Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Rome-City of Marble

Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product-Rome

Producer– R & R games

Price– $31 here https://www.amazon.com/Rome-City-Marble-Board-Game/dp/B015QGG7PO

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 30-60 minutes (2-4 players)

Type- Euro

Depth-Light

TL; DR-An excellent intro eurogame with no randomness. 94%

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Basics-   Rome WAS built in a day!  In Rome-City of Marble, each player takes the role of different Patrician family in Rome.  Through public works you demonstrate your power and influence in the city.  Who ever ends the game with the most victory points is the most power family.

This game is pretty simple.  Each turn a player can the following actions twice: draw tiles, play tiles, recall a magistrate, and expand an aqueduct.  When you select your action, you place a marker on your board over that action, and you can take the same action twice.  

Drawing and playing tiles is the lifeblood of the game.  The most simple action is drawing tiles.  When you draw a tile, you draw two of the four types of tiles: temple (green), baths (blue), theaters (yellow), and arenas (red).  You can not draw the same tile type twice in one action.  But, if you use your second action to get tiles, you can draw more of the types you drew the first time.  You can not use the tiles you gain this turn on this turn.  

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Playing tiles is where the game gets interesting.  The game board is divided into a number of triangles.  Player must set tiles next to other tiles or one of the three random starting locations in these triangles, and they may play one of their three magistrates down when they play a tile. The goal of setting down the tiles is to complete a hexagon between the tiles.  Each tile has two triangle colored sides and two colored rhombus sides.  When the colored sides form a hexagon, game pauses as the players see if they formed the correct color and who has the most influence.  Temples can only be made from three tiles,so only the colored rhombuses can form the hexagon.  Arenas can only be formed from six tiles, so they can only be formed from the colored triangles.  Baths require four tiles, and theaters require five tiles.  If you build a temple with six temples, then you don’t score for that building.  If the correct types of buildings are in the hexagon, then the players may score for that site.  Here is where magistrates come into play.  Magistrates are placed on a tile when you place the tile.  If the proper number of tiles is in the section, then the players count who has magistrates on the right type of tiles.  If someone builds an arena, but doesn’t have any magistrates on red tiles, then they have no influence.  Whoever has the most influence on the right types of tiles for the construction then builds that type of building by placing a marker on the tile to claim it as his or her own, the also earn victory points depending on the structure with arenas worth the most, and temples worth the least.  If there is a tie or no one has influence from magistrates, then a fountain is built and no one gets points.  Once the construction is done, every player who helped build the construction, with the right influence or not, may remove a magistrate and put it on the imperium space of the building just constructed.  If you built a fountain, you can still recall your magistrate, but he goes to the treasury instead.   At the end of your turn, you recall all magistrates from the imperium or treasury space and take one imperium or coin from the space they came from.  Imperium can be spend during your turn to take an extra action on your turn, or saved till the end of the game.  The player with the most of imperium of each type earns extra victory points.  Each coin is worth one point at the end of the game.

The next two actions are not as complex as building, but are equally as important.  If a player builds a tile next to a aquaduct, then they get to place three aqueduct pieces without spending an action.  As an action you can extend the aqueduct as well.  When you extend an aqueduct to a fountain, you score a point.  At the end of the game, each building that has an aqueduct to it scores two points.  Recalling a magistrate is simply moving a magistrate from the board to your player board that can be used this turn.  This way you can recall magistrates from tiles you know will never score.

After three of the four stacks of tiles are empty in a round, the next round each player gets only one action where they can’t use imperium to take more actions.  Then players score for coins and aqueducts.  The player with the most points is the most influential family in Rome!

Mechanics-I love the way this game plays!  After five minutes of explaining, you will master the game and can deep dive into the strategy.  It a euro, but not one that will destroy you mentally or takes five hours.  Honestly, a hour might be the longest you will play this game.  It’s deep for its simplicity, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.  My one weird complaint is there isn’t resource management, but adding a subgame where you have to earn tiles might make this one a bit too complicated.  4.75/5

Theme-This game feels like I’m building in ancient time.  Each player gets to build Rome, and I do feel like I’m trying to out maneuver other players as the best moves reveal themselves through play.  If you see a small opening where you can drop two tiles  and earn an arena while your opponents never saw this coming, it feels awesome.  Other games have ruined me though as I wonder why I can’t hurt my opponents than peacefully coexist and build with them.  4.75/5

