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Player Avatar
8
I play black
Guardian Angel
Platinum Supporter
Marquis / Marchioness
Go to the Chaos Marauders page
7
Account Deletion {Family Gamer} Apr 22nd, 2014
“The Epitome of Randomness”

Like many board game aficionados, a game’s ability to make you earn a victory is a rather large factor in its overall value to me. I shouldn’t be able to play a game for the first time against old hats and sneak away with a win unless they really took it easy on me. I want to feel like I’ve learned from game to game until everything clicks and I can compete. It’s usually a pretty big red mark against a game if I can master it but still have a rookie wipe me out due to a lucky string of randomness. Chaos Marauders is nothing but random… but I enjoy playing it anyway. It’s just too silly to not have fun with, and I won’t let myself become so curmudgeonly that I can’t appreciate it for what it is.

Observed Set-Up and Play Time
Chaos Marauders is an awesome game to have delivered in the mail and play the very same night. The contents are limited to a deck of 110 cards, 12 plastic cones in a zip lock, 1 die and 4 player boards (basically, a long sheet of card stock built for holding 12 playing cards side-by-side). There is no prep time to the materials, and the rulebook is easy (there is an additional instructional booklet included that outlines the exact rules of particular cards… this is a little harder to read through, but it’s unnecessary to do so before playing). From the first, you can have the game out of the box and set up in 2 minutes. Game time is very hard to predict; I’ve had numerous 15-minute games and just as many 45+ minute games. It should never take more than an hour, even if the cards fall in a way that prolongs the game as much as possible.

My Learning Curve and Teach Time
Chaos Marauders is teachable to literally anybody (gamer or not) in under 10 minutes. There is really no learning curve to speak of… the thing about a game this random is that there is no point in wasting brain cells on strategy. Sure, you can think long and hard on one and do your best to implement it. But the next player can (and will) draw one card that completely throws every one of your little plans in the dirt and laughs at their tears. Cards are such bullies.

Group Sizes and Dynamics
This game can be played with anybody… but that doesn’t mean it should be. By definition, it’s too random for strategy gamers and too light for power gamers; but these classifications do a particularly poor job in Chaos Marauders’ case of determining who will enjoy it. While any strategy or power gamer you know may have a blast with it, anybody (gamer or otherwise) that takes winning too seriously will be awful to play with. There’s one particular guy we occasionally play games with that tends to get overly sulky when he loses and overly exuberant when he wins. We played this with him and he was getting destroyed – heading into what proved to be his final turn, I would say he had around 100 points while everybody else was between 600 and 800 (point values are huge in this game). He pulled one random card that let him wipe out the points of the player sitting at 800 while catapulting himself to over 1000, and ended the game (not because of the points, but because it completed his 3rd battle line). The rest of us – who are used to the game and this kind of random dumb luck – laughed about it. But he started gloating like this was his master plan, and still talks about his amazing victory to this day. If you tell him the game is random, he gets flushed and rattles off a list of obvious tactics he employed (in his very first game) that the rest of us just couldn’t see. I will never play this game with him again… and I suggest you avoid playing it with people like this. I’ve also seen this guy get upset about losing a game of Zombie Dice.

Objectionable Material
It’s technically a war card game, so some illustrations are carrying fantasy weaponry or piloting machines of destruction. But these are goofy animated orcs, and there’s such a tenuous link to reality that I can’t find it objectionable. There are no images of violence or blood on the cards, and you don’t really “attack” each other – you just mess with each other’s battle lines and occasionally roll the die to see which one stays intact.

Comparable Titles
It’s pretty hard to pinpoint a game that shares anything mechanically with Chaos Marauders. While there are other war or battle card games they usually involve taking actions against your opponents, where this game focuses exclusively on building your battle lines (with occasional “take that!”s as a byproduct). While Chaos Marauders is not a deckbuilder, it may best be likened to Ascension (and the 50 deckbuilders that are similar to it). Four players sit around building out their hand/battle lines by claiming cards from the center of the table, and once in a while an opposing player gets a card that causes you to lose a construct/warrior. Thematically, I think of Chaos Marauders much like the Red Dragon Inn series… there is no alcohol involved here, nor a plethora of fantasy races, but the orcs from CM would be at home visiting the Red Dragon Inn after a day on the battlefield.

