Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tiny Epic Kingdoms - An Explorative Review

Hi everybody!

I am doing a new review today! I know, finally! I am starting this early because I want to talk about Tiny Epic Kingdoms by Scott Almes. I have a feeling this review is going to take a bit of time to write because the small box and name are deceptive. The game, much like the Tardis, is much bigger on the inside. Without any more delay, let us get right into the world of Tiny Epic Kingdoms.
Tiny Epic Box
Tiny Epic Kingdoms is a 4x game for 2-5 players that takes only about 30 minutes to play. That is a huge undertaking for the kind of game that it is. I've been playing Sid Meier's Beyond Earth for 20 hours and I still haven't finished my first game, so a 30 minute 4x is super quick. Anyway, let me continue. The game is packed full of different races to choose from and each one is very unique. The races have their own spell tome (basically a tech tree) that contains special abilities unique to them, so picking one to play as is a big choice right out the gate. After that the players pick their starting resource amounts. Food, ore, and mana must total up to 6 on the board to be viable, but how that number is divided among the resources is up to the player. The best part of this is the rules have a standard to use with 1 ore, 2 mana, and 3 food.
The Beginning of the Undead

The setup is very essential, as players also pick 1 area to make their home territory and place 2 of their meeples on one of the spaces. There are a lot of land choices to make and placement is very important. Most races can't bodies of water and black mountains so instead they must move around them. Placement also dictates what resources the player will harvest when the time comes to gather. The game setup is full of important decisions to make and some bad placement can really set the tone and pace of your game.

Once setup is complete the players can jump right into the gameplay. Players take turns and simultaneous actions making it so there is virtually no down time. There is an action sheet with 6 separate actions on it, but only 5 shield markers which means that every round there will be an unpicked action. The active player picks an action such as Trade Resources, Patrol, Quest, Research, Build, etc and performs it on the stop. Going clockwise from the active player the other players make a decision to either perform the same action, such as patrol, or gather resources from their controlled regions. Once everyone either acts or gathers resources the next player becomes the active player and play continues in the same fashion until all shield markers are used. When all shield markers are used the first player token is passed on and the next player chooses first.
Pick An Action, Any Action.

I am not going to get into the rest of the details because explaining the game to its absolute fullest can turn into my dissertation for my board gaming doctorate...or at least a long form essay.

Anyway, the game has 3 ways in which it can end. The End phase is triggered when a player either completes construction of their tower (from the build action), researches all 5 levels of their magic tree, or has all of their meeples in play. When the end game is triggered the players play out the remaining actions of the round, if there are any left, and then calculate their final victory points. Victory points come from the tower, controlling territory, certain magic tree abilities, etc. The player with the most wins.

Now let me start by saying that the game is wonderful to look at. I love the art style, but the Kickstarter stretch goals really made this game fantastic and over the top. The first big upgrade was making individual meeples for the resources and workers instead of cubes, then came the magic books and towers, followed by the shields. These perks bring good life to the game and give me a sense of actually performing these actions rather than pushing cubes. The real icing on the Tiny Epic Cake is the HUGE first player tower marker and the individual player 12-sided dice with white flag marker and in player colors. These bonuses are so cool to look at and use. They really make the game feel special.
All The Bits in Such a Tiny Box

Now let us talk of three things that really make me happy. First on the list is that the territory cards are double-sided and both sides are unique! It is double-sided done right. I can take a card and then pick which of the two I want to use and this brings me to the next point on the list. The second point is the game packs a ton of variety. Between the double-sided territory cards and all of the different races you will be hard pressed to play exactly the same game twice. Which is fantastic, the amount of combinations and choices really makes the replay value skyrocket. Lastly thanks to the highly successful campaign a mini expansion came boxed with it. The mini expansion, although a bonus, adds 4 gameplay variants that help shake the game up and add even more variety to an already explosive game. There is also a bonus to this list, and basically a personal preference, but they used black as one of the player colors. I only play black (when it is available in a game) as you can tell from my BGG microbadge.

