Ascension : Chronicles of the God King Review

Ascension : Chronicles of the God King is a deck-building board game that has strong flavors of Magic the Gathering and Dominion in it.   It’s a fast gateway deck builder game that takes less than 5 minutes to explain and less than an hour to play.  Ascension is a good game that I believe has carved out it’s own niche in this fast growing sector of the market.

Appearance:  Ascension : Chronicles of the God King comes in a rectangular box that is about three times as big as it needs to be – except for the inclusion of the board.  The game itself consists of 200 cards, 50 tokens and the game board so there’s really no reason for the large box size except to ensure the board fits.  On a different note – the game artwork is actually pretty good.  There’s nothing exceptional here; but it’s nice and quite thematic and the use of ‘flavor text’ on the cards can be quite funny (e.g. the Burrower Mark III whose text is ‘Can You Dig It’).  Card stock is good which means that the game is likely to hold up to quite a few plays.

Rules / Ease of Learning:  Ascension is the easiest deck builder to learn – I’d say even easier than Dominion.  It took me less than 5 minutes to teach and set-up the game for our first gameplay.   The board is set-up with the Heavy Infantry, Mystic & Cultist on one side and the draw / discard deck the other with the six (6) cards that are the cards available to purchase in the centre.  Each time a card is bought / killed; players refill the centre row with cards from the draw deck.  The number of Honor (victory) Points available varies depending on the number of players in the game, with Heroes & Constructs having honor points at the end game as well.

Each turn, players draw 5 cards from their deck and then play them out, using the Runes (for purchasing Heroes & Constructs) or Power (for killing monsters) provided for their turn.  As a balancing factor, the Cultist is always available to beat upon for 2 Power and the Mystics & Heavy Infantry cards for Rune purchases.

One complaint is that in an effort to keep the rulebook simple, the designers seem to have left out a few important points.  E.g. The Cultist never dies; when (exactly) the centre row is refilled and what order rewards are fulfilled.  It’d be nice if they included an FAQ or rules clarification on these points.

Gameplay: Ascension : Chronicles of the God King is much more tactical a deck builder than other deck builders as players must learn to use the specific cards available on the board and in their hand to win.  While you can start the game with a general ‘strategy’ (e.g. deciding to buy Mechana Constructs, focusing on Heavy Infantry / heroes, focusing on a draw deck); the randomness of the centre row will dictate your actual gameplay.

The game is also quite fast – since chain of actions are unlikely (i.e. multiple draws); it’s unlikely that players will be waiting for any single player to draw through and play his entire deck like Dominion.

We had a ton of fun when playing, with the game very well balanced.  Even with a bad draw, thanks to the Cultist, Mystics & Heavy Infantry; there’s always something that a player can do to better his deck.   The Cultist in particular caused lots of grins as players would send their army to ‘beat on the Cultist for Honor‘.

However, there’s a few areas to note with Ascension.  You need to play (or perhaps just sit down and read through the cards) a few times to get an idea of potential combinations through the game. That does give more experienced players an advantage.

The randomness of both card draws and the centre row can give an unfair advantage to a player – but that’s true of most games with an element of luck.   It’s just that with Ascension, since there’s almost no ‘interactive’ cards, you can’t stop a player that you know is pulling ahead.

Lastly, the amount of ‘randomness’ in the game increases as the number of players increase as the centre row churns through at a faster rate.  That often means that players have to take a ‘wait and see’ attitude in larger groups as the cards in the centre row will have churned over most likely by the time it reaches them.

Conclusion:  Overall, I like Ascension : Chronicles of the Godslayer.  It’s a light deck building game that is easy to set-up, simple to teach and fast to play.  There’s certainly depth to the game here already and a good expansion should add more to this game.  It’s not going to replace Thunderstone as a meatier, themed game for me but I must admit, I do prefer it over Dominion.

