5-Minute Marvel Review

Released 2018
Designer Connor Reid
Publisher Spin Master Ltd (Website)
Players 2-5
Playing Time 5 minutes per villain boss
Category Cooperative
Hand Management
Unique player powers
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

Can you take down Thanos?

I have mentioned 5-Minute Marvel being played by my group once or twice, and I thought I would give it a full review.

It’s also a retheme of 5-Minute Dungeon, so the review can almost be for both games. I am only going to be talking about the Marvel version though, as 5-Minute Dungeon does have a couple of small differences and expansions.

So what is it?

5-Minute Marvel is a cooperative deck builder game where you choose different heroes to defeat various villains. There is no deep backstory or prior knowledge required, making this an incredibly accessible game.

A mix of heroes included. Some well known, some not so much. All fun ūüôā

What do you do?

The first thing you need to keep in mind is the promised five minutes. Yes, you can play a round in five minutes. To play the gauntlet of enemies means fighting six bosses, which takes longer with resets in between.

Setup is pretty quick, and you can have most of the game explained during setup, but there is a disconnect between playtime and the title.

The basics of gameplay are straightforward. Each player chooses a hero, and a villain boss with henchmen is set up at the top of the table. Each ‚Äėbad guy‚Äô has several symbols on it, and players throw down cards that match the symbols to beat it.

Like many cooperative games, you need to be playing with the right group to get the full benefit of the game. Play with people that only shout at others, and no one wants to play. On the flip side, people that don’t speak up to offer advice/cards/etc., and you aren’t playing anything.

The symbols you need to match. Play as many matching symbols as on the enemy, and repeat

The combination of players for 5-Minute Marvel has a lot more tolerance than other cooperative games though. A lot of people will probably be quite happy after the first five minutes ‚Äď even if you do have to all but force them to play!

The timer is sassing you the whole time.

Using apps with board games can be divisive. I enjoy the integration when done well, like the Mansions of Madness or Chronicles of Crime type implementations. Just as a clock though, and I tend only to set the countdown on my phone.

However, like Klein Klenko’s fuse, the timer in this game gives you lip while you play. The timer is J.A.R.V.I.S., and while Paul Bettany isn’t the voice, the voice acting is fine. Different, but fine. The lack of the MCUs distinct J.A.R.V.I.S./Vision can cause you to stop for a second and lose thought!

The free app is available on iOS and Android and doesn’t take long to download.

It’s not for a whole night game though

Not by a longshot, unless you are playing for a half-hour only. 5-Minute Marvel comes into its own as a filler game, to be played as an opener or closer. Now a few more people in my group know it, I am even tempted to get them to play it as I set up a bigger game. You can get it done that quickly!

5-Minute Marvel is a great diversion, but nothing more really. While you get a good range of heroes (10 to be precise), the same six villains and couple of enemy types can get repetitive quickly. Even a gauntlet run may not be in your best interest after a couple of tries.

The enemies all look great, but when all you concentrate on is the little row of symbols that is lost during gameplay

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Codenames Review (including series)

Released 2015
Designer Vlaada Chv√°til
Publisher Czech Games Edition (Website)
Players 2-8+ (best around 6)
Playing Time 15-20 minutes
Category Social Deduction
Word
Party
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

Don’t have a lot of players? Just play it in public. People will join you quickly enough ūüėÄ

You have heard me talk about Codenames a few times on the site. I keep saying I need to get around to reviewing it. Today, I finally get around to that review!

What I am not reviewing is a single version of Codenames. Back in 2015, Codenames was released. Then came Codenames: Pictures. Later the others arrived. And they just kept coming.

So while I talk about the base game in this review, remember everything I say holds for every other Codenames game – you can even mix and match them!

So what is Codenames?

Codenames is a party social deduction word game. Four years after release, it is still the party game on Board Game Geek. Describing Codenames is the hardest part of the game, and it’s hard to describe because of its simplicity.

You play in two teams, each team having a spymaster. Before you lies a grid of Codenames, and you are trying to find your agents before the other side find theirs.

The theme I have heard explained in many different ways, but I usually just stick with “You have these files/words/images before you, and we have to give you clues that link as many together as possible. First team to find all their tiles wins.” – how many games can you teach that quickly?

