Cooperative Game Reviews

Cooperative Game Review: Mechs vs Minions

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For shorter cooperative game reviews with a specific focus on how well they play with 2-players, visit my BGG Geeklist. And if you like painted minis check out Stu’s Painted Games BGG Geeklist.

Mechs vs Minions

pic3184103
Credit: Riot Games
Designers: Chris Cantrell, Rick Ernst, Stone Librande, Prashant Saraswat, Nathan Tiras

Publisher: Riot Games

# Players: 2-4 players

Playtime: 60 mins

About (from BGG):

Mechs vs. Minions is a cooperative tabletop campaign for 2-4 players. Set in the world of Runeterra, players take on the roles of four intrepid Yordles: Corki, Tristana, Heimerdinger, and Ziggs, who must join forces and pilot their newly-crafted mechs against an army of marauding minions. With modular boards, programmatic command lines, and a story-driven campaign, each mission will be unique, putting your teamwork, programming, and piloting skills to the test.

Thoughts:

We were super excited about getting Mechs vs Minions. It’s one of the few games that I clearly remember us purchasing. It was 2016 and we were at Essen for the first time. We had got ourselves invited to Modiphius Entertainment’s preview evening with one of our favourite designers attending, Matt Leacock. A memorable evening for sure!

But tonight the pre-order for the much hyped Mechs vs Minions would open and if we wanted any chance of getting one of the first wave copies we needed fast fingers. The time came and Stu, extremely excited, dutifully took his leave of the preview evening and sat outside on his phone refreshing the pre-order page until the order button appeared. To his horror the page crashed when he clicked it!

Stu then spent the next 30 minutes frantically checking around for an alternative before they all sold out and amazing stumbled across the EU Riot Games site (in German!) who had a few English language versions left. Phew! He quickly bought a copy. Adrenaline calming and relief setting in, Stu returned back to the preview party just in time for the announcement of Modiphius’ upcoming games and then enjoyed a game of Thunderbirds with Matt Leacock.

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Some months passed and a monstrosity of a box turned up on our doorstep. It was Mechs vs Minions. The box was quickly opened and it wasn’t a disappointment. It was even big enough to put our daughter in!

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Inside lay tray upon tray (with lids!) of minis and at the bottom a set of tantalisingly sealed envelopes (plus of course the boss mini concealed inside a sealed box with just enough poking out to spark our imaginations as to what could be inside!).

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Our first thoughts turned to the amazing quality of the game – from the super-thick box, to the wash on every mini, to the beautifully painted Yordles, even the trays to hold the minis are amazing. It was a game to drool over, to treasure, to keep forever.

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And then we played it. The first mission we failed miserably, but it was fun. Really fun. We immediately played again and won this time having got the hang of it. Mechs vs Minions for the next few weeks became our go-to game. Several games in the mission we were playing called for us to flip the tiles to the underground area. This was exciting! What could this new area and mission hold?! We were even instructed to open the boss box and finally got to look inside!

Unfortunately, this is when the game started to feel unbalanced – it didn’t work with 2 players any more. So we tried with 3-players. Better but still unbalanced – for example one mission required us to collect 4 crystals shards no matter the number of players. From our playing (we played this mission 3 times), it’s impossible to collect more than 1 crystal shard per Yordle.

So then we tried playing with 4-players. The game became fun again for a couple of missions, but the games now just seemed too easy, and we were playing on hard mode. And then suddenly the missions became impossibly hard. They felt random. It seemed near impossible to control this randomness even for us, now experienced, players. To our disappointment, we didn’t find the game fun any more.

Then we got to the second to last mission and we did something we never imagined we would have done before we started this journey. Even though we failed it, we decided not to play that mission again. We went straight onto the final mission instead as we wanted to finish the game. We wanted to see how it ended. We shouldn’t have. It ended with us saying ‘I’m glad we’ve finished that now’ and not in a good way. The pieces were quickly and unceremoniously neatly tidied away in the box and the game was immediately put on our ‘games to sell shelf’. How could such an amazingly anticipated game turn into something that we ‘just wanted to get through’?

