Review – Heir To The Throne

“I’m the heir apparent to the heir presumptive”

– Princess Margaret

heir

The Story

Treachery and sabotage are in the air. players compete to build noble families and fight each other for the throne of King Graham, the aged ruler of Wysteria. Each player is responsible for building their lineage and defending their family members from rival families.

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Gameplay

Players begin the game with a Noble House Card that shows both a Lord and Lady. From there, players use Court Drama Cards to arrange marriages and have children and thereby grow their family tree. Each character can play two Court Drama Cards on their turn to maintain and develop their own family tree, or attack their rivals.

In addition to helping characters wed and have children some Court Drama Cards also let players make members of your opponents’ house illegitimate or infertile or even….Dead. This prevents them from having children, or at least having children with a rightful claim to the throne.

Especially killing them. Killing them definitely prevents them from having children or claiming the throne.

Likewise, other Court Drama Cards allow players to remove these negative effects and to restore themselves to their former glory.

In order to win the throne, a noble family must produce at least one great-grandson that is of age and neither illegitimate nor infertile.

Components

The pieces were easy to punch out and the cards are thin but of good quality. The art is cartoonish, but it works for the game.

Conclusion

I have to be honest, when I first pulled this game out I was not sure if I would like it. This game 100% won me over. For me, where this game shines is in the storytelling. I mean sure, you could just play it straight forward and do your actions and move on, but you shouldn’t. You need to gather your friends that you play Gloom with and play this.

One turn I married Charity The Greedy with Tim the Pennywise (I thought this might be a nod to Tim Curry in IT, but I’m not sure) and I told the story of how she made him miserable but it was for the good of the realm…until on a later turn she was stolen from Tim by David The Highwayman. And we kept moving David from bride to bride because, a highwayman’s gotta ramble. I seriously have not laughed out loud this much in a long time during a game (The infertility token and subsequent removal alone can lead to many stories). There is a “take that”  game in here for sure, but you need to play this with storytellers. I promise you that you will not regret it.

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ALL HAIL KING ZOLTAR THE MAGNIFICENT!

Review – The Lost Expedition

“There, I believed, lay the greatest secrets of the past yet preserved in our world of today. I had come to the turn of the road; and for better or worse I chose the forest path..”
― Percy Fawcett

The Story

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Legendary explorer Percy Fawcett marched deep into the Amazon in search of El Dorado. He was never seen again. Your team has gone in search of him, but now you hope to escape the jungle with the greatest treasure of all: your life.

Gameplay

You will choose three adventures (Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the co1aunting shall be three) and take health for each character (you always play with three explorers no matter how many people are playing). Each round has two stages: Morning and Evening. Cards are drawn and placed in a row to show which adversities, challenges and confrontations you have to overcome. Sometimes there are good things that can happen, but not very often.

You try to place the cards in such a way that you have enough health and supplies left by the end of the round to make it through another day. You do this by using your health, bullets or food, depending on what the requirement is on the card.

Some cards have rewards for completing them.  Some have choices on them regarding the way you would like to complete the card. Other cards will require you to resolve multiple things.These are represented by different colors on the cards; yellow is to be resolved first, red is second and blue is last.The goal is to make it with at least one character alive when you reach El Dorado.

Components

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If there is one thing i can bank on from an Osprey game, it’s quality components. The chits are a good size, the cards are high quality, and the art by Garen Ewing gives me that retro comic vibe. Also, basing all of the explorers off of famous people was a nice touch. Teddy was mandatory for all my adventures.

Conclusion

This game is very difficult, and I mean that in a good way. I feel it really shines as a solo game with the ability to look ahead and try to map out your moves by yourself (I felt the same way about Fuse). Due to the amount of cards the replay ability is very high on this game. I felt like every adventure was a totally different experience and had to be managed in the moment.

 

 

Review – Unexploded Cow

“Nothing is worse than being alone on the evening of the day when one’s cow has exploded.”
― Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas

The Story

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Europe. Summer 1997. You and your most creative friends have discovered two problems with a common solution: mad cows in England and unexploded bombs in France. You’ve decided to bring these two powder kegs together just to see what happens – and you wouldn’t say “no” to a little money on the side, so round up your herd, march them through France, and set them loose behind the Cordon Rouge. If you’re lucky, you’ll come home rich before Greenpeace gets hold of you.

