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Twonky

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10
Go to the Hive: Carbon page

Hive: Carbon

44 out of 49 gamers thought this was helpful

Although this review is written for Hive: Carbon it applies to Hive as well as these games are identical except for their appearance.

So let’s talk about that first; appearance. Hive: Carbon is a beautiful game in it’s elegant simplicity. This game consists of 26 bakelite pieces in black and white with an image of an insect carved into each one. These pieces are quite heavy for their size but they are durable. You probably couldn’t break them if you tried. The durability of the pieces also makes this a perfect travel game since you can play this anywhere in any condition and on any surface since there is no board, the game pieces create the board as you play. Handily enough the game also comes with a nice textile zipper bag for storage when you travel with the game.

But enough about how it looks, let’s get to how it plays. As a few have stated in their reviews here it is reminicent of chess. Like chess you have pieces that move in their own distinct way and you move one piece on your turn and then pass to the opponent just like chess. The game is also won by capturing your opponents king piece or Queen Bee as it is called in Hive.

This however is where the similarities end. In Hive you begin the game with an empty board. One player then places any one of his pieces on the board. This is the beginning of the hive, as the game board is called, and all pieces has to be connected to the hive at all times. This continues until you place your Queen Bee on the board which can be no later then the 4th piece you place. When the Queen has been placed you are then free to move your pieces in the manner described in the rules. Some pieces move far, some move short, some can climb onto and pin other pieces or jump to the end of a straight line. In your turn you can either move a piece, if you have placed your queen on the board, or place a new piece.
There is also no way of eliminating your opponents pieces but they can be hindered from moving in varying ways.
The object then is to completely surround your opponents Queen and therby immediately win the game.

So you can see the diffrences from chess are quite big. Pieces enter during the game rather than leave during the game. There is no fixed board but an ever changing playing field as the pices move about. You select the pieces you wish to use as you play. You can even finish the game without ever having placed some of your pieces. This brings a lot of variety to the game and think that is quite nice to see in an abstract.

This is in my oppinion makes Hive a very good game for those who like abstract games such as Chess or Go. It is very easy to learn, you just have to remember how each piece can move and there are very few exeptions to the rules. But it is a deep game like other abstracts and you can probably study it for many years to come if you so wish. The box states a playing time of 20 minutes and in my experience that seem to be true. Some games may take 10 minutes and some may take 30 minutes. This all depends on the players skill level ofcourse. I would recomend this to almost all kinds of gamers, especially if you like abstract 2 player games that play fairly qiuickly and are perfect to travel with.

8
Go to the The Resistance: 3rd Edition page
48 out of 54 gamers thought this was helpful

The Resistance is a secret identity game for 5 to 10 players designed by Don Eskridge and published in 2009 by Indie Cards and Boards.

I first played this game a couple of weeks ago at a small local gaming convention in my home town. We were 9 people who sat down to play this and it was the first time for just about all of us. I think there might have been one or two who had played it before. The concept of the game is that the players are resistance fighters trying to take down an oppressive regime by completing 3 of 5 missions through out the game. Among the resistance fighters there are some spies who will work together and try to sabotage the resistance fighters missions.

The Resistance is an easy game to learn and to play. At the beginning of the game every player is dealt an identity card which they keep secret from everyone else. This card is mostly Rebels and some spies depending on how many players there are in the game. Everyone is also dealt two cards used for voting, one “yes” card and one “no” card. All the players then close their eyes and the players dealt the spy card open their eyes and look at each other so they all know who the spies are. The game is then played in 5 turns or until the resistance or the spies achieve 3 victories. At the beginning of each turn the one who is the current team leader will select some of the players to go on that turns mission. The trick here is to select the correct members for the task. If you are with the resistance you don’t want any spies along to sabotage the mission and vice versa. When the mission members have been selected they all vote in secret on whether the mission fails or succeeds. What then usually follows is a heated discussion on who are spies an not, trying to weed the out of the resistance group. When there are 3 successful missions the resistance fighters immediately win, if there are three failed missions the spies immediately win.