My biggest regret is that we didn’t stop playing when the game started to lose its magic for us. We are glad to have played Mechs vs Minions (and our young daughter absolutely loved playing with its minis), it’s just a pity it’s not a ‘keeper’ for us. On the bright side, at least it frees up some shelf space for some new games!

Summary:

Mechs vs Minions is an amazing game in many ways; overall it far exceeds the quality of any other game we own. It has some interesting and fun mechanics, and is easily accessible to new gamers. However, quality, art, theme and accessibility are not enough for a game to be great. The gameplay has to match it. Unfortunately, after the first few missions, Mechs vs Minions started to feel repetitive. It also doesn’t work well with less than 4-players (unless playing with multiple Yorldes). Finally, the game started to feel random, with some stupidly easy games (on hard mode) and others stupidly hard (on easy mode). It’s definitely worth playing and for the price is excellent value for money, but for us, although it is a game that we once drooled over, it is ultimately one that we won’t be keeping.

My Rating: 5/10 (first half of the game is a 7)

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Cooperative Board Game Review: Fuse

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For shorter cooperative game reviews with a specific focus on how well they play with 2-players, visit my BGG Geeklist. And if you like painted minis check out Stu’s Painted Games BGG Geeklist.

Fuse

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Credit: Renegade Games Studio
Designer: Kane Klenko

Publisher: Renegade Game Studio

# Players: 1-5 players

Playtime: 10 mins

About (from BGG):

Intruders have made their way onto your ship, and their goal is total destruction! More than twenty bombs have been detected onboard, and the countdown has begun. Your elite Bomb Defusal Team has been called upon to neutralize the threat. Does your team have what it takes to work through the intricacies of the bombs and defuse them all in time?

Fuse is a real-time co-operative game that employs tools (dice) and bombs (cards). Bombs each need a specific combination of dice to defuse it. Each game is a strict ten-minutes, during which time players must work together to defuse all of the bombs before their ship explodes!

Thoughts:

Fuse is not a game that I would have ordinarily thought of purchasing or even playing for that matter. In general, I dislike real-time games, especially ones with dice (Escape: Curse of the Temple is the game to blame for this). However, given our ever decreasing time to play games I asked for some recommendations on Reddit on what I could buy my hubby Stu for his birthday. My main requirements were that the games were short, cooperative and work with just 2 players. Fuse was recommended and given that it’s not a particularly expensive game I thought we’d give it a shot.

For our first game we decided to skip the introductory variant and go straight to ‘standard’ difficulty – I mean, how hard could it be to match a few dice to some cards? Needless to say, our first play was quite chaotic and we did abysmally. On the plus side, we quickly worked out the importance of the dice we couldn’t use, and also realised we were playing with the wrong rules making the game much harder than it should have been. So we re-grouped and immediately played again for another hectic 10 minutes. And you know what? I really enjoyed the real-time nature of it and the game is so cooperative! I can’t overstate enough how important it is to communicate and work together else you are destined to lose.

And so we played for a third time in a row! It’s been a while since after finishing a game I just wanted to play it again, and again (last note-able example was Pandemic Legacy: Season 1). Although the short length does lend itself to this sort of play. After 3 play-throughs Stu wanted to stop. He was finding the game too stressful! I was a little disappointed, I wanted to crack the game. I wanted to win! But needless to say, Stu was saved by the bell, or rather the pitter patter of little feet as our daughter woke up from her nap. Fuse was unceremoniously put away and our day resumed as normal.

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A few hours later, Stu said: “You know what, I actually really enjoyed Fuse“. I breathed a breath of relief; I had been worried that he’d hated it. The next day we played again, three games in a row and we finally won a game! Wahoo! I loved playing it; the puzzle nature of the game, especially the optimum use and sharing of the dice as well as the careful selection of bomb cards really appeals to my technical mindset. And the time pressure forces you to make quick decisions which I also like. It stops analysis paralysis if you want any chance in winning. Both Stu and I like playing games with our gut, although I tend to do a little more (fast) analysis than him, so it really does appeal to us both.

