Heroes of Land, Air and Sea. launches on Kickstarter on Jan. 26th
This article should be taken as a first impressions and not a definitive review. Heroes of Land Air and Sea is still very much in development and all points and opinions are subject to change upon final release.
Gamelyn Games has had an exceptionally mediocre beginnings. With a few small games published on Kicksarter, Michael Coe and crew didn’t quite hit their stride until they found Scott Almes and started to publish the Tiny Epic series games. The company is finally taking a break from the games that are too small for their own good to do something genuinely epic.
Heroes of Land Air and Sea is the latest offering from the Gamelyn Games and Mr. Almes. It takes everything that the duo has done and turns it up to 11. HLAS is a big box 4x game, and is amalgamation of everything they have ever published. The game borrows from everything from Tiny Epic Galaxy to Fantasy Frontiers and Tiny Epic Defenders and Western. Influences from outside the company are prominent too. HLAS borrows some combat mechanics from Game of Thrones 2nd ed. and exploration rewards from Origins among various other mechanics.
As a 4x game, there are 4 ways to win. Game end can be triggered by Exploring the entire map, Expanding by placing all of your units onto the board, Exterminating another player's home base, and by Exploiting the resources you have gathered and build all three of your towers. All of these conditions trigger the end game, and do not immediately crown a winner. After one of these conditions is met, there is one more full round before endgame scoring. While it is a 4x game, it is clever melding of Euro style mechanics and Amerithrash combat.
The Rifts of Storm Hollow are pieces of various worlds, torn up by the roots and brought together by the power of an enormous magical sotrm. As a Riftwalker, it is your job to gain complete mastery over these plains, and score them for points.
Riftwalkers: A Storm Hollow Card Game pits 2-4 players against each other using resource cards (elements) to play cards from their hands (Rifts), upgrading them for points (shifting) and aligning resources in a three in a row formation to move a card with that type of element into your score pile (bursting). It encourages players to work together while simultaneously screwing them over. Designed by Julian Leiberan-Titus and Angela Hickman Newnham and published by Game Salute It is now available for retail purchase at $20 MSRP.
First and foremost, this is a combo game. Fans of Magic: The Gathering, Castles of Burgundy, and other "I have one action to do as many things as possible" games will be walking on familiar ground. If that isn't your bag, continue reading anyway. There is some cool stuff here.
Before we go into the game and phases we have to break down the Rift cards and Element grid.
Disclaimer:First and foremost, this is not a post to subtract any value on the holiday season. I believe you may celebrate anything you want for what ever reason, even if it goes against my views. This article does not go into the religious reasons behind the holiday, but examines the modern day, person to person happenings of the December holiday season.
I do not have a good relationship with Christmas. I enjoy the idea of Christmas and what it stands for, rather, I do not like what it has become in today's society.
The holiday has become a culture of purchasing things for people you may not like in an effort to been seen as a good person. Granted this is a very limited reading of the text, but to me this is at the core of the problems I have with this time of year.
Sure, you could argue that you only give gifts to people you love. To which I say if you love them, you won't restrict your gift giving to one day of the year. This act of giving is the best part of the year for some. Other times, the simple hunt of the deal is enough for some this season, with purchasing goods for themselves at a great price being a huge incentive to whip out the pocketbook.
We had a go back at the podcast. I think it turned out quite well. Since we don't have an RSS feed anymore, I decided to post it on YouTube 'enhanced' style.
Our first review is a bit long, (Longer than the game we review actually) but it's a start.
Big box, or micro? Table hog or backpack fodder? Which is best? Rather, what would you rather have, many or few?
"Micro-Games" a commonly used term for games that come in very small packages, play in a very small amount of time (dependent of course, but 10-15 minute play times are most common, but so are 30 minute play times) and take up just over a place-mat's worth of space. Price points for these are usually around $10-$25USD as well. The best part about them?
They are everywhere, and their market share is growing.
Arguably the most popular micro-game currently is Love Letter by AEG. Released in 2012, the game is a social deduction game where players are trying to get their 'love letter' to the princes by playing cards and applying their unique effects.
