is the Journey action. This allows you to take as many active Novices as you would like and place them inactive next to any of the islands. The second action uses the Tide token and it is the same as the Journey action, except it allows you to also move inactive

Temple Actions: There are four types of Temple actions. The Promotion action allows a player to use two Novices on an island to send one of them to claim the relevant Temple tile. After claiming the tile, the Sanctification action is used to place the Novice inside the Temple. The player will compare their Temple tile with any of the adjacent ones when placed, if your tile has a higher numeric value and the other Novice(s) don’t have books (see below), the lower Novices

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Game Review (Cont.) are removed from the Temple. Players may use an action to move one of the books from one tile to another. The books prevent a lower tile from being removed by a higher tile. The last action is the Council of the Priests and it allows you to take any of your active Novices on one island and make them inactive to move the token on the track within the Temple, adjusted by the amount of Novices used.

As a bonus there is a solitaire variant which follows the rules of the game quite closely. The rules set for the AI controls your opposition. Being a Stefan Feld fan and someone who is interested in solitaire variants this was a pleasant bonus.

The remaining actions are used to move the Apostate, use the Novice token to substitute for an unavailable Novice and the Meditation action to discard the top candle tile.

As previously stated, I am a big fan of Stefan Feld’s games and Luna is no exception. I would place it somewhere in the middle of his range of games, not as brilliant as Trajan and not as light as La Isla. If you’ve never played a Feld design, then this might be a good place to start, as the game play is simple, yet there is depth beneath the surface.

The timing mechanism of the Meditation action is one of the more interesting aspects of the game. In four player game there are four candle tokens. A player may choose as their action to turn over a token and skip their turn. The last token is worth one VP, while the others are worth nothing. While you might not want to give another player a free point, there are times when you might have to. Another interesting aspect is that you can control the pace of the game by adopting an action denial strategy by passing each turn and forcing the round to end earlier than other players would like, thus denying them their actions for the round.

One of the things that become more apparent on multiple plays is that setting up the movement for the following rounds of play is essential in order to maximize your play. There are three characters that are constantly moving from island to island and you want to have the most Novices on the island with the Princess, yet at the same time trying to be in a position to build a Shrine on the island with the Master Builder, all while trying to avoid the island with the Apostate. There’s a lot going on and that doesn’t include the strategies within the temple area itself. Typical Feld… typical brilliance.

There are various ways in which to score. At the end of a round each of your Novices in the Temple give you 1VP. However, it is possible to lose VP’s by being on the same island as the Apostate, in which case you lose 1VP for each active or inactive Novices there +1. You also score points via the position of the Guard of the Temple when your Novice uses the Sanctification action, as well as having active Novices on the island where the Moon Priestess is. There are also end game scoring bonuses which include 4 points for each of your Shrines, your position on the Council of Priests track and any unused tokens are worth 1VP each. As you can see there are multiple paths to scoring which makes for a very interesting game as players develop their strategies accordingly.

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Designer: Stefan Feld Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games Number of players: 1-4 Mechanic: Worker Placement, Area Control Ages: 13+ Length: 25 mins. per player

Recommended www.playtmg.com

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Game Review

Biblios Dice

By Serge Pierro

Dice Drafting Filler

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ounger siblings often have the unfortunate experience of constantly being compared to their older siblings, instead of just being accepted for who they are. Such is the case for Biblios Dice. Instead of comparing it to the elder Biblios, lets see how the game stands on its own. Biblios Dice comes in a 9 1/2” x 6” x 2” box and includes a cardboard insert that divides the bottom of the box into two separate areas to store the tokens and dice. The rulebook and the rest of the components sit on top of this and provide a setting in which the components don’t bounce around when the box is moved. The sixteen page rulebook is sparsely illustrated, yet contains the pertinent information, as well as providing a special rules section for two players. A nice bonus is the inclusion of an illustrated, double sided, setup aide. This made setup a breeze the first time we played it. Included are five, sturdy cardboard player screens that have pre-scored lines for easy folding. These also serve as player aides by displaying various aspects of gameplay and scoring. Instead of one large board, the game includes seven Resource Tracks. These can be laid out as if they were one large board. Additionally there is a Market board which may be placed anywhere. Each of these boards are of a heavy cardboard stock. There is an assortment of wooden player cubes, as well as a wooden disk for the “Mule” token. The other tokens are of the same quality cardboard as the boards. The included cards measure 1 1/2” x 2 1/2” and are used for the occasional bidding, first player marker and the optional usage of hidden objective cards. The small size is not a problem,

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as they are not shuffled. Each player receives their own set of Bidding cards, with the backs of the cards matching the color of the player’s token. And of course there wouldn’t be a dice game without dice. There are two varieties of dice. The first set is a standard d6 in various colors that are used at the top of the appropriate Resource Tracks. The other set has various custom faced dice. The resources on the dice are recess moulded and the icons are painted.


