21 Fart-Gun Salute--A Double-Take Review of Nefarious

21 Fart-Gun Salute--A Double-Take Review of Nefarious

This is it! It's time to take over the world and make your childhood mad-scientist dreams come true! Nefarious is a simultaneous-action, hand-management game for 2-6 players, that's going to take you anywhere from 20-30 minutes to play. It's from renowned Dominion designer Donald X. Vaccarino.

Is Nefarious an evil ploy to get you to play terrible games? Or is it an evil ploy to make every other game look horrible? Best read on to find out!

Read More

IOS Board Games: One on Sale, and One Free!

kingdomApple announced some new iPads yesterday. What better way to celebrate buying one than by getting some cheap games for it?!

Kingdom Builder—the clever game by Dominion designer Donald Vaccarino, is on sale for $4.99 (normally $6.99). And the abstract game Hive is FREE (normally $.99). They're not huge savings, but if you just dropped some bones on a new iPad, every little bit helps! Who knows when these will go back to regular price, so grab them now!

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to subscribe to the Theology Of Games Podcast on iTunes. We're giving away a copy of Pixel Lincoln, and the details are in podcast #3! Bye!

The Best Board Games of 2012!

Thanks for joining us for Post #200 here at Theology Of Games. In the Better Late Than Never category: Here they are—our picks for the best games of 2012! Now, realize that even though we both have a board game group that meets weekly, there are some games we just didn't get a chance to play. So games such as Mage Wars and Snowdonia and Myrmes just didn't get played. They might have made the list, and I'm sure we'll play those at some point. You'll just have to wait for the review. :) We also went off of the release dates as seen on each game's page on Boardgamegeek. There are a number of games I was sure came out this year, but I was surprised to see they were actually released earlier (Mage Knight, King of Tokyo, Kaispeicher). So without further ado... Mice & Mystics10. Mice & Mystics—It's essentially a dungeon crawler. You go through rooms, you fight swarms of baddies, you have weapons and armor and special powers, you roll dice, and you're following a loose sort of plot. My group is eight missions into the campaign and we're having great fun. One big reason it doesn't rate higher is that once I've played through the campaign, I'll likely never play the base game again. (Or at least until the expansion comes out.)

Lords9. Lords Of Waterdeep—This is a worker placement game with a thick veneer of fantasy to it. There's a fair bit of mess-with-your-neighbor-ness to it, but I was okay with it.

smashcover8. Smash Up—A card-battling, shuffle-building game, featuring different factions that you can combine to smash up one of several bases on the table. Light rules, cool cards, and fun faction combos. Check out our review here.

PlatoCover7. Plato 3000—This was a surprisingly fun little filler! It's basically rummy with special powers—if you can snag a copy, you should do so! You can read the review here.

gauntlet6. Gauntlet Of Fools—This is another filler that grabbed our attention. You grab your hapless hero and head into the dungeon, where you'll almost certainly die. Sounds fun, right?! Well it really, really is. Read our detailed thoughts on it here.

cover5. Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game—The minis are way cool. The gameplay is fast and fun. AND IT'S STAR WARS! This is the kind of game I expect to sink a ton of cash into, but the looks on my kids' faces when we play makes it worth it. Here's our review of this terrific game.

cover4. Android: Netrunner—The first of two LCGs on the list is a remake of the classic CCG from the 90s. This reboot is excellent. The key is the asymmetrical play—with one playing the powerful corporation and the other playing the plucky, tricky hacker. This has so much potential for interesting expansions...I can hear my wallet screaming now... Here's our review.

box-SWLCG-left3. Star Wars Card Game—This is the start of something really great; the base set is already climbing to the top of our lists, and they haven't yet expanded it for 4 players. With the unique Edge Battle mechanic, paired up with some pretty awesome card artwork, the sky is the limit for this LCG. We're really looking forward to what Fantasy Flight has in store. In the meantime, check out Jeremiah's review.

Mayancover2. Tzolk'in—I can't remember the last time I was this enamored with a game. Rather than gush over it here, I'll just point you to my review.