On our next game night, we tried Fuse with 3 players. The game felt distinctly easier – less re-rolls and elimination of dice as it’s easier to take 1 dice when you have a choice of 2 cards compared to taking 2 dice with a choice of just 2 cards for 2-players.

Fuse is fun with 3-players but the dynamic is a bit different. There’s a little more time to think and it’s a little less chaotic. Also, I found that most of the time I could take pretty much any dice and we rarely had a dice that one of us couldn’t use. Although, we still lost! I enjoyed playing with 3-players but I think I prefer the challenge of 2-players;  you really, really need to work well together creating a fun but significant challenge. However, it does help (a lot) if you know the other person quite well!

Summary:

Fuse is not a game I would usually lean towards, but I loved it. I think it plays brilliantly with 2-players, especially if you like fast action puzzles. If you like a little more time to think, I’d recommend playing with 3+ players instead. If you’re looking for a game that plays quickly (I’d say you’re going to play at least 2-3 games in a row so 20-30 mins) then Fuse is perfect. However, if you are easily stressed, then perhaps Fuse isn’t a game for you!

My Rating: 8/10

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Cooperative Board Game Review: Thunderbirds

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For shorter cooperative game reviews with a specific focus on how well they play with 2-players, visit my BGG Geeklist. And if you like painted minis check out Stu’s Painted Games BGG Geeklist.

Thunderbirds

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Credit: Modiphius Entertainment
Designer: Matt Leacock

Publisher: Modiphius Entertainment

# Players: 1-4 players

Playtime: 45 mins

About (from BGG):

Set in the year 2065, Thunderbirds follows the exploits of International Rescue, a secret organization committed to saving human life, secretly founded and funded by the millionaire Tracy family, with the motto: ‘Never give in, at any cost!’ International Rescue has a host of technologically advanced land-, sea-, air-, and space-rescue vehicles and equipment ready to launch at a moment’s notice.

Racing to the rescue from a secret island base beneath the luxurious home of the Tracy family somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean, International Rescue defies government spies and criminals who want the secrets of their incredible machines for their own. To combat this threat, Lady Penelope, the Thunderbirds’ aristocratic English secret agent, and her chauffeur Parker lead a network of agents to uncover those behind the disasters caused by deliberate sabotage.

Thunderbirds is a cult 1960s British science-fiction television series, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. It was produced using a combination of marionette puppetry and scale-model special effects, which was dubbed “Supermarionation”. Two series, totaling thirty-two 50-minute episodes, were produced, along with two films using the same techniques.

Players will work together using Thunderbirds characters and vehicles to complete rescue missions and save the day.

Thoughts:

I’m going to be upfront and say that I’m not a Thunderbirds fan – my hubby, Stu is but I never liked it as a child and having recently watched it I still don’t enjoy it. In fact Stu is such a fan he went ‘all in’ on the Kickstarter, including the RPG even though we don’t (yet) play RPGs. He even sourced a companion magazine to go with the game, just in case we wanted to look up the backstory behind the Disaster cards!

That said, you don’t have to be a Thunderbirds fan to like the game, you just may be more forgiving if you are.

When we first played Thunderbirds after receiving it as a Kickstarter backer, we played just the base game. And it was an okay game but overall it was a real disappointment – we were hoping for so much more; we love Pandemic, Forbidden Island and other Matt Leacock games and my hubby really wanted to like it because of Thunderbirds but it wasn’t an instant hit. Something was missing. The game felt flat (particularly for me), feeling like we weren’t really achieving anything. And the metal tokens? As lovely and tactile as they are, they are a bit hard to differentiate at a glance.