"Love Letter" is credited for launching the Micro-Game into main stream board gaming culture.. The fact is tat they have been around in popular culture for much longer, but for the sake of argument we are going to stick to 2004 onward.
"No Thanks" by Amigo Spiel was published in 2004 and may be the earliest modern micro-game. But micro isn't small enough for us. We need to go deeper.
"Win Lose Banana" by Asmadi is what some call a 'nano-game'. It consists of three cards with then names 'Win', 'Lose' and 'Banana'. In this three player game, cards are dealt out one to each person. If you are dealt the 'Win' card, congratulations! A winner is you! There is a variant where the winner tries to figure out who has the Banana card that can delve into the social deduction aspect, but its technically isn't part of the game.
Michael Eskue re-skinned (intentionally or not) "Win, Lose, Banana" in 2013 and dubbed it "Where Art Thou Romeo?". The game is essentially the same, where instead of Bananas, its Montegues and Capulets convincing Juliet that they are the one true Romeo over multiple rounds while accruing points.
Why do I bring attention a 'nano-game' that was re-skinned 4 years later? Simply put, even though it is only three cards, it implies that it is good enough that it should have a place on the retail shelf.
So if "Win, Lose, Banana" is worth it to reprint, does that mean that it is worth it?
Quantity and Quality
Going back to Micro-games, which are substantially meatier comparatively, are usually one-fifth the price of the average MSRP of a 'standard' size game. For this example, let us consider a 'standard' hobby game to be $60USD and let us use the game Agricola (who's MSRP is actually $69.99USD, but it's one that many people know, so bear with me). Let us also assume that the average MSRP of a micro-game to be $20USD. Are three micro-games worth one 'standard' game?
This falls into the thought of quantity versus quality. Personally, I find mush more enjoyment in a game that will consume my entire evening. I like to be mentally and emotionally invested. Micro-games don't do that for me. Sure, I love "Sushi Go" and "Star Realms", but I prefer the meat of a 'standard' offering.
So why are two of my gaming shelves filled with micro-games when they don't fulfill my gaming needs?
QUANTITY. I can buy more with my twenty bucks now, than saving my money until later. The American in me wants instant gratification, and what better way to do that than slave away to the capitalist machine that will give me my fix now for cheap, rather than save up for the good stuff.
I can spend more time in one session with 'Agricola' than 20 sessions of 'Love Letter', but I can also buy six copies of 'Love Letter' to one 'Agricola". So which is worth more?
Should I buy or Should Save?
Where the distinction lies is the perceived value. If you feel like 20 games of a micro-game is worth one session of a 'standard' game, than go for it. These games have their merits, and they are worth enjoying, but maybe it might be worth it to save that $20 and hold off a bit until you can splurge on a truly deep experience. I'm sure that there is some sort of economical jargon for this that proves one decision is better than the other. Maybe the Sunk Cost fallacy has something to do with it. Probably.
What does all this boil down to? Do what ever you want to do. Reasonably, what do I care? You do You.
When we launched our Kickstarter for Season 2 of Cards an Chit, we had a tremendous vision for the show. One that included creating an entire network. Not only did we want to continue to produce our reviews, but we wanted to delve into creative theater. The schedule we created for ourselves was an absolute nightmare.
If we funded at and unlocked each stretch goal, we would have given ourselves an impossible workload. Two episodes of different shows some weeks, and 4 episodes for others. We could barely get a single review out on time and we wanted to disappear into our work load.
This was something I was tremendously excited for. I loved every aspect of the process. I loved the reviews, the sound design, the editing, publishing, community involvement, networking. All of it filled my soul with joy. Even though I was going to university full time, I could not wait to get started on this insane task.
There were quite a few things going on that lead to the dissolution of the "network". Personal lives got in the way, and we ended up falling behind on review obligations we had with publishers, and tensions ended up running high. I was determined to review games with the respect they deserved (even if they weren't good games), and avoided at all costs putting out a sub-par product. This pressure I was putting on the team created a hostile environment towards the hobby itself. The show was no longer a fun activity that we did in our free time, but rather a job we were not being paid for.
