We’ve been over this many a time. I like Roll and Write or Flip and Write games a lot. So when I saw a chance to pick-up Metro X, it seemed like a good idea. This is a flip and write game where you are …
Tag: board game review
That’s a mouthful of a game name, but does this game that promises to be a roll and write pinball game, live up to that, at least at it’s first playthrough? Game Play In Super-Skill Pinball: 4-Cade, you are rolling dice and filling in spots, …
It’s been a while since I’ve done a board game review. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of Point of Order articles come up and go in that time because I can buy games, but I can’t play all that many of them. But one that I was able to play three times in person and twice via Zoom, plus about a million times on the app has been Ganz Schon Clever. I won’t be talking as much about the app today, but more about the game.
Ganz Schon Clever is probably one of the more influential games in terms of putting the roll and write craze over the top. There had been games before like Qwixx that were out there, but Ganz Schon Clever hit the market and took off because it made a game that was interesting and challenging and put in so many combos into the game. So many combos. In this game, you are playing a number of rounds, 4 to 6 depending on player count, more rounds for less players. On your turn you roll six dice, you can then use one of the dice in one of the five sections. Each section corresponds to one of the dice colors and then there is a wild die, the white one, that can be used in any section. The trick for what die you’ll use comes down to the fact that any dice that are of a lower value than the one you select go onto a platter (this will be important later). Then you roll the remaining dice again, repeat the process, and do it all one more time. At that point in time, all the other players can pick and use one of the dice on the platter. Then the turn passes, next person goes, and so on and so forth. Doesn’t seem that challenging, but there are so many interesting things in it, as each section scores differently and can then let you activate other areas, possibly chaining even more things together.
Let’s do a quick run down of how each section works. In yellow you cross off a number, and for rows and the diagonal that you complete you get some bonus, like crossing off a spot in another section or adding a number. The columns when filled in give you points. In Blue, you always take the total of the blue and white dice and fill in the corresponding number, the more spots you fill in, the more points you get, and filling out rows or columns gives you bonuses. In green, you fill in from left to right and the number has to be greater than or equally to the number i the circle to cross it off, the more you fill in, the more points you get, and if you make it to certain points you get a bonus. Orange is the easiest, it’s just the number on the dice, and then there are bonuses that you get for filling in certain spots, but you have to work left to right. There are also a few spots that double or triple in yellow. Finally, there is purple, in purple you go left to right and the number must always be greater than the previous number, so you could go something like 1, 4, 6. When you put in a six, you can start over again, and there are a ton of bonuses in purple. Finally, there is the fox bonus. The fox bonus shows up in each section and for the fox, you score the number of foxes you’ve made it to times your lowest score, so you can’t just skip one section, because then your foxes would be X time 0 which would give you no points.
Really, that’s probably enough to get going on the game and be able to play it. The game is simple, but there is strategy. Plus, you do get some other bonuses that I haven’t mentioned yet. You can unlock rerolls, you can get +1 that you can use to use an extra dice after people are done rolling, and you can just fill in a spot of your choice in round four. So sometimes you can use the +1 die to chain into something else and fill in a few spots, or maybe the filling in a spot will do that for you.
Like I said before, this game is pretty simple to learn. But to master it, you need to figure out the strategy for it. Sometimes you’ll want to reroll just because to use the die you need to, or want to, will lose you too many dice. Saving the +1’s towards the end can also be a good strategy because you can use them to combo more sooner, but sometimes I’ll spend a +1 to get a +1 when it’s a harder +1 to get than others, if that makes sense. So there is way more going on than just rolling dice and putting down a number, and scores can vary wildly.
Now, if you don’t like luck, there is luck involved. You might roll all ones, reroll and roll all ones again. It’s improbable, but not impossible. Or someone else might be consistently rolling higher numbers so they can score the orange and purple sections better. But with that said, since the game is fast, and since you are using dice that someone else has rolled, it is possible that you’ll get to use better dice, or if you don’t, the game will be over quickly and you can try again. The luck factor though might be a turn off for some, but I do think with all the combos that it is hard to get completely locked out of the game and doing well at all in it.
I’m also looking at this as a big fan of a lot of roll and write games. There are a number that I’ve talked about before, such as Welcome To… Second Chance, Criss Cross, and Cartographers, all of them great games, and a number that I like better than Ganz Schon Clever, but one thing that Ganz Schon Clever does differently from all of those is the combos. With those there might be other variability in the game, but you never will get that really satisfying chain of doing one thing and then doing another and another because of that first thing that you picked. Sonora, the flick and write, has that comboing if not more going on it, but that’s one of the only others I’ve played that does that.