Gameplay

In Unexploded Cow players are trying to collect the most money by traveling to each french town and blowing up the bombs that have been left behind. On every turn, you will buy cows and/or pay for special effects by putting money in a “pot”, then after playing as many cards as you want or are able you roll the D6 (The bomb) with the hope that you roll a number that would land on one of your own cows in an effort to blow up the cows and take money out of the pot (RIP Wiggins). You will earn money from the French as you explode the bombs…. and the cows. The player who has the most money at the end wins the game.

Components

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The money chits are thick and well done and gives the feel of throwing a poker chip into the pot when your add money to it. The artwork is great. I love that all the cows are different even within each classification  ( ex. every spy has a different disguise). The towns are also well done and add to the overall style.

Conclusion

This game is pretty funny. At first I was not sure how the theme would work for me, but as I began to play I was able to cheer for my cows to explode with no feeling of guilt whatsoever. It is a very light game, and I found it to be a fun filler game. It has a mild amount of strategy in that you can control some of the randomness by playing spies and magnet cows. I would not, however, recommend playing it with your vegan friends.

Kickstarter Review – Bushido Breaker

“Ninjas don’t wish upon a star, they throw them.”
― Jarius Raphel

The Story

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It is the Sengoku period, an era of great unrest within the gravely compromised empire of feudal Japan. Your emperor is nothing but a figurehead while the shogun holds the true power. There are many men who desire to hold the title of shogun and then there is you…

Bushido Breaker is a hidden movement card game of deduction & calculated risks, themed as ninja vs. samurai, that is 2-4 players.

 

Gameplay

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Bushido breakers is a card based two player deduction game. One person plays the role of the ninja trying to kill the shogun while the other player plays as the samurai who protects him. You will each start out with a specific set of cards and one special card. Some of the cards are one time use and some are not. The ninja begins by selecting a starting location and marking it on his hidden sheet. He then plays a card face down and marks down on a hidden sheet his action and location (example entrance 1/kunai). The samurai player then selects one samurai and performs and plays a card for that samurai to perform. If for example the samurai had played the katana with the samurai in entrance 1, he would kill the ninja because the katana defeats the kunai weapon. Play continues until:

Ninja kills all the samurai

Ninja Sabotages all the alarms and moves to the shogun’s chamber

Samurai kills the ninja

Samurai notices the ninja twice (while hiding)

 

 
Conclusion

I am really impressed by this game. It’s seems like a simple hidden deduction game and when you play as the samurai you’re thinking “I have five of them, how hard can this be?” The answer is very hard. After an alarm goes out or you lose a couple samurai panic starts to set in. And from the ninja perspective it is satisfying to watch the confidence fade from the player who is trying to stop you. A couple of times the phrase “WHERE ARE YOU!” was murmured under people’s breath.  There is also a good variance of special cards which, if played correctly, can really turn the tide in your favor. There were a couple times I though I had the perfect special card, only to watch my opponent later play the perfect counter to my special card thus rendering it useless. Also the art is subtle and fits perfectly with the theme. The kickstarter for Bushido Breaker runs from July 11th to August 15th and can be found here.

Review – The King Is Dead

 “Yet some men say in many parts of England that King Arthur is not dead, but had by the will of our Lord Jesu into another place; and men say that he shall come again, and he shall win the holy cross.”
― Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur

The Story

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The King Is Dead is a board game of politics and power struggles set in Britain in the chaotic period following the death of King Arthur. For the good of the country, a leader must unite the Scots, Welsh, and Romano-British — not by conquest but by diplomacy.

Players are members of King Arthur’s court. Whether a loyal knight, a scheming lord, or an ambitious noblewoman, you all have one thing in common: power. As prospective leaders, each player uses their power to benefit the factions, gaining influence among their ranks. The player with the greatest influence over the most powerful faction is crowned the new ruler of Britain.

Gameplay

There are eight regions on the board representing the game’s eight factions, and each region begins with a number of color coded cubes on it, some random and some not. The cubes represent members of the various factions battling for control of the regions, and ultimately Britain. Each turn players must settle each region by playing (or not playing) cards from their hand. Each player starts with the same eight cards, and these are the only cards a player will have during the game. The cards command various actions such as adding faction members, switching factions members between regions or even changing the order in which power struggles are resolved in a region. The twist is that, after playing a card, you must remove a cube from any region on the board. The cube removed is added to your collection, and this is how you keep track of your influence with each faction. But be careful to remember that you only have 8 cards for the whole game. At the end of the game you see which faction has won the most regions, and then look to see who has the most influence (number of cubes) within that faction. The player with the most influence wins.

