South west game night

by Zac Beldan

Last night was the monthly board game night that one of my friends hosts in the south-west. As I didn’t have any other events scheduled for the weekend so I was happily able to go. The event starts after dinner and goes into the early morning and while I wasn’t able to stay the entire evening I did stay long enough to get in a few games. Since I work on Monday evenings I don’t get a chance to hang out at the Open Board Game night at the store so this was my first chance in a few months to play some new board games.

Heroes of Normandie

First off was a quick game of Heroes of Normandie. I was introducing the game to a new player so we tried one of the provided scenarios called Saving Private Rex. I played the Americans and my opponent picked the Germans. The goal of the scenario is for the Americans to find and rescue their General’s pet dog. The game was fun and it was easy to explain the rules but I was struck, yet again, that the true appeal of the game is in larger custom scenarios where you pick your own forces and have a larger number of available orders. The scenario we played was a quick win for the Americans as Private Rex randomly appeared in a space that was easy for me surround and keep away from the Germans.

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Warhammer Diskwars overview

Header

Today was a Marvel Dicemasters event at the store and even though I wasn’t playing I was helping run it for Sentry Box. While I was there I asked Bill to come down and introduce me to the Warhammer Diskwars game from Fantasy Flight.

Diskwars is a product that I was intrigued by when it was first announced but I passed it by during its initial releases. The reason was that the promotional material that FFG released made it look very character focused and less about troops and war machines. It wasn’t until the release of the second expansion, adding the Vampire Counts and a smattering of Skaven and Dark Elves, that I was able to see that it was more troop oriented and had a very good range of units and factions.
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Product Mini-Reviews

Some of the staff have written mini-reviews of various products in the store so I thought I would share a few of them here:

 

The Forgotten Planet – review by Chris

The Forgotten Planet is a board game for 2-4 players. It is a tile-laying area control game where players compete to control the surface of another planet using pieces representing robots under their command. Players can also use their robots to construct mines, allowing them to construct more robots and bases to extend their control of the planet’s surface. Tiles under your command can collect solar energy to power your robots, but robots that become isolated outside your territory fall inactive for the round.

 

Call of Cthulhu – Cthulhu by Gaslight – review by Greg Latour

New revised Campaign environment for Victorian Setting. All new stats for 6th ed. Call of Cthulhu. Victorian play environment has a much more gothic feel. Easily the best of 3 environments as it suits the game best. New artwork and maps. Large foldout map of 1890 London.

 

Citadel Turfs – review by Cam

Easy and quick way to finish bases when applied with superglue. Works best in small clumps along with other sand/rocks and foliage. Only drawback is that the glue used to hold the clumps together is not clear and has to be hidden or coloured to match.

 

The Day after Ragnarok – review by Drew

Have you ever wondered what the 1950s would have been like if the Nazis assassinated Patton and then called down Gotterdammerung? Ken Hite has. Apparently what you get is a noir steampunk Cold War between a psychic-fueled Soviet Union and the World-Serpent-ruined British Empire. Strap on your venom-fired jetpack and strike out for Darkest Africa!

Besieged by Rowena Cory Daniells – review by Brandon

Very long and gruelling first quarter to a third of the book, trying too hard to build back story. Once you get past that section the book starts to open up and the back story starts to pay off. You get very invested in the female lead character (Imoshen). Not a bad read overall, political intrigue and small battles, though character development takes a while. 3.5 out of 5.

Board Game Reviews: Biblios

Another bonus for all you followers of the blog, twitter and Facebook – you get to read my review of Biblios before it goes out in the newsletter. I can sense the joy and delight from here!

Biblios

    Overview:

Biblios is a set collection and auction card game for 2 to 4 players, lasting around 30 minutes. Each player collects cards from 5 different colours throughout the game, with the aim of having the highest value in a colour in order to score the points for that colour. The player with the most points at the end wins.

    Components:

The game comes in a small box that has been designed to look like a book. The box opens like a book too, with a magnetic fastener to hold it closed. It also has some summary information on the inside cover which is helpful. There are five dice in the game which are functional and match the colours of the cards. There is a deck of cards which look and feel great, although the smell from the varnish used on them is quite overpowering at first. This fades with time though. There is also a small board for putting the five dice on during the game.

