Monthly Archives: May 2019

Review: Call to Adventure from Brotherwise Games

Call to Adventure is kind of a revelation. I have been increasingly interested in games that effectively tell a story while also having a tight set of mechanisms that make for a clean game. Brotherwise Games, previously best-known for the video game nostalgia-fest Boss Monster, have delivered on this combo in spades. While their Kickstarter was a hit, the game is now widely available. I believe it deserves your attention.

Let’s be clear: I love eurogames. I’m a proud eurosnoot—that term is hilarious and I embrace it (mostly because I think our hobby sometimes takes itself too seriously). But I admit that the appeal of story-driven games is compelling, especially as a storyteller myself. I have also been intrigued by games that encourage low-effort creativity and we’re seeing more of them these days. That’s not necessarily a bad term—we are in an era when people enjoy building on existing stories. Call to Adventure (CTA) engages this notion well, giving players a chance to add a bit of themselves into the game. While you the game plays effectively with smart mechanisms, (and it just sails), you also build a story that you can tell at the end of the game.

Gorgeous artwork, enjoyable game

Answering the Call

CTA starts with some cards dealt and selections made to seed the basics of your character. That’s an Origin, Motivation and a Destiny. You get two of each and get to pick one for each stage of your character’s life. Right from the beginning, this gives you a strong sense of how your character will develop over time. This can help drive the choices you make about increasing your experience and skills. Each turn, you select one of four or five face up cards for the stage you are on, with an option to discard one by spending Experience tokens.

Some cards just add characteristics and you can just claim them. Others represent challenges you need to achieve and give you two options, a top or bottom choice. Usually, the bottom one represents something harder, but the reward will be greater, too. Depending on which path you take, you’ll place an acquired card showing the top or bottom of the card to show off your reward, usually the ability to do more or a story element that can rack up points when you gain multiples of them. How do you take on those challenges and add to your skills? Well, you ‘throw the bones.’ Well, runes – that is.

The Runes from Call to Adventure: Chunky and fun to throw

Rune-Throwing

The game comes with runes that are kind of like a coin toss but they are so much nicer than that. First of all, there’s a standard set you always roll, which might also give you a Hero or Antihero card (more on that later). Then, there are different runes to line up with six attributes: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity…you know the rest. You earn the right to throw more as you gain experience, using the appropriate ones depending on whether its a challenge for your military prowess, knowledge, or perhaps your guile. This simple system has just the right amount of sophistication to make it not merely a coin-toss-fest, but still quick enough to keep the game moving and under an hour from beginning to finish.

When you fail at a Challenge, it is discarded but you get an Experience token to help you in the future. So, you did learn a little something.

One of the Four Player Boards with cards mid-game.

Hero and Antihero cards can be acquired and played during the game, from both runes and cards you collect. However, your tendency to goodness and not-so-goodness are tracked with a sun/moon token (shown above left). When you’re in the middle, you can play both. However, when you go to the extremes, it can help you gain points (or lose some heroic points). This adds pleasant nuance to your character story. This is a smart design.

Each of the Attribute and Challenge cards (that you achieve) are added to your character board in one of the three slots. The next section opens when you have three from the current level. They each give you some advantage or special ability, helping you along your journey. You can double-back for a lower-level cards if you want, but this could keep you from staying on pace with your competitors, as the game will end when one player gets three Level 3 cards on their board. After a final turn, players count up their points to see who won, with totals including cards you won, played Hero/Antihero cards, Experience tokens (that are often used in the game), and any bonuses from your Destiny card.

An Individual Call to Adventure

Enjoyably, the designers built a good solo mode right into the game’s basic mechanisms. Adversaries are special challenges that lack two options but can become an integral part of your character’s story. In solo mode, one of these is pulled out and setup as a final battle for the character – giving you something to built toward for that ultimate showdown. This feature works with the cooperative variant as well.