Avalon1. The Resistance: Avalon—What can we say about this game that we haven't already? The Resistance is one of our favorite titles of all time, and Avalon adds just enough variance and depth to keep us coming back for more back-stabbing, lying, skulduggery and intrigue. The new/optional roles have increased re-playability even more. Read our review here; then go get the game. Now. What are you waiting for?!

So what did you think were the best games of last year? Let us know in the comments, and make sure you "Like" us on Facebook. And over on Twitter too!

More Kingdom Builder on the Way

CrossroadsQueen Games has provided some previews of the games they'll have at the upcoming Spielwarenmesse...the toy and game fair in Nürnberg, Germany. Probably the biggest news is that they're unveiling a new expansion for the Spiel des Jahres winner Kingdom Builder—Kingdom Builder: Crossroads "New locations and new challenges are what the land needs! Kingdom Builder: Crossroads includes four new landscapes with two different location spaces to offer new options to shape the kingdom. The task cards challenge players to build their settlements in a certain way in order to gain even more gold at the end of the game."

Not much to go on, but for Donald X and Kingdom Builder fans, it'll be an instant buy.

In related news, Queen is coming out with a Big Box version of Kingdom Builders, set to release in October. It'll have the base game and all current expansions—including the Nomads and Crossroads expansions, and the Capitol and Caves mini expansions

2012 Holiday Board Game Gift Guide—Gamers' Games

Here it is folks, the list you've been waiting for. You have a total gamer geek at work, and you pulled that person's name in the office secret Santa gift exchange! Now what? Never fear...below you'll find a list of games we ourselves are clamoring over and would love to see under the tree! We give you: the Gamers' Games gift guide! Star Wars the Card GameStar Wars The Card Game—Fantasy Flight has been working on getting this game out for years now, and they say it will be in stores for Christmas! We're very excited about this, their newest addition to the Living Card Game line up. And so will most any gamer out there! We interviewed Eric Lang the designer of the game last month; check it out here!

Cost: TBA (Estimated around $39.99)

Available from: Amazon and your local game store (Coming soon!)

Ages: 10 & up

Lord of the Rings the Card GameLord of the Rings: The Card Game—Yes, yes, we know... Two "living card games" in the same guide?! But really, if you're a fan of co-op games, this is probably one of the most elegant, and strategic of them all. It scales incredibly well—from 1-4 players—and is one of our favorite games here at TOG. If the gamer in your life is already into LOTR:TCG check out the new saga expansions The Hobbit: Under Hill and Over Hill, The Hobbit: On the Doorstep, and The Heirs of Numenor.

Cost: $39.99 (Base Set) $29.99 (Saga Expansions)

Available from: Amazon and your friendly local game store

Ages: 10 & up

DominionDominion—The card game that turned card games on their collective ears. Dominion is the premier deck-building franchise; it's incredibly rare for a game to create a genre, and then remain (arguably) the best game in that genre. Chances are if you've played a card game that was released in the last four years it was influenced in some way by Dominion. There are multiple expansions for Dominion that continue to strengthen this modern classic. If your gamer has Dominion already, check out the Prosperity expansion, and the newest Dark Ages!

Cost: $39.99 (Base set) $29.99 (Expansions)

Available from: Amazon and your local game store

Ages: 13 & up

Mage KnightMage Knight—This game is for serious gamers only! Deep, complex, and rich game mechanics, and multiple campaigns to play. It's like role-playing in a growing board game. (Some campaigns are estimated to take up to 8 hours or more to complete!) If your gamer is a fan of games set in the fantasy realm, and highly involved game play, this is the game for them! Check out our review of the game right here!

Cost: $69.99

Available from: Amazon and local game stores

Ages: 14 & up

Star Wars X-WingStar Wars: X-Wing Miniatures—Easy rules. Amazing miniatures. Fun gameplay. This game is going to end up costing me sooooo much money, but playing this with my kids will lessen that sting considerably. There are official scenarios, fan-made scenarios, or you can just have a wipe-out-the-other-guys dogfight. If you have a Star Wars fan on your list, this one should be on your short list. If you want more info, you can read our in-depth review.