Dust the board game review

Dust is an alternate reality sci-fiction wargame along the lines of Risk. Players are in control of their nations, attempting to build up their armies and areas of control to win the game. Unlike Risk however, players must manage not just the quantity of their armies but the mixture of the units in the armies, production centres and power sources to fuel their production centres. This makes Dust a much more strategically involved wargame, but streamlined rules and a victory point condition makes the game faster to play and finish.

Appearance: Firstly, Dust has the cutest little tanks ever. Seriously, those tanks are so, so cute. The various other models for the units are very well designed as well, cute and easily distinctive across a table. In addition, the artwork on all the cards and in the rulebook is great – I like the comic style art that they have going on. However, the biggest complaint is the board- instead of using a mounted, folded board, the board is made up of multiple cut pieces that are meant to join together. Which they do. Sort of. Various bulges appear consistently, causing pieces to lie askew and sometimes slide.

Rules / Ease of Learning: Since Dust is a Risk derivative game, the basic rules are well known to most players. Each player has units, which do battle against other units via die rolls. However, additional rules are added in Dust to make the game more strategic. First, players have action cards that they play in the beginning of each round which dictate their turn order, the number of production points they have, the number of movement points and attack actions. In addition, each action card has a special ability that may be used once per round. Since the cards (and values) vary,players must balance their options and the main goal of each round before playing the card.

Production of units are dictated by the number of production centres, power sources and the cards controlled by each player. In addition, production of units can only occur in production centres, so players must consider exactly where to locate their production centres.

In Dust, each round moves through production then movement of troops then attacks for each player before the next players turn. There is additional impetus to attack in Dust to receive additional victory points, which is how the game ends (most commonly).

Overall, the rules of Dust should not be hard to teach, leaving the majority of the time to actual gameplay.

Gameplay: Firstly, I should note that I’m a huge fan of Risk-derivative type games. I enjoy the strategic level of gameplay allowed in these games, without getting bogged down in individual unit details. There’s also a lot of fun in tossing dice.

With that said, Dust scratches the itch very, very well. It does exactly what I want it to do – play fast, provide a high level of strategic and tactical decision making where luck might play a part but certainly doesn’t control the game. Good decisions are rewarded in Dust, while tactical surprises can still occur due to the various action cards.

The play between production centres and power sources forces players to hold both areas tightly, attempting to balance both their ability to produce units with the power sources needed to run the centres. In addition, the need (towards the latter half of the game) to keep their Headquarters under guard adds another element of risk to the game. While there’s some complaints that keeping HQs in Dust invoilable in the first half of the game reduces the tension, I think it allows players the ability to be aggressive with their units, which is a good thing.

Conclusion: Dust is fun to play and by far the best Risk-derivative game out there. It certainly does better than Risk 2210 A.D. with fast play, additional strategic and tactical complexity without bogging the game down in too large swings in power dynamics. While luck still plays a factor in Dust, it’s definitely not the major factor in gameplay.

Formula D review

Formula D is the reprint of the classic racing game Formula De.  Never having played Formula De before, I can’t compare the games, but I have come to enjoy Formula D itself.  Certainly one of the most fun racing games I’ve had a chance to play, with an interesting racing mechanic using dice for movement.
Appearance: Formula D comes in a very large box that contains the racing tracks, the cars, the player’s individual racing car information and the driver information.  The design of the tracks and the drivers are in a slightly cartoonish style, one that displays the information about the cars and the tracks quiet well.   It’s easy to read and it’s easy to follow, with the game board having useful little pieces of information like the number of spaces to the next turn and the highest and lowest number of space in each turn.  Overall, I’d say the design of Formula D is great.

Rules / Ease of Learning: Formula D is quite easy to learn.  While not the simplest racing game out there – Snow Tails has a much simpler and more intuitive racing mechanism – the rules aren’t overly complicated either in the basic, classic Formula De racing game.   Of course, there’s additional rules for tires, pit stops and weather but most can be ignored in the first few games.  The street racing rules aren’t much more complicated, just adding additional individual driver abilities and special ‘track specific’ spots.  The only intimidating aspect of Formula D is the initial race car information sheet – there’s a lot of information there that can be over-whelming.