Instructions-The instructions are deceptively long, but that’s because they are four different versions of the rules in one book.  The book is short when you read the language you need.  And it does well by showing lots of pictures.  As you can see above, it’s hard to describe polygons and shapes with words!  I like how this book is written and how it teaches the players.  5/5

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Execution– I love what’s here, but I do have one semi-small complaint.  The parts all look nice and pretty.  It’s chunky cardboard so I get nice tiles to play with and feel.  What I hate is the player board that don’t have spaces for all your stuff.  I hate having to set stuff to the side like with your tokens.  That’s my own small level of crazy, but if you can put my neuroses aside, it’s a fantastically made game.   You can see all the pieces in our unboxing at https://youtu.be/eCUn3hVJzg0 4.5/5

Summary-Rome-City of Marble is an amazing intro game.  It teaches itself well.  It’s parts are nice,and the rules are slick.  If you want five hours of math on Saturday night, then this is not the game for you.  It’s a great game, but not that game.  If you want a tight hour of fun or want go get new players into the hobby, then this is the game for you. 94%

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Crazier Eights: Camelot

Product-Crazier Eights: Camelot

Producer– James Gray

Price– $9 here https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/recoculous/crazier-eights-camelot

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 20 minutes (2-4 players)

Type- American

Depth-Light

TL; DR-Fluxx and Crazy Eights! 92%

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Basics-  Need a lightweight game, but also need a bit of depth?  Crazier Eights: Camalot is an awesome mix of the simplicity of Crazy Eights and Fluxx.  Each player starts with eight cards.  Then on a player’s turn, they draw a card.  That player can play a card and discard a card that matches to top card of the discard pile either in suit, number, or an eight.  The cards players play range from effects which are one time events that might cause a player to draw cards to assets that are permanent things in play that might destroy other assets, cause a player to draw a card, or even change how the game ends.  Then, the next player goes.  The game ends when a player gets to zero cards and wins, an asset makes that player the winner, or there is only one person left.  Long live the king!

Mechanics-I like the simplicity of Uno and the zannynes of fluxx.  This game is both.  It’s fast, simple (you just learned all the rules above), and easy to play.  My wife and I learned this game in the time it takes to order at Outback, and had played a full game before the appetizers came!  It also fits in a pocket, so it’s a blast all around. 4.75/5

Theme-The game doesn’t have perfect theme, but for a simple card game it’s about as much as I can ever hope for.  The cards do semi-appropriate things for the name and art on the card.  It’s hard to symbolize the holy grail in Uno, but this game does the theme enough justice to keep it going.  The game also has some great art, so that always helps theme.  4.5/5

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Instructions-The instructions are one page, front and back.  I had a review copy, so there may be more pictures in the normal game, but it’s enough to get the point across.  I will admit something here, I never learned Crazy Eights as a kid!  But, this game taught me how to play and added on its own crazier rules, so that speaks well of the rules as written.  4.5/5

Execution-I like what I see here.  The art on the cards is good.  The cards layout is nice, and the cards are not too wordy.  I’d like the cards to be a bit thicker, but overall, it’s a well put together game.  4.5/5

Summary-You read my deep confession before, so this game should tell you how well done it is.  I like its simple nature, the rules work well, and the art and theme tie things together.  It’s not perfect, but the flaws are few and far between.  I think the fluxx comparison is a good one.  It doesn’t have the humor of Fluxx, but the serious art drives home the theme and keeps me in the game.  And for 10 bucks, you can’t lose on this one.  92%

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Mansions of Madness, 2nd ed.

Product-Mansions of Madness, 2nd ed.

Producer– Fantasy Flight Games

Price– $100 here https://www.amazon.com/Mansions-Madness-2nd-Board-Game/dp/B01J4NB6CO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477872904&sr=8-1&keywords=mansions+of+madness

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 60-360 minutes (1-5 players)

Type- American

Depth-Medium

TL; DR-Great, but the price is a bit too steep! 89%

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Basics-  Can you survive the Mansions of Madness?  Step into this fully co-op board game as different investigators trying to uncover secrets best forgotten and lore never found!  The game is very easy to learn and basically teaches you how to play as you go. First, the players choose a scenario that they want to play from a computer, iPad, or android device.  That is the first thing to note here- you MUST have a device to play this game.  These scenarios range in difficulty from one to five with the intro scenario being a two.  After scenario selection, players then choose different character to be with different powers.  With that done, the game will then give the players different starting items and the players divide these up as they see fit.  Then the computer will layout the story and world telling the players where to put icons on the map, what map to build, and what other actions they can take.