Random is not my thing, but I simply laugh too much while playing Chaos Marauders to be put off by it. It isn’t one of my favorites, but even after a year of regular play I am never chagrined to see it hit the table (you do need a whole table… while the box is approximately 7” x 4” x 1”, a four-player game takes every inch of my 4’ x 4’ dining room table). I would definitely avoid paying MSRP for it (there isn’t nearly enough in the box to validate the $25 price tag on Fantasy Flight’s website), but you can frequently find it under $10 as a clearance item online, and it’s worth grabbing then.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
4 out of 4 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
6
Pet Lover
Petroglyph
The Bronze Heart
Go to the Love Letter page
9
Bonnie {Avid Gamer} Apr 22nd, 2014
“Guys will play this game, I'm not kidding!”

There is really no need for me to go into great detail over a game that you have likely heard endless things about. Not to mention it is only 16 cards. The rules are simple and the play even more so. Discard and get the effect according to the card. Try to figure out what your opponent has or to make them discard out so that you can win the chance to send your ‘love letter’ to the Princess in hopes of being chosen her suitor.

That’s all fine and well but there is truly only one thing you need to know about this game:

GUYS WILL PLAY IT!

You look at the theme, you look at the concept and think oh right so it’s a filler game for girls. Wrong wrong wrong… on so many levels. At it’s core Love Letter is an easy to play trick taking game that is fun for the whole family. That includes the guys ;)

Final thoughts: Is it really fair to call this a Micro Game when it packs such a good little punch in the fun department. Let’s just call it a light trick taking with an interesting theme that is playable for all. Right, I get it now… Micro game it is.
What I like: Easy to play, easy to teach, easy to enjoy!
What I dislike: Umm… wait, do I even have to put something here? Okay fine, I dislike that you have to send a copy of a wedding invite to purchase the wedding edition of this game.
Who is this ultimately for: Your Mom’s Red Hat Society Group, Your Dad’s Poker Buddies, Your kids babysitter and her friends… seriously guys, this game is for everyone.
Who it’s ultimately not for: Hardcore strategy gamers are likely not gonna put this one on their Saturday Epic gaming list, but you just might still catch them playing it as a filler between their bigger games.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
7 out of 9 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
9
United Kingdom
Advanced Reviewer
Crab Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
Go to the Fluxx The Board Game page
6
pookie {Avid Gamer} Apr 22nd, 2014
“Bring the chaos of Fluxx to the board”

Despite having sold lots of copies, Fluxx the Card Game is divisive a design. Many players feel that the game is purely random, too chaotic, that it can last two minutes or to sixty minutes, and that it cannot be won except through random chance. To an extent, this is true, but Fluxx the Card Game is a game about change and adapting to that change—from one turn to the next. Now Looney Labs has turned Fluxx into a board game, and the question is, will Fluxx the Board Game be as good or as bad some think that the card game is?

Fluxx the Board Game uses mechanics similar to the card game, but with a board and playing pieces. The board represents objectives to be reached by moving a player’s two pieces around—such as Cookies, Money, Dreams, and so on—which are matched to the Goal cards. A player simply needs to have his pieces on these objectives to gain a Goal, but where in Fluxx the Card Game a player only needs to have his Keeper cards match one Goal card to win, in Fluxx the Board Game, a player must match and win multiple Goal cards to win. Being a ‘Fluxx’ game, everything though, is subject to change. Just as in the card game, the number of a cards a player must draw, play, and discard fluctuates during Fluxx the Board Game, but being a board game, the number of times and the colour of the playing pieces he can move, the number of Goals he needs to acquire to win, the board layout, and tile rotation are all subject to change.

The board consists of nine square tiles. One is the Start Tile, the other eight represent the playing area. Each of these eight is divided into four spaces, three Goal objectives and a sort of shunt space for multiple playing pieces or a portal to another tile. Together, the nine tiles are arranged into a square around the Start Tile. Two additional tiles serve as the Control Boards. One for the Goal cards, five of which are randomly placed face up in a stack; the other a peg board indicating how many cards a player draws, plays, pieces he moves, and his hand limit as well as if he can rotate and move tiles, and move off the edge of the board and onto the other edge.