Just a bunch of cards and some tiles. Setup is really easy with Codenames.

But because this is espionage, you can’t just blab out to your team where they are though – you need to do it in code. On the spymasters’ turn, they give one word and one number. The word ties into the grid somehow, and the number is how many files are associated with the word.

You might think that sounds too easy, and it can be. Except Vlaada Chvatil put a little twist in – the deadly assassin word. If your team finds the assassin, they are instantly out of the game

Using the app for the spy board. If you put it down, the clues hide!

That doesn’t sound like much of a game.

I agree in describing it that it doesn’t reach out and grab at people. It’s one of those games that you need to play to get excited over. And you will get excited about it. Of all the people I have shown, I know only two people that didn’t enjoy playing it, and that was when we played a three-player variant.

The magic of Codenames is I have been in situations where I scraped up three other people and just started playing in public. By the end of the game, we usually have about eight people playing, and most of them staying for a second round. Most of the people that would wander over would call themselves ‘not gamers’, yet Codenames is simple enough that you can teach someone all of the rules in a single round. It’s this simplicity that lets everyone play.

But I don’t know a bunch of those words – what do I do?

Being at its heart a word game, playing with younger children non-English speakers can be a challenge. Codenames: Pictures helps with this immensely.

It’s the same game, except with some fantastic artwork with multiple meanings. But just because the game uses pictures doesn’t make it easier. It just helps with players maybe not knowing certain words.

It’s like playing with simplified Dixit or Mysterium cards. While I wouldn’t put a child in as spymaster on their first game, their team can help them with the clues. This teamwork makes Codenames very inclusive to a lot of different groups.

Pictures doesn't make the game any easier, unless reading can be an issue

So what is Codenames: Duet?

If you typically game with only one other person, Codenames: Duet is for you. The spymasters’ tablet is double-sided, so each player switches between being clue giver and player each turn.

There are a couple of twists. In Duets, there are three assassins on the board. One of those assassins is shared between both teams, meaning a square you see as a dangerous square has a 2 in 3 chance of being something else when you are receiving clues.

The differences are slight, but at its core Duets is still codenames. There is also no reason why you can’t play Duets in teams. One of the most beautiful thing about Codenames is that it is incredibly flexible.

Two players, one board. Duet is a great two player game.

What about the other Codenames?

There are a few different versions of Codenames, mostly thanks to USAOpoly/the OP and licensing.

Deep Undercover is an ‘adult’ version of Codenames that initially I overlooked. Did I want a Cards Against Humanity type version? After playing it appreciate Deep Undercover as both childish humour and an extra layer of difficulty. How many clues can you give for ‘bum’ when so many cards overlap?

Disney, Marvel and Harry Potter all share Codenames base play but pull all of their cards from their licenses. They also share one flaw – you need to be a fan of the theme to join in fully.

A magical twist to the theme

In Codenames: Marvel, for example, there are a bunch of characters and locations not used in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I am a Marvel fan, and even I had to Google some of the characters to know who they were.

There are also little thematic twists in each version to keep them unique, but the mechanics are the same. The assassin in Harry Potter is a Death Eater. In Marvel, if you guess all of the neutral characters, Thanos collects all of the infinity stones, and it’s a double team loss. There are little twists to keep them fresh, but not enough to make them overly complicated.

Our first game setup. Even with MCU fans at the table, there was a lot of Googling on who was who

Rules Lawyers Beware

There are a few rules in giving clues. You can’t use words that are on the board, or form to make part of a word on the board. You can’t give clues that are positions of words.

So when someone says ‘Right 3’ for example, the team should expect that the clues aren’t three on the right-hand side on the board. They should be wary of picking ‘Writer’, as Right can be interpreted as a part of the word.

I have played Codenames with die-hard players, and I have played with complete casuals. I have heard team arguments about the validity of a clue.

Bottom line, the only person that can rule a clue invalid is the opposing spymaster. When playing with new players or one of the themed games, I try and be forgiving on clues. I might play at the stricter clues, but if someone is unfamiliar with the game or the subject, they still need to be able to play.

