Sunday, 31 January 2016

Star Wars: Empire vs Rebellion.

Time to play: 60 minutes.
Players: 2 players
Suggested age: 10+
Price: £11.99 RRP.

Mike: A big thank you to Esdevium Games for our review copy. You can find your nearest game store using their handy store locator.

Star Wars: Empire vs Rebellion is a 2 player strategy card game with a small amount of deck building. It is a re-theme of a game called Cold War: CIA v KGB released in 2007.

Before we mention the main game in the rules there is a little tutorial that helps you learn the game. Honestly, we think this is largely pointless and not worth it as the game itself isn’t complex to learn. The tutorial is also a little bit flat and may put you off the main game which has a lot more depth.

The winner is the first player to get to 7 or more victory points.

Before the game starts one player will be Empire the other the Rebellion. You then take that factions deck and add 4 of the 8 available characters to it. This is the only deck building choice you will have in the game so pick the characters that match your style of play.

Two Characters i'm sure will be in most decks.

David: Yes the tutorial was a bit boring as it finished quickly and didn’t really help us with the game. There are more complicated card games than this and once you get going it’s very easy to play. I like being able to choose what characters to add to the deck as it mixes the game up a little bit each time.

Mike: Once we have set up the game and each got our decks we flip the balance token to see who goes first. This is a token that is imperial one side and rebel on the other and used to keep track of who is the first player.

Game Setup

David: The game has 3 phases. A Planning phase, Struggle phase and Dominance phase.
In the planning phase, you reveal an event. This will be an event from one of the original trilogy films. For example, attack on echo base or duel on cloud city.

Mike: Let’s take a closer look at one. In this picture, the round will be Battle of Hoth.

It is worth 3 victory points and 0 influence tokens (white and red numbers top left). You need to score as close to 17 as possible without going over to win this event and not use more than 5 cards (the five hexagons net to the 17 show this).

Based on this event players now choose one of their five strategy cards. Each player has the same five so it can be to you advantage in the later rounds to remember what ones your opponent has played. This is because once you have used a strategy card it stays out of play until you have used all five. Once this has happened you get them all back.

This can be a crucial part of the game as knowing what strategy your opponent has played can help give you the edge to win an event.

David: After the planning phase we get to play our cards in the struggle phase. You can take one of four actions. Play a card, use a power on a card, Spend influence or pass.
When you play a card you play one from the top of your deck you never have a hand to choose from. This can be risky as it could push you over the event limit. You need to think about if you want to make the gamble.

The cards in the picture above would add 4 to the score for the empire and 5 for the rebels.

Using a power on a card is simple you turn the card 90 degrees to exhaust it and do what is in the text. This could be discarding an opponent’s card or exhausting one of their cards for example.

Spending influence lets you use the influence tokens you get to refresh your exhausted cards. These can be really useful.

If both players pass in a row the phase ends and it’s on to the last phase. 

Mike: Yes playing a card blind from the deck can be risky and feels a bit like blackjack. It can either help you or make you go bust. As David has mentioned once both players have passed we go to the dominance phase.

In this phase both players reveal strategies and then work out who has claimed the event in the middle.

The player who is closest to the event score without going over wins that event and keeps the card. First to seven points wins the game.

The game time on the box suggests 60 minutes but none of our games ever reached that point. I would say it was closer to 30 minutes.

David: It’s a great filler game before playing something bigger. I do prefer star wars timeline to this game though. For me, I prefer deck builders that I can have more control over during set up. I’m not sure I like the way we just turn cards over and don’t have a hand to play from. Again there is not much control the player has.

Mike: I know what you mean it is a bit odd playing cards blind from the deck. This does make it a bit push your luck. But I really like this aspect of the game as there is that gamble of getting as close as you can without busting the limit.

I disagree about this Star wars Timeline being better. I would much rather play a game of this as I know that I could play this with non Star Wars fans as well.

It’s a difficult one to review as it is a game we would go back to but there are others that play better. At the reasonable price, it's worth picking up and adding to your collection if you want a simple strategy game filler.

It will leave you wanting more though and you will need to look at a deck builder or the Living Collectable Card games that Fantasy flight offer to quench your thirst.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Board Know More’s 10 x 10 Challenge.

