Bullfrogs--A Double-Take Review

Bullfrogs--A Double-Take Review

In Bullfrogs players take command of their frog forces in a battle for supreme power and control of the pond! Bullfrogs is a tactical area-control game with a constantly changing game surface. So how does one control an army of frog forces and reign over the pond? Glad you asked; let's jump in!

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One Night Ultimate Werewolf--A Double-Take Review

One Night Ultimate Werewolf--A Double-Take Review

Werewolf (or Mafia) is a classic party and youth group game. But it has its problems: Sometimes people get carried away with the backstory, so it takes forever. Sometimes people have a "boring" role, so don't really have much to do. And finally, people are eliminated from the game, so they get to sit out and wait. But what if you could eliminate those problems, and boil the game down to its essence and play for just one night? What if...?

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Relic Expedition—A Double-Take Review

reliccoverSeptember 13, 1997--I brought the machete down again and again today--cutting a swath through the dense jungle. It's been days since we've seen anything besides this oppressive jungle and more bugs than I thought existed in the entirety of the world. As the son was setting, we did run across a pair of giant paw-prints. I pray we don't meet their owner... It's been a few years since an exploration game broke any new ground. But newcomers Foxtrot Games are hoping to change that with their first game: Relic Expedition. So how is it? Let's see...

The Overview

You're an explorer, making your way through a jungle in search of treasure. But there are dangers lurking around every corner. Well...jungles don't have corners, but you get the idea. The first player to collect four matching Relics, move to a helicopter clearing, and use three Action Points, wins the game.

RelicSupplyThe Components

  • 4 Wood backpack racks
  • 4 Explorers
  • 3 dice
  • 4 large tile boards (Basecamp, Mountain, Cave, River)
  • 16 Wood animal figures
  • 36 Triangle curse markers
  • 50 Draw supply tiles
  • 1 Cloth bag
  • 20 Board supply tiles
  • 36 Relic tiles
  • 16 Starting jungle tiles
  • 96 Regular jungle tiles

RelicDiceThe Setup

  • Place the starting tile in the center, and then each player puts his explorer on one of the camp spaces and grabs the Backpack rack in his color.
  • Randomly place one of the starting Jungle tiles onto any empty space adjacent to an Explorer. Any unused starting tiles are removed from the game.
  • Place the regular Jungle tiles, Animal figures, Board Supplies (with the green faces), Curse marker, and feature tiles next to the board.
  • Place the Draw Supplies into the bag.
  • Place Relics facedown onto the Relic Table spaces on the feature boards--the Mountain has 4, the River 6, and the Cave 6. Place the remaining Relics facedown in a pile next to the board.

RelicExplorerThe Gameplay

On your turn, you'll roll the two dice--the animal one and the number one. If an animal is rolled, and one of those animals is on the board, it moves. Starting with the person who rolled, he will choose one of those animals and move it one or two spaces. If there are any other of that type of animal, then the next player clockwise will choose one of those unmoved animals and move it. This continues until each animal has moved. There are some specific rules on where and how an animal can be moved, but those aren't important for the review.

If an animal moves to a space with an explorer, an encounter happens. What that looks like will depend on the animal. Snakes will cause that explorer to lose a turn, but a player can trash a first aid kit supply token to avoid it. Boars cause you to lose a turn and become "knocked unconscious"--which means all of the things in your backpack are placed on the space, and can be stolen by other players until you pick them up on your next turn. This can be avoided by playing a trap or tranquilizer supply token. Panthers wreck you even worse, and cause you to lose your stuff and be MedEvacced out.  You can enter on a helicopter clearing of your choice, and hopefully make your way back to where your stuff is. Again, tranqs and traps can help with this. Monkeys will take a random item from your bag; hopefully it's not a Relic. They can be bribed with bananas.

The number die will give you a result of either 2, 3, or 4, and that's the number of actions you can take. As you move through the jungle you'll reveal new tiles, and sometimes animals or Relics or new features will be revealed. There are rules that govern what can and can't be traversed, and how many action points it costs, but, again, it's not important for the review. Just know you'll be moving around, trying to avoid animals and trying to get Relics. There are three special features that have loads of relics on them. The Mountain, Cave, and River features are all triggered when you find certain tiles. The feature is now moved to the board, and the Relics on them are open season. But each feature also takes a special supply token to traverse. So a Raft to get on the river, and a Headlamp for the cave. It's evocative and interesting.

RelicBackpackThe Relics have six different insignias and six different colors. Someone has to have four matching Relics--either the same color or the same insignia, make it to one of the boards helicopter landing spots, and spend three action points. Each backpack only holds eight items, so this makes for some interesting decisions, as the closer you get to winning, the fewer handy tools you can carry in your backpack. So you might be winning, but you're also vulnerable.

The winner flies off into the sunset, leaving the others as Panther Chow...

The Verdict

Firestone--I really did like this game, but the fact that your actions each turn are determined by a die roll just kills this for any kind of serious play. That simply means it's a family game, and that's okay.

Jeremiah--Yeah, that die roll is a head scratcher for me too, but definitely not a killer. Our family and my gaming friends enjoyed it. If the die is that big of a killer I think playing with a house rule of a set amount if actions is a suitable option.

RelicAnimeeplesFirestone--The exploration aspect of this was great. In a game such as Tikal, the jungle is still constrained by the board, so the "exploration" aspect is mostly muted. I think one of the reasons Carcassonne works so well is that it can go anywhere and everywhere, so you're never sure what the board will look like. Similarly, the jungle we revealed in Relic Expedition was different every game. And the special features like the cave and the river add even more interesting exploration options. It just works.

Jeremiah--Couldn't agree more, the feature pieces are a nice variation from just placing hexes. But the art design and the way the jungle is revealed as you explore it is awesome! Every time we play the jungle looks unique and picturesque!

Jeremiah--MEEPLES, MEEPLES, MEEPLES! Monkeys, snakes, jaguars, boars, Indiana Jones-looking adventure meeples! They're all awesome. Everything about this game's bit and boards is super well done!

Firestone--Yeah, that's all top-notch. Those animeeples are great, and way better than just using tokens. The board tiles are all nice and thick, and the artwork is great. And I really like the art and aesthetic of the supply tiles; those just grabbed me for some reason.

Jeremiah--My only complaint is the rule book; it's a small book, designed to look like a pocket field guide. I get it: The form is awesome, but the function isn't so much. The learning curve isn't that strong on this one, so you don't have to grab the rule book too often after your first play or so, but the rule book made it a little tough for quick-referencing certain scenarios. Again the form is awesome and it fits the theme perfectly. But the function leaves a little to be desired.

RelicJungleFirestone-- Making it a Field Guide was clever and evocative--and I didn't even mind that it was small. It has color pictures, and line drawings of the animals, like you would find in an old scientific journal. That's cool! If it had been organized better, and had everything I needed, I wouldn't have complained at all.