Kickstarter Metal Tokens

We also felt that it didn’t work very well with just 2-players (assuming you play with 1 character each), which is our normal player count. Basically, 1 person needs to cover space (and the space ones are hard so you really need to be John or Alan every game as you’re not going to get much ground support), and the other person tries, as best they can, to cover rescues on planet Earth. Being totally honest, I don’t find the space missions much fun. You either spend your whole turn attempting (and usually failing) a rescue or moving to another one and getting one attempt at a rescue. The movement is very linear and there’s limited strategy to it. Plus, once you’re up there it feels like a waste of actions coming back down to Earth to collect more help or swap so basically 1-player is stuck up in space for a whole game.

Thunderbirds

So after just a few plays it just sat on our game shelf – my hubby refusing to get rid of it as he loves Thunderbirds and me unwilling to play it as we have so many other, better games. And then, 2 months ago, we tried playing again with a friend and incorporated all of the expansion materials from the ‘Tracy Island’ and the ‘Above & Beyond’ expansions (except the timer). And the game was fun. Really fun. With 3 players, the burden of space is shared. Rescues on Earth become more strategic and more importantly cooperative rather than us each playing our own game. The other players even have a chance to help out on the Earth-parts of the space mission! But more importantly than all of this, the expansion modifications brought a sense of achievement – you could level up your character. It became important to distribute the rescues between players to aid in the characters levelling up. All of a sudden it felt like we were improving our characters by doing rescues rather than it just being a chore-like game mechanism. The game was no longer okay, it was fun. Great fun! It’s actually now our go-to game for 3 players when we’re short on time. Stu’s even started painting the POD vehicles!

Stu's Painted Minis

In terms of difficulty, we have been finding the game a little easy so we played on Legendary difficulty last week and had a close win. This week we catastrophically lost (due to those pesky space rescues) but had we played differently it might have been a different story so the fact it has scaling difficulty levels is good – you can tune it to the ability of your group.

As for the ‘iconic disaster vehicles’ from the Above & Beyond expansion,  I really don’t see the point or the need for them (even though Stu loves them and is looking forward to getting them painted). You always seem to need the token reward to complete the challenges so it’s rarely worth going for the vehicle reward – they just aren’t good enough. But I do love the little pod vehicle minis, especially now that they are  getting painted by my wonderful hubby!

Finally, as we didn’t want the little purple minis that came with The Hood expansion to feel left out (we have no intention of ever playing the game competitively), we use them to mark the locations of the Scheme requirements: they stand out nicely against the standard red tokens.

Summary:

The base game of Thunderbirds leaves a lot to be desired but with the addition of the ‘Tracy Island’ expansion it’s a very good game. It doesn’t work so well with 2-players and the space missions are the weakest part of the game, but overall its a fun, short not too complex game thats perfect for a fun filled games evening when incorporating the ‘Above & Beyond’ (must have) and ‘Tracy Island’ (good to have) expansions.

My Rating:

  • 6/10 (base game).
  • 8/10 (with the ‘Above & Beyond’ and ‘Tracy Island’ expansions incorporated and 3+ players)

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Cooperative Board Game Review: Flash Point Fire Rescue

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For shorter cooperative game reviews with a specific focus on how well they play with 2-players, visit my BGG Geeklist. And if you like painted mini’s check out Stu’s Painted Games BGG Geeklist.

Flash Point Fire Rescue

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Credit: Indie Boards and Cards
Designer: Kevin Lanzing

Publisher: Indie Boards and Cards

# Players: 1-6 players

Playtime: 45 mins

About (from BGG):

The call comes in… “911, what is your emergency?” On the other end is a panicked response of “FIRE!” Moments later you don the protective suits that will keep you alive, gather your equipment and rush to the scene of a blazing inferno. The team has only seconds to assess the situation and devise a plan of attack – then you spring into action like the trained professionals that you are. You must face your fears, never give up, and above all else work as a team because the fire is raging, the building is threatening to collapse, and lives are in danger.

You must succeed. You are the brave men and women of fire rescue; people are depending on you. This is what you do every day.

Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a cooperative game of fire rescue.

Thoughts:

Flash Point:Fire Rescue was one of our very first board game purchases and we still have it in our collection today. We have every single expansion and promo for it and it still comes out to the table fairly regularly. It was also one of Stu’s very first mini-paint jobs!

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In Flash Point, at the start of the game you choose your character, however unlike most other games you can swap your character partway through the game but it’s not something you should do lightly! Swapping characters uses up most of your precious action points and can only be done when you’re in the right place (so you aren’t chopping and changing every 5 minutes!). There’s an interesting layer of strategy in working out when it’s best to swap and when it’s best just to stick with what you have already.

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And talking of roles, there’s a whole host of different roles that you can play which all play slightly differently and can add a different strategy to your game. And it’s not just people you can play as, you can also play as the fire dog! He can run fast but doesn’t like fire and we’ve found him particularly useful during the early stages of a game, although we have house ruled that our dog is clever enough to open doors (for 2 action points) which means he gets a little more play and this change doesn’t seem to unbalance the game.

In our games, we always seem to debate who should swap characters; Stu tends to prefer to stay the same character whereas I quite like mixing things up although to start with we always fought over who got to play the dog as he’s really interested to play in the early parts of the game! One of my other favourite characters for mid-game swapping is the Driver/Operator with the deck gun and (hopefully) the satisfaction of clearing out the fire and getting the map back under control! Although my go-to character now is the CAFS Fire Fighter – he’s slightly more interesting as you are combining and playing off special actions against standard actions.

The rather ubiquitous selection of maps also keeps the game fresh, and of course we own every single one! However, some boards are better than others and I must say I have a preference for the more basic boards; I’ve never really got on with the submarine map but I do really quite enjoy the terraced houses which mixes up with your strategy a bit. Another thing, I really like about Flash Point is that the victims and characters come all all shapes, sizes, genders and races (and animals – the cat is our favourite!) and action points can be saved so you never feel forced into doing something useless just to use them all up.

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But perhaps one of the main reasons Flash Point gets onto our table so frequently is that  referring to the rulebook mid game is one of my major pet hates, as is having to re-read the rules each time we take the game off the shelf. Games that require this don’t get anywhere near the frequency of play even if they may be ‘better’ games in other ways.  But Flash Point isn’t like this: It is really easy to learn and remember, so even if it doesn’t make it on to our game table for a couple of months we rarely have to refer to the rulebook during gameplay.

But what about the latest expansion, Tragic Events? This small expansion adds a Fire Deck and removes hot spots and I think is the final touch for Flash Point. The deck feels a bit like Forbidden Island with Water Rising cards but if a mechanism works why not learn from it? It changes the game just enough to rejuvenate it (and dare I say it, complete) without changing the core or making the game harder to learn/remember. I’m pretty sure from now on we will be exclusively playing Flash Point with this expansion; I’m not sure we could ever go back to the original version!

Summary:

Flash Point provides entertainment to both novice and experienced gamers alike and the multitude of expansions keeps the game fresh. It works well with 2-players but perhaps plays slightly better with 3-4 players.

But why does Flash Point get the privilege of getting onto our table so often? Is it a great game? No. But is it a good game? Yes, absolutely. And sometimes a good game, that’s suitable for 2 tired parents to play, especially when it’s too late to play something more ‘serious’ then Flash Point is often our game of choice. Plus the recent addition of the Tragic Events expansion makes the game even better.

My Rating:

  • 7/10 (base game).
  • 8/10 (with Tragic Events expansion)

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Cooperative Board Game Review: Grimslingers

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Grimslingers

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Credit: Greenbrier Games
Designer: Stephen Gibson

Publisher: Greenbrier Games

# Players: 1-6 players

Playtime: 60-90 mins

About (from BGG):

In a land beyond God’s reckonin’ is a place called the Forgotten West — a cursed land of sorts in the American frontier, housing the damned, the mysterious, the unfortunate. You ended up there, God knows why, and you sure ain’t leavin’ anytime soon.

