Review – Heir To The Throne

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

– Princess Margaret

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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!

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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.

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.

Fighting FOMO

Following the board gaming community on Twitter, BGG, at your game nights or right here on our very own blog it’s easy to get wrapped up with the latest and greatest games. There is a significant pull by the “Cult of the New” in the community. This is often reflected in the BGG rankings, the games you read about, and the games we see hitting the tables. I wanted to take a step back from that for a moment and try and resist the fear of missing out or FOMO as you’ll see it called.

I recently had the chance to revisit a classic game and introduce it to my spouse and 13 year old son. I was on a ski holiday with my family and a friend of mine who I game with regularly drove up to the cottage to join us for an evening. He brought with him a big box of games, one of which was Puerto Rico. I knew my wife would like this game and we asked my son if he wanted to try. After running through the concept of the game and the basic mechanics of playing we were off. After a few rounds it was obvious that not only did the 2 new players understand the game but they were starting to make some quite clever moves to block and hinder the two veteran players. The final scoring was close with only 15 points separating 4th and 1st place but the real great thing was that my wife and son had a good time and said they’d want to play it again.

This experience really cemented in me something that I have been trying to focus on this year. I’ve been trying to focus on enjoying the game experience regardless of the age of the game. I don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking that new is good and old is bad. Games that were wonderful and rich experiences 2, 5, 10 years ago can still be rewarding and fun to play. In fact some are better as we dig into them. 

Now obviously as part of the To Die for Games team I need to keep abreast of new releases, the latest designs, and board gaming trends but I don’t want to get such tunnel vision for the next big game that we forget that you can have an amazing time playing a game that you owned forever or that you just bought for a steal second hand because it’s no longer the community darling. I think if we find a good balance of enjoyment in New and old games it will be healthier for the hobby and our wallets.