There’s more to it, including some Ally cards that add interest to the game. But mostly, the rules take a backseat to the clever story-construction the game engenders. While you don’t have to do it, at the end of the game, you are encouraged to tell the story of your character to the table. This inspired idea helps elevate the game a bit more. Engaging the creativity of players is one of the most appealing new features of modern games that I’ve started to notice in recent days.

I’ve sung the praises of Four Against Darkness for similar reasons. While that game is fun for its mechanisms, the true joy is in writing out your dungeon with your own decorations and artwork. The upcoming Cartographers from Thunderworks Games also inspires players to not just roll and write, but roll and create their maps. More designers are coming up with intriguing ways to include some creative energy into the genre and I love it.

Recommended: Call to Adventure

Call to Adventure is utterly gorgeous, too. If the appropriately 8-bitty artwork from Boss Monster made you think they were going to go on the cheap for this one, put it out of your mind. Quite the reverse, the artwork in CTA is fantastic and evocative. I expect to play a lot more Call to Adventure and look forward to their future expansions, which include one based on Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller series (although maybe they should hold it hostage until he finishes the third book…).

Call to Adventure is a unique gaming experience that I really enjoyed and I think you will, too. It’s family-friendly and absolutely worth your gaming dollars. Get it on Amazon or at your FLGS, and answer the call!

PRESS RELEASE: ASMODEE DIGITAL LAUNCHES INVADERS FROM AFAR DLC – FIRST EXPANSION FOR SCYTHE

ASMODEE DIGITAL LAUNCHES INVADERS FROM AFAR DLC, THE FIRST EXPANSION FOR ITS HIGHLY-PRAISED STRATEGY GAME SCYTHE: DIGITAL EDITION ON PC

New Challenges, Factions and More Added to the Digital Edition of the Popular Board Game

PARIS – May 29, 2019 – Asmodee Digital, a leader in digital board game entertainment, today launched Invaders From Afar, the first expansion for its popular strategy game, Scythe: Digital Edition. Featuring a treasure trove of new content, Invaders From Afar includes challenges, factions and player mats, adding a whole new layer of strategy to the PC title based on the hugely popular 2016 board game.

Along the rise and fall of empires in Eastern Europa, Invaders From Afar introduces players to two distinct new factions, Clan Albion and Togawa Shogunate, who have deployed their emissaries to scout the land and plan their best strategy for conquest. Both formidable factions possess unique mechs and abilities, bringing fresh challenges, and an entirely updated way for new and seasoned players to experience Scythe: Digital Edition. While Clan Albion craves control of new territories, the Togawa Shogunate are determined to slow their enemy’s progress by placing traps behind them.

In addition to the two new factions, Invaders From Afar deepens the competition by allowing 2 additional players to join the Scythe: Digital Edition universe, for a total of up to 7 players. The expansion also adds two new player mats – Militant and Innovative – offering players new strategies to master, further determining what they can bolster, upgrade, produce, deploy, move, build, trade and enlist.

Scythe: Digital Edition transports players to an alternate reality set in Eastern Europa in the 1920s, following the first World War. During this time of unrest, the capitalistic city-state known as “The Factory,” which fueled the war with heavy armory, has closed its doors, drawing attention from nearby countries. Representing falling leaders, players are tasked with restoring honor and leading their faction to power in Europa. A fan-favorite, Scythe: Digital Edition was nominated as a runner-up by Golden Geek Awards in the “2018 Best Board Game App” category.

The Invaders From Afar DLC is available for purchase on Steam for PC for $9.99. To download Scythe: Digital Edition and the DLC, visit:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/718560/Scythe_Digital_Edition

More information about Asmodee Digital on: WebTwitchYouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

About Asmodee Digital

Asmodee Digital, a fully owned subsidiary of the Asmodee Group, is an international publisher and distributor of digital board games with operations located in Europe, North America, and China. Asmodee Digital manages the creation, design, development, publishing, and marketing of board and card games on leading digital platforms – spanning mobile, PC, Mac, virtuality reality and consoles – for Asmodee studios as well as for third-party publishers. The current Asmodee Digital catalog includes best-selling digital games such as Catan VR, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Splendor, Agricola, Mille Bornes, Pandemic, Small World 2, Mr. Jack London, Colt Express, Mysterium, Potion Explosion, Onirim, Jaipur, Spot It! Duel, Abalone, Ticket to Ride First Journey, Catan Stories, Talisman, Fighting Fantasy Legends, Smash Up and digital versions of many other well-known board games. http://www.asmodee-digital.com/en/