Cost: $39.99

Available from: Amazon, department stores and your local game store

Ages: 14 & up

Mice & MysticsMice & Mystics—This game is basically a dungeon crawler, but instead of a typical fantasy theme, here you're playing as a group of mice trying to get to the bottom of a deadly conspiracy. Each scenario is a "chapter" in the story, with objectives, special powers, and dangerous enemies, such as rats, giant centipedes, huge spiders, and a cat!

Cost: $74.99

Available from: Amazon and your local game store

Ages: 7 & up

Gauntlet of FoolsGauntlet Of Fools—Even hardcore gamers sometimes need to play a quick game to start or end the evening—or to play while waiting for other people to finish another game. Gauntlet of Fools is the perfect game for that. You're heading into a dungeon with your chosen hero. Everyone is going to die, but if you can die with the most money, you'll win. Lots of fun. You can read our full review of the game here.

Cost: $19.99

Available from: Amazon and your local game store

Ages: 8 & up

What You Missed

If you haven't been around this week, you've missed out on some fine blog posts here at TOG! Let's take a quick look back, as we move into the weekend! The News on Monday: Z-Man Games is releasing an English version of Robinson Crusoe, a co-op game of island survival!

The Review on Tuesday: Firestone reviewed Donald X. Vaccarino's Gauntlet of Fools.

The Interview on Wednesday: This week's interview featured Jesse Catron as he discussed his new Kickstarter campaign, Salmon Run, a racing, deck-builder with a fishy theme.

Kickstarter Weekly on Thursday: We featured the campaign of the converse version of Castle Panic! Known as Storm the Castle!

Also Today, we've added another little page to our humble site titled "Get Your Game Reviewed", enjoy!

Stay tuned next week, or else you'll miss more news, reviews, and interviews, including a very special, presidential interview with a very special guest, don't miss it!

Thanks again for reading, and have a great weekend everyone!

Running the Gauntlet Of Fools

by Firestone

Donald X. is the incredibly successful designer of hit games such as Dominion and Kingdom Builder. His latest is nothing like Dominion at all, but don’t let that stop you from playing this fast, fun game.

Gauntlet Of Fools comes with:

  • 90 cards—divided into 20 Class cards, 20 Weapon Cards, and 50 Encounter cards.
  • 30 dice
  • 4,000 tokens—okay, that’s an exaggeration, but there are a BUNCH of tokens.
  • 1 Playmat on which to place Boasts before they’re taken.

You’re going to control a hero, who will enter the dungeon, and who will die. (Well, you'll almost certainly die, unless you get really, really lucky. But plan on taking dirt nap...) Your goal is to end up with more gold than your opponents at the end of the dungeon.

First you deal out one Class card per player; they’re the Heroes, and include ninjas, barbarians, zombies, and jesters. Each one of them has an inherent defense, and a special power that you can use in the dungeon. Then you attach one Weapon to each Hero; they include spears, axes, whips, holy swords, and deadly fists. Each one has a number of dice you will roll for your attacks in the dungeon, along with a special power. Every game the Heroes and Weapons combinations will be different, so there’s plenty of replay value here.

Heroes and Weapons have special powers, and while you can use a few of them automatically, almost all of them cost an Ability token. The number of tokens varies based on the power (with a low of zero and high of 20), but on average you’ll get two Class Ability tokens and Two Weapon Ability tokens.

You should be aware that there are some “darker” cards in these, such as necromancers, zombies, and demonic blades. Their power is abstracted, but they’re there; if you felt strongly about it, you could easily remove those cards from the game without really affecting anything.

There are two phases to the game: the Boasting Phase and the Gauntlet Phase.

First comes the Boasting. Starting with the start player, each person takes one of the Heroes—and the Weapon attached to that Hero—and places it in front of them. If they think the Hero might get taken from them, they can attach a Boast to it, but it’s not required. Now the next player takes a Hero. If they take one that’s already in front of another player, they have to attach at least one Boast to it. That continues until each player has a Hero in front of him or her.

The Boasts include things such as “One Arm Tied Behind My Back,” which means that when the Hero is in the dungeon, he’ll ignore all 1s and 2s rolled on the dice. Or while “Hopping On One Leg,” which means you reduce the Hero’s defense by two. Or “With A Hangover,” which means you reduce your Hero’s attack dice by one and defense by four, but as soon as you kill a monster you get rid of the Hangover—fighting sobers you up! There are a few others, too.

