For the love of board games – an interesting Kickstarter

For the love of board games

A look inside how some great games came to be

One thing I love about board games is the how they can impact different people. Want logical games? Want thematic games? Want narrative games? There are plenty of games for all these and more, with designers well known for some types of games more than others.

Erin Dean has been busy interviewing some modern board game designing greats into the collection ‘For the love of board games’.

And when I say modern greats, some of my favourite designers are in this book.  This includes (but is by no means limited to):

  • Kane Klenko (FUSE, Flatline, Covert)
  • Tim Fowers (Burgle Bros., Paperback, Fugitive, Now Boarding)
  • Antoine Bauza (Hanabi, 7 Wonders, Takenoko, Victorian Masterminds)
  • Seiji Kanai (Love Letter)
  • Emerson Matsuuchi (Century: Spice Road/Eastern Wonders, Specter Ops)
  • Don Eskridge (The Resistance)

And many, many more.

For the love of board games
I am really interested in reading interviews with a lot of these designers

This is Kickstarter for a collection of interviews with Board Game designers.  It’s hard to really give you much more information than that – this is a product that is what it is.

But if you are the sort of person with an interest in the creative process and/or board games, this is a Kickstarter for you.

To see some of Erin Dean’s previous work, check out her documentary ‘The Board Game Boom’ on YouTube (shown below).

If you are interested, check out the Kickstarter here.

Until next time,


Restoration Games announces Return to Dark Castle for 2020

Return to Dark Tower Feature

Restoration Games is turning their attention to another ‘Holy Grail’ game of the 80’s

Way back in 1981, Milton Bradley released an incredibly experimental board game – Dark Tower.

On the surface, it may look like fairly standard fantasy fare.  Search the four realms for three keys to unlock the Dark Tower.   Explore the board, fight monsters, buy items from the market – yep nothing really out of the ordinary these days.

But in 1981, the Dark Tower itself was the app that kept tabs on what was happening and directed play.  It had a small keypad that allowed players to input their moves, and the tower made various sounds or lit up various panels to show what was happening.

And the best bit (well, for some) – Orson Welles himself did the ad!

While Dark Tower was released over 30 years ago, there are still a lot of people that go to amazing lengths to have a copy in their collection – working or not!  This is very similar to another game released in the 80’s I have talked about on the site before – Fireball Island.

I have loved almost everything Restoration Games has released.  The only game I am not going out of my way to play is a game called Indulgence.  It is by all accounts a fine game, but I was never a fan on the of the DragonMaster (well, original for what I played), so the restoration did not hold a lot of interest for me.

Fireball Island New Board

That’s one game though.  Stop Thief! took another innovative design from the 80’s and made a beautiful deduction game with solo, cooperative and competitive game modes.  Downforce (which I got to play again last night actually) made racing games fun again, and I am looking forward to the new tracks and powers this year.  Even Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar lured me in, and I am looking forward to that appearing in the mail later this year!

And then during Gen Con, the following video was let lose on the world.

Restoration Games track record and nostalgia have once again combined to get me excited about an old game that by today’s standards is primitive and ‘not fun’.  And with Gloomhaven designer Isaac Childers working with Rob Daviau and the Restoration Games team, Return to Dark Tower should become something special indeed!

But there will be a wait.  A long wait.  According to statements made during Gen Con 2018, Return to Dark Tower won’t be on Kickstarter until 2020 sometime – and that’s all going well.

Until then, I will just have to track down a copy of Dinosaur Tea Party to keep my Restoration Games release anticipation in check 🙂

Until next time,


Horizon Zero Dawn to be the next Video Game to become a Board Game

Horizon Zero Dawn Feature

Breaking down a massive open world experience into a board game

There have been a few Board Game adaptions of Video Games over the years.  Some have been good.  Some have been not good at all.

Steamforged Games have had a lot of success with their Kickstarters.  The miniatures for the Dark Souls The Board Game are fantastic, but the reports on the game proper are mixed.

