It's Friday. It's the last day of school here in Colorado where I (Firestone) am. So rather than a full-blown article, let's ask a question. I'm wondering...
Who's your favorite designer?Read More
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Okay, Knizia's been working on some things--mostly iOS implementations of his games. But he used to come out with games all the time. And he's designed some absolute classics. So it's super exciting to hear about a new game from the Doctor!
Fantasy Flight has announced Age Of War, a dice game for 2 to 6 players set in feudal Japan.
According to the description:
"Each turn in Age of War, you must decide where to commit your armies against a castle. At the beginning of the game, fourteen castles are laid out, divided between six clans: Mori, Uesugi, Chosokabe, Shimazu, Tokugawa, and Oda. On your turn, you will attack one of these castles. Each castle card displays a number of battle lines showing different symbols. On your turn, you will attempt to conquer a castle by matching your dice results to the symbols in the battle lines of a chosen castle.
Your turn begins by mustering your troops – rolling seven custom dice to gather infantry, archers, cavalry, and loyal daimyos to your attack force. Once your troops are mustered, you may attack a castle by matching the results of your dice to one battle line on the besieged castle. If unfilled battle lines remain on the castle card, you must reroll the dice to muster your troops again and press the attack.
If, after any roll, you cannot fill a battle line on the besieged castle, your assault is thrown back. You must regroup your troops by setting one die aside, before mustering your troops again by rolling your remaining dice.
If you can conquer a castle by filling all of its battle lines, you take the castle card and add it to your play area as one of your castles, and the castle’s point value counts towards your total score. But just because you conquer a castle doesn’t mean that castle is safe! You can attack other players’ castles on your turn in the same way you attack unclaimed castles, with the addition of the red daimyo in the upper left hand corner of the castle card as another battle line that must be completed to conquer the castle."
The game is expected in the second quarter of the year. I don't know about you, but hearing about a new Knizia game fills me with joy. He was The Man when I got into this hobby, and it's good to see him coming back.
What's your favorite Knizia game? Or favorite Knizia memory?
Thanks for reading!
By Firestone This is seriously good news, folks. Back in 2004, designer Reiner Knizia came out with what was really the first LCG: Blue Moon. It and the expansion decks slowly went out of print, and they were recently fetching big bucks on the secondary market. That's all about to change...
Fantasy Flight has announced Blue Moon Legends, which will collect both the original game and the expansions into one package. There are numerous races in the land, and each is vying for control. They all have different strengths, characters, abilities, weapons, and control of the planet's main resources: Fire and Earth. Each race genuinely feels unique, and they're all a joy to play.
The game comes with nine preconstructed decks, and while you can play with those just fine on their own, you can also construct decks. There are rules for adding a few people from other races to any other race's deck.
The cards all look slightly different than they did in the original game—and the cards have gone from tall, "tarot" sized cards to regular-sized ones. My concern is that FF will look to expand this, which will mean if I want to play with the new decks, I'll have to re-buy the game I already own. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. Which will be Q1 of next year.
There will be a TON of replayability and fun in this box. But there is one important thing to note. One of the races in the Mimex, which are sort of Amazons who wear almost no clothes. The game doesn't actually show nudity, but it comes quite close. I have every deck from this except the Mimex; I made the conscious decision never to buy it, and if I ever pick this game up, I'll be pulling them out.
Did you ever play the original? Are you excited about this announcement?
Good news, fans of awesome 2-player games! Fantasy Flight just announced that they're reprinting the Reiner Knizia game Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. I talked about this game way back in August when Jeremiah and I posted about our favorite 2-player games. I lamented the fact that it was out-of-print, but it's coming back later this year!
It’s similar to Stratego, in that you have pieces that only face you, so your opponent’s not sure who’s who. Each piece is a character, and each character has special abilities. The good guys are trying to get Frodo across the board to Mordor, and the bad guys are trying to kill Frodo. Superb game.
Here are the differences in the new edition—from the press release:
I don't particularly like the fact that the tiles won't have the special power text on them anymore, but at least you'll be able to play the game again! Save some money in the budget for this one—or add it to your Christmas list.
