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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Master Merchant, Palastgeflaster, Die Speicherstadt, Rialto, Super Farmer Rancho, Sheepland, Viticulture and what I backed in Kickstarter!

Hits of this blogpost ? Rialto of course! Along with Viticulture and to a lesser extent, Die Spiecherstadt and its expansion. I feel that Stefan Feld is really coming into stride here with 2 great hits this year and it seems as if his previous releases have been him exploring various mechanisms and designs to fine tune his prowess and come up with winning combinations for his releases this year. If Brugge and Amerigo are in the same vein, then I am pretty sure Stefan Feld will be winning designer of 2013 hands down! Lets get on with the review!


Quick light filler. Love letter seems better though...
Game Session and Thoughts:
A light game from Seiji Kanai (of Love Letter) fame. Its like a dominion light with cooler art (in my opinion) and play time can stretch from very fast to slightly too long due to the end game condition. Its no frills (very much like his Love Letter) with minimal text and multiple combinations.
Players start off with 2 standard cards and a money card to keep track of the money they have. During their turn, they can play 2 cards. The first 2 cards each player receives is a card that allows you to buy 1 card from the city market (much like dominion) and steals $1 from each player that has 4 or more. Players can also play a card face down to receive $1. At the start of your turn if you have no more cards remaining in your hand, then you can take back all the discarded cards you have played previous turns. The game ends when 1 player has reached $8 OR has 8 cards in their hands.
Artwork is right up my alley and that is why I also obtained his version of Love Letter. Something about this... urban looking art which is mostly just black and white with bold brush strokes appeal to me.
So as you can see, very much like Dominion but much lighter. There are only 10 cards to buy from and they costs from 1 to 4 and have different abilities. Most cards allow you to target other players so as to improve your own status and sabotage others. Thus in this to and fro, players will try their best to prevent others from winning and set themselves up for the inevitable victory.
Game went by pretty fast and since I had quite a lot of cards I was targeted quite often. I think we did quite a good job of guarding each other but in the end, another player managed to obtain 2 cards (1 from discard and 1 from market) and won the game. 
Pet Peeves: 
The main pet peeve will be the variable end game condition. Because there is no set timing of how long a game will last, this game can take as fast as 20 mins or even 1 hour if everyone has been guarding everyone very well. For such a light game to last 1 hour, that will be a killer. Otherwise, there aren't any other bad things about this game as its rather light and easy to get into and play. 
A light game that is very much a streamlined dominion clone with interesting powers that allow you to really mess with each other's cards. Because of the win condition, this game provides cards which will have a LOT of interaction as you will need to be aware and keep blocking others to prevent them from winning. There is english text on the cards so its not difficult to understand and we had no difficulty learning and playing the game. Not sure how easy is it to get it state side but you can certainly try the online Japan stores and see if they will ship to you. Try before you buy!


Play session seems wonky for some who are used to euro games..
Game Session and Thoughts:
Brought this out for the group that decided to play something light and they did not like it at all. I guess it could be because this group mostly plays Euro games thus having a game that is quite dependant on the card draw and subsequently you may get sabotaged without you being able to defend yourself seems at odds with their terms of enjoyment. One of them brought out a good point in that you are trying to do your best to sabotage others rather than trying to reach the goal of having 6 different characters yourself which is quite true. He also pointed out you should be playing cards that are not of your color so that you can catch another player off guard and thus forcing them to play something they may not have wanted. I guess in future when I introduce the game I will emphasis on this point and it may make for a more fun and enjoyable game. Its a pity the player aid doesn't have the icons of each character on it to make it easier for the players to quickly understand what is happening and each character's special abilities.