    Rules:

The rules are quite short and straightforward. The only thing I’ve needed to refer back to is the setup information, which is different depending on the number of players. Once you’ve played through the game once or twice you shouldn’t need to refer back to them.

    Gameplay:

The game is essentially played in two stages. The first stage is the ‘gift stage’ and the second is the ‘auction stage’.

Before starting all the five dice should be set to showing the value three. These can be altered with the use of special cards and at game end having the highest total in a colour of cards means you score points equal to the value on the matching colour die.

In the gift stage the active player will draw cards one at a time from the deck and immediately decide what to do with that card. The options are for them to keep it (face down in a pile in front of them), place it in the auction pile (also face down), or place it face up where it will be taken by one of the other players. The active player may only keep one card for themself, only put one card in the auction pile and needs to add as many face up cards as there are other players in the game. Thus in a four player game they will draw a total of five cards: one for themself, one for the auction pile and three face up cards, one for each other player. When they have drawn all the cards they need to, the other players take it in turns to pick one of the face up cards and add it to their own pile face down (starting to the left of the active player and going clockwise). Thus each player will get one card every round and so will the auction pile.

Then the player to the left becomes the active player and they draw cards one at a time and decide what to do with them as before. This continues until the draw deck is exhausted.

At the beginning of the auction stage the pile of auction cards are shuffled and then the active player reveals the top card. They start the bidding or pass, and bidding continues until all players except one have passed, who then pays their high bid and receives the card that was up for auction.

There are three types of cards in the game and the bidding works slightly differently depending on what is up for auction.

There are coloured cards, in one of the five colours. There are gold cards, with a value between one and three. Finally there are special cards which alter the value on one or two of the dice, and must be played as soon as they are acquired (including in the gift stage).

When bidding on gold cards the players bid a number of cards and the winner discards the appropriate number of cards out of the game when they win.

When bidding on colour or special cards the players bid a value of gold and the winner discards that total value of gold from their hand out of the game.

The active player moves clockwise each round, with that player drawing the card to be bid on. Once the whole pile of auction cards is gone the game ends and players reveal their total values in each colour. The player with the highest total in a colour scores points equal to the value on that colour dice. If two or more players are tied for the highest total in a colour then the player who has the card with a letter closest to the start of the alphabet wins the tie.

    Review of Gameplay:

The gameplay is pretty simple in that it just involves drawing cards and deciding what to do with them, and then bidding on other cards. However, there is more to it than that, as you need to try to keep track of what cards other players have taken, what you know is coming up in the auction round, whether to take a risk and keep a card you’ve drawn when you might draw something better afterwards. Even though the gameplay is simple there are some interesting decisions to make along the way.

    Overall:

I really like this game as it’s short but fun and packs in some interesting choices along the way. You have to be able to change your plans if necessary as it may become clear that you’re not winning a colour that you were aiming for. It does have some element of screwing the other players as you can try to pit them against each other on a colour, or lower the value of a dice they are going for. It doesn’t feel too confrontational though as it is more indirect and there is no stealing of cards or making people discard them.

    Who will like this game?:

If you like tactical card games with interesting decisions, set collecting or auction games then you may want to check out Biblios. Just be sure to air the cards for a while before you do!

Board Game Reviews: Magnum Sal

Magnum Sal

    Overview:

Magnum Sal is a worker placement and resource management game for 2 – 4 players, that lasts about 90 minutes. In Magnum Sal players play the part of a head foreman of a mining team who are extracting salt in order to fulfill contracts for the King to earn money. The winner is the player with the most money after three rounds of play, with one round lasting until a certain number of contracts has been fulfilled.

    Components:

The components are of very good quality, with a gorgeous board in the same vein as those in Stone Age, Pillars of the Earth and A Castle for all Seasons. There are a number of wooden cubes and wooden meeples for the player pieces and then cardboard tiles used to set up the mineshaft and tiles used to give player bonuses. The money is also cardboard and more than adequate.

    Rules:

The rulebook seems quite thick but this is because it has three different languages inside – the actual rules are not too long and are printed on nice thick glossy paper. They are also easy to understand and have explanations of each of the different locations on the board and the different actions available so that after one game everything should be pretty clear.

    Gameplay:

The game is played over three rounds, with each player taking it in turns to perform two actions until a certain number (determined by the number of players in the game) of contracts have been fulfilled at the palace.

