The Star Wars: Card Game (SWCG) is initially a 2 player living card game which expands to multi-player games with the Balance of the Force expansion. In Star Wars: the Card Game each player takes control of either the Empire or the Rebellion, attacking and defending various objectives that they’ve chosen to place in their deck. As a living card game, each chapter pack introduces new objectives, new events, locations, characters and equipment allowing for a wide amount of replay ability.
Star Wars: Rebellion has players take control of the forces on a galactic level. Players control the forces of the Empire or the Rebellion using cards and leaders to take actions, with the abilities of the leaders affecting the results of each card. Star Wars: Rebellion is an asymmetric board game that is best played with only 2 players and is best played by dedicated players who can explore the various strategies of the game over a series of games.
Taking a step down from the galactic level, Armada has you controlling fleets of spaceships and squadrons of fighters in a miniature battle on a 6′ x 3′ area. Players command capital ships and squadrons using command stacks which indicate what actions they can take while the maneuver tool is made of a hinged ruler, with each segment indicating the turning circle for a capital ship. The Star Wars: Armada Core Set gives you enough ships to begin playing immediately, but really to develop and experience the game fully, players will need to either purchase individual ships or a second pair of the Core Sets.
While Armada lets you command capital ships, X-Wing puts you in the seat of your ship, dog-fighting other planes in a smaller 3′ x 3′ area. Players choose their ships using a point system which includes both the ships and the pilots while movement and shooting arcs are chosen using pre-made rulers, simplifying the entire fighting system compared to traditional miniature games. Like Armada, the initial core set gives you a taste of the battles you can have, but you will quickly need to expand your fleet significantly.
Star Wars: Imperial Assault has one player as the Empire and the other players as the Rebel troops. Each game of Imperial Assault has the rebel troopers attempting to complete specific objectives to win while the Empire attempts to stop them. SWIA is a campaign game that runs over a course of missions with both the Imperial player and the Rebel heroes gaining new experience and skills, allowing characters to evolve as the story unfolds. Using FFG’s Descent system for adventure games, SWIA comes with various map tiles that allow players to create unique adventures each game.
Star Wars: Empire vs Rebellion is a fast-paced card game for two players which re-implements the Cold War: CIA vs KGB card game. In the game, you and your opponent match wits and resources over key events. Whether you seek to triumph through military might, or use diplomacy to achieve your ends, the fate of the galaxy rests in your hands.
Recently announced, the Star Wars: Destiny is a collectible card and dice game where each hero has it’s own dice whose roll indicates you may be able to spend to enhance your side or deal damage. You also have a thirty-card deck of cards that you’ll draw throughout the game.
We have been getting some great press about the Kickstarter Fulfillment service that we offer out of the warehouse. Overall, it’s been quite fun to handle and we are glad to see some great games get out to Kickstarter backers. However, I do want to reassure our regular customers that it’s not something that is ever going to become a major part of the business (at least not in the sense of it taking over the retail side).
For one thing, most of our fulfillment happens during the warehouse ‘down-time’. As we hire part-time warehouse workers, for most fulfillment options we just increase the number of hours that our warehouse personnel work to full-time each day. Even working on our regular orders, we generally can complete about 200 additional games a day which is more than sufficient for most Kickstarter’s.
That’s another point worth mentioning or highlighting. For the vast majority of Kickstarter’s, we are told that Canada makes up 10% of all backers. In our experience, that generally works out to be between 100 – 200 backers at best for a very successful Kickstarter, around 40 – 50 for those that do well. Now, our rates are posted publicly (CAD$3.50 per order fulfilled) but those rates include boxes & packing materials which on average works out to be about CAD$1 in cost. That works out to be about CAD$2.50 before we have to pay staff for their time and of course, any mistakes we make comes out of the total as we pay for reshipments & returns. On top of that, for every Kickstarter quote that we do get, there are at least another 5 that we don’t get and end-up wasting time on. All that time has to be paid for somewhere.
As you can guess, the profitability of doing Kickstarter fulfillment really isn’t high. So why bother doing it?
Industry relations – doing the Kickstarter fulfillment, we’ve been in touch with a wide range of publishers and backers, many of whom we’d never have talked to if we weren’t doing this. As such, it’s a good way of extending our network.
Marginal profit – every little bit helps. If the warehouse isn’t being used at that time, it’s additional marginal use that we can make of it, so the marginal profitability is still worthwhile. Of course, there’s a certain level before this marginal business start’s being a main business, but in Canada, it would have to be a significant increase.
As I mentioned, we’ve created this list by going through the hundreds of games compiled by Eric W. Martin here. This is the first of what will be our ‘buy’ list and obviously, we aren’t going to get all these games. In fact, we’ll probably only get 30 or 40 at most. Games listed here will be further reviewed n more detail and potentially left for final decision at the convention. In addition, many of these games might not be purchasable at our normal discount (or even open to being purchased at the fair by retailers); so won’t be brought in.
Lastly, we’ve avoided listing games from publishers who have shown the ability to get their ‘hot’ games at Essen into mainstream distribution fast (e.g. most Asmodee Games, Z-Man Games, Rio Grande Games) since thes games will be available at a much lower cost very soon after the show. Okay, enough explanation, here’s the list.
I had to delete the BGG links that I had here originally to make this a lot easier to read.
It’s time for our last review of Season 3! It’s for one of our favorite games of the year, Czech Games Edition’s Alchemists. This game has yet to release in North America, and is expected to arrive in January 2015.
