Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Review of Ugh! from Calliope Games, Reviewed by PaladinElliott Productions

Review of Ugh! from Calliope Games, Reviewed by PaladinElliott Productions



Ugh!

Game Design: Jim Reichert and Lori Reichert

Game Artistry: John Kovalic

Published by: Calliope Games

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott

Edited by: Stephanie Elliott

Number of players: 2 to 5

Time of Play: 20 minutes

Age recommended: 8 and up

Year of Release: 2012




The story so far: Go back to the Stone Age as Cave Dwellers who are pressing their luck to survive. You will collect sets of cards in this game, needing one of each color to create a set.  The cards have humorous depictions of daily life for your Cavemen and Cavewomen. Be careful though, because if you press your luck too far you will encounter a natural disaster and cry out UGH! as some of your cards go away, or you lose your turn! You will flip cards, choose how far to press your luck, and strive to have the highest points at the end of the game by the sets of cards you lock in.



Our final thoughts on this game: First, we have been playing this game with our children (Arnold 8, and Talia 6) as we wanted a fun way to keep them sharp with their numbers as they go into 3rd and 2nd grade respectively. It has been summer break, and having them using addition and multiplication in a card game that we all can enjoy is awesome!

We have a fun theme here, with the Cave Dwellers trying to survive without having an Ugh! moment. These moments can be a volcano eruption, a tornado, a great fire, a great flood, or being frozen. The cards have numbers from 1 to 5 and there are three different colors. You need to make a set containing one card of each color and you multiply the numbers on the cards to determine how many points your set is worth. This is a fun way to get your kids doing some math!

We love seeing the kids decide what cards they have to get rid of with Ugh! cards (decision making) along with them doing the math in their heads, on their hands, and talking it out, as they figure out the best way to lock in a set of cards. They picked up very quickly that a set is 1 purple, 1 green, and 1 orange card, and they had to deal with this game of press your luck in a fun and engaging way!

In the scope of playing with are children I would rate this a 10 out of 10 from the Board Game Geek scale. I will always play this with the kids whenever it is mentioned. In an adult only setting this game becomes a 7 where I would play it 70% of the time when it is mentioned. This game plays quickly, is easy to teach, and serves as a great travel and/or filler game for adults and one that I think all families with kids in elementary school should have.



Mechanics and concepts found in this game: The players will be using addition and multiplication to come up with their scores. There is a card drafting mechanism as you will draw cards to safe piles, and have to decide to keep going and risk getting an Ugh! card, or play it safe, and stop when you can. You have to manage the cards you obtain, when to place them in a set, or leave them out to make a better set. If you go too far, you will get an Ugh! card and possibly lose several of those cards that you have not locked in.



The game components: 

-1 game box
-1 set of instructions
-4 wild cards
-28 Ugh! cards
-78 Number cards



Winning conditions of the game: You will calculate your sets through multiplication, and add them all up, along with adding Ugh! cards that are gained through positive means. The highest points at the end wins!



Game setup: Shuffle all the cards together to make one deck. Make sure there is enough room for everyone to have a card area in front of them, and for the deck to have a discard pile to one side, and three safety piles to the other side. The youngest player gets to go first, then proceed in clockwise order.



How to play: The first player must draw a card to get the game started. If on a player's first draw they pull an Ugh! card they ignore the penalty, flip the card over and place it in their locked in score area. An Ugh! card that comes up on your first draw is worth 3 Victory points at the end. Otherwise, you will have a Numbers card, that will have a value of 1 to 5, or a Wild card. These cards will be in Orange, Purple, Green, or in the case of some of the Wilds a mix of color. You will decide after your first draw on whether to keep the card, or press your luck. You do this again for a second safety pile, but if it is an Ugh! card you must suffer its penalty. If you are safe, and are holding out for a better card, then you draw a third and place it on the third safety pile. If you still don't like what you see, you can draw a final fourth draw from the deck, but you must play that card to your area, regardless of what it is.

The idea as you do this is to try and get a set with a high value. A set is comprised of 1 green card, 1 purple card, and 1 orange card. The values on the cards get multiplied when the set gets locked in for final scoring. So, if I had a 2 green, and a 1 purple in my play area, and I choose from the third safety pile a 3 orange, then I can take those cards and declare that as a set, and I will score 6 points at the end of the game for that set (1x2x3=6). You will add up all of your sets and Ugh! cards that you acquired on a first draw to give you your final tally of points.

Wild cards come in different colors. You can either use a wild card to steal a card of that color from another player (it can not be a card they have locked in) or you will use the wild to finish a set. If you use the steal, then the Wild card is discarded, and you can only use it on cards that are not locked in. If you use it as a card to finish a set, you use it as the color it has on it (if it has more than one color then you choose which one you are using it for) and the value is one less then the lowest number in the set it is a part of. So if I have a green 4, and orange 3, and I use a Wild purple to complete the set, the Wild purple is worth 2 (the lowest number -1), so my set is 4x3x2 equaling 24 points.