Overall, this is clearly a game that I like a lot. I think that the play is pretty clever (the English translation of Ganz Schon Clever is That’s Pretty Clever). I like that the game plays pretty fast, I think slightly longer than the box says, but with that game speed, you never feel like you have much down time since you are doing things on other people’s turns as well. It scales well, and the rules are easy enough to teach that I think I could with most people, with just a few reminders during the game.
Overall Grade: A
Gamer Grade: A-
Casual Grade: A
As board games have grown as a hobby, it’s tricky at times to find a good board game that fits you. There are so many of them out there that it can be overwhelming and when you find some more “hobby” games and get introduced …
You pick up your doughnut and wait for the coffee to brew. Soon you’re pouring over notes, looking up clues in the database, all while waiting on the lab to finish running their reports. Detective is a game where you get a chance to dig deep into cases and try and figure out the whole story of what is going on, while not using up too much time.
In Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, you are playing cooperatively as a team of detectives/investigators who are trying to solve a series of linked cases. But can you figure out the links between the cases, what information from previous cases will be useful, and how much, per case, should you dig into the big picture? To do this, you have to travel around from your Antares HQ to places like the Courthouse, Richmond PD, The Lab, or various places that are all at fieldwork. At these places you’ll look at cards which will allow you to investigate a crime scene, or talk to a witness, or get some reports run on various clues. Doing any of these things costs time, and you only have so much time during the day, 8 hours, to get your work done, or you can work overtime, but too much overtime and you become too stressed and the case wraps up. At the end of the case, when you think you’re ready, you answer a series of questions about what you found out.
Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is an advancement in deduction sorts of games where you have a pretty small deck of cards, 35 per case, that you’re going through, and with that, you probably will see around twenty of them per case. So you are only getting a limited amount of information. With that said, there’s so much more beyond just those 35 cards, there’s the whole Antares database that you’ll be using a lot as well. This will have records of interviews you’ve done with witnesses, larger descriptions of crime scenes, or clues, police reports on people or old cases, ways to tie fingerprints together to determine who was at the crime scene. The Antares database is a website that is set-up by Portal Games that they can add new cases to whenever they want. This means for expansions they can add in new cases, redo the look of the database for the time period, or do whatever they want with it. How extensive the database is, is really cool. And it adds a lot of depth and theme to the game. You also can even google some things on the cards to determine what some real events that are referenced actually were.
Out of the five cases in the base box, we’ve played three so far, and while the first two cases felt fairly similar, the third case felt extremely different. I won’t go into spoilers, but it’s fun to see how they can create different almost puzzles for you to solve in the game. Some of them you might be digging up larger parts of an old story that puts together a grand tale that is tying all the cases together. Or you may be diving back into a cold case to figure out why there was such a rush to get the case closed and to find out if there is more to it. Or you might be in a highly time sensitive situation where you’re racing against the clock to stop some bad event from happening. All of them are possible in the game, and it feels like there is even more room to expand.
I do want to talk some about the thematic immersion in the game. I’ll start out by saying that of the three cases that we’ve done, two of them have taken three hours or just a little bit longer, the last one took just about two and a half hours. So this is a pretty long game for something that just have 35 cards per case. But the game is highly thematic, and you feel like you’re investigating to some extent. You’re looking through everything that’s going on, and you can see the threads come together, you’re taking notes and connecting things that seem like they might be separate because of a clue you find at a third location. And it’s not that the game is handing you those connections, you are having to use deductive reasoning to put two and two together and get the right answer. This game really has so much theme, and in fact, so much theme that you get immersed in discovering the story, not just “who done it” that you lose track of time. Each case doesn’t seem like a three hour chunk of time, because you’re puzzling over everything trying to figure out what is happening.
Finally, let’s talk about replayability. I would likely this to TIME Stories, where maybe, after a period of time, I’d be able to play it again, or if you wanted to see how good a job you could do you could play it again. But this game is not that replayable. You are solving a case, and once you know the solution you need to forget it to really be able to play it again, and I think unless five years have passed or more, I’m probably going to have my memory jogged by starting the case again and be able to take an ideal path. My thoughts, because we’re playing in a group of three, is that I might run the game again for another group, be in charge of the cards, like I am now, so that people can’t accidentally spoil themselves, but just sit back and watch someone else enjoy the experience. With that said, there is a Season 1 implementation of this coming out, there is the LA Crimes expansion for this, and there is a Dig Deeper expansion coming out as well, so there’s going to be added content for it, and for the amount of time that you’re playing each case, and the enjoyment from it, I think the base game is very much worth the value.
