Roll Player: D&D sans les années d’implication

On dit souvent que créer un personnage de jeu de rôles représente la moitié du plaisir à y jouer… rien n’a jamais été aussi vrai.

Roll Player est un jeu de Keith Matejka et publié par Thunderworks Games en 2016. Chaque joueur tente de créer le meilleur personnage possible d’un jeu de rôles fantaisiste. On roule un paquet de dés et on les manipules pour atteindre certains objectifs pour avoir le plus de points.

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Le jeu contient:

  • Un sac pour les dés
  • 73 dés (10 vert, bleu, rouge, mauve, noir, blanc et 13 or)
  • 60 jetons de pièces d’or
  • 6 feuilles de personnage
  • 6 jetons de charisme
  • 12 jetons de suivi (2 par classes)
  • 101 cartes
    • 4 cartes d’aide
    • 6 cartes de classes
    • 16 cartes d’histoire
    • 17 cartes d’alignement
    • 53 cartes de marché
    • 5 cartes d’initiatives

Chaque joueur reçoit une feuille de personnage et une carte de chaque type: classe, histoire, alignement ainsi que 5 or et 2 jetons de suivi. Ensemble, ces éléments aident à définir le personnage et les objectifs à atteindre:

  • La feuille de personnage (un coté male, l’autre femelle, autant elfe, humain qu’orc) recevras les dés et spécifie le bonus et le malus de la race (+2 à un attribut, -2 à un autre).
  • La carte de classe définit le but à atteindre pour chaque attribut, un chiffre précis pour certain, d’autres un peu moins restrictif.
  • La carte d’histoire raconte l’origine du personnage et montre 6 espaces de la grille de dés avec des couleurs précise que le joueur tenteras d’obtenir et de placer dans ces endroits pour plus de points.
  • La carte d’alignement montre le compas moral du personnage.

Ensuite, chaque joueur pige ses dés de départ et les assigne où il veut, toujours en commençant par l’espace le plus à gauche d’un attribut.

Le jeu se joue en plusieurs rondes, pendant laquelle chaque joueur pourra ajouter un dé à sa feuille de personnage.

Le premier joueur, qui changera à chaque ronde, pige autant de dés que de joueur + 1 et les brassent. Ils sont ensuite mis en ordre de grandeur sur les cartes d’initiatives. Les joueurs choisissent une carte à tour de rôle et placent le dé sur leur feuille de personnage. En plaçant le dé dans un attribut, le joueur peut ensuite manipuler un dé en fonction de l’attribut choisi. Par exemple, en mettant un dé dans la Force, on peut choisir un dé sur la feuille en le tournant sur sa face opposée (un 1 deviendrait ainsi un 6).

Lorsque tout les joueurs ont choisi un dé et ont effectué leurs actions, les joueurs ont accès au marché, en fonction de la carte d’initiative choisie, le plus bas étant premier. Les cartes du marché sont de plusieurs types:

  • Armes. Procure un bonus lors du placage de dé.
  • Armure. Donne des points de victoires en fonction du nombre d’armure du même type achetée.
  • Compétence. Permet plusieurs manipulation de dés.
  • Traits. Donne des points de victoires à la fin en fonction de certaines condition.

Un joueur peut aussi choisir de ne rien prendre, de défausser une carte du marché et recevoir 2 pièces d’or.

Ensuite la ronde est terminée et on recommence jusqu’à ce que tout les espaces soient remplis. Car, comme le veut la tradition, chaque attribut est constitué de la somme de 3 dés.

Les points sont ensuite comptabilisé et le plus haut gagne.

Roll Player me procure un sentiment de nostalgie, me rappelant mon secondaire quand j’ai commencé à jouer à AD&D. On passait généralement la première soirée en groupe à faire nos personnages pour commencer vraiment la semaine suivante.

