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Plaid Hat Games fan
Go to the Stak Bots page
Mike B {Power Gamer} Apr 18th, 2014
“Tiny battle bots and whole lot of fun”

Stak Bots is a game I was very recently introduced to by none other than its creator Tom Norfolk. Whilst bumbling around at a game convention Ollie my eldest was rather taken by a large poster depicting the above little colorful and cutesy robots with the tag line “Battling Robots Card Game”. Being a eleven year old boy that was an easy sell, so after a small amount of arm twisting by him we went over for a demo.

Before sitting I will be honest to not being terribly enthused, at first glance the art looked simplistic and I already have a dozen or so card games, did I really need another. Tom gave us his demo, and then I bought the game.

Yeah so who’s a fool then, that’s me. Had I not sat down and given this a try I would have missed out on a brilliant strategic yet deceptively simple little card game. I loved this, this is the sort of filler game my group eats up. But it is more than that, you can play this all manner of different ways, in teams, with smaller or bigger decks, solo, you can make it real easy or really quite strategic, there a bunch variant rules included with this and more on the website. And that’s another of this game’s highlights its rugged enough to be tweaked and changed and it will keep on ticking over like a trusty little robotic companion.

Lets pause a second and I’ll give you a brief rundown of how this plays out.

Each player gets dealt a stack of nine cards, and two in your hand. You flip the top card of your stack and then you are ready to go.

On your turn you draw a card from the deck into your hand and then decide on what action you want to take. Whatever you do at the end of your turn when you are all done, you must have discarded a card into the trash pile.

You can attack either with the top card of your stack or from your hand, you have to make a decision of what and when as you can only do this once per turn. The green number at the top right of your card is both your attack power and energy. Once its depleted your Bot is scrapped, but its possible for a powerful bot to potentially go on a bit of a robotty rampage and tear through your opponents cards.

Play a card from your hand, you can keep doing this as long as you have cards.

Scrap the top card of your stack or one from your hand, again there are no limit to the times you can do this. However scrapping all the cards from your stack will eventually lose you the game, so not the best idea.

A key and cool little feature is that a great many of the Bots has a entry effect – this will be some power that immediately kicks in as soon as its played/or turns face up from your stack.

These can be great giving you extra cards or moving your opponents cards around his stack or terrible in the case of the stupid stupid clumsy bot who scraps your own cards. I love this feature and its possible for you to chain multiple events that can decimate an opponent or quite possibly screw up your plans.

Once either yours or your opponents stack is depleted its game over. And then have another go.

I like card games and play many at home and in my gaming groups and this slots in nicely in either, and at the silly cheap price this is a no brainer. I personally need to get another set as my original’s have been borrowed by Ollie to take into school and play at lunch times.

So to recap if you have any Robot loving kids at home or you yourself have a soft spot for cute little bots beating the oily snot from each other than go and grab this. You can also have the satisfaction of supporting some good old British ingenuity.

Still not convinced than more fool you. OK do you have an iphone? if so then download the app. It’s free and includes the full game. I’ve been having lots of fun with this and recommend giving it a shot.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
8 out of 9 gamers thought this review was helpful
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Plaid Hat Games fan
Go to the HeroQuest page
Mike B {Power Gamer} Apr 18th, 2014
“Retro Dungeon Adventure.”

Ah the 80′s that bygone age of big hair, bigger shoulder pads and florescent clothing. 1989 was a standout year giving us some great movies Lethal Weapon 2, Burton’s Batman and Back to the future 2 some pretty cool tunes, Nirvana’s Bleach, The Stone Roses all of them classics, it also gave us the board game equivalent of these much loved treasures Heroquest.

Milton Bradley teamed up with Games Workshop to give us the cardboard equivalent of lightning in a bottle the first true dungeon crawl boardgame Heroquest. As a kid me and my friends must have played this thing to death. As soon as you opened that box you knew you were in for a treat. It came with a wealth of so cool components, actual bits of furniture to adorn your dungeons, heaps of miniatures, spells, armor and treasure oh my, and a book chock full of quests.