The Iron Witch, a downright mysterious bein’, has turned you into a Grimslinger, a powerful witch imbued with metal, machine, and fancy elemental powers. Now yer maker’s requirin’ all his newly sired to duel each other so that he can make y’all into witches proper for his own purposes.

Grimslingers is a strategic, sci-fi fantasy western themed card game that features two different modes of play: versus and coop.

Review:

When this game arrived I had no recollection of ever agreeing that it was a good purchase but apparently approximately a year ago I said ‘yes that looks interesting’ and my hubby backed it on Kickstarter.

Fast forward to a month or so ago and Grimslingers arrived on our doorstep. My first impression was ‘wow – look at that art!’. There’s nothing else I can say, the art is amazing and absolutely beautiful.

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But what about gameplay? We only played the coop campaign and have no intention of playing the duel mode (we don’t play competitive games in this house!).

The game is very easy to learn and play; not too taxing but definitely has a fair amount of strategy. It doesn’t take too long to play which is always a bonus for us given our limited (toddler-free) time. It works equally well with 2 or 3 players, and it was easy to add a 3rd player after playing the first mission without them feeling that they had been left behind.

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I really like the story nature of the game – it always feels like you are trying to accomplish something and the length of time it takes you to accomplish it is up to you – do you go the direct route or the scenic route? In our first game we took the direct route and the second one the scenic route. Both games were fun from start to finish. The narrative was fun to read with just the right amount of humour and not too much blood and guts. It felt like the right amount, pausing gameplay just long enough to give you sense of purpose but not so long you forget what you are doing.

It didn’t feel too hard to play in terms of level of challenge (but then again I managed to get a super-good card just as we were fighting the final boss during Part 2 which was a pure stroke of luck – things could have been very different! That may make you think that the game is too random – but in reality, I took a real gamble and it paid off; sometimes gambles work, other times they don’t. In fact on many, many occasion my gambles didn’t pay-off!

My main concern with Grimslingers is replayability. Now we have finished the 4 missions in the campaign, I’m not sure I really would want to play these missions again especially as the game is limited to 6 key enemies . The individual character abilities are interesting, but I’ve found I rarely used mine, and the cards in each of the enemy decks did become a little repetitive (the Spectres are a particularly annoying enemy!). However, if you like card counting as a strategy then you’ll love it. That said, I really, really have enjoyed playing it and I’m not sure the lack of replayability is an issue. Legacy games you only play once through so why not this? Also, the expansion is meant to give the game a new lease of life but we’ve not got that far yet – I’ll let you know when we have!

You can find more of my thoughts on Grimslingers on Reddit.

Summary:

A fun game that isn’t too taxing or too long but with just the right amount of strategy after a hard day at work. Replayability is of potential concern with just the base game (thus a 7 rating), but as a game to play through once and sell on, I’d say it’s definitely worth it, if for nothing else than to admire the beautiful art. As to whether the expansion improves replayability (which it should!), I’ll have to let you know once we have played it!

My Rating: 7/10

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Updated: 8th April 2018 (campaign finished)

Cooperative Board Game Review: Rising 5 – Runes of Asteros

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Rising 5: Runes of Asteros

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Credit: Holy Grail Games
Designer: Gary Kim, Evan Song

Publisher: Holy Grail Games

# Players: 1-5 players

Playtime: 30mins

About (from BGG):

A long, long time ago, the ancient King of Asteros confined the brutal monsters in the Rune Gate and sealed it with four divine runes. But five days ago, a mysterious evil power opened the gate and changed the code. Asteros is haunted by fear and disasters again! The wise leader ORAKL asked the Council of United Planets and they sent four famous agents: EKHO, HAL, ELI and NOVA. ORAKL and the four brave agents begin to fight against the evil powers to save Asteros. They must find the Code to reset the Gate and confine the monsters again. People call them “Rising 5”, hoping they will be able to restore peace on the planet.

