Game Review – Castle Panic by Fireside Games

Game Review – Castle Panic by Fireside Games

In this age of video games it’s hard at times to get people to put the controller or mouse down and get interested in a board game. If you or someone you know is like this, may I suggest Castle Panic by Fireside Games as a great way to break them away from the computer screen? The concept is easy enough – you and your fellow players are in the castle in the center of the board, trying to fight…

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Game Review – Castle Panic by Fireside Games

In this age of video games it’s hard at times to get people to put the controller or mouse down and get interested in a board game. If you or someone you know is like this, may I suggest Castle Panic by Fireside Games as a great way to break them away from the computer screen?

castle-panic-game-contents-fireside-gamesThe concept is easy enough – you and your fellow players are in the castle in the center of the board, trying to fight off a hoard of monsters determined to make their way to your stronghold and tear down your walls. But you’re not going to go down easily and your friends are right beside you as you work together to beat Goblins, Orcs and Trolls – along with some special characters and darned nasty events like Giant Boulders being tossed at your walls!castle-panic-game-monster-tokens-fireside-games

The board is simple enough to set up – your tower and walls are set up in the center of the board covering each sector. When a monster hits one of the walls it takes one point of damage, usually enough to kill it – but you lose that wall segment. And once a monster is inside the wall it will spin around to take out all of the outer walls and then the inner walls unless you take it out. And once all of the walls are gone, well… Game Over.

castle-panic-game-cards-fireside-gamesGame play is wonderfully simple and yet full of possibilities for strategy – each player gets a certain number of cards, based on the number of players. Each card shows a fighter – Archer, Knight, Swordsman and the color shows which sector they’re active in. Other special cards allow you to rebuild walls, fortify walls and characters, such as Heroes and Barbarians, will help you defeat tough monsters such as the Orc Mage.

On each turn a player draws up to their hand limit then can trade ONE card with any other player – a way to rotate resources to where they might be best used. You can also discard one card and pull an extra card. After this you can play as many cards as you want – because at the end of your turn all of the monsters on the board move one ring closer to the tower. Each card does one point of damage to the monster unless noted otherwise – and not all monsters take only one point to kill! And then two monsters are added to the board, pulled out of a lovely black pouch and placed on the board with a random dice roll.

castle-panic-game-board-fireside-gamesIf you like games with an equal amount of strategy and randomness, this is the game for you. You can plan all you want but when you pull a Healer from the bag or a Giant Boulder, all of your plans can go up in smoke. The 3-D aspect adds a lovely touch as you scramble to rebuild walls using Brick and Mortar cards while working together to defeat the monsters.

Castle Panic has two expansions out at present and the concept has been used in other games like Munchkin Panic. We’ve played three games and lost two because we just got unlucky and pulled the strongest monsters at the end of the game – when most of our walls were down and we were weakest.

It’s also been reviewed by Tabletop and if you’re looking for a great video on how much fun it can be – check it out!

This is a great game if you have kids – it plays quickly and the rules are easy enough to explain along with the co-operative aspect. If you’re looking for a fun addition to your game shelf with the possibility of pulling your friends away from the computer screen, consider Castle Panic!

Game Review – Three Cheers for Master by Atlas Games

Sometimes the best games are those you don’t find yourself. When we attended the last Origins Game Fair we took along a friend to her first gaming convention. She had a great time and found some wonderful games that she’s now introducing us to for the first time. And one of the first, and to me the best ones, is Three Cheers for Master from Atlas Games. Here’s the cover copy: Master Has Been…

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Game Review – Three Cheers for Master by Atlas Games

Sometimes the best games are those you don’t find yourself. When we attended the last Origins Game Fair we took along a friend to her first gaming convention. She had a great time and found some wonderful games that she’s now introducing us to for the first time. And one of the first, and to me the best one, is Three Cheers for Master from Atlas Games.

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Here’s the cover copy:

Master Has Been Blue, Lately…

It’s just not the same now that all lands known to evil have been conquered.

When Master’s blue, it’s the minions who suffer. As a lieutenant in Master’s army — a foreminion — it falls to you to cheer him up. Not the easiest task, even in the best of times.

But then it hit you: What better way to cheer Master up than a cheerleading competition?

Whichever foreminion builds and scales the most impressive tower of war-hungry minions will surely win Master’s heart.

…What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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Indeed… what can go wrong?

A whole lot and it’s fun as heck to find out!!!

This card game has a lot going for it – hilarious cards, hysterical flavor text, interesting mechanics and a simple gameplay that means you can get a game going almost immediately with new people.

pic2527639_mdFirst the deck needs to be prepared – there are three types of cards; minions, movement cards and Big Hairy Fight cards along with two cards signalling that the Master is coming and that the Master has arrived… thus ending the game. Preparing the deck only takes a few minutes to fold in the needed cards for a game, depending on if you have two or more players. Then each player gets three cards and a ForeMinion token. This little fellow has to rise to the top of your cheer-leading pyramid to score the most points.