Le jeu est souvent appelé un puzzle plutôt qu’un jeu de société mais j’ai l’impression que c’est le cas pour la plupart des jeux de placement de dés. Le marché rajoute une certaine interaction entre joueurs qui nous éloigne de l’impression de puzzle.

C’est un jeu que j’apprécie beaucoup et dont je n’hésite pas à amener à la table pour y jouer le plus souvent possible.

L’expansion est présentement sur Kickstarter et a été aisément financée dans les premières heures: Ici !

Can you Escape from Colditz?

In late 2016, Osprey Games released a special edition of Escape from Colditz to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Pat Reid‘s escape from the inescapable German prison. Originally released in 1973 Escape from Colditz was designed by Pat Reid and Brian Degas with art by Pete Dennis. The game was given the deluxe treatment with great new components but the original design is intact.

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Gameplay

In Escape from Colditz one player will take on the role of the German security officer who will control a number of guards who will patrol Colditz to prevent the escape of the POWs. The POWs will be controlled by one to five players who will play an escape officer who must help their team gather equipment to enable their escape and then make their move.

Each round begins with the escape officer to the German officer’s left rolling two dice. The total of these dice is the amount of movement points the escape officer can use this turn. Movement points can divided among as many POW pawns that the escape officer chooses. If they roll doubles, they roll again (up to three rolls maximum) and add the total of the rolls together for their movement points. If any of the rolls are lower than five, the player draws an opportunity card that will provide them with an item or action that they can take at any time during their turn. Over the course of the game, escape officers must gather the items required to assemble an escape kit ( food, documents, a compass and a disguise) as well as items that will help them scale walls (rope), cut through fences (wire cutters), open doors (keys) and get through checkpoints (passes). The items are gathered by ending a turn with two POWs in rooms where those items are found. Play will proceed clockwise until each escape officer has taken their turn and then it is the security officer’s turn.

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The security officer begins their turn in the same way as the other players by rolling two dice and determining their movement points. Guard movement is much more versatile since they have the ability to jump from the guard posts to the commander’s office to the barracks, allowing them chase POWs much easier. A roll of less than five will grant them access to security cards rather than opportunity cards. The security cards will allow the guards to recall the POWs to a corral point, take sniper shots at POWs outside the falls, search areas they normally couldn’t enter etc… Guards can arrest POWs and send them to solitary if they are caught with escape equipment and depending on where the POW is caught the item could be removed from the game. At the end of the security officers turn the round marker is moved one position.

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The game will proceed like this until one of two conditions triggers the end of the game. When the round marker reaches the eagle the escape officers each have one final turn and if the escape conditions aren’t met the security officer wins. Alternatively one escape officer will successfully gather all the required items and get two of there POWs to an escape point, if this happens that escape officer wins.

Components

The treatment given to this game by Osprey Games is really impressive. The first thing that strikes you when getting your hands on a copy of Escape from Colditz is that the box itself is large and very sturdy. The cover art is striking and the graphic tone set by the cover carries throughout the game. The game board is very large and on very heavy stock, it has a lovely touch of the title silk screened in gold on the underside. The inside of the box features a large cardboard insert that holds a box fashioned to look like a Red Cross prisoner care packages which contains the game components. The cards come in matching tuck boxes. The cards themselves have a great aesthetic and vintage art. Throughout the box there are little historical touches like newspaper clippings, postcards and other documents from the prison and the era. All the pieces look and feel great and have a coherent look.

I found that the art and style really brought the theme to life and also really respected the original publication of the game.

 

Conclusion

I know that roll and move words that will make many modern gamers run for the nearest worker placement game but I was really surprised at the depth that was provided with such an old and much derided mechanic. The non-linear aspect of the movement combined with the multiple pawns to move and the many goals those pawns can accomplish make the decisions in Escape from Colditz quite tactical. I found that every turn you had to choose from many meaningful decisions and required some thought beyond just moving your pawns the maximum spaces.

