5 Quick Questions about Civil Unrest from Upstart Games

5 Quick Questions about Civil Unrest from Upstart Games

Editor’s Note: As a kind of content geek, I try new formats. So, here’s a new interviewette for tabletop designers. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Upstart Games, publisher of Civil Unrest (coming to Kickstarter soon) does, shall we?

BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Civil Unrest:

Upstart: Civil Un-rest is a strategic board game with miniatures. (The game) takes place in an alternate modern-day fantasy world where magic and technology have been combined. Players take control of law enforcement or political activists who are trying to take control of Three Circle City, a place where all fantasy races are welcomed but have not been able to get along peacefully.

BGB: Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?

Upstart: I began creating this game in my college days. The funny thing is, during the game’s conception back in the early 1990’s, I believed that political movements becoming waring factions willing to commit acts of violence was a thing of parody. Now, unfortunately, it has become a reality. It is my sincere hope (that) by creating this satirical alternate reality, people can gain some perspective on political violence.

BGB: There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?

Upstart: I believe the miniatures are unique, but also can be great proxies for other games. The game is a fast-paced miniatures game, which is rare. Also, it’s satirical theme (that) can be a conversation starter.

BGB: This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?

Upstart: Well, there are no good guys in this game. Though Civil Unrest is political in nature, the game itself does not paint any one side as good or bad. So, if you are sensitive about politics you may want to skip this one.

Thanks for telling us a bit about Civil Unrest. Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?

Upstart: 2 Players, play time is between 30 to 60 minutes. Right now, all I have is a Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/upstartgames/

JOKE TIME

Upstart: My day time gig is IT so here goes:

A Network Tech walks into the doctor’s offices and says, “Doc it hurts when IP…”

DISCLOSURE: Boardgame Babylon is not liable for damage to your sensibilities from the jokes these game designers submit.

Check out the promo video:

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5 Quick Questions About the Battle for Greyport

5 Quick Questions About the Battle for Greyport

Editor’s Note: As a kind of content geek, I try new formats. So, here’s a new interviewette for tabletop designers. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Jeff Morrow, publisher of The Battle for Greyport (a relatively new title from Slugfest Games) does, shall we?

BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for the Battle for Greyport?

Jeff Morrow: Battle for Greyport is a cooperative deckbuilding game based on the characters and world of our popular Red Dragon Inn franchise. You and your adventuring companions are about to head to the tavern for a pint when you are rudely interrupted by monsters attacking the city! There’s no time to properly outfit the adventuring party – you need to gather an ad-hoc assortment of heroes and items as you go. Each round, everyone helps fight the current defending player’s monsters, so there’s lots of interactivity and almost no down time. The game continues until the players defeat the monsters and their boss, or until any player is defeated.

BGB: Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?The Battle for Greyport

Jeff Morrow: My old friend Paul Peterson (of Smash-Up fame) told me that a friend of his, Nate Heiss, had a game that might be right up our alley. So Nate pitched us with a fantasy-themed deckbuilder called Guilds of the Realm. It had a lot of good ideas, but had generic “characters” in the form of the guilds – like the rogues’ guild, for example. So we took those characters and gave them new names – specifically, we turned them into our existing characters from The Red Dragon Inn!
BGB: There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?
Jeff Morrow: If you like challenging deckbuilders and coop games, then this game is for you. We agree that there are too many games out there, but interestingly, there are very few in the coop deckbuilder niche.
BGB: This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?
Jeff Morrow: We’re sadistic and mean, so we would never want you to know that since we released the game we’ve updated the rules and errata-ed the introductory scenario.
BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about The Battle for Greyport. Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?
2-5 players, takes about 20-30 minutes per player. You can find more information here.
JOKE TIME
Jeff Morrow: Two chemists walk into a bar. The first says, “I’ll have H2O.” The second says, “I’ll have H2O too.” The second one dies.

And – want to learn more? Watch:

DISCLOSURE: Boardgame Babylon is not liable for damage to your sensibilities from the jokes these game designers submit.

REVIEW: SECTRE from Peter Mariutto and Freshwater Game Company

REVIEW: SECTRE from Peter Mariutto and Freshwater Game Company

SECTRE is a new abstract strategy game from the Freshwater Game Company, an organization with a credo to admire. Freshwater is committed to environmentally sustainable games sourced from local businesses and assembled by hand. This Minnesota company has the right idea and Boardgame Babylon certainly supports their effort to create games in this kind of format. After horror stories about mass-produced games with mildew in them, Kickstarter campaigns with copycat titles, and the environmental record of some of the companies producing gobs of plastic for our amusement, Freshwater’s mission is a worthwhile one.

