Mysterium: The Haunted House

There aren’t enough cooperative asymmetric boardgames, especially not ones that feature a silent ghost trying to give players clues by means of cards with completely abstract art on them.

If you have ever said that to your self then Mysterium is the game for you… Before I start lets talk about the elephant in the room, you may have noticed that the title of the box in the image above doesn’t say Mysterium, it says Tajemnicze Domostwo, which is apparently Polish for “Haunted House”, the reason for this is that Mysterium doesn’t have an English edition, yet…

There is an English Edition on the way, and it will have some improvements / slightly different game mechanics, but as far as I’m aware it doesn’t have a concrete release date as yet. The thing is, that doesn’t really matter. Mysterium has not text in it, apart from the rules which you can get a translated version of over at Board Game Geek.

The story of Mysterium is that there is this house on the outskirts of Paris, and 100 years ago someone was murdered there. The wrong person was put on trial and executed for the murder and they have haunted the house ever since. In an effort to appease the spirit the owners have called upon the worlds foremost paranormal investigators to spend a week in the house to try and figure out who the real murderer was and put the spirit to rest.

Mysterium plays like the bastard child of Cluedo (Clue) and Dixit, but it’s better than both put together… One player plays the ghost, the other players play the paranormal investigators. Over the course of 7 rounds the players have to figure the circumstances under which the murder took place and who the real murderer was.

This is done by way of visions that the ghost player gives each player, the visions are large art cards, which are very reminiscent of the cards from Dixit, each player is assigned three cards in secret:

  • An item: representing “What”
  • A location, representing “Where”
  • A person representing “Who”

The players have to first figure out the what their assigned person was doing, then where they were doing it, and finally who they actually were (I think the new English version changes this order) based on the vision they were given by the ghost. Discussion is allowed among the investigators who can assist in interpreting the vision, but at the end of the round each player has to chose what they think the ghost was referring to with the vision by putting their token on it.

Once all the tokens are placed the ghost is allowed to affirm or reject the investigators guess. If an investigator guesses the correct item they then have to guess the location in the next round and then the person when they have guessed that.

The interesting thing about Mysterium, are first that the Ghost isn’t allowed to communicate with the investigators in any shape of form apart from giving them their vision for the turn and telling them that they guessed correctly or incorrectly at the end of the turn, this leads to a lot of frustration and hilarity on the Ghost’s side because the vision cards are so vague that most of them could literally mean anything. Trying to keep a straight face and not yell at the investigators for being idiots when one immediately guesses the correct card but is then talked out of it by the other players if really difficult

The vision cards are beautifully  illustrated, with tons of elements that you can use to try and hint to the players, the thing is not everyone see’s the same thing when they look at the cards, in fact it frequently occurs that a player will point something out on a card that you never noticed, for example one of the items is a clock, it was multiple play throughs in with 3 three different groups before a player to said they thought that the vision was eluding to the clock because there was a mermaid on the clock, none of us had seen the mermaid up to that point…

Being the ghost is really fun because you essentially know what is going on, and you have to think laterally to try and pick visions that will guide the players to pick the right cards, however, given how bonkers some of the cards are you will get a lot of abuse from the players for picking cards that in their eyes have nothing to do with what they are trying to guess, or worse cards that are blatantly telling them to pick the wrong one, the thing is you can’t defend yourself until the game is over, you just have to adjust your card choices the next turn to line up with the different players’ way of thinking.

With one group we played a game where I was the ghost for the first game, one of the investigators spent the whole game incredulous at my choice of visions, I was “Clearly doing it wrong” because nothing I had played made any sense. That player was the ghost in the second game and they saw quite how difficult it is to guide a bunch of players with only a limited number of really abstract cards.

I genuinely love this game, it looks nice it plays well and it gets your brain going. It also works well for anywhere from 2 to 6 players.

The English version should be out later this year, it changes the setting to a Scottish castle, adds a screen for the ghost to keep his cards in order and hidden, and changes some of the art. To be honest it is probably worth waiting for the English version just for the screen, but the game plays really well as is and you don’t need to speak a word of Polish to play the Polish version.

