Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Lazer Ryderz

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

Product-Lazer Ryderz

Producer– Greater Than Games

Price– $40 here https://www.amazon.com/FABLED-NEXUS-Lazer-Ryderz-Game/dp/B01MTG3KQH  PREORDER!

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

Type- American

Depth-Light

TL; DR-Lisa Frank and Saturday Morning Cartoons made X-Wing! 93%

Basics-   PREVIOUSLY ON LAZER RIDERZ! Our heroes and travelers of the void ride on lazer rails attempting to secure enough prisms to power themselves on their various journeys.  From an undead cosmonaut drifting through space for reasons unknown to a hammerhead shark searching for the fabled blood nexus for her breeding grounds, each hero has a reason they need the prisms, but only one emerges victorious in this episode!

The game starts by each player placing one unclaimed prism on the table equidistant from the other prisms and at places agreed upon by all players.  Then players select a gear to start in from one to five.  Highest gear starts each turn, but if you and another player select the same gear, both spin out and start at 1!  The player with the highest gear is the first player, setting the tie breaker marker to their left.  From now on all ties are broken using this marker.  Players then get turn markers based on their speed with ties broken by the tie marker.  Players select a place along the edge of the table for their start selection, and the game begins!

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Turns are quick.  In turn order, each player does the following: change their speed by one or stay at their current, place a piece of the lazer track, see if they crash, and then see if they score.  Every character has a speed indicator that shows who they are, and at their start, they can change their speed by one, up or down, if they want.  Then they place a piece of track.  Tracks come in two types: straightaways and turns.  Straightaways are simply just go straight.  Turns are where luck comes in.  When you place a turn piece, you then have to roll.  If you roll equal to or higher than your speed, you do the turn.  If you are lower, then you go straight!  Finally, if you roll the grouchy symbol, you turn, but you spin out to first gear!  Next in your turn, you see if you crash.  If your lazer path goes over another path or off the table, you crash.  You have to your start marker back at the edge of the table and next turn you start from there.  You also remove the piece of lazer path you crash into, freeing up more table space for others.  Finally, you see if you claim a prism.  If your path goes over a  prism, you score.  If it was a neutral prism, you place one of your unclaimed one at the end of your current lazer path, stand up, close your eyes, and gently throw the neutral prism onto the table.  If it’s a claimed prism, you replace it with one of yours, then hand the original prism to the owner.  You turn your marker over to show you went, and then the next player plays.  After everyone has gone, you check to see who has the fastest gear, change turn order markers based on speed, then continue until someone has claimed three!

Mechanics– This one is a mix.  If you like X-Wing with quasi-dexterity game elements, you will have a blast.  If you hate estimating distances, don’t like randomness controlling most of your actions, and just tossing stuff on the table, then you will hate this one.  My wife and I fell into these alternating camps.  It’s a fun filler game, but don’t expect too much depth from this one.  If fun filler racer is up your alley, then this one’s mechanics are what you’re looking for.  4/5

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Theme-The 80’s are back, baby!  This one’s box to pieces are all well done and completely fit the theme well.  As a solid child of the 80’s, the box feels like those padded VCR cassette boxes, the hologram/gem coating is amazing, and there is a space soldier with a mullet!  FANTASTIC! 5/5

Instructions-The instructions here feel paradoxically too much and too little.  There are a lot of words here for as simple a racing game as this is, but not many pictures to show how the game plays.  I’d like more show and less tell to this book.  It will get the rules across quickly, but for what this is, it doesn’t need as much as it has.  4/5

Execution– I love what’s here, with one small exception.  The boxes are amazing.  They look worn like my childhood video boxes.  The plastic inserts are the right amount of crappy.  They hold the pieces well but feel like the cheapo plastic that the used to put VHS cassettes in to.  The art is on point, and the lazer pieces look great and are the perfect shades of neon.  The only thing this thing is missing is leg warmers!  But, my one complaint is the trays.  The trays don’t fit well, and pieces can fall out.  That’s annoying.  I like the big box slipcover to hold everything, but I’d like a bit more leeway in the box as I’ve had to pick up pieces from my wood paneled and spray painted van the first day I took the game to the arcade.  If you want to see all the pieces check out our unboxing video here!  https://youtu.be/eCUn3hVJzg0   4.5/5