SECTRETheir first game is here: SECTRE

So, great company and vision but how is SECTRE? The video on their Kickstarter page won’t tell you very much. What is clear is that it is a tile placement game with domino-like cards players use to form patterns and score points on a grid. Players are given a hand of these domino cards (in that they have two ends with different colors) and receive a solid distribution of variants from subtle markings on the cards (nice abstract art, by the way). These are the cards you get for the game; it ends when you have played them all. I can also tell you that the game plays with 2-6 players and is over in maybe 20-30 minutes, from our experience. We’ve played with 2, 4, and 5 players so far.

Each turn, players place one of their cards on the grid board, taking up two spaces and potentially claiming one of the scoring cards available to players. These score cards (which range from 5 to 15 points) are acquired by building certain patterns using the cards. While some are just about a certain number of spaces of a color being diagonally connected, others are specific patterns that players need to cleverly get on the board without the other players noticing and potentially grabbing the scoring card before them. These score cards are limited as well, so there is a bit of a race for who can score the cards first. Notably, a single play can lead to multiple cards being collected.

Of course, you can’t just place cards anywhere. They must be placed so that the color on each side of the card is not orthogonally adjacent to the same color. In this way, it helps build the patterns while also providing some restrictions to guide placement. Again, if you create a pattern that matches what is on offer, you can claim it. Also, after the first turn, a little stacking can take place. As long as you follow the other placement rules, your cards can cover other cards. Breaking a previous pattern doesn’t matter; once a card is claimed, it is owned by the player who scored it.

The game ends when all players have played their hand of cards. The player with the most points wins.

SECTRE

Components

SECTRE does feel handmade, which is pleasant. The cards are cardboard and feel good in the hand, but I do wonder about durability of them after manyplays of SECTRE. I welcome the lack of plastic in the game, but it could affect the length of time enjoying the game (although we’re talking decades, not just years). While I was looking at a prototype copy, the principles of the game company suggest it will feel similar. Nice to know your fun isn’t doing terrible things to the environment.

Thoughts on SECTRE

SECTRE is lighter, but still an abstract strategy game. Casual players sometimes won’t take to this kind of game, but ours mostly did. Of course, they were challenged by this GIPF-loving gamer, who won every game. Some players were frustrated when I would claim multiple cards with a single play, so this might be house-ruled away as a handicap.

The game operates on ground that is widely covered in the abstract strategy world, with the use of domino-style pieces and a grid board. At times, I thought of patterns from Hanging Gardens, the old game M, and a few others that wanted to do something new with this combo. Serious gamers will probably prefer something like Tash-Kalar for a game of placement and patterns, or maybe Kris Burm‘s GIPF project for a little less detail than one gets with Vlaada Chvatil’s work.

Yet, SECTRE works as a very light, almost party-level game that plays closer to traditional abstract strategy games like checkers and chess than with modern gamer games. Not every casual gamer is as grumpy as the crowd I schooled. Played quickly, SECTRE is an enjoyable pastime that handles up to six people, and that might be a hole in your collection. How many times can you play Tsuro in one night?

SECTRE comes to Kickstarter on November 15 with attractive pricing, free shipping and no guilt over another game being added to your shelf (and carbon footprint). For more information ahead of the Kickstarter, check our Freshwater Game Company on Facebook.

Boardgame Babylon Rating for SECTRE

BIN (Buy It Now) PIN (P)lay It Now TIF (Try It First) NMT (Not My Thing)

Disclosure: Publisher Freshwater Game Company provided a pre-release prototype for independent review.

5 Quick Questions About Battlestations Second Edition by Jeff Siadek and Gorilla Games

5 Quick Questions About Battlestations Second Edition by Jeff Siadek and Gorilla Games

Editor’s Note: As a kind of content geek, I try new formats. So, here’s a new interviewette for tabletop designers. We promise no TL;DR.

Let’s see how Jeff Siadek, designer of Battlestations, 2nd Edition (from his own Gorilla Games – and available NOW) does, shall we?


BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Hotshots?

Jeff SiadekBattlestations is the game where you get to crew a starship. It is a board game-RPG hybrid with action simultaneously on the modular ships and the ships on the hex map. 