Hive: Nothing Buggy About This Game


There are some games like Chess, Draughts (Checkers), or Go that are incredibly simple and so easy to teach, but can take ages to master. These games usually have a set of really simple rules and a win condition, that is easily understood. Hive is one of those games.

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Hive is hexagonal chess with bugs, in the base game each player has 11 pieces which represent 5 different bug types, each of these bugs can move in a different way:

  • 1 Queen Bee: Can move exaclty once space.
  • 2 Spiders: Can move exactly 3 spaces.
  • 3 Soldier Ants: Can move around the outside of the hive as many squares as required.
  • 3 Grasshoppers: Can hop over the hive in any straight line
  • 2 Beetles: Can mount the hive and move exactly once space.

There are expansions that add a Mosquito, a Ladybird and a Pill-bug, the first two are included in the Pocket and Carbon edition out of the box.

Players take turns either placing a piece or moving a piece, with the ultimate goal of surrounding their opponent’s Queen Bee.

The only real rules are that you have to place your Queen within your first three turns, you can’t move any placed pieces until you have placed your queen, and you cannot break the hive.

That’s it! It’s that simple!

Of course within that is a world of strategy, do you place the queen early or late? Do you go on the full offensive and hope that you can capture your opponent’s queen before your opponent? or do you play defensively moving your queen out of the way? Can you trap your opponents crucial pieces to prevent them from using them?

The beauty of this game is the simplicity and variety of bugs, which allows for and astounding amount of variance in game-play styles. Although when playing with just one opponent I’ve found that the game can fall into a stagnant rhythm of playing the same moves or trying variations on the same strategy, which can get very frustrating, it’s astounding when playing with a new player how you get those “I never thought of doing that!” moments. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box.

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Hive probably isn’t as deep as Chess for example, but it’s a lot less intimidating, and for a new player it has the advantage that there aren’t books upon books written on how to play this game effectively, I’m sure there are winning strategies and patterns to be discovered but I think that the permutation space for hive might actually be large enough that it’ll take a while for them to be figured out.

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Putting all that aside, hive is a joy to look at, the pieces are gorgeous. Whether you are playing the original game, the pocket edition, or the new “Carbon” edition, the hexagonal pieces are stunning, and feel really nice in your hand, like Dominoes or nice Mah Jong tiles.

Hive is also a great travel game for two people, it takes up very little space, and comes with a carry case/bag to keep all the tiles in (At least Carbon and Pocket do) and you can play it on any flat surface.

Hive is also available on iOS (£1.49) and Android (Free).

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Tanto Cuoro: Do-maid-ion First impressions

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There are two types of board gamers, those for who the theme of a game is important and those for whom the theme of a game doesn’t matter a toss as long as the game has solid mechanics. (OK so putting everyone who participates in a hobby on a binary like that is ridiculous but I’m not exactly about to formulate an ontology of board gamers based on mechanics Vs. theme I’m just writing the opening paragraph to a shitty review, calm down…)

I bought Tanto Cuoro as a gift for a friend, partly because I’d read that it wasn’t terrible, and partly because she is obsessed with some really weird Japanese niche cultures. I wasn’t expecting the game to be that good, I didn’t even expect to play the game at all to be honest. But then I did…

Gameplay

At it’s heart Tanto Cuoro (Which is Italian for “A lot of heart” apparently) is a deck building game not dissimilar to Dominion, your goal is to assemble the a collection of maids to serve you and become the ultimate master of the house.

Each turn you get a hand of cards from you deck which contains a set of maids and or some “Love” cards which are the games currency, (Yes maids are paid in love not money, I’ll let you think of that what you will) and initially you are allowed to be “Served” by one maid per turn.

Being served by a maid means you play that maid and gain the benefits that maid provides usually this is one of:

  • Extra Love: Giving you more currency to buy maids.
  • Card Draw: Allowing you to draw more cards in the hope of getting more love to spend.
  • Extra Servings: Allowing you to play more maids
  • Extra Employment: Allowing you to hire more maids to your household.

Love is spent in the Town where you can either employ maids or purchase events, the maids you buy are added to your discard pile and are shuffled into your deck when it runs out, you can also buy private maids which don’t go into your deck but give you an ongoing effect which is usually helpful.