Now let's get serious for a bit. The has good quality to the components and the artwork. The game, despite the size, fits nicely and neatly into the small box. Tiny Epic Kingdoms also keeps its promise of delivering a full 4x game in 30 or so minutes. All and all the game is a Tiny Epic Success and it is a game I am totally glad I jumped on when I did.
Playing the Orange


I highly recommend this game. I can't recommend it enough. It really is a wonderful game and a lot of fun. When I want a 4x board game and I don't want to spend 3ish hours on Civilization, I can grab Tiny Epic Kingdoms and have a boat load of fun with the possibilities of multiple games instead of one and done.

Also, if you are into pimping out your games, Meeple Source helps by offering a full compliment of race meeples (although very expensive I feel) for Tiny Epic Kingdoms and the upcoming Tiny Epic Defenders. Of Course all of those meeples won't fit in the box, but the game will look twice as stunning when played.

Thank you all again for reading Daemonic Teutonic. As always, I hope you enjoyed the review.

Cheers,
Phil

Monday, October 27, 2014

Some Important News - The Jack Vasal Memorial Fund

Hi Everybody!

I know I am a little bit behind in this, but I was waiting for it to hit a stride on Boardgamegeek.com. Now that it is in full swing, I'd like to share with you the BGG auction for the Jack Vasal Memorial Fund (JVMF Home Page). The fund has been setup to help others out when they need it most by Tom Vasal, a big player in our board gaming community. Besides being able to donate on the Fund's website, this yearly auction is a good chance to connect with others in the community and a chance to give back.

Board gamers, publishers, reviewers, and designers alike have joined forces to auction of all kinds of things in pursuit of raising money for the cause. The items include board games, yes, but aren't limited to that. There are some offering design advice over Skype, others that will paint minis, some donating video games, and some donating more personal and sentimental items. All proceeds raised from the auction go directly to the JVMF.

Now for the important details. The auction ends on November 14th at 11:59pm CST. Also you can still list items for auction. That's right, besides being able to donate by bidding on items, you can still contribute by putting up items for others. It is really a win-win-win. You can pick up some great items, help others get what they want, and donate to such a noble cause. The BGG Geeklist and guidelines for submission and bidding are located Here - JVMF Geeklist. Click the link to see what is going on.

On a bit of a personal side note, I have a little something sappy to say. Out of all the groups I have belonged to, out of all the hobbies I have joined, and all the people I have met - not one has come close to the amount comradery, care, and support that I have seen from the board gaming community.

Please check out the Jack Vasal Memorial Fund auction. Donate what you can for a great cause.

Thank you all again for returning to the Daemonic Teutonic. I hope you enjoyed the news today and I will be getting back to reviews as soon as possible.

Cheers,
Phil

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Weekend Recap

Hi everybody!

Unfortunately there isn't going to be a new review today either. This weekend has been hellish with the lack of sleep and the pulling lots of overtime on the graveyard shift. I'm exhausted to say the very least, so much so that I am barely awake while typing this.

Starting up again tomorrow with a new post. I was in the process of getting some games played that include Tiny Epic Kingdoms, Draco Magi, and Dead of Winter - even that has stopped since my brain is currently not working at its full capacity.

I apologize for the interruption in what was a good run.

Thank you for coming to the Daemonic Teutonic and I hope you enjoy the new content that is to come.

Cheers,
Phil

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cypher - A Cyberpunk Review

Hi everybody!

Welcome back to Daemonic Teutonic. Today was a wonderful day for gaming as I unexpectedly woke up to find a copy of Tiny Epic Kingdoms. I was so excited that it arrived that I took some time to play it and play it again and play it again. That being said a Tiny Epic Kingdoms review is in the works, but not for today. Today I want to talk about micro game from AEG, Cypher. Cypher by David Short is a cyberpunk microgame for 2-4 players that takes only around 10 minutes play. So let's get right into then.
The Blue Velvet Bag
Cypher is a quick game made up of only 19 cards. The setup works with dealing out the cards in a fashion so the first player receives 3, the player to his right receives 1, and the other players receive 2 each. After that the top card of the deck is put face up on the table to make the Display. The game is all about intrigue and influence. The players are all hackers looking to become the best and in doing so they will recruit other cyber trolls from the lower, middle, and upper classes. A player's turn is broken up into 4 stages. The first player plays one of the 3 cards from his hand and resolves whatever the card's action is. Some of the cards trigger only when they are played while others are always in effect.
The Middle Class Hackers
A player can only have up to 3 hackers in front of him in his play area at a single time. If a fourth hacker is played, the player must make a decision and discard one of the in play hackers he controls.
After that the player draws a card from the top of the deck or takes the card from the Display (which is then replaced). Out of the 3 cards in your hand 1 is passed face down to the player to your left while another is passed to the player on your right. This makes it so each player will begin their turn with 3 cards. The last step is to discard down to 1 card. If a hacker in your play area lets you draw more cards this is your time to discard them.