The cards are divided between the familiar—to anyone who has played Fluxx the Card Game—and those new that take account of the new playing area. Action cards will be familiar and do things such as ‘Taxation!’ which forces rival players to each give you a single card or ‘Discard and Draw’ which lets a player effectively change his hand. New Action cards interact with the board and playing pieces. For example, ‘Back to Square One’ forces the other players’ playing pieces back to the Starting Square and ‘Rotate Colours’ forces players to change the colour of the playing pieces they control. New Rule cards like ‘Hand Limit’ will be familiar although instead of the limit being set by the card, the player now shifts the appropriate peg on the board, whilst ‘Rotate On’ and similar cards turn the board movement on or off. Goal cards remain unchanged from Fluxx the Card Game except for setting the objectives that the players need to move to claim each Goal card. The new Leaper cards send playing pieces to a particular Objective, like ‘Music’ or ‘The Eye’, or to any ‘Octagon’ or ‘Portal’ space. Lastly, the Colour cards determine which playing pieces a player currently controls.

At game start, each player gets to adjust the control pegs up once and receives a hand of three cards and a color to determine his initial playing pieces. Five Goal cards are placed on the Goal Control Board all face up, the uppermost one setting the initial objectives.

On his turn each player draws a number of cards, then plays cards and moves pieces, and then discards cards, all according to the pegs on the Control Board. A player can play cards and move pieces in any order that he wishes—which is where the game begins to get interesting. To start with, if a player moves a playing piece into an occupied space, it bumps the playing piece already there into an adjacent space—except for Octagon spaces which can hold more than one playing piece. A player can also examine the cards in the Goal stack, though not change their order, so thus he knows what Goals and what Objective spaces he needs to reach throughout the game. Plus a player can play Goal Cards from his hand onto the top of the Goal stack to claim them. This knowledge of the Goals and their Objectives enables a player to actually plan both his card use and his moves. It is even possible for a player to use his cards and move his pieces to gain more than a single Goal in just one turn.

Together, these changes add a strategic element to Fluxx the Board Game not present in Fluxx the Card Game and counter the random element so often criticised in Fluxx the Card Game. Not completely though, as the cards drawn and the actions of rival players still effectively have a randomising effect. None of this fortunately, adds anything in the way of complexity.

Although its Control Boards and pegs do not work as well as they should, the game is decently presented and rules are easy to understand. Pleasingly, rules explain the differences between Fluxx the Board Game and Fluxx the Card Game.

In developing Fluxx into Fluxx the Board Game, the designer has created a game that is more thoughtful than Fluxx the Card Game. Still a light game though, so suitable for a family audience, but still just enough of a challenge so as not to totally bore a gaming audience.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
8 out of 10 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
5
Novice Reviewer
Canada
The Silver Heart
Go to the Elder Sign: Unseen Forces page
8
Artem Safarov {Avid Gamer} Apr 22nd, 2014
“Careful additions make for a marginal improvement”

Since this is a first review for this game on the site I went into a fair bit of detail. It presumes familiarity with the base Elder Sign.

Elder Sign: Unseen Forces was released two years after the original tale of using awesome green dice to seal away Ancient Ones in a creepy old museums.

All in all it is a fairly unobtrusive expansion that enhances the game gently as opposed to reinventing it. It adds variety in terms of adventures and effects that take place during the game, offers new characters and enemies of varying interest, successfully fiddles with the purchasing mechanic and most importantly – adds a new mechanic with more custom dice. Let’s be honest here, it was all about the dice to begin with, so having the black and white added to the standard set of green, yellow and red is very exciting.

So let’s take a look at each addition in detail:

1. Cursed/Blessed Mechanic . New effects (either through success/failures in adventures, Mythos cards or item use) can impart on characters the state of being Cursed or Blessed. If you are blessed – you add a white die to each one of your rolls – it acts as an extra green die in all respects. It is a very powerful power-up as it gives you one more powerful reroll and more dice to score the results you need. Being cursed on the other hand adds a black die that negates one other die roll with the same result, thus effectively reducing your dice pool. The effects cancel each other out, so if a cursed investigator becomes blessed – the curse goes away. Curses appear as “punishment” for many of the new tasks and monsters, while Blessings can be obtained through some of the new item cards or purchased at the Chapel for 8 trophies. The balance here shifts a bit towards the white die as there are more opportunities to become blessed and it provides a more constant benefit. Becoming blessed early greatly improves your chances of long-term success, although it’s wise to remember that the blessing goes away if you fail an adventure.

