Posts tagged ‘rules’

The Curious Case of the Tomb Board Game

About a year or so ago, AEG released a game called Tomb. It did not get a lot of fanfare at the time. As a matter of fact, we only sold a few copies of it, so we did not even stock it. This year, at GenCon, we met with some of the AEG folks and learned of an expansion for this game, called Cryptmaster. I even spent a little bit of time playing it. It seems promising – and we will get to that in a minute.

So, the premise of Tomb is fairly straightforward. Each player seeds the different tombs with Tomb cards, so it is mildly random – but some of the players have an inkling of what they can expect. Over a few turns, they recruit a raiding party, and they venture into the tomb for a hack-n-slash. This is supposed to be a get-in-get-out dungeon crawl where your raiding party is essentially monster fodder. The box says you should be able to play up to six people and it says the game length is about one to two hours.

The premise is great and our gaming group was revved up and ready to go. They like this kind of stuff, so it was a good bet to open the evening with this. Well, that was not the case.

This game was “broken” when we played with a full set of players. There were six people playing plus myself. We all wanted to really like this game and we wanted to believe that it was slow and plodding because we were learning the game. The game lasted for FOUR HOURS and it became a grind to get through.

Each player had a full raiding party of 5 characters, so there were tons of decisions on what to do, and each player’s turn lasted as long as 10-15 minutes each, so, that is an hour per round. There was very little of the players going back and “banking” treasure, recruiting more characters, drawing more cards, etc.

What started out as a fun adventure went on to be a boring monster kill session. People got up, got food, chatted with other friends, and Gary even mentioned that he had considered getting a shower. One of the players actually had to leave and go pick someone up and was gone for an hour or so. They came back and missed one turn. The essence of this game was lost somewhere in the process. Quick and dirty is how it is promoted!

So, this gets us back to GenCon and our meeting with AEG.

It seems that they are releasing an “expansion” for this game called Tomb: Cryptmaster. Now, I was hooked at the idea of this game from the demo – before I played Tomb.

I believe in the premise of the game, so I am still positive about Cryptmaster and its ability to fix the holes in the core game. Let me share with you what AEG told us (and I paraphrase):

“There were some issues with the original Tomb rules, so we adjusted them for this expansion. As a matter of fact, we would prefer that people buy the expansion as the core game and use the base game to expand your ability/weapons cards, quantity of characters, and a second stack of Tomb cards (about 40 go out per game and there are 200 in the box, so that’s a lot of cards). “

So, essentially the new Tomb expansion is the patch to Tomb. Which, if it plays well is great. Sadly, they should not have released a game that needed a patch.

Something else that is cool is that the new board has four entrances to the crypt. This is good, because it took people a turn or two to get to the back of the crypt. Now, they can zip out to the Inn and re-enter at the back of the crypt.

I am not going to spend a lot of words here spelling out all the changes to the rules that have been incorporated into this new “expansion”.

What I will say is that Best Dang Games was going to offer Tomb, because it seemed like a cool game. But after our experience with it, we are choosing not to carry this game (ALONE). We may try to play it one more time or two, to see if first impressions are accurate. Once Cryptmaster comes out, we will shoot to get a demo copy of that game with high hopes once again. If Cryptmaster passes the “fun” test, we will sell it as a single option and we will offer Tomb and Cryptmaster as a bundle together, since that is how it seems you should play it.

The rules for Cryptmaster are available for download.

If you own Tomb and had a similar experience, you may want to consider downloading these rules and using them, rather than the rules that came in the original box of Tomb. Here are the rules for Cryptmaster. If you have played this game, please leave comments to let us know if we are off base on this. If you went to GenCon and demoed Cryptmaster, let us know what you thought. We really want to like this game.

September 2, 2009 at 2:03 am 2 comments

Fluxx Card Game – Goals and the Keepers that Go With Them

Author – Chris Skinner

When playing the Fluxx card game, arguably the most important aspect is the end goal of the game.  One of the niftiest parts about this game is the fact that it doesn’t have a single end goal – it has multiple! 