So you can take the Hero someone else has, but you’re going to “pay” more for it—in the form of Boasts. And you might really want a Hero, but you have to ask yourself if it’s worth all the Boasts. It generally feels that a Great Hero with a Great Weapon—and a Boast or two—is more valuable than a Good Hero with a Good Weapon. Of course, that’s not always true, and some Boasts feel more harmful than others. It’s a sort of auction, where you’re valuing what’s out there, and trying to do a better job of valuing than your opponents—it reminds me of the province auction in Amun-Re.

Now comes the Gauntlet Phase, where you fight the monsters. And die. Early on, people were comparing this to Munchkin, and that scared me off. I can’t stand Munchkin—for lots of little reasons, but the big one is that the games often take FOREVER. FOR. E. VER!!!  Gauntlet of Fools is only superficially like Munchkin (fight monsters in a dungeon), but it’s also got a natural timer to it. You’re going to die. Everyone’s going to die. You might live one or two rounds longer than someone else—or vice versa—but that’s it. This keeps games at around 20 minutes, and that’s just perfect for this weight and type of game.

Anyway, you play a series of turns, and in each one you determine the encounter (draw the top card of the Encounter deck), attack the monster, defend against the monster, and then check to see if you’re dead yet. Most of the time the Encounter will be a monster of some kind. Each one has an attack strength, a defense strength, a gold amount for if you kill it, a wound amount if it hits you, and finally a special power. They’ve done a good job of conveying a lot of info in a clear way on a single card.

There are a few special Encounter cards. There’s a Spear Trap where you automatically take a wound, and some modifiers that make the next monster worth more gold, or have extra defense, or extra attack power—or do double damage. There are also some good Encounters that give you gold, or tokens you can use on your special powers, or allow you to heal a wound.

So for each regular Encounter your Hero will roll however many dice he or she has for attack, and if the total is as much or more than the monster’s defense, you’ve killed it, and you get the gold. Even if the monster dies, it still gets to attack your Hero. Again, if its attack equals or bests your defense, you’ll take one or more wounds. This attack and defend portion is where you can also use those Ability Tokens you got with your Hero. You might be able to turn one in and automatically kill any monster, or turn one in a roll an extra attack die, or turn one in a reroll all attack dice.

So there are definite decisions to be made in the Gauntlet. When should you just attack, and when should you spend a precious Token? Will I die this turn, and can I somehow prevent that?

Eventually everyone dies (four wounds and you’re dead at the end of the turn), and you count up the gold; whoever has the most gold wins. That’s not necessarily the person who lived the longest. If I was able to kill a couple of big-money monsters—but died early, that could be better than you living a longer time, but only killing monsters that give you one gold.

That’s an exhaustive look at the game. It probably took you longer to read this than it will to play a game. (Okay, that's an exaggeration...)

So what do I think? I like it! It’s a fast and fun dungeon delve. Some people don’t like that you only Boast once and use that one Hero through the whole Gauntlet, but it’s meant to play quickly and easily, and that’s just what it does. Want more? Play another game! Want Mage Knight? Play Mage Knight!

The dice add a lot of uncertainty. There were plenty of times that a Hero should be able to best a Monster, but then he'd roll a bunch of 1s and 2s. We played once, and then we immediately wanted to play again. And then we played another after that.

If there's one thing I'm uncertain about, it's that I'm not sure how well this would go over with nongamers. Auction games might be the hardest genre to bring out with Grandma and your Aunt Fanny. It's hard to figure out just how much something is worth, and if they undervalue or overvalue something, it can kinda throw the whole game off. But Gauntlet's light enough and fast enough that I'm far less concerned with this than I would be with, say...The Princes of Florence.

There’s plenty of room for expansion with this game, and I’ll eagerly add them if and when they come out. In the meantime, I’m going into the Gauntlet with my mace-wielding knight—unfortunately, he’s blindfolded and he skipped breakfast…

Our thanks to Indie Boards & Cards for graciously providing a review copy to Theology of Games.

