Tag Archives: games

Unstable Unicorns (Card Game)

Introducing my family’s latest card-game obsession: Unstable Unicorns. The inscription on the box reads “Build a Unicorn Army. Betray your friends. Unicorns are your friends now.” Yeah, that’s a pretty accurate description of this game, actually. Starting out with one (adorable) baby unicorn, you work to build a stable full of unicorns–and sabotage other players from beating you to the goal. If you’ve ever played Exploding Kittens, there are a number of similar elements in the gameplay, although I think this game is a bit more complex. The art on the cards is fabulous, and the text is amusing and often punny. Generally speaking, this is quite a nerdy game, in the best possible sense of the word. Personally, I particularly enjoy the combination of strategy and chance that comes into play–it’s entirely possible to play the long game and have strategies planned out for numerous turns in advance. It’s also possible for another player to spring something on you and put all that planning to naught. . . . Of course, you can turn the same thing back on them, as well. The game is also quite adaptable, accommodating anywhere from 2 to 8 players with ease. There are also a number of expansion packs for added fun. Highly recommended.

NOTE: If you’re interested, you can find out more here.

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Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment

Mattel Games

You’ve stumbled upon a mad scientist’s lab and been exposed to his experiment–the one that caused him to turn into a werewolf. Lucky for you, he did create an antidote as well, but it’s not that simple. . . . The antidote is locked away, and you only have an hour to solve the clues around the room and unlock the box, or you’ll be stuck as a werewolf yourself!

The basic idea of this is the same as for an actual escape room . . . only you have everything you need in a single package that you can take home and play for the cost of about 1.5-2 tickets into your average escape room. I was actually quite impressed by this game. The scenario was interesting, and the puzzles were appropriately themed. Moreover, the puzzles managed to be challenging while still manageable. You have a lot of that back and forth of one answer tying into another puzzle, plus the whole going through everything you’ve got just trying things to see what works. There’s even a blacklight! We played with 6 players, which worked well, but you can have up to 8 at a time. And bonus: although it would be kind of pointless for the same people to play over again, since you’ll know the answers, you can save everything in the box, print out new papers, and re-set everything for a new set of players (find instructions and more information here). Highly recommended for those who love escape rooms or puzzle games, or for those who are looking for an inexpensive, easy way to give the whole escape-room thing a try.

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Exploding Kittens (Card Game)

I recently got to try out this super-random card game with a group of friends, and I’ve got to say, it’s surprisingly catchy. It’s marketed as a game for people who like cats and explosions, and . . . well, that may be accurate, but it’s more for people who like fast-paced games that combine elements of both chance and strategy–along with lots of weird goofiness. The game is basically an adapted version of Russian Roulette–everybody takes turns going around the table drawing cards until something explodes (you draw an “exploding kitten” card). But then, there are cards you can use to defuse this (basically putting it off until later in the game), as well as a number of other cards that have different effects on the game. (You can find out a lot more about the rules and such on the official website, https://explodingkittens.com/.) Like I said, the game’s catchy and involves a nice balance of chance and strategy–more or less depending on the group of players, obviously. It’s also pretty easy to learn, and each game goes quite fast. I do also have to note that the art on the cards is just plain strange; like, there’s all kinds of randomness on them that’s totally not necessary for playing the game, but it’s kind of interesting to read . . . also, slightly disturbing and very strange. But overall, I enjoyed Exploding Kittens and would generally recommend it.

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The Inheritance (Escape Room)

Hosted by Escape Experience in Chattanooga, Tennessee

This weekend, my brother and sister-in-law dragged me to an Escape Room–something I’d never tried before, although they are obsessed with them. Turns out, it was actually a pretty fun experience. Basically, it’s a game that’s played in a locked-room set with a time limit, rather than on a board or with cards. Your group of players are dumped in this room and set free to explore. There are clues, puzzles, and challenges throughout the room, and you have to beat them all within the allotted time in order to win. It’s actually pretty intense, as well as a good mental challenge.

We did “The Inheritance,” a mystery game in which your scientist uncle has passed away, leaving behind some sort of treasure which you have to find and escape with before your uncle’s dangerous enemies show up. I thought that both the premise of this plot and the execution were well done for this sort of game. The detailed set was thoroughly immersive and conducive to a good gameplay experience. The puzzles were varied and challenging while still being accessible to the average individual. I do think that some basic math skills, science,  and geographical knowledge would be helpful for this particular game, but mostly just some solid teamwork, problem-solving, and logical skills are what you would need the most. There were a lot of puzzles in this particular game; it’s theoretically one of the more difficult ones, and we didn’t even finish it (although we were on the very last puzzle when we ran out of time!).  Our one complaint, honestly, was that any hints we were given were displayed on screens in the room . . . which is nice in that you can refer back to them, but not helpful in that several were given in two parts, and the first part disappeared way too quickly, with only the second part remaining on the screen. On the whole, though, this particular Escape Room was a good experience that I would recommend.

 

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Heart of Crown (Card Game)

By Japanime Games

Support a princess in her race for the throne–just be sure to choose wisely. Build up your economy and infrastructure. Go to war against rival princesses and their supporters. And gain the succession points needed to win the throne.