As a quick summary, players in Formula D begin by picking their drivers.  In the basic game, all the drivers are exactly the same with similar cars.  Cars have a variety of ‘points’ indicating the grade of tires, their brakes, their body, engine and shocks.  You track how well your car is doing via pegs inserted in the driver information boxes, so it’s easy to keep track of all this information.

In addition, you have a gear box that indicates the dice that you are rolling at each gear.  Players can only ever shift up one gear at a time, but can downshift multiple gears (at the cost their gear box and potentially engine and brakes).  Higher gears give greater movement, in a non-linear progression.  Example – first gear gives you movement of between 1 – 2 spaces while fourth gear gives movement between 21 – 30 spaces.

The only other major rule to keep in mind are turns.  Each turn indicates the minimum number of stops required in the turn, and if players blow through a turn without stopping, they suffer wear on their tires.   If all their tire points are ‘blown’, they spin out the first time and blow up the second time.  So, judging movement and turns becomes the heart of the game.

Minor (but important rules) are scattered throughout the rulebook dealing with what happens when you go through a turn without stopping, how to use brakes, engine failure, slip-streaming and the like, adding to the complexity of the game and occasionally forcing players to review the rules.  However, the basic game continues to be quite simple.

 Gameplay: Formula D is a lot of fun to play.  With at least one player knowing how most of the rules work, it flows fast and tense.  The game has a great combination of luck and skill, with tension always in the air over every single roll.  In Formula D, players are always calculating the number of spaces to the next turn, debating whether to go up or down a gear and figuring out how far to push their car.

And that’ where things get interesting – as multiple players on the same board can take the same turn in different ways.  One player might burn through at a high speed, forsaking tire points for speed while another might attempt to hit the turn exactly right at a higher gear.  A third might work to slow his speed down in the turn, betting on picking up speed at approaching turns as the other players have to brake then.  It makes Formula D fun to play, with every player’s plan potentially thrown off by the throw of a die.

There’s been discussion about run-away leader problems, but in the games we’ve played, that has rarely happened.  Sure, a lucky and skilled player can take the lead and keep it – but it sometimes only takes one or two bad rolls to throw his entire lead into disarray as players behind him push their cars to the maximum and he has to readjust to upcoming turns.

While the basic Formula D game is fun, we found that the street racing games even more so as the basic track becomes even more dangerous with additional obstacles.  There’s also a lot of fun having the ability to use Nitro.

My only real complaint about the basic Formula D is the fact that the boards are entirely preset.  It’s a great business tactic – once you’re hooked, you’ll want ever more tracks to play.  However, it does mean that you only have 2 tracks to race around on unlike the modular tracks available in other, more recent, racing games.

Conclusion: Overall, it’s no surprise that Formula D is a classic racing game.  It’s definitely for anyone looking for a racing game that has both luck and strategy in it and it leads to some truly tense gaming moments.

Confucius the board game review

Confucius the board game is a complex 3 – 5 player Euro game that attempts to depict the maneuverings among the Chinese family in the Chinese Imperial bureaucracy.  Since the Imperial Bureaucracy hasn’t really changed since the time of Shi Huang Thi; the game itself could be set in nearly any period of Chinese expansion.  Overall, Confucius is an interesting game that alters depending on the number of players and the experience of the players involved.  It certainly does what it sets out to do, which might make the game too complex for some game groups.

Appearance: The artwork in Confucius is inspired from traditional Chinese artwork, so whether it looks good depends on personal artistic taste.  Having grown up around this kind of art, I don’t mind it at all and it does lend the game a distinctive appearance.  The board itself is very functional, making the overall appearance and game simple enough to work.

Rules / Ease of Learning:  Let’s be clear here, Confucius is a complex game. This game is targeted at serious gamers (or should be at least) and as such, the rules are long and quite involved.  While the game itself is relatively simple and fits into place quite well once you start playing, it does take a while to get through the rulebook.  However, the rulebook is quite well laid out, most questions are answered in it and we found referencing it very easy.