So remember, every turn you can draw/claim a card, and you can lock in sets, so make the highest/best sets that you can!



Endgame: The end of the game is reached when the last card of the deck is drawn. All the players get one chance to lock in sets before this last card is drawn. The last player must play the last card drawn, no matter what it is. Cards that are not locked into a set are discarded and the Ugh! cards that were drawn as the first draw of a turn are worth three points each.

Thank you so much for reading my review of Ugh! by Calliope Games!


hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

https://paladinelliott.blogspot.com/

check out some of my videos at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC58qYf_vaCaCnu6qvd-WpKw

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or 
Itunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ready-to-game-podcast-episode/id1111793358?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Review of Dwar7s Fall from MAGE Company, Design and Artistry by Luis Brueh, Review by Jason Elliott, Edited by Stephanie Elliott

Review of Dwar7s Fall from MAGE Company by PaladinElliott Productions

Dwar7s Fall



Game Design and Artistry: Luis Brueh

Published by: MAGE Company, Vesuvius Media, Mysterious Island Games, Mosigra, Mandala Jogos

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott

Edited by: Stephanie Elliott

Edition: First

Number of players: 2-4

Time of Play: 20-60 minutes

Age recommended: 12+

The year of release:2016





The story so far: Winter is coming, and the Dwarves need to be prepared. You will need to deal with Frost Giants and Dragons as you collect Gems and Food, and build your Castles.

Our final thoughts on this game: This is a game that I felt has tremendous theme. Your Dwarves must prepare for winter, while trying to hinder other players. All the things you think about with Dwarves are here, you have your Mining, Gems, Dragons, Castles, Kingdoms, etc.

We like that fact that you are laying tiles, and that placement is key. Players of Carcossone will recognize this and will probably feel at home in this regard. Meeple placement is big, and  you will have lots of options to place your Meeple for maximum effect. You will have Trading Goals (publicly known Victory points that you trade your resources for) and Secret Goals (privately known Victory points to attempt to accomplish by end of game). You will be able to send Ogres to remove Meeples, move Dwarves, steal Gems, steal other Ogre cards, and swap opposing player's Meeples.

The biggest drawback encountered is there is no mechanism in place for players to gang up on someone. If that happens, rest assured that the player will ultimately be knocked down and in far worse shape then before. The game plays quick once it is taught, and the rules were in good, straight order. The game is very colorful, and it is a lot of fun to have Dwarf Meeples to use!

You have to be able to see how your Kingdom is progressing versus the other player's Kingdoms. You may at one point being sharing two Kingdoms, then stack a card and close off one Kingdom, or some other type of manipulation. You will need to focus on how to best increase, strengthen, and solidify your Kingdom, while at the same time hindering the other player's Kingdoms as best as you can.

Overall, if I were asked how often I would play it out of 10 times the game is mentioned (my interpretation of the BoardGameGeek scale) I would give it a 5. I would play it roughly half the times it was offered. It is a solid game, that pulls a strong theme with recognizable mechanics to make the game easy to teach, and fun to play!



Mechanics and concepts found in this game: You have your fantasy setting that you will want and expect to be true for Dwarves. You will be building territories and using tile placement. You will work on set collection to purchase Victory points. You will have some "take that" moments through the use of Meeple placement, and the using cards you have collected.




The game components: 

36 Kingdom Cards

10 Trading Goal Cards

7 Secret Goal Cards

34 Gem Cards

13 Ogre Cards

7 Dwarf Meeples of each color (Red, Blue, Green and Yellow)

1 Rule Booklet

1 Game Box


Expansions you can add:

Dwar7s Fall: Empires

Dwar7s Fall: Royal Decrees




Winning conditions for the game: You will need to have the highest amount of points by collecting the following:

-Your Kingdom size, where cards will either give or take away points from your Kingdom. If your Kingdom is not in play you will receive no points for this.

-The Gem cards in your hand, monsters you have defeated, and your completed Goal cards.

Game setup: 

1. Shuffle the Trading Goal cards, make a deck and reveal 3 of them
2. Shuffle the Secret Goal cards, and deal one to each player. Keep it secret, keep it safe.
3. Sort the Gem cards by type, and have them face up.
4. Sort the Kingdom cards by color. Each player will choose a color, and get 9 cards that correspond with their color.
5. Each player takes the 7 Dwarf Meeples that correspond with their color.
6. Shuffle the Ogre cards, and place the deck where the Booklet shows. 
7. Make sure you leave enough area to lay the Kingdom cards on.
8. The youngest players starts the game, and clockwise turn order to follow.




How to play: 

Each round will have three phases.
1. Perform Actions
2. Resolve
3. Discard

Perform Actions: You can perform 3 a turn, or 4 if you have your Castle in play. These are repeated as long as the situation allows. You can use any combination of them in whatever order you believe to be the most beneficial.