While the Goals tell you exactly what you need right on them, the Keepers in your hand do not tell you which Goal they go with.  Since there are so many in the original, and even more in the newer versions, we’ve put together a list, forward and backwards, of the Goals you have and what Keepers go with them!

Listed By Goal

  • Squishy Chocolate – Cholocate and Sun
  • Star Gazing – Cosmos and Eye
  • Interstellar Spacecraft – Rocket and Cosmos
  • Time is Money – Time and Money
  • Toast – Bread and Toaster
  • All You Need is Love – Love and no other Keepers
  • Dough – Bread and Money
  • Hippyism – Peace and Love
  • Night and Day – Moon and Sun
  • Rocket to the Moon – Moon and Rocket
  • War = Death – Death and War
  • Winning the Lottery – Dreams and Money
  • 5 Keepers – Five of any Keeper
  • 10 Cards in Hand – 10 cards of any type
  • All that is Certain – Death and Taxes
  • The Appliances – Television and Toaster
  • Dreamland – Dreams and Sleep
  • Milk and Cookies – Cookies and Milk
  • Party Snacks – Party and (either 1 Bread or 1 Chocolate or 1 Cookie)
  • Rocket Science – Brain and Rocket
  • Baked Goods – Bread and Cookies
  • Bed Time – Sleep and Time
  • The Brain (No TV)  – Brain and no TV Keeper anywhere on table
  • Chocolate Cookies – Chocolate and Cookies
  • Chocolate Milk – Chocolate and Milk
  • Death by Chocolate – Chocolate and Death
  • Hearts and Minds – Brain and Love
  • The Mind’s Eye – Brain and Eye
  • Peace (no War) – Peace and no War Creeper anywhere on table

By Keeper

The number in parenthesis indicates the frequency it shows up in Goals

  •  The Brain(4) – Rocket Science, The Brain (no TV), Hearts and Minds, The Mind’s Eye
  • Bread – (4) – Dough, Toast, Party Snacks, Baked Goods
  • Chocolate – (4) – Squishy Chocolate, Party Snacks, Chocolate Cookies, Death By Chocolate
  • Cookies – (4) – Milk and Cookies, Baked Goods, Chocolate Cookies, Party Snacks
  • The Cosmos – (2) – Star Gazing, Interstellar Spacecraft
  • Death – (3) – All That is Certain, Death by Chocolate, War = Death
  • Dreams – (2) – Dreamland, Winning the Lottery
  • The Eye – (2) – Star Gazing, The Mind’s Eye
  • Love – (3) – All You Need Is Love, Hippyism, Hearts and Minds
  • Milk – (2) – Milk and Cookies, Chocolate Milk
  • Money – (3) – Time is Money, Dough, Winning the Lottery
  • The Moon – (2) – Night and Day, Rocket to the Moon
  • The Party – (1) – Party Snacks
  • Peace – (2) – Hippyism, Peace (No War)
  • The Rocket – (3) – Interstellar Spacecraft, Rocket to the Moon, Rocket Science
  • Sleep – (2) – Bed Time, Dreamland
  • Taxes – (1) – All That Is Certain
  • The Sun – (2) – Squishy Chocolate, Night and Day
  • Television – (1) – The Appliances
  • Time – (2) – Time is Money, Bed Time
  • The Toaster – (2) – The Appliances, Toast
  • War – (1) – War = Death

August 21, 2009 at 12:44 am Leave a comment

Twilight Imperium Board Game – A Newbie’s Guide To Ruling The Galaxy

Author – Jeff Woods

Twilight Imperium (3rd Edition) is a board game of galactic conquest and strategy for 3-6 players. With the expansion, up to 8 can play, and rules variants are available for 2 players. It’s published by Fantasy Flight Games.

I have not owned Twilight Imperium very long, and have not played that many games yet. But, it is a game I truly enjoy, and you may as well. It’s not my intention here to go into a lot of detail about every part and every rule. I thought I would write down my thoughts, and why I already love the game, to help you decide if it’s the game for you.