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Events are basically a way to screw the other player over by making their maids ill which negates their bonuses, or giving them bad habits which loses you victory points.

You can also promote maids to “chamber maids”, which takes them out of your deck permanently and may give you bonuses at the end of the game.

Once two of the piles of maids is depleted the game is over and each player tallies up the the maids in their house hold and whomever has the most victory points wins.

Opinion

I wasn’t expecting to like this game, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think it would be a terrible game… I just didn’t think it would be for me. I actually really enjoyed playing it though. Behind the cute anime maids in skimpy maid outfits, are some pretty solid mechanics, the art is also very well done if you are into the theme then that is a bonus, but building a household of maids and then trying to figure out how to chain them to get the most victory points is actually quite fun.

I’ve not played Dominion in 5 years, so the rules for that are a little rusty in my head, but I think this might oddly have a little more depth than the games of Dominion I played, which I found surprising.

If you like deck building games and either the theme appeals to you, or you are willing to ignore it then this game is well worth a look. Also if you don’t want to invest in the physical game there is a version available for iOS and while it’s not free it’s pretty cheap (£2.49 last time I checked) it also benefits from having a tutorial built in to it and varying levels of AI.

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My crowning achievement was chaining a set of maids to add love and servings to my pool such that I managed to accrue 18 love allowing me to employ two copies of “Marianne Soleil” who is worth 6 victory points.

 

Twilight Imperium: First Impressions

I’ve had the Twilight Imperium box sitting on my “to play” shelf for nearly six months now, it’s been taunting me: “Play me, together we will rule the galaxy as player and game.” I’ve got to admit I’ve been more than a little intimidated by this game.

The box this game comes in is the size of a small car, at least it’s the biggest boxed game that I own, and all the anecdotes I’ve heard about this game have suggested reserving an entire weekend to play it if you planned on using all the optional rules and play it with 6 players.

Last night we finally cracked it open, and with the assistance of someone who;d already played it once we got down and dirty and tried to conquer the galaxy.

It’s difficult to describe Twilight Imperium, it’s not a space combat game, it’s deeper than that. Each player takes control of a race, each of which have a number of abilities and disadvantages and the players race to get 10 victory points (or 14 in the optional rules). Victory points are gained by completing objectives, one of which is revealed every turn or so in addition to each players “Secret objective”.

Play progresses with the players selecting a strategy for that round (in a 3 player game you pick 2 strategies) which gives you a special ability you can activate and determine turn order, such as:

  1. Initiative : You go first
  2. Diplomacy: You can declare a truce preventing you and another player from attacking each other
  3. Political: Handle a political event which the players have to vote on.
  4. Logistics: Get more action tokens
  5. Trade: Get trade goods
  6. Warfare: Expand
  7. Technology: Get new Tech
  8. Imperial: 2 free Victory points

The players then take “actions” in turn until no one has anything left to do (You are limited in what actions you can do by the number of command counters and action cards you have so this isn’t going to last forever).

Your actions can be:

  • Activating your strategy allowing you to reap the rewards of it’s primary effect, and allowing other players to chose to spend a token to activate it’s secondary effect.
  • Activating a space area allowing you to move ships to it, attack ships that are there, or attempt to colonise planets.
  • Playing an action card which have various effects.
  • Passing.

Combat is relatively quick each unit has a target which they have to roll to damage or destroy a unit, there is no advantage to defending VS attacking, and the player receiving the damage can allocate it as they see fit among their fleet, two lone X wings can take out a Deathstar in a crazy suicide mission.

The ships are blatantly “Inspired” by ships from science fiction films and TV shows like Star Wars, StarTrek DS9 Battlestar Galactica etc.

Here is the cool thing YOU GET TO BUILD DEATH STARS! That’s right plural, not one but two!

Different ships have different abilities, fighters are cheap but can’t travel between systems by themselves, carriers are rubbish at combat are required to carry ground troops to invade planets, dreadnoughts can bombard ground forces from space and so on, you have to build your fleet using your space docks which do nothing more than build ships and you can’t have more ships in any one fleet than the number of tokens in your fleet pool.