1A. Play a Kingdom card- You will place a card(s) adjacent, or on top (stacking) if applicable. You can orientate the cards however you want (walls matching or not, connected to your Castle or not)

Special Notes- During the first turn the first player places the first Kingdom card anywhere on the table. You can only stack a Kingdom card if it has a shield with either a homeplate icon, a house icon, or a tree icon.

1B. Place a Dwarf- You can place one of your Dwarves on any free space on the Kingdom cards out on the board. That means it can go on any player's Kingdom. You can use another player's Kingdom to dig. You will need as many Dwarves as the card says to complete a task on that card.

1C. Move a Dwarf- You can move any Dwarf you have on the board to one adjacent card. You can't pass through walls, and there must be a free spot on the card for the Dwarf to go there. This also applies if you are moving more than once, each card you move through must have at least one open spot for you to pass through.

1D. Play an Ogre card- Playing an Ogre card is a FREE ACTION. You can play more than one of these during the Action Phase.


2. Resolve-This is where every card that has the correct amount of Dwarves for completing a task goes into effect. All the Dwarves completing a task MUST HAVE THE SAME COLOR. You will move Dwarves that completed tasks back to your Dwarf pile. If they do not complete a task they stay out on the board. If something forces your Dwarves back, but the task is not completed (such as a Dragon) you get your Dwarves back in the pile, but with out receiving anything for the task you were trying to accomplish. If you have more Dwarves on a card when it completes versus how many you need to complete the task then the extra stay in place on that card.

3. Discard- You may never have more than 9 cards in your hand. Any moment that would put you over you must discard. The cards that you count towards this hand limit are:

-Kingdom cards
-Gem cards
-Ogre cards

The types of Kingdom cards are:

-Castles: Having this out allows you count connecting cards as your points for your Kingdom. Having your Castle out also allows you to take a bonus action every turn that it is in play.

Special note: You can dig a stacked card, but you will need two of your dwarves placed on any Castle in play. If you do so, then take one card that is a top of a stack and place it on the bottom of the stack without rotating it. You can only choose a top of a stack if it has no dwarves on it, and the card you are choosing can not be a Monster card. You can only dig if there are no Monsters in your Kingdom.

-Mines: You need these to mine for Gems. You need the Gems to trade for Goals that award you Victory points. You will need the correct amount of Dwarves to complete this, and if there isn't any more of the Gem card then you will not receive anything for Mining there.

-Monsters: Dragons and Frost Giants make it so you can't stack where they are, Dragons stop all mines in a Kingdom from working while Frost Giants cancel the extra action given by a Castle. To defeat this monster, you will need 5 Dwarves of the same color on that tile, and the tile is removed. It will count as Victory points in the end (3 Victory points each at the end of the game).

-Taverns: This is where you can get Ogre cards, and they do bad things to the other players! If the Ogre deck runs out, just reshuffle the used cards back into a deck.

-General Stores: This is where you trade your resources for Traded Goals (Victory points). Once taken, you draw the top card from the stack to replace the one you just selected.

Endgame: When any player has completed at least 3 goals at the end of his or her turn, then you are in the last round, and any players who have not taken their turn get to do so before the round, and therefore the game, ends. You can have any combination of Traded Goals and Secret Goals to make a grand total of 3 total goals.

Thank you so much for reading my review of Dwar7s Fall by Luis Brueh and Mage Company!


hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

https://paladinelliott.blogspot.com/

check out some of my videos at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC58qYf_vaCaCnu6qvd-WpKw

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or 
Itunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ready-to-game-podcast-episode/id1111793358?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)


Monday, July 24, 2017

A Review and Commentary with ordering from Roxley Game Laboratory

A Review and Commentary with ordering from Roxley Game Laboratory

By: Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions




So, I was very happy with Roxley up until a recent order. I backed their Santorini Kickstarter back in March of 2016. It is an amazing game, with all of its Stretch Goals, and I could not speak more highly of how they run their Kickstarter projects. So it has came as a complete shock in how they have been handling a order from their website.

On July 1st of this year, I placed an order for a Promo package (several different promos for different games), and I acknowledge that the Origins-GenCon time frame of summer can be not only hectic for myself, but for the Gaming Industry at large. That being said, if you expect any sort of delay in an order being fulfilled and shipped it should be marked as such on your website.


Two weeks after the order, I made a general inquiry on the status of fulfillment, and was told that shipping was on hold for an event know as Stampede Week. I was also told that most of their day jobs were crazy at that point. I am sorry, but many of us do more than one thing, we work more than one job. Yes, I am Retired from the Army, but along with running everything for PaladinElliott Productions (other than editing), I also drive for Amazon, so I get it. You need to be up front about such things, as I am a paying customer, I should not have to track you down to find out what is going on, and then be given a list of things (that could be viewed by anyone as a list of excuses) as to why the order hasn't been fulfilled, let alone shipped.