BGB: Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?

Jeff Siadek: (1979’s) Star Fleet Battles has starship combat that is tactically rich. Space Hulk lets you move around inside a ship. Star Wars has heroic characters on amazing journeys. Star Trek has a crew of adventurers working together to solve problems ranging from mysteries to a good old fashioned space battle.

BGB: There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?

Jeff Siadek: This game is a crunchy space action RPG with tactical depth. There is nothing like it.

BGB: This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?

Jeff Siadek: I’ve been working on a deal with (Star Fleet Battles’ Publisher) ADB to do Battlestations Star Fleet for over a decade and haven’t given up hope.

Battlestations
There’s a cool hardback book of the rules, too.

BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Battlestations. Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?

Jeff Siadek: Battlestations, 2nd Edition is

  • 1-? Players (optimized for 4 to 6)
  • Each mission takes 1-2 hours
  • 45 plastic miniatures
  • 8 lbs of full color cardboard
  • Quickstart rules
  • Advanced 300 page hardcover rule book sold separately
JOKE TIME:
What’s the difference between a board gamer and a role player?
The role player stands up and gesticulates when he rants against card players.

DISCLOSURE: Boardgame Babylon is not liable for damage to your sensibilities from the jokes these game designers submit.

More quick reads? Check out our other 5 Quick Questions posts.

Want to learn EVEN MORE about Battlestations? I had Jeff and his producer, Joey Vigour, to my house to play one time. It was a lot of fun and I wrote about it here. And there was also a podcast, that thing I used to do more often. And, yeah, buy the thing!

Review: Echidna Shuffle from Kris Gould and Wattsalpoag Games

Review: Echidna Shuffle from Kris Gould and Wattsalpoag Games

Echidna Shuffle is a fun game that your family and casual gamer friends will love.

There’s something magical about games that are easy enough to let 6 year olds play but that also delight adults. Sure, we all love the idea of ‘easy to play, challenging to master’, but that’s not all there is. The right components are a treat, a theme that can gain a smile from players young and old helps, and certainly a quick play time so it’s easy to play again are all winning attributes. Kris Gould’s Echidna Shuffle, which IS NOW LIVE on Kickstarter, has all of this in spades.

Echidna Shuffle
Images by E.R. Burgess, Prototype Copy

What’s an Echidna? Well, they’re a bit like a porcupine with a funnier name taken from Greek mythology. While the echidna of Zeus’ world was a half-woman and half-snake monstrosity, the real-life echidna is closer to a hedgehog or an anteater. This little bit of trivia is fun to tell the kids as you explain the rules of the game, which is pretty simple to play and, even with a full group of six players, it should finish up in half an hour.

Traffic Jams

In a way, the shuffle is a traffic management game. Players are trying to guide their three bugs (each player has their own plastic bug in their color) from a specific starting place to three plastic tree stumps that get placed on the board by your leftmost competitor. Unfortunately, your bugs can’t traverse the distance on their own – they ride the echidnas wandering through the grass and all over the board.

The echidnas cover the board and follow paths shown on the space directing where they will go, usually in winding paths. All players can move any echidna, whether or not their bug is riding on its back. The goal is to get them into the space where you placed your starting space, and then to guide them to your stumps. Yet, it’s not that easy because:

  • Echidnas can’t go straight to a space, they need to follow a paths laid out on the board.
  • Echidnas can’t jump over each other or sneak by. Players need to move the other Echidnas out of the way.
  • All players are doing this at once so people might move echidnas you just put into a specific place.

How Many Echidnas Can You Move?

Echidna Shuffle shines here, pleasantly mitigating the randomness of dice with consistent numbers. While players roll at the beginning of their turn to see how many spaces they can move as many echidnas as they like (between 2 and 7 on a modified six-sided die), the lucky factor is managed by assigning players an opposite value to move next turn. So, if I roll a 7, next turn I will be moving only 2. This is tracked on a simple board, but it’s also an enjoyably elegant way to keep everyone feeling like they had a fair shake and weren’t losing just on the die rolls.

For the younger players, there is a little planning involved, but this will teach them some skills there. Downtime isn’t too bad because even though the board “shuffles around” every turn, players know how many spaces they will move every other turn, meaning they can plan ahead. While there are a lot of echidnas to consider, it isn’t too overwhelming for players because you can trace your options back to your bug space and the stumps.