As it is, there are a few times where the Field Guide says, "See the Quick Start Guide for details." Well...no. A quick-start guide should never have the details. It's a quick-start guide. The rules should have everything, and the quick-start guide should be for starting...quickly. It should gloss over rules. That, and the fact that rules weren't found where you expected them to be made it a little slow to get started. It's not overly complicated, and after a couple of games you probably won't need the rules at all, but for the first couple, it's kinda rough.

Jeremiah--While I agree that the dice roll to determine the number of actions a player gets each turn is maybe a little to far down the random trail, using the die to determine which animals--if any--move/attack that turn is spot on and the way it plays out is seamless and balanced.

Jeremiah Final Verdict--We've certainly seen our share of Kickstarter games that have come to market with questionable gameplay, component quality, and everything from minor to major design flaws. But Relic Expedition is one of the best Kickstarter games we've seen! The game is fun to play, has massive replay value, is gorgeous to look at, and appeals to everyone from kids, to families, to casual players, and maaaybe even some serious gamers. We didn't do a list of top Kickstarter game's but if we did, Relic Expedition would be a top 5 game on that list, no doubt. So with that I say, emphatically, put this game on your table!

Firestone Final Verdict--I've been thoroughly impressed with Foxtrot's first game. They stumbled a bit on the rules, and I can't get on board with the action die, but this is a great, great family game. It can be hard to truly capture the feeling of exploration, but Relic does that really well. As the board opens up, you realize how well done the game is, and how thought-out the decisions are. Combine that with cool animeeples, great artwork, and a little luck, and you've got a game that deserves to be on your table.

We'd like to thank Foxtrot Games for providing review copies of Relic Expedition. This in no way affected our opinions on the game. 

Thanks for reading!

Zeppeldrome—A Double-Take Preview

ZepeldromeYes, they're chaotic, and unpredictable, and sometimes full of take-that mechanics, but race games are also pretty stinking fun. 12SP Entertainment has just launched a new racing contender on Kickstarter—Zeppeldrome: A Humorous, Hazardous, Dirigible Relay. So is it worth your money to back this project? Or will it crash and burn, Hindenberg-style? Let's find out.

The Basics

You're a dirigible captain, competing against other dirigible captains in a race. You'll have to fight your way through numerous hazards to claim the prize—all while messing with your opponents' plans, just as they mess with yours...

The Components

Please note that the copy we reviewed was a prototype. The final components will be better, and some may have changed.

● 10 Double-Sided Playing Board Sections ● 4 Dirigible tokens ● 4 Flight Plan covers in corresponding colors ● 4 Movement cubes in corresponding colors ● 70 Flight Plan Cards ● 8 Ballast Tokens ● 1 Chunk-Chunk Token ● 4 Old Folks Tokens ● 7 Lemming Tokens ● 20 Vector Chits

photo (2)The Setup

First you're going to pick which four hazard boards you'll be using. The boards are divided into A, B, C, and D sections, which indicates which order they'll go in. If you want a shorter game, you can choose to use fewer sections. Then you'll randomly choose the order players will start the race, and put each player piece on the starting spaces. Each player grabs a color, and its associated pieces. Then shuffle the Flight Plan cards and deal each player four of them, and place the rest as a draw pile.

Two things before we move one. First, you determine who is in the lead(or sequence) by looking at the dirigible closest to the finish line. If multiple dirigibles are in the same column, then it's the one that's closest to the top that is in the lead.

Second, each Flight Plan card has a top section and bottom one. The top one shows a flight plan, and the bottom shows an action. You'll be using each card for only one of those things, so whenever you get a card you'll be looking at each card and determining which section is best for you right now.

The Gameplay

On your turn you'll have four cards in hand. Each player will pick a card to play for the Flight Plan portion. That will constitute the "base" that you'll be flying. Everyone picks one, and then you simultaneously reveal them. Each player has a little card, that matches his or her player color, that you can use to cover up the bottom portion so everyone can quickly see your color, and what you'll be doing that turn.

It may be that none of the cards have a flight plan y0u want to follow. In this case you'll just leave the card facedown on the "reveal." Each card has a single-movement-in-any-direction icon on it, and you'll be doing just that for your flight plan.

Now, in sequence order each player has the option to play one of the three remaining cards in his or her hand for its action. Some of the actions hurt, and some helpand some do a little of both. As such, you can choose to play the action on yourself or on another player.

Most cards will affect a dirigible's movement during the regular movement step. The game comes with extra chits with directions on them that you can grab and add either before or after your Flight Plan, depending on the action played.

photo (3)Some action card effects happen immediately. If that happens, move the dirigible immediately, and this might affect the sequence for the next round of cad play. Once each player has had a chance to play one action card, or passed, you'll start a new round. Because things on the board have likely changed, players who passed previously can jump right back in and play a card this round. These rounds of card play continue until every player has passed.

Now the movement phase begins with the person in the lead. Movement is the only "tricky" part of the game, but because of the mechanisms it has to be. First, you take a cube and move it onto the farthest left vector of your Flight Planwhich might now have extra vectors attached to it, thanks to action cards. Once you've done that, then you'll attempt to move your dirigible piece on the board. If your dirigible runs into a hazard, or another player, it simply bounces back to the space it came from. But the cube remains on the vector, because you've attempted that move. Some Flight Plans have alternate routes, designated by an open arrow (rather than the solid one you'll usually see). In order to take that route, you'll need to discard a card from your hand.

Once each player has movedor attempted to moveon the first vector, then you go to the next one. But player order may have changed now, and you use the new player order. This might change after every single vector, but that's just part of the game.

People will start running out of vectors on their Flight Plan, and as they do, they're just done. Others continue moving until they run out of vectors, too.

Once everyone has moved, each player can discard any unwanted cards, and then draw up to four cards.

Once someone crosses the finish line, he or she is declared THE WINNER!!!

photoThe Hazard Boards

We'll just highlight a few of the hazard boards. Again, some of these might change, or become promos, or whatever. This is just to give you idea of what sort of things are on the boards.

A Bit of BallastOn this board are a number of tokens depicting anvils connected to balloons. If you stop on a space with one of these tokens, you can pick one up and keep it with you. You immediately move one space down. At any time you can drop one of these ballast tokens to immediately raise up one space. You can have (and drop) multiple tokens at the same time.

Inspiration PointIf you end your move on this board, you can draw up to five cards instead of four.

Slalom 1There are four gates on this board, each in one of the player colors. You HAVE to move through your color of gate in order to proceed to the next board.

Slalom 2This is just like Slalom 1, except there are gates at the start and the end of the board. And the colors aren't lined up...

