Spiel 2014 Preview: Madame Ching

Posted by James (admin) on 12th August 2014

Madame Ching game set-upMadame Ching looks like a really interesting eurogame.  Players send their boats on expeditions across the sea by playing cards (each showing a number, a colour and a symbol) – so far that sounds very normal, but the central game mechanic is unusual.

At the start of each round, players simultaneously reveal one card from their hand of cards.  In order, based on their card number (highest to lowest), players each take a turn playing the card they revealed.

If a player’s card has a higher value than their previous card, the player’s ship advances across the sea grid of numbered spaces moving it one space to the right.  If the card has added a new colour to their expedition’s cards, the ship also moves down one space too.

Whilst not essential to understanding the game, there’s one bit I want to highlight because I think it’s rather clever (especially as I admire the maths of it).  Each space on the grid shows a number.  If a player wants to check if their ship is on the correct space, they look at the cards in their expedition and multiply the number of cards by the number of different coloured cards.  The total number matches the space’s number.  Clever. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Lady Alice

Posted by James (admin) on 14th July 2013

Lady Alice - GameIn Lady Alice, players are the kids on Baker Street who are trying to solve the kidnapping of explorer Stanley with Sherlock Holmes’s guidance.  With that said, you’ll be unsurprised that Lady Alice is a deduction game.

A crime has been committed and there are 4 pieces of information (categories) to work out: Where, Who, When and What.  There are 8 different possibilities (clues) in each of the 4 categories (and there’s a card for each of the 32 clues).  In the middle of the table is a board which shows Sherlock Holmes’s desk where all of the clues are displayed.  (I’ll describe how the game plays with 4 players as it’s the most straightforward.)

At the start of the game, one card from each of the 4 categories is randomly drawn face-down – these 4 cards are the solution to the crime which are shuffled up and each player is dealt one at random.  So, each player holds one of the 4 pieces of evidence and players don’t even know which category each of the other players holds. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Augustus

Posted by James (admin) on 6th June 2013

Augustus GameAugustus is one of this year’s nominees for the Spiel des Jahres (the largest board games award).  It is designed by Paolo Mori who designed Libertalia and (one of my favourite games) Vasco de Gama.  In fact, Paolo seems to be designing more and more at the moment.

Players always have 3 objective cards and each can be completed by placing one of their  legions (meeples) onto each of an objective’s symbols (sword, shield, chariot, etc.)  Each turn, one player (the town crier) randomly draws one symbol from the bag.   Then, every player can place one of their legions onto a matching symbol if they have a vacant one on one of their objectives – the placed legion can be from their supply, or they can move a legion which is already placed on an objective.  So, if a sword symbol is drawn a player can place a legion from their supply, or from another objective, onto an empty sword icon.

There is a known mixture of symbols in the bag and there are more of some symbols than others, i.e. 6 swords, 5 shields, 4 chariots, etc.  Therefore, whilst it’s a random draw, some symbols are more likely to be drawn than others.  There are also 2 wild (joker) symbols in the bag – when one of these is drawn, players can place a legion on any one symbol, plus all of the previously drawn symbols are put back in the bag, and the town crier moves on to the next player. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Mr Jack Pocket

Posted by James (admin) on 17th July 2011

Mr Jack is a clever 2-player game that mixes deduction with movement – I put it that way as purely saying it’s a deduction game can give the false impression that it is dry or shallow.  The original Mr Jack and it’s follow-up, Mr Jack in New York, are both games where one player is Mr Jack (the Ripper) and the other is the investigator.  Players take turns moving the various suspects as the investigator tries to deduce which suspect is Mr Jack before Mr Jack escapes off the board.  The deduction in those games is made by saying whether Mr Jack is standing in the light or not at the end of each round.

Mr Jack Pocket is a smaller and more portable Mr Jack game that encapsulates the main elements of the original games but actually delivers a different game experience. The goal of the game is to reduce the 9 suspects down to just 1 before the 8 rounds are over and before the Jack player has accumulated 6 hourglasses. Read the rest of this entry »

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