Monday, March 24, 2014

Things that Make you Want to Fund


It is another Monday morning here in the center of the US and another day of zany weather. Cold and clear currently after last week's 70 degree days. It's no wonder I came down with a nasty cold that pretty much had me laying in bed all weekend. I am back up and feeling better though and ready to let you guys know what I found on Kickstarter that seems to be interesting.

In this week's installment I moved a little bit away from just games and am beginning to explore the gaming paraphernalia like plans for folding gaming table, miniature war game scenery and a new game. So, without further adieu, let's get to it!

The New


Join the Dream

The Game of Your Dreams - FUNDED! - 17 Days to Go

Four years ago a movie hit the screens called Inception. Featuring Leonardo DiCapprio in the lead role it was about a crew of individuals who were thieves in the most unexpected sense. They would break into people's subconscious and steal thoughts, ideas, blueprints and any thing else that that unknown part of the brain can hold. The majority of the plot revolved around an idea called Inception. This idea had the mind thieves planting an idea, not stealing or taking an idea. This was a difficult and often impossible task as the idea would need to seem natural to the target, as if they were the one that came up with it. Inceptor is a game where you get to play this type of scenario out.

In the game you have to move from dream level to dream level attempting to meet the goals of your mission by accruing a certain number of cards in the following categories:

Architect: a detailed, realistic environment must be created
Forger: authentic characters need to be involved
Extractor: secret information has to be retrieved
Inception: the main idea must be carried out completely

While you are going about trying to fulfill your goals in these categories you may be attacked by the mark's mind as it becomes aware of your attempted manipulations. Finally, once your goal is complete you have a limited amount of time to return to the first dream level for the Final Kick, or the time when you wake up. If you fail, you may be sent into limbo, something akin to a Coma thus severely reducing your victory point total.

I was a fan of the movie and this game seems as though it will capture that same kind of mind-bending dream running atmosphere quite nicely.

6mm Sci Fi Wargaming Buildings

Multi-part resin models - FUNDED! - 16 Days to Go
I am a fan of playing miniature wargames and possibly an even bigger fan of good quality wargames scenery. These models that will be created by Wasteland Game Studio look absolutely stunning. The Gothic details and variety of structures present in this kickstarter is absolutely awesome. The only draw backs that I can see are that they are all resin, which can be brittle or lose detail at times and that they are scaled for 6mm figures. I am not sure if I know of any 6mm sci fi games off the top of my head but having these buildings in the collection just to show off and paint would be pretty worthwhile as well.

Folding Game Table

Folding game table for general gaming - FUNDED! - 29 Days to Go

I don't know about you guys but I am always looked for a way to increase my gaming real estate in ways that don't sacrifice my house floor plan. Enter this beauty. It is a folding table that can roll to an out of the way location. The table folds up, like an old school chalk board so that its floor profile is reduced to a minimum and also allows you to post campaign maps and things on it. The cost for the plans is only 15 bucks and then you too can have one of these fancy tables. I think that it could well be worth it.

The Old

Here is the status of the games and things that I have mentioned before in this crowd funding series. For more information on these, please refer back to one of the older posts.

London 1888 - 7,003 of 20,000 - 8 Days to Go
Totally Medieval - 845 of 5,500 - 40 Days to Go
Game Devloperz - FUNDED! - 11 Days to Go
Counterblast - FUNDED! - Kickstarter closed. This will fall off of the list next week. Those that backed, congrats!
Guild Ball FUNDED! - Kickstarter closed. This will fall off of the list next week. Those that backed, congrats!
Dulega - 5,229 of 10,000 - 4 days to Go
Cave Escape - FUNDED! - 5 Days to Go
King's Favor - 3,993 of 40,000 - 5 Days to Go
Baseball Highlights 2045 - FUNDED! - 10 Days to Go
Epic Resort - FUNDED! - 13 Days to Go
Kingdom Bots - 10,275 of 60,000 - 10 Days to Go
Crone - FUNDED! - 20 Days to Go

The End

Welp, that wraps things up for this week's edition of the Crowdfunding info. We'll see what the coming week brings as we move forward.