In Confucius, players are rival Chinese families attempting to increase their influence in the Courts.  As such, they have one of three avenues open to them – control of the three Ministries (Military, Domestic and Trade),  military conquests and trade to distant lands.  Each of these options provides various victory points and additional benefits including lower costs and Emperor Reward Cards.

Throughout each round, players receive a number of actions equal to the number of gifts given and received.   They then may play these actions on the board; choosing from the possible actions which include : buying / securing influence in a ministry, buying junks and armies, launching invasions or voyages, setting up individuals for the Imperial Exam and forcing an Exam to buying / giving gifts or receiving additional funds.

The biggest complexity in the game comes from gifts.  Gifts have a variety of effect on those who receive them, some of which can be game changing.  It forces players to aid your candidate during Imperial Examination, limits the amount of influence an individual may have in a Ministry and dictate what kind of gifts you can receive in turn.  In fact, the gift giving aspect of Confucius is a very subtle and evil way of managing others.  It reminds me so much of dealing with my family.

Gameplay: Confucius is a complex game to play but fun.  The game definitely changes with the number of players involved – the limited number of spaces in the various ministries / voyages / foreign lands increases the competition among players, while the free flow of gifts increases the complexity as well.

There are numerous strategies to winning, and it is quite possible to hinder other players with gifts.  While the ministries might be the highest point areas in a game, they are also the most contested, dictating players look at conquering foreign lands or conducting voyages to gain points.  In addition, the use of gifts can severely hamper a ministry strategy at the same time.

However, having no presence in the Ministries can make other strategies more difficult as the cost of purchasing increases significantly.  In addition, multiple actions are needed to not only raise armies / buy junks, but to send them on invasions / voyages.  It makes the game very well balanced and again, complex.

The only major complaint is that players have to continuously double-check on the gifts that they have received / given as this can dictate their options / strategies.  While the gift grid used is very handy for this, mistakes can be made, slowing the gameplay down significantly.

Conclusion:  Confucius ranks in my mind up there in terms of complexity with Le Havre and Louis XIV.  I actually prefer Confucius over Le Havre due to the higher level of interaction from the gifts.  This is a great board game for serious board gamers who have 3 – 4 hours to play but certainly not for beginners or those looking for a lighter game.

Warhammer : Chaos in the Old World Review

Warhammer : Chaos in the Old World is one of the best 4 player games released in 2009.  Having had a chance to play it numerous times, the replay value for this game has held up very well due to the numerous strategies available for each Chaos God and the changing Old World Cards.  This is a must have game for any Ameritrash player.

Appearance: This is a Fantasy Flight Games production, so obviously the game is pretty.  Lots of little figures for your various acolytes and soldiers, while the board itself has been quite well designed and really pretty.   I love the dials that are used on the board to keep track of the advancement of each God – it’s fast and intuitive to use.  My only complaints are that the banners for the various miniatures have a tendency to break, but it really doesn’t affect gameplay.  What does affect gameplay is the gameboard – it takes a few minutes to realise where the borders are and aren’t.

Rules / Ease of Learning:  Chaos in the Old World is actually relatively easy to learn with the majority of the information available on the handy player aids.  The gods are given power points that they must use up each turn, with each god having three kinds of followers.  These followers can help fight / kill other Chaos God followers or corrupt the individual lands.  Once the threshold of corruption has been reached,  points are scored for the corruptors.  In addition, players can also win the game by advancing their God’s dial to its maximum – though each God has a different number of dial advancements.

Gameplay: This is where the Chaos in the Old World really shines.  Each God has different abilities and goals, so they all play very differently from one another.   Players have to adjust both their play style to what Gods are present in the game as well as the current effects of the Old World cards, which means a shifting strategy all the time.