Turns are fast and easy to do.  Each investigator takes their turn in whatever order they choose.  On a player’s turn, they do two actions.  These action range from moving two spaces, interaction with different icons on the map/computer, interacting with puzzles, casting spells, and attacking creatures.  Interaction with some icons expands the map and story.  Sometimes when you interact with an icon on the map, you have to roll a number of dice equal to one of your skills to discover something.  The dice are eight sided with blanks, clue icons (magnifying glasses), and elder signs.  Elder signs are always successes, but clue icons indicate you could succeed if you spend a clue token.  You only get clue tokens when you explore or uncover something which makes the clue economy extremely important!  Also, some skill checks will require multiple successes to to succeed.

Attacking is interesting as when you attack a creature, you must tell the game how you attack.  Then the computer randomly assigns you an attack method that depends on a skill roll.  Sometimes the skill is obvious like strength for a punch, but other times you might end up doing agility when you swing a hammer.  Again, sometimes you only need one success and other times you might need multiple.  If you succeed, the computer tells you how much damage you do to the target.

Spells vary from attacks and player buffs.  Each spell is a deck of cards where you draw one card and keep it face up in front of you.  When you cast the spell, the computer or the spell will tell you how to cast it, what skills to roll, and then it tells you to check the reverse side.  Some spells cause you to have to make another skill check to avoid damage or insanity and some just go off without a hitch.  After you cast your spell, you then shuffle the spell back into its deck and draw a new, random version of the spell.

Puzzles are one of the most intriguing additions to this game.  Unlike other games where players have to just roll a die to uncover the family mystery, in this game, the players have to do sliding tile puzzles, math puzzles, and even picture puzzles to uncover secrets.  All are done on the computer, so there’s no fuss or muss on setup and clean up.  

After all players have taken their turns, you tell the app or computer you are done, and the computer takes control, possibly spawning monsters, doing horrible events against some of the players, and advancing the story.  Monsters are the biggest threat as they move around the map directed by the app.  The app will tell you to move monsters and then attack players in their spaces.  Monsters’ attacks are resolved like player attacks.  The target of the attack rolls a skill.  Unlike player attacks, each success on this roll only removes one damage, not ALL damage.  After attacks are done, the app directs the players to make horror checks against the monster with the highest horror stat within three spaces.  This is another skill roll that only removes one insanity for each success the player achieves.

Damage is interesting in this game.  This game builds on Fantasy Flight’s other games with damage cards being both normal damage and special damage.  When you take damage or insanity, you get a card face down of the type.  Some cards and events will direct you to randomly flip one or more cards face up.  Now, you get special effects like being lame or agoraphobic.  When your damage equals your health, you discard all face down cards and gain a wounded condition card.  You can’t do the move action twice in a turn, and if you gain the wounded condition again, you are dead and out of the game!  If you gain insanity equal to your mental stat, you go crazy and gain a secret goal.  Now, you might not win by helping the other players but might only win if you start enough fires!  It’s a fun, fresh twist on the game.  

Once all the monsters are done, then the players take over again the the cycle continues until the players win or horror descends across the land!

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Mechanics-Overall, I like what I see here, but the computer part is a bit of a pain sometimes.  The hardest part is that the app is slow and there’s limited options on it.  If I attack with a 2×4, odds are I will see the same attack roll five times in a game.  That wasn’t bad in the first edition when I as the bag guy shuffled four cards for an attack, but now with the computer app, I’d like more options and descriptions.  The computer tends to slow down game play a bit.  However, I do like the general speed of human play.  A turn is quick as a human, and it is not overly complicated.  All the fun different things I want to do are easy to do, and I enjoy that immensely. 4.5/5

Theme-My wife and I can’t stop playing this.  It’s fun, and I feel like I’m in a Lovecraft story.  It’s even got a modified version of my favorite short story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”!  Things feel right, the toys are nice, and the look is great.  5/5