I have backed the Resident Evil 2 Board Game.  Honestly, not for the game.  I am a bit unsure on the what seems to be a Resident Evil themed dungeon crawler, but for the miniatures.  I am going to have a great time painting up those miniatures I think, and if the game turns out to be a bit of fun then all the better.

During Gen Con last week, Steamforged had an announcement to make.  They have another project coming to Kickstarter, and it is another Video Game adaptation.

This time it is Guerrilla Games Horizon Zero Dawn.

Now I have barely started Horizon.  It’s on my ‘get back and play it’ list that I am hoping to put a dent into over the Christmas holiday break.  But watching any video footage of it makes it immediately clear how beautiful a world Guerrilla has created.

Horizon Zero Dawn Screen
A world as dangerous as it is beautiful

There is very little detail available about the game right now.  The announcement really is just a statement that work has begun, but the hype is already starting.

Now as I said Dark Souls from Steamforged has a bit of a mixed reception.  Resident Evil 2 as a board game I am not expecting a lot from.  Steamforged though does have some great games in their stable, including Dark Souls the Card Game.

This isn’t something like Victorian Masterminds where I am looking forward to it based purely on the designers involved.  I have no doubt in the future when this does come to Kickstarter (no dates yet!) that it will be another big hit for the company.  But just look at the attention to detail in what they have revealed already:

Horizon Zero Dawn Scrapper
The attention to detail is amazing again. Once again, I may be backing a game just to paint minis
Horizon Zero Dawn Aloy Render
It is a 3D render, but the attention to detail in Steamforged minis are amazing

What do you think?  Is the idea of playing Horizon Zero Dawn as a board game something you are looking forward to?  Or like myself does the idea of enjoying the miniatures enough?

Until next time,


Who Goes There? has arrived on my doorstep!

Who Goes There Box Art

Surely we can all just get along?

A lot of people know John Carpenter’s The Thing.  It is a horror movie I grew up with, even though I didn’t think of it as a ‘horror’ movie at the time.  I remember mum letting me watch it with her as an early teen I would guess.  It had certainly been out a number of years.

Thinking back on it, The Thing probably started my fascination with hidden role mechanics.  You could never be entirely sure who was human, and that excited a much younger me that most of the plot went over my head.  One thing is for certain – it gave me a healthy fear of defibrillators!

The events of the film were based on a 1930’s novella by John W. Campell, Jr.  Carpenters version follows the event of the original film fairly closely, and still stands as my favourite adaptation.

In general, some scientists and workers in Antartica are performing research as they do.  Already cut off and isolated from the world, the small group had already been living in close proximity to each other – a situation that can push a lot of people.

An alien spacecraft is found deep in the ice, having crashed there millions of years earlier.  Unfortunately, the group thaws the pilot who is still alive and can shapeshift.  The alien (referred to by the group as The Thing) begins killing and taking the place of members of the team, desperate to escape.

Who Goes There Box Front
A game of cooperation, teamwork, and no paranoia at all.

So you can probably see where the game is going, even if you don’t know the story.  Players must work cooperatively to find a way to escape the base and warn humanity of the alien.  The alien however also needs to escape.

This kind of betrayal tension is in many games.  Battlestar Galactica and Dead of Winter are two famous examples of this type of gameplay.  Most games of this type have a bit of a reputation for being hard on the ‘betrayers’ though, as their different intentions tend to call them out.  Even games like Dead of Winter where everyone has their own dodgy goals, a lot of players are not comfortable hiding in and working against the group.

This translates into poor game experiences a lot of the time.  The group tends to spot the traitor quickly as they are visibly uncomfortable, and the betrayer themselves are playing something in a way they would rather not.

This is where Who Goes There? stands apart.  Every player starts as an uninfected human and helps work towards fixing the helicopter to leave.  When certain events occur such as being outside alone or running out of food, there is a chance that a player can become infected.