Thanks and take care!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

It's a Small World After All


Happy Thursday to all who read this and I hope that today passes with ease for each and everyone of you because Friday is tomorrow and heaven knows I am ready for it. With that out of the way, let's talk reviews.

I have decided to review Small World today. This is a game I feel that everyone should have as it makes a great "gateway" game or, in non-geek parlance, it is a wonderful game to introduce a non-board gamer to the concepts and play style of board games. Bust this out at the family's Holiday party and watch the heads roll, in a purely cardboard sense of course.

It's a world of Slaughter, and a world of fears.

The Buildup

Do you remember when you were a kid and you heard the "Small World" by Disney for the first time? Remember how catchy it was and how we sang it all day because it was just so AWESOME? Remember when we drove our parents mad by singing this song over and over? Now, if you take that parental anger, distill it into complete rage, tack some simple game mechanics on it, layer over a nice fluffy theme of humor using caricature artwork and set it loose into the world of cardboard chits, what do you get? That's right, a complete and total SLAUGHTER the likes of which had never been seen before in the sweet, innocent land of cardboard. What you get is Small World by Days of Wonder.

The Game

And how, one might ask, does this free for all death parade roll on by? Very smoothly and enjoyably is the answer.

To begin the game, the board is setup according to the number of people playing. There are 2, 3, 4 and 5 player boards. On each board are several different terrain types. There are plains, hills, marshes, mountains, forests and lake / oceans. On some of the places is a special looking cross-hair mark, this is where the Lost Tribes (read as people to mercilessly slaughter on your road to world domination) reside. Each mark gets a single Tribe Token. Each mountain gets a mountain token to help remind people that they are mountains as that affects how easily your troops can swarm over them.

Next, each player is given 5 coins, or victory points and the race and special power cards are shuffled. Randomly select 5 race and 5 special power cards placing them face-up on the table as you do so. The rounded ends of the special power cards should fit snugly into the concave end of the race cards. Then you should place the stack of race and powers at the top of the five other combos, combining them in the same way, giving you six race / power combos to choose from. The beginning should look something like the below.

From the rule book
The person with the pointiest ears is the first person to play. The First turn for all players is as follows:

  1. Pick race / power combo
  2. Conquer some regions / kill some stuff
  3. Score some points.
On Subsequent turns you make a choice to either continue expansion through more conquests or put your current race into decline. To go into decline you remove all but 1 of your race tokens from the board and flip the remaining ones over. Then you score points. On your next turn you are allowed to choose a new race. While your in decline race is still on the board, you continue to gain victory coins for each territory they own.

The decline mechanic is the crux of the game. As you continue to conquer, you will becomes spread out and it will be easy for a fledgling race to conquer your territories so knowing when to go into decline with your active race and choosing good race / power combos is essential to victory. If you would like more in depth info on the rules, you may go here: Slaughterin' Rulez

The Review

Rules - 15 / 15 

I found myself trying to explain the rules to the game above and everything I said made the game sound uber complex, which is not the case. I finally decided to just post a link to the rule book as I think it is probably one of the best written rule books out there. There are plenty of excellent pictures, everything is broken into readable chunks and there is good use of font type, size and style to help accentuate different parts. I can even excuse the lack of an index and table of contents as the rules aren't that long to begin with. Hands down, best rule book I have reviewed so far.

In addition to the rule book each player is given a hand out that covers all of the games phases as well as all of the racial and special power abilities so that you should never even need to reference the rule book.

Game play - 10 / 15

The game play for Small World is good. The rules are simple to understand and everything has its place on the board. Turns move smoothly and any issues can be resolved quite quickly. It is also lots of fun to see what kind of random race / power combos come up during the game. Mounted Wizards? Flying Giants? It could happen. That being said, I wouldn't call the game play gripping. It is well done but lacks a kind of spark that really makes the game come to life. This, incidentally, may be one of the reasons it is such a good "gateway" game. It is easy to understand and play but lacks significant depth.