The end phase begins when either the draw deck is empty or when a player plays the Cypher Anomaly card. Once the end game is triggered all players get one more turn and then they total up their scores from the 3 hackers in front of them.

Aristocratic Hackers
The game is very simple and takes 10 minutes or less to play. It only takes about a minute or so to learn. I really like the art style here, every card feels like they fit the class and look like something out of a Phillip K. Dick novel. The abilities are very fun to use and can really make a player come out on top if played strategically.

The game works very well as a micro game, I really couldn't see it lasting much longer or being a bigger card game. It would lose a lot of its appeal if it hit the 30 minute or more mark.

The last thing I am going to say about it is that in some ways the game feels a bit like Coup without the hidden roles and the bluffing. Also the 2 player rules feel a bit wonky when you read them, but play pretty smoothly as well.

The game is enjoyable and works well. I give it a good recommendation for the player on the go, the group that wants quick intriguing game, or for a game to play while a bigger game wraps up or something in between bigger fare. Give it a look at and for the price point you really can't go wrong with the game.
What's in the Bag
Thank you all again for reading Daemonic Teutonic. As always, I hope you enjoyed the review.

Cheers,
Phil

Monday, October 20, 2014

Machi Koro - A City in Review

Hi everybody!

Well, I just received my copy of Machi Koro last week and was dying to jump in and do a review. You know, strike while the iron is hot sort of thing. Machi Koro by Masao Suganuma is a city building card game for 2-4 players that takes around 30 minutes to play. After a little delay it is finally out in the states, so let's see how it stacks up.
The Crowded Cityscape of Machi Koro
Machi Koro has a fairly simple setup. Each player receives a Wheat Field and a Bakery to begin their rural towns with as well as 4 structures that are currently under construction, such as the Train Station and Shopping Mall. All of the other cards are taken out of the box and arranged in piles from lowest die roll to highest (this number is at the top of the cards) and then play begins. The active player takes a 6-sided die and rolls it, the number shown on the die indicates what buildings in the players towns will activate. Red buildings steal money from other players and activate first, Blue and Green activate next and they take coins from the bank except for all players' Blue cards become active during other players' turns, and lastly the Purple cards activate which steal money from other players if that person is the active player.
Player's Starting Town
After the die roll, each eligible building is activated and players obtain the money they are owed. Then the active player may either buy 1 building from the reserve or construct one of his 4 under construction buildings. The goal of the game is to the first player to construct the 4 buildings; Train Station, Shopping Mall, Amusement Park, and Radio Tower. This signifies that you have built the best city and have become the best mayor. Once a person has built their last construction the game is over and they win.

Machi Koro is an extremely light game. There isn't much to the gameplay or the rules. I've read the rules in around 3 minutes, set it up in a minute or so, and explained the rules in another couple of minutes. Despite the ease of play, Machi Koro offers some good variety. The game contains 11 types of cards with their own abilities and die roll threshold, if it was bought at a brick and mortar store the game also comes with the Gaming Mega Store building. The thing is the shear number of buildings makes it so devising a typical strategy is hard to do. Each game will find you buying different things in order to get the maximum money turn you can. Our first games 4s were the most common roll, so to capitalize on that the cards with 4s as the threshold sold out ultra fast, but things with 3s or 5s were barely touched. In another game that might not be the case.
The Reserve

I really enjoy the fast play of the game and it sort of circumvents players that suffer from analysis paralysis. I also enjoy the artwork for it. It is very simplistic and it feels like if South Park and a Zynga flash game had a baby this is what it would look like. The components are also pretty solid. The cards are plastic with a nice quality to them and the dice are chunky and good to roll. The coins in the game have a slightly odd feel to them, but that could just be me as I struggled to pick them up and instead opted to slide them everywhere.