Follow the golden rule of gaming – everyone is there to have fun. If you have a player telling everyone why a clue is ‘bad’, maybe let them go back to their heavy euro games :p

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Codenames

Final Thougths

I love Codenames, and if you are looking for a game for every gamers shelf, Codenames will be on the shortlist. Get Codenames: Pictures and Codenames: Duet for instant flexible gameplay.

You can also combine games. Have a player that’s as much a Disney fan as you are? Use the Disney tiles with the Duet spy board!

Codenames is a quick game that people can join in mid-game, making it a great games night opener while people arrive. Its simplicity, combined with social gameplay makes Codenames a modern classic.

Overall
10/10
10/10

Pros

  • Simple to teach and play
  • No one way to win
  • Variety available on the base concept
  • Can combine versions for different experiences

Cons

  • Licensed versions may be too detailed for casual fans
  • Younger children or non-English speakers hard to be spymasters

You Are Deadpool Review

You Are Deadpool 1 Cover
You Are Deadpool 1 Cover
Released 2018
Creators Al Ewing, GURU-eFX, Salva Espin
Publisher Marvel (Website)
Players 1, but can play as a team of 2-3 people if you like
Playing Time 10-20 minutes per issue, dependant on choices
Category Comic Book
Choose Your Own Adventure

When a Comic is a game, but it’s still an adventure

Deadpool is a comic character that has grown on me over the years.  Originally I was him as a bit of over the top comic relief, and that still holds true today.

But the self-awareness and insanity that is Wade Wilson make for some truly interesting (if family-unfriendly) stories.¬† Two of my all-time favourites are Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe (Hey, it’s on Goodreads) and Deadpool: Dracula’s Gauntlet (Also on Goodreads).

If you enjoyed the Ryan Reynolds Deadpool (which let’s be honest, odds on you are) you may be surprised by the Deadpool in both of these stories.¬† Yes, there are puns and fourth wall breaks, but the type of choices and the accompanying self-justification may surprise you.

Today though, I am talking about another collection of stories РYou Are Deadpool.  There are all the elements of the self-referential humour and satire that makes Deadpool so popular, but now you get to play as Deadpool in a Choose Your Own Adventure type scenario.

I grabbed these when they first came out and had the ‘joy’ of waiting a few weeks for the comic I was to play next to actually be released.¬† And I am not talking about the second edition – I went straight from issue 1 to 4!

You Are Deadpool Series
Think of each issue as a chapter - start at 1, end at 5. In the middle is up to you ūüôā

The basic premise of the story is that you have to steal a time travelling helmet for the Tomorrow Man.¬† If you don’t know the characters, don’t stress about it – the series gives you enough information to go on for the story (such as it is).

Each issue then becomes a different time period you are jumping through, with plenty of era-appropriate gags and references to enjoy.

You Are Deadpool also rams home the ‘I’m not a comic!’ theme with an almost mandatory ‘See?’ panel early in each issue.¬† The different situations that you find Deadpool (and hence yourself) in are amusing, and it was a fight not to just run ahead and read them the first time to see what happens.

Yep, the first time.¬† This isn’t a normal ‘pick up and read’ comic, just as Choose Your Own Adventure was never a normal novel.¬† A big part of the fun in You Are Deadpool is trying to see how bad you can make things many different ways of playing through the story there are.

You Are Deadpool Dont Read the Next Panel
Panel 6 clearly says 'Don't read the next panel' - but of course you do, and a new path is made!

And multiple paths and twists there are aplenty.¬† It’s weird to describe You Are Deadpool as highly replayable, but it is indeed highly replayable.

Like any adventure, you have equipment both in game and in real life.

The first edition provides you with a template to make your own ‘Deadpool Die’ and a character sheet.¬† Now I am not a comic ‘purist’ – these were bought for me to read and play, but I do suggest just grabbing a few six-sided¬†dice and a pen and paper, it will make your life a lot easier.

In game equipment is strange as well – you have three slots for items you can see that are ‘smaller than a bread box’.¬† Basically, if you see something in a panel and want to pick it up – it’s yours!

You Are Deadpool Game Components
I'm not against cutting the comic, it's just you roll 2 dice normally

Now just like in other multiple path stories with equipment like this, you can choose to ‘cheat’ and say you have the items.¬† All I will say about that at is enjoy your game.¬† The story knows it’s a game, and a comic, and this does sometimes lead to some funny situations.