Some of you may already be aware of this but each year Board Game Geek put up details of a 10 x 10 challenge.

The 10 x 10 challenge is to play 10 different games 10 times in 1 year.

This seemed like a good way to get a few of our favourites to the table and pick some games we haven’t played yet.

We decided to pick 5 each and the great thing about this challenge is you can swap a game out if you’re not happy.

The games we have chosen for this year are.

Star Wars Armada – This one was in our top 10 of 2015 and there are a few nice expansions that have recently been released.

Star Wars Imperial Assault – We haven’t played this yet and will get on it as soon as we finish our pandemic legacy campaign.

Memoir 44 – we never played this enough and had great fun each time we got it to the table.

Exodus: Proxima Centauri – No idea if this will go down well its not been played but looks awesome.

Roll For The Galaxy - My (Mike) Christmas present that hasn’t been played yet, and we have heard great things about this game.

Flick Um Up – This is quite easily the best game we have played so far this year and no doubt would have made our top 10 lists for 2015 had we played it.

Five Tribes – The second days of wonder game in our list. This game is great on its own and we would love to see what the expansion adds.

Netrunner – One of our favourite card games and an easy one to set up and play.. A great 2 player duel that leaves us wanting more every time.

Stronghold – Another 2 player only game that we haven’t played. Who doesn’t want to play a game where Orcs v Humans in a helms deep style siege. Looking forward to this one.

The Castles of Burgundy – I was quite surprised David enjoyed this as much as he did. There is a reason this is in the top 10 on BGG and it never fails to entertain us.

So that’s our initial10.

We have managed a few plays so far and will update throughout the year.

We would love to hear if anyone else is doing a 10x10 or similar challenge. Let us know maybe we can help each other out.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Carcassonne Over Hill and Dale

Time to play: 35 minutes.
Players: 2-5 players
Suggested age: 7+
Price: £27.99 RRP.

Mike: First can we say a big thank you to Esdevium Games for our review copy. You can find your nearest game store using their handy store locator.
Carcassonne is well known and much loved in the board game community. It’s simple yet rewarding gameplay makes it a great gateway game for newcomers to the hobby.
Since its release in 2000, there have been many expansions and variants. Today we are reviewing the latest variant to be released-Over Hill and Dale.

David: In Over Hill and Dale you are building fields and meadows (instead of cities and farms in the original Carcassonne).
You start the game with 4 farmer meeples and 2 stables. Your 5th meeple is placed on the scoring board. Find the starting tile (it has a different colour back) and place this face-up in the centre of the table. Place all the other tiles stacked face down and you’re ready to begin.

Mike: In this version there are also 33 harvest tokens. There are 5 of each crop and 8 happy scarecrows. More on these later.

On your turn, you take a tile from the face-down deck and flip it over. You then place this tile on the board so it matches up correctly to an already placed tile. All placed edges must match up that is really the only rule when placing tiles.
On the placed tile you can place a meeple or a stable. What you choose is important as they score differently. A meeple will also stay in place until it’s able to score so you need to think if it’s worth committing as you have a limited supply. Stables will stay where they are placed until the end of the game.

David: This is what I enjoy about Carcassonne it’s very easy to learn and you always seem to have options each turn. You have to think about how you are going to score. For example

If I placed this tile. 

I could put a meeple on the road (a wanderer).

On the field (a farmer).

Or place a stable.

Stables score you points at the end of the game. They score by adding up the number of animals on the 8 surrounding tiles plus the tile the stable is on.
So for example, this would score 9 points at the end of the game. For the 4 chickens, 4 pigs and 1 cow.

Mike: Those fields can score big as well. Remember the harvest tokens? Well if you complete a field that has one or more harvest tokens you take these from the supply. At the end of the game, you get 1 point for each token and 5 bonus points for each set (1 of each crop). The scarecrow tokens are wild cards and can be used to complete sets.
For example completing this field will give the yellow player a pumpkin and grain harvest token.

David: I like this addition as the harvest tokens let a player catch up at the end. Players may have scored smaller fields to collect harvest tokens and then make lots of points later on.

