Posts Tagged ‘review’

Dixit – Game Review

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

 

distractedbydixit

Dixit is a great game for all ages. It is a game about balance. It’s a game about telling stories. Here’s how it works. Each player takes a turn being the storyteller. You have a handful of cards with various pictures on them. The storyteller will pick one card and try and tell a story about it that is obvious enough so that at least one person is able to guess it, but not so obvious that everyone does. So Balance. Once the storyteller has put a card face down on the table, everyone else looks through their hands and tries to find the card that would most easily be mistaken for the correct choice. You get a point for everyone who guesses your card instead of the correct card. If no one guesses the right card the storyteller also loses 2 points. If everyone guesses it, the same thing happens. Then it’s time for the next person to tell a story.

firstiwasgrapes

If you’ve played Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity then the basic principle will be familiar to you, but the added interaction of trying to come up with stories that only one person will get is a refreshing change. Plus you don’t have to worry about someone always picking certain cards as right just because they think it’s funny which can be a problem in both A2A and CAH. Games are fairly quick once everyone understands what’s going on, and participation is pretty constant. The cards are beautifully illustrated, and there are 2 “expansion packs” that each have another 80 or so cards to either make the base game longer, or give a  new twist to it. I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you have a chance. The only downside is this game really requires 4 or 5 players to shine, and supports 6 at most. I’m kind of tempted to make a 8 player expansion, I don’t think it would slow down the game much, and with 2 packs of cards it should still be sufficiently long.

Quoth the Reviewer

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

 

The_Raven_Poster

So here’s the sad truth, if you’ve watched Castle this movie is going to be sadly disappointing for you. I’ll be honest, it’s made me really eager to see the next season of the show. So here’s the premise of the pilot episode of Castle… Mystery writer Richard Castle is a suspect in a case where a serial killer is imitating the grisly murders he’d previously written in his book. He then helps solve the crime, everyone wins … well except for the people who were murdered of course…

In The Raven it’s the same thing, except instead of Nathan Fillion we’ve got John Cusack doing his best Nicholas Cage impression, and instead of Stana Katic we’ve got Luke Evans… the two don’t have quite the same chemistry, but that’s okay, this isn’t a love story. Oh wait, it kind of is… SPOILERS: Poe’s love interest plays a huge role in the story, even if she has almost no role in the film… Alice Eve does do a pretty decent job the few minutes she’s given screen time.

I did quite enjoy reading Poe back in the day, so I guess part of the reason I’m so harsh on it is that I wanted to like it more than it ended up deserving. Or maybe I’ve just been spoiled by how quality Castle is. Still watching it isn’t a total waste of time; just push your expectations down a notch or two before you start and you might end up being pleasantly surprised.

Village game review

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

village board big So the biggest problem with worker placement games is the huge front end of explaining how the game works. They can be a ton of fun, and they’re great for building tension as you try and figure out how you can manage to accomplish all of the things you need with limited resources. The newest Worker Placement game in my library is Village.

Now, one of the coolest things about this game is that people are going to die, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. In fact, when people die, they go to the village chronicle (the book in the lower right of the board) … well, as long as there is space. If there isn’t space they go to one of the unmarked graves in the lower left of the board. The game ends when the book is full, or all of the unmarked graves are. There are a lot of ways to get victory points, and if you have 3+ people in the chronicle you’ll get victory points. Depending on the number of players there are more or less spots, and there are limited spaces depending on your peoples’ jobs at the time of their demise. In a 4 player game 2 council members will be recorded, and 5 farmers. And it’s first come first serve, so sometimes you do want to die first.