Unfortunately,¬†that’s all I can really say about You Are Deadpool as a game.¬† This is a fun experience that as a fan of the character I really enjoyed, and is a different way to spend 10-15 minutes a night ‘playing’ an issue.

But don’t fall into the ‘it’s a comic, it’s for kids’ trap.¬† Being a Deadpool comic, there is plenty of fighting and action.¬† Decapitation and dismemberment are common enough, and while not incredibly graphic probably not something you want your little ones playing either.¬† Basically, if you wouldn’t watch the movie with them (and not Once Upon a Deadpool, the originals!) don’t hand this to them either.

You Are Deadpool You Chose Poorly
Choose poorly enough, and this could be your ending...

Do you want to play?

You can technically play each issue as a mini-standalone edition adventure, as each issue deals with a different time period.¬† If you are reading this and decide to give You Are Deadpool a go – don’t do it this way.

I would be guessing you will be getting issues as you can, as even on first printing getting these in order was a little tricky.¬† Being able to ‘play’ the story through as you make your choices is the most fun.

Luckily this is really easy now, as the series was released as a combined trade paperback!¬† Expect to pay up to $25 from reasonable sellers, which isn’t too bad at all ($5 a comic, easy run!).¬† Amazon is probably easiest, and you can buy it on the Kindle as well!

JohnHQLD
You Are Deadpool

Final Thoughts

If you enjoy Deadpool and multiple path¬†adventures, You Are Deadpool is a no-brainer¬†recommendation.¬† It’s light, it’s fun, it doesn’t take much commitment so you can put it down and pick it up easily.

I would suggest the combined trade paperback only because¬†everything is together, and you get that ‘holding it in your hands’ feeling.¬† Kindles are great and I use them a lot, but this is one of those special items that kicking back on the couch with pen and paper and dice is a lot of fun.

If you aren’t big on Deadpool, move on would be my recommendation.¬† If you want something similar though, all four of the Sorcery! series (go Goodreads again!) is all out now digitally from inkle, and I will be giving that a review when I can play through them all.¬† Same theory, but so much more in-depth and a much grander campaign.

Overall
8/10
8/10

Pros

  • ¬†It’s Deadpool
  • ¬†Light ‘game’ to sit and enjoy with multiple paths and endings
  • ¬†Humour for each era is spot on

Cons

  • ¬†While no swearing, violence is a part of Deadpool so keep away from little ones
  • ¬†The story is light – great for a diversion, but if you want something heavier it’s not here

Stan Lee passes at 95

Stan Lee

Excelsior

So there is never a good time for bad news, and waking up to news of the passing of Stan Lee definitely qualifies.

After being rushed to hospital early Monday morning US time, it has been confirmed that the legendary creator has indeed died.

There is no understating the impact the Stan Lee had on the world.¬† He will be most remembered for his work at Marvel Comics, creating some of today’s most popular franchises thanks to resurgence with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But Stan Lee was active with many parts of the community, always trying to help in as many ways as he could, with the last major foundation being the Stan Lee Foundation seeking to promote literacy and the arts.

One of the best ways I can think to remember him is actually watching him enjoy his cameos, sharing something he loved.

Thank you for everything Stan, you will be missed.

JohnHQLD
Excelsior

Avengers: Infinity War is almost ready for your home

Avengers Infinity War

Are you ready to take home The Snap?

Love it or hate it, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has defined how comic book franchises should be shown on screen for the last decade and shows no signs of slowing down.

With the conclusion of Phase 3 not for almost a year, right now the best we have to help pass the time is the home release of Avengers: Infinity War.

While it’s great to see the movie, I am eyeing off the Blu Ray release.¬† Just like Thor Ragnarok, those special features look like they will be as entertaining as the film itself.

There is about a half hour of featurettes that will explore many behind the scenes topics.  There are approximately 10 minutes of deleted scenes as well which will be interesting to compare with the final cut.  I am interested in the commentary track, watching the scenes play out with the Russo Brothers along with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

And the most fun (and probably on YouTube in a couple of weeks) will be the Gag Reel.  Each movie has their own designated jokers, but now they are all together.  This will be hilarious to watch!