3C4MHughbert_400pxBut… Minions don’t play together well. That’s why they’re minions. And fights can and will break out. And you just might want to handicap your opponent to make sure THEIR pyramid will not be as spectacular as yours is… after all, YOU deserve the Master’s approval, yes?

So out of your three cards you play two – there are three types of cards; Minion cards, movement cards and Big Fat Hairy Fight cards. Minion cards are exactly that – minions that can be placed on your creation OR on your opponent’s to cause havoc. Movement cards are the same – they can shift cards in your pyramid to create a better stack or to prevent a fight OR to mangle your opponent’s build.

Big Fat Hairy Fight cards are exactly that. Randomly inserted in the draw deck, you must stop as soon as each one of these cards appears and resolve ALL combat actions. This means some pyramids will collapse, some minions most certainly will die and your ForeMinion might end up flat on his back.

3C4MSwagamemnon_400pxAfter you play two cards you draw back up and the next player goes. Play suspends when each Big Fat Hairy Fight card appears and combat happens – and when the Master finally appears you fight three times to show your worthiness and then count up your points to see who gains the Master’s approval.

Because it’s not just about how high your ForeMinion got – it’s also about the size… your point score will rise depending on the point value of each card and which level it’s at. A two-point minion on the second level will be multiplied by two, delivering four points. If the same card is on the third level it’ll be worth six and so on – up until where the ForeMinion sits.

3C4MSeafor_400pxWhich is, of course, why you must CRUSH YOUR COMPETITION!

Combat is fast, logical and hysterical – arrows on your minion cards show which way they will attack and in what priority. Three arrows go first, then two and then one. They will kill the minion next to it, leaving a gap in your pyramid.

But there are defenses. Barriers and shields can help your minions survive long enough to keep buildings… until, of course, the minion below them die and then gravity takes over.

Because We’ll Always Have Gravity.

3C4MCreeper_400pxGravity will kill most minions and if it doesn’t it’ll definitely affect the stack build, forcing you to change your plans. And since combat doesn’t happen until a Big Fat Hairy Fight card appears you have time to fix any nasty cards your opponents play on your stack until… you can’t.

And then the Master arrives.

And then the Reckoning happens…

I loved this game if only because of the art and the flavor texts. It’s a great fast, fun game that’ll have you laughing as you tear each other down, waiting for the Master to show up. The game mechanic is sound and it’s not a case of how high you build your pyramid but the number of cards at each level as I discovered… there IS a strategy here and it’s a good one!

pic2574046_mdIf you see Three Cheers for Master I’d say to grab this game up off the shelf and settle in for a few fun hours of running your minions wild as you try to cheer the Master up!

Game Review – Parfum by Queen Games

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With both my husband and myself searching for new games there’s going to be times when one of us will look askew at the other – AKA, “What the heck?”…

Parfum was one of those games. When the hubby announced he’d played it and bought it at Origins I was a bit leery about the game – it sounded pretty boring from his initial description and, frankly, I wasn’t sold despite his enthusiasm.

One game was all it took to sell me – and hopefully, you too!

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Let’s start at the beginning – you’re a perfume vendor looking to create and sell your special creations to the lovely ladies (and men!) searching for sweet-smelling aromas. But it’s not as simple as just pouring chemicals into a bottle and hoping for the best – there’s more than a little luck in this game!

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First you place random tiles on the playing board to represent the mixtures – the different colors stand for the different aromas – red for roses, green for lime, black for vanilla and so on. You need to use the dice to fulfill the requirements of each tile before you can pick up the tile. The tile also represents the top, middle, or bottom of a full bottle of perfume you need to construct in order to have product to sell. You can build a bottle with just a top and bottom if you want, but that’ll only give you two bottles instead of three to sell.

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So how many dice do you get to throw to meet the different tile requirements? Ah, here’s where the strategy comes in!

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You bid on which order you’d like to play in, much like in Five Tribes. What this means is that for a two player game, for example, you can play first and last, second and third, first and… well, you get the idea. Now you could be asking yourself – why wouldn’t I want to be first?

The number of actions you receive grow the further down the line you go – the first player only gets three actions, the second player four actions, the third five actions and the fourth place tag gives you six actions. Now, what does an action give you and why wouldn’t you want to be first?