It’s one of those games that looks really complicated from a distance, but once you get the hang of it it’s really simple. It took us a whopping 6 hours to play a 3 player game but we had no idea what we were doing to start with, it didn’t take long for us to get the hang of it.

So what did I think?

I really liked this game, I’ve played a lot of Risk lately due to my friends getting Risk: Legacy, Risk: God Storm and Risk: 2210, if you want it to be Twilight Imperium can be a slightly more complicated “Risk in Space”, but you are missing out on a lot and if you go full on battle crazy then you probably won’t win.

I really liked the exploration facet of the game, we played with a rule, which I think is optional, that puts face down tokens on each of the planets; these tokens are uncovered when you first land on a planet and can have good or bad effects it really gave you the feeling you were exploring the galaxy.

Twilight Imperium in a way reminds me of a game that I used to play when I was in school on my old Mac LC II called Spaceward Ho! It’s a lot more complicated than Spaceward Ho! in some ways but in others it’s simpler (You don’t really upgrade your ships that much in Twilight Imperium for example).

If you like space exploration, politics and battle, then you will love Twilight Imperium, I’m already looking forward to my next game, which I hope will be fairly soon.

First Impression: A Game of Thrones The Card Game

I bought this game on a whim from Static based on the fact that we were looking for a good board/card game that could be played with two players, but could also handle more than two players, and the fact that we have a bit of a thing for the Song of Ice and Fire universe that George R.R. Martin has crafted.

I’ve only played 2 games of this, one with the two player variant rules and one with four players, so I’m still not familiar with all the cards, and I’m sure there are levels of strategy that I’ve yet to delve into.

I’m going to start by addressing what is probably the elephant in the room for an awful lot of gard games, The Game of Thrones Card Game obviously borrows a lot of ideas from Magic the Gathering. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, MtG is a very popular game with lots of die hard fans, it did make me think twice about it getting this though, because if I wanted to play just play Magic the Gathering: A Game of Thrones, I’d probably just buy some magic cards and glue stickers of Ned Stark, Daenerys Targaryen and the Hound onto existing Magic cards and play that while I watched both seasons of Game of Thrones in the background on a split screen TV, and listened to my Kindle read out George R.R. Martin’s epic work in it’s dulcet if a little robotic tones.

I’m not that kind of fan though, sure I like the series, but I also wanted a decent game that wasn’t just a rip off of another game, and I’m going to say this outright:

A Game of Thrones The Card Game does not disappoint.

Firstly AGoTtCG is not a collectable card game, that was one of things that stopped me from playing Magic some 20 years ago, I couldn’t be bothered with the financial burden the game put on you, always having to buy hundreds of booster packs to try and get the cards you wanted/needed or having to pay an inordinate amount of money for a single card because the game designers decided arbitrarily that that particular card was going to be extremely rare.

That isn’t for me, and that isn’t what AGoTtCG is. Fantasy Flight Games are calling this a living card game, it’s one of a number of LCGs they do such as the Call of Cthulhu Card Game, Android: Netrunner, and The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. The only one of these I’ve played in the past was Netrunner (I’ll be posting my impressions of that soon) and I might have gotten that if it were also suitable for more than 2 players, but it’s not and as I said I like George R.R. Martin’s books so we got AGoTtCG.

So what is an LCG?

Basically it’s a bit like a Collectable Card Game (CCG) except you don’t buy millions of packs with random cards in them, if you want to play a Targaryen deck you buy the Targaryen booster pack and you get all the Targaryen cards. It’s as simple as that, you can buy what you want to build the deck you want. The same goes for the other 5 houses.

It looks like you can specialize your deck to for example play a Baratheon Knights deck, a Targaryen Dothraki Deck, or a Nights Watch deck (Presumably? I’ve only encountered three members of the Nights Watch Benjen Stark, Jon Snow, and Maestor Aemon) by buying appropriate booster packs too.

How Does It Play?

To start with each player chooses a house, you have the option of Playing one of the Six Major Houses:

  • Stark
  • Baratheon
  • Targaryen
  • Lannister
  • Greyjoy
  • Martel

The Game comes with premade decks for the first four houses, you only get house cards for Greyjoy and Martel. Out of the box, two players can’t play the same house, but if you spent money on the expansions and have built a deck for a particular house then multiple players can play the same house.

