It’s the 1950’s and it’s time to build your perfect neighborhood. In this flip and write game, you are trying to make the best combination of fenced off neighborhoods to attract the most people to your neighborhood. You build parks, give the houses house numbers, […]
Tag: board game review
Another two player game, the one that I mentioned in the Hanamikoji article. This one is a much simpler game, but still a very fast two player game with a cute table presence.
In Blossoms you are trying to grow and cut the best group of flowers. There are four flower pots and six different types of flowers. You start your turn always by growing a flower, drawing a card and flipping it and adding it to a pot if you can. Otherwise you bust and the turn passes. Then you can push your luck and grow some more. You also have two cards in your hand that you can use to grow the flowers as well, if they match the right type. Finally, you can always use a special ability to reserve a flower and then also give yourself some ability. If you ever cause a flower to grow over seven cards tall, it breaks and your turn ends. If you decide to cut a flower, or if you ever try and grow a flower and it isn’t one of the four types out, your turn ends. You do that going through the stack of flower cards, and whoever scores the most points, based off of the number of flowers collected and how large they are wins.
This game is very straight forward. You are basically pushing your luck, deciding how many times you want to grow the flowers and hoping not to bust before you can cut a flower. However, sometimes the first flower you draw is the one that is going to bust you and end your turn before it even gets started. There is one of the special actions that can prevent you from busting once, but with that, you can’t do that before the first flip, which has to be the first thing you do on your turn. That too me isn’t too mechanically sound, but it does balance itself out somewhat over multiple games, if you decide to play that way.
The special actions are where the real decision making comes in. It helps you in two different ways, it might allow you not to bust, look at the top 3 flower cards in the deck and arrange them, draw another card, or play a flower from your hand onto a pile that it doesn’t belong on. But it also means that until your next turn when the token comes off the other player can’t cut down that flower. So you can possibly have two well grown flowers and protect one of them for a future turn, though, your first grow might bust that time. It is a bit of a bummer though that there aren’t more pots, which have the special actions on them, than the four that come with the game. They could have easily done six or eight pots total and ended up with a game that has more variety and strategy, because the strategy is going to generally stay the same between games because the special powers don’t change.
There’s another downside downside, that is basically you’re only real decision. Otherwise you are just pushing your luck, and if you push too far, you get nothing. Or, it might be that you and the person you are playing against do the mandatory grow action and bust several times in a row so you’re just burning through cards and nothing is happening in the game. I do think with the scoring though, it does encourage you to push your luck, because a stack of two flowers is worth a single point, but a stack of six flowers being cut at once is worth fifteen points. That helps create a bit of tension in a game that is otherwise pretty straightforward and just pretty to look at on the table.
Overall, this is a decent game. It doesn’t offer much tension or a ton of difficult decisions. It does look really nice on the table, and the card board pots and the plant cards are really well done. I like the nice big card size as well. They say that you can play without the special powers to make the game simpler, but it’s already quite simple, so I wouldn’t do that. It also is easy to teach, which means that you can play it with non-gamers easier than some other games as well.
Overall Grade: C+
Gamer Grade: D
Casual Grade: B
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Are you excited for this game review, because the game sure is. Yes, Clank! In! Space! has all those exclamation points in the title and it’s really excited to have a TableTopTake written about it! So let’s get jazzed, people, and jump into this game review.
Clank! In! Space! is a deck building game at it’s core, but beyond that, you’re doing something more with your cards to just purchase more cards. In the game, you are on Lord Eradikus’s ship as a bunch of different adventurers. You’re trying to break through his security, steal some artifacts that he’s stolen and get back out without bungling around too much and making too much noise. This is easier said than done, because some of the good cards that would allow you to fight more or move more are going to give you clank as you make noise. If you’re too noisy, there’s a better chance of Lord Eradikus’s henchmen finding you and punching in the face.
That seems like a bit more going on in Clank! In! Space! than in Dominion. The various resources on your cards all make sense as you are getting money/recruitment power, movement, and fighting abilities versus the more generic money, action, and buy. Your movement, the equivalent to Dominion’s actions, actually moves you around a board, and you have to plot out how you’re going to go and how you might be able to get through the space ship quickly and gain access to the treasure vault on one end of the ship. The buying of cards does still have the thematic disconnect, though, if the argument is that Lord Eradikus has a giant ship, and why wouldn’t he, these are people working or prisoners on his ship, or could even be people you’ve hired to show up to help you, some of them are just showing up later rather than at the beginning. Definitely not the strongest ties for the people you recruit, but the items make a lot of sense to be there, lying around the ship. And the bad guys are definitely out there patrolling the corridors.
While the deck building part is the biggest part of the game, it isn’t the most fun. The most fun part of the game is the Clank! (Just feels like it should always have the exclamation point). The noise that you make is denoted by cubes, and when a card with Lord Eradikus shows up in the adventure area, all the cubes you’ve added to a pool get put into a bag, and depending on how mad Lord Eradikus, a number of cubes are drawn from the deck. If you’re color of cube is drawn, you take damage, and if your damage track ever fills up, you are knocked out. So you’re trying to make as little noise as possible, but it’s still possible, even if you are the noisiest one on the ship that your color won’t be drawn. And there are things that make Lord Eradikus madder and drawing more cubes. Once you’ve breached his security system, he gets madder, once you steal and artifact, he get’s madder, and if you find one of his personal diaries, he gets madder.