I remember devouring this game, it filled the gap for me and my buddies giving us that great D&D RPG experience but with loads of really cool stuff to play with and a cleverly designed board that allowed for an infinite amount of possibility’s. Nostalgia is a great thing but sometimes those rose tinted glasses when removed can lead to terrible frights. Would this still be High Adventure In A World Of Magic.

So it was with some trepidation that I opened this once sacred item to try it out again now 30 years later, as an experiment and to skew my now cynical and aged disposition I recruited some youthful adventures to join my on my quest, my 11 and 8 year old and a couple of their friends. I got to be the DM I set up the first quest and we gave it a roll.

Here’s the first shocker you may have forgotten, but Heroquest is a Roll & Move! really! The rules are so simple you roll your two dice and move that many spaces opening doors willy nilly the only ruling that you cant move back onto a space you’ve already passed. You also get a couple of actions, you can fight by rolling the tiny little custom dice, roll a skull you hit something, need to defend you need to roll shields to offset any attack. You an search for secret rooms/traps dependent on quest (i remember searching a lot for traps and secrets excitedly and never finding much) or treasure which is decided upon by a random card from a deck. And the Wizard and Elf can cast spells by playing a card from their magic deck, mostly involving killing something.

But you know what, once this was set up and going I didn’t care, and the kids they loved it. The cool thing was always the exploration, as you opened doors and moved about the board evolved with new doors appearing or monsters,, that excitement still holds my audience was lapping it up. I used years of proper grown up RPG experience to help build the atmosphere throwing in sound effects and maniacal laughs for the villains and my little band of adventurers where living it, forget your games consoles they were eating this up.

It is all very simplistic, pretty much all the dungeon dwellers have 1 health so a solid swipe from a character will pretty much wipe out most of them, but the kids didn’t care and neither did I. It took a while to get them to work cohesively as a team my youngest was loot ******* like a Warcraft newb on their first raid, racing around throwing caution to the wind opening door after door spilling untold hoards of Goblins and Orks onto the party in that search for an elusive treasure chest.

Just sitting back and watching their joy and squabbles as they battled the hoards was hilarious, especially when George (the 8 year old treasure obsessed Elf) used his walk through walls spell to abandon the party that he’d gotten outnumbered by the evil denizens in his quest for shiny trinkets, and step through into the main baddies Lair seeing their delight that he was going to get his comeuppance, only for him to one shot the boss. Brilliant.

We’ve played this all week and yep its light, and incredibly overbalanced in favor of the heroes, by the third adventure they had bought a bunch of equipment pretty much making them unstoppable killing machines, but you know what they didn’t notice and I didn’t care, we were having a hoot.

Games Workshop tried this again with advanced Heroquest but they broke the game trying to bolt on the more traditional RPG ruleset of line of sight and abilities and a ton of stuff that just slowed it to a trudge. I have it and maybe after they have grown tired of this, we might give it a go. But I’m tempted to move them up to Descent or Mice & Mystics because I think those will blow their fragile little minds.

So yes by today’s standards its over simplistic, completely unbalanced in favor of the heroes, a roll and move. But it has all those mini’s and bookcases and doors, its a hoot to play both sides of the table. If you have kids then yep I think this is the best way to enjoy this game to really get that feel we would have in those balmy oldie times of our youth.

As a game its been surpassed by its more sophisticated brethren and in no way would be worth you investing the serious coin this gets in the second hand market, but I enjoyed my jaunt through these familiar old corridors and if its encouraged my kids to try out something it bit more challenging then thank you Heroquest my old Pal, your still fighting the good fight.

originally published at http://www.whodaresrolls.com

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
9 out of 10 gamers thought this review was helpful
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Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
Go to the Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game page
Shamus {Avid Gamer} Apr 17th, 2014
“Where will the story go? You decide!”