Components - 14 / 15

The double sided boards are absolutely fantastic as is all of the cardboard chits. They are printed on very thick cardboard and are easy to punch out. The artwork is also absolutely gorgeous especially the race caricatures. See below for examples.

Race tokens.
My one complaint with the components is that there are a lot of cardboard chits....A LOT OF THEM. While they give you good storage space so that they don't get mixed together, getting the chits out of this storage tray can be a bit of a bear especially if you have sausage fingers like me. I know I know...super nit picky but it is what it is.

Re-Play Ability - 13 / 15

Small World has a load of re-pay ability inherently built in to it so you should be able to get hours and hours of fun out of this game. I know that I played it regularly for about a year or so and never really got tired of it. Eventually though you will have seen all of the combos possible or the simplicity of the mechanics will begin to wear on you as the game loses its novelty. While this game isn't a King of re-play ability it certainly ages better than most titles.

Theme - 12 / 15

The theme of this game is well done. It is a humor filled rage fest where no one is safe from anyone. Your race will rise in power only to be smote to the ground on the next player's turn. Slaughter can be found in abundance as the colorful, cartoon like races destroy one another with impunity. This alone will keep you playing long after the play mechanics begin to wear thin.

That being said, I don't ever feel like I am engrossed in the game. I don't ever feel lost in it like with some games. This is why there is a less than perfect score. The theme is good but it fails to fully envelope me.

Fun - 20 / 25

Small World is fun. Hands down fun. New board gamers will love it and old ones will more than likely like it. It isn't the most fun I have ever had playing a game but it certainly isn't the worst either.

Overall - 84 / 100

Final Thoughts

Small World will forever hold a special place in my heart because it is one of the first "modern" board games that I ever purchased. It is a well written, playable piece of art that can be revisited time and time again. Like all things though, it eventually begins to wear a bit thin due to the thing I loved in the beginning, the simplicity. Get this game and love it like no other game. It will reward you with several days of excellent play time and a place of nostalgia on your board game rack afterwards.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lord of the Rings LCG Session Report


Last night I played a game of Lord of the Rings LCG core set using the tactics deck because I love dwarves. Since then, I have found that this is a very poor idea due to the low questing skill of the 3 heroes in this deck. This can lead to a buildup of locations in the staging area, effectively negating any questing score you could muster while still forcing a failed quest due to their threat overrun. Needless to say, many inexperienced players new to the game have fallen into this trap. I am now one of them.

A quick note on the photos, some of them have some pretty bad glare as I was using my camera phone and it was very late last night that I played this. Also, I will do my best to remember what exactly happened when but I will be relying on the pictures to tell the majority of the story I believe.

I setup the game per the first location in the Passage Through Mirkwood quest deck. A Forest Spider and Old Forest Road were added to the staging area and my heroes placed at the fore, ready to  kill things. 

Starting Setup. 29 Threat.
My starting hand was excellent with several events, a dwarven axe and two dwarf allies. I proceeded to play one of my allies and I quested with a total value of three being Thalin and Gimli. The encounter deck produced a location, one of the many to follow so I failed to quest and gained 1 threat. Then I traveled to the Old Forest Road and Readied Gimli for the encounter phase. Gimli defended against the Forest Spider taking one damage. Unfortunately, the card revealed on the Spider's attack was Eyes of the Forest I believe so I was foced to discard all of my events. That was 4 cards. I then attacked back with both my Dwarven Ally and Legolas dealing the foe three damage in total leaving him with 1 hitpoint.

End of the Refresh Phase, Turn 1. 31 Threat.

Ouch. 4 Event cards gone in turn one.
At this point I was still feeling relatively confident knowing that I would be able to kill the Spider with Legolas and gain some Progress Tokens. I began turn 2 with this plan in mind. I played another Dwarven Ally to the table during the planning phase as well as a dwarven axe. I then quested with Gimli and Thalin. I revealed another location card from the encounter deck with a 2 threat. This combined with the current location card to cancel my combined willpower of 3 leading me to a tie. Then the combats began. I blocked with one of my Dwarven Allies and the shadow card was nothing. The Ally took 1 damage and then I slayed the beast with Legolas, earning 2 progress tokens...the only 2 I would get for the game.