The one complaint I have is that maybe Machi Koro is a bit too simplistic. There isn't enough meat here despite it being entertaining. This may change as there are two upcoming expansions for the game coming out - the first is Harbor, which according to Cool Stuff Inc is slated for a Halloween release, and the second is Sharp which has no definitive street date yet. This does lead me into a discussion about the box insert. I think the insert is fantastic, but incredibly roomy. They certainly left a lot of room to pack in more cards, dice, and counters. I hope that with the additions they make to the game they also add some more meat and a touch of complexity.
Cards and Bits

Now as far as a recommendation goes I am sort of torn. I do like the game, don't get me wrong, but it clearly isn't for everyone.

I recommend the game mostly for gamers with children that want to get involved with game playing as well as people that are new to the hobby. This is a great game to learn the flow and style of city building as well as shared actions. The game is fast to play which means that a few games can take up a small amount of time and can make it a hit. I also recommend it as a filler game. It is a great warm up or cool down game for a gaming session that will contain some larger and more thinky games.

For more experienced gamers or players I can't really recommend it. If you are like me, you will find it a bit lacking. That being said though, I personally enjoy the game and rated it 5.5 on BGG. I also preordered the Harbor expansion in hopes that it adds some more depth to the game as well as variety. Once again though, it is a nice filler game. We played Machi Koro earlier today after a few plays of Enigma and it really helped. Enigma really boiled our brains at points and Machi Koro was a great after game to help snap us out of the malfunction our brains were feeling.

Thank you all again for reading Daemonic Teutonic. As always, I hope you enjoyed the review.

Cheers,
Phil

Saturday, October 18, 2014

An Update and the BGG Secret Santa Is Drawing Near

Hi everybody!

Unfortunately there won't be a review today. I haven't played anything new this week as well as haven't played anything older as a refresher. However, we just got a bunch of new games in that I want to dive into including Say Bye to the Villains, Machi Koro, Seventh Hero, and Enigma. Also as Halloween, my favorite time of year, draws closer I will be doing some scary game reviews like the new hotness Dead of Winter and Bang! The Walking Dead. Betrayal at House on the Hill will also make an appearance.

I also want to take this time to promote the boardgamegeek.com Secret Santa event. Registration already began for the event and closes on November 11th. I want to point this out because it is such a wonderful event hosted by a wonderful website. Last year was my absolute first BGG Secret Santa. I didn't know exactly what I was getting into or how it was going to play out, but I wanted to be nice and enjoy the spirit of giving. I have done other online secret santa events through other sites that have fallen flat. The Santas never really seemed too concerned with their giftees and the sites weren't all that organized. So I joined the BGG one with low expectations.
He Sees You When You're Sleeping
When the time came I wanted to make sure my giftee felt special. BGG sets up the event as a $50 minimum and gives you some stalker privileges. I stalked my giftee for a long time and couldn't settle on anything in particular, so in order to make it a special event I went all in and almost doubled the minimum. I sent him some brand new games and expansions for those he already had. My secret santa really made the event special though. I loved my box of goodies which held The Swarm from Z-Man games and the Alhambra Big Box. The best part, besides the awesome games, was the two of us still talk. Almost a year later and we still talk about games and whatever. I recently just sent him a package of promos and small box games from Gen Con.

Besides the great feeling of giving for the holidays, the BGG secret santa is a great way to connect with other gamers from around the world. I really encourage people to participate in this events. It is well worth entering, entry is free by the way, and BGG is one of the best, if not the absolutely best, board gaming resource online. Please give it a look and even if you don't sign up for the secret santa you should join the BGG community if you haven't already.

Thank you all again for coming back to Daemonic Teutonic. I may make another, more well thought out update tomorrow and reviews will start back up on Monday.

Cheers,
Phil

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chaos & Alchemy - An Experimental Review

Hi everybody!

