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4
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Gamer - Level 4
Go to the Letter Tycoon page
7
Angrod Vardamir {Avid Gamer} Aug 13th, 2018
“Scrabble Reinvented”

I am a fan of Word games though there are not many good word games out there. Scrabble was fun but I found that the tactical placement on the grid really turned me off back in the day. The fun of word game lies in crafting those letters into words. But apparently, too many rules or restrictions put me not really like it. You know the feeling, when you found great word from your letters but apparently you short of 1 square of space or even it touches the side of another letter that really screw your word, it’s maddening. Now Letter Tycoon from Breaking Games, designed by Brad Brooks, is something else entirely. It shares the same game principle with Scrabble, but omit the use of the game board. Instead it uses cards for the letters and players need to assemble those cards into a word.

The goal of the game is to get the most total points from Stocks, Coins and Patents when the game ends. The game ends when one player managed to get a total sum value of letter patents (varied based on number of players). On player’s turn, they play cards from their hand to form a word and they can also use some or all of the three cards available in the middle of the table. The word created will be score based on the amount of letters used for the word. The longer the word is, the bigger the points are (and more stocks). After that, the player may buy one available letter patent that they use to form the word. These patents have different value and represent cost to buy them and points at the end of the game. Some patents have passive abilities that can be used by the owner, but all of the patents give the owner money from the bank each time they’re used by other players to form words.
Before a player’s turn ends, they decide which card they want to discard from their hand and then refill hand back to 7 cards. The cards in the middle of the table are also refilled back to three.

Now, it is possible that words the players make is not really correct words and not exist. To solve this problem, players can challenge the active players once he made a word from the cards. If this happened, they check the word through a dictionary (decide which one they should use to settle the conflict) and if the word did exist, the challenger need to pay 1 coin to the bank. But if it turned out that the word did not exist, the active player must take back the played cards (return the factory card back) and then discard one card from his hand. He end his turn and refill back his hand.

I like how the game really works, the flow is smooth and fast-paced, unless you have trouble to form word from those letters. I love the freedom to create words from the cards in your hand and also from the three cards on the table. It always a fun game for me, though luck also plays a great deal on the game. The letter distribution can be a let down, since the cards are discard and won’t be coming back to the deck before it rans out. So if it obvious what letters are all used up, they won’t be on the deck and you won’t get it soon. I also like how interesting the patent abilities, they’re powerful and it can change how you make your words. Players also choose to buy which patent that will be the most useful to them, letters that frequently used (mostly vowels) and higher card count are usually more expensive. Getting them early in the game could prove to be useful for the players because higher chance for other players to use them more often.

The game can be played with 2 players and up to 5 players, it usually lasts around 30-60 minutes. For me, I can play the game back to back several times. It hits all the sweet spots and turned out it solve the Scrabble issue. Of course one issue left is about the word difficulty. As each letter in scrabble provides value depends on the letter frequency used in words, there are some clever play to use great combination of letters in your words, which making long and hard word really paid off. In Letter Tycoon, there is no such thing, that’s why this game is casual friendly and suitable for family games, children and adults alike. It doesn’t reward players to make difficult words but instead rewards players to play longer words.

The components are nice, simple linen cards though it feels a bit flimsy than average. The coins are wooden and have printed value (nice) with solid color difference between the ‘3’ value (black) and ‘1’ value coins (beige / natural). Stock tiles are made from card board and only used during the final scoring. Basically stocks give you extra point but cannot be used for anything else unlike coins. Players collect stocks when they at least create a 5 letters word or more. There is also a plastic zeppelin marker as the active player marker, though I never used it every time I played the game.

This game is one of five games that won a Mensa Select Award in the year 2015 which also the same year it was released. Mensa Select is an annual award given by American Mensa since 1990 to five board games that are “original, challenging and well designed.”

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4 out of 4 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
4
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Gamer - Level 4
Go to the Super Motherload page
8
Angrod Vardamir {Avid Gamer} Aug 3rd, 2018
“Deck Building With Depth”

Super Motherload is an adaptation game from an old classic video game with similar name (Super Motherlode), somehow they made a pun about it in the game title. The game was designed by Gavan Brown and Matt Tollman (the architects behind Roxley Games) and they did a remarkable job.

Super Motherload is a deck-building game with some twists. The game is no longer a pure deck-building, it also has counter-tile laying element that makes the game to be one of a kind out there (maybe one of few. not sure if there are other games with this kind) where you put tiles on top of something on the board to cover it up. What I mean, in most tile-laying game, you place tile to add something to the board, but in here, you place tile to cover up something.