More cards, more ways to buy cards and AWESOME COINS

Game Session and Thoughts:
I had played this previously and did not really take to it enough to buy a copy. Now that I am a Stefan Fan, I decided to give it another go and also bought the expansion along with it. The expansion provided more cards, some new goods and a new way to play but the item that really clinched the deal are the METAL COINS. In the base game, it came with a metal coin to signify the first player. In the expansion, it came with MANY MANY coins to replace the cardboard coins from the first game.
I will briefly explain the game together with the expansion.
This is pretty much a game with a rather unique auction and then a sort of set collection/goal fulfilment game. At the start of every round, a number of cards (depending on the number of players) will be drawn and turn face up on the board. For the expansion, the same number of cards is now draw and placed above the board. Players then, in turn order, place one of their meeples (3 in base game, 4 with expansion) onto the first empty slot on the column corresponding to the card they want. Now you are bidding either for the card that you want OR to screw with other players. Players can also choose a card from above the board and bring them to the side of the board with your meeple on it to form another column. Once all players have placed all their meeples, the cards are resolved from left to the right. Starting with the player who's meeple is nearest the card, they will decide if they want to spend the coins to buy the card. How much does the card cost? That is where the screwing will come in. For all meeples that are in that column is the cost of the card. If you pass (cannot afford or don't want to buy), then you remove your meeple and the next player's meeple will be able to purchase the card. This goes on until the card is purchased. Now for the column that is on the side of the board, it is pretty much the same except the price is determined by the number of meeples in that column and if you choose not to buy, that card you have reserved will be discarded.
Players then resolve the cards they have taken (i.e. if it is a cargo ship, then the cargo needs to be distributed either to fulfil contracts or to exchange for coins or money). After that, player order changes and each player obtains 2 coins as income. If you have not managed to purchase any cards during the last round, you will also obtain another coin as compensation. New round begins and play continues until all the card has been played and we will resolve the last card which is a Fire.
Now in the stack of cards, there will be FIRE cards and a certain value. Players will add up all firemen cards they have and whomever has the lowest value will receive the Fire value in negative points. The player with the highest total sum value of firemen will receive that Fire value in positive points. The expansion also add cards which are a 1 time use and to be discarded and also cards with fixed points as rewards.
I had purchased the german version so I had to refer to the rulebook to figure out what the cards do but most of the game is pretty easy to grasp. Artwork is ok and the icons are clear and easy to understand. Again, the coins are AWESOME to have and to hold. They have a nice weight to them.
Perhaps its because we did not shuffle the initial stacks properly but in our initial few rounds we did not have any ships shipping goods to us so when they did finally came out, the competition was furious. There is a LOT of opportunity to screw with others and if you are a gamer that doesn't like all this disturbances and annoyances to your plans, you may want to avoid this game. I am pretty sure I pissed off one of my opponents during this game :p
Pet Peeves: 
Nothing much actually because its straight forward to teach and play. You may need a lot of room to play this game though because your tableau of cards may grow and you may want to have some space to see all your cards and contracts. 
I feel that with the expansion it adds abit more options such that you won't be as screwed as in the base game if you did not win anything at all. Here I think at the very least you should be able to win some items unless you were making quite bad decisions. Its better for me this time around with the expansions but I will need a few more plays to see if I like it enough. For now at least the metal coins are making me feel warm and fuzzing inside :p. Try before you buy!