Dominion Goes Digital

The game that pretty much turned card games on their ear a few years ago is not only getting a new expansion, but it has also been announced that there will be an iOS, Android, and online version of the game releasing soon. Now you won't have to wait to gather your friends together to buy that Duchy; you can do it on the interwebs! The digital version of the game will feature single player vs. bots, multiplayer online (w/friends or random strangers), or a new "Challenge Mode" designed in conjunction with game designer Donald X. Vaccarino and app devs goko. You'll be able to play on your iPad and Android tablets, as well as from your browser via goko.com as well as on Facebook, and in Google+ hangouts (if anyone still does that). While they have given us an iPhone screen shot, there is no word on if there will be a version that scales to fit the landscape of the iPhone, or other non-tablet devices.

Goko is in the beta phase of testing right now! I've applied for the beta, and so can you.

For full details, updates, screen shots, and info on the beta test click here!

Are you already beta testing this? We'd love to hear about it, leave it in the comments!

Dominion gets a 7th expansion...

Rio Grande has released info about a 7th addition to the Dominion franchise: Dark Ages. The expansion will include 500 cards, including 35 new Kingdom cards and a few replacements for estates and such. They're touting a couple new baddies to give to your opponents and a few cards that are only acquired by specific other cards. You can see the official Rio Grande description here. And for some nifty card previews from the game designer himself, click here. It looks like Rio Grande and designer Donald X. Vaccarino are doing their best to keep the Dominion franchise alive and relevant—and quite honestly, that's okay with us.

Are you looking forward to another installment of Dominion? What are your favorite expansions? Leave it here! And thanks for reading!

Infiltration: Take the Money and Run

Donald X. Vaccarino is the creator a little game called Dominion. It’s ridiculously popular—it’s like he invented a way to just legally print money.

His latest design is Infiltration—a fast filler for 2-6 players that has you in the position of breaking into a corporation to steal as much as you can before the guards catch you.

You lay out the cards for the “first level” in a stairstep up to the right, and then a “second level” to the building back up the left. On each turn, players choose a card from their hands, and then simultaneously reveal them. It might allow a player to move to the next room. Or take some of the loot in a room. And some rooms have locks or scientists in them, and you can play cards to interact with them. There are also some special cards that give you something extra and cool and unique to do.

Here we run into the first problem: turn order can be hard to overcome. Turn order changes every turn, but if you’re at the end of the pack, you’ll find yourself scrambling to get to good rooms and get some of the loot.

In the game I played, one player played a card that let her move into a room and interact with it—normally you can only do one or the other. Unfortunately, interacting with the room forced her to end her run, so she was out of the game.

There’s a built-in timer to the game. A threat number increases as the game goes on, and when it reaches a certain level, the guards catch anyone still in the building. So you have to figure out how much loot to grab before you high-tail it out. The weird thing is, there’s no trap door on the second-level set of cards. So while there’s cool stuff the further in you go, it’s almost impossible to get that stuff and still get out.

This also led to another problem with the game. One player was in the kingmaker role: he ends it early and hands Player X a victory, or lets it go one more round and it's between Player X and me. He can't do ANYTHING to better his position. He ended it—still not sure why

So only two people in our game escaped—one who used a special card to escape, and the other was the woman from way earlier in the game. If the player who used the special card hadn’t been able to get out, the woman would have won…with zero points. That’s ridiculous to me.

The theme of the game is stealing. I think the game justifies it because you’re stealing from a corporation, and CORPORATIONS ARE ALWAYS EVIL, AND ENJOY BOILING PUPPIES ALIVE IN THE TEARS OF KITTENS. I’m no apologist for corporations, but come on… So be aware you’re stealing. I’m not against playing the game because you’re stealing; I’m against playing it because it’s a bad game.

I think ultimately this game suffers from Stephen King Syndrome: Donald X has had enough wild success that people aren’t willing to push back against some of the bad ideas here. If you don’t mind some swinginess, you might enjoy this. And the theme is pretty cool. And it’s certainly a fast game.

Me, I think I’ll wait for the upcoming Netrunner game to release my inner hacker.