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Instructions-Fantasy Flight Games has been doing this new version of game instructions where the simple instructions get a short book with pictures and the nitty gritty get their own book with an index.  That’s ok, but I end up needing to cross reference things, and it feels clunky.  Also, I feel some things were not explained as well as they could be, like how horror and monster attacks are not blocked with one success, but they need multiple.  Those details are pretty important, and I think it wasn’t emphasized enough.  I got the feeling of missing key instructions until later a few times playing this game.  4.25/5

Execution-Ok, here is the bitter pill to swallow-this game is not worth $100.  I like what’s here, but I feel I got more from the first edition than the second.  Sure the app is nice, but I got more cards in the first edition, more books, and just more stuff.  Now, I get more generic cardboard, monsters, and the app.  What makes me give this a “4” is the backwards compatibility of the starter box.  Fantasy Flight was a class act by giving me a conversion kit to get my old stuff into the new.  I think what I get here is fair for $80, but for the $100 it went for, maybe that’s a bit much.  Everything is great, but maybe not that good.  If you want to to make that choice for yourselves, check out our unboxing here https://youtu.be/HK3Mb369xoA  4/5

Summary-I like this game, but it’s a game that you have to invest in.  What’s here is good, but too expensive.  If you NEED your Cthulhu fix, then this is a great continuation of the Arkham Horror games from Fantasy Flight Games.  It’s a solid set with nice monsters, good cardboard, great stories, and easy mechanics.  But, if you can’t drop the equivalent of a small car payment on this box, you might want to wait till this thing goes on sale.  It’s a great game, but at this price, I’d like a bit more in the app, the box, and the game overall.  That said, I’m still glad bought it, and I plan to buy the expansions.  So, it’s gotta be good. 89%

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Mystic Vale

 

Product-Mystic Vale

Producer– Alderac Entertainment Group

Price– $45 here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DMZR1QU/ref=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_0

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 60 minutes (2-4 players)

Type- Euro

Depth-Light

TL; DR-Not perfect but amazing none the less.90%

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Basics-  Only you can save the vales!  In Mystic Vale each player takes the role of different druid clans attempting to restore the world after a magic calamity.  Each player has a deck of sleeved cards.  At the start of each of a player’s turns, he or she reveals cards until three spoils symbols are revealed.  The last card with a spoils symbol is placed on top of the player’s deck of cards and is “on-deck.”  Players can also push their luck and harvest their on-deck card.  If they do, they can continue to reveal new cards on-deck, and place them in their field.  If they do, they may get extra points, but if they reveal another spoil symbol, then their turn is over.  This game has a built in bonus for when a player does this however.  A player has a token that if they spoil, they get to turn this token over and it allows them to use it as an extra mana, or purchasing power, in a future turn. The on-deck card is not part of a player’s “field” or cards a player can use to buy cards or gain points.  

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Here is where the game gets interesting.  Each card has a number of symbols on it.  These symbols are mana (money for extra card pieces), victory points, growth to counter spoils, and spirits (a second currency to buy vales or permanent cards).  If a player doesn’t spoil, that player gains victory points, and then can spend mana to buy card inserts or spirits to buy vales.  A player can buy two of each, each turn.  Vales are placed in front of a player and provide a constant benefit and inserts are inserted into cards in a player’s field.  Here is the major strategy of the game.  A player doesn’t build as many intercard combos, but instead crafts intracard combos as new inserts unlock new abilities based on the symbols on the card.  Additional symbols called guardians provide benefits only if a card has an ability that triggers off guardian symbols.

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This game uses a victory point based mechanic to determine when it ends.  Each game starts with victory point pool.  When the pool is empty, each players receive an equal number of turns, but now take victory points from the box.  After everyone has the same number of turns, players count count victory points on their cards, their vales, and the physical victory points they earned during the game.  The player with the most points is leader of the best Druid clan and reigns supreme!
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Mechanics-The card crafting mechanic of the game makes this an amazing game.  I had a blast building different card combos.  In addition, the nature of building your field means you can build off turn and have almost no down time.  I’ve seen games take as little as 20 minutes when four experienced players hit the table.  I also love any game that has two different markets.  I get bored when the victory strategy is build the biggest card to win, and this game doesn’t have that at all.  The drawbacks of the game are player interactivity and a runaway victory.  I am basically running a race against myself. Other other players steal cards from you, but only from the buying pool.  I really don’t need the other people at the table.  Furthermore, if someone has the best card inserts due to the available cards, then that person will win.  There is strategy, but if they play better, they will win and nothing you do will stop them.  You can only just be better at the start and not fall behind.  It’s not a bad game, but know that going in! 4.25/5