There was one other situation where we ran into this problem. About 7 months in, we ran into a string of bad games. Moral was low, as we mentally decided that the game we were going to play was going to be bad before we even opened the box. We skipped days, we fell apart in our reviews (with people often walking out literally in the middle of a review). We ultimately made a point to play games that were already established as good to keep up moral.
I was confident that we would prevail as we had before. And yet...
In December 2015, we fell over a month behind on our review queue. On January 23rd, we launched our Kickstarter. On February 8th, we shut down that Kickstarter, and in early April, I disabled our the majority of our RSS feed and stopped paying for audio hosting.
It has since been 2 months since the show has officially been out on hiatus, and I am struggling with some things. For start, I miss everything about it. Second, I cannot bring myself to follow through with a reboot.
In the process of shutting down, I was forced to burn so many bridges. I lost relationships with designers, publishers, and I lost a significant amount of money (I was the sole provider of recording equipment, and ended up being the only one paying for audio hosting) from my own pocket. My ability to get games to the table, and my personal enjoyment of my all-time favorite titles has dropped to near zero. Still, every fiber of my being wants to do reboot the podcast.
I should mention that I am currently involved in another online/radio show, but I do not have creative control over any aspect of it. I simply sit in and comment where needed. It is fun, and right now, I live for every Tuesday when we go into studio, but it isn't something that I take control over.
The State of the Meta
I have been talking to Charlie Bink about coming on as a co-host. We have been kicking around a few format ideas and I have thought long an hard about what I want the show to represent when it comes back.
The short of it is, I have no F*ing idea.
There are a few types of boardgame podcasts.
Where does Cards and Chit fall into this formula? Where do we fall into the market?
This is the question that I have been asking myself since February 8th.
It hurts my soul that we ended the way we did. There is nothing I want more than to get back to the table top and produce content to help my favorite hobby.
So what does this mean for Cards and Chit? Will it return? Who will it consist of? I have no idea. I am torn, I am hurt, and I cannot stop thinking about getting back into the thick of it.
Yet every time I break out the equipment, all I want to do is toss it in the garbage.
TL:DR - Bring, Pass, Play, or Recommend?
Solid recommendation to anyone who is tickled by the idea of a game in a pack of gum.
Last year, I was far to excited to hear of a pack of games that fit into the size of a 5-stick gum package. All of my design senses started to tingle with what kind of creativity this ridiculous limitation would create. Unfortunately, all of those games passed me by, and I never had a chance to play any of them. This year, jumping at the bit, I harassed Chris Handy and scored preview copies of the sequel to the original Pack 'O Game appropriately entitled, Pack 'O Game 2.
If you are not familiar with the original set, here is a quick break down. Funded through Kickstarter, the original pack consisted of 4 games at $25 for the set. As previously stated, these games fit in literally no more than a 5-pack of Wrigley's. Through the fulfillment of various stretch goals, that pack of 4 swelled to 8 microscopic titles (SHH, HUE, GEM, BUS, TKO, FLY, TAJ and LIE).
Moving to POG2, I received 4 of the base titles GYM, RUM, SOW, and ORC. When these hit Kickstarter on March 3, 2016, should you order the pack (of at least 4) for $20USD (or $24USD if you miss the early bird).
Rules break downs will be in italics, so if you want to jump right to my thoughts, you can skip them outright. If you want a better how-to-play, you can go to each games page at packogame.com/orc, packogame.com/sow, and packogame.com/rum.
Before I go any further, I have not yet had a chance to play GYM yet. Lots of things have happened in the time I received the games, and unfortunately GYM fell under the radar during that time.
Let's start off with the simplest game by far this time around, ORC, which is listed as number twelve in the series.
In ORC, you and one other player are attempting to claim territories using orcs of differing colors to gain territories worth 1-2 points, and scoring points at the end of the game for matching colors of cards in hand to territories you conquered during play.