About Knights of Unity

Reliable, high quality Unity development. Knights of Unity was founded in 2015 by three senior Unity developers in Wrocław, Poland. Since the very beginning, our mission has been to bring a reliable Unity development service to companies around the whole globe.

Review: Time Breaker from Andy Looney and Looney Labs

Time Breaker is another wacky game from the mind of the great Andy Looney. In the game, which is perhaps a spiritual sequel to Andy’s earlier Chrononauts, players are part of the Time Repair Agency chasing a Time Breaker through time to bring him to justice. But this is not a cooperative game; players want to be the officer to bring the Breaker in, meaning that you may actually try to stop some of the other players in their pursuit.

Time Breaker
A lot of time stuff in that little Looney box…

What’s a Time Breaker, you may ask (especially with the way Avengers: Endgame recently threw out much of what sci-fi geeks ‘know’ about time travel)? The game defines it as a criminal that is attempting to cause issues in a timeline rift. Thus, the players need to chase this temporal hooligan through a game board made up of a 25-tile grid, each representing a specific spot in history. The tiles each show a previous place in history from which you can come into the space and a secondary time you can jump to from there (denoted by red and green arrows, respectively).

Players start at the center of the grid, in the Time Repair Agency spot and they are each dealt a hand of three cards. Each turn, the active player draws a card and then does one of three things: Plays a card to move their agent or the Time Breaker, uses the green arrow to jump to the next time spot, or they do a Hail Mary option of drawing the top card and doing whatever it suggests. That last option is called a Wormhole and you get what you get.

Most of the cards that allow movement do one of two things: Either let your agent move one space vertically or horizontally, or jump to a specific time tile. The Wormhole is really only for those moments when you have no other useful option.

Time Breaker
The Time Breaker is a cube of time-busting clear plastic.

Time Breaker Cards

Some cards allow players to move the Time Breaker himself. This is helpful if one of your opponents moves onto the space with the Time Breaker to arrest him. They simply need to verbalize that they are arresting him (creativity welcome) and then the Breaker will go with them when next they move. Now, if you get to the space where your opponent has actually apprehended the Breaker, you have the option of also placing them under arrest and the first player to move away from that space will take the Breaker with them. But it’s much easier to simply move the Breaker with a card.

Breaker cards are easy to spot since they are black, and most let you move the Breaker token. Some Breaker cards actually close a time gate instead. This removes the tile from the 5 x 5 grid and flips it over. Now, if you jump to that space either from a card or tile path, you are sent to the center of the board instead. This is a welcome mechanism as it pleasantly speeds up the game as you go since getting the Breaker back to the center space is the winning condition.

These closures create gaps in the board which are traversed as if they were just not there, allowing you to move directly to the adjacent space and with the added fact that the game allows for wraparound movement from one side to the other. This movement flexibility is welcome and it grows as the game board gets smaller. Players are able to immediately walk between spaces based on using the green arrow cards and move cards. This eases up one of the game’s challenges: Movement cards directly to you want to go to scarce and the real challenge of the game is figuring out clever ways to navigate to the Breaker and bring them to justice.

Forward to the Past

Time Breaker was popular with the players at our game table. They enjoyed the fast play and movement around the board and the opportunity to foil each other’s plans just as they were about to make their way back to the Time Repair Agency with the nasty Breaker in, presumably, temporal cuffs. The efficiency of play is a factor, with serious gamers perhaps ending the game much quicker. As a result, Time Breaker has a wide timeline for play, noted on the box as 10 to 40 minutes. This is a similar time commitment to the other Looney Labs games which have can wild swings of luck on the basis of card play and options that you don’t have a great deal of control over. That isn’t a slight on the game, in my opinion, because that speed works well for casual players looking for a Fluxxy experience..