The first player of each round will roll all of the dice (excluding those on top of the Resource tracks, these are only used for scoring purposes and are never rolled throughout the game). The results of the roll will be the pool in which all of the players will choose dice from. The first thing that is done is that the result of the Mule die is to move the appropriate amount of spaces on the Market Board. If the Mule is on the last space of the Market Board, players “Go to Market” (see below), otherwise play continues.

Starting with the first player and going clockwise, each player will choose a die or multiple dice of the same resource and move accordingly on the associated Resource track. These dice are removed from the drafting pool and the next player chooses from the remaining dice. Play continues until all of the dice have been used. Besides the Mule die and the Resource dice there are two others that are available for use. The first is the “Gold” die. The player who chooses this die receives the amount of Gold printed on the die face. Continued on next page>

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Game Review (Cont.) The other one is the “Adjustment” die. The player who chooses this die adjusts any of the dice at the top of the Resource boards. When the “Mule” reaches the end of the Market Board it triggers the “Go to Market” phase. This phase pauses the game and an auction phase is initiated. The current player’s dice are used for this auction and they will form two separate groups of dice. In a four player game these groups are sorted in a six dice group and a three dice group. Players will now use their Bidding cards. For each round of bidding, players will play one of their Bidding cards face down in front of them. Then all bids are revealed. If a player plays a “Pass Card” they are done with bidding and can no longer participate in the auction. The auction continues until there is a clear winner. They then pay the amount of gold indicated by their bid and choose the group of dice that they want. The player with the second highest bid pays half the amount of their bid and takes the remaining group of dice. Each player will then resolve the dice that they had won. The “Mule” is reset to the beginning of the track and the player who set up the auction goes again for their regular turn. The game ends in either of two ways, when a player’s token reaches the top of the Bishop Track or if any four player tokens reach the top of the other boards, this can be spread out over all the boards or just one. The final scoring will be determined by the position of the player tokens on the Resource Tracks. The player in first place gets double the value of the die on that track, while the second place gets the stated value and third place gets half the value, rounded up. This is done for all of the Resource tracks. An interesting aspect of the scoring is that players can trade in their Gold for VP’s at the rate stated by their position on the Bishop track. The higher they are on the track, the better the tradein rate. Players can also lose VP’s by not getting above the three bottom spaces on each of the Resource Tracks. The player with the most VP’s wins.

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The first thing that should be mentioned about the game is that this is not a short filler game. The box lists the game at 45 minutes and this seems about right, depending on how much “horsing around” is going on at the table. It is nice to see that the game plays up to five players. With the current interest in boardgames, there is a growing need for games that expand beyond the “standard” four player limit. The dice drafting mechanic proved to be an interesting one, as players were trying to weigh the decision of whether to go all out on some Resource tracks or try to spread them evenly to avoid taking the minus scores of the bottom positions. Needless to say, there was blocking of resources that an opponent needed, as well as the usage of the Adjustment die to influence the strategies and score. The auction mechanic was nicely implemented and each player had their own thoughts as to how the dice should be allocated in the two piles. The only downside was that I wasn’t thrilled with the look of the dice. The glossy paint within the recessed icons makes the dice look a bit chintzy. Biblios Dice delivers a big game experience in a brisk filler game. Players who enjoy dice drafting will want to consider adding this one to their collection.

Designers: Steve Finn Publisher: Dr. Finn’s Games Number of players: 2-5 Mechanic: Dice Drafting, Auction Ages: 14+ Length: 45 mins.