HeadwindsDirigibles cannot move straight forward on this board. All other movement directions are okay, but any straight forward move results in a bounce.

Four Old Folks Looking for the Farmer's MarketThese are four balloon tokens that start on the board in predesignated spaces. After action cards have been played, but before movement, the player in last place gets to move each on of the tokens to any adjacent open space. They block movement just like any other obstacle, and dirigibles will bounce.

There are others, but you get the idea...

photo (1)The Verdict

Firestone—Two turns into this, my 9-year-old said, "This is a really fun game!" And that pretty much sums up my thoughts, too. This was fun. While I'm generally not a fan of take-that, and mess-with-your-opponent games, it fits the theme here. It reminds me of the old Hanna-Barbera "Wacky Races" cartoon—except everyone is Dick Dastardly and Muttley, trying to jockey for position by sabotaging opponents.

JeremiahYeah, this is a fun take-that game with some great puzzle-solving strategery involved. The art and theme constantly reminded me of a Monty Python-esque universe in the animation style of Terry Gilliam. Pretty outrageous, and absurd all at the same time. It made for a lot of fun. I will say that my 5-year old did have a tough time getting through this on;, it seems like it's a game he would hang in there with, but I had to give more than a moderate amount of advice to him each turn.

Firestone—The hazard boards are a great way to introduce variability, replayability, and humor into the game. I generally like racing games, but the only real variability in games such as Mississippi Queen and Snow Tails is that sometimes the track will go this way, and sometimes it will go that way. That's good, because static tracks get boring quickly, but these hazard boards make every game really feel different. And it's ripe for expansions—either from 12SP themselves, or fan-made boards people post on Boardgamegeek. That's going to give Zeppeldrome legs...

Jeremiah I totally agree: The board and card concepts make this game exponentially expandable, and multitudenally (that's not a word) re-playable. I also enjoy the fact that you can create a custom length to the game by adding or subtracting game boards, without completely breaking down the game and how it plays.

Firestone—The programming can be a little complex, as you're trying to figure out where your zeppelin might end up, and when that might happen. You also have to look at what other people's programs look like, because someone moving to a spot before you will cause you to bounce back to where you were, and that will affect your programming. That puts it on the upper end of the Nongamer Complexity Spectrum (tm) for me. Not a dealbreaker at all; just be aware.

Jeremiah—Yeah, like you said, whereas most race games are very non-gamer friendly, this one can lead to tons of analysis paralysis, and many, many threats of the cutting off of hands, or other forms of bodily harm in order to get the game moving again. I think the general rule of thumb is either play every action card on yourself, or every action card on someone else to try and mess them up. Splitting your strategy seems to be a bit confounding.

Firestone—I like how you can strategically fail a move, just to allow you to do what you want. You're limited by what the cards in your hand will allow you to do, but there are ways to manipulate it in your favor. That adds a lot for me. There's still chaos, mind you, but also some strategy.

Firestone—The only word of caution here is one of the cards: It's called "Captain Ernst's Cheapass Engine." This is a nod to James Ernst, who founded the game company Cheapass Games, which has small, cheap games that simply provide you with a set of rules, and you cobble together the needed pieces from other games. There are two of those cards in the game, and I simply took a pen and drew over the word "ass." It was a simple fix, though I wish I hadn't had to make it—especially since everything else about the game is so perfect for playing with your family!

Jeremiah's Final Verdict— Go back this game! Zeppeldrome is a fun family game that will get you some great replay value; it's a fun theme that will engage both gamer folks and non-gamers alike! There's plenty of fun, decision-making, an,d of course, a touch of chaotic take-that, which leads me to say, put this game on your table!

Firestone's Final Verdict—Zeppeldrome is a fast, fun race game. The programmed movement works well. The variable boards mean most games with be different. And the ability to mess with your opponents feels right in this sort of racing game. My family has had great fun with this one, and you should definitely put this game on the table! (After you back it on Kickstarter, of course!)

We'd like to thank 12SP Entertainment for providing prototype copies of the game for us to play. This was NOT a paid preview.

Stay tuned for more on this game—including an interview with co-designer Anthony Gallela next week! Thanks for reading!

Emu Ranchers—A Double-Take Review

emuThe poor, misunderstood emu. Large. Flightless. Tiny little wings. They've been overshadowed by the ostrich, and out-cuted by the kiwi. But you—YOU—see the emu for what it really is: $!

The Overview

You're an emu rancher, and your neighbor just decided to get into the business, too. Why didn't he choose to raise ostriches or kiwis? I don't know; you'll have to ask him. So each of the two players in the game is trying to create the most profitable emu ranch.

Emu Rancher is for two players, ages 8 and up, and it takes about 20 minutes to play.

The Components

For the Basic Game you have:

  • 24 two-color, numbered Emu cards—numbered 2 to 9
  • 6 single-color Egg cards
  • 6 single-color Feather cards

For the Advanced Game you also have:

  • 4 three-color Wild cards
  • 1 Buyout card

emucardsThe Setup

First you'll choose a number of rounds to play—the game suggests an even number is best. Then, depending on whether you're playing the Basic or Advanced Game, shuffle all of the appropriate cards together and deal six cards to each player. Put the rest of the cards aside as a draw pile. Randomly choose a starting player, which will alternate for each round you play.

The Gameplay

On your turn you will do two things.

1) Play a card.

2) Draw a card.

When you play a card you have a few choices.

You can start a new emu pen. You can start with an Egg card—in which case you'll be adding higher number to the pen. Or you can start with a Feather card—in which case you'll be adding lower numbers to the pen. Each Egg and Feather card is one color, so if you start a pen with those colors, that's the color of the pen. If you start it with an Emu card, you will eventually choose the color of the pen. That's because each Emu card has two colors on it. The number's always the same, but it might be a green 2 on the top, and a blue 2 on the bottom. The colors don't match, either, so the green 9 has yellow on the other side. And the green 5 has purple on the other side. At any rate, if you start with an Emu card, you don't have to "pick" the color until you play your second card, which will be one of the two colors on the first card, and will necessarily choose the color of the pen.

You have to follow the preceding numbers in the pen—going either higher or lower, depending on which card you used to start it. You can skip numbers—and, indeed, will probably need to since the other player might play the number you need into his pen!

You can play to an existing pen. That's just what it sounds like: play a card to a pen you've already started.

photo(9)You can discard. Maybe you don't have anything you want to play. Or you're stalling. Whatever the reason, you can always choose to discard a card to the top of the discard pile, rather than play one to a pen.

At the end of your turn, you'll draw one card, either from the top of the draw pile or the top of the discard pile.

Once all of the cards have been drawn from the draw pile, each player plays out the rest of his or her hand to already existing pens—you can't start a new pen. Then you score.