Another Friday and another week over here at Theology Of Games. Here's what you may have missed this week... We started off the week with a bonus Kickstarter Weekly—the reprint of the great 2-player race game Odin's Ravens.
Then we had one of our Double-Take Reviews, for the fun family game Cheeky Monkey.
Then we had some news about:
And finally, our regular Kickstarter Weekly was The Card Game of OZ.
Thanks for reading, and we'll see you next week!
We know how much you all love to hear the thoughts we both have on games, so here we go with another Double-Take Review! This week's lucky contestant is Reiner Knizia's Cheeky Monkey, from Eagle and Gryphon Games.
Gameplay—Players simply take turns pulling tokens out of the abdominal cavity of the plush monkey, and placing the tokens in front of them. If a player draws a token that matches the top animal of any player's stack, they get to capture that token as well and place it in front of them. If they draw a duplicate to one they've already pulled that turn, they lose everything they've gained that turn. If they decide to stop after drawing any number of tokens, they keep those tokens and place them in a single stack in any order they choose. Then play continues to the next player.
Going Cheeky—If a player draws a Monkey token, they can choose to "go cheeky" and take the topmost token of any player's stack—exchanging the Monkey token for the chosen one.
The game is over when the last token has been drawn and stacked. The tokens are sorted by type, and each bonus token is awarded to the player with the most tokens of that type. Each regular token is worth 1 point, and the bonus tokens are worth their face value. The scores are totaled up and the highest score wins.
The rules have several scaled-down variations to help younger players learn and play the game—such as using no bonus tokens, or not being able to go cheeky. This is a nice way to get younger kids into the game, and then gradually introduce a new rule or two in subsequent games. (And there will be subsequent games...)
Jeremiah—When the package containing this game arrived and I pulled it out, my boys immediately wanted to play! The monkey "container" is cute and soft and looks great sitting on the shelf in my nerd room.
Firestone—That's exactly what happened here, too. "Dad! Dad! What is that? It's a GAME?! Can we play?"
Jeremiah—The downside of the components is the stickers! I was totally okay with having to put the animal stickers on the tokens; the problem was they didn't come off of the paper cleanly or easily. So it took forever trying to peel the perfect circle of paper off of the back of the stickers.
Firestone—I have never felt as uncoordinated as when I tried getting those stickers off the sheet. It was like Andre the Giant trying to thread a needle while wearing mittens... But once I got the stickers off, they went on great, and I haven't had any problems with them peeling.
Jeremiah—The game is pretty fun and has lots of teachable moments for younger kids. My youngest often gets very upset when someone takes his favorite animal from the top of his stack (which is often whatever animal is on the top of his stack!). So there are lots of "being gracious" and "good sport" talks that happen around that aspect of the game. Despite that, my boys both LOVE the game and think it's really fun.
Firestone—My teachable moments involve learning when to press your luck, and when not to. "Son, you have all but one of the animals already on this turn. The chances of you drawing an elephant are slim..." He, of course, draws an elephant and I realize they haven't learned A THING!
Jeremiah—The length of the game makes it the perfect kids filler game. Or the "we don't have time to setup/play anything else right now" game, but they're not getting cheated out of playing a great game. It just happens to be shorter, for those nights when bedtime is eminent.
Firestone—We (try to) have Family Game Night every Monday, but sometimes the evening gets away from us and we realize it's nearly bedtime. Cheeky Monkey is the perfect length for a quick game—though if the kids are really pressing their luck, sometimes the game can get "stuck" for a little while.
This game gets a solid 7 from me—a great game that the kids love to play. The monkey bag gets a perfect 10, though. Overproduced, unnecessary, and completely wonderful.
Jeremiah - It may be hard to think that a game this simple has even simpler rules, but those scaled down rules made it super easy to teach my 4-year old the game. I told them when we started that there were other rules and when we finished the first game they immediately wanted to know the rest of the rules. When I explained the "Going Cheeky" rule, they both grinned ear-to-ear and my 4-year old exclaimed, "If I get a monkey, I'm going to go cheeky!"