Each player starts with one brown salt cube and either four or five miners (depending on the number of players). The starting player is randomly decided and they receive 10 cents with each player then receiving 12, 14 or 16 respectively going clockwise around the table.

Seven of the 21 tool cards are randomly chosen and placed on the workshop, with three then turned face up and placed in the appropriate spaces.

Cubes are added to the market on the marked spaces to seed it at the start of the game.

The Round 1 contracts are shuffled and placed in a stack at the palace with some then turned face up (depending on the number of players). These face up contracts are available to be fulfilled.

The mineshaft is placed at the bottom of the board and the mine tiles are shuffled and then placed face down in the appropriate spaces leading off from the mineshaft.

The game then starts with the first player taking two actions, and continues until a certain number of contracts (determined by the number of players) have been fulfilled. The current round ends at the end of the final player’s turn (the player to the right of the starting player).

The possible actions are:

1) Placing or moving a miner
2) Extracting salt
3) Placing a miner as an assistant in a building
4) Visiting a building
5) Pass

1) The player places a miner onto a space in the mineshaft or into a chamber leading off from the shaft. The restriction here is that there must be a chain of miners leading back to the surface from this miner (the chain can consist of any player’s miners). If a miner is being moved he cannot leave a gap such that an existing chain is broken.

2) When a chamber is revealed it will have a number of salt cubes of different colours and possibly some water cubes. When using miners to extract salt the player adds the number of miners, subtracts the number of water cubes, and then can remove the resulting number of salt cubes from the chamber. Then the cubes must be transported to the surface, so for each cube that passes through a space that the player does not have one of their own miner’s, they must pay one of the other players (who does have a miner in the space) 1 cent. The extracting player then lays his miner’s flat to indicate that they are fatigued and may not be used in any way other than transporting salt until they are rested.

3) The player takes an unused miner, or one from the mine or board (providing it doesn’t cause a gap in the chain as before) and places them in the appropriate space next to one of the buildings. Some buildings can have no assistant and each building that can, only has space for one assistant. When any player subsequently uses that building the owner of the assistant earns 1 cent.

4) Visiting a building does not require the use of a miner (except the palace), the player merely states that they are visiting the building and takes the appropriate action. Each building may only be visited once per turn by each player (they cannot use both actions to visit the same building twice). The buildings have various effects such as allowing the purchase of tools (which give once per round abilities), removing water cubes from the mine, buying and selling cubes at the market, hiring more miners, and of course going to the palace to complete a contract. When going to the palace a player returns the desired cubes to the supply and takes payment from the bank.

5) Pass. In this case, all of a player’s fatigued miners are rested and stand up again.

At the end of the round things are reset (the unfulfilled contracts are removed and replaced with the contracts from the new round, the unbought tools are removed and seven new tools added, the market is reset if necessary, all miners and assistants are returned to the players, used tools are reset and the contract track is reset to zero. The starting player token passes clockwise to the next player.

Play then continues for the next two rounds and at the end of the third round the final scores are tallied. Players sell unused cubes for 3 cents each, add this to their total money and then get bonuses depending on the number of tools they have acquired during the game. The player with the most money is the winner.

    Review of Gameplay:

The game is quite interesting in that it mixes the worker placement mechanism with a more tactical element of placement in the mines and salt extraction.

The turns play very quickly and smoothly with only two actions per player. It’s rare that a move by a previous player will drastically alter your plans and so there isn’t a huge amount of analysis paralysis.
The variety of buildings and the placement of miners needed to extract salt means that there are always lots of things you want and need to do, but you are forced to prioritise and it makes for interesting decisions each turn, which should appeal to gamers, however the gameplay is simple enough that it shouldn’t be overwhelming for non-gamers.

    Overall:

I like the combination of worker placement with the tactical miner placement as it makes for some good strategic options. Do you place miners in the deeper chambers to obtain more expensive salt but then pay the other players when you extract, or vice versa, earning money through the endeavours of others. Or a mix of the two. The tools are useful and worth money at the end put they cost money and actions to obtain. Do you place assistants and leech extra cash from the other players that way. I think this is a great little medium weight game that offers interesting decisions and looks great with the artwork on the board. Having played it once at Essen I was happy to buy copies to bring back for the store so that everyone else could experience the game early, before it inevitably gets picked up by one of the North American publishers.

