Issue #114

 

The Best in Board Games – In 5 Minutes or Less!
Dec 30, 2013 – Issue #114

TOP NEWS

  • go7gaming and Minion Games have partnered to offer a Bit Box for the popular Dragon Coins and Futuristic Coins.
  • Portal Games, beginning with Legacy and Theseus, will now be available directly in US Stores thanks to a new distribution agreement with ACD Dist.
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DESIGNER’S MIND

By |December 31st, 2013|Issue|0 Comments

Bigfootses, The Card Game – Lengthy but Light-Hearted

Bigfootses, The Card Game, created by Wilbur Massie, is a Dungeon Crawl-esque game similar to Steve Jackson’s mega-hit Munchkin. Players first choose professions, then arm themselves with equipment cards drawn from the Thingies Deck, then battle Bigfoot and Creature cards drawn from the Woods deck. Bigfootses are worth a set number of Victory Points (the more formidable the Bigfootses, the more Victory Points it is worth), while Creatures are not worth anything (however, if you lose a battle to a Creature you lose an Equipment card). The first player to reach a set number of Victory Points (ranging from 7 to 10, depending on the number of players) wins.

Luck does play a role in the game. Players might draw advanced Bigfootses at the beginning of the game when they are unprepared to battle them and lose the opportunity to capture Victory Points. Alternatively, a player could go rounds without drawing a Bigfootses from the Woods deck. Also, after you declare your intent to battle Bigfoot or a Creature, you must roll a die. If you roll a 1, you automatically lose the battle. If you roll a 6, you automatically win the battle. If you roll a 2, 3, 4, or 5, the value of the roll is added to your skill, which can help you defeat a Bigfootses or a Creature.

I’m not sure who this game was meant to target. The Bigfoot theme doesn’t seem to cater to any particular niche of player, unlike Munchkin, which found its audience by providing a parody of RPGs. On the one hand, the Bigfoot theme and the cartoonlike artwork seemed to target kids, but on the other hand, this is a text-heavy game with a long run time. The box advertises 30 to 60 minutes, but all of my plays took over an hour, and most of the 55 Thingies cards and 70 Woods cards were unique, featuring new text that had to be read and understood with each card. Bigfootses also doesn’t seem like a family-friendly game – unlike Munchkin, where players can make deals and work together to obtain treasure, Bigfootses doesn’t offer a mechanic for asking other players for help. Modifiers are meant to be used against other players, and the rules mention nothing about allowing players to make deals, exchange cards, offer bribes, or use any other “let’s work together” tactic. That’s pretty cutthroat.

The positives:

  • The game scales from 2 to 6 players.
  • The card titles and text were occasionally funny, and the theme is light-hearted.
  • There is room for expansions, with more cards and new mechanics.
  • Cards generally don’t present exceptions to rules – what you see is what you get.
  • Unlike Munchkin, where class and race are assigned to you during the course of the game, your profession in Bigfootses is known to you from the start (if roleplaying during Dungeon Crawl card games is your thing).

The negatives:

  • The gameplay is not intuitive to grasp. For example, the “good luck/bad luck” concept was confusing.
  • Card design is not as clear as it could be. For example, some cards require the player to make decisions, and a “Decision” label would make this more obvious. Or, cards could have a label stating when they could be used “ex: “Can be played during X phase” or “Can be played anytime”). Or cards involving luck could be easily denoted with a Luck icon.
  • Equipment cards are not sorted into types (unlike Munchkin, which has items for Heads, Feet, Hands, etc.) so you could not tell by a glance at your hand what options were available to you. Lots of reading and rereading the text was involved.
  • It was annoying to keep track of the equipment cards plus the the Bigfootses modifiers plus the corral values plus profession bonuses during each and every encounter.
  • The modifier cards do not provide a satisfactory sense of “I totally just messed you over – have fun with that!”, in the way that Munchkin does.
  • There doesn’t seem to be a significant amount of strategy involved. Important choices were limited to finding ideal equipment cards at the start of the game (since only 3 may be played and equipment cards may not be swapped out) and selecting an action card or modifier to be used to stop an opponent from capturing a Bigfootses.
  • The runtime is too long – the game seems drawn out and repetitive instead of tense and engaging at the end.
  • At $25 USD, the game is relatively expensive for a card game (though shipping is included).

Overall, I was not a fan of Bigfootses. I think the game is too repetitive, the theme did not appeal to me, and there simply wasn’t enough strategy to keep me engaged. But perhaps families with children between ages 12 and 16 will find this game more interesting than my friends and I did.

Kickstarter link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bigfootses/bigfootses-the-card-game

(The campaign ends Monday January 6, 2014, 12:59 a.m. EST)

By |December 27th, 2013|Review|1 Comment

Issue #113

 

The Best in Board Games – In 5 Minutes or Less!
Dec 27, 2013 – Issue #113

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DESIGNER’S MIND

By |December 27th, 2013|Issue|0 Comments

Argent: The Consortium

CoverPreview600

Level 99 Games is proud to present our new project, Argent: the Consortium. On Kickstarter through January 6th!
Check it out it now on Kickstarter

Argent is a Wizard-Placement game of Secret Conspiracy in a Magical University. Enroll now and be part of the Great American Eurogame!