1st game was Meh for me, 2nd game was WAY BETTER

Game Session and Thoughts:
The second release from Stefan Feld this year after Bora Bora! Brugge is out that I know but its not available in english for us right now so I haven't gotten myself a copy yet.
Rialto is a medium weight game that involves card drafting and area control with the theme lightly dabbed on. Compared to Bora Bora, it is definitely lighter but runs as smooth and lasts much shorter and still provides the same amount of fun for the amount of thinking involved and time spent. In short, it still shows no degrading from the current quality we are expecting from Stefan Feld.
At the start of the round, there will be rows of 6 cards (1 more than number of players) for players, in turn order based on a Doge track on top, to choose from. This is where most of the analysis paralysis will happen in the game. The cards you are drafting for will dictate the 2nd phase (with many micro phases) of the game. After a player has selected a row of 6 cards, they will also draw 2 more cards from the face down. Now players can activate the green buildings by placing a coin on the building (thus each building can only be activated once per round and only if you have enough coins). Players then need to discard down to 7 cards unless they had green buildings activated which can increase their hand size.
Phase 2 is ready! This is where the meat of the game is and you can see if you have made the right decision choosing that row of cards. Phase 2 is a series of mini phases which will grant you rewards based on the number of cards of that mini phase you have played and if you play the most cards, you will get a bonus and is the new starting player of the next mini phase. This is quite important because it definitely makes the game harder to predict and quite interesting. Phase 2a is the doge track so players, based on existing doge track order, will play a number of cards with the doge track. In this phase, you can also use yellow buildings (also paying 1 coin) which allows more flexibility (i.e. play 1 card to become 2 of the same but other type of cards). There are also Jester cards which you can play in addition to a base card OR when played in 2s, can represent a base card. Phase 2a will determine how far you have advanced in the Doge track which is usually a tie breaker.
Phase 2b is to grab gold (for buildings), Phase 2c is building points (to be able to build buildings), Phase 2d is Bridge which awards points and penalize players who never played any card and allows you to place bridge tiles. Phase 2e is the gondola which allows you to have more councilmen tokens in your reserve and also to place a gondola tile on the board AND extra councilman into the board. Finally, Phase 2f which is to place a number of councilmen in your reserve onto the board's active region.
Phase 3 starts and players can activate blue buildings which usually award points or upgrade buildings. That is the end of a round! The game lasts 6 rounds and then, together with the final game scoring, players with the most points will win the game. The main way to earn points is to have a majority in a district so that you will get the sum of all the points indicated on bridges and gondolas touching that district. Only the top 3 players will be awarded points for each district. Note that there is a bonus scoring in that if you are the first player to place a councilman in each of the 3 orange OR blue (meaning 3 orange or 3 blue), then you will score bonus 5 points.
First play through, I wasn't really feeling it like how I felt for Bora Bora after my first play. Now its not a bad game its just not as deep as I had thought.
The 2nd play was way better as I kinda knew what plan to have and went with grabbing a few of the green buildings to increase my hand limit per round. I thought i had the 5 point bonuses in one round but it got sniped away from me when I wasn't paying close attention. ARGH that was a KHANNNNN moment for me and did indeed make me lose the game (I was 2nd by 1 point!).  We also played correctly the 2nd time such that the winner of the bonus each mini phase will be the starting player in the next mini phase. The first play did not have this and boy did it change a lot of things in the game for me.
Pet Peeves: 
Small pet peeve but the board with all the extra roads and alleyways makes the board looks a bit busy. Someone mentioned it looked like colored macaroni LOL. The bonus for each round could have been indicated on the board so we don't need to refer to the rule book every so often but once you played it a few times it should come as second nature.
Oh and shuffling. You will need to shuffle the cards.... A LOT. We played with 4 and almost every round after we setup the cards, we will need to shuffle the discard pile. This is especially true when you have more players and they are all aiming for the green building cards which allow them to draw 3 more cards from the deck. Sleeve your cards to prevent them from wearing out fast!
The biggest pet peeve so far is the score track. It looks nice but not very practical. Why? It represents a street with a row of street lights. You are moving your score tokens IN BETWEEN the lights though and NOT ON the lights. This makes it slightly counter intuitive and hard to score. Wish they done away with this and had something more practical.
So I had more fun in my 2nd play than my first most probably because I knew what is more powerful now than before. Still I think I haven't reach my full power with this (I should start to notice what others are taking and then be aware if I can win the phase and be the majority) and sometimes its a bit tricky to determine the player order sequence. I feel I am only beginning to discover the subtle nuances (i.e. blue buildings are mostly for points, yellow buildings are for flexibility during play, green buildings are just to provide more cards for you at the start. All in all, it is fun to play, easy to teach but probably not too easy to master it completely. Recommended!
NOTE: I just played a game of 2 players and the Doge track is not really hotly contest as vs 4 player game. Much less shuffling and buildings won't run out. The 5 points bonus play a much bigger role in a 2 player game. I can't wait to try a 5 player and see how it plays out....


Dogs smell funny. No really the plastic smells funny...

Game Session and Thoughts:
I saw the cover on the game and was very intrigued by this. The art and components (awesome dice and cute doggies!) appealed to me so I decided to give this game a go.
This is a light family game that plays in about 45 mins or so and plays up to 6 players. The objective of the game is to collect 1 of each animal: rabbit, sheep, cow and horse. First player to do so will win the game. In essence its a game about collecting enough resources, protecting your assets and making the right decision at the right time to get the animals and win the game (with a little dose of luck).
During your turn, players can choose to exchange animals using rabbits. Yes, rabbits are the currency in the game! Each player starts off with 1 rabbit and 1 sheep (which are worth 6 rabbits). Players can also expand their farm by paying in rabbits. Outer regions costs 4 rabbits. The middle region, 2 and the innermost region only 1 rabbit. Once you have decided to change and/or expand, players will roll 2 dice. Total up the animals that appear on your dice with what you have and for every pair of animals, you get 1 more of that type of animal. You have to be able to place these animals on the area that you control and only the rabbits can stack (6) in 1 hex. If you roll a fox or a wolf, then you must roll the D6 and animals in all hexes that belong to the number rolled will be removed. Fox will eat only rabbits and Wolf will eat all except rabbits. Players can discard dogs to prevent this from happening. Small dogs for Fox and Big dogs for Wolf. Then its the next player's turn and play continues this way until someone wins the game.
Its a pretty light game and great for the family. Artwork is very nice and cute and dice and dogs are well produced. Luck of the roll will often determine if you are still in the game or not. But you can get dogs to mitigate bad luck. My first game I did not have any dogs and lost quite a lot of sheep to the Wolf which knocked me out from contention for good. My 2nd game though I won as I made a lucky dice roll of 2 rabbits which provided me the last rabbit I need to win the game.
Pet Peeves: 
Luck of the roll is very high because whether you can get income in terms of more animals or if you are screwed when Fox or Wolf is rolled really boils down to the dice roll. The picture on the die for Wolf and Horse are very similar. They could have made it more distinct. The holes in the board makes it clear for marking which region belongs to you but if you made a mistake, then taking out the disc is quite difficult. Finally, after you have placed your animals on your farm area, you cannot tell if that animal belongs to you or not because your animal tile has covered your token. This is quite an odd design since if you have forgotten what belongs to you, you have to remove the animal tiles and look. Starting moves seems to be very similar, change the sheep to expand outwards 1 space and then roll dice to get more animals. There are some turns where all you do is just to roll dice and get animals because you don't really have much else to do and it doesn't make sense to use up too much rabbits and jeopardize your "income". 
So all in all, I did have some fun playing the game but in terms of replayability and longevity in my shelf, I doubt it will last. If I had kids probably this might last longer because it teaches them about choosing the right time to invest, risk prevention and mitigation and proper planning to win the game. The history of this game is pretty interesting but ultimately, its a Try before you buy.