What is Twilight Imperium (TI) all about, you may ask? TI is a massive strategy board game that takes place mostly in outer space. The ‘game board’ is actually a map of the galaxy made of hexes, and is different every time. Players play one of several galactic races trying to take over leadership of the galaxy. You do this through conquest, politics and even economics.

Twilight Imperium Is HUGE!

TI is a huge game, and not just in scope. If you’re considering getting it, make sure you have plenty of table space for the map, all the different cards, and areas for each player to keep track of his stuff. My 4-by-5 foot table is barely big enough for a 4-player game. This is not a light, “hey, let’s play something,” game, but an event that you need to plan for and set aside plenty of time. All the games I’ve played have taken at least four hours. If you’re playing with any optional rules (yes, there are plenty, and lots of markers/chits for those, too) plan for longer.

When you first open the box, be prepared to be overwhelmed. The amount of pieces and parts is staggering. You get map hexes, cards, plastic ships, markers for this and that, and a nicely put-together rulebook. But don’t worry about what to do first; the rulebook itself tells you what piece is what and how to organize things. The production quality of the parts is wonderful. The map hexes and various markers are made from high quality material, and are sure to last a lot of games. One note of warning here, though: the box itself has no dividers. Invest in some baggies, tackle boxes or a combination of both to keep everything organized.

Basic Play

Twilight Imperium is played in rounds, each broken into three phases:

  • The Strategy Phase
  • The Action Phase
  • The Status Phase

The Strategy Phase

During the Strategy Phase, players pick a strategy card that gives them some type of bonus for that round. You may be able to get a free technology upgrade, or resolve a political situation and change the rules of the game, among others.

The Action Phase

During the Action Phase, you move you ships, engage in combat, and play to the bonuses of your particular Strategy Card you picked.

The Status Phase

The Status Phase is mainly a book-keeping phase in which you check your score, repair ships, and ‘reset’ the board for action in the next round. While you’re taking your turn, other players are planning their next moves, trying to sabotage you, and bartering for political gain.

Everything Has A Cost

This is a game where everything you do has a cost. You have a limited number of Command Counters, which allow you to move your fleets, and take advantage of certain strategies. You have, or may not have, Trade Goods (the game’s currency) you can spend to either help build ships, research technology, or buy votes in the political arena. Planets you’ve taken over provide you with resources and influence, which you use to expand your fleets or vote in politics, respectively.

How Do You Win?

You win a game of TI, and leadership of the Galaxy, by achieving objectives, which are random and different every game. An objective could be a simple as controlling 10 planets, to more difficult, like controlling Mecatol Rex (the Capitol planet that’s always in the center of the galaxy) with a number of ships and ground forces.

Why Do I Like Twilight Imperium?

I really like this game because for me it has it all. I love science fiction, so to me the theme is golden. You have large scale space battles, planetary invasions, politics and lots of player interaction. Although it’s possible, it’s highly unlikely that a player is eliminated from the game. The map is random, as are the main objectives for winning, which makes every game different. Each Race that can be played has a different bonus, and adds a bit of role-playing. There is plenty of player interaction, with very little downtime between turns. Even though it can take a long time to play, there’s enough going on to keep most people interested.

Of course, what appeals to some can turn others off. As I said before, it’s a massive game that takes a long time to play. There are a lot of rules, and a lot of steps to accomplishing any goal in the game. If you don’t have the table space, or aren’t into a LOT of bits, this isn’t the game for you.

A Little Advice

Check out the rules (They are 44 pages long), then the FAQ section on Fantasy Flight Games’ website for rules clarifications. Then head over to Boardgamegeek.com and peruse through some of the excellent articles there. This is an expensive game, both in money and time. If you’re interested and trying to find buddies that you can play with, let your friends know it’s a little like Risk, but with politics and economics. Although combat and galactic war are big parts of the game, they’re the means to an end, and not the end itself. Although unlikely, it’s possible to win without firing a shot.

And for your first game, set a time to stop, and allow lots of mulligans as you interpret the rules.

Twilight Imperium is a great game for me. I can’t play it as much as I’d like because of the investment in time, but when I do, it’s an event that’s remembered.

You can also check out more information about Twilight Imperium here.