Recommended www.doctorfinns.com

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Game Review

Trekking the National Parks

By Serge Pierro

Educational Gateway Game

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t’s exciting to see the current growth of the gaming industry, and with more and more people entering the hobby, there is a growing need for gateway games with themes that might be enticing to new players. The 2015 Mensa Select winner Trekking the National Park is one such game, as it combines the gateway vibe of Ticket to Ride with the theme of the National Parks of the USA. The box contains a custom plastic insert that has ample room for all of the components and is shaped in a manner so that the game’s board fits across the top as a lid. Each of the card sections also have the nice touch of having half crescent cutaways for easy card removal. The component quality is excellent. The heavy cardboard, six panel game board has a linen finish front, as well as a leather-like textured back. The wooden meeples are a huge 1 1/2” tall. The various decks of cards are all linen finished, with many of them displaying photographs of the relevant National Parks. The large glass stones are stored in a faux snakeskin bag that has drawstrings with wooden beads. Clearly no expense was spared in putting this project together. The game also includes a rulebook and a Park Guide book. The eight page rule book is clearly laid out and well illustrated while providing all of the necessary information on the game play. There is also a link for the series of excellent, short tutorial videos that explain each phase of the game.

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The thirty-two page Park Guide book is packed with educational material about the various parks featured in the game. Each page is split into two columns, each featuring a specific park. Both columns have the park name, when it was established, a photo, five paragraphs of info and a photo of the Kickstarter backers who sponsored the specific park. This is an excellent source of concise information for those interested in the parks themselves or as an educational aid in a classroom.

To begin the game, players will randomly draw the glass stones from the bag and place them on the relevant locations on the board. Each player will choose a meeple and place it on Start and receive five Trek cards. The rest of the cards will be set up as per the instructions in the rulebook. On a player’s turn they will have two actions. The available actions are: Draw a Trek card, Move, or Claim a Park card. These can be mixed or matched. Continued on next page>

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Game Review (Cont.) To draw a Trek card the player may choose from one of the five cards laid face up or choose the top card of the deck. There is no limit to your hand size, which is a good thing, as these cards are the currency of the game and are used for Claiming a Park card and Movement. To move on the board a player has to discard cards with their values adding up to exactly the number needed to land on the targeted spot. When the movement is finished the player will pick up the stone at the location, if one is still available. Players may also use the airports to move from one airport to another. All players start the game at an airport. To Claim a Park card, the player must be at the park in which they want to Claim and then discards cards from their hand with the appropriate combination of symbols. The card is then placed face down in front of them and scored at the end of the game. The last round of the game is initiated when either all of the stones are collected from the board or when the last remaining Park card is revealed from the deck. Players will receive points based on if they had the most of a particular color stone(s) and for the points listed on the Parks that they claimed. There is an advanced variant that adds “Postcards from the Park� to the game. When these are completed they yield high points at the end of the game. However, they are double edged -- if you have them in your hand at the end of the game, you lose the amount of points indicated on the card. This game turned out to be a pleasant surprise. While it can easily be used as a gateway game, there is still enough depth to it, especially with the advanced rules, that a gamer will enjoy the experience as well.

We did notice that when it was played with hardcore gamers that there was a rush to collect the stones and not dwell on Claiming the Parks. This seemed natural as the bonuses for most stones in a color was 5 points, while the Parks ranged from 1-5 and took both time and resources in order to be Claimed. In our games, players who pursued a Claim strategy only, as well as picking up stones along the way, didn’t score as high as those pursuing a purely stones strategy. I would have preferred to see an endgame condition of having players Claim at least 2 or 3 Parks, in addition to the removing of all of the stones from the board. I believe that this would turn some of the focus back onto the Claiming of Parks, especially since this is a large part of the thematic appeal of the game. I was very impressed with the total package. From the production quality, educational supplement and ease of play, this game delivered an experience that many parents will be happy to share with their children, as well as teachers looking for a game that can be used in the classroom. Plus the fact that it plays up to six players is an additional bonus for larger families and groups. Anyone interested in a high quality gateway game with an educational backdrop, will certainly want to take a look at this.

Designer: Charlie Bink Publisher: Bink Ink, LLC Number of players: 2-6 Mechanic: Set Collection, Point to Point Movement Ages: 13+ Length: 30-60 mins.