However there’s more to this game than just dying. There are a mess of resource cubes. Each time you do something you earn one of them. And in general you can’t do a thing unless there are still cubes available for that are. So for instance, the council generally starts with 2 cubes. If they’re gone when your turn comes up you’re basically out of luck. Some tasks can be accomplished w/ the appropriate cubes but more often you’ll use time to get things done. Say you want to create a wagon so you can send one of your family off traveling to distant lands. It’ll take 2 time to for your dude to learn how to make a wagon and 2 more to actually make it. On a future turn it’ll only take 2 time to make a wagon… unless of course your dude dies in the meantime. Every 10 time, one of your dudes dies. And it has to be from your oldest generation. You start with four 1st generation people. The family action will get you three generation 2 people, then 3 and then 4.

There’s a market, which may well be the key to high scores, I haven’t yet seen anyone broach 60 points, though the board goes to 80. The game is a little long at 60-90 minutes, and probably will be longer the first few times you play, but it is quite fun once you get the hang of it, and trying to get your people killed off at just the right time can be kind of hilarious, as can be realizing you let one of your mans live too long. I’m certainly looking forwards to playing a game of this where everyone knows how to play.

Drama Review

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013


Drama Cover

So everyone loves some good drama right? Well if you like interpersonal drama (Susan likes Ted, but Ted is secretly sleeping with Bill) prepare to be slightly disappoint. There’s some in this, but the name actually refers to the fact that the main character is on the stage crew for a high school drama class. I’ll be honest, this sounds really freaking awesome to me. I wish I’d gone to a High School where our Drama class had enough of a budget that we had a stage crew. The little Drama I did in HS the actors were also the stage crew. Then again, if I had had the opportunity to make props and sets that’s what I might well be doing.

If only I’d been born 15 years earlier maybe I could have been making star ship models for ILM and blowing up model tie-fighters in the parking lot. If I didn’t know that almost everything was done with CGI these days I might just pack it up and move to Hollywood right now.

So yeah… can you say tangent? Anyway, this book has a little bit of high school romance, including an almost Midsummer’s Nightesque mixup (which I alluded to above, but changed the names to avoid spoilers), but it’s handled well. I really hope that there is half as much acceptance in real life as was represented here … then again, he didn’t actually come out of the closet to more than a few people so who knows. Basically what I’m saying is it’s nice to see the issue come up, and be handled well without it being focus of the book. In some ways I feel that when we get to the point where gender identity and sexuality can be different from “the norm” without drawing undue attention … or being the focus of the story, or drawing away from the focus, then we as a species are maybe, just maybe, starting to grow up a little.

Anyways, yeah this is a great book. I’m not so interested in the Baby Sitters Club books, but I have added Explorer to my to-read list. So in summery, I’ve avoided really talking about the content of the book because I don’t want to spoil the whole thing… the play’s the thing right?

Miskatonic School for Girls

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

miskatonicSo as part of one of the many Kickstarter projects I’ve supported I got Miskatonic School for Girls. I love Deck Building Games, I liker player interaction, and I’m a fan of the Lovecraft Mythos. So here’s the premise, each player represents one of the Houses at girls preparatory school. The twist is that the teachers are all Eldritch horrors from beyond time and space. As with many games with a Lovecraftian theme, the goal isn’t so much to win, as to be the last person to lose, or in this case go insane.

Each turn you buy two cards. One is a student (that will generally be in your next hand) and one is a Faculty card, which goes to the player on your left. This is an important point, as long as your opponent is still sane, you are ruining their deck every turn. I bring this up because every card generates Nightmare points (to buy Faculty), Hearts (to buy students) or Either. That is to say a card might have both Nightmare AND Heart points on it… but you only get one. The reason this is important is if you concentrate really hard on hosing the person to your left, you’re going to neglect your own deck, and unless it’s a two player game the person to your right will probably end up winning because you’ll be an easy mark. However if you solely concentrate on honing your own deck you’ll also probably end up going insane, because you won’t be messing with your opponents enough.

One thing this game lacks is one of my favorite things to do in Deck Building games, which is deck thinning. Okay, there’s like 2 cards that do it once per game … which means I stand by my original statement.