This game is steeped in history and not just its own, which is rich and intriguing enough. Included in the game box is a little booklet recounting the story of Pat Reid’s escape as well as some interesting back story on the prison itself. I played several great games of Escape from Colditz and have no problem telling people to try this game as I think that for such an old game with such simple mechanics it really does a wonderful job of bringing history to life and really is quite fun.

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Mint Works Review

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Mint Works is a curiously strong worker placement game designed by Justin Blaske and published by Five24 Labs. The game plays 1-4 players in 10-20 minutes and is suitable for players 10 and up. The objective is to score the most stars for the buildings you have built in your neighbourhood.

Setup

Getting Mint Works out of the tin and onto the table is quick and will have players rolling in very little time.

  1. Place 4 core Locations on the table
  2. Place 2 Deed locations on the table with the “”closed” side up
  3. Shuffle the Plans and make a deck
  4. Draw 3 plans from the deck
  5. Give each player 3 mints and place the remaining mints in a pile
  6. Give the start player token to the first player

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The game comes with a variety of additional locations that can be added once players have played a few games and want to change up the strategy and options presented.

Game Play

Each round has 2 phases Development and Upkeep. During the Development phase players will make one of 2 choices:

  1. Place a mint on an available action and perform that action
  2. Pass

That is the extremely simple view of Mint Works, essentially on your turn you are trying to accomplish 3 major things

  1. Get more mints
  2. Get a Plan
  3. Build a Building

Getting mints is relatively simple as long as the producer or leadership council actions are open but the other two require a little planning. To take the Supplier action which allows you to take a plan you must play the amount of mints indicated on the plan you intend to take. In order to build you need to first have a plan in hand and then place on the Builder action space. Getting buildings built in your neighbourhood is key since this is not only how players score but certain buildings will grant the player bonuses during the upkeep phase.

Once everyone has passed they complete the upkeep phase:

  1. Check if anyone has reached 7 stars, if so move onto scoring
  2. Refill the plan supply to 3 plans
  3. Check each players buildings for upkeep effects and resolve them
  4. Check if any played on a deeded location, if so pay the owner
  5. Return all played mints to the mint pool
  6. Each player takes 1 mint

If scoring wasn’t triggered during upkeep play another development phase until the end game is triggered. Once the end game is triggered the player with the most starts in her neighbourhood is the winner.

Components

Mint Works is really well done. The embossed tin looks great and fits nicely in your pocket or back pack. My only minor quibble was that the instruction booklet didn’t pop out of the tin as smoothly as I would like due to its square corners when the tin has rounded corners, this was quickly resolved by trimming the corners. The mints are lovely little wooden bits and even the start player marker is wood. The location and plan cards look great and have a good weight. The overall presentation is excellent, its cute, its functional, and is extremely portable.

Conclusion

Mint Works is the perfect introduction to the worker placement mechanic, it boils the system to its purest form and makes it extremely accessible. It sets up, teaches, and plays quickly. The solitaire option is an excellent addition with several AI opponents included that can prove to be fairly challenging.  The price point and play time make this a great little game to carry with you at all times and I highly recommend looking into this pocket sized power house.

Rise to Nobility Review

In this magical land of heroes, villains, and adventurers, a fragile peace has been brokered between the Five Realms. Five years have passed since the evil Lord Dranor escaped from The Cavern Tavern. The Elf Princess Tabita Orestes has taken her rightful place as the High Queen of the Five Realms and has built a new capital: the white-walled city of Caveborn.

-from the Rise to Nobility rule book

Rise to Nobility is a worker placement game from Final Frontier set in the same world as their previous title Cavern Tavern. The game has a standard worker placement feel where players send workers to gather resources, so they can fulfill goals to score points but the way they control the amount of workers players can use every round is fairly clever.

In Rise to Nobility, players take the part of characters vying to become lords and replace Berk the Clerk as the city’s town clerk. You can earn the High Queen’s favour by attracting settlers, training them in the various guilds, and bribing stone council members. The player who scores the most victory points will earn the position and help the High Queen mold the future of Caveborn.