I have to say I really enjoyed this game and so did all the others I was playing with. So much so that we played about 4 or 5 games in a row that evening. The fun part of the game is not in playing the game as such but the discussions that happen when people are trying to figure out who the spies are. It’s especially fun when you are the spy who just sabotaged the mission and you have to trick everyone into believing you are with the resistance. And the rush you get when you manage to dupe everyone into believing you and you manage to pull of the win as the spies is amazing.

I would really recommend this game to those who are fans of secret identity games and to those who like games with a lot of player interaction and bluffing. This is a game I hope to be playing lots more of in the future.

7
Go to the Carcassonne page

Carcassonne

50 out of 57 gamers thought this was helpful

Carcassonne was created by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede and released in 2000. It’s a simple game about tile placement and worker management for 2 to 5 players. A game of Carcassonne will take about 45 minutes to complete give or take depending on the number of players. This makes Carcassonne a good filler game or a game to play several times in one evening. The components are well made beeing of wooden pawns and thick cardboard.

The game consists of 72 land tiles with one of these being the starter tile placed in the middle of the table before the game begins. The rest of the tiles are shuffled and placed face down in a container, like the game box, so the players can draw them randomly during the game. Each player is then dealt 7 meeples, as the pawns are called in Carcassonne, and 1 meeple of each colour is placed on the scoring track. Each durn consists of the active player drawing one land tile from the box and placing it next to one of the tiles allready placed on the table. The challenge here comes in placing the tile such that it matches the terrain on the tiles it’s connected to. Roads must connect with other roads, cities much connect with cities and so forth. The player then has the option of placing one of his meeples on the tile he placed in that turn. The meeples serve in this way to give you victory points. The scoring of the meeples depend on the terrain he is placed on. For example, roads give 1 point for each tile of road it consists of. The meeple stays on the road until it is completed at which point the meeple is scored and then returned to the players pool of meeples. This is true for all the meeples except the farmer meeple which is placed on grassland, staying there for the remainder of the game, and scores only at the end of the game for each city it can feed with its crops. The game continues like this untill the last land tile is drawn and that player finishes his turn. The player with the most victory points is the winner of the game.

Carcassonne is a cool little game if you enjoy light games about building the French countryside. It’s quite satisfying to see the landscape take shape as you play, each time looking different from the last. One big downside of Carcassonne thought is that there is little to no player interaction. There is only one way to compete directly for points. You are not allowed to place a meeple on a road, for instance, if that road connects with another meeple on the same road. What can be done is placing a meeple on a new road and then later connecting it with a road that has another meeple on it. The points for that road then goes to the player with the most meeples on that road. If there is a tie for the ammount of meeples on the road both, or all, the players share the points for the road. Meaning both the players get full score. If you’re looking for a light and fast game without player confrontation then this is the game for you. Or if you’re looking for a gateway game to get your girlfriend, or someone else, into boardgaming I would recomend this game to you. There is after all a reason for this being one of the most popular and best selling game around the world.

9
Go to the Cosmic Encounter page

Cosmic Encounter

121 out of 130 gamers thought this was helpful

Cosmic Encounter was first released in 1977 and has since been released serveral times in different editions. The last edition, the one I have reviewed here, was published in 2008 by Fantasy Flight Games. Cosmic Encounter is a game for 3 – 5 players for the ages of 12 and up.

Now that we are done with the pleasantries lets get down to the meat and potatoes of the game. Cosmic Encounter can best be described as a poker game with space ships.
The basics of the game are quite simple; each player begins the game with 20 space ships, which are shaped like old-school saucers designed to stack, divided evenly amongst the players 5 home planets. Each players also begin the game with a hand of 8 cards, most of which are encounter cards and some of which are special action cards.

A game round begins with the active player drawing a card from the destiny deck. This deck contains 3 cards of each player colour currently in the game and some wild cards. The colour of the drawn card tells you which player you have to attack that round. The player has no choice in this, he must attack the player of the colour drawn from the destiny deck. This is a genius design of the game. Since you must attack a player and the choice of who to attack is random the game will not break down into a bash the leader game. Since there’s also an even distribution of the colours in the destiny deck every player will be attacked an equal ammount of times during the game.

