Jun 27, 2011


Dixit is a visually stunning board/card game. The game had been recommended to my gaming group before PAX, but we hadn't had a chance to try it out until recently.

Dixit is for 3-6 players age 8 and up and an average game takes about 30 minutes.

Each turn a player is the Storyteller - they look at the six cards in their hand and come up with a one or more word sentence to describe the card they've chosen. Telling the other players the sentence, the other players then look through the six cards in their hands and choose one that best matches what the Storyteller described. The Storyteller then takes the cards, shuffles them face down and turns them face up on the table. The other players then use a numbered token to choose which card they think was described by the Storyteller.

If everyone or no one chooses the Storyteller's card then the Storyteller gains no points that turn and everyone else scores 2 points. Otherwise, the Storyteller and anyone who chose the correct card scores 3. Players score 1 point each time their card is chosen by another player. Points are tracked on a board by moving coloured rabbits along a marked trail.

The mechanics of the game are simple, but after playing a few rounds we discovered there is a skill you need to develop for this game. You don't want to be too obvious or too vague when describing your card, or you will get no points for that turn (this happened to me a lot!).

I highly recommend this game; it has great re-playability and really gets your imagination going!

Originally posted at Pretty Gamer

Jun 20, 2011


Gloom is published by Atlas Games, and is a quirky, cheerful and uplifting card game. No, wait, that's not right. Gloom is horrible, depressing and a ton of fun!!

Gloom is a card game for 2-4 players ages 8 and up. The average game takes about an hour. Cards for this game are unique - they are transparent plastic, so when you stack cards you can easily see what effects are still in play.

When you play Gloom you control the fate of a family of misfits and weirdoes. Your goal is simple: you want your family members to suffer the worst tragedies possible before they die. Some examples of the tragedies are Distressed by Dysentery and Terrified by Topiary. These modifiers have negative point values and lower your Self Worth, and you want each member of the family to have the lowest possible Self Worth before they die. The problem is your opponents are trying to lower their Self Worth, and raise yours - by playing modifiers that cheer you up and have positive point values (such as Wondrously Well Wed or Delighted by Ducklings).

The game ends the instant an entire family is eliminated. Each player then counts the visible points on each of their dead family members to determine the winner - the one with the lowest total score.

There are a few other types of cards as well, some that block effects, some which have immediate or ongoing special effects, etc.

I played Gloom at VCon and had fun. Adding to the atmosphere, each player should contribute an element of storytelling as they play - explain how Cousin Mordecai The Red-Headed Stepchild was Pierced by Porcupines!

Originally posted at Pretty Gamer

Jun 16, 2011


I'm not sure what possessed me to buy the Elmer graphic novel - I have a vague recollection of seeing listed somewhere as a "must read" but I rarely agree with those lists. :-) I was in my Friendly Local Comic Book Store the other day to buy the MouseGuard Legends of the Guard graphic novel when I spotted a copy of Elmer on the shelf. I took a quick glace at it and decided what the hell.

Elmer was created by Gerry Alanguilan, and is a thought provoking story - what if one day chickens developed human-like consciousness and the ability to speak? The chickens then push to get rights as the newest members of the human race. The story starts after the chickens have been granted rights, and is told as a family drama/coming of age story.

It sounds like an odd concept, but I really recommend reading Elmer. I found the story to be very engrossing - how would you feel or react if something that was a food source suddenly became sentient and had the ability to talk? What about those who make their living off this food source?

Originally posted on Pretty Gamer

Jun 13, 2011

Forbidden Island

Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to capture the four sacred treasures hidden on Forbidden Island. But wait, there's more! The ancient mystical empire that hid the treasures also designed the Island to sink if intruders ever came to Forbidden Island. Will you and your team be the first to enter Forbidden Island, find the treasures, and make it out alive!?

(*dramatic music*)

Forbidden Island is a cooperative boardgame for 2 to 4 players ages 10 and up, and an average game takes about 30 minutes to play.

The game comes in a cool metal box containing:
  • 28 Treasure cards (these are good)
  • 24 Flood cards (these are bad)
  • 6 Adventurer cards (these are the roles of the Adventurers)
  • 24 island tiles (these are the areas of the Island)
  • 6 pawns (these are the Adventurers)
  • 4 treasure figurines (The Earth Stone, The Statue of the Wind, The Crystal of Fire, and The Ocean's Chalice)
  • 1 water meter
  • 1 water level marker
  • Rules of play
Forbidden Island is similar to Pandemic, but simpler. The object of the game is to keep Forbidden Island afloat long enough to capture the four treasures and escape via helicopter from Fools' Landing.

