Brief Overview – Coup

pic2016054_mdCoup is a social deduction, bluffing card game designed by Rikki Tahta and distributed by Indie Boards & Cards. It follows in the footsteps of One Night Ultimate Werewolf, but is more reliant on the cards and the various actions that a player may take than on the social aspects of the game like Werewolf. Much like Werewolf or even Love Letter players are eliminated until there is just one player left standing. It is a small game, but I wouldn’t categorize it as “micro”, and it plays in about 15 minutes with 2-6 players.

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Brief Overview – Love Letter

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Love Letter was a huge phenomenon the past couple of years and pretty much spawned the “micro-game” category… at least in terms of popularity. Seiji Kanai is the designer of this game which contains just sixteen cards and some tokens, and it is published by Alderac Entertainment Group. In Love Letter each player is attempting to win the heart of the princess by getting her their romantic letters via the people closest to her (the cards).  Continue reading

Weekly Game Report: 2/1-2/7/16

Good news and bad news everybody. The good news is that I got a job! The bad news is that it is in the opposite direction from the regular game night I’ve been going to… so until I can find another game night somewhere along my commute, I’ll be a little lighter on the weekly updates. But heck, that just means that the articles will be a little easier for me to write, right?

At game night this week I was able to jump into a game of Steampunk Rally, and play a prototype Kickstarter game called Ultimate Scheme. Aside from that Jan and I met our friends Emily and Adam in San Francisco for some “Big Game” events (but not the game itself), as well as some celebration for Emily’s birthday. While there we were able to get in a couple of games, of course.

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Brief Overview – Concept

pic1907628_mdDid you ever want to play charades, but without all of the acting? Concept is a guessing game where the clues are given via icons on a game board and a ton of colorful tokens. 2-14 players can play this party game which lasts about 40 minutes, but in reality can go as short or as long as you like. Concept was designed by Gaetan Beaujannot and Alain Rivollet and is distributed by Repos Production.

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Brief Overview – Ultimate Scheme

Ultimate scheme is a game of world domination! Each of the 2-5 players is in control of a different sinister faction trying to wreak havoc in the world by carrying out nefarious plots. Your minions travel the world collecting resources because you always need resources to carry out a nefarious plot. Once you have sown enough anarchy in the world you can claim victory and claim the world! Ultimate Scheme was designed by Richard Baker and is being published by Sasquatch Game Studio. It is currently on Kickstarter with the campaign ending on February 25th, 2016.

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Weekly Game Report – 1/25-1/31

I know, I know… I’m late with this week’s update. It turned out that my week was filled up with a lunch interview, and several hours of work for my old company. Last week was still a good week for gaming however. I played games at my regular game night as well as attending the board game challenge at Blue Highway Games!

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Brief Overview – 7 Wonders Duel

Brief Overview

pic2576399_md 7 Wonders Duel is a drafting game for two players. Designed by Antoine Bauza and Bruno Cathala, and published by Repos Production. The playtime is approximately 30 minutes. If you have played 7 Wonders, then you are familiar with the theme and general mechanics of 7 Wonders Duel, but the game is actually quite different. Each player drafts four wonders to start the game after which the game is played out over three ages. Each age has cards set out on the table in various shapes, with alternate rows of cards face up and face down. Each successive row partially covers the row above it. The first round is a pyramid with two cards at the top and six cards at the bottom. On a player’s turn they will remove one card from the display and are unable to take a card that is partially covered. As cards are removed, the card in the rows above are uncovered and are therefore turned over if face down and are able to be drafted as well. When a player drafts a card they may do one of three actions with that card. The first is to buy the card by paying its required resources and place it in your city. Then, depending on the card, it may have some effect. For example if the card is red and has a shield on it, this counts for military action, and the token on the military track is moved toward the opponent. Brown and grey cards in your city have resource symbols on them which may be used to pay for cards on future turns. The second option with a drafted card is to discard it and recieve two gold coins. Each yellow building in your city gives you one additional gold when discarding. The final option is to place the card under one of your wonders, indicating that you have met the resource requirements and thus built that wonder. Each wonder has actions associated with them such as taking another turn, getting military actions, destroying opponent’s resources, and so forth which take effect one time when the wonder is built. Once seven of the eight wonders on the board have been built, the seventh wonder may no longer be built. When the first age card layout is gone, the second age layout is set up. Whomever is behind in military might takes the first turn. Play continues through the third age, after which victory points for the various buildings, military position, wonders, and other sources in your city are added up and the player with the highest total is the winner. There are two early victory conditions as well. The first is to win by military might which is accomplished by advancing the token along the military track to the opponent’s side. Once the token gets to the opponent’s end space the player instantly wins the game. The other early win condition is achieved by collecting science cards. These are green cards, each of which has different a symbol on it. If a player collects six different symbols, that player immediately wins. In addition, if a player collects two science cards with the same symbol, they may then claim a special token which will provide a bonus for the rest of the game.

Discussion

I am really impressed by the mechanic of building a tableau of cards which are drafted by the two players. It was introduced in 7 Wonders as a two player variant to drafting and it is pure genius. In fact, I may try to use this drafting method the next time I play Magic: The Gathering with my friend. The fact that you can see some of the cards that you are drafting and not others means that you can draft defensively some times, but when a face down card is flipped over you are never certain if it will reveal something that your opponent really needs. You have to think a move or two ahead and sometimes figure out if you or your opponent will be forced to reveal the next juicy card choices. The inclusion of the early win conditions means that you really have to pay attention to what your opponent is doing, and if they seem to be trying to advance the military track or are collecting all the science cards that they can get their hands on, then you may have to draft and discard cards in order to deny them the early victory rather than taking the best card for your particular strategy.