    Scores:

Components: 9/10
Rules: 10/10
Fun: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

Sean’s Game of the Month – DMZ by Decision Games

As if the Korean War could restart. I mean I know it’s still technically going, but seriously it’s not like they’re going to start shooting again. What?…who did what?…shelling? rockets? Oh forget that I just wrote that. Reality repeating games again.

Like all the Decision Folio series, you get a small, accurate, complete game for a great price. Plus low complexity, good solitaire potential and a 1-2 hour playing time, it’s just great for those of us with more interests than time.

Best of all, you can give Sarah Palin a call and see if she can join in and play her North Korean ‘allies’.

A steal at $20 USD.

-Sean

Board Game Reviews: Egizia

Egizia

    Overview:


Egizia is a worker placement and resource management game set in Ancient Egypt for 2 to 4 players. Each player has a team of work crews that will help to build the various great monuments, scoring points as they do so. The winner is the player with the most points after 5 rounds. The game plays in approximately 1 1/2 hours.

    Components:


The components of the game are of the usual good quality you would expect from a Rio Grande Game. There are wooden pieces in each player colour representing the boats the player sends down the Nile and the stones they use to build with; individual player mats to track the strength of the respective work crews and the amount of stone a player has; a nicely illustrated board showing the Nile, the monuments and the various locations each player can stop at; Sphinx cards which are used to score bonus points at the end of the game and round cards which are used to give variety to the actions available each round; and cardboard tokens to represent the work crews.

    Rules:


I found the rulebook slightly confusing when I first read through it but that may have been because I didn’t have the game right in front of me. After playing through the first round of an actual game it all clicked into place and became very intuitive, with the only reason to check the rulebook being to get clarification on what the individual cards do.

    Gameplay:


The game is played over 5 rounds, with the winner being the player with the most points at the end.

Each player starts with three work crews of strength 1 and a ‘wild’ of strength 2. They also start with a quarry producing 3 stone per round and a green field producing 6 food each round. Depending on turn order (initially randomised) the players also start with a number of stone (between 2 and 5).

Rounds – At the start of each round cards are placed from the appropriate deck onto each of the available spaces on the board.

Take actions – Players then act in turn order placing one of their boats onto a space on the board, with the possible options being onto a card, one of the round spaces, or one of the building sites.

1) If they place onto a card they take the card and either place it face up in front of them for an on-going permanent effect, immediately resolve it and discard it, or hold onto it for a later one-time use.

2) If they place onto a round space then they immediately perform the action of that space.

3) If they place onto a building site then nothing happens until later in the round when we get to the building phase.

Once one player has played a piece onto a card or round space then it is not available for the other players to use. However, each building site has space for up to three players (less if not playing with four players).

The players continue placing boats onto action spaces until everyone passes, either because they cannot place any more or choose not to. There is a further restriction on the placement of boats, however. Each action space is next to the Nile, with the river flowing down from the top of the board to the bottom. When a player is placing a boat they may not place one upriver of their previous placements.

Obtain stone and feed work crews – Once each player has passed they then get stone from their quarries and must feed their work crews. Each quarry a player owns will produce a number of stone, so the players advance their marker on their own stone tracks accordingly. Each work crew (including the ‘wild’) has a strength, and this value is also the amount of food that the work crew requires. Each player must see how much food they are producing and if it is not enough to feed all their work crews they must pay victory points in order to make up the difference. Also, each field that provides food only produces if the irrigation is at the right level. There are three types of fields: green, green/brown, and brown. Green fields will always produce food but the others will only produce if the water ring is at the appropriate level. The water ring can be moved by the use of certain action spaces.

After each player has obtained their stone and fed their work crews we move onto the building phase.

Build – In order, the three building sites are resolved, with each player having a boat there getting the chance to build part of the monument. To build part of a monument the player chooses one of their work crews, and may add the strength of the ‘wild’ if they wish to and it hasn’t already been used this round. This total strength is the maximum amount of building they can do on this monument this round. When used, the work crew is flipped over to show it cannot be used again this round.

Sphinx – the player draws cards equal to the strength of their work crew, and reduces their amount of stone by the same amount. They keep at most one of the Sphinx cards and place all others underneath the deck. For each card returned they score one point.