Each pen costs 18 points right off the top—emu pens are expensive! So you immediately remove any Wild or Emu cards adding up to at least 18 points—and you can't make change! Any cards above the 18 are profit! Egg and Feather cards can't be used to pay for the pen, but they do each add 5 points to the score of the pen. If your pen was not profitable, then you subtract 5 points for each Egg and Feather card...

If you're playing with the Buyout card (Firestone says don't, and Jeremiah is fine with it), then the lucky recipient can eliminate one unprofitable pen.

Then you just add up all of the pen scores and record the score for the round. Once you've played the predetermined number of rounds, the person with the highest score is the most awesome at giant, flightless bird ranching!

The Verdict

I get this look a lot...

Firestone—If this game sounds a lot like Lost Cities, that's because it is. Now that's not to say this game is a rip-off; I don't believe it is. The fact that there are two colors on the emu cards actually makes this game more challenging than Lost Cities, IMO. There's only one of each color, and it's on the other side of another color, so it's more restrictive.

This is mitigated somewhat by the Wild cards of the Advanced Game. I will always choose to play with those, as they give me just a little bit of breathing room—otherwise the game is too claustrophobic.

Jeremiah—I myself haven't played a lot of Lost Cities. Regardless, I thought the game play and learning curve of Emu Ranchers was just right for a shared-deck game. Having dual colors on the cards did make for some interesting strategic decision-making, as well as a couple double-checks as to what your opponent is up to before discarding a card to try and get something better.

The "advanced" mode to me seemed like a no-brainer; I don't ever see myself removing cards from the game, not even the Buyout card. I like the press-your-luck aspect it brought to the game. I felt empowered to go ahead and start that  next pen, knowing full well I didn't yet have enough cards to make a profit on it, and that the Buyout card could already be in my opponent's hand. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained... It didn't always work out for me, but it was fun trying.

Firestone—I really dislike the Buyout card. There's only one in the deck, so one person is automatically going to have an advantage over the other, and it's just the luck of the draw. That's just awful. But it's easy to take out, so YOU SHOULD DO THAT.

Jeremiah—I know the designers/developers took great care in completing the graphic design and artwork of the game. They gave each emu a unique personality and expression to make all of the cards interesting and thematically fun, which in turn makes it a great family/kids game as well. That was a nice touch for a game that mechanically could have been easily abstracted to numbers and suits/colors.

Firestone—Totally agree. A great deal of this game's charm comes simply from the engaging artwork. My son wasn't sure he wanted to try a game about emu ranching, but once I showed him the artwork, he was sold.

Firestone's Final Verdict—This was a good little card game that I've played a number of times with my 9-year-old. It has interesting decisions. It's affordable. It's portable. And the cute artwork adds to the charm. Put it on the table!

Jeremiah's Final Verdict—I agree, it's a fun game that is about as portable as you can get, but still packs a lot of fun gameplay into a small package. Young kids will enjoy this one, and with its varying game length it makes a nice and interesting fun quick filler for gamers at a game night. You should totally...Put this on your table!

The game is currently on Kickstarter, and you can get your own copy for a mere $15, shipped. We'd like to thank AppSauce for providing review copies of the game. This in no way affected our opinions of the game.

Thanks for reading!

Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition—A Review

WerewolfCoverBy Firestone I've never been a big Mafia/Werewolf fan. It can be an incredibly fun time, but the player elimination means some people are always sitting on the sidelines waiting. And the bigger the game, the longer you're waiting... So when The Resistance came out—and there was no player elimination—I jumped at it. And it's now my favorite game.

Ted Alspach and Bezier Games recently released Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition, which promises some of the hidden roles and gameplay of Werewolf, with no player elimination. I'm intrigued. Will it knock The Resistance off the throne? Let's see...

The Overview

Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition is part of the line of Ultimate Werewolf games that are coming out under Ted Alspach's Bezier Games. It plays 3-12 players, and is for ages 8 and up. It takes 30-60 minutes to play. One "side" will win—either the werewolves, or the good guys.

The Components

1 Rulebook

12 Inquisitor cards, with either a Werewolf or a Villager on them.

19 Hut cards, which are the "houses" that belong to the Residents in the game. Each one imparts some special action.

19 Resident cards, which match up with the Huts—there's one person card for every Hut card.

1 Grand Inquisitor meeple

50 wooden voting cubes

There's a distinction between Residents and Villagers. All Villagers are Residents, but not all Residents are Villagers—some are Werewolves...

WerewolfVotesThe Setup

First you'll hand out Inquisitor cards; this will vary depending on the number of players. A 3-player game has 1 Werewolf and 2 Villagers, up to a 12-player game, which has 5 Werewolves and 7 Villagers.

Then you decide which set of Resident/Hut cards you'll use. There's a whole section in the rulebook that recommends sets based on number of players, or if this one of your first games. The Resident cards also have positive or negative numbers on them, which allow you to try and find a good balance of cards (in which case the numbers will add up close to zero), or to skew things one way or the other if you find one side winning too often—higher numbers to help Villagers and lower numbers to help the Werewolves.

You'll set up two areas of your chosen sets. One grid of four across and three down with the Huts—faceup so the Huts and their powers are visible. Then you shuffle the Resident cards and create another four across and three down grid—facedown, so you have no idea which Resident is under that card. The important thing here is that there is one Resident for every Hut card, but their orientation in the grids is NOT identical.

Choose a random player to get the Grand Inquisitor meeple, and then give each player two voting cubes to start the game.

WerewolfHutsThe Gameplay

On the First Night, whoever the Grand Inquisitor tells everyone to close their eyes, and has the Werewolves open their eyes so they know who the other Werewolves are—this is skipped in a 3- or 4-player game since there's only one Werewolf.

For the Day Phase, each player, starting with the Grand Inquisitor, chooses a hut and either does the action on the hut, or takes two voting cubes. Either way, that hut is no longer available to choose that turn. As the game progresses there will be fewer and fewer huts, thanks to people being killed, so if there are no huts available, you just take two voting cubes. After everyone has chosen a hut, everyone gets a chance to vote on which Resident to kill. Starting with the Grand inquisitor, everyone who has a voting cube has to place one on a Resident; if you don't have a cube, you don't vote. Whichever Resident has the most votes is killed—remove the Resident and the associated Hut from the game. If there's a tie on votes, the Grand Inquisitor breaks ties.

If two columns have a single Resident left in them, they're combined without changing their orientation. (Some actions on Huts will change the orientation from vertical to horizontal.)