2. New Ancient Ones. There are four of them and they are wonderful. Not only are they tougher than the average baddie from the original box, some of them bring in interesting new effects, like The Eater of Worlds who makes every failed adventure disappear and not be replaced, limiting your options with each setback and winning if the entire board is consumed. Abhoth, master of monsters spawns a new tough monster each turn and the game is lost if the players allow all three of them to exist on the same midnight, so it really forces some tough decisions and risk-taking.

3. New Adventurers, Allies, Items and Spells : There are eight new adventurers in total and while some of these feel interesting and powerful (like the Crocodile Dundee look-alike who can turn a yellow die into any result) – others fall short (Gaining one extra trophy per adventure is just not all that exciting). Some have interesting but limiting powers like getting a clue every time you defeat a monster. Additions here are uneven and just ok. Same can be said for the additional spells, items and artifacts. The three new allies are interesting and make you want to invest into getting them.

4. New Adventure and Other World Cards : Importantly, some of the old cards have been reprinted and replace existing ones, fixing previous errors. New additions do not provide too much excitement as it’s mostly more of the same, adding effects to bring the new cursed/blessed mechanic into play. Some of the new cards, like “The Visiting Antiquarian” that locks up both your red and yellow dice are pretty brutal. Overall these additions offer some variety without rocking the boat.

5. New purchasing rules : Fantasy Flight Games have made an important decision to ban Elder Sign purchase for trophies (as that led to some anticlimactic game finales). Furthermore, the “Entrance” card was broken up into four distinct locations – an Infirmary for healing up, Chapel for blessings, Souvenir Shop for purchasing items, spells and allies and Lost&Found for trying to get something for free. The number of purchases in Souvenir Shop has been increased to two. In addition with ability to pay to get blessed – this raises the relevance of trophies making the in-game currency useful. Certain effects can now also “close up” any of the shops, limiting characters’ ability to heal for the remainder of the adventure. This is a neat twist that adds tension.

6. New Mythos Cards: These are used to up the difficulty of the game as the new ones are much more likely to bring in monsters or Doom Tokens into play. For players looking for a real challenge, there are nine additional “Master” mythos cards with truly terrible effects (e.g. spawning four monsters at once) that really up the difficulty. New mythos cards is a strong addition to the game.

In conclusion: Unseen Forces expansion does not revolutionize the gameplay of Elder Sign, but brings a welcome increase in difficulty and variability that is enjoyable for the most part. The most notable change – the curse/blessing mechanic adds to the game nicely, providing additional depth and options without overcomplicating things. While it is an enjoyable expansion that definitely makes the game better it left me feeling that more daring steps could be taken for higher payoff. Both in terms of deviation from the original and increasing the difficulty – more would be welcome. As it stands – it will not convert any of those who were not fans of the original but will provide enjoyable additional content to the fans of the base game.

Much like the original, Elder Sign: Unseen Forces is a co-op game for 1-8 players (wait times become quite tedious with 5+) that plays within roughly 1.5 hours. Suggested for fans of light gameplay, custom dice and Cthulhu mythos. Heavy emphasis on luck, cooperative nature of the game and inability to strategize much might turn other boardgamers away.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
9 out of 9 gamers thought this review was helpful
Player Avatar
2
Go to the 7 Wonders page
8
Lk2119 {Casual Gamer} Apr 22nd, 2014
“Great replay after initial learning curve”

Though the first play-through has a learning curve, after a play or two most have a blast.
With many different avenues to earn Victory points, it is often a struggle for new players to know how to adjust to the cards they are seeing the first time they play. I have often found that players have an “Aha!” moment during the scoring at the end of their first game – the next several are usually much more enjoyable for them.
Starting a 7 player game with a lot of new people can take a long time, as everyone is adjusting and learning, so I would recommend introducing it to smaller groups first.

The variation on civilizations (A and B sides!), point strategies, and randomness of card shuffles makes the replay value high.

If playing with fewer than 5 people, it does seem that a supplemented Military strategy is the most effective, and Science nearly so. Though, when you play with more players, it spreads the card options out among more people and makes it harder for a single person to monopolize a strategy, making a diversified strategy just as or more effective than focusing on one.

Great fun with a table full of players!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
7 out of 10 gamers thought this review was helpful

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