I was first introduced to this game by an author at a convention I attended about 6 years ago. It was highly recommended as a creative storytelling game, and I was sold on it when I heard the way it was described. I wound up getting the game a couple of years ago and have since enjoyed the game for its freeform mechanics and creativity.

So how does this game work? It’s actually very simple. The game consists of a wide variety of cards. There are two types: The “Once Upon A Time” cards (also called “storytelling cards”) which drive the main portion of the game, and “Happy Ever After” cards (also called “ending cards”) which represent how the story is going to end. Each player gets one Happy Ever After card which they can only play after all of the Once Upon A Time cards have been played from their hand, and is in effect the culmination of the story. To start the game, each player is first dealt a Happy Ever After card, then a number of Once Upon A Time cards are dealt to each player, the number of which depends upon how many people are actually playing the game (2 players – 10 cards each, 3 players – 8 cards, 4 players – 7 cards, 5 players – 6 cards, 6 or more – 5 cards).

While the Happy Ever After cards are just a single sentence narrative (“The monster was destroyed and the farm was safe once more”, “And she was reunited with her family”, etc.), the Once Upon A Time cards actually are quite varied and have different types. There are 5 different basic card types: Characters, Items, Places, Aspects, and Events.

Characters are the people and creatures that the story will have, and can range from a princess to a wolf and many other tiers between.

Items are object in the story that are found or used, such as a boat, a crown, a sword, etc.

Places are the locations that the characters in the story will visit or hear about, such as a forest or a city.

Aspects are the adjectives of the story, and describe how certain characters or locations are fleshed out, e.g. Angry as in “Angry Giant” or Diseased as in “Diseased Beggar”.

Events are things that happen during the story, such as a fateful reunion, a fight, or even something as basic as time passes.

Along with these 5 basic types of cards are also specialty cards called Interrupt cards. Interrupts fall into the 5 basic types of cards, but have no definitive subject of those types; when played, the one who played the card can simply choose to define what the card is based on the card type. For example, if an Item Interrupt card is played, the player who played it can simply define it as a Goblet or a Magic Wand.

After the cards have been dealt out to each player, the starting Storyteller is selected. The instruction booklet lists several different methods, but once a starting Storyteller has been selected, play begins. The Storyteller may start out the story any way he or she wishes (though traditionally it usually begins “Once Upon a Time…”), and is not restricted by the cards in their hand. However, the object of the game is to play all of the Once Upon A Time cards from a player’s hand in order to get to the finale of playing the Happy Ever After card. To do that, whenever the Storyteller mentions something in their story that corresponds to one of the cards in their hand, they can play that card to remove it from their hand. Therefore, it is in the Storyteller’s advantage to steer the story in a way that somehow ties together all the elements in their hand.

During the course of the game, the Storyteller will change from person to person. The way this happens is through interrupts. If the Storyteller mentions something in the story that corresponds with one of another player’s cards, that player can play their card from their hand and become the new Storyteller (therefore interrupting the progress of the story), picking up the story where the last Storyteller left off. It should be noted that the related subject doesn’t need to match entirely, so long as it is closely related; if the Storyteller mentions that two characters disagree on something, a player could play the Argument Event card, even though the word “Argument” was never directly mentioned. A player may also play an Interrupt card after the Storyteller has just played a card that matches the card type that the Interrupt card is. For example, if the Storyteller plays an Angry Aspect card, and a player has an Aspect Interrupt, they can play the card and name their own Aspect, such as Devious. They then become the new Storyteller and continue the story. A player may also become the new Storyteller if the current Storyteller declares “Pass” during their story, usually indicating that they have no good way to continue the story or can’t think of anything at the moment.