End of Refresh Phase, Turn 2. 32 Threat.

This is where I began to get a bit worried as the current threat total in the staging area was already at 3. The total willpower of all 3 of my heroes was only 4 so I knew I would need to quest with all of them and trust my allies to take any monsters that might appear. I played nothing during the planning phase and quested with all 3 heroes. I drew Hummerhorns, when he engages you, a hero loses 5 life. Awesome. Though Thalin did do 1 damage to him, so that was good. That put the threat total up to 4 in the staging area leading to a tie again. I did not engage the monster and he did not engage me as I still had some room until I hit 40.

End of Refresh Phase, Turn 3. 33 Threat.

I fell into a bit of luck here and managed to draw the Citadel Plate. I played this on Gimli preparing him to take the engage hit from the Hummerhorns. I quested with all 3 heroes and drew the treachery card Caught in a Web. I placed it on Legolas since he had 1 resource token and only 1 willpower. During the combat phase I engaged the Hummerhorns, dealing 5 damage to Gimli, defended with a Dwarven Ally and attacked with the other Dwarven Ally, eliminating it and gaining 4 victory points. I was in trouble.

End of Refresh Phase, Turn 4. 34 threat.

On to turn 5. I played nothing during the planning phase but did remove Legolas from the web. I quested with Gimli and Thalin. I revealed Enchanted Stream raising the threat in the staging area to 5. I failed by 2, raising my threat as much.

End of Refresh Phase, Turn 5. 37 threat.

This would be the last turn, though I didn't know it at the time. With Enchanted Stream in play I could not draw any cards and did not already have Gandalf in my hand. So, I trudged along and quested with all 3 heroes. I revealed Necromancer's Reach so all received a damage. I failed the quest by 1 point and added another point at the end. I was now at 39 (the picture says 40 but what can I say, I was tired) and still had not completed the first Old Forest Road card. That being said, I resigned out of some frustration and exhaustion.

End of Refresh Phase, Turn 6. 40 threat, though it should only be 39.
All in all it was still relatively fun but without monsters for Legolas to kill, thus supplying progress tokens through his ability, it is easy for the base Tactics deck to get overwhelmed with numerous locations looming large in the staging area. 

I suppose Gimli had it right when he said the following: "I'm wasted on cross-country! We Dwarves are natural sprinters, very dangerous over short distances."


Orc Boyz Painting Update


Apologies on the late post here but I will be putting this one up along with my session review today so we'll get two for the price of one. The goal with the Orc Boyz this past week was to try and see about making the leather look a bit better. I am not sure that I succeeded to be honest but I did manage to make the highlights pop a bit more with this method than I did with the old one. Pictures below.

The Setup
Once I got going, I touched up the brown a bit and added some wash over it to really darken up the deeper places in the model.

After the Wash

Agrax Earthsomething. It's the GW brown wash.
Once they had dried, I mixed together the dark brown I had been using with some khaki and yellow. I was really looking to create kind of a golden brown color for the leather by dry brushing the color over the dark brown inked with Agrax.

Mixing Elements

After the first application
After the first application, I added in a bit more of both yellow and khaki to continue to lighten the color.

Second Application
 For the third and final application I added more yellow, more khaki and about 2 or 3 drops of white to really get the highest details to pop.

Final result

Closeup of the final result
Welp, overall they look a little better than the original models. The deep places look better in contrast to the multi-layered highlights. I still don't think I ended up with what I had in my head to be honest but, it will do for now. Perhaps when I finish them and get some extra time, I can go back and try again.