But it’s a chance – you draw from a Vulnerable deck and secretly see if you become infected or not.  The more vulnerable cards you have, the more likely you are of being The Thing, so interactions become more and more chance with you.

But the great thing is even if you are infected, you play the same game as everyone else.  Same goals, same dangers of pulling more cards, same criteria.  You don’t have a second set of rules in the back of your head to everyone else.

Who Goes There Box Back
I got the deluxe edition which includes all 8 characters. The base game is identical, but only has 4 characters with the rest as expansions.

Who Goes There? may still not be for everyone, but the simple fact that everyone is playing the same base game no matter what is great.  There is no extra pressure for a new player when they are infected to learn another game quietly by themselves.  You can ask questions and give advice normally because everyone wants the same thing.

At the end of the 15 rounds of play, if the humans escape by helicopter and don’t have infected among them – they win!  If there is infected amongst the escaping group, then The Things win.  But the infected have to be careful as well. -On one hand, more infected increase the chance of getting on the helicopter.  But if everyone becomes infected everyone loses.  The alien does not know how to repair and fly the machinery, so everyone becomes stuck on the base to freeze.

Hopefully next games night, I can get Who Goes There? on the table where I can give you some thoughts!

Until next time,


Eclipse: Second Dawn is on Kickstarter now

Eclipse Second Dawn for the Galaxy Box Art

Making way for the Second Dawn

Eclipse.  Oh, the memories.  A game I enjoy, but it’s huge and heavy and not a game I can get to the table often because of it.  The running joke is that Eclipse is Twilight Imperium lite, but it’s not really a fair comparison either.  The games are similar in that they are 4X games (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate). Yes, Eclipse plays in about 3 hours in my experience, but it is just as deep and stressful as Twilight Imperium.

So if you don’t like the idea of large, involved board games – today isn’t your day.  Eclipse is a large and heavy weighted game of dominating the galaxy with a lot of moving pieces.  It is a multi-hour game with player elimination, and it’s usually you eliminating yourself by spending more than your resources allow.

If this does sound interesting to you though – well a new and improved second edition is currently on Kickstarter.

But new and improved doesn’t mean easier – in fact, some of the rules look like the choices you make are even more important.  There are a lot of minor rule tweaks and clarifications made, as well as some general improvements.

For example, in Eclipse the first player to pass each round becomes the first player for the next round.  When learning the game, the newer people tend to pass first because a) they are unsure what is happening everywhere are and trying to take it an and/or b) they have run out of cash.

Eclipse Second Dawn for the Galaxy Board Comparison
Improvements on Art and Layout abound in the Second Edition

While this will still be the case in Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy, the first player to pass now also gets a 2 credit bonus.  This will let players that are passing because of money troubles get a bit of a boost, so they are less likely to get left behind.  New players that pass to watch gameplay also have a chance to spend up more next round, as the credits help offset the lack of actions in the previous round.

And not only the rules got a tweak.  Eclipse has a lot to keep track of in the game, and has the problem of lots of cubes on thin bits of card to keep track of everything.  There are a lot of inserts, player aids and the like to help, but it is always an additional cost over and above the base game.

Again the designers have listened, and some of the improvements are the inclusions of inserts and player aids designed by Game Trayz!  I really wish more games (especially Kickstarters) would use these guys, the inserts are amazing and make setup and teardown so much easier, and using the player boards from them mean the Second Edition is a ‘complete’ purchase.

Eclipse Second Dawn for the Galaxy GameTrayz
And it has Game Trayz inserts and player aids. This is a great addition in itself hands down!

Man vs Meeple did a great job with a preview video (shown below and on the Kickstarter page) which highlights a lot of the changes between the games.  While it doesn’t really explain the gameplay much (and neither have I) if you know Eclipse it does a great job and highlighting some of the improvements and changes:

I was going to end this promotion with links to the digital versions of Eclipse, which are cheap and I have gotten the most play out of.  The game is complicated and it is an uphill slog to learn via the game’s tutorials, but it does teach the game well and is a good translation of the board game.

