Some games come in big packages and have a ton of depth to game in them, some come in small packages and have a lot of strategy, and some come in small packages and are a fun little filler. The Mind falls much more into…
Tag: Board Game
This was a game that I was originally introduced to at GenCon, I got to play a quick little bit of a self led two player demo. A few months later it showed up at a local game shop and I was looking at it every time that I came in, thinking that I really need to buy the game, and I finally pulled the trigger. I got to play it again already and it didn’t dissappoint.
Draftosaurus is a game that the best way I can describe it is half way between Sushi Go! and a roll and write game. In Draftosaurus, you are building a dino park. To do this, you are grabbing 6 dino meeples (dineeples or deeples) as is everyone else. Then whomever is the first player rolls the die, this determines where you can place the dino meeple. It might be in the forest or the desert or on the restroom side or gift shop side of your dino park or in an empty pen or a pen without a T-Rex. But, if you’re the person who rolled the dice, you can place your dino where ever you want. You pass your dinos to the left and repeat the process with a new person being the first player. You do this until all 6 dino meeples have been drafted, and then you do it for another 6 dino meeples. Then you count up your score, which is based off of the pens. Some of the pens want pairs of dinos, you get points in other pens for having more different dinos or more dinos of the same type. And there are more ways to score on the board, plus the board is two sides which has even more ways to score.
This game is small and a lot of fun. The real star of the game is the dino meeples, they look amazing, and the T-Rex looks different than the Stegosaurus which looks different than any of the others. Just playing around with those is fun, though, this game which is light and easy enough to teach kids, the dino meeples are supposed to be hidden in your hand, so they are somewhat small, but with six of them, it might be harder for a younger kid to be able to hold them all. The game also says it is for 8+ because of the size of the meeples, I think that younger kids could play it, but the dino meeples are a choking hazard, so don’t let them use it unsupervised, if they like to stick things in their mouth.
Draftosaurus also plays extremely fast. You’d drafting a total of 12 dino meeples and then adding up a score. And because you’re drafting at the same time, it’s only twelve times of drafting no matter how many people you have. They say on the box that the game takes 15 minutes, and I think that is on the longer end of how fast the game should go. Maybe if you have a really tough decision it’ll make a pick take a little bit longer, but generally you pick, reveal and place, and pass, and you can do that in 30-45 seconds. That means that when you do play Draftosaurus, you can play again, and in fact, the rule book suggests that you play the summer side and then the winter side to get an overall score to determine who can build the best park.
Let’s talk a little bit about the scoring. I wish that this game came with score sheets. The scoring isn’t complex, but you’re having to hold multiple numbers in your head, adding them together, and if you get distracted, like I can, then you have to start over again. Or if someone asks a question about scoring when you’re doing your scoring. With a score pad and a pencil, you’d be able to make the scoring go a whole lot faster, and it would make the game a little bit easier. Then, even a younger kid would be able to do the scoring, holding the numbers in your head, keeping track of which pens of yours you’ve scored, that could be a bit much. I might actually spend time designing a score sheet if there isn’t one already on Board Game Geek, that I can print off an laminate in order to make scoring easier and I think scoring a pen at a time makes it more exciting at the end. That’s a minor quibble to how the game works and one that I can adjust myself. The actual ways that the pens score is interesting and it doesn’t feel like there is really an overpowered method for scoring and you have to adjust depending on what dino meeples you are getting.
Overall, this is a really good game. It’s a good fast filler and has a lot of replayability. The choices are good enough for a gamer, but it is definitely for that mind clearing filler that can be played with kids, played with family, or played at a game night. I do think that the game works best over two players, I played at two players the first time, but it isn’t bad at two players either, it’s just better at more. I haven’t played the two sides back to back, but I think that would even be the best, around 20 minutes, get a quick filler in and it mitigates a bit of the luck from scoring, just because it is so random. But you really need to pay some attention to stuff being passed and be ready to pivot when you need to.
Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: C
Casual Grade: A-
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I was back last night with a live stream of Tainted Grail on Twitch. And now the video is also up on the Youtube channel. Thank you to those who checked out the stream. I don’t tend to announce too far ahead, but my plan…
I’m going to tell you about this game but….
That’s basically how the games works, but Stipulations is one of those party games, up there with Just One, that I’ve had a lot of fun playing. For me, Stipulations falls nicely in between games like Balderdash and then games like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, and is better than both of the groups, though, Balderdash is still enjoyable.