So, trying to be patient, I give it a few more days, and a week later (July 21st) I receive a notification that my order will ship soon. It doesn't say when, it doesn't say it has shipped, it doesn't have tracking. So as of today July 24th, I still have no idea it has shipped. I contacted Roxley on the 21st to make note that I would leave this as a review of ordering from them, and that it is my belief that they have been very unprofessional in how they handle orders from their online store.


I received a message from their Community Manager of Logistics (Paul Saxberg) acknowledging they messed up, and that this is not the level of service they strive for, so an apology was given. That being said, I still don't know if and when I am going to see my order, and I only have the words to go on that in the future, these delays will be reflected in new shipping estimates on their website.

So, in closing, be warned when you order from Roxley Game Laboratory, that if time is an issue, as it has been in my case, you might want to contact them first before sending any money, and know there are better companies out there when it comes to placing internet orders.


Roxley Game Laboratory: Great at Kickstarters, Terrible at web store orders.

Wishing everyone out there the best,

Jason

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott
Creator & Owner
PaladinElliott Productions

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Review of Century Spice Road from Plan B Games by PaladinElliott Productions

Century Spice Road

Game Designed by: Emerson Matsuuchi

Artistry created by: Fernanda Suarez

Published by: Plan B Games, Abacusspiele, Asmodee, Broadway Toys LTD, Mandoo Games, Devir, Cube Factory of Ideas, and Piatnik

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott of PaladinElliott Productions

Review Editor: Stephanie Elliott of PaladinElliott Productions

Edition: First

Number of Players: 2 to 5 Spice Merchants (we have played 2, 3, and 4 player games so far)

Time of Play: 30 – 45 Minutes

Age recommended: 8 and up

The year of its release: 2017


The story so far: You come into this game as a Spice Merchant.  You are leading your Caravan across the Mediterranean Sea, heading east, and trying to accumulate more wealth than the other players do. This will come in the form of four different cubes representing four different spices (yellow=Turmeric, red=Saffron, green=Cardamom, and brown= Cinnamon). You will need to work your way up and down through acquiring and trading these spice cubes to accumulate point cards, and coins (the points on the cards you have + the coin values you have = the victory points you have), and strive to have the most.


Our final thoughts on this game: First, it must be said that we here at PaladinElliott Productions love Splendor, and heard that this was going to be similar. That was a great way to spark our interest in the beginning, but this adds a unique twist to that game. There are similarities in the way that you select resources, are limited in the number you can hold and how you use those resources to purchase point cards. However, there is an increased level of complexity as some of the spice cubes are easier to obtain.  In order to gain cubes of the most valued spice, Cinnamon, you would have to trade multiples of lower level spices. The more valuable your spices, the more valuable the points cards you can purchase with them.

That being said, this is a very easy game to teach, both to children and to adults. It also plays quickly, especially if everyone has one game under their belt. The game is highly colorful, with the colors being clear to see, and comes with great components. It is clear the game was thought out very well in what comes with it, how to teach it, how it looks, how it plays, and how it is stored. The only thing I would say is that after playing it you might want to acquire the game mat that is made for it, but must be purchased separately. The mat really ties everything together nicely, but some may find that they don’t want to spend the extra money as it is not necessary for the game to be played.

I have played this game with several different players, and different numbers of players, and everyone finds it highly enjoyable. This is a game that I recommend to show to non-gamers as this is as good of a game to introduce people to gaming as you can get. After one game play, players will find themselves truly considering how they could have played better and moved faster in acquiring higher points before their opponents do.  It is a truly wonderful game, tying its theme with a brilliant color scheme, solid mechanics, and quick play. I would place this on the Board Game Geek scale at a 10 out of 10, as I would play this every time someone asked me to.


Mechanics and concepts found in this game:  This is a game where you will collect sets of cubes to help score points cards. The game has card hand management, and you will want to acquire what you believe to be the best card choices, and then decide when the best time is to use said cards. It has elements of deck building but the card pool is constantly changing and you have to make decisions about whether or not you want to spend resources to get to cards further in the pool faster than your opponents do. You will need to decide between settling for an ok card and paying for a card that is further down in the pool; or you may get lucky that others do not want the card you want, which can happen.  The game requires strategic thinking around cost and benefit analysis as you think about the best way to get the cubes needed to acquire a point’s card. You might have to trade down, trade up depending on the cards you have in order to bring yourself to the right cube combination to purchase the point card you are after. When it comes down to it, this is a game of card collection and card use for cubes to be acquired and spent.