Recommended

www.trektheparks.com

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Solo Gaming

Glass Road By Jeff Rhind

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ometimes, we are learning a new game or we just don’t have anyone to play with. Sure, it may be easier to play a game on an iPad, but often times it’s just nice to sit back and relax with our favorite beverage and relish in the  cardboard  on the table -- to disconnect from our electronic lives. In this on-going series I hope to highlight some games that play well solo. These could be co-op games, multi-player games with solo variants, or games specifically designed for one player.   Uwe Rosenberg has long been known as a heavy Euro game designer. Often his games are big, sprawling, table eaters with tons of cardboard tiles, wooden resources, and, if you’re lucky, animeeples! In 2012, Z-Man Games released Glass Road -- a game designed for 2-4 players. Although it shines with three players, it plays that you can perform anytime such as converting one remarkably well solo. type of resource to another or more. Other buildings, once placed on your player board, give you a one time, In Glass Road, you are trying to maximize the production immediate benefit while the last set of buildings allow of glass and brick by managing the component resources for end game bonus points. much like the artisans of the seven century-old Bavarian institution of glassmaking. You are trying to gain as The heart of the game are the production wheels. One many victory points as you can by purchasing various for glass and the other for brick. – two of the main buildings from a randomized field of nine. You also have building resources and point generators. On the glass a player board that consists of various tiles that represent wheel you manage and utilize sand, water, charcoal, glades, sand pits, ponds and forests. On this player board wood and food to create glass while on the brick wheel you may remove certain tiles for resources. You can also you track of charcoal, clay and food to make brick. The gain resources from card play based on what tiles are on wheels are a clever design. As you gain resources and your player board. You’ll use those resources to purchase move wooden tokens representing different resources buildings. Some buildings give you on-going abilities clockwise around the wheel, you create an empty slot

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The brick wheel is about to turn one segment clockwise to create 1 brick.

and the wheel must turn to create one (or more, up to three) glass or brick which in turn makes the count on other resources go down. (see photo) It sounds confusing – it isn’t. It’s genius. It avoids having a pile of multiple resource bits in front of you to set up, count, manage, convert, turn in, and put away. Each round you will choose a certain number of cards from a pool of 15. (3,4,5,6,3,4,5) This makes a total of seven rounds. Each turn’s cards you have chosen are not available in the subsequent round but are in the round after that. Each chosen card is drawn randomly and you perform one of the two abilities printed on the card. When you are down to two cards in a round, pick one card, do both actions and discard the other. Cards allow you, for example, to perhaps build sand pits (to gain sand or clay), clear cut forests for wood or food, get food

Photo: Jeff Rhind

or water for the number of ponds you have, or build buildings from the general supply. The interesting, addictive, and challenging part of the game is in the interaction of buildings, cards you play and the resources you have. Constructing buildings uses resources that you might be trying to save for some other building. Resources are tough to come by and managing them can often times all be a question of which actions you do in what order and this is made a little more difficult by the randomness of the card draw in your chosen cards for that round. As you reach the end of the game, because it’s a set number of rounds (and you know it’s coming), you’ll have to start crunching on what is the best way to optimize the cards you have left, the resources on each wheel, and how to gain as many points as possible. Continued on next page>

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Solo Gaming (Cont.)

Photo: Jeff Rhind

There are no point goals or levels of victory. Each game is a matter of beating your best score. Even with all this thinking and crunching (which really isn’t hard once you get the hang of it), the game plays really fast – about 20 minutes or so. Once you finish a game, you’ll want to play another – you’ll want to play it over and over. Glass Road is not as heavy as other Rosenberg games like Ora et Labora or Fields of Arle, but it is challenging, fun, easy to understand, and due to the number of buildings and the randomness as to what comes out, has a lot of replayability.

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Photo: Jeff Rhind

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Game Review

Fuse

By Bill Braun

Real Time Co-op

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lthough video games have seen numerous improvements over the years, the most consistent mechanism that remains (and also my most hated) has been the timed mission. Whether driving at breakneck speeds across a city, or traversing an ancient tomb as it crumbles around you, the pervasive countdown clock screams at you from the corner of the screen, mocking your every mistake. The tabletop industry has also included this mechanism into a variety of titles. Instead of referring to them as “timed missions”, they have been declared “real time” games. Case in point is Fuse, a game designed by Kane Klenko and published by Renegade Game Studios, where one to five players work together as an elite Bomb Defusal Team (BDT) tasked with neutralizing the threat aboard your ship. With exactly 10 minutes to complete the mission, does Fuse deliver an experience worth the time, or does is blow up in your face?