In Stipulations you are trying to get “points” by writing down funny, interesting, weird, silly, thought-provoking stipulations to the thing that the person who is it picked. It’s very much like Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples that way, that someone is picking something, but like Balderdash, it requires your own creativity. Let’s give an example of how this works. I’m it, and I can pick one of the four options on my card, they are super power, lifetime supply, fulfilled dream, and dream job. I read over them and I decide that having the super power of flying seems like the most fun. Everyone else then writes down a condition for what I’ve picked. The answers come in and I can fly but….
Only when I’m farting
No more than 4″ off the ground
You don’t know how to land without crashing
Then I get to pick my favorite, or more specifically, according to the rules, I must pick the least desirable. Then you’d draw a bonus card that has you pick another one in a different way to award more points. At the end of the game the person with the most points win.
Let’s start out by talking about the points in this game. No one keeps track of points, or I should say, no one cares about points. This, like Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, and Balderdarsh, are much more fun when people are just trying to be goofy about it and you don’t care about points. In fact, I don’t think that their “scoring” system works all that well. Picking the least desirable might make more thematic sense for the game, but I think that the game works better when the person picking picks their favorite, whether that’s the one that made you laugh the most, the least desirable, or the most desirable, but the chooser decides which one is the best based off of their own criteria. But, the least desirable is a good option, where it works less is drawing the extra scoring card. It can be something like, the one that made you laugh the most, that’s fine, but it might also be, the person who bought the game, that’s a stupid one, because, since I bought my copy, I’m always going to get that card if it happens to come up. I could just remove them, but I find that just picking one from the group of options just works better and keeps the game moving faster. Now, this might seem like a pretty long time talking about a negative, but it is a negative in basically all party games, and it doesn’t matter, because they are party games and you are meant to be having a silly fun time, if you care about the scoring, you care too much.
The rest of the game actually works really well. I’ll talk a little bit about when I think it is placed between those two groups of games. With Balderdash or another one similar to that Liebrary, you’re coming up with something unique. You’re required to use your own imagination and I like that in those games. I think, though, that both Balderdash and Liebrary because they are based on something real, a real definition or acronym or a real first line of a book. With Stipulations, you are write down whatever you want, and if you are extremely silly, it’s in line with the game. Then, the selection criteria is very Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity like. But, Stipulations has one major advantage over both of them, you never make it through all the cards. In Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples, eventually you’ll see all the cards, and in peak Cards Against Humanity days, that would take about a week, because you’d play it twice for a long (too long) period of time and you’d make it through the cards. Once you’ve gone through the cards once or twice, you know all the jokes in both games, and some cards will automatically win because of the meta of your group. Compare this to Stipulations, the game can still be dirty, if you want, so it can be like Cards Against Humanity, but as a group you get to control that, and because there are no answer cards and you need to use your own creativity, that means you won’t get certain answers that are as likely to win. Sure, you can still create a meta in your group where an answer like “Bees!” will always win one card per game, but that is less of a guarantee.
For me, this is one of the best party games and I think because it was a kickstarter game before kickstarter games were cool, it’s flown under the radar. I also think because of the weird extra scoring card, it can seem like a little bit more work for groups. But, I really like this game, and with my minor tweak to scoring, I think it flows even better, but it isn’t bad the other way. If you’re looking for a party game where you can tailor it to the group you’re playing with, this is a great option, for a bachelorette party, you can make it as dirty as you want, and then you can take it and play with your Grandma at Thanksgiving. Now, I think that, and I’ve seen it happen, some people don’t like that they have to be creative themselves, but, I’ve also seen those people then join into the game at a later time, because they realize how simple and silly you can be with it, and you don’t need to be that clever. And even with one person never joining the game who was watching it played, they ended up having a lot of fun just laughing at the silly things that were written. Overall, it’s always been a fun time.
Overall Grade: A-
Gamer Grade: C
Casual Grade: A
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There are some of these larger campaign games, Sword & Sorcery, Gloomhaven, and Tainted Grail, that can be hard to get a review done quickly. That’s simply because you need to play several chapters or scenarios to really get an idea of the game. So I’m going to start a new series of almost reviews called Behind The Box Cover. I will come back and do a TableTopTake later, but the idea is to get something out there on the game faster.
I’m going to start with Tainted Grail which I’ve just started playing. I did an unboxing and some game play on the Malts and Meeples Youtube Channel, so I’ll have the videos in here at the bottom so you can watch them. But I’ve only done about 30-45 minutes of game play in the videos and I’ve done the learn to play scenario that comes in the box to teach you the mechanics so you don’t need to read the rule book fully in order get the game onto the table.