The game components (what is included, and what you can add):
1 Game box
1 Rule sheet
4 Cube Bowls
35 Yellow Cubes
30 Red Cubes
20 Green Cubes
20 Brown Cubes
10 Silver Coins
10 Gold Coins
5 Caravan Cards
53 Resource Cards
36 Points Cards

-You can purchase separately-
1 Century Spice Road Mat (it comes in a nice box that is good for storing the mat)


Winning conditions for the game: Having the most points at the end of the game. Points are added from point cards, along with Gold coins being worth 3 points each, and Silver coins being worth 1 point each. The ending game turn is when any player acquires their fifth point card in a four to five player game (sixth point card in a two to three player game). Any players that have not went during that turn are allowed to finish (you finish the current round of play) and then total everything up. The highest amount is the victor, but in the event of a tie, the last player to take a turn amongst the tied players wins.


Game setup: You want to shuffle the Point cards (Orange back) and draw five cards from this deck, and place them in a row to the left of the deck. You will then take the Gold coins and place them above the first from the left of these five Point’s cards, and then place all the Silver coins above the second from the left of the cards. Place coins equal to 2x the number of players. As players claim the point cards below the pile of coins, they will take one of the coins. You will then take the Merchant cards (these have purple backs and I think of them as resource cards) and shuffle the deck, draw 6 of them and place them in a row to the left of the deck. The deck of Point cards should be above the position of the deck of Merchant cards.  Please note there are 10 cards that have a purple border on the face up side and each player will start with two of these cards. The two cards each player should have are the Create 2 yellow cubes, and Upgrade 2. If any of these starter cards are not being used, then set them aside in the box. You will want the cubes sorted by color in the four bowls and have them within reach of all the players.  You will need them in order, so starting from left to right (or bottom to top) yellow to red to green to brown (Turmeric to Saffron to Cardamom to Cinnamon). Each player will need one Caravan card (grey back) as this is the card to hold your cube inventory. Shuffle these and hand one out to each player, and make sure you have dealt out the card that has the little flower icon on it, as it designates the first player.  Finally, you hand out cubes depending on turn order, the 1st player gets 3 yellow cubes, 2nd player gets 4 yellow cubes, 3rd player gets 4 yellow cubes, 4th player gets 3 yellow cubes plus 1 red cube, and the 5th player gets 3 yellow cubes plus 1 red cube. Set up is now complete.

How to play: The game will be played over a series of rounds that could be different every game. Each player plays one turn in a round, and you will only perform one action during that turn in a round. You can choose from the following:

Play: You choose one card from your hand and play it face up, and perform its action. You might play a Merchant Spice card where you immediately grab the cubes the cards indicated on the card. You might play a Merchant upgrade card, you start with an Upgrade 2 in your hand. You are allowed to upgrade one cube twice (yellow to red to green for example) or upgrade two cubes once each (yellow to red, and then a different one, such as a green to brown for example). You are never required to take all of your upgrades, you just need to choose what is most advantageous for you.  The third Merchant card is a Trade type, such as trade two yellow cubes for a green cube. You will simply trade as the card dictates, and you are allowed to perform this trade more than once on that turn as long as you have the resources and space in your Caravan to do so.

Acquire: This is where you will choose a Merchant card from the Merchant row. If you pick from the furthest left spot of the row, the card is free. If you choose anything to the right of the first spot, you must place a cube for each card (each step) to get to it. So, if you want the third card from the left, you will place a cube on the first and second from the left, to purchase the third. You choose what cubes to use from your Caravan. If you choose a Card that has cubes on it, you take the cubes and add them to your Caravan. If this would put you over your limit of 10, you choose the ones you want, and place the remaining back in the bowls. Once a card is acquired, move the remaining cards over to the left, filling in the gap, and draw from the deck to bring out the next card in Merchant’s row.

Rest: Through this action, you take back all of the cards you have played, thus renewing your card hand. Don’t be afraid to do this whenever you deem it necessary, and you will have to call this action if there are no cards in your hand (unless you are claiming a Point card).

Claim: This is where you declare that you are taking a Point card, and you must spend the correct cubes dictated on the bottom of the card. Once you have done this, the knowledge of that card is private until the end of the game. You move the cards to the left in Point’s row to fill in the gap, and draw one new Point card to come out. If you claimed from the furthest left then take a Gold coin. If you claimed from the second from the left, take a Silver coin. Once the coins have ran out, there will be no more coins to be claimed for those spots. It is a limited bonus. If all the Gold coins are taken, then shift any remaining Silver coins over to the spot where the Gold coins resided.

Some reminders: Your Caravan limit is 10 cubes, if you exceed it; you choose at the end of your turn which ones to discard to come back down to the limit. The cubes in the game are not limited. So, if you need more cubes of a color, use whatever is appropriate and/or nearby to supplement what you need.


Thank you so much for reading my review of Century Spice Road by Emerson Matsuuchi and Plan B Games!



hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

https://paladinelliott.blogspot.com/

check out some of my videos at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC58qYf_vaCaCnu6qvd-WpKw

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or 
Itunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ready-to-game-podcast-episode/id1111793358?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Dave & Busters, thoughts about this business after our latest outing there.