Winning Echidna Shuffle isn’t hard but it is fun to play and quick enough that it is easy to start it all up again right away. Trapping friends’ bugs in dead ends, blocking them with more echidnas, or sending them the wrong direction (don’t walk bugs riding an echidna over his own stump because he knows to stop and will jump onto the stump). There are a few more rules (like trying to move more than two bugs at once), but that’s the gist of the whole amusing affair.

Echidna Shuffle
Images by E.R. Burgess, Prototype Copy

Shuffling Echidnas

Echidna Shuffle
Images by E.R. Burgess, Prototype Copy

Since I received this prototype copy, I’ve played Echidna Shuffle five times and it has been a hit with kids, teens and adults alike. The adorable echidna figures and bright colors on the board are sure to attract many players and they will be happy to see the game is worthwhile, too.

A couple of years back, I had the pleasure of playing Kris’ MASSIVE prototype of Echinda Shuffle at the Gathering of Friends and I recall thinking it would be tough to bring to market, even though I hoped he would since it was a hit of the convention. Yet, all Kris and his Wattsalpoagians had to do was address the scale issue. The rather large animals got smaller and cuter so they could fit into a regular box. They will charm players big time, as they have at all of our plays of the game.

If you like casual games at the level of Tsuro, that involve a little thinking and planning but nothing that will overwhelm people, Echidna Shuffle is for you. Anyone else, I’d still recommend giving it a go because it has a feel that isn’t like every other game you can play in that amount of time with six players. And if you have kids, I’d upgrade that rating to Buy It Now.

Echidna Shuffle is now LIVE on Kickstarter and I hope you will grab one and enjoy it with the family.

Boardgame Babylon Rating for Echidna Shuffle

BIN (Buy It Now) PIN (P)lay It Now TIF (Try It First) NMT (Not My Thing)

Disclosure: Publisher Wattsalpoag Games provided a pre-release prototype for independent review.

5 Quick Questions About Hotshots from Fireside Games & Designer Justin De Witt

5 Quick Questions About Hotshots from Fireside Games & Designer Justin De Witt

Editor’s Note: As a kind of content geek, I try new formats. So, here’s a new interviewette for tabletop designers. We promise no TL;DR.

Let’s see how Justin De Witt, designer of Hotshots (a game from Fireside Games that is AVAILABLE NOW) does, shall we?


BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Hotshots?

Justin De Witt: Hotshots is a press-your-luck wildfire fighting game where 1 to 4 players work together to try and put out a raging forest fire. Players move to burning tiles and roll dice trying to match the combination shown on the burning tile. The more symbols you match, the better you will do, but fail to match a symbol on a roll and the fire gets worse. You can use vehicles to help your battle, but at the end of each turn the fire spreads by drawing a Fire card. Players win if they put out all the flames and lose if 8 tiles or the Fire Camp scorches.

BGB: Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?

Justin De Witt: I wanted to make a press-your-luck game where the consequences of failure actually mattered. I experimented with a few themes, but the idea of a fire getting out of control worked SO well it quickly became the obvious choice.

BGB: There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?

Justin De WittThere’s nothing quite like Hotshots out there right now. This is an easy to learn co-op game that will really try hard to beat you. There is also a ton of replayability between the tile arrangements and how the Fire cards play out. If you’re looking for a game that’s going to be easy to teach, challenging to win, and tense as heck, this is your jam!

BGB: This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?

Justin De WittThose really cool plastic flames that are in the game were a huge challenge to get right. The first versions didn’t work and we had to delay the game because of it. There may have been tears involved…

BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Hotshots. Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?

Justin De Witt: Sure thing, Hotshots plays in 1 hour, for 1-4 players ages 10 and up. You can buy it NOW on our website at www.firesidegames.com/games/hotshots or Amazon at http://amzn.to/2xi0U0i.
I’ve got a joke you’ll like; What’s the worst thing about Ancient History professors? They tend to Babylon.
OOOOOH, see what I did there!?!

 

DISCLOSURE: Boardgame Babylon is not liable for damage to your sensibilities from the jokes these game designers submit. Justin ‘De Witt’ indeed!

 

More quick reads? Check out our other 5 Quick Questions posts.

 

5 Quick Questions About Kung Pao Chicken from Sunrise Tornado

5 Quick Questions About Kung Pao Chicken from Sunrise Tornado

Editor’s Note: As a kind of content geek, I try new formats. So, here’s a new interviewette for tabletop designers. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Ta-Te Wu, designer of Kung Pao Chicken (a game from Sunrise Tornado Game Studio that comes to Kickstarter on Jan. 2) does, shall we?

BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Kung Pao Chicken?

Ta-Te Wu: Kung Pao Chicken is secret identity party game of chickens vs. foxes. If you’re a chicken, your team scores points for each chicken that is saved. If you are a fox, your team scores points for each chicken captured. The only thing is: You don’t know if you’re a chicken or a fox. Ready to Kung Pao?!?

BGB: Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?

Ta-Te Wu: I love making games. Can’t stop and never will. If I recall correctly, I made Kung Pao Chicken because I wanted to make a game with chicken before the Year of the Chicken, based on the Chinese Zodiac. Just days after I made the first prototype, I went to Las Vegas and playtested with Aki, my college roommate, and his friends. We played it over and over and had a lot of fun. Yet, I spent a whole year to finish the game, making sure it is as good as it should be.

BGB: There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?

Ta-Te Wu: Kung Pao Chicken is a quick filler and there is always a demand for this type of game. The game is easy to teach and fun to play. KPC has a few fun deduction mechanics and every game feels different based on the card distribution. I think the best part of the game is probably the phase where you need to guess who you are. It makes most people laugh. You will know what I mean when you play the game 🙂

Kung Pao Chicken Game
Designers John Clair (Downfall, Mystic Vale), Brad Brooks (Rise of Tribes, Letter Tycoon) and a friend Kung Paoing it up. Photo courtesy Ta-Te Wu.

BGB: This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?

Ta-Te Wu: Hmmm…that I am working on a two-player expansion and an edition that can be played with 20 people?

BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Kung Pao Chicken. Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?

Ta-Te Wu: Kung Pao Chicken is a 3 to 5 player game and plays in 15 minutes. It will be on Kickstarter on Jan 2nd, 2018. Finally, no animals were harmed in the making of Kung Pao Chicken.Kung Pao Chicken Game

 

DISCLOSURE: Boardgame Babylon is not liable for damage to your sensibilities from the jokes these game designers submit.

REVIEW: Arkham Ritual casts a light spell of Cthulhu

REVIEW: Arkham Ritual casts a light spell of Cthulhu

Arkham Ritual is a solid deduction game from NinjaStar Games that has the feel of many recent microgames, but with some new concepts as well. Designer Hiroki Kasawa looks to the time-honored Cthulhu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft for the setting of this quick-playing title but the star is really the twisty game play.

This Ninja Star game is for 3 – 7 players, but you really want at least 5 to see the game at its best (even the publisher agrees with this assessment). Thematically, players are part of a mysterious ritual, perhaps trying to sort it out or maybe just deciding to give this being evil thing a go (seems like more . The ritual involves a lot of magic artifacts of varying alignments and some special cards that you will play or switch out. This process may change your intentions as you try to survive the ritual without going insane. This is harder because you do not know what you are holding at any one time.

Calling back to the concept of Blind Man’s Bluff poker or even the euro-style version, Powwow, players hold one card at a time and make it visible to everyone else, but it is not known to them. With the knowledge of other players’ cards, the idea of the game is to sort out if you need to discard your own to avoid losing sanity in the current turn.

Arkham Ritual

The deck of cards is just a bit larger than the Love Letter deck that has become a standard number for microgames. At 22 cards, it is manageable to deduce what is in play and what might be hidden in your own hand. The card mix included events and artifacts of both blue and red colors (good and bad, respectively), and cards featuring Lovecraftian Great Old Ones (yes, those are bad). Each turn, players decide to either keep an unseen card and discard their current one or take a peek at it and pass it to another player. The discard goes to the tableau in the center of the table, which helps everyone figure out what remains and what they might holding. If you pass it, it might go around the table until no one else can pass it, when it becomes that last player’s hand card.

Are You Cursed?

When the round ends from a specific card play or running through the deck, Red cursed cards will cost you sanity if you have one in-hand. Additionally, each artifact has a duplicate in the non-cursed (blue) world, so if you have that one when the other is in play, you also lose some sanity. Sanity is tracked in brain tokens, of which there are plenty.

Arkham Ritual
Keep your brains on-hand.