So, in case you haven’t picked up on it, another good part of Clank! In! Space! is how seriously it takes itself. There are nods on basically every card to some Sci-Fi TV Show, Movie, or Book, or if not that, some pun being made. Star Wars, Star Trek, Tron, Chronicles of Riddick, Enders Game, The Fifth Element, and more show up and they are really well done. I didn’t get a chance to read all of the extra text on cards that I got in the game or that were out there, but each of them has a little line at the bottom so if it wasn’t already obvious what Sci-Fi thing it was spoofing, it would be clear. Even the adventurers you are playing, their meeples (wooden figures) are nods to sci-fi characters. That keeps this game from becoming too intense while playing it, but you still do feel the pressure of trying to gather points on the ship and trying to get off as quickly as possible so that you can score the most points and hopefully stop the other players from escaping the ship.
This is a well designed game and has a few differences, so I’ve heard, from the original game of Clank! which was a dungeon delve where you were trying to avoid a black dragon who was after you. To me, the theme of space and sci-fi makes more sense than a dungeon delve would as there are more things to Clank! about with on a space ship. And once you’ve played a few hands of this game, you start to know what you are doing right away, the biggest question is always what you’re going to buy or recruit and if you can fight someone. But everything is limited by the cards so that makes it simple. Even the card combo powers, where having a tech guy might cause another tech character to be better, those are easy to spot. The fact that there are only three different factions of cards means that you don’t have to think about the combos as much.
Finally, one fun thing about the game is the board. The board is set-up so that it slightly looks like a spaceship, but that’s not really the fun part of the board. The fun part of the board is the fact that three parts of it are modular. That means you can adjust the configuration of the board, and not just that, t hose three parts are double sided, so you have six potential modules to throw in the board. That means that you can change up the board from game to game, even by just moving the same modules into different positions. We played with the recommended starting game, but by just moving things around slightly, the game could be quite different.
Clank! In! Space! is a very fun game. It does run a little bit longer than some games. With three players, I think it took us an hour and a half, however, that was with us learning the game as well. I think once everyone knows the game, it would probably take an hour or less because the hands play out quickly once you know what cards you have. I do wonder a little bit about the long term replayability of the game, but there’s an expansion out there that I’ve heard adds some more interesting parts to the game, and with the modular board and a large deck of cards to recruit and fighting bad guys from, I think it’ll stick around for a while. I also like it because it has more of a game to it than Dominion does so while the hands play themselves, it’s way less auto-pilot than Dominion is.
Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: B
Casual Grade: B+
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“There’s so much on the planet, all this money to be made.” “What about the giant bugs?” “Hire some good security for the mines.” “And the scary looking brain scorpions?” “More security.” “And the hydras?” “Alright, mechanical armored security.” That’s how I imagine it went […]
Time for some gaming fun, this time with the newest game that is a craze, the Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger game. Which is based off of the Choose Your Own Adventure book by the same name.
House of Danger does what you’d expect it to. You are going through the story, and after reading a paragraph or so you have a choice to make. This basically is always what room you’ll go into next or area that you’ll explore, but there can be other things as well. Some of the cards have challenges that you need to beat. It could be fighting off a monster or searching for clues. However, if you fail, the danger tracker goes up, and the challenges are harder to beat. There are also optional challenges that you can do that will give you more clues to what is going on, but could end up driving up that danger meter if you fail.
Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger comes in five chapters, and each chapter can take about an hour. That’s what they say in the game, but we got through two chapters in just over an hour. However, we left a lot unread, and most likely you’ll always have something that’s left unread, because you don’t want to accidentally end up dying, again. But when you do die in the game, that’s okay. Because they just send you back to the previous location you were at (or they have thus far), and you are penalized in your psychic ability which can make it harder to get all the clues that you want to get. I think, technically, if your psychic ability were to hit zero, you’d lose the game, but that’s not extremely likely.
This game is more of an experience than a hard core gaming experience. It really is a Choose Your Own Adventure in a box. The additions of the challenges are a nice game piece to what otherwise could just be the book. It also works well because it can be a group experience. We had six of us playing, and we’d take turns reading the cards. if there was a challenge on the card, the person who read the card would end up rolling for it as well. But the decision making process as to what to do on each card, which room to go to next, we made that as a group. Between that decision and the story being read out loud, House of Danger is a fun group experience.
Now, is this a game for everyone and every group?
I don’t actually think so. If you and your group generally are in for heavier gaming experiences where your decisions matter, House of Danger isn’t going to be the game for you. House of Danger is light, goofy, and fun. Even if you are that type of group and who enjoys those more experiential games, I think if you aren’t going to be a bit goofy with House of Danger, the game is going to fall flat.
This isn’t a flaw with the Choose Your Own Adventure game or the system that it is built on, but it’s done in such a way that it’s simple for anyone to sit down and play. It’s an experiential game that you can play with a very large group. Like I said, we played with six people and took turns reading, but there’s no reason that you couldn’t play with a much larger group. As long as everyone can hear and can have their voice heard when decisions are being made, you can go with as large a group as you want.
Finally, I hope that they come out with more of these games. The game itself is going to be somewhat able to be replayed. However, once you know the story, you could try and make an optimized run through it just to see how well you could do, but that wouldn’t be as fun. You can play through it with different groups and things will be different and jokes will be different each time, but the basis of this game would be easy to turn out a lot more of these based off of other Choose Your Own Adventure books.
Overall Grade: A
Gamer Grade: B-
Casual Grade: A
Have you had a chance to play Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger yet? Have you enjoyed that experience or that type of game before?
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Let’s meet the contenders: Machi Koro: Machi Koro is a city building game where you are working on building up enough infrastructure that you can then build the bigger attractions for your city, like a harbor, shopping mall, and other things. The first person to […]