A review (if you will) about going to Dave & Buster's
                                         (what one of their locations look like)

By Jason Elliott of PaladinElliott Productions

So, I knew going into it that money would be spent, and from everyone's experiences that I know, to avoid getting any food there (both for high cost and bad taste). I decided to take the kids (Arnold 8 and Talia 6) after being invited by a good friend. Needless to say, I am officially done in taking anyone there. It comes down to being nitpicked and dimed at every opportunity. Yes, I say again I knew I was throwing money away on this one, but the shear level that it reached was enough to break me of this once every 6-12 months trip for good.

It is an exciting place, loud, lots of flashing colors in the dark, a big bar for adults, but right from the gate, you are going to charge me two dollars a card, so I have to decide on the kids running back and forth to each other, or spend four dollars just so the kids each have their own card, shame on you D&B! I wanted to get a higher amount of points for the cards, but no no, you can't split them, so this is the second way that they stick it to you and make you spend more money. So now you get in there, and no matter how much you say to your kids to try and make the cards last with their points, it just doesn't work that way. The whole system is rigged.

So let's break it down, each game, or prize machine varied from what I noticed to be 4.1 points a swipe up to 9.9 points a swipe. I spent $50 on the kids ($23 for each card, and a $ 2 fee for each card) to give them each 125 points. At best that is 30 plays on one of the cheapest machines. If that was 50 cents a play somewhere else (almost any arcade that I still go into these days) that would be $15. On the worst case scenario (which almost seems what Talia did) that is 12 plays. So D&B gets me on not splitting a package, on the card(s) on the games, and that is not including the degree of chance (the house always wins rule applies here) on these games, and how even with the tickets won, they have a little trinket or some candy to show for it.

                                                (this is how I felt afterwards)

Yes, I will come out and say it, I might as well hand them the money to go spend at a store, or to get some movies or video games to be played at home versus this nonsense. Talia comes out and says she had a good time, but it was quick and she couldn't get anything. Arnold, did better in making his card last on a shooting game, but you don't get any tickets for that. I know no one was forcing me to do this, and that I could have said no at the beginning of this trip, which I should have. Yet, I was thinking for no good reason, that it won't be that bad, they won't nickle and dime you that bad. It will last for a little while, and in this case it was one hour and it was all done.

Again, yes they have what my be the latest video games, and some of the coolest prizes. They will let you order food, drinks, alcohol, and all of that, and have your kids parties there (I hate to think of what that would cost). It is a big place, with lots of excitement, and the rent, wages, games, maintenance, overhead, all of it must be paid for. If it isn't then you don't have a business like this there. I know I am going to bother some by saying this, I wouldn't miss this place at all. Oh, that could hurt the local economy, think about the jobs provided, well I guess I would be willing to take that chance on this place.

This is why board games, video games, books, movies, trips, and almost anything else would be better. It is a lesson learned, that I thought I would share with you all today. Part of this sharing is to feel a little better about things, and the other part is to warn the rest of you not to go through with this type of activity. I get it, if this is your thing, you have money to burn, or you simply can see past the things I have mentioned, then by all means go for it. If you are like me, this trip will stick in your mind, and you will make better decisions in the future!

Wishing you all a very good Fourth of July holiday!

Jason Elliott (Father and Husband)
Creator & Owner
PaladinElliott Productions

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My Little Scythe Reviewed by Jason Elliott of PaladinElliott Productions





My Little Scythe


                    (our home made version of the print and play)
Variant Designed by: Hoby & Vienna Chou
Original Game of Scythe Designed by: Jamey Stegmaier
Original Game of Scythe Published by: Stonemaier Games, Albi, Crowd Games, Delta Vision Publishing, Feuerland Spiele, Fire on Board Jogos, Ghenos Games, Maldito Games, Matagot, Morning, PHALANX, and Playfun Games
Edition: Variant/Playtest
Number of players: listed at 2 -4, we have played games with 4
Time of Play:  listed 30-45 minutes, we had an hour in our first session due to teaching adults and children
Reviewed by: Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

The story so far:
All of the players are whisked away to Hasbro’s My Little Pony and the world of Equestria. You will have control over one to three ponies that will endeavor to find, collect, and transport apples and magic gems to either their personal barn, or the communal barn,  Sweet Apple Acres. Along the way, they will find and complete quests, bake pies, engage in pie fights, and share pies with other ponies to win friends and allies. You will need to judge your movements carefully and think strategically about your strategy. You will need to collect gems, apples, pies and friends to be the first to complete four achievements and declare victory over the other competing ponies!

