Archive for July 2012

“Field Trip Adventure” for DYKYN?

Today, Josh and I will go out into the various communities and scour the land for scenes that will match our Situation Cards. These are the cards (formerly called mission cards) that are presented throughout the game and the neighbors respond to them by performing either Kind or Wicked deeds.

We are doing this photography field trip so that we can keep the production costs as low as possible. Each photo costs ~$50 / photo when doing print runs and so with 25 neighbor, 40 situation and ~10 action cards that could easily be ~$4k. We would then need to add the cost of production of the game’s components and that would require a Kickstarter with a $7k goal.

We are trying to bring that down as much as possible so that we can release this game as the first of many games from Cray Cray Games.

Game Tip
If enough deeds are played to meet a situation’s point value objective, one way or the other, the points for that situation will either go toward the Kind or Wicked team. If the Fickle neighbors were crafty enough to offset the balance so that the objective could not be met, then they take the points for their team.

Play Test #10: DYKYN?

Tonight we played another 7-person game of Do You Know Your Neighbors? and it went well.

Our seventh player hadn’t seen the game before and we explained it to her and she was off asking questions about strategy in no time.

The game lasted ~25 minutes but only because our new player hadn’t realized that her team won earlier because of the instant-win condition based on her character’s area of interest. She played her character well and Phil misidentified her which ended up revealing his own identity and rendering his sleuthing abilities inactive for the remainder of the game.

Game Tip
It’s important to attempt an identification when you are as certain as you can be but before you are identified by anyone yourself.

Review by Phil: Wiz-War by Fantasy Flight

I… Love… This… Game!

As I have read the rules of many games it seems to me that rules writing is an art that is slowly being lost to mankind. Despite that, this game plays well and is great fun (if you like antagonistic, kill-everyone-else-and-steal-their-treasure games).

The Game’s Objective:
Kill everyone else and…or… steal their treasure. 🙂

Up to 4 players control a wizard that is in a bit of a maze-like series of boards. Each wizard has a similarly-colored board tile (5×5 grid with 1 of 2 different layouts) where a special door (locked for others but open for you) and two treasures rest. You need to travel, by walking or using available portals, to other boards and take treasures and/or “interact” with other wizards.

The first wizard who has two points (any combo of treasures stolen and dropped off in the center of your wizard’s home board and wizard deaths directly caused by your spells) wins.

Setup Comments
The setup and rules, overall, aren’t too bad. Upon encountering the rules at first they may seem daunting and some things could probably be more clearly written but, setup is not long in the default game. There are schools of magic and a wizard can pick one of them so that those spells are included in the game (and available to all wizards). Weeding out the cards takes a little bit of time if you choose to play the default game.

We did that twice and then started playing the just-use-all-of-the-spells variant. That turns setup into 1) shuffle all of the cards, 2) arrange the boards, 3) place wizards and treasures and then go after everyone has been dealt 5 cards (spells).

BGG Image of game board.

Game Play
Game play is simple. In any order you can move 3 squares and cast spells with a single optional attack. Spells are of different types (counterspell, attack spell, neutral spell) with durations of instant, infinite (creations that must be destroyed) or set-duration (based on how you “power” it). Mixed in with spells are energy cards (numeric cards from 2-6) which can also come from spell cards that have energy values that can be acquired by discarding the spell instead of using it.

While it might seem awkward at first, unless you are an accomplished spellcaster, it becomes very quickly second nature as you move about the board, cast some spells, and wait to respond to any would-be attackers with counterspell cards and such.

There is a bit more to the game, as the devil is always in the details, but it’s manageable. Some examples:

  • Your movement and/turn ends as soon as you pick up a treasure.
  • You can only pick up one treasure at a time but this does not include items you can carry.
  • You can cast as many spells as you like and carry whatever you like as long as your total hand count (cards in play and in your hand) is at most 7 — unless you have a spell or item that is increasing that number.
  • You can attack with a spell (or give a weak mage punch for 1 damage) unless you have a spell that increases it (only 2 max attacks in a given round — at least with the cards so far).
  • Your weak mage punch can be bolstered if you’re carrying an item like the fire robe (3pt punch)

I don’t think the game has any major issues. There are some cards that could benefit from some clarification and we’ve discovered two instances that beg that clarification:

  • There is a counterspell card that allows you to temporarily erect a wall between you and the caster attacking you that disappears when hit. There was some discussion regarding whether this spell could be cast in response to another wizard’s movement in order to block that movement.
  • There was another order-of-operations question that was raised that I will recall shortly and add here.

Additional Analysis
A game with as many spell cards as this has is going to have some questions that get raised that will require some clarification and/or house ruling. Despite the above problems, the game is very playable and great fun.

Ultimately my rating for this game is (shocker): Awesome

UPDATE (7/26/2012)
I’ve played this game approximately 10-15 times now and STILL LOVE IT!!

My Rating Scale

  • Awesome: It’s fun, playable, has great art and few, if any, minor issues
  • Playable (As Is): Fun, playable with decent art/mechanics with minor issues and at most 1 easily remedied major issues.
  • Playable (with Fixes): Potential for fun, but flawed; the game requires fixing before playing again.
  • OK: Not great fun, but it kills time. It might even be playable but most would ask why.
  • Seriously Flawed: The game is so flawed I am beside myself with how it got published at all. It is also nigh impossible to fix (or just requires way too much to fix, including the creation and printing of new cards/mechanics).