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Summary-This is a blast from the past.  If you like racing games and trackless racers at that, this is your game.  If you’re a child of the 80s looking for video store nostalgia, this is your game.  If neither of those is you, then maybe don’t sit down to play this one.  It’s good, but it is most definitely not your game! I wish the box would be a bit better constructed, but overall, it’s not built badly. As for me, I’m gonna blare the hulkamania theme on repeat, put my old Bravestarr videos in the VCR, get my giant tinted glasses on, and play this in my wood paneled basement.  93%

​Ring Side Report- RPG Review of RuneQuest-Free RPG Day Product

Product– RuneQuest Roleplauing in Golantha

System-RuneQuest

ProducerChaosium

Price– FREE TODAY

TL; DR-Call of DnD! 97%

Basics-Follow your passions!  In this revamp of a classic fantasy RPG from Chaosium, players take the rolls of heroes of Glorantha, a land of gods, monsters, and heros.   This world feels a bit like a more DnD’ed version of Rome.  Let’s break down the game into its pieces.

Base System- If you can play Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu system, you are ready for this.  Players have a number of skills or attributes.  When you attempt to do anything, you get to roll a 100 sided die.  If you roll under your skill or attribute, you succeed.  if you get under half, you get a special success.  If you get under one-fifth your skill, you get a critical.  It’s slick.  If you are up against somebody, then you just compare the degree of success using this progression-critical Success bets special success beat regular success beats failure with ties going to the defender.


Passions-A major change from 7th edition Call of Cthulhu is the loss of the advantage die, but this system adds passions.  Each character has a number of things they care about.  When you want to see if you can dig deep and fuel an action through your love of a thing, you try to roll under the level of your passion.  If you succeed, you add to the skill you are trying to perform.  The higher degree of success the more you add.  Failure and critical failure cause you to LOSE from your skill.  It’s another slick add-on to the Call of Cthulhu system.


Combat- Here is a major departure from the Call of Cthulhu system.  Each action you do takes time.  Each round you select what actions you want to do, then everyone tells the GM.  The GM then ranks the combatants according to their action times with slower times going last.  These actions include moving, attacking, casting a spell, reloading, and many other possible things you can do in under 12 seconds.  Actions can take longer, but they happen multiple turns later if they need to.


Magic-Spirit vs. Runes-Magic in this system is an interesting mix.  First and foremost, its TWO systems instead of one.  Spirit magic is the base magic everyone uses with a character casting spells by spending points to make the spell go off.  This is the slow magic.  The second way you cast magic is through runes.  As you almost level up in different factions and religions, you unlock new runic magic and points.  Runic magic goes earlier in combat and is slightly more powerful, but you get less rune magic points.  So knowing when to use each spell is an important part of combat.  Some skills require resistance tests like saving throws, while some do not.  Beyond that the system effortlessly uses percentile dice for all its execution.

Ok, now the review!


Mechanics or Crunch-I love everything I see here, but maybe there are two things that sticks out a bit for me.  Overall, everything is amazing.  This system uses the base percentile system Call of Cthulhu 7th ed.  That would be a cop out if they just copy/pasted the system, but this system add more  pieces, so it honestly feels like a new, better iteration of the same product.  That’s amazing.  I even don’t hate hit locations as this game does it lightning fast.  That doesn’t feel like it slogs the system as players can just roll a D20 in the pile with their percentile dice and their damage dice.  I only have two minor gripes of the system, and one seems like it’s been corrected.  First, I miss penalty/advantage dice from Call of Cthulhu.  But, the game adds passions, so consulting your feelings can provide a similar function by adding or subtracting from your likelihood to succeed.  Second is the order of combat.  Combat is this game works well, but the game uses a system to track actions each round that is a bit more complex than I’m used to.  Players plan out their actions, and those actions alter when they get to act as faster actions go first.  It’s much more realistic, but it’s also a bit slower.  It might not be my favorite way to work initiative, but It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination.  All told, this is a well put together percentile system.    4.5/5


