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Player Avatar
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Go to the oddball Aeronauts page
Mike B {Avid Gamer} Nov 27th, 2014
“oddly amusing and strategic fun.”

OK so I’m coming a tad late to this party, in actual fact its a shocking oversight as the designers are local lads. Stop with the looks back there, OK the truth of the matter is I missed the original Kickstarter and fully intended to catch up with Nigel and Lloyd at the UK Games Expo, but of course their stand was always busy so I never had the chance. Cue lots of shiny new games between that to muddy the waters further and so time passes Thorin sings about gold etc.

Spin forward to now and I’ve managed to right a great many of these wrongs, I have now made first contact with the Pyne brothers the symbiotic organism responsible for oddball’s and managed to play the game with them, bolstered by that experience I subsequently purchased it. See. Happy Now!

So what is all this oddball Aeronauts business anyway? I’d original been drawn in by the cool art and just the overall look of the game there was something intriguing which I couldn’t quite get a handle on. On its release many fellow reviewers and podcasters were bigging this up, heck there was even some slavering, i’m sure I saw some slaver. I’d kept quiet obviously, admitting to having missed the airboat would have made me terribly uncool.

So oddball’s is actually a pretty simple little card game set in a kooky steampunk universe where bands of critters pilot great floating airships and battle it out upon the very high seas. It does a simple little bit of sleight of hand, it takes that old staple of school yard playtime Top Trumps, a game I personally sunk numerous hours playing my old Horror deck and then fixes all its issues.

Gone are the marathon play sessions where you wish the world would just end and swallow you up, the endless clip art and themeless game play and in comes a story and art working alongside the clever idea of not requiring a play surface to get a game going. This is something that you can pull out of a bag and get to playing anywhere with anyone. It improves upon the pick a stat and compare by offering a few simple modifiers to the cards that will reward playing a certain power or type of card allowing for you to create some clever little combo’s. And the fact you can stack the stats from the top three cards to boost your score takes away the simple my number versus your number monotonousness play of Trumps.

This is a game of attrition as your deck slowly dwindles either through playing cards or the effects of losing a trick (a hand) which is also the in game timer counting down to your inevitable defeat. The three skills that you play and compare each round have ramifications allowing for some subtle tactics and choices to occur.

Sailing – The winner recovers 2 cards

Guns – Loser discards 2 cards

Boarding – Winner recovers 1 card and loser discards 1.

And its as easy as that, the skill comes in planning ahead and using those combo’s. Do you sacrifice a win this round knowing that you’ll lose the cards that will allow you to get to the sweet ones below, do you gamble on what your opponent will play or even how many cards to hit a sweet combo. There’s a little of a lot to think about each round, enough so that your always making a decision each round but not too much that you’ll fall into some AP coma.

Its a simple game and is gently marred by a few issues, there is the inevitable confusion in the first few plays, the rule book could be better I was helped tremendously by having the designers on hand to teach me so I didn’t need it, this is a feature that should be worked into all future games, somebody get on that right away. It also comes with a active player marker that kind of goes against the whole philosophy of the surfaceless requirement to play, we got around this by using it to bounce off the losing opponents forehead to really rub in that defeat and that works just fine.
There are enough extra mercenary cards that once you’ve mastered the base decks you can mix in a few of these more powerful ones to spice up the proceedings and offers a tantalizing glimpse of where this game may go. All in all if your looking for a simple and portable little game that looks great in your mits while offering that espresso hit of game than this is what we have here.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
1 out of 1 gamers thought this review was helpful
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Mask of Agamemnon
I Got What I Wanted
Go to the The Witcher Adventure Game page
Andr0ss {Avid Gamer} Nov 26th, 2014
“Time of Contempt”

tl;dr: Quests are all samey, narrative and story are nonexistent, game boils down to a multi-player solo race for VP, plus game is laughably light, avoid unless you just have to own it because it’s Witcher.

I played 5 full games of the beta on GOG. My opinion is entirely based on THAT version. I am unaware of any rules or mechanics changes to the final board game. [EDIT: After some research I have discovered that there were no changes to the rules from the digital to physical editions] I was so thoroughly underwhelmed by this game that I blame it as being one of my triggers for my clinical depression. When I heard this was coming out I was so excited, “a new fantasy adventure board game by an established and accomplished designer!?”

“BY ODIN’S RAVENS! This is going to be amazing”, I thought.

Unfortunately, I could not find anything really enjoyable about the game. It had no real driving force or feeling, the “narrative” that occurs feels clunky and disjointed, zero player interaction, bland gameplay, and an overall feeling of emptiness. Where did they go wrong?