There are some special cards, too, including a Cultist that will switch which color cards are cursed, gates that bring in special problems with the Old Ones and the Elder Sign that ends the round earlier. The Cthulhu card is an automatic win if someone else has one of the Gate cards, too, so if you see this combo, it is best to get them out of those players’ hands. In this way, players need to get a bit used to the cards to do well. With that short play time, it’s easy to play again immediately.

Arkham Ritual is an enjoyable game with a large group and it is perfect for the Halloween season with its dark theme. Yet, the theme is implemented pretty lightly. While deeply thematic games like Arkham Horror or A Study in Emerald give you the true feel of Lovecraftian horror, this is a party game so you can’t get into the lore too much. That’s probably best for some players who might be less enthusiastic about Nyarlathotep and Yog-Sothoth.

How’s That Theme?

In a recent podcast episode, I spoke with the fellows who run the On Boardgames show about Lovecraft-themed games. Lovecraft is one of the authors that dominated my young life after my Uncle Bill (recently departed and deeply missed) gave me some of his books. The nightmarish world of cosmic horror that Lovecraft embodied was fascinating to me, someone who is more likely to enjoy the Twilight Zone than gory slasher films. So, I was glad to talk about my favorites. Even though I’d received (full disclosure) a copy of Arkham Ritual ahead of time, I forgot to mention it because the theme is present, but it isn’t the part of the game that makes it most compelling. While I would not drop it into the category of pointless Cthulhu-themed games like Reiner Knizia’s Cthulhu Rising or Unspeakable Words, I’d certainly say Arkham Ritual is more fun because of the deduction elements than any cosmic horror theming.

Arkham Ritual is available now from Amazon or directly from Ninja Star Games.

Boardgame Babylon Rating for Arkham Ritual

BIN (Buy It Now) PIN (P)lay It Now TIF (Try It First) NMT (Not My Thing)

Disclosure: Publisher Ninja Star Games provided a copy for independent review.

REVIEW: Sparkle*Kitty Delights With Its Message & Silliness

REVIEW: Sparkle*Kitty Delights With Its Message & Silliness

Sparkle*Kitty is a cute game I wish I’d had years ago. Simply put, I had an easier time getting my son to play board games over the years than I ever did with my daughter. Sure, when she was younger, my daughter delighted in any time with Dad. But it’s not really her fault; there are never enough games with girls in the driver’s seat (although I will soon talk about the amusing One Deck Dungeon, which pushed the other way). That’s one reason why Sparkle*Kitty is delightful. SK tells a story that makes sense for the girls, with self-rescuing princesses that are in control. More importantly, it’s a charming party game that rides the theme well for both families and kids-at-heart.

Sparkle*Kitty
Princesses Galore

Sparkle*Kitty is designed by Manny Vega and published by Breaking Games, who have had past success with Letter Tycoon and the wildly successful Kickstarter for Rise of Tribes earlier this year. The game allows for 3 to 8 players and works fine for ages 6 and up. Generally, you can play it in 15-30 minutes (depending on the number of players) and I say the more, the better.

Players in Sparkle*Kitty get to play as one of seven cool princesses with various personalities. Each player gets a hand of nine cards that are used to build a tower with four of them, with their princess on top. The remaining cards become their starting hand and they begin play with the goal of getting rid of first their hand cards and then the tower. Generally, players will need to clear their hand card first, then they can disassemble their tower to gain freedom and win the game.

How do you get rid of the cards? That’s the amusing part. The tableau in the center has two cards from the deck with funny or quirky words that are said together on player turns – this is ‘casting a spell’. When the active player would like to play a card, they need to match the color or the icon of one of the cards, then say the words. This is funny stuff as the words tend to be quirky and cute stuff like:

Sparkle*Kitty

Okay, not all of them are sweet, but that’s part of the fun. Some cards will offer players an advantage (like playing as many cards as possible or forcing other players to draw), but many of them (black cards labeled “Dark Magic”) will require players to say another word whenever they cast their spell. While people don’t mess up all that much, you can decide how tough you want to be on them for partially flubbing a word here and there.

That’s part of the amusement, in my book. More special cards exist, with some rule-breaking options, some wild cards and even the super-cool Sparkle and Kitty cards that let you draw back to your hand from your Tower instead of the deck. But the real fun is everyone repeating the silly spells each turn while trying to get rid of their cards. Many tongue-twisty moments came up, especially with the Dark Magic cards in use.