Overall, I love this game. I know some people won’t like the fact that is uses a screen, but that adds in a ton for the thematic element. Because even though I don’t love procedural cop shows on TV like CSI or Law & Order, Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game has that feel and when you’re the detective and heavily involved in trying to figure out who committed the crime or even how multiple cases tie together, it is so much fun, and the Antares database adds so much to that feel. This is a great thematic experience, and while the questions at the end can seem random if you chased a few red herrings, the story throughout the cases has been crafted extremely well.
Is this a game that you’ve tried, do you enjoy it? Is it something that seems interesting to you?
Gamer Grade: A
Casual Grade: B
Overall Grade: A-
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There are some cooperative games that are really hard and you will lose way more often than you win. Castle Panic is a game on the opposite end, where you win more often than not. Is that a problem with this game, or is it still interesting enough and challenging enough that it’s worth playing?
Castle Panic is a classic tower defense style game where you and the other players team up as heroes who are sending out troops, firing with archers and trying to stop the goblin horde that is coming to knock down the walls of your castle and destroy it. The game plays simply where players on their turns play out cards matching colors and ranges to kill off the goblins. But some goblins take more than one hit so can you get them taken out before they start destroying everything. Every turn you are drawing cards, trading them, and hoping to take out a goblin or three. To make it a little bit more challenging there are things that you can do like rebuild castle walls and put up barricades to drive back the horde for at least a turn. And there are boss monsters who will do things like cause you to draw and place more monsters on a single turn or heal already injured monsters. Finally, when placing the monsters it’s a die roll, so if you are unlucky, you might have monsters overrun one of the colors.
This is a simple game that I think works well as an introduction to fantasy games for kids, and as a cooperative game that you can play with a lot of kids. There is a “kids” version, but that is targeting getting kids in that 3-6 age range. The main game they say that it’s for 10+, but that has more to do with the piece sizes than the game itself, I think younger kids would be able to play this and the Board Game Geek community agrees with me as they rate it a 6+ in terms of the age range. The card play is easy, you draw up cards, you can put mortar and brick together to rebuild a wall, you can trade cards, etc. all of this is done in a mainly cooperative way. You can play fully cooperative, but like Marvel Legendary, they suggest that you keep who you’ve killed to see who has done more in the end.
With that said, I do think the game is almost too simple to play with adults. Even in a casual gaming environment with a bunch of non-gamers, the game doesn’t have long term legs. The play doesn’t change up too much and the strategy of the game is fairly limited. You’re really just seeing what you draw in terms of cards and monsters, and where you roll to place out the monsters. There are some things, like discarding and drawing a card that you can push to hope to get a better outcome, but it really comes down to the draws and the rolls. I’ve played games where I’ve gotten the boss who makes you draw more monsters when the bag was almost empty so we couldn’t draw enough, and that makes it easier, or the boss who heals monsters when no monsters were injured, I’ve also had the flip happen as well. I’ve had the one who causes you to draw monsters draw into the tile that has you draw more monster and all of a sudden we’re being overrun by goblins.
With that all said, I don’t think it is a bad game for what it is. It isn’t your normal kids game, Candyland or Snakes and Ladders where you are at the whim of a die or a random card draw. There is decision making that has to go into the game as you are able to plan multiple turns ahead. You never know what you might draw that might change up that plan, but the monsters move in a predictable pattern, one forward every turn, so you can plan your turns out fairly well and trading cards matters more because you want to get the right cards to the right players at the right time with a limited number of trades that you can make. So I think, even with non-gamers who are adults, it gives you something to think about and do for a play or two, and more than that if you are playing with kids.
Overall, this is a game that i still have in my collection. Yes, it is a bit simple, but I know that it’s a game that I can pull out with most people and get the game up and running fast. There is also the bright colors and 3d towers and walls that look interesting to it has a good table presence and people are more interested in playing it. It isn’t a game that I play that often, but as my kid gets older, it’ll be one of those transitional games into a bigger games as it teaches cooperation and planning in gaming.
Overall Grade: C+
Gamer Grade: D
Casual Grade: B-
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