Anyone out there know how to paint leather well?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday Morning Crowd Funding Episode 3


Happy Monday to all and I hope that you all had a great weekend! Mine was excellent despite the sudden blast of cold air and precipitation we received on Sunday. I got a lot of walking in, which is always excellent, and also got to play my first solo game of the Lord of the Rings LCG. I will be discussing this in my session report this week so stay tuned. For now though, let's talk crowd funding games. I have a few more that I have found interesting, one that I am going to plug for personal reasons, and updates on those that have come before. So, as always, let's get to it!

The New

Baseball Sim Game - FUNDED! - 17 Days to Go

I am a HUGE baseball fan. I still remember the first baseball game I ever went to. It was the St. Louis Cardinals versus the Los Angeles Dodgers sometime in the early 90s at the old Busch Stadium. My dad and I went and I was only about 11 or 12. I was in absolute awe when I walked in the stadium. It was huge and there were people everywhere and I felt like I was a part of something so much bigger than myself. It was at that point that I truly fell in love with the game. We ended up winning the game but not before Darryl Strawberry had blasted a home run off of one of our relievers. I saw that later on the TV as a highlight.
That concept, the baseball highlight is where this game picks up. Set in the not too distant future when baseball has allowed the introductions of cybernetic arms and robots that can hit, this game itches not only the baseball itch but the sci-fi as well. Each player faces off against one another and plays a series of mini-games, exchanges of about 5 or 6 cards which represent the "highlight reel" of the entire game. Who ever wins these mini-games, wins the game. Then, the players draft new players and play again. This repeats typically 4 times I believe and then who ever has the best record wins. I highly recommend that everyone check this one out. Baseball Highlights 2045

Fantasy Resort Management - 19, 267 of 20,000 dollars - 20 Days To Go

In Epic Resort: Enjoy Your Slaycation, you take the part of the ever entrepreneurial vacation resort owner. You are responsible for raising money, managing your reputation and attracting heroes to the confines of your lovely island paradise. They are needed because your resort is occasionally attacked by various monsters and there are only 3 outcomes to this; you send the heroes to handle it, you let the monsters eat your normal guests or you thrown the monster a lazy peon. Part humor and part builder, the game certainly looks interesting enough to take a peak at. Epic Resort: Enjoy Your Slaycation

Kingdom Bots

Robot on Robot Warfare - 9,569 of 60,000 Canadian Dollars - 17 Days to Go

This is a game that was mentioned in one of the articles that I posted about a week or so ago. I have finally had a chance to take a look and I have to admit, it looks entertaining. In a world where humans have been defeated by Robots, they have nothing left to ally against, so they turn on one another. Robot wars are sparked across all of the lands and you are one of the Robot Clan's leaders. It is your job to lea your robots to victory by conquering the lands on a very Risk-esque board using your deck of cards, dice rolling skills and excellent economy management skills. The art work looks fantastic on this game and the idea of Robot on Robot combat should make most sci-fi folks take a quick peak. Kingdom Bots

The Personal

Combat card based RPG - FUNDED! 1,991 dollars - 27 Days to Go

Crone is a role game where the player characters each play the part of a witch of immense power. Normal foes are not a challenge for them so their stories tend to revolve around eliminating giants, dragons and various other large and nasty things from folklore. The bigger the challenge, the better it will fit into the Crone Universe. 

The game uses a card based combat system instead of your traditional dice roll fest. By managing your cards you are capable of delivering crushing blows to your foes with ease allowing you to spend more time describing the cinematic nature of your attack. Also, the cards allow each player to create combos with one another. Need an ability to work in a pinch but failure will lead to party wipe? A different Crone may have an ability that allows yours to automatically succeed allowing you to deliver your desired affect. The card system seems streamlined and innovative allowing combat to flow much easier than many, more traditional dice based combat systems.