The main issue is the questing system. The quests are, to put it nicely, boring. You go around the board to collect tokens, and you trade the tokens in to complete it. There is no consequence for failing the quest (since you can’t really fail quests with this design), which makes it just a VP race. Which would be okay, if the name didn’t promised an adventure game.

You see, an adventure game should focus on the stories that come about with the game, and I’m not necessarily talking about the game’s flavor text. I’m talking about the experience an adventure game brings you, the stories that are built by the player, their decisions, and the system. You remember games of Mage Knight where you burn down a monastery and steal the monk’s artifacts then turned around and sieged a tower with said artifact, laughing in the ashes of your foes. You remember games of Runebound where the Brave Sir Valadir was more like “Brave Sir Robbin” in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Even In Talisman you remember when your significant other turns you into a frog three times in a row. You see, its these memories and these situations that make an adventure game. By making the game a VP race, none of the quests matter really. All the work that went into the flavor text is all for naught when quests only serve as a means to VP, and the main “skill” is who can do it the fastest.

Another issue comes up when you have an encounter in the areas which are all but unavoidable unless you want to fall behind in the race to win the game. When you go to combat these monsters it’s QUICKLY apparent that unless you are Geralt you are going to lose and probably lose badly to the monster encounter. But you’ll see that it doesn’t matter, you get the token regardless if you succeed or not, it’s just a minor inconvenience if you don’t.

Worst of all, the quests that you go on (you know the entire point of the game) all feel the same. Regardless if they are combat, diplomacy, or magic, they all require the same skill and “strategy” all the same. It always follows the same path; Go here, collect a token, roll the dice and collect the token regardless of it’s results, go there, trade the token, move up the VP chart. It quickly makes the entire experience very tedious rather than adventurous.

I perfectly understand why Trzewiczek did what he did, and regardless of this mishap he is an amazing designer with a brilliant mind frame for mechanics and theme. Unfortunately he was under strict constrictions from the IP owner. There was no point from CD Projekt RED’s point of view to create a meatier game. A Witcher Board Game is just printing money. Furthermore the target audience are video gamers and the mass market, so it needs to be light and easily accessible to all kinds of people, not just the Board Game kind of crowd. Perhaps I’m being to harsh and expecting too much because of this fact. But I can only review this in the eyes of a gamer, not as a mass market player.

With that in mind I will not be purchasing this game, under any circumstance. In fact, I cancelled my pre-order of it. However, if someone else owned it, and enjoyed it, and I respected their opinions, and (a lot of conditions here), than I might play the physical version, if only to see if they improved anything after the beta [Edit: They didn't]. Otherwise this is a STRONG pass for me, and NOTHING I can recommend to anyone other than the most casual of the mass market fans who love the IP enough to just buy it for that sake and not really play it. Such a missed opportunity.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
15 out of 15 gamers thought this review was helpful
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United Kingdom
Advanced Reviewer
Crab Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
Go to the Sail to India page
pookie {Avid Gamer} Nov 26th, 2014
“Small game. Big game play.”

What is remarkable about Sail to India is that it packs an incredibly big game in tiny box, both in terms of its theme and its sometimes harshly efficient Euro style game play. From the designer of String Railways and the Origins award winning Trains, Hisashi Hayashi, and published by Alderac Entertainment Group as part of its Big in Japan line, it is a game of mercantile exploration and adventurism. Designed for three to four players, aged twelve up, it is a game of resource management and worker placement that sees the participants attempt to sail to the orient in search of glory and riches.

Sail to India is set during the Age of Discovery. With the Mediterranean under Osman Turk control, the empire of Portugal seeks trade routes to the East. To do so, its merchants and nobles are dispatching explorers to sail south along the coast of Africa and round the Cape of God Hope in search of a route to India. Each player must manage his resources, and know when to invest in ships and technological advances, when to discover new ports and establish facilities, and when to reap the riches and the glory.

Thus Sail to India has big themes, but where a classic board game might come with a big board and counters to represent the ships and various goods and buildings. The little box that is Sail to India does it all with just twenty-eight large cards plus thirteen wooden cubes per player. Of these cards, three are given to each player. These are a Domain card, used to track a player’s wealth, the speed of his ships, and his technology; a Historian card, used to track a player’s Victory Points; and a Reference card. He also receives three cubes to invest in technology, one to track his ships’ speed (initially one, but can be bought up to three), and starting wealth (varies upon starting order). This leaves eight cubes, which essentially represent investments that a player can make as ships, goods, buildings, wealth, and glory (Victory Points).

Of the remaining cards, they form the route to India, consisting of coastal towns along the coast of Africa. Each Coastal Town consists of two buildings—churches, markets, and strongholds—which grant Victory Points when built, trade goods that can be sold for wealth and Victory Points. and the sea. They are laid out in a line, with Lisboa at one end, followed by the coastal towns, of which three start face-up. They are known destinations. The others will be revealed as ships sail further and further until the last, India, is reached. At game start each player also places one of his cubes as a ship on Lisboa.