Now come the Night Phase. The Grand Inquisitor chooses a column that has two or more cards in it, and removes any votes on them. He picks them up and puts them in a stack keeping them in a strict order—we always have them stack the top card of the column on the one below it, and then those on the one below that (if there are three). This is important because now everyone closes their eyes and passes this stack around the circle. The person to the left of the Grand Inquisitor starts with the stack. If she's a Villager, she keeps her eyes closed and just makes some shuffling noises with the cards but doesn't change the order in any way. If she's a Werewolf, she can open her eyes and change the order of the cards. Each person will say the name of the person they're passing to—or just say "Passing," or whatever—and for a brief moment those two can open their eyes just to make the exchange, but then Villagers have to close their eyes, lest they see a Werewolf turn the cards over and start rearranging. The cards will eventually make their way back to the Grand Inquisitor, who will shuffle or rearrange or not, and then everyone opens their eyes. The Inquisitor then places them back facedown in the column in the same order they were taken: bottom card on the bottom of the column, then the next above that, and the next at the top.

All of this keeping-things-in-order stuff is important because whatever Resident is at the bottom of that column is killed. The Werewolves set it up.

The actions here are admittedly very clunky. This phase shouldn't be a way for Villagers to figure out who the Werewolves are, which is why everyone makes noises and shuffles the cards around as though they were rearranging them. In essence, everyone should "act" like a Werewolf so that no one is outed as a Werewolf because they made noises or took longer than anyone else or whatever. Clunky.

If a Werewolf is killed in this phase, remove votes from all vertical Residents and shuffle them together and deal out a new grid. This is because if a Werewolf is killed at Night, then it's because that column had nothing but Werewolves and they had no choice but to kill one of their own. So the shuffling evens things out again.

A new day starts with the Grand Inquisitor getting passed to the left, and columns with only one Resident getting combined. The game ends when either all of the Werewolves are dead (the Villlagers win), or of there are more Werewolves in the village at any time than there are Villagers—in which case the Werewolves win.

WerewolfResidentsThe Huts

I'll go over the Huts and their special abilities. The number in parentheses is the number you use when you're trying to balance (or not unbalance) your choice of Residents in the game—high numbers help Villagers, and low ones help the Werewolves.

Villager/Werewolf (+0)—Take two voting cubes from the supply, and place one of them on any Resident.

Seer (+8)—Look at any vertically oriented Resident, and place it back in the same spot, but oriented horizontally. Neither the Seer (in subsequent turns) nor the Apprentice Seer may look at this card until something changes its orientation back to vertical.

Apprentice Seer (+5)—Pay one voting cube to look at any vertically oriented Resident, and place it back in the same spot, but oriented horizontally. Neither the Apprentice Seer (in subsequent turns) nor the Seer may look at this card until something changes its orientation back to vertical.

Bodyguard (+2)—Protect one Resident by removing all voting cubes from it, and placing the Bodyguard Hut on that Resident. No more votes can be placed on it this round. Remove the Bodyguard at the start of the Night Phase before a column is chosen to pass around.

Hunter (+1)—Take three votes from the supply and place them on one Resident.

Mason (+3—Pay two voting cubes to look at the Inquisitor card of another player. You can't show the card, but you can say whatever you want about it. (This role shouldn't be used in games with fewer than 5 players.)

Minion (+3)—Take two votes from the supply and place both of them on a Resident card that already has at least one vote on it.

Mayor (+1)—Immediately give the Grand Inquisitor to any player (including yourself). This changes who will start voting, and who picks a column of cards to pass around. The Inquisitor gets passed to the left at the end of the turn, as usual.

Prince (+3)—Take four votes from the supply.

Sorcerer (+5)—Look at any horizontally oriented Resident, place it back in the same orientation, take two votes from the supply, and place them on the card you just looked at.

Witch (+1)—Move all votes from Resident card to any other Resident card.

Cursed (-1)—Take four votes from the supply. If someone uses the Cursed Hut during the day, and that Resident is killed that night, it becomes a Werewolf. That column's cards (and the Cursed) are shuffled and placed back in the column. The Cursed acts as a Werewolf from that point forward—including determining numbers of Werewolves for victory.

Troublemaker (-5)—Pay one vote to shuffle a row or column of Resident cards. First, set aside votes on those cards, but keep them near the spot they were on. Shuffle the cards, place them back vertically, and then place the votes back onto the card that is now in the spot.

Wolf Cub (-2)—Take three votes from the supply. If the Wolf Cub is lynched on the day someone uses the Hut, the Werewolves get to kill two Residents that night. You do one round of picking a column, passing it, and killing the bottom Resident. And then you do that all over again. The Wolf Cub is not considered a Werewolf.

WerewolfWomenThe Verdict—I like this game—probably more than I should, honestly. The game plays any number between 3 and 12; I've played with as few as 4 and as many as 10, and there are upsides and downsides with those extremes. It actually plays surprisingly well with the low number; you can't play Resistance with 3 or 4, but you can play this. With the higher numbers, it's cool because there are more Werewolves, and more interesting Residents, but it also has its own problems. In our game, one player was a player or two to the right of the starting Grand Inquisitor. And then, because of where we'd figured some Werewolves were, we kept taking the Mayor and keeping the Inquisitor in that area. It worked well for the Villagers, but over the course of the game that guy had very little to do on his turn. Early in the game, the only Residents left were the generic Villager/Werewolf Huts, so he was forced to take those. Then as the game progressed and people died, when it would finally get around to him there wouldn't be any Huts left, so he just took two voting cubes. He was pretty dang bored, and it wasn't the group trying to keep him out, it was the game's mechanisms creating that for him. It could have happened to anyone, and it probably won't happen every game, but it happened that game, and his experience was poor.

It's very interesting that—unlike a game such as The Resistance, where getting outed means you're essentially done—getting outed as a Werewolf here (or even outing yourself!) isn't the end of the world. There are times where revealing yourself is necessary to save one of your Werewolf residents. But you're still in the game, and there are still things to do and ways to mess with the Villagers. They can't shut you down, but now they have to adjust their play to keep you away from certain powerful Huts, such as the Mayor. It feels weird that being revealed isn't bad, but I think it's interesting.

I've noticed that every single game seems to come down to the wire, and I think the game sort of forces the game to even out and stay close until the end. I'm not sure how it does it, or even if its intentional, but we haven't had a blowout in any of the half-dozen games we've played. The downside of this is that a couple of times the win has come down to mostly blind luck and guessing. That hasn't always happened, but when it does, it feels a little unsatisfying.

As I said, the Night Phase is clunky. Having to have everyone shuffle the cards around, and spend extra time doing it, and making noise just feels weird, but I have no idea what else they could have done. So while it's not great, it's fine in the end.

I do feel I should make mention of the artwork. Most of it is fine and completely innocuous, but the Witch and Sorcerer look more like two ladies who just went shopping for Halloween and decided to grab the "Sexy Witch" and "Sexy Sorcerer" costumes. The Sorcerer especially looks like Kate Upton in a black wig. They're not terrible, but it's just something to consider, and I felt I needed to point out. It's disappointing to see a publisher going that route on what should be a family friendly game. And if they bother you that much you can always choose not to include those roles in your game.