On the other hand, this game also has another “game mechanic” which I love, though I use the term in the loosest of all possible senses. See your sanity track is split into 4 colors. When your sanity drops to a new color you have to laugh or cackle crazily to represent yourself going insane. The punishment for failing to do so is to be taunted by the other players. That’s it, the reprobation of your peers is the only enforcement of the rule.

Cthulhu Tales (Graphic Novel) Review

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

 

cthulhu tales cover

Do you like Lovecraftian Horror? Do you like Short Stories? Do you like Graphic Novels? If you answered yes to all of these things, you need to do yourself a favor and read Cthulhu Tales. Many of the stories have wonderful little twists. There’s even one that breaks the Fourth Wall. My biggest complaint with this is that it is way too short. I would have liked more stories, and maybe a couple that were a bit longer. On the bright side, it wasn’t until I was writing this review that I realized the book I read was Volume 2. There are three more volumes as of this writing. So that’s great, except that it just bumped my to-read list up to 229 books/series.

Do you have favorite stories from the Lovecraft Mythos? Games? It is an excellent Genre in my opinion, and I would love to know what you recommend!

Gauntlet Of Fools

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Gauntlet of Fools

Possibly the most fun you will have facing Certain Death. And I do mean Certain, as in everyone dies. The goal isn’t to survive; it’s to have the most gold before you die. More precisely it’s to have the most gold once everyone is dead. The Zombie can earn gold post-mortem after all, at least, as long as someone else is still alive.

So you may have played a dumb game around Xmas called Dirty Santa or Yankee Swap or White Elephant or any of near a dozen other names. Basically it’s Secret Santa with a twist that you can steal presents from other people. Why do I bring that up? Well because that is kind of the root of this game… except instead of presents, you’re stealing heroes. All heroes aren’t created equal, but even if they were, some work better with different weapons, and each hero get a random weapon. The glare makes it a little hard to see, but I’ve got a Priest with a Sword in the picture to the right. Now if everyone just took turns picking heroes, whomever went first would get the best hero, and the last player would be hosed. That’s boring, and you might as well just roll a die to see who wins at that point. This is where the White Elephant comes in… After I’ve picked a Hero (and whatever weapon he’s got this week) the next player can either pick a different hero, or they can steal mine, but to do that they have to make an additional boast.

hardchoice

Now in the game pictured to the right I got the Priest without having to boast at all, but he ended up being pretty crappy and I lost hard. I should probably have stolen the Armorer or one of the other heroes … but then, I didn’t know what we were going to face in the Gauntlet. See once everyone has a Hero (some of whom are hungover or have a hand tied behind their back, are a juggling, or what ever other extravagant boast they’ve made) you start fighting monsters. Whatever monster shows up, everyone faces it. Then the survivors face the next monster, and so on until everyone is dead. There are a couple exceptions like the Spear Trap which just injures everyone (except for maybe the thief) or the Gold Vein which gives everyone money. And then of course there is a the Side Passage … which often leads to an interesting decision… like do I fight the harder monster and maybe get more money or take the sure thing that isn’t worth as much. Other times it can lead  situations like that pictured to the left. “You come to a fork in the road. The sign to the left says “Trap” and the one pointing to the right says “Free Money” which way will you go?”

And yes, that was an actual pull in a recent game… unsurprisingly no one went down the trapped passage. Finally it is worth mentioning that if you get the Armorer with a half way decent weapon you can probably actually survive all the way to the end… since you’ll have to give up the gold from 2-3 successful kills to make yourself nigh invincible this still might not actually win you the game… you don’t actually get any kind of bonus from surviving… However, if you do see the armorer w/ a 4 dice weapon it’s probably worth stealing it unless he’s already Juggling, Blind-Folded, Hopping On One Leg and Hungover… then again, you still might be able to win it skipping breakfast as well.

If you can find a copy of this game at MSRP buy it. It’s pretty hard to find, but well worth adding to your library.

Spoilers not guaranteed.