On his turn, a player has several options, but can only do two of them. These include employing markers, moving ships, selling trade goods, constructing buildings, acquiring technology, and increasing ship speed. Employing ships means taking a cube from a player’s stock and paying one wealth to turn it into a ship in Lisboa. Moving ships involves a player moving any or all of his ships in any direction, up to his ships’ speed. If he moves his ships into a new coastal town, it is turned over and he earns Victory Points. To sell trade goods, a player moves his ships from the sea into the trade good spaces on the coastal towns. These are sold for wealth and Victory Points, the greater the number of types of good, the greater the reward. The markers for the trade goods are returned to Lisboa. For two wealth, a player can turn a ship into a building which now belongs to that player—churches give two Victory Points; markets only give one, but serve as a permanent trade good; and strongholds also only give one, but also serve as a starting point instead of Lisboa. To acquire technology, a player pays the coast and places a technology marker on the correct space on the technology cards. There are three of these cards, giving a total of twelve technologies. They have various effects, such as Printing Press giving a Victory Point when a technology is acquired, the Factory giving extra wealth when trade goods are sold, or Mission Church giving extra Victory Points for churches built. A technology can only be purchased once. Lastly, a player can increase his ships’ speed, first to two, and then three.

Play lasts an hour. It ends when the last coastal town is turned over and India is discovered, or when two players have run out of cubes. After that, everyone gets another turn and the game ends.

What makes Sail to India challenging is three factors. First, a player only has eight cubes to use as ships, trade goods, buildings, and so on. Second, they are interchangeable—ships can become trade goods which become ships, ships become buildings, and so. Third, a player needs to use some of these cubes to track his wealth and Victory Points, and since the tracks for both only go up to five, if a player earns enough to have six or more wealth or Victory Points, then he needs extra cubes—which have to come from those in play and from those in stock. If a player no cubes in play available, then he cannot track this extra wealth or Victory Points. Essentially, keeping track of his wealth and his glory (Victory Points) takes effort as reflected by the need for the extra cubes.

Sail to India is nicely presented. The cards are easy to use, the reference cards are very handy, and the rules clearly written. The artwork is in keeping with the game’s enjoyable theme, which is elegantly implemented in the game play. Similarly elegant is the balance between taking actions and using cubes and using cubes to keep track of a player’s wealth and Victory Points. Above all, Sail to India packs a lot gameplay and choices in quite a small box.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
8 out of 9 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
Go to the Munchkin Quest page
SeteNove {Avid Gamer} Nov 26th, 2014
“Too complicated”

I’ve played the original Munchkin games a few dozen times, so I was really looking forward to Munchkin Quest. What I found was a game that is fun but overly complex.

The instruction book has something like 19 pages of rules. I found myself constantly flipping pages while playing trying to figure out the game play. I’ve played four or five times now and still find myself referring to the rules. Fairly regularly, the instructions have you turning to other pages to reference other rules. On page 8, you are asked not less than ten times to turn to another page.

The combat also feels a bit random, more so than the original Munchkin game. Our first game was over fairly quickly as we kept drawing low level monsters. The fact that you have to be in a room adjacent to other players in order to mess with them takes away some of the original fun of stabbing your friends in the back. This might not be as big of an issue if you are playing with more than 2 players. Most of our games were 2 player and the one time we played with 3, the game was a lot better.

It’s still a lot of fun, especially once we got the hang of monster movement. But I still think the rules and their explanation need a major overhaul.

-Play with at least 3 players. Allows for more interactions and back-stabbing.
-Keep the instructions handy.
-Pay attention to the Monster Movement Rules. They can be confusing at first, but are very important to a fun game.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
6 out of 11 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
Go to the Istanbul page
iGabas {Avid Gamer} Nov 26th, 2014
“Favorite strategy game of 2014 for me!”

This game is a must have for any strategy game lover. It’s fast (30min or 45min), lots of re-playability, with awesome mechanics! It hits my gaming table every week, and more than once, two or three times in a row. It’s really awesome. The funny thing is, even it being an AWESOME game (and I can’t say this enough times), and even having won the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2014, people don’t get this game enough attention…. Don’t know how, but probably the thematic may seam a little too specific (turkish merchants on the Istanbul Bazaar doing business) but that’s the real fun in this strategy game: an odd theme to an awesome game filled with great moving mechanics that makes your journey into the world’s biggest bazaar market, in Istanbul, really enjoyable and totally feeling like its a real race against other merchants on a busy day at the bazaar. Favorite strategy game of 2014 for me! Cheers!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
5 out of 9 gamers thought this review was helpful

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