The personal note on this one is that I have been selected to write a piece of lore for the game itself. The way that the lore and extra modules will enter the Kickstarter is through various stretch goals. So, if you want to see a piece of lore written by yours truly in the game above, the Kickstarter has to hit the 11,500 mark in order for my work to be eligible. That being said, I would greatly appreciate if you simply took a look at the game and, if you like it, send some money over to the team at Crone. If it isn't your cup of tea, that's cool too. Crone: Card Based RPG

The Old

Here are updates on previous games mentioned in this series. Info on these can be found at one of the following two locations: Episode 1 Episode 2

Greed - FUNDED! - Kickstarter closed. This will fall off of the list next week. Those that backed, congrats!
London 1888 - 6,520 of 20,000 - 15 Days to Go
Totally Medieval - 675 of 5,500 - 47 Days to Go
Game Devloperz - FUNDED! - 18 Days to Go
Counterblast - FUNDED! - 4 Days to Go
Guild Ball - FUNDED! - 5 Days to Go
Dulega - 4,627 of 10,000 - 11 days to Go
Cave Escape - FUNDED! - 12 Days to Go
King's Favor - 3,803 of 40,000 - 12 Days to Go

The End

Next week I'll have more games from the world of the Crowdsource as well as updates on these and all previous titles. Be sure to check out the games above and back if you like them. Also, be sure to check out the poll on the right hand side of the page where we will ponder if Croudsource games are helping or hurting the gaming community with simple yes or no answers. Also feel free to sound off in an expanded form in the comments section below.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday, March 14 2014 News Reel!


I am certainly glad that today is Friday! Looking forward to getting some game on this coming Sunday and getting some more painting done as well. Those Orc Boyz are really starting to come into their own. But today let's focus on what is going on in the news regarding our favored hobbies.

Rulebook Editing as a Profession

Lagoon: Land of Druids, which Yearsley is editing the rulebook for. (Photo: David Chott)
This is an interesting article about a post grad student who used his degree knowledge, science, to work himself into a position to edit rule books for one of his passions, board games. If you have read my Review Criteria then you know how much it means to me that a game come with a clear and concise set of rules. I feel like most game companies overlook this part of their production value and just trust those hardcore gamers that will muddle through any poorly put together set of rules to play a new game. Grats to this guy for performing a very vital service to this wonderful industry.

Game About Dinosaurs Taking over the Prehistoric World?!

What up T Rex?!
Yes Please! In this interesting game you play as a herd of dinosaurs pre 65 million years ago. Your job as the head of these dino followers is to build your herd and spread out into the different environments before you. If the other players are encroaching on your territory you can unleash your very own T Rex on them or send a pack of Raptors to demolish them. Sounds like my kind of game!

Walking Dead Prison Game

Who doesn't love Walking Dead? This is a new game based on the original that was put out 2011 with the same general mechanics from what I can understand. The only difference seems to be that play revolves around the North Atlanta area and the claustrophobic prison. Who wouldn't want to go in, guns blazing, in an effort to clear out a zombie infested prison? Anyone? Hello?

Angry Birds Moving in a Positive Direction with RPG Elements

The Next Angry Birds Is A Turn-Based Role-Playing Game. What?

Angry Birds is one of the most well known smart phone and tablet apps in existence. The creators have grown their baby into a huge gaming and marketing beast that covers all kinds of product types from toys to clothes and on and on. Now, it looks like Angry Birds is going to be growing with the generation of youngsters that it amazed. They are putting out the next game as an RPG where the Birds will go on quests and craft items to use in battle. It looks very Final Fantasy-esque with what looks like turn based combat. This is certainly a good move for them as there is only so many ways  you can manipulate catapult physics for it to continue being fun.

Comic Con Man Busted by Kickstarter RPG

This one is a win for the good guys. Just a nice pick me up for the last article wherein a Comic Art thief is caught by a vigilant Kickstarter Company.

On that note, thanks very much and have a great weekend! I will see you back here on Monday!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dominion or The Purchasing of Royal Estates, Duchies and Provinces


For the review this week I have chosen a game that I am sure many of you are already familiar with as it is one of the first deck building games to come out that was not a collectible game like Magic The Gathering. Dominion has been around since 2008 and has several expansions for it with each adding new cards and endless replay possibilities. The pictures below will include some cards from the Hinterlands expansion as an FYI. Now, on to the review!