Time Breaker
The tiles have a lot of art!

If we had any concern with the game, it’s the graphic design, which crams a great deal of information onto every single one of the game tiles. In an effort to allow people to use either visual or numeric cues, the individual tiles, which aren’t so large, feature both the image associated with a certain time tile and the actual date. This makes for a kind of messy tile that can be difficult for people discern. I would hope that if Looney Labs does a second edition of the game, they might simplify the tiles. Rather than helping, the visual searches slow the game a bit.

Time Breaker is for 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up. For its portability and ease of play, I do recommend the game, especially for Looney Labs fans. More serious gamers may find Time Breaker enjoyable as a quick filler and to enjoy the artwork, which is charming.

Charming Art – quite Looney, too

In my view, Time Breaker is an excellent encapsulation of the Looney Labs brand, and fits well into their ludography. I enjoyed the game and expect to play it again as it becomes available in the Strategicon Library at Gamex 2019. The game is available now at your Friendly Local or Online Game Store and on Amazon.com.

Disclosure: The publisher provided a copy of this game for independent review, which is now being donated to the Strategicon Game Library.

PRESS RELEASE: ASMODEE ANNOUNCES THE CREATION OF NEW FICTION IMPRINT, ACONYTE

 Asmodee is a leading global games publisher and distributor. Among its most famous and imaginative game brands are Catan, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Arkham Horror, and Legend of the Five Rings. More recent hits have included the innovative fantasy card game KeyForge and the co-operative zombie survival missions of Dead of Winter

Asmodee’s Entertainment platform was formed in 2018 to focus on taking Asmodee’s wealth of intellectual properties into formats as varied as films and TV, comic books, location-based entertainment, merchandise, and novels. 

Asmodee Entertainment are delighted to announce the creation of their own fiction imprint. Called Aconyte, it will be publishing novels based on many of Asmodee’s best game properties. Aconyte are also actively pursuing licenses for third-party tie-in fiction, with the first of these at the contract stage. Aconyte will start a monthly publication schedule from early summer 2020, producing paperbacks and ebooks for the US, UK and export trade. 

To helm the imprint, Asmodee has appointed Marc Gascoigne, lately publisher & MD of award-winning global scifi imprint Angry Robot. He’s hired assistant editor, Lottie Llewelyn-Wells, and publishing coordinator, Nick Tyler, to join him in new offices in Nottingham. 

Andy Jones, head of Asmodee Entertainment said: “Asmodee’s stated mission is to bring the world ‘Great Games, Amazing Stories’. Aconyte is another key milestone along that path, literally creating those amazing stories and bringing further depth, intrigue, characters, and narrative to some of the best game worlds ever created.” 

About Asmodee Entertainment 

Asmodee Entertainment is a newly formed platform of games publisher and distributor Asmodee. Its mission is to extend Asmodee’s leading intellectual properties into TV/film, book and comics publishing, location based-entertainment, and consumer products, working in parallel with sister platforms Asmodee Boardgames and Asmodee Digital. Asmodee Entertainment will reach many new audiences and further delight existing fans through the creation of compelling story and character content set in Asmodee’s vibrant game universes. By establishing best-in-class partnerships across the full spectrum of opportunities, Asmodee Entertainment aims to create truly global intellectual properties and brands. 

About Asmodee 

Asmodee Group is a leading international games publisher and distributor committed to telling amazing stories through great games with over 34 million games sold in more than 50 countries. Through our portfolio of iconic game titles, including Catan, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Dead of Winter, Splendor, KeyForge, Dobble/Spot it! and Star Wars: X-Wing, we create a dynamic transmedia experience for players across a variety of digital and physical platforms. Asmodee also creates inspiring and innovative products in partnership with leading entertainment and technology companies. Asmodee operates in Europe, North America, South America and Asia and is headquartered in Guyancourt, France. Learn more at corporate.asmodee.com.