So who would I play this with? Well, it often goes as long as a game of The Resistance, and I would always choose The Resistance over this. If I only had 3 or 4 players, I could see pulling this out with my game group, but we're big-time Resistance fans, so that wins. I would bring this out with nongamers, though—in a heartbeat. The Resistance is very different, and takes some time to understand what you're doing and how much you should be talking and voting and just so much... But this would be a GREAT game to ease people into that sort of game. There are hidden roles, but it's not a disaster if you play it "wrong" and out yourself. And the gameplay is fairly straightforward. And it's short. All of this means that this is going onto my short-list of games to play with nongamers, newbies, and youth groups.

And if your group really likes to play Werewolf, they'll probably like this! It's maybe not as purely social as traditional Werewolf is, but it has some of the feel, and there's no elimination.

The Final Verdict—Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition isn't perfect, and it will never replace The Resistance for me or my game group. But I like it. I like what it tries to do, and I like what it accomplishes, and I have a fun time while I'm playing it. It's at a perfect level for nongamers, and it will be the game I use to ease my family into this style of game before I eventually spring The Resistance on them... And since there are only 4 of us in the family, we may never get to The Resistance, so this may be it. And that's okay, because it's a solid game.

We'd like to thank Ted Alspach at Bezier Games for providing a review copy of Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition. This in no way affected our opinion of the game.

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Railways Express—A Double-Take Review (Plus a Video Review)

RailwaysCoverWhen a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. ~Corrie Ten Boom Today we're taking a look at the new game from Eagle Games, Railways Express, which is a stripped-down version of the Railways of the World series. So what do we think? Let's find out...

The Overview

Railways Express is a tile-laying train game where you're trying to connect each of the four cities on the map that match your color.

2-4 Players

Ages 7 and up

15 minutes per player

photo(5)The Components

64 plastic locomotives (16 in each of the four player colors).

231 track tiles—these include straight tracks, curved tracks, and complex crossing tracks.

120 reroll cubes in each of the four player colors.

4 wooden dice—2 track dice and 2 terrain dice.

1 game board. This thing is huge. The scale might be 1:1...

18 Service Bounty Cards for an optional way to play.

24 Railroad Operations Cards for an optional way to play.

The Setup

Each player has four cities on the map in his or her color, and one of those cities is considered the Home City for that player. (Monterrey for Blue, Los Angeles for Yellow, Minneapolis for Red, and Montreal for Purple.) Each player places a train in their Home City, and then places two reroll cubes in their other three cities. Then each player places one reroll cube in each of the "neutral" gray cities on the map, and takes two of the remaining reroll cubes to start the game. Designate a start player.

photo(7)The Gameplay

Each turn in very simple:

1. Roll the four dice and split them however you choose.

2. Build track tiles on the map based on the roll.

The track dice have two sides with two straight tracks showing, two sides with two curved tracks, and two sides with one of each. And the terrain dice have two sides with grassland, one side with water, one side with mountains, and two sides with all three terrains, which acts as a wild.

So you roll all four dice, and the pair them up—one terrain die with one track die. Then you place up to four track tiles following the terrain and track you rolled. You can split the placement however you'd like. So if you roll a mountain and a grassland, you could place one mountain track, two grasslands, and then the other mountain track.

Your first track played in the game must be from your Home City, and each subsequent placement has to either come off of a previously placed track tile or a city of your color that you've previously connected to.

Because of where you are on the board, and the terrain and track you roll, it's possible you won't be able to place any track down at all—or will only be able to place fewer than four tracks. That's here the reroll cubes come in. You can turn in any reroll cube you've collected to reroll one or two of the four dice. You care free to use more than one reroll cube on a turn if necessary.

You can choose the order of cities you visit once you leave your Home City. Once you do connect to one of your Home Cities, you get to collect the two reroll cubes on it. No player can ever connect to a colored city of another player. You are free to connect into and out of any of the gray cities on the board, and if you do, you get your reroll cube on that city. Because the spaces are hexagons, up to three players can connect to each of those gray cities, but the fourth player is just out of luck.

But the point of the game isn't to connect to the most cities—it's to connect your four cities. So don't get distracted. Once someone does connect those four cities, each player who hasn't had an equal number of turns gets one final turn. Ties are broken by reroll cubes.

The Extras

The game comes with two decks that give you more options for play.

The Service Bounty Deck consists of 18 cards that are identical, other than the city named on the card—there's a card for each of the gray cities on the board. You shuffle the deck at the beginning of the game and deal four face-up. If someone connects to one of those cities while the card is visible, he or she gets an extra reroll cube, and you discard that Bounty and draw a new one so there are always four visible bounties.

The Railroad Operations Deck are various cards with various powers, that include being able to play on any terrain without having to roll a terrain die, a free track tile placement on a certain terrain, and cards that you play on others that keep that player from playing on a certain terrain type. You get to draw a card when you connect to a gray city (not one of your own).

photo(6)The Verdict

Jeremiah—So let's talk about the components. Everything was well-made—the cards, the board, etc. There were some choices that I wouldn't necessarily have made (wooden dice, plastic trains seemed backwards to me), but nothing that ruins the game. The only quirky part about the components were areas of the board that were or were not considered to be water hexes. The rules say that only the bright blue hexes are water not the pale blue, and sometimes it was really hard to define what those were.  Oh, and did we mention, the board is HUGE!?

Firestone—Yeah, unless it's something like Twilight Imperium, I almost always prefer wooden pieces to plastic, but they're mostly good. (The wooden dice are just okay.) I agree that those ambiguous water spaces are the board are annoying, though it's easy enough to make a house-rule decision. Publishers: If a space isn't a water space, don't put water in it! No one will be angry if you err on the side of clarity!

Firestone—I was pleasantly surprised to see that the game was for ages 7 and up. And it proved to be true! We even played with my 5-year-old, and with a little help, he was doing well. We'd talk about how to split his dice, and then he would put them down where he wanted to go. The age requirements might be my favorite thing about this game.

Jeremiah—Yeah, I was really glad that even on the box it says the game is for ages 7 and up. Most games I play with my kids (5 & 7) have an age rating of 8, 10, 12, 13 etc. and up. Railways Express is a great, introductory tile placement game, and is really for just about any age of gamer!

Jeremiah—I really enjoyed that this was SO easy to learn, but it didn't feel like an easy game to play. Which is to say that I felt like there were some weighty decision to make, concerning how to spend your re-roll cubes, which path to take and so on, but the mechanics were pretty light weight and uncumbersome.

Firestone—I felt it was kind of decision-light, but that just means it's a good family game and not a good gamers' game. I like family games, so it's not really a dig.