Cover Art

The Buildup

Being a freshly crowned noble after the unfortunate deaths of your parents, you have been burdened with the management of your meager kingdom. However, you are undaunted at the prospect and, in fact, you are thrilled to begin because you have ideas. BIG ideas. You are planning on taking your small kingdom and expanding it into something that the histories will sing praises to long after you are dead. You are going to expand the reach of your grasp shoving aside neighbors with underhanded tactics and superior strategies and conquer distant lands. You are going to claim Dominion over all of the land.

The Game

Dominion is a deck-building game where your goal is to have the most land i.e. green cards in your deck by the time all of the Provinces are purchased or the 3 of the 10 cards selected for the game are bought out.

This review has cards from the Base game, on the left, and the Hinterlands expansion, on the right.

The game begins by separating the treasures and lands from the rest of the cards and setting them off to the sides. Then you gather the blue bordered example cards and fan them, face down, on the floor. From these you choose 10. These will be the cards that you will use in your deck to build your wealth and lands.

Preparing to choose our fate

Once the cards are chosen, each player is given a hand of 7 copper and 3 estates. These represent your starting treasury and lands. These are suffled together and 5 cards are drawn.

Starting Deck

Our Game

The game itself is divided into three phases. The first thing is an action phase. This is the point where you can play any action cards in your hand. Most of the cards in the game beyond the initial deck are actions. These modify your turn in a certain way. For instance the Festival above gives you 2 additional actions, 1 additional Buy and +2 coins. If you were to play this during your action phase you would get 2 more actions, 2 Buys and 2 coins in addition to the coins in your hand to buy things with.

Once you are out of actions, then you move to your buy phase. This is where you use the treasure in your hand, or represented on your action cards, to purchase additional actions, treasure or lands based on the number of buys you have. This is base 1 modified by your action cards played. Each card has a coin cost in the lower left hand corner. In order to purchase, or gain, that card the cost must be paid. 

Example Buy
Once your buy phase is done, all cards gained and used as well as any cards left in your hand get discarded and you draw a fresh hand of five cards. Play then progresses to the next player. This continues until the game end conditions are met, being the last Provence is bought or 3 of the 10 card sets chosen for the game are bought out. 

The winner is the person who has the most victory points. These are acquired by purchasing lands and other victory point cards such as Farms, Gardens etc based on what comes in the other expansions. Each land card is given a certain VP total with Provinces having the most in the base game at 6.

You will notice that land cards have no other effects besides helping you win the game so when you draw them, they are dead cards. It is important to create a balance between your action cards, treasure cards and victory cards in order to achieve the optimum deck build even as you continue to expand it.

Sample Deck Build. I lost this game by 2 points.

This is the deck that beat me. The Farm above was the deciding card.

The Review

Rules - 12 / 15 

The rules for Dominion are pretty straightforward without any real wrinkles. These come from the combinations of the cards that are present. Since the rules are clean, the rulebook is clean as well. It is simple to read, easy to teach and relatively easy to reference. The additional rules and card descriptions for the base game could have the same kind of heading style used in the actual rules though.

Gameplay - 12 / 15

A pared down and streamlined rules set will let to streamlined game play. Once the players understand how the game works, turns will move quickly as each begins to jockey for the cards that they think will give them the best combo to win. You almost always feel like you have a chance to win unless you have an ineffective combo or your cards aren't in the right proportion. That being said, if you do not choose wisely in your initial buys, it could come back to haunt you in the mid to late game if playing against a skilled opponent.

Components - 8 / 15

The cards are made of good quality materials and will show little wear. They are also quite resistant to bending. Overall the art work is sufficient while not being eye popping. The pictures get the job done but many of them seem to be missing that spark that really adds to the theme of the game. Most of the time the pictures disappear on the card as you are focused on the card's abilities.

Re-Play Ability - 15 / 15

This game is one of the kings of re-play ability. With so many different cards to choose the 10 cards for the game, the possibilities are endless. Not to mention how each set of 10 cards will usually require a completely different strategy and combination in order to win. On top of this you can add all of the expansions as well leading you down the rabbit hole of Dominion from which you may never return.