Rising 5: Runes of Asteros is a co-operative deduction and adventure game with a mobile phone application or a games master. Players must find the answer Code with the four Runes in the right arrangement before the evil power devours the planet. Players can explore the planet to collect energy or clues and to fight against evil monsters.

Review:

Rising 5 is another of the few games that we actively sought out at Essen in 2016. Unfortunately the table was always full and we had to watch other people enjoying themselves and admire the beautiful art at the sidelines. Luckily we had pledged on Kickstarter and would receive our very own copy sometime soon.

When my hubby originally backed the Collectors Edition (he’s a minis fan), I questioned his decision, but now, having played Rising 5, I think he made the right choice; the minis really bring it to life and the bright yellow box is both striking and beautiful.

Although gameplay is relatively simple (and I’m pretty good at logic/code breaking games) for some reason we both struggled with our first game and lost terribly. Not deterred, and having finally deduced what the different stages of the signs really meant (the rules are a little confusing) we immediately played again. Everything made sense this time and we won without breaking a sweat.

Rising 5 has both simplicity and sufficient challenge to make it both a beautiful and elegant game to play. It’s perfect for when you don’t have much time and/or if your brain isn’t up for something more complex. The minis are good quality and quite satisfying to move around the board – I’m sure the standees do the job but I’m with my hubby on this one, there’s something satisfying about these minis. Even though the game is part digital, I’m pleased to say that the app doesn’t get in the way of the analogue gameplay experience (we use the silk cubes and only use the app for setup and code checking).

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Credit: Holy Grail Games

I particularly like the mechanic behind the Blood Moon in that it doesn’t immediately activate – it gives you 1 full turn before it takes effect, hopefully giving you enough time to mitigate the effect and in some instances preventing you from losing the game. I actually like it so much it’s made me re-think how I implement one of the mechanics in one of my games.

After the first 2 games we added in the extra content – a concern I do have for this game is whether it will stand up to repeated gameplay as there are a rather limited number of event and artefact cards which may make the game, with increased familiarity, more ‘card counting’ than ‘game’. Some people may love this and consider it as part of the puzzle, but I find this aspect less desirable.

I’ve played Rising 5 both 2-player and 3-player and I must say I much preferred 2-players. I also expect it plays pretty well solo. Although it works with 3-players I’d suggest there isn’t quite enough going on to keep everyone occupied as well as the problem that the game very much lends itself towards alpha players. It’s therefore vital that everyone can see the status of all the signs at all times but the logistics of this (with more than 2-players) isn’t immediately evident. I’d therefore suggest this is the ideal game to play with your partner / housemate / good friend after a hard day at work but perhaps not one for your game group.

 

Summary:

Although I wouldn’t class Rising 5 as one of my all time favourite games it fills a need that we often have; it’s short, simple and has the right amount of challenge, but perhaps most importantly it’s really fun to play. It’s one I foresee regularly getting onto our table.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Cooperative Board Game Review: The 7th Continent

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The 7th Continent

pic2577555Photo: Serious Poulp
Designer: Ludovic Roudy, Bruno Sautter

Publisher: Serious Poulp

# Players: 1-4 players

Playtime: 20ish hours for The Voracious Goddess Curse

About (from BGG):

It’s the early 20th century. You have decided to sail back to the newly discovered seventh continent to attempt to lift the terrible curse that has struck you since your return from the previous expedition.

In The 7th Continent, a solo or cooperative “choose-your-own-adventure” exploration board game, you choose a character and begin your adventure on your own or with a team of other explorers. Inspired by the Fighting Fantasy book series, you will discover the extent of this wild new land through a variety of terrain and event cards. In a land fraught with danger and wonders, you have to use every ounce of wit and cunning to survive, crafting tools, weapons, and shelter to ensure your survival.