Theme- Mystic Vale has a ton of theme, but it is a theme you must find yourself.  The game can be simply played as deck builder with a new mechanic of building cards instead of decks, and this will not detract from the game at all.  However, if you are like me, you really want to have a massive amount of story to your game.  It’s here, but you need to dig for it.  From the terms like field being where you harvest your mana to the idea of spirits revitalizing the mystic vales, you get a story as you play.  But, that means theme is not front and center. 4/5IMG_20160630_172022720

Instructions-This is an awesome game that teaches quick, plays fast, and masters instantly.  You don’t feel stupid stepping up to this game as you get a quick intro with enough introduction to get you gaming quickly.  By the end of turn two you have the game down pat.  Also the helper cards are amazing!  They really do get you gaming faster. 5/5

Execution-I love everything in this box, but the game’s execution suffers from its main mechanic.  The art is amazing.  The cards are good quality.  The box has beautiful dividers.  This game is almost everything I want to see in a deck builder.  But, every card has three sections.  Since you want to have the new cards inserts work in each spot, you have to divide the card insert pool by one-third.  That means the game can grow a bit stale semi quickly.  Luckily two expansions have been announced already.  It’s a minor problem, but it’s one worth mentioning.  If you want to see a full unboxing check out our video here https://youtu.be/cPVRTU2h5bk 4.75/5

Summary-Mystic Vale is one of my new favorite games.  It’s fun to get to the table. It’s phenomenally fast to learn and play.  It’s gorgeous, and it’s fun to insert cards into sleeves and unlock their power.  That said, it’s not without it’s faults.  The game doesn’t fix common deck building problems.  The theme isn’t as strong as I’d like, and you might get tired of seeing the same card after 10 plus plays.  But if you play a game over 10 times, then the game is a win as it keeps you coming back for more.  It does for me.  Despite the faults, I’d recommend this over many other deck builders out there.  90%

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Scythe

 

Product-Scythe

Producer– Stonemaier Games

Price– Preorder here http://stonemaiergames.com/buy-scythe/

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 115 minutes (1-5 players)

Type- Euro

Depth-Medium

TL; DR-Great parts, but player count dependent. 95%

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Basics-  COMRADE! Scythe is a board game of nation rebuilding and development following an alternative World War I.  Players take the roles of different nations attempting to become the most successful nation after the fall.   Each player is given two player boards to start the game.  One board is your nation, describing your nation’s special power and unlockable powers you get when you build mechs-giant walking war machines that provide you with extra powers when you build them.  

The second board each player receives is an action selection board.  Here is where you get more variety from the game.  Each board has a specific type of focus associated with it.  These focuses range from industrial to manufacturing, and the focus of your nation will drastically change how you play.  The second player board also has the actions you will take each turn, but divides the board into top action and bottom actions.  These actions are simple to read as actions with an icon in red being a cost, while icons in green are the resources they provide. This allows for language-independent play.  Top actions typically get you resources to spend while bottom actions are where you spend resources to build your nation.  The top actions are bolster (get points/cards for combat), produce (get resources depending on the tiles you are on), move (move your pieces/earn money), or trade (get two resources or get popularity).  The bottom actions are upgrade, deploy, build structures, or enlist.  These actions require a bit more description.  The action board has a number of spots filled in with squares.  When you spend the upgrade resources, you move one cube from the top (revealing a new option when you take that action) and cover up a bottom cost (making that action that much easier in the future).  Deploy is how you place mechs on the field.  Each mech you deploy unlocks new powers for your character as well as all other mechs such as moving across rivers or having bonuses to combat.  Build allows you to move a structure from your board to the main game board.  Once removed from your board, the space uncovered unlocks new options on your turn like allowing you to move across the board or harvest extra resources.  The final action, enlist, allows you to get extra materials off-turn when opponents to your right and left take bottom row actions.

With the basics, the game starts off with you having two workers on the main game board next to your base and your character mini on your home base.  Players then take actions as described above.  A player selects an action space, then takes the top action, if he/she wants to, of that spaces and then takes the bottom action, if he/she wants to, of the same space.  What makes this interesting is the next time a player selects an action, that player cannot take that same action space!