An action gives you the chance to throw ONE dice or replenish ONE tile on the factory floor. Most tiles require you to throw at least two dice and you need to roll little flasks to fulfill the requirements of the tile you’re aiming for. For example, if you need two purple dice and one black to fulfill a tile and win four points you’ll need to expend at least three actions to pick up the three dice – and it’s not guaranteed you’ll win! But if you add more actions to your attempt you can add more dice and push the odds in your favor. You can also use water drops (you get some at the start of your game and can earn more later on) that can help change the results of the dice. But, in a nutshell, the more actions you have the better to win multiple tiles and build your perfume bottles! Thus going later on the game might be better for your strategy – but that’ll leave less tiles for you to win and less points! As you can see there’s more to this game than just rolling a few dice…

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After you win a tile and place the tile in your rack to build bottles you can attempt at the end of the round to sell your product to the waiting customers. This also goes by the sequence of turns determined at the start of the round. But you need to have a finished bottle to sell it to the customers AND meet their requirements. Each customer has certain needs and if your perfume doesn’t have the minimum scents it won’t sell.

You receive points for earning the tiles to create your bottles and for selling them to the customers – and your water drops have a point value that can also be used at the end of the game to boost your final numbers.

After the first round I saw what my hubby liked about the game – there’s a randomness to it that you can only negate so much by stacking up your actions. You need to be able to roll more dice to fulfill more tiles but then you’ve got less actions to do other things and going first might not be the best move – or last, depending on where you are in your perfume-building empire. You need to win tiles and fill bottles to sell them and at times going first to snatch that tile you need to finish off a bottle is worth only getting three actions – but then you better be good at the dice!

We enjoyed this greatly and will be playing it a lot in the future – there’s an expansion that adds “joker” dice and we’re looking forward to seeing how that works out.

Overall Parfum is a lovely game with a different concept, one that might be a bit confusing at the beginning but it all comes together in a great fun game that I recommend if you’re looking for something a wee bit out of the ordinary – I never thought I’d be so excited about selling perfume!

Unfortunately there’s not much information on the Queen Games website so you’d be best off going to the Kickstarter website for an overview. Hopefully they’ll update the website soon!

If you’re looking for a nice family game with plenty of dice rolling and a bit of strategy I recommend Parfum – it’s not going to gather dust while on our shelf!

Game Review – Survive: Escape from Atlantis! by Stronghold Games

Last year I received an email from Amazon for Cyber Monday, the next “holiday” after Black Friday. It listed a number of board games and one of them was Survive: Escape from Atlantis!  with a note on the cover saying it was the 30th Anniversary Edition.

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This intrigued me because I’d never heard of the game before. So I snagged it on sale along with others and waited to see what the game was all…

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Game Review – Survive: Escape from Atlantis! by Stronghold Games

Last year I received an email from Amazon for Cyber Monday, the next “holiday” after Black Friday. It listed a number of board games and one of them was Survive: Escape from Atlantis!  with a note on the cover saying it was the 30th Anniversary Edition.

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This intrigued me because I’d never heard of the game before. So I snagged it on sale along with others and waited to see what the game was all about. If it’s been around for thirty years, I figured, it had to have some staying power.

Good news: It does. And you definitely want this game for your collection along with all the expansions you can gather!

Let’s start with the premise. You, an intrepid explorer, has found the fabled Atlantis and have been merrily exploring the island! However the island has started to sink and you need to evacuate yourself and your team before you perish – don’t worry, there’s small islands off to the sides you can escape to and survive… if you can get past the sharks and sea serpents, the whales and your competitor who wants to be the only one alive to report the find!

That’s the story. Now let’s set up the board! You start with a lovely board with the aforementioned islands in each corner. The base game goes from two – four players so there’s plenty of room to stake out your home base. Next you build the island.

Yes – I said build the island. That’s one of the big draws of this game – every time you play it’ll be different. Each player now takes a turn to place one hexagon tile on the board within the defined lines. There’s three types of terrain – beach, forest and mountain. And the tiles vary in thickness from the thin beaches to the thicker forest to the Very Tall mountains. So after you run out of tiles you’ve built a three-dimensional board to play on.

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After this you choose a color and collect your meeples/valiant explorers. Players rotate placing one meeple on any tile until you’ve placed them all – and each player gets two boats that they can put next to any tile (not only the beaches) to collect and sail your meeples to safety. Each boat holds three meeples… but anyone can use any boat!

Each turn you must play a tile (more on that in a second) take a tile off the map and move some meeples – or the boat they’re in. When you remove a tile you check the information on the back and see if it can help you or hinder your opponents because there’s more danger here than just the island sinking! Sharks roam the waters eager to snap up meeples swimming to safety, whales can destroy boats trying to make it to shore and sea serpents not only wipe out boats but also eat the swimming meeples. The tiles allow you to place these creatures and move them around the board to attack your opponent. The opposite is also true however and you can find yourself quickly trying to get your people to shore while chased by a series of sharks.

Some tiles do help out however – some allow you to move sharks away from your position, for example, or bring in dolphins to help your meeples to make to shore. Meanwhile the island is being chipped away and in danger of being destroyed by a volcanic explosion!