Review:

Both my hubby and I were anxiously awaiting the arrival of The 7th Continent on our door step. Ever since we first heard about it, we wanted to play it: This is probably my most highly anticipated game ever from Kickstarter and that’s saying something. At Essen 2016 we sought out Serious Poulp’s stand just to catch a glimpse of it and I must say, when it finally arrived, it did not disappoint.

Shortly before we were due to start playing, my hubby, Stu, kindly asked me which character I wanted to play. After looking at them I decided on Ferdinand Lachapelliere. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, this was the one he wanted to play. After a week or so of bantering (whilst he was painting the minis), I finally prevailed and he relented: I was going to be Ferdinand, whilst he was going to be Mary Kingsley.

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So, we have a few childfree weekends. They were actually our first child-free nights since in the 2 years since Amelie was born! So what do we do? Go on long walks? Have romantic meals? Do what adults do when they are childfree? Nope! We played The 7th Continent! And slept – we do like sleep almost as much (possibly more?) than board games.

At this point I am going to caveat that we binge played The 7th Continent which is not how it is recommended to be played. Our first game was The Voracious Goddess curse and although we did use the save system a few times (and it works very well), what we actually did most of the time was play for hours and hours, leaving it setup whilst we, erm, ate something or popped to the loo and maybe slept a bit. You might currently be wondering what we did with our toddler to be able to do this? Well, I was 30-odd weeks pregnant at the time so we had the perfect excuse that my parents needed to look after her (obviously several weekends in a row) to get her used to staying with them in preparation for when I went into labour. A perfect cover story for “we want to play our new board game without a little person interrupting us”. It even had a little truth to it! Luckily my parents love looking after her and she loves visiting them so everyone was happy.

But enough about childfree time. Did we enjoy playing The 7th Continent?

The first curse took us almost 20 hours to complete. The first couple of hours was a little tricky getting the hang of exploration vs food but we soon got the hang of it. The game seems very well balanced – a few time we ran out of cards but managed to find food before the lose condition was met. I’m unsure what we would have done if we had reached a game over given the time investment we had made and limited time to play again. But I do know I wouldn’t have been very happy!

In terms of gameplay, I absolutely loved playing The 7th Continent with my hubby. It has the right amount of story, exploration and strategic decisions (which card to keep, doing stuff together or split up as well as when to hunt for/eat food). We mostly chose to stay together as we enjoyed it more that way – perhaps not the most strategic but certainly more enjoyable for us. I also loved the Fear the Devourers (monsters) and Facing the Elements (weather) expansions which added a little more variety to the mix and it’s cool to have a baby devourer as a pet as you explore, ready to be killed for food in emergencies! Although the characters do have some unique cards and skills, we quickly found that they didn’t really matter hugely and my hubby was no longer annoyed that I was playing Ferdinand and he wasn’t. Phew!

After a while, we found that we’d made a wrong turn (which later turned out not to be wrong!) and it was a little frustrating that we had to keep re-exploring the same parts of the map (we had to put it away due to game instructions, saves or lack of table space). In the end we used some house rules as it was sapping the fun out the game (and our childfree time was limited!): basically if we had already explored a tile we just put it out and allowed fast travel which made the game a lot more fun, which for me is the most important thing.

However, I’m not sure I’d want to play this at higher player counts – I think the hand and inventory limits were just about right and not sure I’d want to have to have less cards to choose from so think this game is perfect at 2 player. There are rules to allow the temporary joining of additional players for those who want to let someone else join in for a single session but I enjoyed playing The 7th Continent so much I’m not sure I could bring myself to sharing the experience with anyone other than my hubby! And if you’re interested, yes obviously we backed their most recent What Goes Up, Must Come Down Kickstarter and can’t wait to receive the extra content!

Summary:

This game competes for top spot in my favourite games with its closest rival being T.I.M.E. Stories. All in all, we loved this game and looking forward to playing the next curses – although we’re giving it a break for a while so we forget the map a bit, gives us a chance to play some other games and we now have 2 kids!

My Rating: 10/10   (with our house rule for fast travel)

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