Argent: the Consortium is a 2-5 player game of secret conspiracies, power, and intrigue at a Magical University. Become a candidate for Chancellorship and muster your apprentices to gather resources and followers. Research to master more and more powerful spells that you can use to sabotage your rival candidates and their plans! Learn the true motives of the secret Consortium, and become elected the new Chancellor of the University!

“If you like both worker placement games and variable player power games, you are simply going to love this game. It scratches both of those itches vigorously in a way I haven’t experienced before and it was absolutely a highlight of my BGG.con experience. In fact, I backed the game on Kickstarter within an hour of my play.” – Trent Hamm, GamingTrent — (Argent Full Review Here)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Argent is the premiere university of magic, science, and technology in the World of Indines. As a high-ranking staff member in the university, you’ve been pursuing your research, leading your department, and searching for ways to expand your influence. When the university chancellor announces his resignation from the university’s highest office, a consortium of voters assembles to decide who will be the next Chancellor of Argent—the most influential mage in the entire world. This is your chance to seize the power and prestige you’ve been longing for.
The membership of the Consortium is a secret, and when the game begins, you have no idea what criteria they will use in their election of the new chancellor. Over the course of 5 rounds of play, you must leverage your students, your spells, and your resources to discover who the members of the Consortium are and what they are looking for in the election, all the while simultaneously building up your power and trying to fulfill these wishes better than your rivals. Everything comes down to the final vote at the end, when the Consortium is revealed to all and the votes are cast to determine a winner!

Headliner_Nostros
All about Us
Level 99 Games is a professional game design studio staffed by talented artists, designers, and authors, and led by career designer D. Brad Talton Jr.
Level 99 Games has been producing high-quality digital and tabletop games for 4 years now. We are well known for BattleCON, the Minigame Library, Mystic Empyrean, and Pixel Tactics, just to name a few.

Warage

Issue #112

 

The Best in Board Games – In 5 Minutes or Less!
Dec 24, 2013 – Issue #112
Winner!
The winner of the $80 Funagain Games Christmas giveaway is Randy N., congrats! Merry Christmas from Today in Board Games! We hope you enjoy your holiday!

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DESIGNER’S MIND

By |December 24th, 2013|Issue|0 Comments

Geared – A Beautifully Designed But Uninspiring Filler

A Review of Geared
Geared, the brainchild of bike aficionado and graphic designer Alex Solomon, is a card management and set collection game for 2-4 players ages 12 and older.

The game is currently seeking funding via Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/815894852/geared-build-your-bike

The Kickstarter campaign is scheduled to end on Tuesday, January 14, 2013.

 

Photo Credit: Alex Solomon, Geared Kickstarter Website

 

Quick Overview
Each player starts with a hand of 5 cards. Parts cards – either handlebars, frames, or wheels – range from Level 1 (worth fewer points) to Level 5 (worth more points, but are more rare in the deck). Action cards allow you to remove, steal, or swap parts from other players’ unfinished bikes. On your turn, you may either play 1-3 parts cards to build new bikes and finish previously started bikes, or you may play an action card. Some bikes are worth more points than others, either because they were made with higher level cards or because the entire bike was built using cards of the same Level. At the end of your turn you draw back up to 5 cards. The first player to reach 1,000 points wins.

Quality
I fell in love with the art the moment I saw the box – the design is so crisp and clean and colorful and handsome! According to the Kickstarter page, Alex Solomon is a graphic designer, and it shows. He really did a great job with the art, in my opinion. Information – the point value of the card, the card’s level, the type of part – is clearly conveyed, and the banner at the top of the card allows it to stack well in a set. The five colors are easily differentiated and easy to match, and the game’s color scheme is attractive. Also, the cardstock used for the cards is really good – the cards were thick, slippery but not too slippery, and easy to shuffle.

Photo Credit: Alex Solomon, Geared Kickstarter Website

Learning
Some of the rules are ambiguously worded. My gaming group had a lot of questions about what was and wasn’t allowed, and the rulebook didn’t do the best job of providing answers (these questions will be forwarded to the game designer).

My gaming group wasn’t entirely convinced that the game design should be finalized. For example, it seemed like the first player has a distinct advantage. There were no bonuses or penalties given to players to compensate, and the rules do not say that players are allowed to finish their turns once someone has reached 1,000 points. Also, the deck seemed to contain too many cards, making the idea of collecting a set less compelling than simply playing whatever bike part is available to complete a bike.

Theme
The theme is a little boring and uneven. Interviews with Alex Solomon imply that he had several ideas for bike-related games, including games where you could ride across the country or perform bike tricks. These ideas are a little more interesting. The idea of building something could have been extended to something more exciting than bikes, like roller coasters. Why are the players stealing and swapping bike parts with each other anyway? Are they dumpster divers? Feuding store owners? Competitive family members?