                 (a race to get those apples and gems to the barn)
Our final thoughts on this Variant/Prototype:
As many of you know, I am a husband, and father of two little ones (Arnold 8, and Talia 6) and I always give family games a look because of this. That being said, it does not get more family friendly then this. We all worked on putting this game together, from discussions on what to use in building the print and play, to choosing which ponies would be part of it. In fact, we built the stands in such a way, that we are still able to use our ponies in other games, adventures, and battles!
It is amazing to teach a game such as this to an 8 and 6 year old.  It is also phenomenal that everyone that hasn’t won still truly smiled and had fun because they are playing with My Little Pony in such a way that brings the adult world completely in harmony with the children’s world. Everyone, mom, dad, and kids, all had lots of fun. On top of that, the learning curve didn’t overwhelm everyone.  The printout had 4 pages of rules, and that was it!
This has been in high demand here since it was first played. Will I play it with just adults? Absolutely! Will I play it with my kids? Count on it! This game jumped up fast to number two for Sunday night games with the kids, in a very short period of time! In fact, this one might have set a record for how fast it won everyone over!
If you don’t like My Little Pony in any way shape or form, then you might want to pass, because it is chock full with My Little Pony goodness. People who are looking for a way to bridge simpler games to more complex games will find this as one that will fit that bill. If you are looking for games that can be played in under an hour, you got that right here, and again, we were just shy of an hour, game time and teaching time combined in the first session. I have to give it a 10 out of 10 through Boardgamegeek. Why? I think every single time someone says to me “can we play this?” I will say yes, whether its kids, adults, or both.

                              (the Elliott's having a great time)
Mechanics and concepts found in this game:
This is by far a very direct children’s game theme, using that of My Little Pony. You will have resource management with the apples, spells, friendship, gems, and pies. If you love strong themes, then you are in luck because it is all the My Little Pony you can handle. Cartoon and Fantasy connections are readily available, and if you have watched at least one episode, you will be right at home with the characters in the game.
The game allows for varying styles of play and competition.  There are achievements for resource gathering, battling other players and completing quests.  The pie fights are relatively simple with a blind bidding process and the ability to add special spell cards to increase your pie total.  The pony with the most pies in the fight wins, with the attacker winning ties. With the ability to use resources to make more pies and to add spell cards, there is the need for little ones to be able to do some simple math.
Building the print and play allows you to go out and choose/buy/print what characters from the Ponyverse you personally want to use (which we loved). Being a print and play you are free to choose how much you want to invest into it, so we went all out, miniatures from the stores, along with eraser miniatures, all kinds of tokens we had from our stockpiles to make up the apples (apple erasers), magic gems (from table topper decorations-Dollar Tree), Compass Faces and Arrows (Michael’s Craft Store), metal flat washers for the bases to adhere to magnets, glued within milk jug caps in the four colors needed (red, blue, green, and yellow), star beads (Michael’s), colored Chess pieces for action tokens, and generic pawns, for Friendship and Pie level trackers. You truly get out what you put into this print and play! You have dice you need to add, 3 d6’s- blue for Magic Gems being found through the search option.  3 d6’s- red for Apples being found through the search option, and 1 d6-gold for Quests being found through the search option.
You will have a degree of area control, and you choose where to go with two spaces of movement if not carrying anything, or 1 space if you are encumbered. Not one of these is overpowering in any sense, but you need to be aware of all of these playing into a truly wonderful themed experience.

                      (Arnold and Talia letting you know it’s good)
What components have to be built/accounted for:
-The main game board (ours as a 24 by 36 inch, covered with clear packing tape, and backed by foam mats)
-Player boards (printed out, covered with clear packing tape, framed with foam mats)
-Quest cards & Magic cards (printed out, cut out, and placed in sleeves)
-Pie Fight Dials (printed out, cut out, taped to cardboard, and used miniature plastic rods to hold them together)
-My Little Pony minis ( these were of the 2 inch variety, from the eraser packs and toy packs, which we got from a local Target store)
-We had the Blue Dice, Red Dice, and Gold Die, in a huge supply o’dice
-We had the action tokens and regular pawns in our huge supply of extra game pieces and pawns
-We had apple erasers, plastic gems, star tokens, and miniature compasses (like you would use for scrapbooking) in our home supply as well
This is a print and play where you could truly invest a little or a lot, depending on how far you wanted to take it. Yes, we wanted to take it pretty far!

                   (here you get to see a lot of the materials used)

     (and another photo of the game in progress and materials used)
Winning conditions for the game:
You want to be the first player to claim four achievements. Play immediately stops when this has happened. Each Achievement is worth one point. Achievements can be earned as follows:
-If you raise your Friendship level to 10
-If you recruit your Third Pony
-If you complete your Second Quest
-If you deliver 4 Apples to either your starting barn or Sweet Apple Acres Barn
-If you deliver 4 Magic Gems to either your starting barn or Sweet Apple Acres Barn
-If you win one Pie Fight (this is the only achievement that can be done twice by the same player)
-If you reach 10 Pies on your Pie tracker.