Heart of Crown is a very cute but complex and challenging game that I was recently introduced to. So I should note that this isn’t a full review–more like an impressions post, really. This is a deck-building card game, which is a pretty different style from most of what I’ve played before, since you build your playing deck as you go. Once you get used to the concept (or for those of you who are already familiar with this style of game), it’s not too difficult though. The challenge is to build the best deck to win, and this is a challenge that is constantly changing. As in games like Sushi Go, your set of cards that you’re working with can change based on what you choose at the beginning of the game. And different sets require different strategies. To add to the strategizing, each princess provides unique bonuses that affect you’re gameplay. And of course, the other players you’re working with will change how you have to play as well. With the base set, you can have 2-4 players, and that number seems to work well with the flow of the game. Basically, I found this game to be challenging but in a good, interesting way. There’s clearly been a lot of thought put into each card and into the system as a whole, and it all works well together to provide a good challenge for players. On a side note, this game has some of the cutest anime-style art I have ever seen in a card game. I really love it! So yeah, Heart of Crown is a lot of fun and I would recommend it for basically anyone who likes deck-building games, strategy-dependent games, or just plain cute stuff.

Note: You can find out more about this game at https://japanimegames.com/pages/heart-of-crown-resources.

 

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Sushi Go Party! (Card Game)

By Gamewright

Ok, so this is totally not story related in the slightest, but my brother just recently introduced me to this absolutely adorable and slightly geeky card game that I’m just dying to share, so. . . . I should also note that this is not a full review; more like a first impressions post, since I’ve only played this a few times with the same group of people. But I think I’ve got the gist of the gameplay, and I can say with complete honesty that this game is a lot of fun.

Sushi Go Party! is a card game in which you are trying to assemble a group of cards (posing as adorable sushi and other edibles with super-cute faces) to get the highest number of points. Different combinations of cards yield different point values, and everyone’s competing against each other for the limited high-point combinations. The catch? You only get to play one card from your hand, then you pass your hand on and get the next person’s hand to play from instead! Sounds confusing, but it’s surprisingly easy to catch onto the rules once you get going. Much more difficult is actually amassing reasonable points, which involves a good bit of strategizing and adaptability. This is a game that would be great for teaching kids about statistics, probability, and strategy, but it’s also challenging enough to make adults have to think. There are a lot of choices as to which combinations you’re trying for, allowing for different difficulty levels as needed. Gameplay is pretty quick as well, making this a great party game. Theoretically, this is valid for 2-8 players, but I personally think it would work best with 5-6 (we played with 6, which was perfect). Oh, and have I mentioned that this is adorable?! The art style and the way the whole concept is framed as though you’re crafting a lunch with sushi, appetizers, desserts, etc. is just too utterly cute–and the style is very Japanese. Definitely recommended for those of you who like card/party games.

 

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Pathfinder (Tabletop RPG)

Released by: Paizo

In light of my D&D group’s being on hold for the indefinite future due to schedule complications, I’ve started playing another tabletop RPG called Pathfinder with another group of friends. This game is very similar to Dungeons & Dragons, being based on edition 3.5 of that very game. However, unlike D&D, Pathfinder is released under an Open Game License–so all the rules and stuff are available for free (see the Pathfinder SRD website for details). This makes it a very appealing option for those who are interested in trying this type of game but who don’t want to spend all the money on books that is a necessary startup cost for most of these sorts of games. (Although, if you are interested, Paizo does also have physical books available–see their website for more details.) As far as gameplay goes, it’s mostly very similar to D&D, although I’ve never played 3.5, so I can’t compare precisely; however, there are tweaks that were made both to differentiate the two and to cater to player preferences. Most noticeable differences: Pathfinder has lots more skills and a different system for leveling up on skills, numbers in Pathfinder get a lot bigger a lot faster than in D&D, there’s a lot more focus on strength-scaled fighting, and you just generally get more feats and extra stuff. It can actually be a bit overwhelming to someone accustomed to 5th edition D&D, but it’s growing on me.

While playing with a different group, I noticed some interesting aspects of different parties’ playing styles–and this has nothing to do with Pathfinder specifically, just my personal rambling observations. Sorry. But I found it interesting. For one, I’ve never played with modules (pre-defined adventures) before; it does help to keep things moving and keep the party on track, but I kind of miss the freedom to do super-random stuff and just see what happens . . . and I feel like it’s harder to roleplay when we’re trying to stick to a pre-defined plot. The other interesting observation is the differing focus groups have on either roleplaying or on battles and the adventure itself. Previously, I’ve played with groups that found the battles and monsters as a means to the roleplay and with groups that balanced and mixed the two in absurd combinations. With this particular group, there’s a greater focus on getting to the next fight or challenge and less of a focus on the roleplay aspect. Both are good; I just find the contrast intriguing.

In any case, if you’re interested in trying a tabletop RPG, but you’re not really invested yet, Pathfinder is a great way to try the whole concept out. Likewise, if you’ve previously played other tabletop RPGs, it might be an interesting way to add variety. Enjoy!

 

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