The downside is while I know it exists and I have it on my iPad, none of the links are working at all.  I can’t find it in Google Play at all, and all iTunes Google and the Steam page shows the game but I can’t buy it even though it was released almost 2 years ago.

Best bet is a search for ‘Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy’ in your app store of choice, and see if that works.

There is also another potential issue for Australian backers (well, a lot of countries really) – Shipping.  USA, Canada, EU and Germany have ‘friendly’ rates around the USD$20 mark.  Rest of the world – a flat USD$65 shipping.  That makes the retail base game with some stretch goals USD$164.  The all in with expansion pledge will come to USD$214.

Now, this sounds like a lot of money, and it is.  There is no denying this.  But the base game in Australia will probably come to about AUD$200ish dollars IF it makes it out here.  Eclipse is a niche game and not for everyone, so only a specific type of gamer will be buying this to begin with.  If you look at it that way, it will cost maybe another AUD$30-40 to get the game up front, and you won’t need to spend the extra on game board and inserts like the first Eclipse, so the investment really isn’t as bad as it sounds if this is a game you can get to the table often enough.

For me, I love the idea but I will probably stick with the First Edition I already have.  I have only gotten it to the table twice and only ‘finished’ the one game, so that’s a lot of other games I can buy.

If you have always wanted Twilight Imperium but the all-day game stories put you off, give Eclipse a good look – it’s a great alternative and an excellent game in its own right.

Until next time,


A quick multi day – Deadpool 2 Super Duper Cut, Cthulhu: Death May Die

Deadpool 2 4K Cover

Deadpool brings it all for the ‘Super Duper [email protected]{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c}!#& Cut’

Not many people buy movies anymore.  The die-hard collectors always will.  The last DVD I purchased was Thor: Ragnarok, and that was only because I wanted the Team Darryl featurette that would never stream.

I’m going to say Ryan Reynolds and the guys at Fox recognise this.  As such, the upcoming August release of Deadpool 2 includes a load of extras, including the extended ‘Super Duper [email protected]{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c}!#& Cut’.

Included in the physical release:

  • Gag Reel
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes
  • Until Your Face Hurts: Alt Takes
  • Deadpool’s Lips are Sealed: Secrets and Easter Eggs
  • The Most Important X-Force Member
  • Deadpool Family Values: Cast of Characters
  • David Leitch Not Lynch: Directing DP2
  • Roll with the Punches: Action and Stunts
  • The Deadpool Prison Experiment
  • Chess with Omega Red
  • Swole and Sexy
  • “3-Minute Monologue”
  • Audio Commentary by Ryan Reynolds, David Leitch, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Theatrical Version Only)
  • Deadpool’s Fun Sack 2
  • Stills (28 Images)
Deadpool 2 4K Cover
15 extra minutes makes the 'Super Duper [email protected]{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c}!#& Cut'

Of course, this couldn’t just be quietly released.  Oh no, where is the fun in that?

Instead this appeared on Ryan Reynolds twitter account:

Nothing about this release on the JB Hi-Fi website yet, but I am sure it will be coming.  The backlash would be too huge otherwise 🙂

The latest outing from CMON is now live on Kickstarter – Cthulhu: Death May Die.

A collaboration between two of my favourite designers Rob Daviau and Eric M. Lang, with a cooperative effort to end Cthulu.  It all seemed right up my alley.  Timing and a huge initial rush does mean I have missed every single early bird pledge, but that’s OK.  It’s a CMON project – there is going to be a ton of plastic extras that don’t fit in the box and push shipping rates up anyway :p

Another usual problem I have with CMON projects is no rules.  This looks great, but will it be fun to play?

The situation on this front seems to be improving though.  This time around there is a gameplay walkthrough hosted by Eric M. Lang himself!