What about you?  Are you eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the current storyline next year?   Are will you be watching Infinity War for the first time?  Or are you eagerly waiting to see what Jason Momoa will be allowed to do in Aquaman come December?  Possibly all of the above?

All I know for sure is I am looking forward to stretching out on the couch and enjoying Avengers: Infinity War in all it’s glory come the 15th of August!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Now I can spend a few adventures as Deadpool with You Are Deadpool!

You Are Deadpool Feature

Are crocs proper reading shoes?

To say Deadpool is insanely popular right now would be a slight understatement.  Deadpool has always been my favourite out there character, an escape when I wanted my brain to just enjoy a journey.

And this morning, guess what arrived in my mail?

You Are Deadpool Arrived
The first two issues arrived today. With any luck, I will have the next 3 next week.

News around the place a few months ago about the upcoming You Are Deadpool had my ears twitching.  Essentially a choose your own adventure type experience, but this time as the Merc with a Mouth!

I already enjoy Deadpool’s fourth wall breaks, and now he gets to direct you through an adventure!

As usual, I have done my best to avoid spoilers, and on the whole, I have succeeded.  No idea what even the basic story elements are.  But be honest Рdo you read Deadpool for the storylines?

You Are Deadpool Tutorial Example
Deadpool teaching you how to read You Are Deadpool
You Are Deadpool Character Sheet
The comic opens to a typically self aware joke

There are apparently ways to play the first issue that leads you to the fourth issue, but as they are weekly releases I am hoping this isn’t a big deal.

Each issue will apparently be visited no matter the storyline, so no ‘wasted’ issues.¬† And like any multiple¬†branch storyline, there will be a form of replay value as you pick different choices and see the outcome.

It will be interesting to see how they deal with Wade’s healing factor – I can imagine in many types of stories being shot would be a ‘game over’, but this is Deadpool!¬† That could just make you stronger!

I will let you know how I find the comics once I have finished an entire story, but I am excited to give it a go.

Until then, as Deadpool says:

Deadpool Says
Must be true - Deadpool says so

Until later,

JohnHQLD

Ant Man and the Wasp and a new X Wing?

Ant Man and the Wasp

Ant Man and the Wasp has a new Trailer

So there has been a lot of talk over the weekend about the impact of Avengers: Infinity Wars on its audience.¬† Funny, it comes out in America and all the spoiler memes start pouring out…

Either way, for a bit of fun on this fine Wednesday, the new Ant Man and the Wasp trailer is sure to put a smile on your face!

Just in time for Star Wars day!

I have talked in the past how I enjoy the Fantasy Flight Star Wars miniatures games.¬† X-Wing was a lot of fun, but I held off for Armada.¬† Then, I had to give Armada away because of time and never-ending waves of goodness.¬† Now, I am playing around with the Legion base box, but it’s more out of curiosity at the moment.

Well, all that patience has either paid off¬†or been for nothing.¬† I’m not sure which.¬† Today, Fantasy Flight announced X-Wing Second Edition.

Yep, it’s all starting again.

There are a bunch of solid reasons given on the Fantasy Flight announcement page, but the main goal seems to be streamlining the gameplay.  This is a great thing, because as fun as X-Wing is, it is a game with a lot of bookkeeping to play.

My wallet is already doing the ‘No’ speech in my pocket, but I will be really tempted.¬† I will most likely do what I have done with Legion, and grab the new core set to check it out.

X Wing Second Edition Box
I honestly never saw this move coming

Until then, here’s a little video to turn that knife for those that have always been on the fence.¬† Why should I be the only one squirming? :p

And the website tech stuff continues

So yesterday on Facebook I posted a ‘site might go crazy’ warning, as I have had to do a few under the hood changes that will continue for another day or two.¬† I was hoping to do it all last night, but I just got crazy with other things.

Hopefully over the next night or two this will all be done, then older content will start changing how it looks to this newer layout over time.¬† The good news is slowdowns and really weird changes to the site shouldn’t happen at all, so if something weird happens please let me know!

On that note, have a great Wednesday.  Remember only a couple more days until the weekend!

JohnHQLD

Oh, and remember:

Be like Dr Strange
I couldn't help it. It still makes me smile.