Theme or Fluff-The book doesn’t have too much fluff, but what’s here is good.  It’s a new world of magic and gods where every character is a tiny bit a mage and cleric if they choose to be.  The world feels different and fun, but familiar enough that I get a DnD/Rome vibe.  I want more, so this book’s got me hooked.  5/5


Execution-This is a pretty meaty product for free RPG day.  I love what’s here.  It explains the system pretty well.  I have a few tiny questions like in what order to characters declare the actions?  But, this book can’t give me the whole system in a free RPG product.  The art is nice even if not color, and the story is fun.  Fantastic amount of material at this price.  5/5


Summary-This is a book I will buy when it’s out fully.  The combat is fun and new.  The world is a novel place for me to throw my players.  The characters have drives that affect the game through passions.  Players get a decent streamline view of the rules and characters in this short book.  I get the Chaosium percentile system I like, a Roman world to play in, and an amazingly well crafted book for FREE!  Even given my slight misgivings,check this one out, then look for the full book in the fall.   97%

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- RPG Review of Delta Green: Agent’s Handbook

ProductDelta Green

System-Delta Green

Producer-Arc Dream

Price– $20.00 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/181674/Delta-Green-Agents-Handbook?affiliate_id=239993

TL; DR-Great RPG with one big problem 87%

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Basics– ia ia cthulhu fhtagn- BUT NOW WITH GUNS! Delta Green is Call of Cthulhu if run by the government as secret agencies vie for power and try to keep the horrors from beyond time and space from destroying the world or taking over the United States!  Can you handle the truth?

Mechanics or Crunch-Let’s break the mechanics up and give the basics as well as my assessment.

Base Mechanics-Delta Green is a classic percentile based system.  You have a skill or an ability rating, and you roll under that number to succeed.  As I grow older, I like this no fuss/no muss methods of rolling dice to avoid overly math-y systems.

Difficulty-When a situation is harder or easier than normal, the GM might ask you to add or subtract 10% or 20% to or from your skill or ability total.  Again, it’s a simple and easy  way to modulate difficulty.

Combat–  Combat is basically simple.  Characters act in dexterity order from high to low.  On your turn you do one action.  These actions range from move, shoot, or aim among other things.  For actions that require a roll, you roll under a skill as above.  There is no given dodge roll if you are attacked.  If you haven’t acted in a round, you can forgo your next action to try to dodge an attack by rolling under the attack roll.  Damage is a single dice roll that subtracts from a hit point total.  Go too low on the hit point total and you pass out.  Also, some weapons have a lethality rating.  If you roll in that range, the weapon just kills the target in one go!

Personal Life and Sanity- Just like other horror RPG, Delta Green has a sanity system.  Characters lose sanity and gain mental illness as they go crazier and crazier dealing with horrors beyond time.  This system throws in bonds as a serious component as men and women lose family members, friends, and loved ones.  Think of the PTSD struck veteran, but now add the fact that he/she deals with monsters beyond human ken.  Players may lose family members or whole families as they slowly go deeper and deeper into the world of Cthulhu slipping away from normal.  That level of commitment to roleplaying in the mechanics is awesome.

Advancement-Advancement is a snap in this game as well.  When a player attempts a roll in this game and they fail, they mark the skill with an X.  At the end of the game session, any skill that you failed that you had at least 1% in, you gain an additional 1%.  Also, between sessions, a character can gain 1 in an ability or they can gain 1d10 in a skill if they spend time working on it.  If they do, they lose 1 level in a bond as they lose touch with someone they felt was important!

Summary- I really want to like this game more than I do.  The addition of solid role-playing psychology makes this a great way to blend the theme and mechanics of a world where things just can’t be and can’t be dealt with rationally.  However, combat just makes me irrationally angry.  I don’t like systems where you can’t move and act.  That’s a minor issue as if all the players and monsters abide by this rule, I can deal.  However, the rules as written basically make it better to have a lower dexterity.  You get to react to an attack, but people who go fast can’t.  I can understand not being able to take your next action if you dodge, but this game penalizes people who go first.  Sure, it can be a minor issue if you don’t fight much, and I can deal with not having a dodge roll at all.  But, this irks me deeply to my core.  Therefore, it’s an ok system with a serious flaw. 3.5/5

