[Boardgames] Ken B.'s Review Round-Up, Feb 8th 2011

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Alright, so I had my mega "Yomi" review almost ready and the !#$*& editor ate my review.  So instead, I'm just going to rattle off some quickie reviews of several games I've gotten to play lately.  Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Fast and furious here, folks.  Just some off-the-cuff reviews of stuff I've played lately.

Bugs_CoverBugs (Valley Games, 2-6 players, 20 min.) - Valley Games went on a spree late last year, pushing out several family and card games to supplement their heavier gamer's game selection they had already (Titan, Hannibal, Republic of Rome).  One of these was Bugs.  Bugs is a card game that comes in a small box with good card stock and decent artwork on the bugs cards.  It plays like a reverse Great Dalmuti with some Uno mixed in, I think is the best way I can describe it.

There are cascading numbers of cards of values 1-9, but opposite Dalmuti in that the higher value cards are fewer (9 1s as compared to only one 9.)  A person leads a number of cards of the same value, such as three fours.  This gives a swarm value of 12.  The next player has three options:  increase the swarm by adding cards of the same value (adding a four to make it a swarm of 16), increase the swarm by playing a new set of like cards that have greater value than the current swarm (playing two 7s to give a new swarm value of 14) or taking all the current swarm cards into their hand.  Since you want to get rid of all your cards, this is a bad thing.

However, there are two wrinkles; if a player ever has all of one value card, they may lead with it and remove it from the current hand, and lead again.  So getting all eight of the 2s would allow you to lead with them all, remove them completely from the current hand, and lead again.

The other wrinkles are the special cards.  The Net allows the swarm to pass you by (think a "Self-Skip" in Uno terms...keeping you from having to take the current swarm if you can't play), a Bug Spray that is exactly like Uno's Reverse, and one of the powerful Exterminator cards which will reset the current swarm's value to zero.

Play continues until one player runs out of cards.  All players tally up one point for each card left in their hands, and after six hands, and much like in Hearts, the player with the fewest points is the winner.

My family loves Dalmuti, and this hits some similar notes.  I think honestly there's more 'game' in here than in Dalmuti, but Dalmuti is all about the externalities with the trash talking, taxes, and silly hats.

If you didn't care for Dalmuti because of this sort of stuff, but liked the core gameplay, you might find this fits the bill more accurately.  It's not a bad little game, it's very affordable, portable, and will give us some variety.



Dog (or more accurately in my case, Compact Dog) is one I got to play last Friday, and it is basically partnership Sorry/Trouble, but with hands of cards instead of rolling the dice or topdecking for your move.  There were a few more wrinkles, including your pieces being invlunerable and impassable while they were in that initial start square.  Also, the number of cards in hand goes down each round before bouncing back up again.  Last but not least you pass a card to your partner at the start of each round, giving them a "Start" card if you think they need one, for example.

It can be pretty viscious, but it does run long and there can be so much screwage in some rounds that neither team really accomplishes anything.  Making it all the way around the board can take forever, but using the tried and true "go back 4 and then zip into your home" is so risky since you have an enemy right at your side who can stomp you, forcing you to waste two cards.

I've heard that some people have made custom boards for this, and the actual printed version (German, I think) is hard to find in the normal channels.  Still, I've heard it's popular at some conventions, and it's a good, mean-spirited game that you can shoot the shit while playing.  Not bad, but I'm not going to chase this one down.


Yomi - INCREDIBLE game.  Has more and more depth the more I explore it.  Massively full blown review to come soon.


Puzzle Strike is still a massive, massive hit.  I have the second edition now(which I'll do a proper review of, possibly bundled with another review, just to cover the differences in the new edition.)  I am amazed at how I burned out on Dominion's base 25 but I still find Puzzle Strike's base game so engaging.  It's definitely the variance in characters and the hyper-trumped up interaction, both of which are extremely welcome.


Mousquetaires du Roy (Ystari/Rio Grande)  Wow...this one came out of NOWHERE for me.  Like, wasn't even on my radar.Mousquetaires-du-Roy I'm going to give this one the full review treatment in a couple of weeks after I've had time to get it to the table more.  It's a game about the Musketeers attempting to thwart the villainous Milady de Winter in her attempts to dishonor the Queen, sabotage the war efforts in La Rochelle, kill D'artangan's lover Constance, or simply stall the Musketeer's so that they can't recover the Queen's jewels in time.  I'm not used to looking to Ystari for games like this, so this is a really nice surprise; it's Fury of Dracula meets Shadows Over Camelot meets (sorta) Middle-Earth Quest, with some pretty novel stuff mixed in there to boot.  It's a really nice production too, and it's thematic and fun.  Great, great game.


Beep! Beep! (Valley Games) is another of their family card game offerings released late last year, and most closely resembles those "slap" traditional card games like Spit, where you had to quickly grab cards from a common pile to play on before the other players.

In Beep! Beep!, you have animals with differing colors. You start with two random cards in front of you.  There are five piles of cards around a small squeak toy car (yes, a squeak toy.)  When the game starts, players grab from these piles and place them on the stacks in front of them; to play them, you must match either the color or the animal of your top card.

The squeaky car comes into play whenever there are three of the same animal or color face up in the five stacks.  When this happens the first player to slap the car gets to take three cards from the middle and put them off to the side as bonus cards.

Once enough piles get depleted (based on number of players), the game ends.  Add up both your stacks, but you only get points for the smallest stack.  Also add in a point for each bonus card you claimed by BEEP BEEPING during the game.  If you want to play again, you gotta shuffle up the cards well and deal them into five piles again, which sometimes takes longer than an actual game, which can be a pain in the ass.

It's silly, kinda fun but definitely strictly for kids...though it might make a good drinking game (are there any games which DON'T make for good drinking games, though?)  Just make sure your buddies are okay with you bringing a game over that has a squeaky car toy in it, though, or you're gonna get some weird looks.



7 Wonders (Asmodee) is one I got to also play last Friday night, and I enjoyed it for what it was.  It definitely has some of the feel of Fairy Tale, like in Fairy Tale you're often looking to use your drafts to specialize in things to really run up a high score.

7-WondersThere are more options for sure than in Fairy Tale, as you can go for set collection in multipliers (a lot like Fairy Tale, actually, in that regard...think of the guys who are worth X points, where X is the number of them you have), you can go for "bonus buildings" that give you bonus VPs for having certain types of buildings, you can get resources to build your Wonders.

It's a little light and fluffy, I can see the appeal as it plays quickly and suits up to seven, which is definitely a rarity.  It's really, really hard to hate draft though as you only have one "throwaway" card, wherein Fairy Tale gives you two...it makes a lot of difference.  So you end up drafting something that's not useful to you but you end up having to play anyway, which kinda sucks.

I'm not thrilled in the military aspect of it, either, as it seems fairly weak.  Typical of my play style I honed right in on Military, getting easy dominance.   I exerted dominance on both neighbors in all three ages...and I still came in like third because the player to my right made some massive sets.

It has its niche, but it's definitely not half the game Dominion is.  It's the new hotness for sure, and I can see it being addictive, but I wonder how much more quickly you'd burn out on this than Dominion.




Whew...that's enough to chew on for now.  What are you guys playing these days?  Or your thoughts on some of these games?  Let's hear it.




Ken is a member of the Fortress: Ameritrash staff.

Click here for more board game articles by Ken.

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