In addition, while some Gods are easy to learn to play (Korn); others take a while to grasp the best strategies to use.  As such, it’s a continual learning process in Chaos in the Old Worlds.  Players are always engaged, as they watch the actions of each other, shifting priorities as needed.  It definitely takes two to three games to grasp the intricacies of a God, though even from the first game, Chaos in the Old World is fun.

Occasionally though, the Old World cards line up to really hammer the most effective play style of  a god – or greatly benefit another.  In such cases, it sometimes feel that there’s very little a player can do to individually effect the games outcome.  Of course, being the game that it is, the players can work together to hamper a runaway leader.

Conclusion: Chaos in the Old World is a great 2 hour game.  It’s involved, it’s deep, there are numerous strategies to explore and it has just enough randomness to make the game nail-bitingly tense at times.  This is definitely a ‘must buy’ recommendation from me.

Chrononauts (2009 Edition) Game Review

Chrononauts is the board game of time travel, where players take on the role of a time traveler attempting to either correct the timeline to his future or to collect sufficient number of cards / artifacts for his benefactor.  To do so, he jumps through time and adjusts the timeline; attempting to finish before his competitors.  A fun time-traveling game, Chrononauts is great to carry around in your bag as it’ll play from 1 to 8 players.

Appearance : The new 2009 Edition of Chrononauts comes in a larger solid cardboard box, with space in both sides for the cards.  As a pure card game, the card stock is heavy and will certainly stand up to repeated use.  In addition, graphics are very simple (if cute) and representative of the various artifacts available.  I do like how the symbols on the cards indicate all the major actions required; meaning that you rarely have to refer to the small rulebook.  Overall, I’d say it’s appearances are adequate but not great.

Rules / Ease of Learning:  Chrononauts is actually pretty easy to learn to play.  You lay out the timeline on a board, with specific years showcasing major events (linchpin events) and flux points in a grid format.  You then receive a hand of cards to use during the game as well as your character.  Your character will have a specific alternate timeline (always 1 ‘real’ event and 2 ‘patched’ events) which he is attempting to return to.  You’ll also return a goal card, that indicates the artifacts you are trying to recover.

Play continues in a simple ‘draw 1, play 1’ format.  the strategy of the game comes in the types of cards you draw and play, from flipping specific linchpin years to change history (for that year and all other linked event years) to  collecting / stealing artifacts or even ‘patching’ the timeline.  I should note that patching the timeline is a very good thing, as it stops the universe from exploding from too many Paradoxes (8) as well as giving the players an extra card for doing the deed.  That leads to the last method of winning – gaining 8 cards in hand.

Gameplay: I like Chrononauts a lot.  It’s fun, fast to teach and moderately quick to play.  The fact that you can play solo or up to 8 players makes the game quite interesting, with strategies changing as you increase the number of players involved.

In addition, while gameplay is simple, there’s a depth of strategy to it as you manage not only your hand but attempt to guess the goals of your opponents.  Since  everyone has 3 major methods of winning, 2 of which are hidden, it’s important to keep an eye on these factors as well.  On the other hand, Chrononauts is not an extremely difficult game to learn / play either, which makes is a good light-medium weight game to introduce to new gamers.

Conclusion:  Chroonauts is a great card game – a continuously altering landscape / game board, hand management and multiple goals all make it a great unique card game that should be added to any players collection.

Mission Red Planet : A Game Review

Mission Red Planet has players attempt to gain control of one of 10 designated zones of the Red Planet by launching their astronauts into space via a series of steam powered spaceships. Mission Red Planet is designed by Bruno Faidutti, the creator of Citadels – a highly popular card game that uses a development and role choice mechanic. Playing through Mission Red Planet, you see some of the same role choices, but with the introduction of area control to the game and it is a very much under-rated light to medium strategy board game.

Appearance: Mission Red Planet’s artwork is very steampunk, with characters all drawn from that genre. The only real artwork in the game is in the character cards which are great to look at and the main game board which is mostly functional. I definitely like the artwork, but there’s not much of it – and the tokens and astronauts are your standard Euro fare. Overall, the game’s functional to good in this category. I will say the use of the external board for placing cards requires you to have a lot of table space though.

