Peter's 40 Something Game Reviews
Background and methodology:I have been gaming since the seventy’s (not that some of you haven’t- but more as a frame of reference). Needless to say, I’ve play a few. These games included RPGs, traditional board games as well as fantasy and sci-fi board games, 1/285 miniature games (WW II and Sci-fi), 15mm fantasy. And probably some I have forgotten about. And many that have been forgotten.
I think you get the picture. Perhaps some of you can identify with the above. Great! That was the idea. But, if you can’t, that’s OK, please keep reading. Maybe it will give you some insight to that “older” guy that you play with.
I have a simple opinion about games and it is this: They should be fun, period. If I find myself “justifying” why the game wasn’t fun, then I am done. There is simply too little time and too many games. I am not trying to be unfair. I am up for any challenge, but I think we have all played a game and after words thought “well, that sucked.” And I don’t mean the outcome necessarily. What I mean is that the game is flawed, broken, or just unfun (new word).
Furthermore, I would say that I don’t always win when I play. In fact, there are some games that I am just not that good at. But winning isn’t at the top of my list (see above “Fun” statement). Having a good time for me is better than winning. And another thing, I also believe that WHO you play with can be more important then WHAT game you play.So why am I doing this. I feel that perhaps, after reading the above, some of you might think to yourself “hey, that sounds like me”. And, if so, I can share my thoughts and experiences with you for your amusement, betterment, ETC. Ultimately if my experiences can assist or help someone out there, then on with the show.
This is how I will be reviewing the games:
1. I will play the game. I will not “review” a game without playing. Sure you can laugh, but people do review without playing. And I will play it more than once. We all know that the first play is usually a clumsy affair and therefore, IMHO, not a fair shake for the game.
2. I will evaluate the game in a fair and non-based fashion. Honesty and fairness are virtues we tell our kids to embolden. I think the best way to do that is by example. I should add that I will polite as well. Being brutally honest is a self serving affair.
3. I will conduct myself in a professional manner. Should you feel compelled to comment about something I have written, I would appreciate that you do the same.
4. I will post photos at the end of my review. I want to describe to you the look and feel of the game. That’s the challenge. Feel free to zip to the last page if that is all you are looking for (it’s not like I can stop you). It will be accurate, but what you won’t know is how or why they are what they are.
5. I will not rate with “Stars” or “Numbers”. Why? Because without a frame of reference, neither of those do you any good. To subjective. For all you know, I love all games (for all the wrong reasons). What I will do is share my and the groups experiences with you and you can decide if what you are reading sounds like something you would enjoy.
I first found out about this game through Board Game Geek (credit where credit is due). It was probably one of those following link/click sessions that got away from me. Next thing I know I’m reading up on a game thinking to myself “I would enjoy playing that game”. Not the first time I’ve had that though mind you. In fact, I read the reviews and acquired it. You see, I use those reviews too. That was part of my motivation to do this.
The box you ask? Why are you reviewing the box? Because my dear reader, you and I and many others peruse the well stocked shelves at our local game shop and we (I) tend to pick the games that look cool. It’s true. Think about the last couple of books you bought off the shelf. The box is a huge marketing piece. And I am sure, somewhere, someone cares about how it is received.
And in this case the box isn’t a box. It is a clear plastic tube. It’s about 6” in diameter and 14” long. It has a full color sheet around the inside of the tube covered in what I will lovingly refer to as “Indie Art”. Think back the 1st Monster Manual or the 1st edition Magic the Gathering cards and you’ll get the picture. I am not turned off by it. It could be much cooler. Much more refined. But given the above references, art of this nature has a charm all its own. And it is consistent with the overall feel of the game. And it has one of my favorite things: A contents list. Any of you who collect games know what I am talking about.
The contents (as described on the box) are nice. Glass “drops” for the gems, a deck of cards that are good quality, good quality dice, color cardstock stand up heroes (anyone remember “Card Board Heroes”? They are like that) and a red bag to hold all of it. And there is the game “Board”. The “board” is actually fabric, which is convenient as it rolls up to fit into the game box (tube). See, I used to think the quality of the components can have a huge impact on your enjoyment of the game. In fact, I still feel that way. And these components are perfect for this game. The fabric board and glass stones are great touch.
Clear and concise. These are a short read. Quick and to the point. That’s it. No pontification here. Move along.
We played 5 games. It took about 1 ½- 2 hours total. So you can figure on about a 20-30 minute play time. The goal of the game is to get gems, 4 matching gems for the Knights and 6 of any color for the Ogre, and return to your starting area. “Landing” on a gem will secure it and place it in your vault. This is the Ogres castle (hence the accurate and descriptive name for the game) and the knights are here to steal them. The Ogre doesn’t appreciate this and tries to take them back from the Knights. Play is basically roll and move. 1D6 and you must move you full roll without doubling back or reentering a previous space during your move. This is important as the board is very cleverly designed. Without this mechanic, the roll and move would quickly become boring. It is random, but I didn’t find it frustrating. OK, maybe a little frustrating, but it funny when it happened to someone else. Combat is a similar affair with dice being rolled and the highest winning. The Ogre gets 3 dice to roll and the Knights 2. The knights also start with 2 armor tokens that will add 2 to the die roll (1 per armor token). And winning combat means taking position of a gem. So the Ogre will attack the knights to get the gems back. The knights are doing the same. Cards can (and will) be played to affect the outcome of combat. You will draw cards and maintain your hand, until you’re cards are played. Cards are redrawn each turn. The cards are the major play items here as they allow you to alter the die roll, add or subtract from combat, and relocate the gems (just to name a few effects). And you get to do these things AGAINST your opponents! Yep, fun to be had at another’s expense. This is where the major fun factor comes into play (kind of like helping someone down a flight of stairs . . . with a push). And I don’t need to point this out (then why is he doing it?), but the friends you choose to play this with is going to have a serious impact on the “fun level”. This quickly turns into a “Take That” game and as such, some people may not enjoy that aspect of the game. But I am sure none of you have that kind of friend in your group. . . Or if you do, perhaps you DO want them to play. Heh.
I good time was had by all. And I mean everyone. We all had a great time! Really (I wouldn’t make that up). There was a great deal of laughter and often by the people who were not winning. Now this was a group that knows each other and therefore the “Take That” aspect of the game was enjoyed to the fullest. I find that if everyone is having fun, and not everyone is winning, then the game is very enjoyable (did I channel John Madden there?).