Today I would like to talk about Chaos and Alchemy by Michael Iachini. The first I heard of this game was on Reddit a thread by the designer. It was enough to get me interested and back his kickstarter that was being handled by Game Salute. Now, after some delays, the game is in my hands so let's see how it goes.
The Magical Box
Chaos and Alchemy plays 2-5 players with only taking 10 minutes per player. The rules can also be read and learned in around 5 minutes. Overall it is a very fast paced game with a quick setup. To setup the game, each player takes an Outcome card, that shows success and failure, and 3 Experiment Dice. When the first player is determined they receive the green Success cube and 2 cards while the other players receive more cards. There is also a golden Fortune die that is set with its 4 face showing. Now the active player rolls their Experiment dice trying to equal or surpass the number on the Fortune die. Every higher roll is a success while each lower number is a failure, 1s are always automatic failures.
The Laboratory Setup
The player must then discard 1 card for every failed die roll. After this the player may spend their successful rolls. Their successes can be spent on either drawing cards from the deck or playing cards from their hands. If doubles are rolled it is called Chaos, with this the player can either reroll the Fortune Cube immediately or at the end of their turn. The green Success cube counts as an automatic success for the player to use. There are Reaction cards that don't cost a success to spend and can be played out of turn order if the conditions on the card are met. Each card has an action printed on it which triggers when it is added to a players laboratory. The goal of the game is be the first person to reach 10 points. Players will play Innovation cards which are worth a certain number of points, usually 1 to 3. The player that obtains 10 points first is the alchemist that discovers how to transmute lead into gold and the game is over.

There really isn't much to say about the rules of the game. They are incredibly light, easy to read, and easy to teach within a 5 minute period. The 10 minute per player estimate is pretty accurate as well.
The Chaos and Alchemy box has a wonderful look to it. The cover art is wonderful and really depicts what the core of the game is, the theme and what you will be undertaking as the player. However, the contents of the box are very small, not enough to warrant the size of the box. The insert is also Game Salute's generic folded cardboard, it really is almost like not having anything inside. That being said, Chaos and Alchemy comes with 2 great card boxes that hold the base game and both mini expansions, but the dice float freely in the empty box space.
The Alchemical Contents

That brings me to my next downside of the game, the dice. The dice are wonderful to look at, they are colorful and the starburst pips are a nice touch. However, the Experiment dice are very small. On the smaller dice with the translucent swirl pattern, the yellow pips find themselves fading into the background, especially on the sides where some of the bursts are bigger than others. It would have been nice to see the Experiment dice as the same size as the Fortune die. A little bit chunkier and easier to read would have been really great. Another thing would be to have 4 more success cubes, maybe of various colors. Sometimes players will forget to pass over the success cube when their turn ends, this is a minor problem with an easy fix (just go buy more of the generic clear cubes), but for the price and lack of box contents 4 more success cubes would have been nice.

Now on to the good news. The art is wonderful. I love the card art and find it intriguing to look at.
The Card Types
They have a nice look and contain some flavor text. The text is interesting and gives you that sense of doing lab work and discovering some arcane and technical wonders along your scientific journey.

I also want to briefly talk about the expansions: Substances and Apprentices.

Substances adds Substance cards which can be played for free (without success cubes), but cost a success to mix together. When 2 or more Substance cards are mixed they produce new abilities and Innovations for the player. The abilities and Innovations are great. It is a new way to score points and gain advantages in the lab. The expansion isn't hard to grasp and blends seamlessly with the base game. Substances basically adds more of the goodness and variety to extend the game life.

The Expansions
The Apprentices expansion adds special, asymmetrical ability cards. Players, in a standard game, can obtain these cards when they roll Chaos. When this happens they take the top card of the Apprentices deck and immediately add it to their lab so it's ability takes affect.

The Apprentices expansion is also easy to learn and add in, however, it doesn't add anything to the game play. It basically gives you abilities that the innovations, substances, and other cards already give you. The Apprentices seems more like an afterthought than an actual expansion. That being said both expansions keep the game's time limit the same, they do not extend past the base game's limit in timing or scoring.

All and all the game is very basic, but holds a wealth of variety and fun. It is a great gateway game and can be used with players of all skill levels and ages. If the option is available, I say that Substances should be picked up as it adds to the base game while The Apprentices can be skipped as it doesn't really add much more to the gameplay value.