Tainted Grail is a massive story driven game where you are playing in the land of Avalon. This isn’t some grand Arthurian adventure, though, Avalon is a land between realms which King Arthur and his knights fought for and claimed inch by inch, and that was 500 years ago. They erected Menhir, statues that can drive back the Wyrdness that corrupts the land, but now the Menhir are starting to fail and the land of Avalon is being claimed again by the Wyrdness. So, you’re some adventurer who was tasked with going out and finding a way to save Avalon? Not quite. There were more heroic people than you out there and they went off first to make it to Kamelot, but they haven’t come back. You’re part of the b team, those who weren’t quite good enough to go the first time, and you’re just hoping to find some answer.
What drew me into this game originally was the setting. The grim fantasy nature of trying to survive this darker version of Arthurian Legend just seemed fascinating. It wasn’t the standard sword and sorcery (not just the game, but that genre of fantasy) fantasy setting where you were epic heroes, in this game, you’re just barely more than being some guy. So while you are going to be the main character of the story, you might not be considered heroic to those in the lands. Plus, the fact that this is so driven by the setting and the story in the setting is awesome. There is so much text, I’m not sure how many total different location cards there are, but there are a ton of them, and the exploration journal is massive in which you read story. Compared to some other campaign games that I’ve played, this one is much more focused on the story.
But let’s talk a little bit about how the game works. During the day, you have a certain number of action points that you can take that then reset every day. You can either move around, explore a location or do some sort of special action. The game has a fun mechanic where you can push yourself for more actions on a given day, but that tires you out so you can’t do as much the following day. It’s one of those mechanics that makes sense in the game thematically because it makes sense in the real world. If you push yourself too hard one day, you’re not going to be up for doing as much the next day. What I also like about the things you can do during the day is that they aren’t that difficult, you’re mainly going to be moving and exploring locations. The rules for those things are straight forward.
Let’s talk a little bit more about exploring. Exploring really drives the game as it helps you figure out where you need to find things and brings the story together. When you explore a location you get to delve into the massive book that contains all of the story, and the book is massive. And with exploring, you might be able to do several different things, or if you have certain statuses or are a certain character, it’ll unlock different things for you. For example, in my first play, had I been playing Maggot instead of Arev, I could have done something different at the second location I explored. Or when I took an exploration action in the first day, I ended up getting a status for it. The fact that the story will branch and change depending on the statuses that you have, and because of choices you make, you might get a different ending to the campaign, that is awesome, and a testament to the writing that Awaken Realms put into the game.
I think that the other thing I should talk about is the encounters. This, being such a story driven game, seems like it should have some more focus on dice rolling, kind of the normal ameritrash style mechanics. But, we don’t have those at all. Combat and Diplomatic encounters is really focused on an interesting card play mechanic. When you go into an encounter, you draw a hand of cards and you play them down chaining symbols together. These, depending on the move can give you more damage or could allow you some card draw or another affect like ignoring damage in an attack. It makes combat and diplomacy much more of a puzzle to solve, and there are a lot of times when you don’t need to solve the puzzle, you need to escape and taking an opportunity attack is going to be better than taking damage, especially if you’re low on food, because when you’re dead, you could restart to the last save point, or you could just need to restart the game. This is a mechanic that some people might not love, but I think it has a bit of a Gloomhaven feel, mainly for the fact that you’re using cards, but it’s really about creating this combat or diplomacy set-up where it can chain into what you need.
So I’m already able to talk about a lot of stuff, because the mechanics are well thought out and I have already experienced a number of them, but since it’s such a story driven game, I want to get through Chapter 1 before I really determine how well I like the game. Right now, through the limited play and tutorial, I have it rated as a 9.5-10 out of 10, and I think it’ll stay around there, but will the grim nature of the story eventually wear out it’s welcome, we’ll have to see. I believe that Awaken Realms is going to do some sort of retail release, because this game was a kickstarter and if you didn’t get in on that or the late pledge, you can’t get back in on it between waves, but if you like heavy story driven games where the story really matters, I’d say that Tainted Grail is going to be solid for you, like it is for me. The combat/diplomacy might be a bit trickier to get into, because it’s different than your normal ameritrash mechanics.
If you were part of the game and have played your kickstarter copy or gotten your kickstarter copy, what do you think of the game so far? If you weren’t part of the kickstarter, with reviews and the game getting talked about, what do you think about it? Do you wish you’d gotten it?
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It was a long holiday break, mainly because it’s also generally a Kickstarter deadtime so I didn’t do a Kickstarter show, but I’m back to streaming a game. This time it’s Tainted Grail by Awaken Realms. This is a massive and immersive story set in…