April 15, 2009 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

Settlers of Catan: A Beginner’s Strategy Guide

Settlers of Catan is one of the first Euro-style games to come to America, and has won countless awards. If you’re looking for tips on how to improve your game, the most important place to focus is on your initial two settlement placements. These two decisions, often made in a minute or so, can have as much impact on your chances for victory as a half-hour’s worth of turns later in the game.

Initial Placement

Numbers
The most obvious thing to consider, and most important, the dots associated with each number. The dots on each number indicate how frequently it is likely to be rolled. Consequently, you should be sure to place both of your settlements at intersections with a high number of surrounding dots. The red numbers (6 and 8 ) have five dots each, so obviously, you’re much better off playing on an intersection of 6, 9, and 3, then of a 4, 5, and 11.

Another thing worth paying attention to isn’t just the total of dots, but the different sorts of numbers you have as well. If you place your initial settlements on two 4s, two 6s, and two 9s, then unless someone rolls a 9, 6, or 4, you aren’t going to get any resources, and can prepare for a long, boring defeat. Diversifying your initial settlement numbers increases the chance that you will get at least something from every roll. And that’s a good thing, because even if it’s not the resource you wanted, you can always trade it for one you do need.

Resource Types
Pay attention to the types of materials available in the game. There are more sheep tiles than any other resource, so sheep tend to be less valuable. The other resources have the same number of tiles – but not the same availability! If two of the three brick spaces have low-dot numbers (like 2 and 11), there will probably be an early brick shortage as players attempt to build roads. This makes a settlement on the single high-dot brick space (a 6 or 8 ) a strong opening placement.

Try to have settlements that gain you compatible pairs of resources, such as wood and brick, or ore and wheat. Wood and brick will allow you to quickly build roads in the early game, working towards more settlements. Ore and wheat will allow you to upgrade your settlements into cities, thus increasing resource production. Either can be very strong

Location
Try to avoid playing both of your initial settlements in the same corner of the map, unless you can guarantee that you won’t get boxed in. It may be tempting to connect your two settlements and get a head start on longest road, but more often than not this strategy won’t work.

Consider the ports. Starting on a port is probably a bad idea because you’ll want your initial settlements on 3-resource intersections. However, being close to a port is important, because building to one early in the game will give you more trading flexibility.

During the Game

Expansion
Move to a port early, if possible. The 2:1 ports are great if you have high production of the associated resource, otherwise not so much. You’ll want lots of room to play new settlements and possibly reach for longest road, so try to expand towards underpopulated areas. If you’re competing with someone else for the same area, move to block them if you can, but don’t sink roads into going towards somewhere you can be blocked out of too easily.

Development Cards
If you started with decent ore and wheat production, grab a few sheep and buy some development cards. At worst, these are a soldier, sometimes a victory point, and sometimes a special card that will allow you to swing the game in your favor later. Holding lots of soldiers leaves you in a good position to keep the robber off of your property, and sets you up to gain the largest army bonus later in the game.

Resource Cards
Try not to sit around with more than seven cards in your hand, because the robber will be rolled fairly frequently. This means that you should often build something when you can (cities, new settlements, development cards, or even roads). Don’t be afraid to use the ports if you have a large hand of cards; shipping three sheep for a brick may seem like a bad deal, but if it gets your hand back to reasonable size and gives you resources you need, go for it.

Trading
And don’t forget about trading with other players. Most people won’t trade with you unless they gain a boost to their position, so be sure that any time you trade, you are also gaining a boost to your position as well. Trade on your turn to get resources you can use immediately.

February 13, 2009 at 3:37 am 1 comment

Dominion Video Part 1 Posted

Well, a bunch of people asked for a video with audio, so we decided to give you what you asked for and see how it goes.

The result is a two-part video on how to play the new card game from Rio Grande Games, Dominion.

This first video shows you the basic parts and pieces and walks through a round or so of how to play.

The second video, which we are editing now, finishes out the game. Look for that video as soon as we get a chance. The holiday season has been good to us and kept us very busy.

Also, if you want further information, here is a review of Dominion.

December 12, 2008 at 10:02 pm Leave a comment


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