Game Setup:
First: everyone picks their color from red, blue, green, and yellow (take your corresponding Action token, Friendship tracker token, Pie tracker token, 3 color bases, 4 Achievement tokens, a player board) and 1 pony to start with.
Second: everyone places their Friendship tracker tokens on 3, Pie trackers on 3, shuffle all the Magic Cards and deal one to each player. Place the Magic Cards and the Quest Cards (once shuffled) where they belong on the board.  Magic Cards you have are secret knowledge. Make sure you place your starting pony on your starting color barn.
Third: roll all seven of the dice, they will tell you where to place materials. So if one of the red dice says 5, place one Apple on the Apple 5 spot. If one of the blue dice says 3, place one Gem on the Magic Gem 3 space. If the gold Quest die says 6 you place one Quest Compass token on the Quest 6 space. The symbols are easy to see, and you do not add up the dice. Rolling the seven dice means seven tokens go out on the board to start the game. Finally, remember that every pony, even though they look different, are still the same for purposes of this game, so no special individual powers.

         (you can see hexes with resource(s) on them in this picture)
How to play:
You will only be allowed to perform one action each turn. You will never be allowed to repeat the same action from one turn to the next turn, you must always choose something different.
Here are the choices:
Move- Pony or ponies, all that you have, can move 2 spaces if they are not carrying any Apples and/or Magic Gems. If they are carrying, then they can only move one hex.
Search- You choose four dice  (you could say, I want to roll 2 of the Apple dice, 1 Magic Gem die, and 1 Quest die) and you place materials out where the rolls dictate. Thematically you and Gabby the Griffon are helping find materials throughout Equestria. YOU GAIN 1 FRIENDSHIP for doing this.
Make Pies (Baking Pies)-You don’t move any ponies and spend two of the Apples you have collected on the board (a hex where you have a pony and there are enough Apples there) to make two Pies. It must always be remove two Apples and go up two Pies on your Pie tracker.
Make Spell (Conjure Spell)-You don’t move any ponies and spend two of the Magic Gems you have collected on the board (a hex where you have a pony and there are enough Magic Gems there) to draw one Magic Spell card. There are no  Magic Spell Card hand limits in this game.
Make Pony (Craft an Invitation)- You don’t move any ponies and spend two of your Pies from the Pie tracker to recruit a second/third (depending on your situation) Pony to your team. You must meet the Friendship tracker requirements as a prerequisite to perform this action. To recruit your second pony you must have a Friendship of  4 or higher, and for your third and final pony you must have a Friendship of 6 or higher. Going below these levels once you have recruited does not remove your pony. Once they are with you, they stay with you.
Things that can happen from these actions not yet mentioned:
Move into another occupied Pony space, this automatically starts a Pie fight. The losing pony or ponies (yes you can have more than one battle for your side) must go back to their starting barns, leaving behind any resources they have been moving along. You would do this to stop somebody from pulling ahead, or winning the game. You have a Pie Fighting Dial that goes up to 7, and you are allowed to use one Magic Spell card per pony in the battle for your team. Any Pies you throw in the fight are removed from your Pie tracker. You add up all of your numbers against your opponent. Attacker wins in ties. Example, I have Rainbow Dash and my Pie tracker is at 5. I decide to throw 3, (opponent doesn’t get to see until both players reveal at same time) and I added a Magic Spell card of 4 (values range from 2 to 5). So I have a total of 7 Pies (keeping 2 in my Pie tracker reserves). My opponent didn’t have a Magic Spell card and used 6 pies, so I win. They have to move their ponies back to their starting barn, and I get to stay there with all of the resources sitting there.
Move, or stand somewhere where Apples and/or Magic Gems are, then you have the option to say you are carrying them with you, or leaving them. If you carry them, you move them on the board with your pony. If you spend them, you spend them from the hex where one of your ponies is standing.
Move Apples and/or Magic Gems into either your starting barn or the Sweet Apple Acres Barn in the center of the game board. This will complete an achievement (you need four achievements to win). You must deliver 4 Apples at one time, or 4 Magic Gems at one time. Extra of these don’t move in with you, and stay in the last known space before going into the barn. 4 Apples is worth one achievement, and 4 Magic Gems is one achievement, so delivering both sets would put you half way to winning the game.
You may move or be standing somewhere when there is an available Quest Compass token. You, as a free action, can say that you go on the quest. Take the top card from the quest pile, and choose one option (as long as you meet the requirements, if requirements are listed). We describe it as each card has three options. One will be a freebie option, one will be choosing the light side, and one will be choosing the dark side.

      (a shot of the game box with all that My Little Pony goodness)
In conclusion, the whole family had a lot of fun playing the game and are looking forward to playing more often.  There has already been talk of other characters we want to add (Spike the Dragon, in particular).  If you are looking for a great family game that helps bridge the gap from basic children’s games into the realm of games requiring more strategic thinking and competition/battle mechanics, this is the game for you!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review of:

My Little Scythe 

hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

https://paladinelliott.blogspot.com/

check out some of my videos at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC58qYf_vaCaCnu6qvd-WpKw

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or 
Itunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ready-to-game-podcast-episode/id1111793358?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

and remember I am always….READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)