Two of the things I mentioned above are combat cards/points and popularity.  Popularity is used in scoring at the end of the game.  Popularity measures how well the common man thinks of you.  Depending on your popularity, you receive more points at the end of the game for each area you control, each thing you accomplish, and how many resources you control.  Lower popularity means you earn fewer points, so this is an extremely important number!  Combat is also a simple and fast.  When you move a mech or a character onto a space of another player, combat might happen.  If there are only workers on that space, those workers flee back to their home base and you lose one popularity.  If a mech or a character is on that space, then combat happens after the move action.  Each player selects how much combat power they want to spend on the fight, from 0 to seven, and may select one combat card to add to the fight.  Combat cards range from one to five.  Each side selects what they will spend, (power is spent regardless of whether they win or lose), and reveal to their opponent.  The loser moves back to their home base, the winner gets the tile and all the delicious resources on the tile.

There are a few other minor things as well.  Your character can have encounters which are random cards that describe fun, extra events in the game such as finding a herd of cows that you can kill, buy, or steal causing you to lose or gain resources in the game.  Your character can also move to the center tile of the game and encounter the factory, an old relic of the last war.  The factory has a deck of cards that provide you with an extra action you can take with new exciting options like double moves and bonus resources.  The final thing of note is your goal.  Every player starts the game with two goal cards.  Goal cards state an action you must have accomplished on your turn for you to unlock a bonus way to score in the game.

This game follows a very similar end game mechanic to Euphoria-each player has six stars.  When a player completes a goal such as deploying all his/her mechs or winning a combat, that player places a star on the board in that spot.  When a player places his/her last star, the game is instantly over.  At this point, every player scores points based popularity and tiles they control, stars placed, and each pair of resources as well as the extra structure bonus tile.  The player with the most money/points at the end of the game wins!

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Mechanics– I liked this game’s mechanics, but I didn’t love this games mechanics.  I had fun and built an empire, but I don’t think it’s much of a combat game.  Your actions are quick and easy to do, but the concept of fighting feels slightly added on.  Overall, the game is sleek and works well, but it feels like a cog missing one tooth-the machine hums along well, but every once in awhile, you get a bit of a clunk.  However, the two pieces of the player’s boards do make for an awesome mix as you get vastly different empires attempting vastly different strategies with warlike nations having to focus on farming  while peaceful nations might end up with a manufacturing center.  That variety really makes the game fun.  Also the indents in the board make all the actions that much more fun.  I love the upgrade action so much as I can see and even feel my nation getting better!  I have my minor gripes, but it is a fun game.  4.5/5

Theme-Much like the mechanics, I liked this part of the game, but didn’t love this part of the game.  Combat sticks for me.  We’re post-world war, but the fighting feels simple.  That is good as you resolve combat quickly, but it also means that combat doesn’t have much depth.  I do feel like I’m building and reclaiming pieces of after a war.  The instructions build on the nation’s providing each with their own background, story, and life.  I do feel like each nation when I play and the differences in player boards emphasise the theme each nation is taking. 4.5/5

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Instructions-This game has a ton of instructions, but they do a good job explaining the game.  The rules are not complex with the bulk being chose action, maybe do top action, and maybe do bottom action.  The thickness of the rulebook is to build story (awesome) and to clarify all the working pieces.  I like what I see here.  It does have a few things I’d like clarified like how the submerge powers work, but overall it’s a well done and well laid out rule book that you can learn on the fly, if maybe a tad too long.  4.8/5

Execution– HOLY COW!  Stonemaier games is known for their parts, and it shows in this one!  Players get nice wooden pieces, the resources are all beautiful, even in the more simple price ranges, and the mechs/characters all look beautiful and different.  The details go so far as the worker meeples all have different hats.  It’s just a little detail, but it’s a beautiful one that really shows how much the creators loved this game.  I have an unboxing video showing all the pieces of the game here https://youtu.be/3g9vUQYz-pY .  5/5

Summary-This is an interesting one for me.  I like this game, a lot actually, but I don’t think this is my new favorite.  The mechanics are sleek, the gameplay is fast yet deep, and the execution is amazing.  If have a few issues with the theme and mechanics, mostly dealing with combat.  I do feel like I’m building or maybe rebuilding an empire, but there are just a few things that feel a tiny bit off.  These things don’t derail the game by any means, but it did take me out of the zone a bit.  Also, this game’s experience might rely heavily on the player count.  I have had more fun playing with five players than I did in a head to head match. This might not be the game I ask to bring to the table, but if someone asked if I wanted to play again, I would be happy to any time!  95%