Rules / Ease of Learning: Mission Red Planet’s rules are actually very simple and quite clearly covered. The game lasts a total of 10 turns with 3 scoring rounds on turns 5, 8 and 10. Players attempt to have the most astronauts in one of the 10 locations on the board, with additional goal cards providing bonus points as well. To get their astronauts onto Mars, players have to fill up the spaceships awaiting launch. Each spaceship has a unique capacity for astronauts and a destination on Mars, so choosing the right spaceship to board is very important.

At the beginning of each turn players choose one of their nine (9) characters to play. Play order for the turn is in order of the characters in-play as each character is numbered 1 to 9. This part of the game seems very familiar to players of Citadels, though in Mission Red Planet, every player has their own identical set of character cards.

The characters all have special abilities, ranging from the Soldier who allows you to add two astronauts to a spaceship and kill another astronaut on Mars to the Travel Agent who sends three (3) astronauts onto a spaceship.

Additional minor rules also deal with scoring, discovery cards (which can alter how the board is played) and the special abilities of the characters. Overall, it took me 5 minutes to quickly explain the game to my group and then we were off.

Gameplay: The first time we played Mission Red Planet, we had to replay it a second time, so you can guess how much we liked it. It’s a fast playing game, but strategies slowly become clear after a game or two. We are all fans of the role choice selection mechanic, so we all enjoyed the choices we had while trying figure out which spaceships to populate and which areas to control.

Mission Red Planet’s use of spaceships that populate area’s is particularly interesting. The spaceships only launch when they are full (normally) so you have to plan ahead to get your astronauts to the right location on time, while making sure you don’t launch with too many of the other player’s astronauts. In addition, characters like the Pilot and the Saboteur make putting too many astronauts on one spaceship dangerous. On the other hand, because players can only regain cards once they play the Recruiter card, tracking what cards have been played is an effective tactic.

For what seems like a relatively light strategy game, Mission Red Planet has a lot of strategy to it while reducing the amount of luck its predecessor Citadels had.

Conclusion: Mission Red Planet is one of those solid games that just did not get as much buzz as it should have last year. It’s a good, solid game that I would not hesitate to pull out with gamers and non-gamers alike.

Mini Board Game Reviews

I realise I haven’t written any game reviews in a while, mostly because while I’ve had a chance to play a ton recently, I haven’t had a chance to play them more than once mostly.  That doesn’t give me a huge amount of confidence in my ability to review the game objectively and well.  So, on that note, I thought I’d do a ton of mini-reviews today.  Hopefully, I’ll get around to doing full reviews soon of these games.  Games listed are in order of my recollection!

Caylus Magna Carta

Having finally had a chance to play the game half-way through, I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it.   I definitely want to finish a full game, but the little that I played certainly made this resource management / worker placement card game seem a ton of fun.  I like the fact that there’s a bit of interaction via the Provost and the placement / taking of buildings.


I’ve actually played this game sufficiently that a full review should arrive soon, but overall, I have to say I like Chrononauts for a quick, fun game.  It uses the time mechanic quite well, and the variable winning conditions makes the game a bit of a guessing game on how close each player is to winning.  It’s quick and simple to teach, though the randomness in the cards can be somewhat over-whelming.  Overall, a good filler game.

Power Grid

Having had a chance to play this finally, I must say, I understand why people enjoy this game. While the multiple routes and the knowledge of the upcoming power plant cards give experience players an edge, much of the game is still quite apparent on the board itself.  Of course, that might drive an analysis-paralysis prone individual to distraction and those who don’t like to do maths should consider avoiding this game, but otherwise, the game is a fun auction / route building game.  A definite step-up from Ticket to Ride in my opinion.