I really recommend this game as a quick filler and gateway game, however, if you are looking for something with more substance and game to it then this is not what you are looking for. Its fun and I say check it out.

Thank you all again for reading Daemonic Teutonic. As always, I hope you enjoy the review.

Cheers,
Phil

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Great Heartland Hauling Co. - A Fully Loaded Review

Hi everybody!

Today I am doing a review of The Great Heartland Hauling Company by Jason Kotarski. This game has taken a its sweet, sweet time coming into my possession. It has been between print runs for awhile and has been highly anticipated in this household, so let's see how it stacks up.

The Shipping Box
The Great Heartland Hauling Company is a pickup and deliver game for 2 - 4 truckers (5 if you have the Badlands expansion) that plays in around a half hour. The setup for the game is simple as players arrange the location cards for the number of players as depicted in the rulebook. Each location is then covered with 5 cubes of their native supply good. Players then pick a color truck, place it on the center starting tile, put their score on the $5 place and begin. We currently played a few 2-player games so all of my pictures are of the 2-player setup. Each player is then dealt 5 cards to start the game.
Keep on Truckin'
The active player begins the turn by moving. Movement is done by either spending money, $1 per every space of movement, or by discarding fuel cards that show how many spaces the player may move. Once at the new location the player must choose between the three major actions in the game. They can pickup goods by discarding matching cards (pig cards pickup pink cubes, corn picks up yellow, etc). Picking up is a big part of the game as players want to haul the goods to the locations that will payout the most money for what it is. A good example is to pick up pork and then bring it to Fort Lee as that space pays out $5 for every single pink cube. The second option is to unload goods, here players discard their matching cards and place their goods on their current location to earn money. Money is the point of the game as the most successful trucker wins. The last option is to discard cards, this helps to unburden players from the useless cards in their hands. To discard, players pay $1 and may discard and replace as many cards in their hand as they see fit. Once a player finishes their action, they draw back up to 5 cards in hand and the turn passes to the next player. The end game is triggered when one player hits the target money goal (which varies depending on player count) and then all other players get one more turn to try and get ahead. If a player is left with any undelivered goods they suffer a negative money penalty. The biggest wallet wins.
Fuel and Goods

Now, movement in the game can be an issue. The goods cards, and rightly so, outnumber the fuel cards by a good amount. More often than not a player will shell out the dough in order to get where they want to go instead of using fuel, if they have it. However, if a player can't pay or use fuel cards they get whisked away back to the center location and must take the discard action. This can be very helpful or very annoying depending on the cards you are holding and how much you are willing to trade for new cards.

The artwork of the game is really nice. I enjoy the look of the cards and the road map feel of the locations. The map print really makes the cards pop on the table. The wooden trucks are also pretty meaty and great to move around, but the cubes leave a bit to be desired. I understand the use of cubes, but I like to see shaped pieces. Shaped pieces add a bit of flare and style that cubes can't really convey. That being said, I do have one issue with the location cards, they are double-sided. I love double-sided tiles/cards/boards when they are done right, but this is just annoying. If you are going to make something like part of the board double-sided at least make different sides so the game has more variation and variety when setting up and playing. I would have loved to see them utilize both sides of the card to this end to give more bang for the buck spent instead of wasting the potential of double-sided cards.
Inside the Shipping Container
Another issue I have is that each player's score/money track is two cards. I don't know what it would have done for costs, but I would have liked to have seen box length player boards that hold all of the information instead of two separate objects. One solid piece makes the player area look neater and more organized than two cards.

The game itself can be learned/taught in about 5 minutes and setup is a breeze. It works with a variety of people and in a mixed audience of gamers, plus it works as a good opener to pickup and deliver type games.

Despite my issues with some of the production choices, the game is wonderful looking and functional. The theme, pieces, and mechanics fit very well together to make a fun game. Hauling goods isn't the most exciting theme, but it really is a fun little game.
Player Cards

I give The Great Heartland Hauling Company a decent recommendation. It isn't a game for everyone and some people may find it a little basic. However, it is fun and vibrant, well worth a play.

Thank you all again for reading Daemonic Teutonic. As always, I hope you enjoy the review.

Cheers,
Phil

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Rattus - A Deadly Review

Hi everybody!