I have only mostly watched the video all the way through, and I will watch it another time or two, but the Cthulhu: Death May Die looks like it has a lot of potential.

But it is only potential, and as such I have 2 reservations.

  1. I have a lot of cooperative games already in the Cthulhu theme.  While the comparison is unfair as they are very different games, Mansions of Madness: Second Edition already springs to mind as a fun mini-fest with expanding scenarios.  And I have it on my shelf now.
  2. The cost.  It’s CMON – there will be a lot of plastic.  A lot.  Oh, so much plastic.  But the ‘All In’ pledge is 2.5x the base game, for what sounds like a Kickstarter Exclusive expansion with no information on.
Cthulhu Death May Die Components
So much goodness. Or is it? It's CMON, it's going to be beautiful.

The components look great, and Cthulhu: Death May Die has an interesting premise.  But some CMON Kickstarters have the problem where the ‘stretch goal optional expansions’ were required to make the game fun to play, which pushes me to back the ‘R’yleh Rising’ All In pledge.  At USD$250 plus probably USD$45 shipping.

That’s an almost AUD$400 investment in a game I can’t see the rules for or what the expansion is, and that’s asking a lot.

Cthulhu: Death May Die has only just launched in the last 12 hours as of posting, so everything is pretty fresh.  I am sure over the next few weeks there will be more information, so expect a follow-up post in about 3 weeks.  I will then talk about if I decide to back this one or not, and the reasons why.  In the meantime, check out the Kickstarter page and let me know what you think.

Until next time,


Snowdonia Deluxe Master Edition is how a big box edition should be

Snowdonia Deluxe Master Set Feature

Things are getting interesting for a train game that isn’t Ticket to Ride

Normally if I say I have a train game for new players, they think I mean Ticket to Ride.  While Ticket to Ride is undeniably a board game phenomenon, train games as a genre have a very loyal and hungry player base.  A lot of other train games though have complexity and weight in common, meaning a lot of more casual players get very overwhelmed even looking at them.

By all accounts, Snowdonia falls visually into this category, but when you sit down to play it the gameplay mechanics are simple indeed.  Yes, there is complexity to the game, but it is a game that casual players can sit and get into fairly quickly.

There is also the issue of accessibility.  Snowdonia isn’t impossible to get in Australia, but it isn’t exactly sitting on the shelves waiting to be purchased either.  And this game has had a lot of love.

Snowdonia Deluxe Master Set Kickstarter Contents
For what looks like a simple board, there are a lot of cards and components to keep track of!

Which is why I am excited about the Snowdonia Deluxe Master Set currently available on Kickstarter.  I could describe the game in more detail, but honestly, as I haven’t played it before all would be third-hand information.

The idea of big box games (such as the Fresco Big Box) really appeals to me, because it comes with all expansions included.

Snowdonia has gone one better.  Not only does it have all expansions including a previously unprinted one, it has all promo cards as well.  That’s right – if it has been printed for Snowdonia, it’s in the box!

One of the reviews that got me interested in Snowdonia is by Richard ‘Rahdo’ Hamm.  I really enjoy his videos.  I don’t 100{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} trust the rules explanations, but that’s not why I watch his videos.  When he is playing, even though it’s by himself with a Handycam in one hand, his enthusiasm truly comes through for each game.  You can tell just from the tone and pace of his voice if he likes a game, really likes it, or thinks everyone should absolutely play the game.

If you would like to know more about Snowdonia, I highly recommend the Rahdo Runs Through video (linked below and on the Snowdonia Kickstarter page).

There is another good reason to back this project if you are interested.  This is essentially a Kickstarter Only project, similar to the Smallworld Designer Edition from a few years ago.

While not quite as overboard in components and pricing, this is the only real chance you have of guaranteeing a copy.  There will be a number made available after the promotion it is true but at higher pricing and I would assume essentially convention only sales.