The cards consist of two halves, with each half displaying 1 or 2 orcs of 6 different colors.
You will be drawing cards on your turn depending on how many orcs you played to one of 6 locations. If you play one Orc, you draw one card from one of six draw piles on either side of each location. When you play these cards to these locations, you may only use one side of the card played, and each card played thereafter must match the color of the cards you played. After all cards in a draw pile on either side of a territory is empty, battle commences, and majority wins. When three piles are empty game ends, and you score points for Orcs in your hand that match a color to each territory you conquered.
This is by far the lightest of the pack, and it leaves a somewhat concerned taste in your mouth. The choices aren't meant to be meaningful as it is a very, very short play time even when played best-of-three.
The difficulty rating for these games is a range from 1-3, and while ORC is rated a 2, comparatively, it should be a 1. This next statement is not going to make any sense whatsoever, but it feels like Battle-Line Extra-Extra lite. I'm not sure whether it's because of the layout or the tug of war aspect of game play. It is fast, it lacks depth, but that's OK, because this is not meant to be the main attraction (as none of the games are), but it falls flat even for a filler.
On to game the next game in the pack SOW. In game #11, you are planting seeds mancala/backgammon style around a mandala of seed packets, wheelbarrows, gophers, and windmills. Played with 2-4, each player has a favorite color of flower they are trying to plant and score. These colors are white, red, blue, and yellow.
The cards here have a front and back. One side displays one color seed packet, and the backside is the flower version of that seed packet. Flowers will have two colors, (center portion, and outer portion) and one of those colors will be the same as the seed packet on the other side of the card, and the other color will be one of the three other colors. On your turn, must take a stack of at least 2 cards (either seed, flower, or both) and distribute them mancala style around the board. Afterwards, a few things might happen. If the last card placed is a seed, players then flip all cards to the flower side that match that color of seed packet.
If the last card is a flower and in front of a player's wheelbarrow, that player then chooses 1 of the two colors on the flower, and score all flowers containing that color. There are two special cards that trigger when placed in the same row. The Windmill reverses turn order, a Gopher eats all flowers in any one row, and Watering can allows the active player to score any one flower in front of them. When each ability is activated, it is flipped to the other side (Windmill/Windmill and Gopher/Watering can).
After all piles have 0 or 1 card in them the game is over and players then tally up points according to their favorite color and the player with the most points wins.
While it does technically play 2-4, three players is a little bit wonkey. There is an empty wheelbarrow space that allows the players to either side stack piles to ensure they come to them in the early game. That power shifts to the player opposite mid to late game. This may be a result of forcing a strategy, but it may not. We racked up 7 plays of SOW, and this seemed to permeate through the plays.
That being said, the 2 and 4 player games are thoroughly enjoyable. Two players is slow and methodical. It allows each player to think over the surprisingly large amount of choices they have in front of them. It allows them to be engulfed in the theme and enjoy this new spin on the aforementioned classics. Four players is outright outrageous, but doesn’t make your turn feel worth it.
The issue is that you can't quite seem to plan your turn accordingly, and it falls into the prew to the tune of, "Oh it's my turn and all of my plans now needs to be tossed out the window. Hold on guys, I need to start from scratch." This is a slightly bigger deal than it should be as in four players, the game will seem longer than it should take. However, the two player game takes much longer, but play seems to be much faster even with more down time for thinking between turns. Another reason to play two is the ability to seed the piles and force the other player to score you points. In a four player game this doesn't quite work as well due to the player induced chaos that takes place on other player turns. All this being said, I absolutely adored both 2 and 4 players for very different reason.
Lets clean off our boots, unwind after a long day's work in the garden and get drunk on a desert island. In game number 9, RUM, players are shipwreck survivors washed on a desert island collecting rum bottles of 7 different colors that match 7 colored captain cards to score points. I When a player hits a certain point limit, or the black parrot card is drawn for an 8th time, the game is over.
As in ORC, cards are split into two halves with two different values. On one side is one colored rum bottle, and of the other is two bottles of different colors.