Once all the Once Upon A Time cards are gone from a Storyteller’s hand, they can then resolve the story with their Happy Ever After card, ending the game. The Storyteller can’t introduce any new story elements before the card is played, meaning that the story should be resolved within one or two sentences of playing the last Once Upon A Time card in their hand. The rules state that the story should be ended in a sensible and satisfying conclusion, and that is left up to the interpretation of all the rest of the players. If the ending does not make sense or end satisfyingly, the Storyteller must draw a new Happy Ever After card and a new Once Upon A Time card, while play passes to the person on the left. Since this aspect of the game is very subjective, the instruction booklet recommends that this rule is not enforced too strictly; this game is meant to be a fun and creative game, and not a cutthroat game.

Once Upon A Time is a game that is very well suited for those with a creative mindset and who love telling and listening to stories, as well as those players who enjoy a cooperative aspect to games. Though this game may seem to be something of a competitive game at the outset, it’s more about crafting something together than it is about winning the game itself. Hardcore gamers probably wouldn’t enjoy this game very much, as it doesn’t yield the same sensation of victory as playing and winning difficult games does, but this game is definitely good for the casual gamer and the family gamer. It is a pure card game, but the cards only play a backstory to the overall game itself, a guiding influence, if you will. Additional blank cards are also included in the game to write your own elements. There is also an expansion called Once Upon A Time: Dark Tales, for those who enjoy a little bit more edge to the ending of the stories. In a lot of ways, you never quite know where the story will take you in this game, and that in itself makes it entertaining.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
11 out of 12 gamers thought this review was helpful
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I'm a Real Person
Go to the Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000 page
mrsparkle {Avid Gamer} Apr 17th, 2014
“Different factions to add to the Smash Up mayhem”

If you are looking at this expansion, then you probably have an understanding of the base game, rules and what it comes with. The expansion adds 4 new factions, some bases and much needed tokens. They added one new card ability called “talent”, an ability that allows you to use it once, per your turn. It’s an optional ability, meaning you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to.

Quality is still the same; cards are good stock and tokens are good. You could recycle the xpac box and put these new factions into your main box. But the box art and quality are nice enough that i keep them.

The four factions are nicely done, each with their own personalities that doesn’t copy any of the original set’s flavor. Even though this is an expansion, techincally you can play it as a base game (mainly a 2 player scenario). It’s a wonderful add-on to the main Smash Up game.

To Summarize: More of the same; more factions and bases. You get tokens! And for the price point (between $15-$20), it’s a good price of an xpac and it adds more combos.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
4 out of 9 gamers thought this review was helpful
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I'm a Real Person
Go to the Smash Up page
mrsparkle {Avid Gamer} Apr 17th, 2014
“Family fun game with a quirky/funny theme.”

I like this game a lot. Was first introduced to it, last year. It only took this year’s International Tabletop Game Day to make me pull the trigger and buy the base game and all the expansions. It’s easy to learn, there aren’t a lot of steps involved…so gameplay is smooth. There are some concerns of ‘analysis paralysis’, where someone will get stuck thinking about a move for a long time. That only happens if they have a tricky deck combination *hint, don’t give new people the card drawing/multiple action decks, like wizards or steampunks*

Card stock is good, base game and expansions all have their cards coated. Unless they changed it, the base game doesn’t come with victory tokens (we had to keep track of score on our phones or paper/pencil). The expansions come with tokens and if you like the game overall, you’ll for sure be getting 1 or 2 xpacs. The base box has slots to hold the main game and 2 expansions. Very colorful art and easy to read text.

Replay value seems to be good. I’ve only played this a few times, but with the base game and the current 3 xpacs out, someone calculated over 100+ combinations. And with their popularity, I see more xpacs coming out.

To Summarize: A fun and quick game. Easy to learn. Card quality is good. While it may look like a kids game, it’s more than that. Some strategy is involved. Good for family as well as casual gamers. Plus, who wouldn’t want to combine dinosaur-ninjas…or robot-pirates!

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5 out of 10 gamers thought this review was helpful

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