I'm giving it a bump up to a 7.5—my boys really like this one...a lot. It's totally a kids game that will never see the light of day with my gaming friends. And in the category of inexplicably disfigured but amazingly cute and cuddly plush animal containers, it scores an 11!
First we told you about a new, cheaper version of Reiner Knizia's Ingenious from Fantasy Flight Games. And Jeremiah has already spotted one of these in his local Books-A-Million store.
Z-Man Games announced a new version of Pandemic. This will have a new art style, and two new roles. Check out the news, and designer Matt Leacock's announcement video here.
We shared some news about 12 Realms being printed in Germany to save shipping for those across the pond.
Our Kickstarter Weekly was the new 4x space game Hegemonic.
And finally, Wizkids gave us some more details about The Lord of the Rings Dice Building Game.
Next week we'll have a Double-Take Review of Mayfair's Catan Jr. Thanks for reading!
Fantasy Flight Games has announced a "mass market edition" of Reiner Knizia's award-winning abstract Ingenious. The game remains the same, but rather than the tiles being made of plastic, this edition will be made of punchboard. Also, rather than stands to hold the tiles, there are slots in the board that hold the tiles. Finally, the game comes in a smaller box that before. All of this means a cheaper MSRP, and an easier entry point for nongamers. I (Firestone) am not a huge fan of abstracts, but this is one of the few that hits a sweet spot for me. It has simple rules, but deep play. It's fun and a challenge for both gamers and nongamers alike. Plus, it has the classic Knizia scoring where your final score is whatever your lowest color is at the end of the game—it's fiendish and wonderful. This should be hitting shelves sometime in the next month or so. Check it out! And thanks for reading!
By Firestone Some people have spouses who love to game with them, but for most of us, we’re always on the lookout for a game that might entice our significant other to join us in this hobby.
For many people, designer Reiner Knizia’s Lost Cities is the quintessential Spouse Game: It’s easy to teach, it’s 2-player only, there’s a decent amount of luck, and there are interesting decisions throughout.
If you’ve read our review of Reiner Knizia’s Battle Line, these mechanisms will be very familiar: play a card, and draw a card.
The theme is paper-thin, but every little bit helps when it comes to getting your wife or husband playing. You’re heading up a series of expeditions looking for fabled “lost cities.” The game comes with a small board, and a deck of 60 cards—45 of them run 2 through 10 five colors (or destinations), and then each color also has three Investment cards. You start the game with eight cards.
On your turn you will play a card—either down to one of the five expeditions in front of you, or into the communal discard pile for the color. Then you draw a card, either from the facedown deck or the top card from one of the color discard piles. You’re trying to get as many cards into as many expeditions as possible. The catch is that once you place a card for an expedition, the next card you play has to be higher than the last one played. It doesn’t have to be the next card in sequence; it just has to be higher. But the numbers only go two through 10, so if you start on five, you only have five more cards you can play—and that’s only if you’re able to draw those cards!
Since you’re forced to play a card each turn, sometimes you just want to delay having to start one of your expeditions until you can get some small numbers in that color, so you ditch a card onto a discard pile. You run the risk that’s just the card your opponent needed, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.
Another twist is those Investment cards I mentioned earlier. There are three in each color, and you have to play them at the beginning of an expedition. You can play all three if you’re lucky enough to draw them—and brave enough to play them. That’s because the first one doubles the value of the expedition at the end of the game; the second one triples it; and the third one quadruples it.
Why is that brave, you ask? Well, that’s because each expedition you launch has 20 points subtracted from it at the end of the game. Thematically, you can think of this as the money it costs to launch these endeavors to the ends of the earth. So let’s say on the green expedition you’re only able to play an Investment card, a two, a three, and a five by the time the game ends. You’ve only scored 10 points, but you subtract 20 points from that and you’re now at -10…except that Investment card now doubles it. You’re at a cool -20. Be very careful where you Invest…
One other small rule is that there’s a bonus of 20 points for any expedition that has eight or more cards in it—including Investment cards.
The game ends as soon as the draw deck runs out. You add up the points in each expedition, subtract the 20 points, add the 20 points (if applicable), and multiply (if applicable).