On each turn, a player must do one of the following: Draw a card from either the shipwreck or beach, or play a set of rum bottles. Drawing cards allows you to play sets, and playing sets allows you to claim points.
When drawing a card, you may do so from two locations, the shipwreck, where cards are face down in a pile, or the beach, where three cards are face up. When a card is taken from the beach, a new card replaces it a-la Ticket To ride style, but face down. When all cards have been replaced with face down cards, then and only then are they flipped face up. If at anytime you draw the black parrot card, you must discard either 2 or 3 cards depending on how many times the parrot card has shown up. The 8th time this card is drawn the game is over and winner is determined normally.
When attempting to collect a set (I apologize if this bit isn’t as clear as it could be. Again, go to packofgame.com/rum for a 3 minute breakdown made by Chris Handy himslef), you may only do so if you beat the current value shown on the captain of that color using bottles from your hand. For example, if a previous player has played a set of 4 yellow bottles, you may steal the yellow captain card from that player as long as you play more than 4 yellow cards thus upping the value by at least 1. You can claim multiple sets at a time, and even use the single bottle half of each face up beach card to increase the value of your set.
If you play a set of three bottles of a single color, you may also steal a captain card from another player OR increase the value of a captain card in front of you by two.
Of these three games, RUM is hands down my favorite. It is simple enough to play while chatting, but offers enough to keep the AP gears of your brain turning. As players draw more and more cards, the possibility of drawing that black parrot card and losing precious bottles is a very nice and welcome push your luck sort of a thing. It has just the right amount of player interaction as well, with players giving a big middle finger to each other as they steal captain cards left and right. There is one problem in the rules that may or may not be addressed in the final production copy of the game. If the parrot shows up in the beach, I think that it is just placed back into the shipwreck facedown. A problem I have with the mechanics of this one come higher player levels.
With more players, the cards run out fast. If you can’t play a set and the only card left is the parrot, the player who can’t collect is forced to discard cards and put himself back at least 2 turns, and advance game end. Those 2 turns will then go to the other players. While it may be a good strategy to force a player to do this, it is very disheartening. Regardless, I absolutely love RUM, and if any of this pack is going to stay in my collection, it is this one.
So with three games that gathered mediocre reaction at best, is POG2 worth the money? Yes… kinda...maybe?
I am ok with getting four games for $5 a piece. Are the games great? No, not really, but they are solid enough games to warrant the price. Even not having played one of them, I still feel like I got more than enough game out of these microscopic packages.
While I feel like the games could be fleshed out a bit the restriction that Chris Handy placed on himself make these not only a fantastic creative experiment, but genuinely good games.
If I could say one thing about the components, is that I wish they were bigger and had more area to them. While the final production copies will be black cored, 310mil poker quality with linen finish, I want some of the pieces to be tile or chit board. If some of the components that don't need to lie flat were tile, I would gladly shell out for a deluxe version of any of these games.
So, is the pack a Bring, Pass, Play, or Recommend?
It will absolutely show up at game night, and is a solid recommend.
Hi there everybody!
This page has been a little scarce lately, but I assure you we have been hard at work. If you are subscribed to either our sound streams (Soundcloud or iTunes) or our youtube channel, you have surely noticed that we have been keeping our our weekly schedule of episodes.
Today, I updated the archive on this site to include our four most recent episodes, which we have been releasing for May, which has been Sci-Fi month!
My hope is to start updating this site again, as time allows, so please stay tuned for more.
I recently had a chance to play Pay Dirt from Crash Games and designed by Tory Neiman. Neiman from Alien Frontiers fame is on of the major reasons board games are where they are today in regards to crowd funding. I am also a massive fan of what ever it is Patrick over at Crash Games puts out. So when Pay Dirt hit Kickstarter back in April, I immediately put my 50 bucks on the line. Just before Christmas PayDirt (along with a few other goodies) hit my front porch, and two weeks later, it finally hit the table. With a new gaming group to boot.
Of course there are more rules, but this is just a small run through to give you an idea on how to play. The game is very tight, very pretty, and very, very mean.