Interestingly House Tyrell don’t feature, I’d have expected them to be in the game as they are in the Game of Thrones Board Game also by FFG, there are various Tyrell characters strewn across the other houses cards, but they are not an entity unto them selves.

The object of the game is to  be the first player to collect 15 power tokens, these are tokens that are won by winning challenges against other players, or being the player with the most strength left over at the end of each turn.

Play Sequence

Play takes place in 7 Phases:

  1. Plot
  2. Draw
  3. Marshalling
  4. Challenges
  5. Dominance
  6. Stand
  7. Taxation

1. Plot

The “Plot Phase” is a strategic phase where all the players choose one of their “Plot Cards” to be in effect for the rest of the turn. These cards are all revealed at the same time and it’s worth noting that this is the only simultaneous play part of the game.

Each plot dictates a number of things:

Income:

This is how much gold the player gets to spend on cards this turn.

Initiative:

This is used to determine who goes first, the player with the highest initiative selects which player is the first player for the rest of the turn.

Claim:

This is used to determine how much “Damage” a player does when he challenges another player, it’s usually 1 but there are some 2s and 0s.

Special Rules:

As well as all the above, each plot card has a special rule that either has an immediate one off effect or a lasting effect that lasts for the rest of the turn.

Some example effects are:

  • No one gets any income this round.
  • Every player has to pick up to three location/characters and Discard/Kill everything else.
  • Player picks one opponent, player and that opponent can search their deck for a card of a particular type (character, location etc…) they declare it to everyone else and put it in their hands.
  • Kill every character on the table (This one is particularly nasty)

The plot cards once played enter a plot discard pile so you have to play through all your plots, even if the outcome of the plot is detrimental to you. This happened to me the first time when I had a huge army and was forced to play “Wildfire Assault”, which kills all but three of everyone’s characters, as my plot card as it was the only one I had left.

Once you’ve exhausted all your plot cards you gather them up again and can play them in any order.

The plot cards in a way make the game, you can completely screw someone, or yourself, over by playing the right or wrong plot card at any given time, and you have to play all of your plot cards so you need to pick the right time to play each of them.

Once the plot cards are revealed, the player who won initiative (Highest initiative with ties resolved by the player with the least power) picks the “First Player” for this round. Going first is not always a good thing though as it leaves you open to being attacked once you have expended your resources.

Rotating round from the First Player each player selects a title token from the small council:

  • Crown Regent
  • Hand of the King
  • Lord Commander of the Kingsguard
  • Master of Coin
  • Master of Laws
  • Master of Whispers

Each has it’s own in game effect, as well as some of them getting bonuses for/not being able to challenge other seats on the small council. This part is not used in the 2 player game and I guess your could ignore it in a four player game too if you wanted to.

That being done you move onto the next phase.

2. Draw

Each player in turn draws 2 cards from their deck, there are certain cards or that “Master of Law” title that allow you to pick more cards. That’s it…

3. Marshalling

The “Marshalling” phase is when you pick up your income, and spend it to buy shinys. Shinys in this context refers to Characters, Creatures, Armies, Attachments, and Locations. Each player marshals their forces in turn before moving onto the next phase, so everyone has a chance to get their armies out before anyone declares any challenges.

Characters, Creatures and Armies:

These are your legions of faithful soldiers, they have a strength value and several attributes which allow them to attach in different ways and or perform actions when they are knelt (tapped) or just have a constant effect on the game.

Some are unique, which means that no one can have more than one of that person or thing in play at any one time, and if the character dies then no one can call it into play for the rest of the game.

Attachments:

These are cards that affect other cards to which they are attached, they can be weapons, skills, rank ailments whatever (One of them is called something like “Stinking Drunk” and it reduces the power of the character it’s attached to by 4).

Locations:

Locations are permanent cards that give you some sort of bonus, some of them give you extra cash at the start of your marshalling phase, some of them make stuff cheaper, some of them allow you to disable characters, some of them make your characters stronger. Winterfell for example gives all Stark characters +1 Strength.