I enjoyed playing 7 Wonders Duel and find it a great alternative to 7 Wonders when you are limited in players, but I ultimately enjoy the original 7 Wonders as I tend to like more players and more offensive play rather than being forced into playing defensively. I would say that if you enjoy 7 Wonders, but item find yourself with only two players, then 7 Wonders Duel is a fine edition to your collection.

Brief Overview – Control

Brief Overview

ControlIn Control, each player is a time traveler caught in a rupture in space-time and displaced outside time. Each player must use fuel cells to refuel their own time machine or stop other players from refueling theirs first. Control is a strategy card game for 2-4 players and a round lasts from 5-15 minutes. The game was designed by Mattox Shuler and published by Keymaster Games. Control is currently funded on Kickstarter with 18 days left in the campaign. The game costs $15 with free shipping to the US, but you can back at any level, even for just $1 and receive the print and play files immediately. Estimated delivery is July of 2016.

All players draw cards from the same deck which consists of four copies each of various cards which represent fuel cells. Each player starts with five cards in their hand. Cards have a value on them from one to ten, a special ability, and are colored either bronze or silver. On a player’s turn they may take one action from four options; install a fuel cell, burn a bronze fuel cell, diffuse an opponent’s fuel cell, or draw a card. The goal of the game is to have twenty-one points or more in installed fuel cells. The first option lets you install any fuel cell from your hand to the board. If the fuel cell is silver then the special ability printed on the card takes effect. For example the card Rift is a single point fuel cell that upon installation will either destroy a Nova (ten points) or allow the player to draw a card. Bronze fuel cells do not activate when they are installed, but the second option to burn a bronze fuel cell allows you to discard a bronze card in your hand to activate it’s ability. Singularity is a seven point bronze fuel cell which destroys all bronze fuel cells when it is burned. To complete the third option, diffuse an opponent’s fuel cell, the player discards a fuel cell from their hand that is worth equal or greater points than an installed fuel cell on the opponent’s board. That fuel cell is then placed in the discard. Finally a player may choose to draw a card. Aside from the Rift, this is the only way to increase the player’s hand size. A player may not have more than seven cards in hand at any time.

With two or three players the game is played as a free-for-all battle, whenever a player gets 21 points the game is over with that player being the winner. In a four player game, it is supposed to be played as teams of two, played such that the teams alternate turns. The goal is the same, but if one player gets 21 points, then that team wins.

Discussion

I’ve gone back and forth in my thinking on Control. When playing it the first times at game night (three player games), I was having fun. As we played more games we all caught on to the strategy and the games ran longer and longer, though we never did hit the end of the deck and trigger the “sudden death” ending. We played around with removing a copy or two of some of the higher value cards (it seemed that the game was always ended by a Nova), and generally we were enjoying ourselves. I went home and was all set to back the game. In reading through the coverage of the game I started wavering in my resolve; first Jan probably wouldn’t like the game, so getting my own copy was probably not necessary, on the other hand, to print-and-play the game I only had to back at $1, but then I would have to spend all that time printing, cutting, and sleeving the game. In the end I decided that it was only $1 so I went for it. I still haven’t played the game with Jan or Karen, but I’ve played several games against myself, and guess what? I always win! Thus far my only real gripe is with the theme of Control. In reality, the game is an abstract. It could literally have any theme pasted on, but I personally feel that the game should have no theme. In fact, I feel that the time travel theme detracts from the game because if you think about it, if there were three scientists all trapped outside of time, don’t you think that they would work together to get everyone home safely rather than sabotage each other to be the only one to make it back? Even the name doesn’t really seem to fit the theme, the scientists aren’t controlling time, they are simply trying to refuel their time machines.

Control is an intriguing game however, and I enjoy the mechanics of it quite a bit which is why I went ahead and backed it. In the rules it gives a strategy tip that with an empty board, any player is just three turns from a possible victory. This is true, but in reality it can be broken down to what should be an actual rule in the game, if a player is at eleven or more points, you must get them below eleven or they will likely win. Another consideration for strategy is this, if you can not win with the next card, do not put yourself above eleven points which per the previous rule, will make you a target. What seemed to happen in our three player games was that each player had to police the next player in turn order. If that player got to eleven or more, they had to be stopped, and if the previous player couldn’t play something to stop them, they would likely win. In my two player games against myself, it felt kind of like a tug-of-war, but once a side pulled ahead, then the other side had no option but to utilize their cards to stop the other player rather than advance themselves. I did find that I had forgotten about one rule which is the ability to diffuse another player’s fuel cell. I tended to give up the game if I didn’t have a bronze card to answer the player who was above eleven points, but in the end there were many times where I could have used the diffuse action to put that player below eleven. My last worry about Control is whether the game is too simple. I’m a gamer, and I strive to find a strategy in any game. Some games have no clear strategy, but I feel like Control has just one strategy. If all players play by the two pieces of strategy that I listed above, then the game simply becomes who can get their points on the table with the other player or players simply unable to respond. At that point it just becomes who gets the luck of the draw. However, the Control is billed as a gateway game, not a deep strategy game, and as such, I suppose it doesn’t have to try and fix that issue.

For me personally the game might lose some of its luster once I have more plays under my belt and once the people I play against are all up to speed on the strategy, but for now I enjoy it. It is a decent abstract card game for a casual or new gaming group.