Sparkle*Kitty ends when that happens and the princess who discards her last tower card wins. The game from rules to finish is less than 30 minutes with typical players. I love that designer Manny Vega built this game, which could have been done with a variety of themes, specifically with the empowered princess in mind. As I said, I wish my daughter could have played it as a younger person and seen us all need to play self-rescuing princesses with such a funny theme. Even with kids in the game, who stayed engaged in our game due to the bright colors, funny words and great artwork of powerful princesses, we played the game quickly. The under-10 year old players wanted to play again immediately and asked about how soon they can get the “Kitty Game.”

 

The answer is right now. Sparkle*Kitty is just bursting out now after a limited run back at Gen Con 2017. It’s now on Amazon for $20 and at your local high-quality hobby game store. If you have young kids, maybe bump up that rating by one level because you may just need the game with the rainbow-vomit kitty box.

Boardgame Babylon Rating for Sparkle*Kitty

BIN (Buy It Now) PIN (P)lay It Now TIF (Try It First) NMT (Not My Thing)

Disclosure: Publisher Breaking Games provided a copy for independent review.

PRESS RELEASE: Tabletop gaming app from Finland started funding on Indiegogo

Helsinki, Finland, August 29th, 2017 – Playmore Games, a Helsinki-based gaming company, started a crowdfunding campaign for their Dized tabletop gaming app yesterday on Indiegogo. The campaign has already reached over 35 % of its funding goal in less than 24 hours.

Dized is a tabletop gaming app for smart phones and tablets. It removes the tedious rulebooks and gets gamers playing right out of the box. These step-by-step visual and interactive tutorials are like a friend at the table who knows the rules inside out.

The rising tabletop gaming market and potential for an app like Dized is an interesting opportunity for Indiegogo. The market size is growing and one reason is crowdfunding campaigns and Indiegogo wants to be the best crowdfunding platform for tabletop gamers. Dized is one of the most promising products to rise from this category, so this is the perfect fit for both companies.

“I discovered Dized over a year ago and been captivated ever since. It’s a really great way to keep gaming growing by removing the biggest obstacle for board games, which is rulebooks. Dized is innovative, disruptive and unique and that is what Indiegogo looks for. And we’re happy to be supporting this project,” explains Nate Murray, the gaming consultant for Indiegogo.

Playmore Games has earlier announced the initial line-up of board games to be featured in Dized. They are hugely popular games such as Carcassonne, Blood Rage, 7 Wonders, Bang! and Kingdomino.

“If you love playing games and don’t like reading rulebooks, there’s no reason for you not to support Dized right now. Dized differs from a regular “How To Play” video, because videos aren’t context sensitive. With Dized you can experience the game as you are learning it. You can even ask it rule-related questions,” explains Eric M. Lang, the designer of Blood Rage.

A successful crowdfunding campaign will allow a rapid expansion of the content in Dized, so in the future tutorials will be available for the most new games. Dized isn’t all about tutorials though as the intention is to create a one-stop app for the whole tabletop gaming community with downloadable content, a marketplace, community features and other useful tools. Backers can also receive special perks such as discounted subscription prices for premium features, special badges, early access and collector’s edition dice sets.

Global sales of tabletop games and puzzles have grown to $9.6 billion in 2016. Board games raised twice as much money compared to video games on crowdfunding platforms in 2015. The tabletop gaming market is expected to continue growing for at least the next five years. Tabletop gaming is growing in popularity again not only because of crowdfunding but also because families, kids and millennials are looking for new ways to spend time together.

More information

http://igg.me/at/dized (Indiegogo campaign)

http://www.dized.com/press (press photos and background info)

https://youtu.be/OO4HuZ5QTmg (Indiegogo video)

https://youtu.be/EGmQEQcCraA (Eric M. Lang comments on Dized)

Playmore Games

Founded in 2014 by enthusiastic players and game designers Jouni Jussila and Tomi Vainikka, Playmore Games’ goal is to show there is a better way to learn and enjoy board games together. While the board games industry is booming, a significant obstacle remains: learning rules is a slow and tedious process. Dized will offer smart interactive tutorials, setup guidance, a fast and handy rule-lookup tool and other exclusive features to make the board game experience all about fun. www.playmoregames.com

-- 
- Tomi Vainikka
COO, Playmore Games Oy & Dized
tomi@playmoregames.com
+358 50 433 8281

Playmore Games Inc.
Email: info@playmoregames.com
Web: www.playmoregames.com
Address:
Kaivokatu 8 B
00100 Helsinki
FINLAND