On their turn, players draw from the bag and roll dice equal to the number of players (in a two player game, draw four dice – in a solitaire game, draw three). Fuse includes 25 custom six-sided dice (five each in red, blue, green, yellow, and black). Each player may only take and use one of the dice rolled. In order to diffuse a bomb that has been placed in front of a player, they must meet the requirements of that Bomb Card: by color, number, and often stacking order. Any unused dice are re-rolled and each player must then remove one die (if possible) from their Bomb Cards and place it back into the bag if it matches either the color or the number of the unused, re-rolled die; essentially disrupting the potential completion of any number of Bomb Cards.

After diffusing a bomb, a Bomb Card is selected from the center row, and a new Bomb Card is drawn from the deck to replace it. Whenever a Fuse Card is drawn from the deck – depicting either a specific dice color or Gameplay number – all players return one of their matching dice from their Bomb Cards back into the bag. In order to Fuse is quick to set up, easy to explain, and fast to play. win the game, the deck of Bomb Cards must be cleared, After deciding the level of difficulty – from training to as well as any cards that are in the center row. If this is insane - each player is dealt two face-up Bomb Cards, accomplished before time has expired, players will win ranging in difficulty from one to six (with five being the game and may record their score based on the points conspicuously absent). A predetermined number identified in the rulebook. of Bomb Cards are dealt into a facedown pile, five additional Bomb Cards are placed-face up into a line Theme and Components in the center of the table, and six random Fuse Cards are shuffled into the remaining bomb deck. Players will Most people associate diffusing bombs with cutting need to use either the free Renegade Studios Game app red or blue wires. Although Fuse does and admirable job – a timer that provides options for a basic or personality of replacing colored wires with colored six-sided dice, voice (I recommend the personality) – or any timer they the overall theme of the game falls a bit flat. However, can get their hands on. Set it to exactly ten minutes, and it’s saving grace comes in the form of the free, but not start the game.

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Photo: Bill Braun

required, Renegade Studios Game App. Including the persistent ticking of a clock, along with your ship’s onboard computer talking (and often mocking) you through all 10 minutes, ratchets up the level of tension. It’s amazing how fast 10 minutes can slip by. One minute you think you have the game easily in hand, the next minute you’re yelling at your teammates to roll the dice faster. While the components for Fuse are minimal – 60+ cards, 25 dice, and a draw bag – they are still a high quality, and the graphic design of the individual Bomb Cards drew my attention the most. Due to the frantic nature of the game, the designers at Renegade Game Studios ensured that each Bomb Card was easily identified while being able to quickly understand the requirements to complete it. Final Thoughts

of the Temple), while others I simply hated (Space Alert). Fuse falls into the category of enjoyment. While incredibly difficult to beat, its quick set-up and easy to teach gameplay provides numerous opportunities to get the game to the table. It has a surprising amount of strategy when selecting the dice to use, but the limited time forces players to think incredibly fast on their feet – leaving no room for error.

Designers: Kane Klenko Publisher: Renegade Game Studios Number of players: 1-5 Mechanic: Co-operative Ages: 10+ Length: 10 mins.

Worth Trying

I’ve played a number of real-time board games in the past few years. Some I have enjoyed (Escape: The Curse

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www.renegadegamestudios.com

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Game Review

Skulldug! By Serge Pierro

Pulp Adventure

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rom the cover of the box, to the artwork contained on the cards, Skulldug! presents a lighthearted pulp adventure of explorers traversing the tunnels of an ancient cave, searching for treasures, and then being the first to return them back to the cave’s entrance. The box top artwork by Alix Branwyn captures the feel of the theme by presenting it as the cover of a vintage pulp magazine. Contained within the box is a custom plastic insert tray that is well organized and holds the components nicely and includes a section below the tile storage area for storing Explorers with bases. The 16 page rulebook is amply illustrated and well organized. There are sections for various play modes, as well as Q&A’s in the columns of the pages and an FAQ section. Also included is a short backstory section for each of the factions. Although this is welcome, it is unfortunate that this doesn’t carry over into the game itself, as each of the factions play exactly the same. The fifty-four 3” square tiles are of a decent cardboard stock, but they thinner than the stock used for the 15 Explorer tokens. There are 15 plastic bases for the Explorer tokens. These grab onto the tokens tightly, so you should expect to see some crimping. Also included is a black d6, as well as 30 plastic Health gems. The included cards are a little over 1 1/2” x 2 1/2” and are broken down into 51 Fortune cards, 34 Hazard cards and 6 Dazed cards. To start the game, place the Cave Entrance tile in the middle of the table. Each player will choose a character and then draft their beginning equipment. Play then begins with the first player.