Graves/Obelisk – The Obelisk has a set number of spaces, each with values on them. The player can build several spaces in one build, not more than the total strength of the crew used, and must work from the bottom upwards (i.e. a space may only be built if the spaces below it are built). They reduce their amount of stone by the amount they build and score points equal to the total values of the spaces they built. For the graves, the player may build any number of grave tiles, as long as their total value is less than or equal to the strength of the work crew. The player reduces their amount of stone by the total value of the grave tiles they built and score the same number of points. Whether a player builds graves or the obelisk they then get to advance down either the stone track or the food track. These two tracks can provide bonus stone or points, and can make it cheaper when players have to pay points due to a food shortage.

Temple/Pyramid – Similar to the Obelisk, players may build a number of spaces, whose total values are not more than the strength of the work crew. They reduce their stone accordingly and score the same number of points. There are similar build restrictions in that spaces below must be built first, and there are bonus points for the player that builds the most spaces in each row of the pyramid.

Bonus points are then paid out to each player who built on at least one building site.

The game ends after 5 rounds, when all the Sphinx cards are then scored and players may cash in excess stone. The player with the most points is the winner.

    Review of game play:


The worker placement mechanism is nothing new but this one has an interesting twist with the fact that you cannot place up-river. This can mean you sometimes have to miss out on certain spaces in order to secure a particular space or card that you really want. There are various strategies to try, such as increasing your work crew strength a lot and hoping you can make up the points that you will inevitably have to lose by not being able to feed. Sphinx cards can give quite a few points and can direct your strategy somewhat as well. The fact that each building site can only take 3 players also makes the decisions on where to place your boats that much more difficult. The water ring adds something else to think about, and means it’s possible to screw the other players sometimes if they aren’t careful.

The limited rounds also mean that you know time is short and missing out on building in the final round can be pretty devastating.

    Overall:


This game is pretty easy to learn and play but has some very agonizing decisions along the way. There is a lot of indirect conflict in choosing the action spaces, with the possibility of screwing other players with the water ring, or by blocking them out of building at a particular site. The cards that come out each round offer good variation so that each game will play out differently, and the Sphinx cards mean that players will sometimes have to adapt their strategy in order to maximise their points.

Overall I think this is a great little game that offers a lot of interesting decisions in a fairly short space of time.

    Scores:

Components: 9/10
Rules: 8/10
Gameplay: 10/10
Fun: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

Board Game Reviews: Citadels

[Originally written back in July 2007]

Citadels

    Overview:


Citadels is a light to medium weight card game about medieval city building for 2-7 players. Each player tries to build up the districts in their city by taking on the roles of various influential characters. The game ends when someone builds their 8th district and then the winner is the player who has the greatest value in the districts in their city.

    Components:


I have the version with the Dark City Expansion already included and the butterscotch version of the money. The money in this version is very nice gold coloured plastic. The cards are of decent stock but the character cards themselves get a lot of use and tend to wear a little on the edges. There is also a wooden crown to represent who is the King.

    Rules:


The rulebook is a fairly small colour booklet. The rules are pretty straightforward for the most part, with a large section devoted to explaining the different characters and their abilities. Everything is laid out and explained well and the detailed character section should hopefully clear up any queries. The special district cards have all the text required to understand them written right on the cards so these are not dealt with in the rulebook.

    Gameplay:

Game set up –Each player is given 2 gold and dealt 4 district cards. The oldest player is given the crown and starts the game as the king.

Turns – The game plays slightly differently with different numbers of players. With less players each player may end up taking more than one role and playing out each of them. With 4 or more players each player will pick just one role. What is always the case is that the King randomly places one of the character cards face down on the table. Depending on the number of players they may then also have to randomly place one or more cards face up. They then look at the remaining cards, pick one and place it face down in front of them, and pass the remaining cards to the player to the left. This player picks one and puts it face down in front of themselves and passes the rest to the left. This continues until the last player who will have a choice of two cards to pick from. They pick one for themselves and put the other face down with the first card that the King laid aside earlier.

Each character then has a number and the King calls out the numbers in order from 1 – 8. When a player is holding the character with a number that has just been called they reveal themselves and get to take their turn. If nobody reveals themselves then the character must be one of the unchosen ones and the King proceeds to the next number.

A turn consists of:

a) Either take 2 gold from the bank OR Draw 2 district cards, keep one of them and discard the other.
b) Build a district card from your hand by paying the gold value on the card to the bank. The district is played face up in front of you. You may not have duplicate districts in your city.
c) Use the special ability of the character card you chose.