If you like Snowdonia and would like a truly limited run all in one set, then the Kickstarter is just a click away.

Until next time,


Arsenal the Transforming Deck Box and Playmat now live on Kickstarter

Arsenal Logo

A novel idea that will be great for some

Anyone that plays deck builder games like Magic: The Gathering and Android: Netrunner will know the delicate balance of storage and transportation.  Deck boxes are fine, but you usually need a deck box, a component case for dice and tokens, and a playmat.  That’s a lot to carry around.

Well, Chris Lin has decided to tackle the issue head-on and designed himself a truly all in one deck box in the form of Arsenal.

At first glance, Arsenal looks like any other a chunky deck box.  Then you see the playmat come out, and eyebrows will raise.

Yes, it’s a chunky deck box.  But for most card games, it really is all you will need to pack and carry to play.

Because the playmat is between two deck boxes, these boxes are attached to the play area and become handy access storage trays while you play.

Arsenal Deck Box Opening Mat
Click to see the playmat unfold! (Animated GIF).

Now I often get eye rolls and teased about sleeving a lot of my games and using playmats.  I have big sausage fingers – picking up some cards from some surfaces isn’t that easy!  Plus playing some games in pubs where the tables are sticky can lead to damage.

Some people are nodding with me, knowing these feelings.  Others are thinking along the lines of “Well it’s not a problem for me.”  For the latter, the idea behind the Arsenal probably has little appeal.  But for the former group, this is a great idea that I think a large percentage will seriously consider the Arsenal.

Arsenal Deck Box Game in Progress
Everything you need is at your fingertips

It’s hard to really get excited about a deck box, and that really is all the Arsenal is – a clever deck box.  But if you travel a lot with your games, finding a travel storage solution is a real thing for many of us.

I haven’t backed the Arsenal yet.  There are two things holding me back.

  1. I have already gone over budget in July, and need to reign myself back in.
  2. These are expensive.  Including shipping, I am looking at around USD$85 to get one deck box.  And I don’t play competitively much anymore.
Arsenal Deck Box Component Trays
Plenty of storage space for dice or tokens, and you get one on each side of the playmat!

If I didn’t think the cost would be worth it to some players, I wouldn’t be talking about the Arsenal on the site.  But to me, you really need to be into your game(s) a lot to invest in a system like this.

A player that takes Star Realms over to a friends place one a month – I don’t think the Arsenal is for you.  A Magic player that wants to be ready for an impromptu game anytime, anywhere?  Step on up, because this will probably be of interest.

If you think this is something that would interest you, check out the Arsenal Kickstarter Page for more information.

Until next time,


Can you outwit your own creation in The Grid: AI Awakens?

The Grid Feature

Sure we want to stop the world from ending, I just want to profit from it as well

Jeff Goldbloom delivering the line “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” is one of those movie moments that has more truth to it than it deserves.  There are many of these lessons dotted through many forms of entertainment, but the overall lesson tends to be people don’t learn from their mistakes.

I feel there is a similar jab in the premise of The Grid: AI Awakens, a new game currently on Kickstarter.

The idea is simple – you play as one of four scientists that are looking to control the technology that makes up self-aware Artificial Intelligence.  This is done through hand management and control of a modular board system and looks quite intriguing.

There is another aspect that elevates The Grid: AI Awakens in my eyes though.  The AI that the technology is set to control is already in existence and has decided that it wants to be in control of its own destiny.  This means that in every player count, you are not only playing against your opponents but an aggressive AI player as well.

The Grid AI Awakens Components and Layout
The Grid: AI Awakens. This is a four player game all set up, but no two games will play exactly the same.

The Grid: AI Awakens is an interesting blend of cooperative competitiveness.  On one hand, you are playing against the other scientists basically for victory points.  You need to work out your opponents’ objectives and work out what to block and what to let by.