4.  Challenges

The players take turns starting with the first player to challenge each other in one of three ways:

Military

You are physically sending your armies against an opponent’s armies. If you succeed one or more of your opponents characters will be sent to the “dead” pile. Dead characters cannot be brought back, and one a unique character is dead no one can play that character.

Intrigue

You are making an intrigue attack on the opponent’s hand of cards, if you succeed that player discards one or more cards from their hand, at random. This is surprisingly effective, as you might make your opponent lose some very powerful cards.

Power

You are making an attack on your opponent’s power pool, a successful attack means you can steal a power token from your opponent.

So how does a challenge take place?

In their challenge phase each player may perform one challenge of each of the above types, they do this by “Kneeling” characters that have the appropriate icons on them and totalling up their strength and any bonuses to determine their attack power.

The defending opponent may choose to kneel some or none of his characters to defend against the attack. If the sum of the defending players knelt strength is more than that the attackers nothing happens, other wise the attack succeeds and the defender has to suffer the consequences. Note that the attacker wins ties.

If the defender doesn’t defend against the attack at all the attacker can claim a bonus power token from the pool.

There are also a host of effect and event cards that players can play to turn the tide of of challenge, for example I as House Baratheon was attacking  the Stark player and was going to kill two of his banner-men, because one of my characters had the “Deadly” attribute, I’d put all my military might into the attack because I needed to ensure that the other player was cut down to size. Little did I know that the player I was challenging had a card that they could play that killed every character that participated in a challenge against them. I was crippled for the rest of the game.

5. Dominance

The dominance phase has the players totalling up the strength of their remaining standing characters, and their remaining gold. The player with the highest total wins dominance and gets a bonus power token. If there is a tie no one gets anything.

6. Stand

Any characters that have been knelt and don’t have an effect on them preventing them from doing so are stand.

7.Taxation

Any gold remaining with any of the players is taxed, unless there is an effect that prevents this from happening.

So is it any good?

On the whole I’d say this is a really fun game to play, it’s different enough from other games, and the strategy involved in playing even with the pre-built decks that come with the game to make it worth playing and the mechanics are fairly well balanced.

It can be hard work trying to maintain a balance between being able to challenge opponents to get power, and not leaving ones self wide open to attack. And while in context I understand the reasoning behind characters dying permanently when they are killed, it can lead to a situation where a player slowly wastes away due to not having any military units because they were all wiped out in one fell swoop because of a plot card.

The game is very fun for 4 players, I’m not 100% sold on the 2 player variant though, as some mistakes/effects/plots can be very hard to recover from and can lead to a slow and painful death. Don’t get me wrong, the 2 player variant is very fun, but it’s not very forgiving.

Game Review: Cards Against Humanity

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I don’t think I’ve laughed as much as I did while playing “Cards Against Humanity” in a very long time, I laughed so hard I gave myself the hiccups.

Cards Against Humanity is a fairly simple game, each player is dealt a hand of 10 “White” cards with a random phrases on them like (The expansions give you blank cards to fill in with your own in jokes):

  • “Being a Dinosaur”
  • “Goblins”
  • “Stephen Hawking talking dirty”

Players then take turns drawing a “Black” card which has a phrase with one or more blanks in it such as:

  • But before I kill you Mr. Bond I must show you ___________________
  • In M. Night Shyamalaman’s new movie, Bruce Willis discovers that _______________ had really been ______________ all along.
  • Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s_________________

The other players have to play in one or more white cards which are shuffled and then read out. There is a mild element of strategy to this, because the player who played the black card picks the winner, you have to pick not the funniest card but the one that you think will appeal the most to that player’s sense of humour.

Whoever’s card is picked wins that round, everyone draws a replacement card and the next player draws a black card for everyone else to play.

That’s it… There are house rules, some of which are genius, but that is pretty much the game in it’s entirety. It’s a really good way to get to know people and some of the bizarre/sick combinations that people come up with are hilarious.