In this game, players take the roles of lead miners from different mining corporations to dig minerals on Mars. At first the game starts with 2 modular depth boards and players will add more board as they go deeper. Each player will have a starting hand of pilot cards (each player will have a unique card that represent their variable player powers. They also have pilot decks separate by type that they can buy along the game to gain more powerful pilots and bonuses.

On a player’s turn, a player can take 2 actions and there are only 3 available actions that they can choose, DRAW, DRILL and BOMB.
DRAW – unlike any other deck-building, in this game player’s hand doesn’t get refilled at the end of each turn. They have to use their actions in order to draw more cards. I founc this to be interesting, since the ebb and flow of deck building game provides streamline and simplicity to the core actions, it provides the opposite of that in this game. Without the limitation of player’s hand, the core action of the game will bring huge impact in crashing the tile laying flow of the game. Covering the board would not feel challenging without timing and tactics. So players need to carefully time their drawing actions.

DRILL – Basically players, play cards to drill the soil part of the board based on the amount of drill icons present on the cards. They can only play one color cards (plus rainbow since it’s considered as wild) and direction of the drilling can only facing straight, they cannot change course to the drilling direction. They will place a black tile to cover up the spaces they had drilled and get rewards from those spaces. The rewards can be minerals (there are several type of minerals which has different value), special effects, bombs and artifacts. When a player receive minerals, they have to immediately assign it to one of the pilot deck. If the amount of minerals on top of the pilot deck is equal to or higher than the top card, that pilot card is bought and placed on the discard. Some spaces cannot be drill in normal way, they’re not soil but steel plates and rocks. Players may only drill steel plates by using the drill pilot of the same color and players cannot drill rocks.

BOMB – Players can only pass rocks by bomb it. Bomb is related to one type of card (Red cards) and only one card can be played to take Bomb action. This action need a bomb token each time it’s used, the token works as a fuse or ignition for the bomb to explode. Each bomb card has a specific pattern that it covers, it’s like area affected by the bomb explosion. They have to be be able to cover all of the area in order for this action to be valid. More expensive cards will have bigger pattern.

When players get artifact rewards, they draw an artifact token. These tokens provide bonuses for the players, that some of them can be used during the game. And when the last artifact on the board is taken, new board will be placed to advance the game.

During their turns players can also claim achievements (limited to one major and one minor achievements per turn) from available ones. Major achievements provide points by collecting a set of advance pilot cards (determined from the setup) and minor achievement also provide (lesser) points by completing various conditions.
The game ends when the last artifact from the last board is taken. Players now tally up their points from pilot cards and achievements as well as Artifact tokens.

I found the game to be very simple, timing is very important and players basically racing to get the best minerals in the board but in the same time, everything they do will open up ways for their opponents. Because of this players sometime hold their drilling in order to get the best ones. The game also prone to AP, the possibility to get the minerals and how they hold themselves will offers them hard and dilemmatic choices. I wouldn’t recommend to play this with 4-players if there were AP players among the group. It’s definitely a good 2-players game. There are some chain combos that players can make by timing their actions right and buying pilot cards. Definitely a good game and my favorite.

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2 out of 2 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
4
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Gamer - Level 4
Go to the The 7th Continent page
8
Angrod Vardamir {Avid Gamer} Jul 31st, 2018
“Dive into the stories, Play like you are in it!”

The 7th Continent embraces the core mechanic of Choose Your Own Adventure Book and implements it within board game format. In this game, players will work together to lift the curse haunting them. Without the restriction of turn order, players will take actions to explore, craft items, take actions in the unknown island. The island is formed from cards placed on the table, started by one card as the initial card that players begin their adventure. What makes the game unique is that there are surrounding fog around the revealed area, these fog will determine which event or encounter players will face when they explore the area. The map of the island is fixed, but not the environment. It uses the same principles that when you explore an area, you already know the area, but the environment or surroundings might be different from the last time you were there. This element provides unpredictable events that the players will encounter throughout the game. Don’t get me wrong, games like T.I.M.E Stories have their story unplayable once solved, this also similar but of course the second time you play it, it will be a different experience. You know what to do, you know how and where to go in order to lift the curse. But the next time you do that, things will be different, you might encounter something that wasn’t there, new events and others.

The game actions were wrapped in a simple classic draw and push your luck, where players will draw cards from a draw deck to determine whether their actions are a success or not, while maintain the draw deck as their life.

One curse offers you hours and hours of game time, you can save the game, but once you die, you need to restart from the start. The saving system provides players the ability to stop and start the game in different occasions. Not to mention the inventory system has a unique way that players can tinker with. They can combine item cards to be more powerful or diverse in usability. Player’s inventory is limited which also creates challenges for players to decide how they want to build their inventory.

The game is suitably designed for solo mode, but also good for 2-3 players game. The maximum player count (4) will leave the game to be longer than expected and more players would decrease the thematic immersion substantially.