The tagline on the front of the box, “Build YOUR Bike”, is misleading. You are not trying to build a cool bike, with streamers, taillights, baskets, bells, horns, spoke beads, or tricked out wheels. In fact, all of the bikes are standardized – the graphics for the Level 1 handlebars, frame, and wheels are identical to the graphics for the more valuable Level 5 handlebars, frame, and wheels (though this may apparently change if people pledge at the $1,000 level of the Kickstarter campaign). In any case, you are not trying to build some sort of personalized dream bike, as the tagline would imply. You’re building a fleet of bikes that is constantly getting destroyed.

Price
A pledge for a print copy is $20 (U.S.) to $26 (Canadian), and gets less expensive per unit the more you order. It is worth noting that there is also a Print-and-Play pledge level for $5 so interested parties may download the card templates and print their own versions. A print copy consists of the rulebook and the deck of cards.

Weight & Length
Geared is a 10 – 15 minute filler, so essentially it is a light game. Some amount of choice is involved, but you are limited to playing 1-3 parts cards or 1 action card on your turn. Since players draw their hands back up to 5 at the end of their turn instead of the beginning, players will be able to plan their moves ahead of time most of the time.

Luck & Interaction
As in any game involving a deck of cards, some luck is involved. Counting cards and figuring the odds of drawing what you want is possible, but difficult since you cannot see your opponents’ hands. There were definitely games where I found myself short on a certain part the entire time, but the game has no mechanism to get rid of a “bad” hand.

There is a bit of interaction involved in Geared due to the action cards that allow you to tamper with another player’s fleet.

Choice & Replayability
I found the choices interesting at the start – if I don’t have the cards in my hand now to complete a bike, do I want to put a number of parts cards on the table in order to allow myself to draw more potentially useful cards from the deck? What if those parts cards are high-value? Will I be helping my opponents more than I would be helping myself?

However, these questions seemed to be answered after the second play, and I can’t imagine that there would be much differentiation – the tactics used in the first game game will likely be used in the next 5 games. Other players’ moves won’t ever force you to change direction or adapt.

Others’ reactions to this game varied from “okay” to “not that fun”. I do not feel compelled to play Geared again, despite the wonderful artwork, though I suppose I could be talked into it if I was standing around waiting for a new game to begin. The choices are not complex enough to really draw me in.  In other words, Geared is an okay filler, but it’s not a challenging one nor an intriguing one. I’d have a hard time justifying keeping it in the games closet when there are other delectable fillers available.

But I would certainly hire Alex Solomon to design the artwork for any future project. His website, media pages, and physical product were all admirably professional.

By |December 23rd, 2013|Review|1 Comment

Issue #111

 

The Best in Board Games – In 5 Minutes or Less!
Dec 20, 2013 – Issue #111
Christmas Giveaway
Merry Christmas from Today in Board Games! To celebrate we are giving away an $80 Funagain Games gift certificate (that’s enough to get free shipping if you live in the US!) You can gain new entries every day on the contest page from now until the 23rd of December. The winner will be announced in our Christmas Eve issue.

TOP NEWS

  • Asmodee has announced they are bringing Cappuccino – an Essen release – to the US.
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Dice Crawl

Dice Crawl is a fast-paced game of dungeon exploration for 1 to 4 players. Players select a race and class each which provides abilities. You can assign your dice to your unlock your abilities or to the dungeon tiles to gain control over that area of the dungeon. Dungeon tiles are laid out in a 5×5 grid. The game ends when a player runs out of dice or reaches the center of the dungeon. Dice Crawl is on Kickstarter now, $40 will get you a copy of the game.

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DESIGNER’S MIND

By |December 20th, 2013|Issue|0 Comments

Dice Tower News – Episode #195

Dice Tower News is a Monday, Wednesday, Friday podcast and is part of the Dice Tower Network. Today In Board Games provides a short segment for each episode of the latest news across the board game community. Links to the articles discussed in today’s episode are below. News items are taken from recent issues of Today in Board Games. For more news subscribe to the Today in Board Games newsletter. For great podcasts on all aspects of the board gaming visit the Dice Tower Network.

Here is what’s going on in the board game community:

For links to the items mentioned in this segment, as well as many more interesting articles and news items please visit TodayinBoardGames.com/DTN(XXX). I’m Roger Hicks of Today in Board Games and this is Dice Tower News.

Issue #110

 

The Best in Board Games – In 5 Minutes or Less!
Dec 19, 2013 – Issue #110
Christmas Giveaway
Merry Christmas from Today in Board Games! To celebrate we are giving away an $80 Funagain Games gift certificate (that’s enough to get free shipping if you live in the US!) You can gain new entries every day on the contest page from now until the 23rd of December. The winner will be announced in our Christmas Eve issue.

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Merry Christmas!

I wish you a happy holiday season! I’ve posted some information on some changes I’m making to Today in Board Games and some exciting things coming up. I’d love to get your feedback. Please take a moment to read the article.

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DESIGNER’S MIND

By |December 19th, 2013|Issue|0 Comments