The attacker then selects the planet he wants to attack amongst the home planets of the player drawn from the destiny deck. He then takes 1 to 4 of his space ships and places them on the hyperspace gate and points it at the target planet. The defender must defend with all of the space ships he currently has on that planet, or none if he has no space ships present.

Now this is where the fun part of the game begins. After the launch phase we come to the alliance phase. This is where the attacker and defender try to get the other players to ally themselves with them. The reason you want to ally yourself with an attacking or defending player is not because you’re a nice person and want to help them or because you have struck a previous alliance. The reason you want to help a player is because you want to get rewarded. By helping the attacking player and winning the battle you will gain a colony on the defending planet together with the attacking player. This is important because the player who first gets 5 colonies on 5 different enemy planets wins the game. The reward for helping the defending player is first and foremost in stopping the other players from gaining colonies and thereby getting closer to victory. The other reason is that if the defense wins the defending allies get to draw new cards from the deck and put them in their hand. This is important since this is the only way of gaining new cards other then drawing a new hand after you have played all your cards.

When all the players have decided on who, if at all, they will ally themselves with we come to the planning phase. The attacking player and the defending player each select and place face down on the table one card each from their hand. Usually this will be an encounter card with a number on it. Each player them simultaneously reveals their card. The winner of the battle is the player with highest numbered card pluss the number of space ships he attacked with pluss the number of space ships his allies decided to commit to the battle. There are other cards to be played here, like the negotiation card which admits defeat but gives the losing player compensation. However the negotiate card screws over his allies as they lose the battle as well but they do not collect compensation. This really gives the game a lot of oppertunity for bluffing and sticking it to the other players. Hence why it’s been likened to a game of poker.

If the attacker won he’s allowed to take a second turn immediately if he so desires. The round then goes to the next player and the game continues in this fashion untill one player can claim victory by having 5 colonies on foreign planets.

This is the very basics of the game. The cards you get will alter gameplay drastically as they bend the rules of the game. But the thing that really makes this game shine are the alien races. There are 50 different races in the game. Each race has their own special abilities which change the rules of the game. Some of the races only changes the rules slightly, such as the Humans who get a +4 bonus to their revealed encounter card. Then there are races who dramatically changes the rules of the game, such as the Anti-Matter which wins battles if he has the lowest number revealed. These racial abilities makes the game different every time you play it and is what really makes this game so much fun.

So what do I think of Cosmic Encounter? I think it’s one of the greates board games ever made. It’s awsome gathering a few friends around the table and trying to bluff them into playing the card that will spell their certain doom. Having a cold drink while fiddeling with you space ships like they where poker chips pondering how to best make your opponent believe that the sole card you are holding is a 30 and not the measly 3 that it really is. There is almost constant player interaction in this game because of the alliance system and because the cards in your hand can still affect the game even when it’s not your turn. If you enjoy games with random setup, the alien race abilities, and a space theme with a healthy dose of bluffing then this is the game for you. There is only one game in my collection I have played more then Cosmic Encounter and that is Bang! But this is only because we play Bang! about 5 times or more every time we sit down to play it. So I would encourage everyone to atleast try to play Cosmic Encounter once. I promise you that you will want to play it again.

9
Go to the Eclipse page

Eclipse

146 out of 153 gamers thought this was helpful

I’ve been waiting for Eclipse to hit the store since I first heard about it late last summer. After its release got pushed beyond the initial release window of october I kind of forgot about it. So I was plesantly surprised when I found it during a random trip to the game store and purchased it imidiately. I then rushed home to punch out the pieces and read the rules before playing it later that same day. After puching the pieces I didn’t have any time left to read the rules before our planned session, but we’ll get back to that later.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

When you first open the box you notice the quality components. Heavy cardboard pieces which make up the technology chits, the space ship components and the hexes which make up the game board. The space ships are plastic and come in three diffrent varieties; interceptors, cruisers and dreadnoughts. Unfortunately the space stations are cardboard rather than plastic models but they are still nice. Giving the game that little euro feel is the wooden pieces that come with the game. A whole bag filled with cubes, discs and one large pawn given to mark the first player of every turn. The only gripe I have with the components are the player mats and the technology mat. Although they are beautifully designed they are printed on thin cardboard instead of the thick one like the rest of the pieces. This might make them susseptible to slight warping. But they do serve theire purpose well. You also get 2 nice string bags for use in randomly drawing the technology chits and the victory point chits, more on those later.