Black sheep ran almost 3/4 of the board.

Game Session and Thoughts:
As mentioned previously this is as a relatively light game. But I kinda suck at it lol. Do remember the 2 rules that people will usually forget. That is to roll the die for the black sheep to move and also when purchasing tiles, you MUST be adjacent to it before you can guy. I always seem to be purchasing tiles where I don't score a lot of sheep. I am wondering if I should be subtle and just ignore my own secret tile right at the beginning and go elsewhere so that I can purchase other tiles and HOPE my own secret tile is ignored until near the end. I haven't seen a game where the start player


OMG OH SO TIGHT, close race to the end! ARGH...

Game Session and Thoughts:
A great 2nd game where we played the rules correctly. Having the vines still being there after you harvest definitely changed the way we played. We used more time to build up our engines before starting to score points left and right and going first certainly is felt more keenly in the game. I was definitely screwed a few times with nothing else much to do when I did not get to go first. Even though I had by the 3rd round managed to get all my workers out, I did not capitalize on that and with all the bad timings I lost but only lost because of a tie breaker. It was a very tense match and surprisingly, it ended up with the tie breaker (most money) in the end again to determine the winner. At the very last round I managed to pull ahead and was at about 23 points. Another player did the same and because she had more money she will certainly win. The 3rd player decided to play a Winter card which blocked me from further scoring else I will have won the game. ARGH!!!! The pain of it all! I am upgrading my recommendation from Try before you buy to RECOMMENDED. It has all the tense moments yet relatively simple to teach and play of a good game. Thumbs up!

So there have been quite a few new releases for Kickstarter recently which got me all excited :) Let me talk about some of the games I have backed or are interested in.....


When I was quite young, I managed to have copies of the original series from a friend and I spent many a afternoons reading through the books and fantasising the awesome characters that I will be and all the battles that I have. The images in the books were very cool too and I was SUPER DUPER EXCITED to see this coming out from Kickstarter! Although I am pretty sure I won't be running any RPG games (or this could be the one that do me in who knows?) I just want to have the books again to read through and well well it comes with MINIATURES! I had 1 Rick Hunter toy from so long ago and it will be very cool to have these miniatures again to look at. Painting though will probably be a problem for me but lets see what happens.
Go back this now here


Saw this pop up when I am doing my daily (yes now DAILY!) search on projects in Kickstarter for tabletop games. The very nice miniatures really drew me in and best of all, they come PREPAINTED! After trying to (and not yet finishing!) paint the miniatures from Super Dungeon Explore, I think in future I will only get miniature games where they come prepainted. Although Robotech above and Zombicide Season 2 which I had also backed flies against this statement I am making, I still will lean more towards pre painted miniatures than anything in the future. Though recently after playing online and listening to Tom's review, I am wondering if I should cancel my pledge because the game will definitely be way too light for me but the figures are really cute! Anyway, I have a few days to think about it so lets see....
Go back this now here!


I am not too sure what prompted me to back this game without reading up on the rules but once I saw that this was clubbed together with Virgin Queen, I automatically assumed that this will be a euro-ey type of game that will be brain melty. So far I STILL haven't read the rules yet but still I am thinking its worth the backing. It does seem to have a lot of cards though... Anyway, its already fully funded so I still have some time to see if I will continue with my pledge.
Go back this now here!


Now again like above, I did not read too much into the game but the awesome figures and that its a space 4x (yes yes we have had many of those I know) really intrigued me. I haven't backed this yet mostly because I want to see if it will actually reach its stretch goal but you should check out the very cool ships that can hold die in them to denote the health of the ship I believe. 

I think that's enough for now and if you have read all the way down here, THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE! :)


  1. It's a shame that Palastgefluster didn't go over well. There's a lot of luck in the draw, but I think there's quite a lot of skill in the game too. You have to be careful who you pass the lead to, because if someone does fill out their display to get the only point for the round, that puts the pressure on the rest of the table. At that point it becomes sort of like a tennis player holding serve.

  2. yea i want to give this 1 more go... i think getting everyone into the mindset of sabotaging others may make it easier for them to accept and play...