These actions may be taken in any order and may be skipped if desired.

After all 8 numbers have been called and everyone has taken their turn, all the character cards are shuffled together again and given to the King to start the next turn. The different characters all have abilities to either give the player some sort of benefit (more gold, extra card draws, etc.) or to penalize another player (assassinate a character who then misses their turn, steal gold from a character, etc.)

When a player builds their 8th district the game ends at the end of that turn. Each player then totals the values of all their districts, with bonuses given for the first player to build 8 districts, any other player to build 8 districts, and for any player who has built at least one district in all of the 5 colours. The player with the highest score wins.

    Review of Gameplay:


The gameplay is quite straightforward – choose a character from those available, and then take your turn when it comes, with only a few possible actions on your turn. The crux of the game comes from choosing which character to take. Some characters have quite strong abilities which will give a player a great advantage, but they will also be likely targets for assassination or thievery. Sometimes the draw of the district cards is unfavourable but for the most part it is possible to work with whatever cards you get. The magician allows for a quick change of cards if needed.

    Overall:


Trying to out-think your opponents and guess their choices is the best way to do well at this game. Keeping an eye on the districts people have built and how much gold they have may give clues as to their intentions. I love the mind games involved in Citadels, it makes for a very involved and enjoyable gaming experience, all packed into the space of about 45 minutes. Given that it plays very well with the full range of 2-7 players it’s definitely a great game for gamers and non-gamers alike.

    Scores:

Components:7/10
Rules:8/10
Gameplay:9/10
Fun:8/10
Overall:8/10

Board Game Reviews: Caylus

[Originally written in July 2007]

Caylus

    Overview:


Caylus is a medium-heavy weight strategy game for 2-5 players. The players are each builders competing for the favour and prestige of the King by helping to build the town and Castle of Caylus. Players earn Victory Points by building new buildings in the town and by helping with the construction of the Castle, with the winner being the player with the most VPs after the final scoring round.

    Components:


The game comes in a medium sized box with a reasonable sized board. There are a large number of cubes to represent the different resources in the game and although these are small they function well enough. There are also wooden pieces in the 5 colours for each player, to represent their workers, as well as markers for the various tracks on the board and building shaped pieces to represent ownership of the buildings and when a player has built in the castle. There are also two white wooden pieces to represent the bailiff and provost. I have the first edition game which came with grey tiddly winks for the money and these are not at all ideal. The second edition comes with cardboard counters for the money which is a big improvement. The game also comes with cardboard tiles to represent all the different buildings and these are of good, thick stock.

    Rules:


The rules come in a nice coloured booklet and have several examples inside. The actual rules for gameplay are very simple so much of the rules are taken up explaining all the different buildings and what they do. Since there are so many options it is often difficult for beginners to know what to do and can be a little daunting. For this reason it’s often helpful to have an experienced player around to offer advice.

    Gameplay:

Game set up -Each player picks a colour and takes all the pieces of that colour. The six pink buildings are shuffled and placed onto the relevant spaces on the board. Turn order is determined randomly and the initial money and initial resource cubes are given out.

Turns – Players start by receiving income of 2 plus however many residence buildings they own on the board. Some prestige buildings also add income. Play proceeds according to the turn order track with each player taking it in turns to either place one worker into one of the buildings (or the castle) on the board and pay the relevant amount of money, or to pass. Each building can only contain one worker. Once a player has passed they are out until the next turn. This then makes it more expensive for the other players to place workers into buildings. This continues in turn order until all players have placed as many workers as they want and passed.

Once all players have passed the buildings are resolved in order down the track as far as the provost. If a player has a worker in a building then they get to take the action associated with that building. These are such things as gaining resource cubes and building other buildings. After all buildings are resolved the castle is then resolved with all players who have a worker there getting the chance to build. If any player’s do build in the castle then whoever built the most gets a Royal favour which means they advance on one of four favour tracks and get some bonus or benefit. Then the bailiff is moved, one space if the provost is on the same space or closer to the castle and two spaces if the provost is further down the track. This acts as a game timer that can be manipulated in order to speed up or slow down the game. There are also three scoring spaces on the board and when the bailiff reaches or passes one of these spaces the relevant section of the castle is scored with players receiving favours depending on how much they built in that section. The castle sections are scored early if they are completely filled before the relevant space on the board is reached. In this case they are not scored again when the space is reached or passed by the bailiff.