But the AI of the game is itself a player, so you might have to make suboptimal moves in terms of your own score in order to block the AI from winning, otherwise, everyone loses.

It looks like there are a lot of things happening in The Grid: AI Awakens, but from what I have been able to see it seems to be in fairly self-contained steps.  Once you get the flow of the game, I think it will be very straightforward to play overall.

For example, the first mechanic that gets eye rolls from some of my board game group is Hidden Objectives, kind of like Dead of Winter.  Unlike Dead of Winter though there is no ‘betrayal’ mechanic, so the stress of ‘Do I trust them or not’ isn’t there.  You simply trust no-one, because everyone is out for themselves.

There is also what on the surface appears to be a high level of ‘Take That’ mechanics.  Just because you research a technology doesn’t mean that it’s yours forever.  Players can ‘out research’ you, which can lead to a tug of way.  But the threat of the AI means these situations can’t play out too long, otherwise the AI takes control of the Grid and wins.

The Grid AI Awakens Secret Missions
The Secret Mission cards - the points your opponents know if you have or not

And for people that can plan around a random player, there are also Contingency cards.  These add another level of randomness and difficulty to the game, but again if you look at them in isolation, it’s a standard ‘draw card do text’ item.

Contingency cards will be one of three types.

  • Events – these are instant situations that can help or hinder players
  • Powers – generally single-use benefits for the player on a future turn of their choosing (such as extra actions or increase card draw)
  • Traits – these become a permanent ability upgrade for the player
The Grid AI Awakens Contingency Cards
So you think you can plan a nice safe road? Like any reasearch, things happen on the way that can help or hinder

All these layers are on top of the player mechanics that I haven’t even described yet, as well as the AI Attacks (or the Game’s turn).   As I said, it looks like a whole lot is going on!

But if you play through the process, each step is very limited, and I think will help in lowering Analysis Paralysis type drawing out of a turn.  Becuase the game state will change so much from player turn to player turn, sitting and evaluating highest potential scoring accurately is all but impossible.  You can’t just ‘wing it’ either though, or the other players will have your measure pretty quickly.

Normally I would describe player rounds and general game rules, but in this case, I am not going to.  This is partly because the Rules are not up on the Kickstarter page, so I am looking at the overview they have provided.  Everything seems straightforward enough gameplay wise, so I have already backed The Grid.

The other reason is Dan King, the Game Boy Geek himself has done a preview of The Grid: AI Awakens and does a great job walking you through the prototype version of the game.  I have linked to the video (which is also on the Kickstarter page) at the end of the page.

The Grid: AI Awakens is looking to me as a game that will benefit from being taught rather than learning from written rules.  The basic steps do look straightforward, but I have a feeling there are going to be interaction subtleties that the rulebook must nail first go for players to get the most enjoyment from the game.

I have backed the AI Master tier for USD$40 as it comes with the 5-6 player expansion pack.  To be honest, I don’t think I would want to play The Grid: AI Awakens with that many people, but I will need to play the game to be certain.  What the expansion does give me I am fairly sure are two extra scientists, so there can be another level of randomisation of the game where some player powers won’t be involved in every game.

If all this sounds interesting, check out the Kickstarter Page and The Game Boy Geek’s video preview.  Hopefully, soon there will also be more information on Board Game Geek as well.

Until next time,


If you thought trick-taking games were gone, here comes Gorus Maximus

Gorus Maximus Feature

I never thought I could talk about gladiators and bridge in the same context, but there you go

Trick-taking games have been around for a long time.  A really long time.  Generally speaking, players have a hand of cards and try to play the highest or lowest value card to win the round or ‘trick’.

There are plenty of variants to these games, and a lot of us have played most of them at some point.  Grandparents may have been involved.  Games like Clubs, Euchre and Spades are all old favourites.  Another trick-taking game Hearts was played by generations of Windows users as it was included in every Windows from Windows 3.11 to Windows 7.