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Each player has three actions on their turn. The Faction tile has all eight of the available actions printed on the reverse side. The main actions are: Move, Pickup, Dash and Focus. The remaining actions are more tactical in nature and include: Shove, Destroy, Drop and Throw. The main action is Move. This allows the player’s character to move around the cave, as well as exploring areas that have not been revealed. To


Discover a new passage, a character uses a Move action to move into an empty space next to a Passage tile. Then the top Passage tile is turned over and revealed from the deck and placed next to the tile in which the character just moved from. The player is able to orient the tile in any legal way they see fit. The tiles may have special effects on them that resolve immediately, as well as possibly having Fortune and Hazard card symbols. If the symbols are present, draw the appropriate amount of cards from the Fortune and Hazard decks. The Hazard

cards represent the Monsters and Traps that are within the cave, while the Fortune cards contain Equipment, Consumable and Treasure. When you encounter Hazards, Traps are resolved first and then Monsters. To resolve these encounters a player may choose to spend one or more actions to Focus. This allows them to add +1 to their die roll for each Focus action used. The player will then roll the die and add their Focus value, if any, and compare it to the difficulty Continued on next page>

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Game Review (Cont.) of the Trap or Monster. If it is equal to or greater than the printed number, the player is successful and the Hazard is removed. If the player fails they take the amount of damage listed on the card and then must Flee, which means going back to the tile they originally came from. If after resolving the Hazard(s) and having at least one Action left, the player may spend an Action to pick up one of the Fortune cards. They may pick up multiple cards, if they have multiple actions still available. Equipment cards provide continuous bonuses, while Consumables are used and then discarded. But the main focus on Fortune cards are the Treasures. You need to reach the cave entrance with three Treasures in order to win the game. However, the interesting thing about the Treasure cards is that they are all cursed. So as you get closer to the victory condition, the more hampered you are by the Treasures you carry. There is a solitaire version of the game included. The rulebook devotes four pages to the variant and it is slightly different from the regular game. One difference is that it uses Health points for the cave as a timing mechanism. At the end of each turn, the player will remove one of the Health points from the special tile used. This represents the crumbling of the cave. Once there are five or less points left on the tile, you will roll the die and if you roll greater than the amount left, the cave collapses and you lose. The other difference with the solo variant was the use of AI controlled Ghosts. Although the Ghosts can’t win the game, they do their best to impede your progress and attempt to keep you from returning to the Cave Entrance. Each of the Ghosts has an ability that is based on the faction they belong to, as well as rules for their usage.

Both the solitaire and regular versions of the game were quite enjoyable. Though the game really shines in the multiplayer format, as each of the players indulge in hijinks to disrupt their opponent’s strategies. Not being a fan of dice resolved combat, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this was the one element of the game that I wasn’t thrilled with. However, the use of the Focus action allowed players to mitigate the results and make it a bit more tolerable. Since many of the creatures/traps needed a roll of 4+ to be defeated, this exasperated the situation as low rolls without Focus actions were punishing. Since each usage of Focus used an Action, this slowed the flow of the game down. The game nicely captures the theme of exploring a cave for treasure, while at the same time adding some interesting encounters. From a design viewpoint I really liked the cursed treasures. I loved that as you picked up each treasure you were one step closer to victory and yet at the same time the curses made it just that much harder to succeed. If you like dungeon crawl types of games or pulp adventure themes, then this is a game that you will want to take a look at, as it does a fine job of marrying the theme to the gameplay.

Designer: Jon Gill & Brian Kopleck Publisher: Ruddy Games Number of players: 1-6 Mechanic: Tile Laying, Action Allocation Ages: 13+ Length: 45-90 mins.

Recommended ruddygames.es

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Game Review

Horrible Hex

By Serge Pierro

Strategic Tile Laying Game

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orrible Hex is an abstract game for 1-3 players where players will take turns moving and placing hexes, while attempting to match patterns on their cards.