Theme or Fluff-I mentioned above how much I love the commitment to theme the game has in its mechanics.  This game might even be darker than Call of Cthulhu as this game brings the role of sanity and psychology to the forefront in a very post-9/11 way as the psychology of the soldier is experienced first hand.  The book is full of stories and fragments of people trying to handle the unhandable.  It’s deep and immersive in a way I can really dig, safely and from afar.  5/5

Execution-This is a well put together book.  It flows well, has great art, and the PDF is well done and hyperlinked.  I like the index, the layout, and the whole book overall.  Some things could use a bit more organization, but the book is an exhaustive reference on both the government and the paranormal for new players.  4.5/5

Summary-Delta Green is a great RPG with one serious flaw.  Now, as a gaming group, you can play this however you see fit.  It’s a flaw that you can fix by all deciding that this is how the game runs.  It’s a flaw I will fix instantly in my tables, but the rules as written make me spitting mad.  And it’s just that one part.  The rest is amazing.  I love the depth of little extra bits that the authors throw in about government jurisdiction and random trivia that are in the book.  The art is great and the treatment of psychological factors in our veterans is phenomenal.  Sure, this is a just a game, but the level of depth that game goes into to use these conditions as things a person would experience if they experienced Lovecraftian horrors is excellent. I like everything in this EXCEPT one thing.  If you can get past that one thing, this is a great RPG that really updates Lovecraft to the post 9/11 world.  And since it’s under $20, it’s well worth the look even if you just use it for a guidebook to government organizations in your horror games.  87%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Torment: Tides of Numenera-The Explorer’s Guide

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ProductTorment: Tides of Numenera-The Explorer’s Guide

System-Numenera

Producer-Monte Cook Games

Price– $40.00 here https://www.amazon.com/Torment-Tides-Numenera-Explorer/dp/193997951X/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473811918&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Torment%3A+Tides+of+Numenera+-+The+Explorer%27s+Guide

TL; DR-What I want in a video game tie in book. 97%

Basics– Are you excited about Torment, the computer game?  Do you want to run your Torment Numenera tabletop game?  Torment:Tides of Numenera-The Explorer’s Guide would best be described as the “companion” book based on the video game for the Numenera tabletop RPG.  It’s  DEFINITELY NOT a strategy guide, but it does have new mechanics and world building so you can play the compute game at your table.

Mechanics or Crunch-This might be the weakest part of the book, but that’s like finding a single spelling error in a classic book.  What’s here is good.  It’s new, it’s fun, and it’s well done.  There are the expected things to help build out the blanking blank who blanks as well as cyphers and artifacts, but there is also a whole new social interaction system built on how the characters act.  It’s a small thing as it doesn’t need to be added, but it’s something GMs can make as big or as small as they like.  My one complaint is there isn’t more blanking blank who blanks options.  It’s minor though. The system doesn’t need a book of feats as much as it needs flavor. 4.5/5

 

Theme or Fluff-There might be more in this book about one small section of the world than there was in the core book.  I am absolutely serious.  I love the depth put in this book.  The small piece of the world that the game covers get’s a massive world building.  Here is the rub-as a GM for the game, you will have all the information you need.  As a players, there might be almost too much as it could spoil the game or even the video game.  That…is the proper amount of information for me to run an RPG.  I kickstarted the video game, but my wife and I are more excited to get this to the table with our Cypher group.  5/5

Execution-Cypher system has the best use of space of any RPG I’ve read.  You describe a fearsome adversary in the text, and the stats are less than a tweet in a sidebar.  Describe the use of a little used rule in the text, and a sidebar lists where the rule is in the core book.  MORE COMPANIES NEED TO DO THIS!  As for the layout, its great.  Few pages have too much text, but there is enough art, either hand drawn or game images, to balance out the reading.  I loved reading this book. 5/5

Summary– I was asked to review this book, but give the direct warning that “this is not a strategy guide.”  that is absolutely true, but what this book is amazing.  It’s full of crunch, fluff, and is well made.  I get new mechanics to play in a new part of the world.  I love everything about this book.  My one problem is I want more.  If there were a bit more character options, I’d be in heaven.  If you’re getting the video game, if you love the cypher system, or if you just want a well done splat book for Numenera, don’t pass this up.   97%

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%