The base game comes with 3 curses, but you can always get more with the expansion packs. The game has great visual tone, dark, serious and grim. Perfect with the theme of ones trying to lift the curse that threatening their lives. The characters are presented in miniatures, but be wary that these miniatures are really complementary components of a story adventure game with cards as its core components, so the miniatures are no the highlight of the components, they’re smaller that the average and lack of detail.

With more than thousand of cards, you will find sleeving this game to be very expensive and my advice, no need to sleeve the cards (especially those that placed on the table).

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5 out of 5 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
4
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Gamer - Level 4
Go to the Spirit Island page
9
Angrod Vardamir {Avid Gamer} Jul 31st, 2018
“Cooperative game to my liking”

I am not a fan of cooperative games, if I like or own them it means those games are really something. Cooperative games tend to end with alpha player problem. One player can run the game by themselves and others would just follow.

At first I wasn’t really into this game due to it’s visual approach and theme, but couple of my friends convinced me to try it after I got disappointed by Black Orchestra.

Given the extensive rules breakdown, I would say that this game has multi-layered game play, required extra efforts to chew them down. But once the game start to run, you will immerse not into the story, but to the gameplay and mechanisms it provides. The game, given its complexity nature required players to solve a series of puzzles that come in waves. There are things that players need to resolve immediately and there are things that will come in the next wave(s), but still required to be consider in the current plant in order to overcome them next. I like how the card system and combo really works, combined with free turn order mechanic which maximize the effectivity of card plays. Basically players will improve their hand of cards with better cards, which mainly have 2 functions, activating the card effect and provide symbols to unlock passive abilities from the spirits player’s have.

The game also offers wide range of difficulty in terms of enemies and levels. You definitely will find challenges in this game. And in addition, the spirits have various level complexities which accommodate new players as well as experienced players.

This is definitely one of the best cooperative games I have ever played since Gloomhaven and Robinson Crusoe in term of game complexity and thematic.

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4 out of 5 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
4
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Gamer - Level 4
Go to the Celestia page
7
Angrod Vardamir {Avid Gamer} Jul 30th, 2018
“You just have to know when is the time to quit!”

I haven’t played Cloud 9, but some people say Celestia’s game play is based on that. Celestia is a game where you literally push your luck trusting your Captain to safely fly the ship over the clouds to farthest place you can be. But beware, your captain is not exactly the best on flying them. He could be a sinister guy, who just love to see you all crash, or he’s a drunkard who cannot ride straight but towards lightning and thick clouds, or maybe he made a shady deal with the sky pirate. Honestly you wouldn’t know this, but hey, let’s just pray that the ship isn’t crashing, or you get out before it’s too late.

In Celestia, players will take turns to be the ship’s captain and commandeering the ship with all you’ve got. Other players, must decide whether they trust the captain ability to fly it out safely for bigger loot, or do not believe the captain and just be contented with lower loot instead bigger ones. The game comes with a card board ship that will start in the starting island and to take journey to other islands in front of it. Farther island provides bigger treasure.

In their turn, the captain will roll a number of dice to determine the challenge for the ship in the journey. After the dice are rolled, each player starting from the left of the Captain, must determine if they want in or out of the ship. If they want out, they must remove their marker off the ship into the current island, and get one treasure card from that island. If they decide to be still onboard, they cannot change this decision later on. Once everyone decide, players may play special card (if the condition is met). After that the captain will play cards to overcome the challenge presented by the dice. If the captain have the card required, they must play it. If they don’t have, the ship is crashed and it’s returned back to starting island. All players (including the ones who have left off the ship) will be back on the ship and draw one card from the deck. The next captain will start to fly the ship again.
Remember, players only get treasure if they get off the ship.

The game ends when a player declare that he already owns at least 50 points worth of treasure at the start of a journey. Players reveal all their treasure and player with the highest point wins the game.

Celestia is a push your luck game, where it is riskier to get big treasure. It also a bluffing game for the captain and wagering for the others. Players should guess correctly whether the captain is capable to overcome the challenge or not, if not they better off the ship and get the treasure, better than nothing.
But, getting left behind is not really a satisfying thing to feel, so you might want to push your luck and perhaps the ship fly safely to bring you one island closer. It’s a very fun game for all ages, you can have hilarious and crazy moments worth shout at with friends and families. The special cards really give the unforeseeable aspect that could change the tide of things.

It’s a very simple game for all ages, plays relatively quick (30-45 mins) and provides lots of fun. Though of course its simplicity means there are not many replay value stored inside this game, every game would feel the same with random dice roll will steer the way.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
4 out of 4 gamers thought this review was helpful

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