Power Grid : Factory Manager

While Factory Manager uses some of the same auction mechanic of Power Grid, it replaces the route building aspect with a factory /space management mechanic.  It plays faster as well,  and the additional strategy of pulling specific machinery down to purchase makes the game quite interesting through all stages.  I actually prefer Factory Manager to Power Grid, though mostly because of the shorter time frame of the game.  It’s certainly a ‘lighter’ game, but not necessarily a gateway game since there’s still a bit of math involved.  I’m certainly a fan and it’s game I’m looking to add to my collection in time.

Before the Wind

An interesting auction / bidding card game.  It’s unusual in that players choose to draw a card, and must then entertain bids from other players.  If they refuse to take the bids from the  other players, they must choose one player to pay off.  It’s an interesting twist on the auction mechanic that takes a few games to get used to definitely, as we had a tendency to over-bid in the first game. Relatively light, and interesting for its mechanic.


Atlantis is an older board game that a friend was bought for Christmas.  We played a quick game a month or so back and I must say, it’s not a bad game.  There’s nothing revolutionary on it, though the movement deck and the way the trail is set-up is quite interesting.  However, there is a lot of luck involved – from the way the trail is laid out to the cards drawn into your hand to which player goes before you – so it won’t be for everyone.  Overall, ot a bad game, just not great.

Twilight Struggle

What an incredible 2 player game.  I never finished our game, but it was a ton of fun and another game that I’d definitely want to play again.  Having seen both the old and new versions, the new Deluxe version is  a huge improvement in looks while the gameplay is rock-solid.  If you’re looking for a longer, tougher 2 player game, this is definitely a game to consider.

Castle Panic

Fun, fun, fun!!!  This is definitely a light co-operative game, with quite a bit of luck involved (at least in the base game) as the monsters arrive based on a die roll.  On the other hand, this game has definite potential as players are both co-operating and competing to win the battles.  I thoroughly enjoyed the 1 game we played, and I’m looking forward to testing this out further with my regular game group.  My only complaint is that it’s only a 4 player.

Lord of the Rings

We tried out this older co-operative game and a lot of the points about the game definitely hold true.  Firstly, it’s a very tough game – we nearly lost and the only reason we didn’t was because we had mistakenly used ‘easier’ rules in the first 1/4 of the game.    Even then, poor Sam went  to the dark side.   Secondly, the game does lack a touch of ‘atmosphere’, since much of it is just playing specific cards to the board.  Thirdly, I can see how it could almost feel formulaic in time as the board itself does not change – just your hand.  There’s obviously an optimum play-style, but there’s going to be a lot of testing before you reach that point.  Overall, this is a good game and one I’d be happy to break out for fans of the book.

God Dice – a board game review

God Dice is a direct, combative player-vs.-player dice game which pit’s a player’s set of heroes against his opponents in a fight to the death.  Players roll a series of 9 dice to determine which attack they will be able to produce, but each battle risks the potential intervention of the Gods themselves, for better or worst.  A fun, fast moving dice game, this is a perfect filler and a must for those who love the thrill of the dice.

Appearance:  God Dice comes in a tiny tuck box that contains the set of dice and the character cards. The dice have a nice heft to them and the iconography on the dice is easy to distinguish.  Artwork on the character cards is average – the layout is functional and the character pictures are indicative of the characters, if not great.  Overall, it’s not bad, but it ain’t great.

Rules / Ease of Learning: The rules of God Dice are extremely easy to learn and teach.  It took us all of 2 minutes to learn the rules, with the majority of the time perusing the actual character cards.  Players must choose one of six characters for each conflict, with there only being two duplicates per character type.  Each character has a series of special attacks that dictate their play style and their standing in the group.   This ranges from the ‘Hero’ with his enormous amount of hit points but low damage attacks to specialised characters like the cleric, bownman and monk to the high damage Sage and Assassin.

Once characters are chosen, players may only attack the player to their left.  In each round, the attacking player chooses his attacking character and the defending player his defending character.  Then the God Dice are rolled to see who (if any) are favoured.  At that point, the remaining nine (9) attack dice are rolled.