Components

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Right off the bat I have to say that the inside of the box is a nice touch. I know it seems like a simple thing but it’s a nice touch. I love the board for it’s old world map look, however the regions of Deav & Ratae should not both be on the green color spectrum. It caused confusion for one player who did not initially note the difference in shades of green, and thought that the region of Ratae  directly connected to Aquae Sulis.

Conclusion

I love the concept of this game, but I wish there was more urgency to play your cards to settle the initial regions. I felt like I could wait till 4-5 regions were settled and then decide which cards to play based on what was left. I think if you’re a fan of area control games you will like this one as it’s a nice twist on the genre. That you have to take a cube after playing a card to gain the influence of that faction, therefore weakening the position of that faction on the board is a great idea. I have also created a variant ruleset should you be so inclined to try it out.

An interview with designer Alex Berry

 

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If you asked me what my favorite release was last year i will quickly tell you High Treason. This game is just the perfect balance of back and forth struggle for a two player game. Recently i had the opportunity to talk to Alex Berry about it.

This is one of the most unique themes I have come across in a game. How was it chosen?

I thought of doing a trial game with the key mechanic of jury selection. Having a 12 person jury would be too onerous for gameplay mechanics, so I wanted to pick a jury trial that had less than 12. Louis Riel’s seemed to fit the bill the best.

How long did it take to gather all the information and fact check each of the character cards?

cardI had been working on the design since 2012. I read through the entire trial transcripts to determine the cards. Other secondary research occurred. finding the photos was the hardest and there was a lot of help from various sources.

Was there a mechanic you really wanted in the game but just could not get to work out?

Not really, I’m very satisfied with how the game turned out. I’ve other mechanics for other games.

I have watched several of your videos. I really enjoyed your “Top 5 Underrated Games” segment. What would be your #1 game from 2016 in that category?

I can’t pick my own, lol, I’d say Forged in Steel. It also does unique things with the CDG mechanic. A lot of strict Euro players don’t like it and it has taken some heat, but it is really a brilliant game that underwent a lot of playtesting (I know ’cause I was a playtester on it) and that forged a great game.

Do you have any other games in the works?

Yes, I’m currently working on 3 different games, all in various stages of design. Furthest along is a game on the Presidential Election of 1824, a game on the Nuremberg Trials, and one on the Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson in the Senate.

Finally, what is a game that you love that we may have not heard of?

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I’d say Tim Taylor’s To the Last Man. I’m the opposite of a Euro player, to me the mechanics need to invoke the feel of the theme and To The Last Man does that Brilliantly. I feel like I’m Falkenhayn; Yes I’m suffering terrible causalities, but I’m bleeding the enemy white at a faster attrition that I myself am taking, and that’s how I’m going to win the war. It also employs hidden information extremely well which is another favourite mechanic of mine, as you observe by the jury selection process in High Treason.

Meet the new blog, same as the old blog

“There’s Mistaken Point, Newfoundland.
There’s Moonbeam, Ontario.
There are places I’ve never been,
and always wanted to go.”
Fly – The Tragically Hip

 

Thank you for stopping in. My name is James Freeman and I am the new blogger for to die for games. Before I get into my intro, I just want to say what a great job Halden did with this blog. I’ve told him that he is welcome to come back and post on the blog any time he wants. I really enjoy reading his reviews and hope to play some games with him some day in the future.

So I thought I’d tell you all a bit about myself. I live just outside of Buffalo, NY,  but I like to think I am Canadian by osmosis. I grew up watching Mr. Dressup and the game show Definition. I watched Coaches Corner every chance I got. I love SCTV and Kids In The Hall. Every major concert I have experienced has been in Toronto (my musical idol, Elvis Costello, who I met at CFNY, the first Foo Fighters club tour, Lolapalooza 91, The Residents, Gorillaz, the list is endless).

 

Does this matter when it comes to my gaming? Probably not, but it matters to me. Not only do I get to blog about my favorite thing in the whole world, but with To Die For Games being based in Canada I get to give a little bit of entertainment back to a culture that gave me so much.

 

As a gamer I am not generally “Cult of the New” when choosing what I play,  but I promise to play and review as many games on “The Hotness” as I can reasonably get to. Between myself and those in my various play groups I have access to thousands of games both old and new, so if there is something specific you want reviewed just drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do. On my former blog (dadmostlyloses.com) I also loved to do interviews with publishers and designers, so I’m also very open to suggestions for new people to track down and speak with.

 

I truly am grateful for the opportunity to go on this journey with you, and I can’t wait to get started.

 

Le jeu se déroule.
gentlemen