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Setup

There are 3 boards in Rise to Nobility the score board, your personal player board and the main board. On your personal board you will track your reputation, store and build houses for the settlers, store unused worker, and build community building. The main board is where you send your dice to take all the main actions. The score board as you may have guessed tracks players scores.

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There are basic setup steps for every games as well as a set of setup cards that will guide you through configuring the game for your player count. I found the overall setup to be a bit fiddly especially the stone council but nothing that we as board game players haven’t encountered before.

Each player will get a pool of 5 dice, a player board, one house, 8 gold, one settler, and a character card. The Character card will give the player 2 special powers, one that is available immediately and throughout the game, the other is a one time benefit that is unlocked when they reach the lord level on the nobility track.

Gameplay

Like I said in my introduction the way you play Rise to Nobility is nothing new to players familiar with worker placement games. On your turn you take on or both of the following actions in any order:

  1. Use one of your dice to take an action
  2. Complete a settler card

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The clever part comes in when determining how many dice you can use each round. At the beginning of the round players roll their dice and they can use as many of the 5 dice as they want as long as the sum of the dice used is equal to or less than their reputation level. Combined with the fact that the worker spots on the main board require  certain numbers to activate it, there can be some tough choices that require careful planning.

The main game board offers players the following choices:

  1. Cavern Tavern where players get new settler cards
  2. Construction yard where players get houses for the settlers
  3. Guilds where players gather resources and place meeples to leave as apprentices who will earn income
  4. Guild Hall where players can purchase buildings to place in the Guilds or on their player board
  5. The port where players can sell goods
  6. The clerks office where players can gain modifier tokens to adjust their dice or change the available settlers and buildings
  7. The stone council where players can bribe Councillors to earn victory points
  8. The White Castle where players can improve their reputation

Planning really is key in Rise to Nobility. Many of the actions have dependencies. For example to complete a settler card you need the appropriate resources but you also need a house on your player board or to build a workshop in a guild you need to have an apprentice in that guild. The real meat in Rise to Nobility lies in the planning of actions and calculating the dice and reputation required to get it all done as efficiently as possible.

Conclusion

Rise to Nobility is a good game but I think it will get lost in the crowded worker placement market. It’s a game I enjoyed playing and would play again if someone brought to the table but not one I would suggest. I found some bit tacked on, like the stone council action, in what seemed like an effort to add options or complexity. I did really enjoy the way that the reputation level and dice selection worked and think that this is the highlight of the game. In the end Rise to Nobility is a good game with nice art and a clever little twist but I don’t think it offered enough to stand out.

here’s To Die for Games’ video review for more thoughts on the game.

Deep Space D-6 Review

Deep Space D-6 is a solitaire worker placement game published by Tau Leader Games. Designer Tony Go has put together a nice little game here that really gives players that sense of space survival and of being over run by threats.

The very first thing that caught my eye about Deep Space D-6 was the box art, I was a huge fan of choose you own adventure books as a child and the tip of the hat to that aesthetic grabbed right away.

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The cover was enough to get me to look into the game but what really prompted my purchase was the theme and mechanics. I love worker placement and science fiction so I knew I had to try this game.

Setup & Gameplay

Setting up a game of Deep Space D-6 is simple.

  1. choose a ship.
  2. setup the threats and threat deck
  3. place the shield and hull markers on the board

voila! You are ready to face all the harshness of space!

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Now that you are ready to roll (pun intended) you can start a round of play. Each round has 6 steps:

1. Roll Crew Dice

Crew dice are you workers. The face rolled indicates what that worker can do whether it’s fire the weapons, repair the hull or shields, or revive lost dice. Different ships will use the workers in different ways.

2. Scan for Threats

If the scanner area is filled with scanner dice you must immediately reveal a new threat from the threat deck. If you reveal a new threat the dice in the scanner area are released otherwise they are locked and unusable to you until the scanner fills of you use an ability of another worker dice to free them.