One thing almost all of the classic games are missing though is a cohesive theme.  Yes, you have a few games these days with pictures on them (like Pairs) or seasonal themes (like 12 Days of Christmas), but they don’t quite tell a story.  You just do what the rules say to win a hand.

So Conor McGoey and Inside Up Games decided to fix that.  Do you really need the highest number?  What for?  It’s just a number!  But do you have the highest ranked Gladiator, the warrior that is sure to defeat all opponents?  That’s how you win a round!

But how do you win the game?  By the crowd telling you that you win of course!  So while your Gladiators may win a ‘trick’, you want to only collect positive crowd favour points to win the game.

And that is the basic premise of Gorus Maximus, a bloody trick-taking game currently on Kickstarter.

Gorus Maximus Feature
Gorus Maximus - like Bridge, but with Gladiators!

Now, this will not be a game for everyone.  Gladiatorial combat is probably not a theme you want to bring out in front of small children, and the cartoon violence and gore will both cement this feeling and put off others.  The cover alone will give you a good idea of what to expect.

For people that know trick-taking games, there is probably only one other key selling point you need to know – Gorus Maximus has a working two player mode.  That’s right – an actual fun way to play a trick-taking game with only two people.  Head over to the rules and the Kickstarter page and see for yourself.

So how do you play Gorus Maximus?  Well, first you have to set up the game.

You build a deck of Gladiators by adding a number of Schools (basically card suits) and shuffling the deck.  This allows the game to scale and is partially what makes the player count of 2-8 players viable.  Each school has one gladiator of each rank, and a stronger gladiator beats a weaker gladiator of the same school.

In each round of the game, there will be a Preferred School (the Trump Suit) that will win against all other gladiators.  This becomes important information as you play, as you want to keep as many trumps as possible.

Gorus Maximus Card Schools
The different Schools or Suits in Gorus Maximus

Each player is then dealt 10 cards from the deck, and the player to the dealers left begins play.  This player at the start of the Round chooses the Gladiator they wish to play, and this sets the Initiating and Preferred schools.

From here, in order, every player then plays a card from the Initiating School if they have one.  If they do not have a Gladiator from the Initiating School, they can play any card.  If that card is not from the Preferred School they will not win the Bout (the Trick).  The exception to this is the Challenge, but I will go into that after describing the ‘standard’ round.

After every player has played a card, the Bout is over.  The player with the highest ranked Gladiator from the Initiating School then takes the cards and puts them face down in front of them, and plays the next card from their hand.  This card now sets the Initiating School, but the Preferred School remains the same until the end of the Round (or a Challenge).  This continues until all players have played all cards in their hand.

Once the Round is over, players will then add their Crowd Favour (the little number in yellow below the School information).  The player with the highest Crowd Favour wins the Round, and a Token.  Ultimately, it’s the first player to win three rounds wins the game.

Gorus Maximus Card Setup
An 8 player Bout with the Preferred School Marker shown in the middle

Challenges are a fun way to change the Preferred School during play.  During play, if you play a card from a different School but the same Rank during the bout, the Preferred School immediately becomes the School you played.

So for example, the Preferred School this round are axes.  A player leads with 11 Arrows – a very strong initiating card.  The next player can’t beat it, so they play their five Arrows, hoping their higher Ranks will hold up later.  The third player then plays their five Fists, immediately changing the Preferred School and becoming the current winner of the bout.

Challenges are the only time a player can choose to play a card not from the Initiating School during the bout, but it’s not an instant win.  Nothing is stopping the next player from challenging from your Gladiator.   The Challenge rule fires from the last Gladiator played, so timing is everything!

Gorus Maximus looks like a fun, easy game that can scale well for a wide range of players (and even teams).  I can’t see myself playing this all night, but as an opener or closer for a games night or just a way to pass a bit of time waiting for something else to start, it looks like a lot of fun.

Check out the Kickstarter here, and also Board Game Geek for more information.

Until next time,