Perhaps due to the glossy paper finish on the box top and bottom, we had trouble opening the box each time we sat down to play. A bit of a nuisance, but you will eventually get it to slide open. Inside the box is an assortment of pre-punched hexes, a deck of cards and a rulebook. The insert divides the box into two asymmetrical sections for the tiles and cards. The four page rulebook is printed on a heavy clay finished paper stock. It is broken down into one, two and three player rulesets. The last page explains the movement icons on the tiles. The 1 3/4” x 2 1/2” mini-cards include 26 Goal cards and two player aides. The player aides are an exact copy of the movement rules on the last page of the rulebook. The Goal cards have various permutations of a four hex grouping. They change in both shape and colors. The 28 Hex tiles are divided into 13 Red, 13 Grey and 2 Wild Cards. They are of decent quality, however one of the grey tiles upper surface was starting to “peel away” from the cardboard base. It is nothing that a dab of glue won’t correct, but it has to be noted. At the start of a player’s turn they have the option to move one of the tiles on the table. The type of movement available is indicated by the icon(s) on the tile. The types of movement include: Slide, Jump, Push and Swap. Regardless of the movement type the tiles must remain connected to each other - there can’t be separate groups of tiles. Players of Hive will be familiar with this concept. After the movement phase, the current player will see if a pattern that resulted from the movement phase matches one of the patterns on their Goal card or one of their opponent’s cards. If the pattern matches the card, the player places it face down in front of them and removes all of the tiles from

the table and draws three new ones and sets them up in the same way as the start of the game. At least one tile must have been moved during the previous phase in order to be able to claim a Goal card. If no Goal cards are claimed players will place one of their tiles onto the current formation and play passes to the next player. The game continues until one player has won three Goal cards. For what appears to be a simple tile-laying abstract game, there is quite a bit going on. Since all of the players have their Goal cards face up in front of them, you have to plan carefully as to what you do on your turn, as it is not only possible to have an opponent claim their Goal card on your turn, but you might inadvertently set the next player up for claiming their card by missing the possibility of a move on their turn. So you not only have to calculate moves on your turn, but you also have to do the same to see what the next player is capable of. The one downside we experienced was the building of several extensions in which tiles were placed and were unable to be moved due to the orientation of the icons. While this was used as a denial strategy of sorts, it did bog things down as players would keep playing these moves as to not allow a player to claim a card. It seems that it would have been better to have more movement symbols on the tiles so that players would not be able to use these stalling tactics. Due to the fact that the components can easily be transported in a purse or a large pocket, this would be an ideal game for players who like to play a quick game while waiting for food to arrive at an establishment or in places where a flat surface is available. Fans of tile laying, pattern matching and abstract games may want to take a look at this.

Designer: Jon Moffat Publisher: Stone Circle Games Number of players: 1-3 Mechanic: Tile Laying, Pattern Recognition Ages: 10+ Length: 20 mins.

Worth Trying

www.stonecirclegames.com

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History

Carrier Strike! By Kevin Cox

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n this edition of Game Nite magazine I would like to take a look at a classic game called Carrier Strike!. The game was published in 1977 by Milton Bradley then was later remade into Mission Command. Mission Command was released in 2003 and was part of a series of three different games released by Milton Bradley that year: Mission Command Land, Mission Command Sea and Mission Command Air. So since any game that spawns a series is worth a look, let’s take a look at Carrier Strike!. The goal of the game is simple; defeat your enemy before your enemy defeats you. Each player/team controls 2 Aircraft Carrier task forces which include: An aircraft carrier, four WW2 era aircraft, and six torpedoes. Players will maneuver their units to engage the enemy either through dogfights or using their aircraft to launch torpedoes at the opposing carriers. The turns are quick and consist of players rolling one of two dice then moving units accordingly. A D6 is used for aircraft movement and a custom die is used for simple carrier movement. Players

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Photo by Kevin Cox

choose which to roll and move the unit of their choice with the result. Dogfights are carried out with a stack of cards. The aircraft have ranks 1-4 which are kept hidden from your opponent using a small circular token on the base of the plane. Higher ranked pilots get more cards to choose from then players choose five cards to stack for

the dogfight. The cards are flipped over one at a time with the highest rank card scoring a hit. At the end of the stack the pilot with the most hits wins and shoots down the other aircraft.