THE RULES:

As I said earlier I didn’t have time to read the rules before our session began and this is where I was most impressed with the game. When we sat down to play I laid out all the pieces on the table and began reading the rules. While doing so we set up the game as instructed and I read aloud the rules to my 3 buddies playing with me. Not word for word but the important parts. And this is what surprised me… it acually worked. We have tried learning ourselves new rules with this method before but this is the only time it worked and I think that says a lot about how well written the rulebok is. By reading the rules once and ocasionally looking up things like what technology does, we managed to play the game and just missing 2 rules.

I’ll give a quick overview of how the game plays. In every round the players go round the board taking one action each untill every player has passed. There are 6 actions to choose from; Explore, Influence, Research, Upgrade, Build and Move. You can take as many actions as you want in a turn but every time you do your upkeep and the end of the round become more and more expensive.

The Explore action lets you take a hex from the shuffled pile and place it on the game board next to a hex you allready control. This way building the board as the game progresses rather then a pre-set randomized board like Twilight Imperium.
The Influence action allows you to move you control markers around to manage your empire.
The Research action allows you to purchase one technology chit that lies on the technology mat. The available techs are randomly selected at the beginning of the game and replenished as you play. Making the availabilty of techs diffrent in every game.
The Upgrade action allows you to take upgrades made available though technological advances and place them on your space ship blueprints on your player mat. Here you have spaces where you can upgrade each of the 3 space ship types with different weapons, shields, engines, hulls and targeting computers. Just make sure you have a power source large enough to power all your new gadgets.
The Build action allows you to build new space ships, space stations and other structures giving you advantages.
The Move action will offcourse allow you to move your ships into other areas and attack enemy players.

Then when every player has passed their turn the combat phase begins if there are opposing ships within the same hex. Combat is very simple in Eclipse. Take a number of provided 6 sided dice and roll them. Every dice hit on a 6 or more modified by the bonuses from your targeting computers and penalties from the enemy shields. The dice are colour coordinated according to the type of weapon your ship carries and therefore the damage they do when they hit.

Then there is the upkeep phase and the cleanup phase at the end. When you have completed 9 turns like this the game ends and the player with the most victory points wins the game.

I am very impressed by how well designed and sleek the game rules are written. They are very easily understood with only a few questions that will arise during game play.
The only thing I miss are more rules for diplomacy. Not better rules just more of them. Basically you can ally with a player when you make contact which gives each player 1 victory point at the end of the game and a slight resource gain. Should a player attack an “allied” player the diplomatic relations is broken and the agressor earns himself the traitor card which awards him -2 victory points at the end of the game. The traitor card is however passed to the next player that brakes diplomatic relations with an ally so you can get rid of it.

There are also 7 diffrent species in Eclipse. There are 6 alien species with the human equivalent on the backside of the player mat. The 6 aliens each have their special abilities but the 6 humans are all equal but diffrent from the aliens. The rules are all written as if your playing a human and the aliens modify these rules with their special abilities.

VERDICT:

I’ll just come out and say it, I love this game. This is the kind of 4x space game I’ve been loooking for my entire gaming life. I liked Twilight Imperium but it was just too cumbersome for me, and it took way too long to finish a game. Eclipse manages to feel epic even though it only takes a single evening to finish a game. Eclipse also scales nice with the number of players which to me is excelent since we can be anything from 2 to 8 people showing up at a gaming session. The randomness of the game board and the technologies also gives this game great replayability. So here’s to the designer Touko Tahkokallio for creating what I would claim to be game of the year for 2011. I hope there will be many expansions in the future.

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