3. Assign Crew

As with the majority of worker placement games this is the bulk of the round. You will now take you available workers (those not locked in the scanner or infirmary) and use them to execute the tasks required to maintain your ship and eliminate the threats currently menacing your ship.

4. Discover new threats

Draw the top card or the threat deck and place internal threats to the left of the ship and external threats to the right in the slot according to their hit points.

5. Activate threats

Roll the black Die and activate all threats that match the face of the Die. Resolve threats from top to bottom starting with internal threats. Follow the directions on the threat cards to determine the impact they will have on your crew and/or your ship.

6. Gather up crew

Gather all the dice that are not in the infirmary, scanners, or locked by a threat affect.

The goal of the game is to deplete the threat deck and survive. If at the end of step 4 you cannot draw a new threat AND their are no currently active threats then you have survived and you win! Space is a dark, dangerous and brutal place for humans however so if at any point in step 5 your hull reaches 0 your ship is destroyed and you lose, if at the end of step 6 you cannot gather up any dice to roll in the next round you lose. Such is the harshness of space exploration!

Components

The single greatest component of Deep Space D-6 is the box and not simply for the glorious cover but it is solid and I am a sucker for a magnetic clasp. The rest of the game’s components are good. The graphic design and artwork are minimal and functional. There are 4 ships included in the game and this allows for some longevity and variability. The dice are nice and feature distinct colourful icons on each face. The cards are sturdy and easy to read.

Conclusion

Deep Space D-6 will not blow anyone away but I have gotten a lot of fun out of this little unassuming box. I find that I really get quite anxious and tense as the game rolls along and I start losing crew members and the threats pile up. I also really enjoy the simple mechanic of having stronger threats come out higher in the queue (on the right of the board) and moving down the line as they sustain damage until they finally drop off when destroyed. It was fun to zap the baddies and how them drop out of site.

Considering the small footprint and relatively small cost I think Deep Space D-6 is a good purchase for solo players especially those that have ever watched and enjoy any of the Star Trek series. The game definitely has a strong feel of boldly going where no one has gone before.

13 Minutes: The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

13 Minutes: The Cuban Missile Crisis is a micro game  that distills the excellent 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis which is a distillation of the masterpiece Twilight Struggle.  I hope I haven’t lost too many of you with my meta discussion but I wanted to lay some groundwork with readers that maybe familiar with the two games that this games a lot to.  The game is a head to head strategic game of balance where players must make good and sometimes the least horrible choices, like it’s older siblings, but I think it still offers a fresh take on the premise.

Setup & Gameplay

13 Minutes packs a decent amount into a tiny box that contains only 13 cards and 26 cubes. The setup is quick and simple. Place a card face down between the two players. This will represent Cuba. Next players take a number of cubes from their 13 influence cube allotment and bid for the chance to decide who plays first. Once this is decide the players drawn two cards and take turns playing one card. A card can be used for one of two actions:

  1. Command action: place the number of cubes illustrated on the card onto a single battleground.
  2. Event: if the card played is a neutral UN card or for you superpower, you can use the event power of the card.

Cards are played either into the neutral area in between the two players or into that   players “sphere of influence” which is the tablespace between him and the neutral area where Cuba begins the game. The cards on the table become battlegrounds where the two players will place and remove cubes to fight for influence in this areas. The player with the most cubes on a battleground controls it and will score it at the end of the game. When cubes are placed onto a card, now a battleground, the battle ground moves. It moves towards the player when adding cubes and away from the player when removing cubes. Having a card in your sphere of influence can be good as it breaks ties if both players have the same number of cubes on a battleground but can also lose you the game if you have 3 battlegrounds with the same colour DEFCON symbol.