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History (Cont.) Although it is simplistic, if you know how your opponent thinks there is definitely strategy involved. Torpedoes launch when your aircraft are within 5 spaces of an opponent’s aircraft and hit the water moving once per turn from then out. It is then up to your opponent to attempt to maneuver their aircraft out of the way or suffer the consequences. Aircraft Carriers can only take 2 hits before they are sunk. So you will need some luck to get out of the way of an advancing torpedo. All of the combat is very basic and requires a mixture of good decisions and luck, which manages to feel realistic. The game has very cleverly designed and handy components. The entire carrier task force fits together and can be lifted and moved easily together. The aircraft slide on to the carrier and move along the deck until takeoff. The bases of the planes hold the circular numbered token to hide the pilots rank. Lastly, the torpedoes fit nicely in the side of the carrier until you wish to launch a plane with one. Then they sit perfectly on the plane’s base to be carried until deployed. All of this feels really well thought out. And though I did not do this with my copy, I can imagine a well-painted carrier task force would be quite amazing looking. Carrier Strike! is extremely simple. But through its basic rules and very clever components a fun gaming experience can be found with the right group. My group enjoys laughing at other captains as they attempt to maneuver their carrier out of the way of advancing torpedoes, usually failing to do so. I imagine that is how it usually went in naval battles when torpedoes were launched at you, so the luck element here is fine. The mixture of strategy and luck doesn’t require too much thought but is a very good warm-up game for those long game nights when you don’t want to just dive right into something too deep. The miniatures alone make it worth adding to your collection.

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As of writing this review the best source to find the game for your collection was eBay. I found three copies of Carrier Strike! there with prices ranging from about $30 to $60. Happy Hunting!

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Comics

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Contributors Serge Pierro

Serge

has playtested numerous games for several companies, including Wizards of the Coast and AEG. He has also written for Duelist, Inquest and Gamer print magazines. His award winning photography has appeared in both newspapers and magazines. He has self published a game, and has several other designs scheduled for a 2016 release.

Eric Devlin

Eric has been the North East Regional Representative for Wizards of the Coast, the brand manager of Legends of the Five Rings, as well as working with Sabretooth and Third World Games. He has an extensive background in playtesting for top companies. He has also written for Games Quarterly, Duelist, Inquest and others.

Bill Braun Bill has been a contributing writer for PSNation and High-

Def Digest, an Editor and Publisher Relations Director for 30PlusGamer, and the co-creator and podcast host of A Band of Gamers.

John Anthony Gulla John graduated with an M.A. in Humanities, wherein he focused his study on games, the history of gaming, and game design as it relates to the Humanities. He is an avid board gamer and game collector, with over 200 games in his current collection. You can reach him on BGG.com under the username JohnAG68

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Jeff Rhind Jeff is a single father raising a 17 year-old son and a 6 year-old daughter,

and slowly coaxing them into the world of tabletop gaming. He has been gaming for many years and shares his love and appreciation for the hobby by reviewing and talking about games on his web site: completelyboard. com as well as his You Tube channel at youtube.com/completelyboard. You can also follow him on twitter @jeffrhind

David Niecikowski David is a published game designer and recognized expert on using traditional

games with families and students. Since 2000, over two dozen of his board games, role-playing supplements, books, and articles have been published. He has also worked as a freelance marketing and event consultant with scores of industry companies such as Alliance Game Distributors, Gen Con, Wizards of the Coast, Upper Deck, Mayfair, Rio Grande, AEG, and Out of the Box.

Kevin Lauryssen Kevin has a Master in Audiovisual Arts and majored in

Animation. He works as a Freelance Draftsman for multiple companies in Belgium. He’s an avid gamer who has created a web-comic about boardgaming. His work can be found at www.game-night.be

Kevin Cox Kevin is a published game designer, graphic designer and co-owner of KnA Games. His first tabletop release is a sci-fi co-op called Space Movers, which he created with his wife, April. Kevin has been gaming for over 30 years and has an extensive collection, which features many vintage games. In addition to gaming, Kevin enjoys being a husband and all around geek.

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Game Nite magazine issue 8  

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

Game Nite magazine issue 8  

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

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