Players may re-roll each symbol type once – symbols include Wild, Damage (5 points always), Red, Blue and Yellow Sigils.  To successfully launch an attack, players will need to match the dice rolled with the attacking characters potential attacks.  Damage from the successful attack is generally generated from the dice rolled as well as any special effects of the attack.

Gameplay: Now that the boring rules explanation is out of the way, is God Dice fun?  The answer is simple – YES.  It’s perfect for those who have no problem with dice games.  The numerous re-rolls available make it an interesting decision each turn, while the initial choice of characters dictates strategy for the rest of the game.  The numerous attacks available from each character in God Dice even plays to different play styles – from risk taking players who will go for high damage attacks to more conservative, low damage but almost guaranteed damage.

Each dice roll is a tense moment for players, and the God Dice themselves are a fun addition.  It might be a tad too random for some people, but the added randomness was a ton of fun for my game group – you never knew when you were suddenly ‘back in the game’ as characters were killed off, missed or potentially resurrected.

The only issue is player elimination if you do not use the optional ‘resurrection’ rules.  With the luck aspect of the game, it is possible for a player to be eliminated from the game quite quickly.  We still found it quite tense and fun though, as players watched the roll of dice for other players.

Conclusion: God Dice is a ton of fun. It’s got simple but good mechanics, a riveting game play and a ton of replay value for filler use.  It’s also certainly destined for an expansion, which in my mind is a good thing.  God Dice is a definite must have dice game.

Killer Bunnies And the Quest for the Magic Carrot Game Review

Killer Bunnies BlueKiller Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot is a perennial family card game meant for older children and large groups. This is not a high strategy card game, as it is filled with a high degree of randomness; but it is a great party game that shines for large group games.

Appearance: Like it’s title, Killer Bunnies is both cute and slightly morbid, with cartoon bunnies armed to the teeth and looking scared. The magic carrots are a chuckle, as are the various bunnies and the weapons the bunnies wield. Both the card stock and general appearance of the game is of average quality – the cards won’t be wearing out after a few games but overall, nothing to shout about. The front cover pretty much gives ay purchaser the level of art they can expect to encounter.

Rules / Ease of Learning
: Overall, the game is relatively fast to pick-up once you learn the rules. It’s not particularly hard to play, with the basic rules being that players have a hand of 5 cards and 2 ‘run’ cards which are turned over at the start of the player’s round. This forces players to ‘plan’ their actions 2 rounds in advance, adding a slight strategic component to the game.

It does seem however that because Playroom Entertainment were trying to keep the rules very simple, a number of important points were missed out in the rules coverage or were hard to find. Examples include – when can I buy from the Kabala Marketplace, should I continue to draw cards after an ‘Immediate’ card comes into play and when does the cyber bunny attack the next bunny?

I also add that the rules should have taken time to explain the iconography on the cards, since certain important aspects (e.g. the pink bar indicating a card can only be played with a bunny in play) are not covered straight away.

Gameplay: Killer Bunnies is first and foremost not a very strategic card game. This is a tactical, humorous card game meant for beginner gamers, children or large groups of friends looking for a light board game. The game is not meant to be taken too seriously and should not be approached with a competitive state of mind – there’s too much randomness for the game to benefit a highly strategic player.

This is however a perfect game for those who want a simple, light and humorous game to have around the house or for those who play board games occasionally. The sudden swings in fortune caused by the sometimes over-powerful cards, the constant murder of bunnies and the twist of fate brought about by the dice can be a roller-coaster of fun and humour.

In many ways, Killer Bunnies can be seen as the compatriot of Munchkin – both have a high degree of randomness and interaction, both are light card games that are relatively easy to teach and both should never be taken seriously. It’s just that Killer Bunnies targets a larger, less specialised niche of the population.

Conclusion: Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot is a great card game to have in the house to bring large groups of players to the table – either whimsical adults or children. While this will not be the game for serious gamers, it is a good starter game that fills the gap like Bang!, Citadels or Munchkin.