Players will go back and forth playing one card until they each can no longer draw a card. When each player has one card remaining you add up the following to determine who wins:

  1. 1 prestige per battleground the player controls
  2. 2 prestige for controlling Cuba
  3. 1 prestige for controlling the most military battlegrounds (Orange DEFCON symbols)
  4. Reveal the remaining cards and add up the cubes for each superpower. The superpower with the most cube images gets 1 prestige.

Unless someone has started a nuclear war by having 3 DEFCON symbols of the same colour in their sphere of influence then the player with the most prestige is the winner.

Components

13 minutes comes in a sturdy little box and features the same graphic design as 13 Days. The font and historical photos are the same which makes a nice consistent look. The cars are well laid out and easy to understand. The quality is good. I really like the overall look of the game.


Final thoughts

I will confess that it was going to take a lot for me not to enjoy 13 Minutes. I love 13 Days and Twilight Struggle is one of my top 3 all time favourites so the theme had me right away. If you don’t like political themes or the Cold War theme in particular then it may not appeal to you but I think it’s abstracted enough as to not be a major factor. I loved the mechanic of moving the battlegrounds back and forth as a physical representation of the political struggle you are playing out on the table. I think this game will make an excellent filler, from set up to take down you can play a game of this in under 20 Minutes easily. I found that I still had decent choices to make and there was a good amount of tension. Overall I think this is a must buy filler for Twilight Struggle or 13 Days fans that still deserves some consideration from people that might be turned off by those bigger games.

Colour Chess + Lure Review

Colour Chess + Lure currently on Kickstarter is new twist on a very familiar game. Designed by Tom Norfolk of Dog Eared Games who is the man behind the fun little card game Stak Bots (a fan favourite of my 8 year old twins). The box includes everything needed to play chess, Colour Chess, and Lure. The board is modular and is built by the players before the game begins which presents variability and a little gamesmanship in itself. The colourful squares and simple design are easy to read and not so different as to make a classic unrecognizable.colourchess

Set Up

You snap together the frame of the board and then organize the colour squares into an 8×8 grid. You don’t have to and in fact shouldn’t try to replicate the pattern of a standard chess board. Once the board is complete place the chess pieces in their standard configuration.colourchess_content.png

Game Play

Colour Chess pieces move in the same manner as classic Chess, but final location of the piexes is controlled by the colour selected by the player. The first player selects a colour and then moves a piece in a legal chess move ending the movement on the selected colour, if a player cannot legally move to that colour they cannot choose it. The next player moves a piece to that colour (if they cannot they pass their first movement) and then selects their own colour and makes a move. Another change to the regular rules of chess is that a king must be captured not just put into check mate.

The other game included is Lure. Lure is played using the same board components but different pieces.

  1. The swords – these are your offensive pieces, they take other pieces
  2. The Shields – They protect other pieces when they are adjacent to them. An adjacent piece cannot be taken
  3. The King – If a king is taken you lose, if you move him to your opponents back row you win.

The goal of lure is to score 4 or more points, capture the other king, or to get your king to the back row.

Pieces move by declaring a colour and moving as many of your pieces as you can onto adjacent tiles of the colour or diagonally to a tile of that colour. If you place a shield next to a piece (other than the king) either diagonally or orthogonally that piece is safe and cannot be taken. Each piece you take is worth one point and each piece you get to your opponents back row is worth a point.

Components and Art

Colour Chess + Lure as indicated by the name is a very colourful game. It is a simple and elegant design that isn’t as hard on the eyes as one would imagine a rainbow coloured chess board could be. I found it to be quite vibrant sitting out on the table. I used a Print and play version so I cannot speak to the quality of the final components.

Final Thoughts

I found colour chess to be a neat twist on a classic and it certainly added some interesting mechanics that made game play fresh and new. I preferred (as did my kids) Lure which I found to be a fast paced and exciting tactical abstract game. I think this game would be wonderful in the classroom and could really get some kids to give chess a chance. I recommend checking out the kickstarter and hitting the back button if you like chess or if you want to try some a new abstract game.