This week, we’re reviewing the two expansions to one of our series’ favorites, Claustrophobia. The hefty De Profundis was released in 2011 and works as a good general-purpose expansion of what the base set had to offer, while the brand-new Furor Sanguinis adds a challenging third faction.
Steam Donkey‘s my new portable light strategy game for multiple players. Previous games that have been in that category includes San Juan and Lost Cities. It’s a pure card game that focuses on hand management and tableau building and will play up to 4 players in a 30 – 60 minute game.
Steam Donkey’s a nice looking game with very 19th century, steampunk elements. Now, Steampunk isn’t for everyone but the art is cute and the design well thought out in the cards. It’s easy to tell what cards are placed where and what each card is, so that gameplay is fast and smooth.
That’s the thing of good design – when it works, it works and you barely even notice it unless you are thinking about it. That’s what Steam Donkey has, and I’ve got to give them kudos for it. Card stock is nice and thick too so there’s no issue at all with the card peeling – at least for a while.
The rules in Steam Donkey are simple. Players are resort owners who must build attractions in their resort to attract the most tourists. They have 3 sections to build resorts in – the Park, Beach or Town area and four different types of attractions they can build – amusements, lodgings, monuments and transportation attractions.
To build an attraction, players must discard cards from their hand of the same attraction type and place it in the appropriate area. Only one attraction in each area can be built though, so you’ll have to decide on which attraction works best for you. To get more cards in your hand, players can decide to instead draw from the discard pile or begin attracting visitors. Visitors are colour coded (on the back of the cards) to indicate the area they are interested in, and players can transport all visitors who would are going to the same area to their attractions at the same time. In subsequent turns, they may then draw the players from the attractions into their hands.
For those who have played San Juan, the game sounds and is very similar, but is much simpler as there are fewer ‘special’ cards that break the rules. At the same time, the game has a decent amount of complexity as players must decide between building attractions immediately to begin attracting visitors with saving cards to build the right kind of attractions. With the addition of secret goal cards and the fact that all built attractions score, there are a few viable strategies to winning.
In addition, Steam Donkey is easy to teach. The (basic) rules are relatively simple like all good Euros and this keeps each turn passing quickly. Of course, the advanced rules (not explained) add more complexity to the game along with more tactical options which greatly enhance the gameplay for those who have mastered the basic rules.
A word of caution – shuffle well. Due to the way visitor cards ‘clump’ together when played, if you don’t shuffle well you will find that you will be drawing visitors of the same type constantly, which might cause issues with how fast the game plays. Also, at times you’ll just be drawing cards because you are waiting for a specific card, which if you don’t shuffle the cards together properly can make for a long time of just drawing.
Lastly, something to note, while the game itself is easy to transport when playing it can take up a lot of space because of the tableau. This isn’t a game that plays in a very small space well, so be careful.
Overall, it’s a good accessible game that is easy to transport. If you need a basic filler, Steam Donkey is definitely something you should consider getting especially since San Juan is currently out of print at this moment.
Waggle Dance is a worker placement game that has players act as Queen Bees, using their bees to grow their hive, collect pollen and of course, produce honey. Waggle Dance is an interesting development of a worker placement game, with an interesting resource development engine in place that has to be carefully balanced. Overall, with nice artwork and cute dice, it’s a decent addition to the worker placement genre.
In Waggle Dance, each bee is represented as a die. At the start of each turn, players roll their dice and take turns placing them on the available cards, taking up spots in the cards (which at times can be limited) which represent actions that the bees are taking. Actions for the bees during that turn include increasing the size of the hive, plantin an egg, hatching an egg (for more workers/dice), collecting pollen of a colour type, changing eggs or pollen to pollen of another type, collecting special cards, moving collected pollen around the hive and turning pollen into honey.
4 pollen of the same kind must be collected and stored on a cell to make honey, and during a turn a player can only collect at most 2 pieces of a single colour of pollen. As such, making honey is a multi-turn process. As the winner of the game is the player who first reaches 5 pollen, this makes the collection of pollen a race.
Waggle Dance is a well designed and developed game. The dice are small and custom made, but perfect for their use and not hard to read. The colours are all bright and easy to pick out and the game uses a lot of symbols to indicate actions, but for the most part the symbols are quite easy to discern. Overall, I have to give Waggle Dance great marks for the overall design.
Gameplay for Waggle Dance would probably place it in the medium-light ‘weight’ as a strategy game. The ruleset like most Euros is pretty easy to learn and if you’ve played a game like Castles of Burgundy or Kingsburg before, you’ll understand the entire worker placement as dice aspect really quickly. That leaves the game balance, which is achieved by pitting competing needs against one another.
Specifically, players have to have sufficient space in their hive to collect and store pollen (and honey eventually) while providing space to plant eggs to hatch for new workers. Spend too much time growing your hive and collecting pollen and you won’t have enough workers to compete against other players, however, because of the limit of the number of pollen available in a round; you can’t neglect pollen collection to just grow your workers.
This makes Waggle Dance ‘feel’ more like a traditional euro with a full resource engine behind it, but one that is extremely tightly developed as it is a race to 5 honey instead of victory points. As such, you’ll always be watching what other players are doing while potentially attempting to block their actions. I definitely like that competitive aspect of the gameplay, especially the competition around pollen collection.
I would definitely put Waggle Dance as an extremely solid addition to the worker placement genre. It should definitely be part of the consideration for a collection if you don’t have a solid worker placement game as yet. Or you know, you like bees.