The game suggests playing three rounds, and since the rounds are short, it doesn’t take long at all.
Lost Cities is part of the Kosmos line of 2-player games. If you play a lot of 2-player games, I highly recommend checking these out—especially Jambo, Odin’s Ravens, The Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation, and Balloon Cup. The artwork is colorful and evocative. The cards are oversized, and despite the fact that they have black borders, they don’t seem to be showing much wear.
Lost Cities is a very good 2-player game, and if you’re looking for the game to hook your spouse, this might just do the trick. Check back later in the week for our review of Lost Cities: The Board Game, which ramps this game up a notch.
Thanks for reading!
[Review by Firestone] If there’s a king of board game design, it would have to be Reiner Knizia. This German genius has designed hundreds of games—including many that are at the top of the Boardgamegeek.com list of highest-rated games. (He’s definitely designed some stinkers, mind you, but his highs make up for his lows.)
What makes him so interesting is that his games are so diverse. His games go from 2-6 players. Some have auctions. Some don’t. Some have tile-laying. Some don’t. Some use cards. Others dice. Others wooden bits. Some are ridiculously simple to play. Some will make your brain hurt. He’s a wonder.
According to Boardgamegeek, I own 45 of his games—and I’ve probably played at least 50 more of his that I don’t even own. One of my favorites is a gem called Battle Line—a 2-player card game that I can’t recommend highly enough.
In it you have 9 small pawns, that you place in a left-to-right line between you and your opponent; these represent battlefields. The goal is to “win” either three fields that are next to each other, or any 5 fields. Here’s how you play the game: you play a card, and you draw a card. That’s it. Super simple, right? But as with so many Knizia games, the simple play reveals hidden depth.
Thematically, you’re a Greek general, and you’re playing down troop cards to win battles. There are 60 cards, numbered one through 10 in six different colors. On your turn you have to play a card down to your side of one of the battlefields. Only three cards can be on each side.
The way you determine who won is that you compare the “formations” on each side. They’re kinda like poker hands. Three cards in a numerical row of the same color (straight flush ) > three of the same number (three of a kind) > three of the same color (flush) > three in a numerical row of any colors (straight) > any combination of three colors and numbers (high cards).
Sometimes you’ll both play three of a kind down, and the tie is broken by who has the highest numbers on their cards.
At the end of your turn you can “claim” a battlefield if you’ve won it (by both having three cards down and your formation beats your opponent’s). You can also claim it if your opponent has at least two cards down, and you play your third one and there’s no way your opponent could win the battle. For instance, if your opponent has two 4’s on his side, if you play your third of three 5s on your side, there’s no way your opponent can beat you, so you can claim victory there.
There’s a great deal of angst, because sometimes you don’t want to play a card down, because you’re still waiting for juuuust the right card in a few places. But you have to, so you’re forced to ditch a card on a battle you just know you won’t win. But that gives your opponent a chance to get closer to winning. It’s so tense and wonderful!
As I said, the winner is the first person to win three battles next to each other, or any five across all nine battlefields.
But WAIT! There are also some cards called Tactics cards, that let you mess with things. At the end of your turn, when you draw a card, you can draw from the regular Troops deck, or draw a Tactics cards. Those allow you to break the rules in some way. There are only 10 of them, but they can be powerful. One is a wild color; one is a wild number; one lets you steal an opponent’s card from an unresolved battle, and one changes the rules for determining winner in one battle so that it’s only the numbers that count.
Some people think the Tactics cards insert too much luck, so they don’t play with them. I’ve played both ways, and I like both ways. Without Tactics cards makes for a more tense and thinky game, while playing with them makes it a little more thematic and “loose.”
If I had one complaint, it would be about the theme. It’s pretty boring, and publisher GMT Games used boring artwork on the cards. They’re functional, they’re just not fun. I must not be the only person who feels that way, because there are LOTS of rethemes for this game on Boardgamegeek, where people have created entirely new images to use for the game.
But other than that purely subjective gripe, this is one of the best 2-player games I’ve ever played—maybe the best. It’s super cheap, so consider giving this one a whirl!
Thanks for reading!
copyright Theology of Games 2014