Jeremiah—While there are some decent decision making moments, the game is really driven by the dice. For "certain people" *cough cough* Scott *cough* that can be a major downside. But dice-rollers have a certain appeal for the casual player, and this Railways Express is no exception to that. This will be one that I pull out for casual players, or family game nights for sure. Making the right decisions can definitely give you a great advantage, but there aren't so many decisions to be made that a casual, or younger player will be gripped with analysis paralysis.

Firestone—Since when do I not like dice?! Oh yeah...since always. :) Look, if you roll better in this game, you will do better than those who don't. Period. Again, in a family game that's fine.

Firestone Final Thoughts—I've not played any of the Railways of the World games, but as an "express" version of anything, this does what it's supposed to. It strips down play, and is a great introduction to the concept of building tracks on the map. As far as I'm concerned, this was the very, very first step in introducing my 5-year-old to Age Of Steam. If you're playing with gamers, keep it on the shelf, but when it's with family or nongamers, put Railways Express on the table.

Jeremiah Final Thoughts—Railways Express is exactly what Eagle Games says it is. It's an express, or streamlined version of their hit title Railways of the World. It plays fast—an hour max, and probably faster with experienced players—which could definitely earn it a spot as a solid filler game, although that would seem weird because it's so HUGE. If you're looking for a quick-playing game, especially with casual players or a game for your family game night, you should definitely put this game on the table!

Thanks for reading! And if you'd prefer watching, just click on the vid below! And please subscribe to our YouTube channel while you're at it!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXrTJz0VbS0]

Pigpen—A Double-Take Review

pigpencoverFor today's review, we're giving you a look at a cute card game from Kevin Kulp and Jason Tagmire that's nearly finished its campaign on Kickstarter. If you don't want to bother reading the review, just go there and back it. If you need some convincing, read on...

The Basics

Pigpen is a family card game for 2-4 players that plays in ~ 15 minutes. Players are trying to create pens that will hold pigs, which will score VPs. Think of the pens as a "block" of 6 spaces—three across and two deep. The four outside space are walls. The front center is a gate. And the back center is for food.

The Components

96 Cards (this number will go up based on the final funding level of the Kickstarter campaign)—80 Farmer Cards and 16 Pig Cards

The Setup

Shuffle the Pig Cards and create a Pig Deck—the number of which will depend on the number of players.

Shuffle the Farmer Cards, deal out five to each player, and then place the rest as a draw deck.

pigpenpigsThe Gameplay

On your turn you'll play up to two cards from your hand, discard one card (if you want) to the discard pile, and then draw back up to five cards.

Types of Cards

Wall Cards: They're either brick or wood walls. Your pen can consist of both types of material—the only difference in the two is which attack card can destroy that type of material. These have a Defense number—the higher the number the stronger the wall.

Gate Cards: This is a card with a gate on it, and can be played in the gate space of your pen.

Food Cards: These are played in the food space of your pen.

Attack Cards: These are things like saws, jackhammers, and other things, used to destroy other pens.

So when you play cards you'll either be building up your own pen, or wrecking other people's pens. Once you get all of the pieces to a pen, you can grab a pig and put it on the Food Card. Each Pig has a different VP number on it. You can draw from the top of the Pig Deck, or grab one of the loose ones. Why would a pig be loose? I'm glad you asked...

PigpenattackIf someone breaks a piece of your completed pen, you have until the end of your turn to fix it or the pig runs off and hangs out around the Pig Deck. If another pig gets loose, the current loose pig goes to the bottom of the PIg Deck.

As you build new pens, you can use the outside walls as part of a neighboring pen.

When the last pig is taken, the game is over. Everyone gets one last play to try and fix any broken pens—the pigs then run out of unfixed pens. Everyone adds up the VPs on their Pigs, and the winner is the person with the most VPs; ties go to the person with the most pigs.

The Verdict

Firestone—Here's a conversation I had with my 5-year-old when the family finished playing our first game:

Me: "What did you think?"

He: "Awesome."

Me: "What was your favorite thing?"

He: "That I won."

Me: "What was your second favorite thing?"

He: "That you guys lost..."

And that about sums it up: My family liked this game a lot. It's "cute."

pigpenpenJeremiah—Somewhere along the line my kids figured out how fun it is to gang up Mommy and Daddy, and they didn't bother trying to be sneaky about it. We pretty much knew that if they had cards to destroy our pens, we were in for it. Our 5-year old would even stare us down and start making sawing noises before he played his card, to add to the torment.

Firestone—It's a card game, so it's very random, and there is a TON of take that. Somehow in a cutesy pig game it doesn't feel as harsh as in other games. And it's short enough that you won't be demolishing fences for 90 minutes, which would make me flip my wig. If I wore a wig.

Jeremiah—Yeah the built-in timer is a much needed thanks to the massive amounts of back-and-forth, take-that in the game. It could seriously go on forever.

Firestone—Adding to the randomness is the fact that the pigs aren't all worth the same amount. So someone might draw an awesome 4-point pig, place it on a Superfood, and it's pretty much there forever. While I might only draw 1s the whole game.

Jeremiah—Yeah, it's a card game which means there's an element of luck of the draw, but there's enough that you can do to level the playing field (or other pens) to keep it competitive.

Jeremiah—The game is definitely geared for the family experience. The theme lends itself to that very well, but I could definitely see sitting down with some casual/non-gamer type folks and enjoying some laughs as we deliver blow after blow to each other's pen.

Firestone—I'm not going to play this with anyone but my family, but I'm okay having a family-only game.

Firestone's Final Verdict—This is a cute game that my family likes playing. There's tons of take-that (almost all of it aimed squarely at me), but it's short and easy to learn. Put this on the table.

Jeremiah's Final Verdict—We really loved this game! My boys learned it very quickly, and more importantly so did my wife. It's a great family game that is enjoyable for both adults and kids. I would recommend it for a casual party game, and for church/youth group play. Pigpen is packed with lots of light-hearted "Take that!" Which makes for great player interaction in what is essentially a set-collection game! You should definitely put this game on your table!

This game has been fully funded, and they're offering new cards and pigs, so head on over to the Kickstarter campaign and check it out for yourself. There are only 3 days left!!

Fluxx: The Board Game—A Double-Take Review

We adore chaos because we love to produce order." ~M.C. Escher Looney Labs has turned their hit card game into a board game. Is it as chaotic as the card game? Is it completely different? Will Firestone actually like this game?! Let's find out!

The Basics

Fluxx: The Board Game is for 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, and takes 15-30 minutes to play.

The Components

12 wooden playing pieces in four different colors: 3 yellow cubes, 3 green cylinders, 3 red pawns, and 3 blue person-shaped pieces.