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Octodice

Product-Octodice

Producer– AEG

Price– $20  here

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 20 minutes (2-4 players)

Type- Euro

Depth-Light

TL; DR-A great mix of a Euro and Yahtzee 94%

octodice

Basics-  UNDER THE SEA!  Octodice is spiritual successor of Aquanauts, a game where players battle octopods, research, and develop an undersea lab in a heavy euro game.  In Octodice, players do all the same, but using dice to dictate the actions.  At the start of a player’s turn, the player rolls six dice, chooses two to keep, then rerolls the rest, chooses two to keep, and rerolls the last two.  These dice are divided into two groups-black and white.  Black dice have a colored number on them or an octopod.  The white dice have an action or an octopod.  The active player then chooses two pairs of dice (each pair consisting of one black and one white die). The final pairs being used do not have to match the pairs made when rolling the dice. The player then uses the action on one and the color/number on the other.  The actions are: collect gems (collect points based on the number on the black die), research (get points in order by moving down a color path using the proper color and the action die on each step), develop (improve your lab and get new dice options or end game points), get robots (earn points now, two robots per each color), and get subs (put the robots in the sub and earn points after every other round).  

After a player chooses his/her two dice pairs, every other player can also choose to use two of the dice in any combination, not necessarily the same combination as the current player.  Players can do this twice per round.  Finally after choosing dice, the player looks for octopods. The octopods destroy the station and gum up the works.  If a player does not have two octopods on his/her dice by the end of that round, that player loses two points.  However, if the player has two or more octopods in the dice pool, then they score extra points!

Play then moves to the next player.  After everyone has two turns, players check to see if they knock out two or more octopods in the round and score points for each robot in the same colored sub.  After players play a total of three rounds, having a scoring phase after each two turns, the player with the most and second most gems earns more points, players with extra developed labs score points, and the player with the most points is the best aquanaut and is the winner!

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Mechanics–  I hate Yahtzee.  It feels like I don’t get a choice, my decisions don’t matter, and I just have to be bored while other players roll dice.  This game has none of those problems!  Sure, randomness is a part here, but the amount of options I have at all times makes me really enjoy this game.  I’m seeing more and more games where the players have things to do off turn. Instead of spacing out on Pokemon GO, the other players get to see what I’ve done and still remain engaged with the game since they are looking for dice pairs to use.  I get my euro, but there is still enough random to keep it fun.  5/5

Theme- This game is fun, but I don’t really feel like an undersea researcher.  Most of the time, I never do the research option.  I develop my lab most often and then send out robots and subs to make points.  It feels like a slight disconnect between a game of sea scientists and what I do. 4/5

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Instructions-If you understood the rules above, then all you need to play is to understand the rules for developing your lab.  Beyond that, this is a game you learn in about one minute, then play in 15.  The rules have enough to cover what they need to cover, and they don’t overstay their welcome.  5/5

Execution– I made an unboxing video of this game where you can see all the pieces at https://youtu.be/9gaHRrZs-qY.  What’s in the game box is great.  The pieces and the game footprint are small, but all well made and work for the game.  Heck, on my anniversary my wife and I played this at our table in a fancy restaurant!  The dice are nicely colored wood instead of plastic.  I *might* like rewritable tablets as I might run out of game pads for scoring, but I know the PDF is online.  Also, I would like pencils in the box!  Much like other dice games, I hate when I have to scrounge up a writing device.  But, my small gripes aside, this game is well put together.  4.75/5

Summary-I said above I hate Yahtzee, but this game is an amazing combination of Yahtzee and a euro.  AND I LOVE IT!  You get the fast pace of its American parent, the interaction of a great dice game, and the deep thinking of a euro.  Sure, you can’t expect the depth of a much longer game, but what you get is a great experience.  You can learn it quick from the rules and teach it even quicker to your friends.  The theme might be off and I want some golf pencils with AEG’s logo on them, but those are only minor complaints to how much fun I have had.  If you need a good gift for under $20 or you want a great pub game then this is the game you are looking for.  94%