The next turn then begins with players receiving income and then placing workers as before. The game ends after the third and final section of the castle is scored.

    Review of gameplay:


The actual gameplay is very straightforward – place a worker, wait until it’s back to you, place another worker, etc. The complexity comes in the myriad of choices available. Do you go for resources and try to get points by building lots of buildings and in the castle? Do you try to quickly build residences and aim for prestige buildings? Do you try to get as many Royal favours as possible and get the bonuses to help you build cheaper or get extra VPs? There are several possible strategies to try but most times you end up doing a bit of everything as the fact that each building can only contain one worker means you often have to change your plans. This is also what makes the game great in my opinion as it’s not just a case of picking a strategy and running through with it. Everyone has to adapt and change their plans and make the most of each situation. This also means it is daunting for beginners though, as mentioned earlier. The players have to think on their feet and react all the time.

    Overall:


Caylus is a fantastic resource management game with very little luck and good player interaction with the possibility of screwing up other players by placing your workers in the buildings they want. It is usually a tight game that goes down to the wire and offers a lot to more serious gamers.

    Scores:

Components:8/10
Rules:8/10
Gameplay:10/10
Fun:9/10
Overall:9/10

Board Game Reviews: Can’t Stop

Can’t Stop

    Overview:


Can’t Stop is a light game of pushing your luck for 2-4 players. Each player is attempting to get three of their coloured pieces to the top of 3 numbered columns by rolling the dice until they choose to stop or are forced to.

    Components:


The game comes in a fairly small square box. The board is plastic and in the shape of a stop sign with 11 columns, each with a number of squares in it and a number from 2-12 at the top. There are four coloured sets of pyramid shaped pieces and then three white marker pieces, all made of plastic as well. There are also four red transparent dice included which are of decent quality.

    Rules:


The rules are pretty straightforward and come in a booklet of four pages. There are several examples throughout to help explain the rules and these are always useful, although the rules are very easy once you have played.

    Gameplay:

Game set up -Each player picks a colour and takes all the pieces of that colour.

Turns -A start player is picked who goes first and then play continues clockwise around. On a player’s turn they roll the four dice and split them into two pairs to form two numbers between 2 and 12. They then add two of the three white marker pieces onto the bottom square of each of those numbered columns. They then roll again and once again split the four dice into two pairs. If they roll one of the numbers they had previously put a white marker onto then they advance that piece one space up the column. If they roll a number they hadn’t already put a white marker onto then they add the 3rd white marker and this then sets the three columns that they are trying to advance for this turn. The player then continues to roll, and move up the white markers accordingly for the numbers they roll. This continues until one of two things happens:

a) They roll numbers such that they cannot advance any of the white marker pieces up the columns. In this case the white markers are removed and the next player takes their turn.

b) The player can choose to stop at any time before they roll the dice again. In this case they replace the white markers on the board with their own coloured pieces and the next player takes their turn.

On subsequent turns if a player rolls a number for which they have one of their own coloured pieces on the board they add the white marker pieces one space above their coloured piece. If they later choose to stop they simply move their coloured piece from it’s current space in the column to the space the white marker reached.

When a player reaches the top space of a column and stops so that their coloured piece is placed there it then closes that column completely. Any other player’s pieces in the column are removed and it is now no longer possible for anyone to enter or move up this column. Thus as the game progresses there will be less and less choice as to the numbers that may be rolled.

The winner is the first player to get their pieces to the top of three of the eleven columns.

    Review of gameplay:


The gameplay is very simple once you have tried it. Simply choose to roll the dice or stop. The lure of continuing is a strong one as it can be possible to advance very far up the columns in one fell swoop. However, a player that risks rolling too much can fail and any progress they made that turn is gone. This aspect of ‘Should I roll one more time?’ is what makes the game so addictive. It’s also possible for the game to swing wildly with one player looking certain of victory only to have it snatched away by a player who gambles and goes for it.

    Overall:


There is obviously a huge amount of luck involved with Can’t Stop and it doesn’t offer a huge amount of choices in the game but it is quick, fun and addictive all the same. Definitely recommended for light gamers and even fun for more serious gamers who like to push their luck every once in a while!

    Scores:

Components:7/10
Rules:7/10
Gameplay:7/10
Fun:8/10
Overall:7/10