Theme - 7 / 15

Most folks don't talk about the theme of this game. Usually talk revolves around the fast game play, the ease of teaching, the card combinations and the endless replays that are possible. There is a reason for this. The back story of the game seems plausible enough but the cards themselves don't really sell the theme to you in my opinion. Some of the card abilities make sense in accordance with their titles but the game doesn't really revolve around the need to acquire a chapel or a cellar for thematic reasons. These are usually purchase for mechanical reasons, to throw out negative cards or discard dead cards in hopes of getting better ones.

Fun - 20 / 25

I am a huge fan of Dominion and am almost always willing to play this if it is offered. The diversity of card selection and mechanic interactions makes this game rife with strategy. Pitting each player against the other also adds a nice sense of urgency to the whole game as you really do feel like you are struggling to conquer the lands beyond your borders at times. Then there are times where it all becomes an intellectual game when the only thing that matters is the card combos. There isn't anything wrong with this as it is certainly designed to be that way but it does tend to break what little thematic immersion there is.

Overall - 74 / 100

Final Thoughts

Dominion is an excellent game and an exemplar of the deck building genre. It is easy to teach and is well worth the investment. The expansions will add even more variety to a game that is already loaded with it right out of the box. Occasionally though the game can become a bit stale as the theme is lost in the intellectual scrambling for the best combo available.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An Unexpected Journey into the Desolation of Smaug


I have been a huge Tolkien fan since I first read the Lord of the Rings back in High School and College. Crazy right? I waited that long before reading some of the best fantasy writing in existence. I am also currently reading the Hobbit and enjoying it quite a bit. Needless to say, I love Lord of the Rings and Hobbit themed games as they feed the fantasy genre kick that I have had ever since I fell in love with knights long before I knew of the existence of Lord of the Rings.

Well, the other night Sarah, my fiancee, and I picked up a couple of new games: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and the Lord of the Rings Card Game. We already owned The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug so we decided to play the two hobbit games back to back as they were intended to be played.

We had a trial run at Outback where we went to dinner after the big purchase and we proceeded to get demolished by the game in short order. We became painfully aware that the boards in An Unexpected Journey would be significantly more difficult than in Desolation of Smaug. So, here we go.

We setup the board and dealt out the dwarven company cards as instructed. Off to a bad start. We lost 3 of the dwarves that give the golden die and Balin who can provide 2 rabbits for running without rolling.

Off to a bad Start.
Thankfully, the dice saw fit to be relatively gracious in our rolling and we managed to get out of the area with only 1 additional adventure added to the board while using 3 starting resources and losing none.

So far so good.
 After the setup for the second board we noticed that once again we were without Thorin at the start. We were also down Fili and Kili which are two of Sarah's favorites as their abilities are quiet useful.

Second board setup. We should be ok here.

Second board dwarves in the discard to start.
Again, we made it through the second board relatively unscathed despite all of the additional adventures that needed to be completed thanks to some good dice rolling.

Second Board Results

Managed to get both treasures from the first two boards!
 We began board three with almost a full assortment of resources and were ready to keep the good game going. However, Thorin was yet again in the discard to start as was Fili and Kili!

Board Three setup.

Despite the Thorin having a prominent role in the story, he doesn't really want to do much in the game.

Board 3 resources carried over from the first game.
 This is the point where I started to get a bit tired and my memory gets hazy. We had to do a load of additional adventures on this one and I think we may have actually exhausted the event deck leading to losing a board 4 resource. We also had to use half of the resources we came over with but we did get the treasure here as well.
Board 3 Finished
 Here is where my memory finally lapsed and I actually forgot to take pictures of the board 4 setup and end. We had a great board here and managed to roll fantastically well constantly leading us to being victorious with 39 points! Next time we play, we'll have to up the difficulty!

Survivors of the whole quest i.e. those not in the discard at the end of the game. Looks like Thorin finally showed up.

Final score including maxed dragon points and all four treasures!
Let me know what you guys think if you have played this game or if you have any comments!