I liked this game so much that having played it I ordered it off Amazon the next day, I can’t wait to play it again…

  

Game Idea: Scrabble Dungeon

I’m not entirely sure where this idea came from, but bear with me…

Imaging a dungeon exploration game where you have to build the dungeon you are playing in by playing Scrabble (Or some other non trademarked version of the aforementioned word game).

Game Mechanics:

Each of the 26 letters of the English alphabet is designated a type of room, for example:

  • A. Easy monster room
  • B. Fire room.
  • C. Block Puzzle.
  • D. Boss fight.
  • Z. Treasure Room

A player is given 7 Letters to start with with which they must place a word down, this does two things:

  1. Creates the dungeon.
  2. Gives the player an amount of Experience points equal to the value of the word that they just played.

The player then has the option to play another word with their remaining letters, or enter the dungeon. Note that they don’t gain any new letters after playing a word.

In the dungeon the player has to overcome various obstacles, solve puzzles, fight monsters, perform acts of derring-do or whatever, they will gain items to help them along the way as the fight through the dungeon. As each room is completed the player will also be awarded a letter,  which they can use to place words on the board and expand the dungeon.

Each dungeon room will yield one letter, meaning that the player shouldn’t have more than 7 letters in their hand at any point, emulating scrabble, and forcing the player to play more letters and fight through the dungeon to play through the game.

Characters level up by gaining experience, whether or not they gain experience by killing stuff or just by playing letters is another matter, I’m not sure if it’s fair to only award experience points for placing letters as the letters you’d get would be random? I suppose it adds an element of chance to the game.

Getting the experience points for a room by placing it as part of a word before you play through it’s dungeon adds an interesting mechanic to the dungeon explorer genre.

Double/triple word and letter spaces would also probably have some effect on all the rooms that are associated with that placement, and there might be others that only had an effect on the dungeon rooms but not the word score.

I’m not sure what the win condition is, perhaps you just keep playing till you can’t put down any more words or till your character dies? Or like in Scrabble you play until you exhaust all the letters in the “Bag”?

Alternatively the game could be a two player game, in which the players battle it out between themselves. This would mean that a character could place a small word down and then complete a few sections of the dungeon while the other player is thinking of a word to prevent them from getting any more letters, you’d probably have to remove the limit on 7 letters per player, maybe have a limit of 10 letters to keep it fair?

Another possible game mechanic is that players can’t actually put down words that use tiles/letters for which they have not yet completed the dungeon room for. This forces the players to actually play the dungeon game, and puts a twist on the “You stole the place for my word” gripe that Scrabble players often moan to each other about it. “I didn’t steal it I fought for it”.

If the game is a two player game, then maybe players would gain some points for placing a word but would be able to get the same number of points again by being the first to complete the room associated with a tile?

Anyone have any thoughts?

Home Made Wooden Settlers of Catan

Full BoardOn the subject of home made board games here is another one, this time it’s Settlers of Catan again from Reddit, user amaurer3210 made this with his fiancée for a friends wedding.

amaurer3210[S]

I machined each tile from 3/8″ ply. Each one has six magnets set into the sides so that they snap together nicely.

My fiancee did the artwork while we then silkscreened onto each tile after staining.

We all play on it nearly every weekend.

The magnets are a great idea!

Arguably it’s not as professional as the one by Boardcrafting that I posted here a couple of years ago but it’s still very nice.

Lasercut Wooden Monopoly Board (Stevensoply)

Full Board

I found a link to this on Reddit user jellatin works for a “laser company” called Universal Laser Systems and his coworked apparently spent 600 hours designing and building this Monopoly set.

When confronted with the fact that the name Stevensoply was missing an “O” his coworker apparently said it was Stevensoply not Monopoly…

Apparently the guy who made this’ job is to make cool stuff with the lasers the company makes so that they can show them off to clients…

How To Choose The Perfect Board Game

This flow chart reads like a wishlist for me… Although I disagree with BSG taking less than two hours to play.

Some of my all time favourites are in there like the afore mention BSG, Game of Thrones, and Risk. As well as some I’ve had a chance to play but don’t own yet like Dominion, and Pandemic and Carcassonne (I still can’t pronounce that).

I’m going to have to go over this and pick out some to buy, also this has reminded me that I need to write a review of Small World.

Via Silver Oak Casino