After you shuffle the island tiles and lay them out, each player takes a random Adventurer card. The Adventurer card tells you what role you will be playing (Explorer, Pilot, Engineer, Diver, Messenger or Navigator). Each role has a special ability that gives an advantage in the game. Take a moment to look at the island tiles - these will indicate where each Adventurer starts the game, and where each Treasure can be captured.

Each player's turn consists of three things:
1) Take up to 3 actions. Your actions can be a combination of these standard actions (note that your Adventurer card may allow you to do additional actions):
  • Move
  • Shore Up - if a section of the Island is flooded, this action flips the tile back to normal
  • Give a Treasure card - give a Treasure card to another player
  • Capture a Treasure - discard 4 matching Treasure cards if your pawn is on the corresponding tile
2) Draw 2 Treasure deck cards. There are 5 of each Treasure card in the deck, as well as 2 types Special Action cards and the Evil Waters Rise! cards. Drawing a Waters Rise! card causes the Water Level marker to move up the Water Meter, which will cause more of the Island to flood each turn (this is bad).

3) Draw Flood cards equal to the water level. Each Flood card is a tile location - so if that location is normal, you flip it over to indicate it is flooded. If that location is already flooded, then that location sinks and is out of the game.

You win the game by collecting all four treasures and getting all the Adventurers back to Fools' Landing.

You lose the game if:

  • You don't manage to collect all four treasures (those tiles sink before you collect the treasure)
  • Fools' Landing sinks
  • Any player is on an tile that sinks and there are no adjacent tile to swim to
  • The water level reaches the skull and crossbones.
Scott Kurtz wrote a PVP comic about Forbidden Island, and Gabe from Penny Arcade had tweeted about the game. I finally had a chance to demo the game at PAX and it was a blast. We had an epic 5 person game with the woman who was running the demo, and we barely won.

I recommend picking this one up - the rules are pretty straight forward, the game is pretty inexpensive, and it could be a good gateway game to encourage your non-gamer friends to become cooler :-)

Originally posted at Pretty Gamer

Jun 9, 2011


Revolution! is a board game in which you're secretly bidding against your opponents to control territory and gain the support of the masses. Revolution! is produced by Steve Jackson games, is for 3-4 players and a game lasts about an hour.

The board consists of the seven areas of town and a support track running around the edge of the board. The goal is to have the most support at the end of the game. Each area of town holds a number of influence cubes, at the end the player with the most cubes in an area has control of it and gains the associated support.

Each player gets their own Bid Board and screen. You place your bids on the Bid Board while it's protected by the screen, when everyone is ready the screens are lifted to reveal the bids. The Bid Board has twelve spaces that represent influential people who will assist you on that round, if you win that bid! There are three types of tokens used to bid - Force, Blackmail and Gold.

A round of play goes through four stages:

1) Espionage - Since the town is full of spies, everyone knows what resources everyone else has. At the beginning of the round the players must show the tokens they are starting with.

2) Bidding - Secretly place tokens on your Bid Board behind the screen. You can place a maximum of six bids and you must use all your tokens. One Force token will beat any amount of Blackmail or Gold. One Blackmail token will beat any amount of Gold. Some people cannot be forced or blackmailed.

3) Resolution - All players lift their screens to reveal their bids. Bids are resolved in the same order every time - starting at the top left of the Bid Board (the General) and working down to the bottom right (the Mercenary). If you're the only player to bid on that person then you win and receive whatever benefit is listed. If two or more players bid on the same person then the player with the highest bid wins. If the bids are tied or no one bids on a person then that benefit doesn't occur this round. After the bids are resolved return tokens used in that bid to the bank.
Winning a bid provides a benefit. If the person grants support then move your scoring token around the track on the edge of the board. If the person grants tokens (Force, Blackmail or Gold) then get those tokens from the bank and place them aside until the next round. If the person grants influence then place one of your influence cubes in the specified location on the board.

4) Patronage - After all bids have been resolved check the number of tokens each player has. If they have less than five then take gold tokens from the bank to bring them back up to five tokens. You can only get Force and Blackmail tokens from winning bids. After this phase a new round begins.

The game ends when all the influence spaces on the board are full. Players then score support from the areas they control and from the tokens in their hands. To control an area you don't need to have the majority of the influence spaces, just the most. The winner is the player with the most support.

We were introduced to this game at VCon while waiting to play something else. There's a fair amount of strategy and trying to second-guess your opponents, you want to try to predict where and how much your opponents will be bidding. The game play is simple, but the strategy really adds a level of complexity.

Originally posted at Pretty Gamer

Jun 6, 2011


Who wants to play Poo?! Wait, where are you all going?!

Poo is a fun, fast paced card game for 2-8 players ages 8 and up, and takes less than 15 minutes to play.

It's quite the intellectual game. Here is the basic concept: Each player is a monkey, and you fling poo and mess with each other until only 1 monkey remains. I am fairly certain no poo or monkeys were actually harmed in the making of this game.