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

timetravelad__spanSo for a Sci-Fi movie about time travel, there is in fact very little of the trappings you might expect. Usually I’m pretty willing to countenance spoilers, as I’ve found (and heard told) that having the plot spoiled for you can often enhance the movie. There are some times though where watching or reading something without spoilers can be worthwhile, and this is definitely one of those cases.

So the premise is based on a joke ad published in ’97 in Backwoods magazine to fill space. It later hit the internet (YTMND for instance) before finally becoming a movie last year. All told the movie is more about people than time travel. Many have regrets that maybe time travel could fix … but maybe just meeting the right person could. Regardless the movie does a great job of keeping the big reveal a secret until the final moments of the movie. Hell, to be honest, they could probably go either way if they did a sequel… though I’m not sure how awesome a sequel w/out actual time travel would be.

It was pretty fun. I might bother to watch it a second time sometime, knowing now how it probably ends. I certainly wouldn’t purchase the movie, or force my friends to watch it. If you’ve got the opportunity to watch it though, by all means do so.

Merchant of Venus

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

merchant of venus temp

There are so many good games, reviewing just one a week, much less playing only one a week can be a little difficult. However I’ve now played 4 games of Merchant of Venus and it is quite awesome. There are SO many pieces that it looks way more daunting than it actually is. At it’s heart it’s a resource trading game. There are 14 races, and each race sells one “good”. These goods can be delivered to 3-5 other races for various profits. The catch is the location of each race on the map is not only random, but initially secret. The map has a variety of hazard, and navigational problems to trip players up as well.

Setup takes about 10-15 minutes, as does putting it away, but judicious uses of baggies, can keep it closer to 10. Then there is about 15 minutes of explaining how to play to anyone who hasn’t played before. The really hard concept to grasp is the Navigation Gates… These are generally 3-way intersections with arrows pointing out of each intersection. Each turn after you roll your speed dice (generally 3d6) you pick one die to be your Navigation Die… when you hit a nav-gate you have to follow the direction that matches your Nav-Die. Doesn’t sound so bad, except that most of the places w/ nav-gates have a bunch in a row, or worse, the way you want to go you need a “2” on one of your dice and you roll every number but.

There is a LOT of luck, but it’s generally fairly well spread out. The last game we play I would have won if I had rolled 8+ on my speed roll. I failed (got a 6 I think) and wasn’t able to make it to the station where I could sell enough goods to win; on Billy’s turn he needed to roll a 6 on one of his dice to fly through the appropriate gate and win, and he got it. The third player was also nigh on a turn from winning.

There is also the “bonus cup” or in my case, bag. This has passengers, which give you a nice payout if you take them to their destination, but don’t cost anything but cargo space to pick up (and also don’t start on the board at all) and Demand Tokens which ups the value of certain goods at various destinations. Each time you sell a good you put it in the bag and draw a new token from it. If you could take 3 glorious junk to a planet that has three +c60 demand tokens on it, you’d make an extra c360 (each time you fill demand, one of the demand tokens also goes back in the bag).

The game isn’t cheap, but it’s well worth the price, even if you never play the Fantasy Flight version that has a whole mess of extra parts.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

jiro dreams

And I dream of considering $350 dollars a worthwhile investment for a single meal. That almost covers rent and utilities for a whole month. That said, this was a pretty interesting movie. The short story (SPOILERS much!) is this guy has been making Sushi since he was 10 (75 years now) … And he’s gotten pretty good at it. The movie covers everything from family dynamics (Jiro has 2 sons, but the eldest is kind of hosed, since he’s 50 and Jiro still hasn’t retired! The other son has opened a second, mirror image restaurant. ) to food selection (they taste everything they are going to make, to ensure it’s good) to environmental impact of over fishing, and much more.

I would recommend it. It’s probably not worth buying the movie, but netflix it, or borrow it from your library. Especially if you are a fan of Sushi, though knowing you’ll probably never taste the “best Sushi” might be a little depressing.