Welcome back to another review. I am going to talk about a game I bought on a whim after watching Zee Garcia's Top 100 Games. Watching those videos, though entertaining, is pretty bad for my wallet. Today I will discuss Rattus by Henrik and Ase Berg. So without any more chatter let's get right into the review.
Those Are Some Cute Rats

 Rattus takes place in Europe during the time of the Black Death. The plague ended up killing a third of the human population. The mechanics of Rattus reflect the fear and the survival instinct of humanity. The game, at its heart, is not an area control game, but more focused on influence. Each player picks a color of cube to play, this is their population. A series of purple rimmed rat tokens are spread across Europe, and then the Man in Black (a physical representation of the Black Death) is placed randomly on the board. The rats hold all kinds of information on the underside of the chits. They instruct the players which part of the populace dies from the plague when the Man in Black comes to town. Once the plague and rat pieces are placed the players will place their starting populace, which is a similar process to the start of Settlers of Catan.
Surviving the Plague
After setup and a starting player is determined the game begins. The active player begins with taking a character tile either from the stock or from another player. Each character has their own special ability and class symbol. The class symbols come into play later on though when the plague comes calling. Now a player may use any of his character abilities, it is possible to have more than one, and then place his new populace cubes. The cubes that are placed are the same amount of rat tokens in a given region, if there are 2 rats in Italy the player may add 2 cubes to Italy. Next comes the terrible part - the player must then move the Man in Black and resolve the plague in that region. The Man in Black moves one space to any region that is adjacent to where he currently resides. The player than spreads the plague by adding rat tokens to the surrounding areas. Now the populace starts to dwindle down. Players begin to flip over rat tokens in the Man in Black's region. The rats show which cubes die off by targeting players that control certain characters, the player with the most cubes in that location, or even all players.
And Everything Falls Apart
The token shows the minimum number of cubes needed in order to trigger and how much of the populace dies as represented by the character symbols, an A for all, and an M for the majority holder. Rats in a region are resolved until there are either no more rats or population cubes in the region, once that ends the turn passes.

The game also has two end conditions; either no new rat tokens can be placed or one player has placed all of their populace on the board. When this happens all other players, skipping the one that triggers the end game, takes one last turn in reverse order and then all remaining rats are triggered and resolved across the board. The player with the most remaining populace is the winner.

First off, the artwork is wonderful. It conveys that old world sense of things. The board also features clear markers for what territories are cut out with a smaller player base. Light to dark show you what to use for 2, 3, and 4 player games. The characters are also wonderful. I love that the game is limited to 6 characters and each one is unique. The thing is you don't have to take or use the characters, taking them only leads to potentially losing your populace from the board, but at the same time they are very useful throughout the game.
Reaping What You Sow
The peasant let's you place an extra population cube which is so helpful, but it can make the rats trigger if the plague strikes. It really is a tough decision to make.

My one complaint about the game is the use of cubes. I would much rather see mini meeples instead. We are using cubes for people in a world where we have little wooden people that work just fine. I can see that it cuts down on cost, but I rather pay a little extra and have the cool meeples.

The game is a medium-light weight with some easy rules, although keeping the booklet near you for the first couple of games helps especially when it comes to character powers and the final reversed round. This game isn't for everyone and isn't suitable for younger players. There's some thinky bits to the game and some decisions to make that come with potentially game losing consequences. Player interaction is also low, but it is a great feeling to pile on rats to an area your opponents are gathered in and watch the plague take them down a few notches.

Now, just for a minute here, I want to talk about promos. Rattus has a big selection of promo characters to use with the game. Each one that I have used is neat and unique. Yes, some are better than others, but that really helps when playing as there will be characters that will get snatched almost every turn. One of my favorites though is the one made for BoardGameGeek.com, that is Ernie the Jester. The Jester let's you drop 2 populace cubes onto the board and whatever regions they land in is where they stay. Its a fun way to get your people onto the board.
What's in the Box

After all that's been said I am sure that it is clear that I really enjoy this game. I also think that Rattus is one of two games currently on my BGG profile that I have rated as a 9 (I have no 10s). Rattus is also currently my favorite game. That's right, if I did a Top 100 list Rattus would be number 1 with a bullet.