Mike:  Yes it does add a bit more tactical play in the game and removes the farmer meeple scoring from the original game. 

There is also one other small change. When you place a meeple down on a road it becomes a wanderer. Normally in Carcassonne, this meeple wouldn’t score any points until a road is completed.

However in Over Hill and Dale your meeples can go for a hike. Once you have placed a tile that extends the path your meeple is on you can move him along the path and score a point for each tile.

This is another nice addition and gives some more point options in the game.

David: I’m so used to the older Carcassonne that I forgot about doing this. It does mean you can get a few more points from the road place meeples that don’t often score as many.

Mike: So is the game any good? Yes, it’s Carcassone with some nice additions that keep the game fresh. It may entice younger players with its cutesy art style. 

Is it worth buying if you own Carcassonne? Maybe not, the harvest tokens are a nice addition but really that’s all that is different here. I prefer this to the original Carcassonne and would recommend it to someone that doesn’t already own a copy of the original.

If you already own the original it would probably be better to look at some of the expansions if you are looking for something new to freshen up the game.

David: I agree they are almost the same game I prefer Over Hill and Dale to the original as I like the harvest tiles and stables. Also, I prefer the artwork and theme it’s a lot brighter and nicer looking.

Mike: Yes, at the end of a game it looks really picturesque with its big meadows full of farms and animals.

This is a definite recommendation from us for families with younger gamers. Carcassonne is so simple to play, it does say 7+ on the box but you could omit a few of the rules and let younger gamers join in. David and I have introduced this to families at board game events and it has always gone down well.

Carcassonne is a firm favourite in our house and this is a welcome addition. A big thumbs up from us and hope they continue to keep releasing additions to the Carcassonne world.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Star Wars Timeline

Time to play: 15 minutes.
Players: 2-8 players
Suggested age: 8+
Price: £13 Approx.

Mike: So after watching The Force Awakens we got home and a copy of Star Wars Timeline was waiting for us. Kindly sent to us from Esdevium Games. What a great way to end the day.

The timing was perfect we were in the Star Wars zone and played this all evening.

Before we start the review you need to bear in mind this is a game for Star Wars fans. If you haven’t watched episode 4, 5 or 6 then this game isn’t for you.

David: In Star Wars Timeline you and the other players are trying to recreate the timeline of the Star Wars original trilogy.
Set up of the game is easy. Shuffle all of the cards in the game and deal the top card from the deck into the middle of the play area.
This is the starting point. In the picture below you can see it is from episode 5 and is numbered 648.

Each player gets 4 cards that are face down with just the scene description.
So the youngest player will start first. Which is always me :-) .
On my turn I look at the cards in front of me and choose to play one. When I do this I decide if it is before or after the event in the middle of the table.
If I pick this one for example.

I think this happened before Darth Vader says “I am your father”
So I place it to the left and turn it over.

Mike: Then it’s my turn. 
On my turn I believe this happened after Darth Vader says “I am your father”.

I place it to the right turn it over 

and ouch I’m wrong. The scene happened just before. As you can see in the photo it should have happened in between the 2 cards already on the table. The card I tried to play is returned to the box, I take another card from the draw pile and its David’s turn.

David: So we continue back and forth until a player has got rid of all their cards to win.

Mike: It is as simple as that. However as I mentioned earlier there is no game here for a non Star Wars fan. They would find it very frustrating trying to make sense of where cards should be played.
The game is extremely simple and great for kids to play. 

Unlike the other Timeline games it cannot be mixed with the other games. Which again limits its audience but it is a nice way to fill a gap between Star Wars movies. 

We made the game a little bit longer and started with a bigger hand to increase the difficulty if you are finding games are over quickly.

David: I recommend this and had great fun playing it as I can beat my Dad as he sometimes forgets 
the order of the scenes. Pick this up if you have a Star Wars Mad Family. I hope they release a set for episodes 1-3.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Happy New Year - Podcast #5 Top 10 Games of 2015

Happy New Year from Board Know More.

In this episode we pick our top 10 games of 2015. We had great fun making this podcast as we kept our lists secret until recording. There is a few obvious ones that made the cut but hopefully a few surprises.

Enjoy and may you have a great 2016 of gaming.