Fairy Tale, review

Tomo did a shopping order to Japan and I on a whim I ordered a Japanese micro that seemed be one with the least language requirements: Fairy Tale.

Fairy Tale, final scoring. Mass combos on my side

(Turns out it has an English version through Z-Man. Heh)

So this is a drafter, in the vein of Sushi Go or even more like Tides Of Time if you’re familiar with that one. You draft 5 cards in each of the 4 turns, after which you will play 3 of them and discard 2. Which if nothing else is very mathematically pleasing: 5 4 3 2.

The cards are used in 2 ways, the first being complicated scoring methods, just like other drafting games. This includes normal linear cards (“2 points”), exponential cards (“1 if 1, 4 if 2, 9 if 3”), conditional cards (“9 points if you have most dragons”), and ‘friend’ cards (“3 points for each bard you own”). The game is nicely balanced in these, but that’s not super groundbreaking.

The other layer to this game is that as cards are ‘played’, meaning added to your side, they have effects that fire. This includes flipping other cards face up or face down, or possibly intercepting cards before they hit the table and disable their powers early. This adds an element of combat to the game as players will often draft cards that they don’t intend to play just to make sure others can’t use those cards against them. Remember, you get to discard 2.

For example, in the game above I drafted every single demon card that flips human cards face down to avoid losing my combo cards. Two demons would have cost me two homesteaders and about 12 points, a third of my score.

As a bonus, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the cards used English words for “you” and “all” which made things easier, and came with a translated instruction manual to boot. Also, the design has that Japanese doujin-game style to it, which has it’s own unique charm. The only downside is unfortunately the paper it was printed on was kinda flimsy, but nothing a bit of penny sleeves can’t fix.

It’s a good game fun lightweight and a steady entry in our medley of “lunchtime at work” games, as it can easily be ran through in 45 mins. We’re fans of it here.

Neuroshima Convoy (1st ed) review

Seeing as the second edition of the game is out now and everyone’s getting it in their BGGcon goodie bags, I figured it was time to give this one another try at work.

It’s tempting as a work lunchtime game: 20 minute play time, no board, just cards, 2 players, how hard can it be?

Neuroshima Convoy, 1st ed
Neuroshima Convoy, 1st ed (Sorry for the shoddy photo, I didn’t see how glare-y it was

Very hard. Incredibly hard. Portal hard. The rules are deceptively simple, other than list of small things you have to remember constantly which, since the game is so short, come up all the time. Example: “You win the fight, as a bonus you get to destroy a region and also a robot gets to move for free, then it’s power of enter triggers, and it gets a +1 for moving to an opposed city, and then you have to move a different robot and then that triggers as well but there’s no +1 cause that’s not a non-active city and also a different robot had a “on win” trigger so you have to do that now and then…”

There’s also the fact that the game is 100% interaction between cards, and there’s some unique card interactions in there. You’ll reference the manual a lot while playing.

Having said that, the game is very good once you get the rules right and come to grips that it’s not a “win battles”/”territory control” game. It’s a milling game, pure and simple, with a battle theme. Outpost is here to make Moloch mill, Moloch is here to rush through before the deck runs out. It’s incredibly tight and balanced flawlessly. Also very stressful.

It’s definitely a game for gamers by gamers. If you want a great example of balance, combos, control, and asymmetry, look no further. Just be willing to put in a good 3 playthroughs before you get the hang of it. Though get the 2nd printing if you can. The art is nicer, and text on cards adds a lot to playability.

Theseus, the Dark Orbit review

This is definitely in my top 5 games, and quite possibly my #1. Essentially a base builder where you place faction powers on the board, upgrade them, and move around to trigger them using a Euro methodology

Theseus, the Dark Orbit
Theseus, the Dark Orbit

As a small tangent, we have the Polish print of this game so we play with a translation sheet on the side, visible in corner of the photo.

Like other Portal games, this one is very asymmetric. Not only are the faction powers and play styles very different, they also have different winning conditions. Some factions use hit points to win, some instead totally ignore those and win by doing research on other factions, while one does both and then wins if it hits 20 points in one or the other.

A common criticism of the game is that for something that’s as simple as it is, it has an oddly vertical learning curve, and that’s not really wrong. It takes a bit to make your first move, but after you get going it really feels like a light euro with a dark sci-fi theme. The slightly obtuse manual doesn’t really help in that regard.

Also, the game allows for a particularly obtuse Polish 80’s reference:

Life is brutal and full of zasadzkas
“Life is brutal and full of zasadzkas”

The above room would be worth 18 points btw, almost enough to win the game by itself.

Portal, the Uncooperative Cake Acquisition review

We got to play it at GenCon and pre-ordered it soon after: Portal, the Cake.

It’s a very stylish proposition. The game comes in a faux-aged box (well done too, at first glanced it really looks damaged), and first thing you’re greeted by is a fake 1970’s manual, in the style of a scientific testing protocol:

The very retro Portal manual
The very retro Portal manual

The game isn’t particularly like the video game in the sense of testing and puzzles, but is more influenced by the little cartoons that were used as advertisements for Portal and Portal 2. It’s also very chaotic. The rooms move from one edge to the other quite quickly and triggering powers requires killing off your dudes (who respawn even quicker).

Portal: Cake Game, including illusion inducing board
Portal: Cake Game, including illusion inducing board

The game is very low-randomness as far as dice rolling or similar, but very “random” in the sense that with so many options available to everyone else, any sort of long term planning is by-design impossible. It very quickly devolves into a mad rush and murder simulator that never progresses towards a final round, inasmuch as it just suddenly stops and whoever is ahead at that instant wins.

Only exception to that that we found is the Opera Turret card’s winning condition (usually triggered by the card Greg). That one you can sorta plan for, but since firing both of those requires 2 cakes and a 1 test subject, you’re pretty much on track to win anyways.

It’s a great game if you don’t take it too seriously. Especially since all your friends will want to try it at least once, guarantee it.

IDW Playtest

IDW playtest of Awesome Kingdoms, over at Villainous Lair.

Awesome Kingdoms
Awesome Kingdoms

Like a Munchkin in 20 minutes. Not super deep, but has a strict time limit and is a simple fun game. Good lunchtime game.