8 orange pegs

Tiles and pegboards

1 deck of cards

 

The Setup

Place a peg into the leftmost peg on each of the rules on the Rules pegboard, and into the 3 spot on the Win pegboard.

Place the Start tile in the center of the table, mix up the other tiles, and create a 3 x 3 square of tiles around that center Start tile.

Pick player colors, place all used pieces on the Start tile, and give each player the card that corresponds to his or her color.

Look through the deck and find the first five Goal cards and place them in a pile faceup on the Win pegboard.

Shuffle the cards and deal three to each player.

Before the game begins, everyone gets one free rule change. You can move any peg one space to the right (or up if you're moving the peg on the Win pegboard. You can move any peg, even if it's been moved by someone else, but you can never undo or reverse another player's move.

The Gameplay

Randomly determine a start player. On a player's turn, you'll just look at the Rules pegboard and do what it says. You'll be drawing 1-4 cards, depending on where the peg is. You'll be playing 1-4 cards, depending on where the peg is. You'll be moving 2-5 spaces, depending on where the peg is. And you'll have a hand limit of none, 3, 2, or 1 cards, depending on where the peg is.

You can play cards and make moves in any order you want, and can even alternate between them.

There are blue Action cards that make something happen. They might let you trade hands with another player, or force everyone to trade colors. There are yellow New Rule cards, that change the rules somehow. They might tell you exactly how to change a peg, or give you options on what to move. Green Leaper cards have one of the pictures from the tiles on them, and you just jump a piece to that space. Purple Goal cards are played onto the top of the Goal pile, so that becomes the current Goal.

The Start tile has four arrows leading out of it, and you can only leave using one of those arrows. You'll be moving and playing cards and trying to match the Goal card currently on the top of the Win board.

Most spaces have a picture of one thing on them: chocolate, sun, music, brain. Each space can only hold one piece. If you move onto a space with another piece, you bump it to an adjacent unoccupied space (other than the one you just came from).

Each tile has one octagon space, which can hold any number of players. There are also two Portal spaces. As soon as someone moves onto one of the Portals, that person is immediately transported to the other Portal space.

There are also Special Move rules. One allows you to rotate a tile as one of your moves. One lets you pick up a tile and move it to another space—as long as you keep the orientation the same and as long as it's still connected to the rest of the tiles. And finally, the Wraparound rule lets you move off of one edge of the board and wraparound to the other. You can even cross gaps left over from uprooting a tile this way.

Any time (even on another player's turn) that you have pieces on spaces that match the current goal, you take that card. And as soon as someone has a number of Goal cards matching the current win level on the Win board, that person...wins!

The Verdict and Recommendations

Firestone—It's no secret that I don't really like Fluxx. It's way WAY too chaotic for me. I'll play with my family, but I wouldn't call it my favorite family game by a long shot. But Looney Labs wanted me to play this anyway, because it was more strategic, they said. I was skeptical but open-minded. Well they were absolutely right.

Rather than being based completely on the luck of the draw, Fluxx: The Board Game feels more like a puzzle: Each turn is a little puzzle to solve. Sure, there are still cards to draw and luck there, but there's also more stuff you can do to affect your position. How can I get myself onto those two spaces using the rules, cards, and movement available to me? While there's still some chaos and luck, I felt as though I had more control than I EVER had in the card game.

Jeremiah—I, on the other hand, am a huge fan of Fluxx! Fluxx, if nothing else, is unique compared to anything else you will play—I love the way the game wreaks havoc with the players, causing them to readjust constantly. No, it's not very strategic—at times—but there's something about seeing the agony on your friend's face when they realize they HAVE to play a card that causes you to win!

Fluxx the board game captures a lot of the original feel of the card game but does a great job of creating a new experience for fans of the game and newcomers!

Firestone—The pieces are a mix of good and bad. The pegboards and tiles are all nice and thick, but the pegs are too long. So when the pegs are in, the boards won't sit flat on the table, and if you push the board down flat onto the table, some of the pegs pop out. The wooden pieces are nice and chunky, and the cards are all adequate—though very, very thin.

All the pegs in, or flat on the table—you can't have both.
All the pegs in, or flat on the table—you can't have both.

Jeremiah—I'm also not a fan of some of the components. Yeah the tiles are thick and sturdy, and the cards are good quality. But I wasn't a fan of the pegboard system, either. I love its function! Just not its form. One of the peg holes is a little loose, too, causing the peg to fall out. Maybe it's the Euro gamer in me, but I'd just rather have had a tracker token on a track for the rules.

Firestone—Yeah, even my wife, who isn't a gamer at all, asked, "Why didn't they just have wooden cubes that you move on a board to keep track of this?"

UPDATE: Amber from Looney Labs has contacted us to let us know that they have a solution: pieces you stick to the bottom of the pegboards to raise them up high enough for the pegs to fit fully in. Contact customer-support [at] looneylabs.com. Thanks Looney Labs!

One other small complaint is that they chose the vanilla Fluxx as the theme. I completely understand why they did it, since it's their flagship product, and the one most people will be familiar with. But it's also kinda...boring. A cookie. A sun. A glass of milk. A piece of pizza. Andrew Looney. Meh... I would have been all over a Star Fluxx: The Board Game. Maybe that's in the works, but asking people to buy multiple versions of a $10 card game is one thing. Asking them to buy multiple versions of a $30 board game is very much another... But that's just a personal preference.

Jeremiah—I was totally fine with the original Fluxx theme; it sets up the base for the offshoot of the franchise. I, of course, have no way of knowing Looney Labs' plans for the future, but I could see them selling expansion packs instead new complete versions. Swap out the tiles and the cards and you're set—you don't need new player tokens and rule boards etc. Of course, Zombie and Pirate Fluxx would make for some cooler meeple options!

I'm pretty impressed with the great synergy between the board/tiles, cards and rule trackers! The cards still have their Fluxxy charm, and the board adds some great decision-making moments as well.

Firestone—Yeah, but the decisions aren't overwhelming. I could see someone prone to analysis paralysis getting overwhelmed by all of the choices as they puzzle through things. But it probably won't be a problem for most people.

Jeremiah Final Thoughts—As a fan of Fluxx, I have to say, while I was excited about FtBG I was slightly nervous that it might be an obligatory attempt to cash in on the reputation of its successor. All of the fears have been put to bed soundly! This game is fun! It is very puzzle-like, and the way it allows players to shift and change the playing surface makes it very replayable. Fluxx: The Board Game is the M. C. Escher of board games. Put this game on your table!

Firestone Final Thoughts—Aside from the terrible pegboard implementation, I like this game a lot. It's very light, and unlikely to make it past a couple of plays with my regular game group. But my family and I really like this, and I actually think it's a great nongamer game. I agree with Jeremiah: Put this game on the table!

Thanks so much for reading! And if you want, you can watch the video review, too!