There’s another level of strategy being added here – obviously if you have X number of meeples and your opponent have the same number it’s not hard to figure out when you’re falling behind in the count and can’t possibly win the game. A few well-placed sharks or whales and you can lose meeples faster than you can munch potato chips… but there’s a trick here!

It’s not the number of meeples you save that determine the winner – each figure has a small number written on the underside showing how many points that meeple is worth – from one to five points. So you could in theory save only two or three of them and score higher than your opponent who brings home a lot of low-pointed meeples. This final bit makes this a much more fun game and adds more strategy to you and your opponent’s gameplay as you try to put on your poker face and not show where your high-point meeples are while trying to get them to land.

After playing this a few times it’s easy to see why it’s been around for thirty years and why it’s not only spawned expansions but also another upcoming version taking place in Space – it’s a fun game that changes every time you play it and has a level of strategy that makes it great for family play. Add in the three-dimensional game surface and I’m wondering why I didn’t find this game before!

If you’re looking for a fast fun game for your family shelf I highly recommend Survive – it can be played with just two players but runs best with four – and the expansions allow you to go up to six players, making this a great game for your buddies!

International Tabletop Day! This Saturday! Play more Games!

I’m a gamer, through and through. The hubby and I celebrate our anniversary by going to the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio every year. We spend most nights either playing board games or talking about it, haunting such great boards as Board Game Geek to see what’s up and coming. We buy games from Kickstarter and I review them here.

So yeah…. I’m a gamer.

But this upcoming Saturday, April 11th…

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International Tabletop Day! This Saturday! Play more Games!

I’m a gamer, through and through. The hubby and I celebrate our anniversary by going to the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio every year. We spend most nights either playing board games or talking about it, haunting such great boards as Board Game Geek to see what’s up and coming. We buy games from Kickstarter and I review them here.

So yeah…. I’m a gamer.

But this upcoming Saturday, April 11th we can ALL be gamers! Because this Saturday is International Tabletop Day!

What? What? What IS this day, you ask?

So… let me tell you how you can have a great fun-filled day with your friends and family and discover a whole new world! As a writer I love the creative break a game can give me and it helps rejuvenate my mind so I can go back to writing refreshed and ready to go!

International TableTop Day started off as a response to a popular web series – TableTop hosted by Wil Wheaton. (yes, THAT WW as we all know and love him from Star Trek: The Next Generation!) In the web series he plays games with his friends and you get to watch them fumble through the fun and annoyance. It’s a great introduction to many games and if your game gets showcased on his webseries you’re pretty well guaranteed to have major sales for your product! As well as the actual games he brings on excellent guests such as Aisha Tyler among others to have a wild time.

Three years ago the idea of ITT happened – local game stores joined forces to give people the chance to try out new games and test the ones showcased on the web series. And it was wildly successful with now over 80 countries participating and thousands of events happening all on one single glorious day of gaming!

So how can you get in on this?

First head over to the ITT website and see what’s happening in your area – depending on where you live you might have a variety of choices on where to go for ITT. Local game stores will be listed and if you go to their websites or Facebook pages you’ll be able to see what they’re offering. Many stores have free swag for attendees as well as food and drink.

But, you say… what happens when I get there? What will I do, where will I go?

YOU WILL GAME LIKE YOU’VE NEVER GAMED BEFORE!

What does that mean?

ITT is a great way to discover new games. The stores will have plenty of demonstrations going on and you can hop in and play a variety of games for free. No commitment, no obligation. Just come out and sit down at a table, play a game and have a great time.

DOES IT GET BETTER THAN THAT???

I say not.

The hubby and I have discovered some great games over the past three years such as Smallworld, 7 Wonders, X-Wing and many others. Even if you don’t find a game you love it’s a great day out with other games and you can try out many games without having to buy them – sometimes the game you thought you’d love turns out to be a dud for you and it’s the small one off to the side that you try out on a whim that may be your best buy of the day!

And if you’ve never been to your Local Game Store?

Why not go out this Saturday and see what this whole gaming thing is all about? Watch a few episodes of Tabletop while you count down the days and then swing by this weekend to find a whole new world waiting for you!

International Tabletop Day – it’s for everyone!

And, as Wil Wheaton says…

PLAY MORE GAMES!

Game Review – Heroes of Normandie by Iello/Devil Pig Games

As we creep up on Origins Game Fair 2015 we’ve been looking over the games we bought LAST year and still haven’t played… we’re very good at finding plenty of games to buy and bring home, not so much the playing. So Heroes of Normandie  by Iello/Devil Pig Games has been sitting on our shelf for the better part of a year gathering dust until the hubby dusted it off. He picked it up based on a demo…

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