Review by Phil: Panic Station by Stronghold Games

It’s almost as if this game was never play tested. It goes further: people have commented about certain inconsistencies and/or questions and rules have been revised — such that the rules are up to version 2.2 — AND STILL do not address the issues that prevent this game from being truly playable and fun.

The Game’s Objective
4-6 players use an independently-controllable human and android to explore rooms in a space station to search for the hive of an alien parasite and destroy it. In addition, one of the players becomes infected (the host) and is trying to infect other players so that the alien parasites win.

Setup Comments
Whatever version, and I believe the game came with v2.1, the rules for setup were so obfuscated that it took entirely too long to actually start the game. Some of that time was devoted to applying stickers to tokens which wasn’t too bothersome.
I looked up the v2.2 rules to see if this improved at all. It does not. The biggest of those problems is the purposely, outrageously small number of cards, from a sizable deck, that are available for a given game… but more on that later.

Game Play
Players get 2 Action Points (AP) for each of their uninjured characters (human and android) and can allocate those points between them however they like. Available actions are: explore (placing the next room tile adjacent to your current location), move, fire gun, search location, heal in sick bay, use item, activate computer terminal (available in 2 rooms) and in doing so allows 1 of 3 station-wide activities: perform heat scan (giving a count of infected people), open all security doors (normally requires a key card), reveal location (like explore, but no adjacency requirement).

The Problems

  • Item Cards: We’re instructed to build the available items deck with as many gas cans as there are players (N), the host card and then a random selection of 2N-1 of the remaining item cards. Players get 2 of these items at the start of the game and those 2 cards plus 3 “infection cards” are what make up each players hand.

    The number of cards runs out quickly despite it being SPECIFICALLY called out in the rules as a “rare” event.

    “When trading, players may never use infection cards other than those of their own playing colors, unless they find themselves without any item cards during a trade. In such a rare situation, players may, as an exception, trade an infection card of another player’s color instead of an item.”

    While I’ll admit our played games sample size of 2 is not statistically significant, this happened both times and some back-of-the-envelope math would indicate that it would happen most of the time.

  • Trading: Trades are “forced” so that when someone enters a room with another player, other than the starting room, a trade must occur. You swap items. If one of them is the host, that person can trade an infection card and the other player becomes infected. This can be prevented *IF* that person trades away a gas can (for some odd reason). HOWEVER, that puts a gas can — 1 of N vital resources for destroying the hive and 3 are required — in the hands of the host.
  • Attack: This is a provided exception to the forced trades. A player can spent 1AP to attack the player instead of trading. HOWEVER, given the small size of the deck, it appears as if there’s no way one could attack unless:
    1. The android has bullets
    2. The human has a weapon (knife, gun + bullets, grenade)

    Not being able to attack, in some way, is a serious flaw.

  • Player Elimination: If you kill 1 of the 2 characters a player is using, they are still in the game. If both are killed, the player is eliminated. And when that happens the items in that players hand are “lost forever.”

    That is a serious flaw. If you trade away gas cans to the host to avoid getting infected and then kill that host. You have setup a situation where the non-aliens could win, except they cannot actually destroy the hive if the host had enough gas cans so that 3 were no longer available. This happened in one of the games we played.

Additional Analysis
Given forced trading and a limited number of infection-preventing gas cans, the game favors aliens. And that’s just fine. I’ve seen the movie. Even just one alien can be bad-ass and a slew of them shouldn’t have too difficult a time chomping into nice, tasty humans and laying parasitic eggs. Good times.

This game was disappointing because it had promise.

  • The premise is interesting and different enough. Revealing the map and the slight intrigue is nice.
  • The trade-infection mechanic is a reasonable mechanic despite the low number of available items.
  • The quality of components and the art is nice. I wouldn’t say it’s amazing, but it’s respectable.

Ultimately my rating for this game is: Playable (with Fixes)
(adjusted after Cindy’s comment for clarity)

My Rating Scale

  • Awesome: It’s fun, playable, has great art and few, if any, minor issues
  • Playable (As Is): Fun, playable with decent art/mechanics with minor issues and at most 1 easily remedied major issues.
  • Playable (with Fixes): Potential for fun, but flawed; the game requires fixing before playing again.
  • OK: Not great fun, but it kills time. It might even be playable but most would ask why.
  • Seriously Flawed: The game is so flawed I am beside myself with how it got published at all. It is also nigh impossible to fix (or just requires way too much to fix, including the creation and printing of new cards/mechanics).

A Note on Game Reviews and Reviewers

Before I start this review, I really want to give a shout out to reviewers and reasonable reviews with in-depth comments and ratings that make sense. I’d like to thank everyone who provides reviews to games AFTER, AFTER, AFTER they’ve played the game!

No one benefits from seeing 10 out of 10s or 5 out of 5 stars from people who think “the art is cool” or that the “rules look good.”
OK, thanks.

So, I solemnly swear that no one affiliated with Cray Cray Games will ever write a review of a game we have not played.

Thank you.