I can't recommend this game enough. It is light enough to give everyone around the table a good laugh or two, hefty enough to be thinky when it comes to making decisions, and has a little something for everyone. It also isn't too competitive. I mean you are trying to beat your friends, but you are also trying to beat the Man in Black and the game. There's a lot to overcome in Rattus and it is done in a great way with fun mechanics.
Clowning Around

Give it a play and give it at least one play with the Jester promo. It is well worth it.

Well, thank you all again for joining me here at Daemonic Teutonic. I hope you enjoyed the review!

Cheers,
Phil

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sultaniya - A Magical Review

Hi everybody!

Welcome back to another review. Today's review is a bit of a bigger game than I have been talking about recently. Sultaniya by Charles Chevallier is a tile laying game set in the age of 1001 Arabian Nights. The story goes that the person that builds the best palace for the sultan will become the royal vizier. So let's dive right into a realm of gems and magic and get on with the review.
An Enchanting Box
Sultaniya is a game for 2-4 players that plays in around 45 minutes. The object of the game is to pick tiles and place them into your playing area in order to make the best possible palace. The game starts with each player picking a character board. The board gives the players all of the information they need in order to maximize the points they will receive for their palaces. Depicted on the board is the player's 4 methods of scoring, whether it is +3 points for gardens or + 6 for archways, the board shows detailed pictures and a score for each item the player can build. The board also has 3 starting tiles, 2 on the first floor and 1 on the second, that will get the players going.
Beginnings of a Palace
On the lower section, near the scoring part of the board are two slots for Secret Objects. Each player is given 2 secret objectives that will score them points at the games end. These can really be game changers when it comes right down to the wire.

Players can place tiles on to any floor of their palace as long as there is at least 1 tile below it and there are no empty spaces/holes left in the board. The palaces will end up being 4 rows high and the game ends when a player completes their 4th floor.

Besides tile laying the game also features it's own currency, sapphires. The sapphires are used to summon the power of Djinns that grant the user a special power to use that turn.
Greedy Djinns
They have powers that can grant you more tiles, the ability to swap out tiles, and even the chance to take a tile of your choice. The Djinns are expensive to use, but let's face it you have nothing better to use those sapphires on. From here once the game ends the players calculate their final scores, including what they earn from their secret objectives and the person with the most points wins and becomes the new vizier.

The convenience of Sultaniya is that each floor of the palace has it's own theme and color-scheme. This helps keep the piles of tiles in order, easy to store, and easy to place when the time comes. In a game like this it is easy enough to have just  made it random like a Carcassonne type game, but instead they built it in layers which works very well. Along with the color and theme of the layers comes the change in art. Each layer has it's own style and type of architecture that can be found. This makes it so players can really try to focus on what they need for points, however, the tiles can have 1 or 2 items in common so a race for certain pieces will come up. This is mostly true for the pieces that score +6 points.
Tiles, Tiles Everywhere
 The artwork itself is beautiful. The tiles and player boards are vibrant and lush while the plastic pieces (sapphires and Djinns) are robust and dazzling to look at. My one complaint with the sapphires is that the edges tend to flake leaving a fine blue plastic dust in the box. The Djinns, though, are my favorite pieces in the game and may be my all time favorite game component. They are fantastic to look at and have a great level of detail in their translucent plastic.

The rule book is very well laid out and an easy read. The game is also easy to teach and can be a good for newish gamers. Now, I haven't talked a lot about box inserts, but this one is great. The box insert fits everything snugly and has a bit extra room for any possible expansion in the works.

The double sided player boards and tokens are also nice. One side is more of a beginner character while the reverse is more advanced. Each character has their own starting layout and advantages, so you can dive into the game however you choose or mix and match.
The Box Innards

All and all Sultaniya is a fun game with a lot of possibilities and great production value. I really enjoy this game and give it a big recommendation. However, at this point in time I am feeling a little worn out by the 1001 Nights theme, but it works here. It is an enjoyable game and I feel it is suitable for people of all skill levels. Sultaniya gets a big thumbs up and a high recommendation.

Thank you again for reading Daemonic Teutonic. I hope you have enjoyed this review of a neat game.

Thank you all again.

Cheers,
Phil