The game play is pretty straight forward. Start the game with 5 cards each. At the start of your turn you draw a card into your hand. You can then play a card from your hand - usually to fling poo at another monkey or to clean yourself off. Outside of your turn you can use cards to defend yourself from incoming poo or foil the other monkey trying to fling poo. After you play a card, draw another card from the pile. Different cards cause (or remove) different amounts of poo, and when you reach 15 points of poo you are out of the game.

There are 5 types of cards in the game:

- Poo: these cause poo points to your opponents. Some target 1 opponent, others target multiple opponents. Eg: King Kong Poo, The Big One

- Defense: these can be played outside of your turn as an opponent is about to fling poo on you, and stops or redirects any poo points that would have been given to you. Eg: Block, Dodge

- Mishap: these can be played outside of your turn as an opponent is about to fling poo on you, and causes a negative effect to the poo flinger. Eg: Just a Fart, Cramp

- Clean: these are played during your turn to remove poo points from you Eg: Found a Towel, Sharing the Love

- Event: these are played during your turn, and have an effect on the game. Eg: Zookeeper Turns on the Hose, Escaped Tiger

While clearly aimed at a younger audience, this game is a blast for adults as well. There is very little strategy involved, but you can add a social aspect by ganging up on a particular player or trying to protect a player. We played a couple games of Poo on the ferry ride home from PAX.

I was going to wrap up by saying this is a fun quick game that could be played anywhere, but I don't think you should ever play with poo at the dining room table.

Originally posted at Pretty Gamer

Jun 2, 2011



A stark room with a single light over the table. Four people sit around the table, clutching cards in their hands and warily watching each other. There are a number of cards and a single d10 in front of each person. The room has a palatable sense of tension.

Player 1:
I choose to fight the Large Angry Chicken.

Player 2:
Now it's a Humongous Large Angry Chicken!

Player 3:
Ha! Now it's an Ancient Humongous Large Angry Chicken! Take that!

Player 4:
I will help you for all the treasure cards. If you say no, I'll play a Wandering Monster and guarantee you loose the combat.

Player 1:
*sighs* I hate you all.

Have you ever played Munchkin? I think it's one of the most well known geeky card games out there. The text on the box neatly sums up the goal of the game: Kill The Monsters - Steal The Treasure - Stab Your Buddy.

In the basic game (there are a number of other sets that I will discuss in future articles) you and your buddies are Dungeon Explorers and you're competing with each other to kill monsters and grab magic items. The first player to Level 10 wins the game - so do your best to screw your buddies and stop them from gaining levels!

Munchkin really is a ton of fun. Reading through the rules the first time can be confusing, I think it is best to just sit down with some friends and start playing a few games.

There are two decks of cards in the game - Door cards and Treasure cards.

Door cards are:
  • Monsters (eg. Gelatinous Octahedron or *shudder* Lawyers)
  • Monster modifiers (eg. Ancient or Baby)
  • Character classes (eg. Cleric, Thief )
  • Character races (eg. Dwarf, Elf)
  • Curses (eg. Chicken on Your Head, Duck of Doom)
Treasure Cards are:
  • Items (eg. Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment, Pantyhose of Giant Strength)
  • Potions (eg. Potion of Halitosis, Flaming Poison Potion)
  • other treasures (eg. Go Up a Level)
Each turn goes through a sequence of actions. First you Kick Down The Door (drawing a door card). If it's a monster, then you can choose to fight it or try and run away. If it's a curse then it takes effect immediately. If you didn't fight a monster, then you can choose to Look For Trouble by playing and fighting a monster from your hand. If you didn't meet a monster at all that turn you can then Loot The Room and draw a Door card into your hand. Defeating a monster will net you level(s) and treasure.

Combat is the best part of this game. Each monster has a level, and to see if you can defeat the monster you add up your level and any bonuses from items in play. If your total is greater than the monster's level then you win! But wait, there's more! Once you decide to fight a monster your buddies get 2.6 seconds to decide if they will try and screw you over. They can play Monster Enhancers (making the monster stronger), items, curses, anything they can to make it so you loose the fight. This can get pretty nasty. :-)

If you can't beat the monster, you're allowed to ask for help - one other player can choose to assist you (adding their level and item bonuses to yours). But why would they help you? They are trying to win! You often have to sweeten the deal by offering some or all of the treasure cards to get them to help you.

There's a great Munchkin Flowchart available to guide you through the game.

Take the time to read each card as it comes into play, the cards are pretty damn funny and the artwork just adds to it all! In the case of a conflict between the rules and what the card says, the card always wins.

Remember - cheating is not only allowed, it's expected!

Originally posted at Pretty Gamer