February 28, 2012
What is the Game About?
You have to build four metropolises to win and each metropolis needs four different types of buildings to be completed (temple, university, fortress, and port). To be able to build, you have to first bid for different gods who are kept track of on a separate board. You shuffle the four god tiles (Zeus, Athena, Ares, and Poseidon) and then lay them in random order on the board and players then bid to be able to use their powers for a turn. The first bidder each round is the player who went last the turn before that. You can always choose Apollo who is free, and always last, but he gives you money, so it's not too bad. The gods let you build different buildings that you need to make a metropolis and other things. Athena lets your build a university, Ares lets you move troops and Poseidon lets you move ships. There are also cool creatures you can buy. They come up randomly but have some cool abilities you can use.
What do I Like?
I like it because it is based off of the movie (ed. from Dad - she means Clash of the Titans, hehe). I like the way all the characters are and what they have to offer. The board set-up and all the pieces are awesome. I like how they let you choose Apollo so that you can rest or pass or earn a little money. The creature cards and figures look really, really cool.
What do I Dislike?
It can be really frustrating when you spend time building your own metropolis and then some one else has just been building up their army and just comes and takes yours. Some of the creatures don't give you a lot of help compared to others. I don't like when some one bids higher and then you have to bid on a different god and you don't get your first choice. The bidding can be hard and sometimes mean.
February 25, 2012
What is the Game About?
You have a secret role - either the sheriff, a deputy, an outlaw, or the renegade. The renegade is supposed to kill the outlaws first and then the sheriff and be the last man alive. The sheriff is trying to kill the outlaws and the renegade. The outlaws only have to kill the sheriff. The deputy is trying to protect the sheriff by killing the outlaws and the renegade. To shoot other players, you have to play Bang! cards, but you can only use one each turn. You can play other cards that give you protection, or let you shoot farther, or heal you. You can also play a Missed! if someone shoots you. You also get special character that you play as the whole game and that person gives you different abilities.
What do I Like?
You can win the game no matter what role you are. Even though everyone knows who the sheriff is, the deputy will secretly help him and the renegade doesn't want to kill him first. I won the first 7 games of Bang! that we played! I was the renegade once, the sheriff twice, an outlaw 3 times, and even the deputy. I also was never killed!
What do I Dislike?
The green border cards are hard to keep because you have to lay them down before you can use them. The renegade is the hardest to play and I wish there was another teammate. If you are the sheriff and kill a deputy, there is a huge penalty - you lose all your cards in play and in your hand. I want to make a house rule that if you try to punch somebody, but they play an Iron Plate (which acts as a Missed!), then that means you hit that instead with your fist and broke your hand and have to lose your next turn! Dad says, "He'll think about it."
February 22, 2012
Warlords of Europe (Conquest Gaming The Quick Rundown:
T for Teens:
|More to see than just the d6!|
My kids really get into the Middle Ages setting. I suspect most other children will, too. They delight in battling with swords, storming castles, and sending forth their knighted hero to rescue the princess...only in this case, it's a warlord, which actually is kind of awkward. No matter. I share their enthusiasm for the theme. Playing the GameMaster series as teenagers, my friends and I dreamed that Milton Bradley would give us the opportunity to use our strategic wits, honed on the fields of ancient Rome and medieval Japan, in the fiefs of Western Christendom. Sadly that was never the case. But this oversight has now been gloriously corrected by Larry Davis' spiritual successors at Conquest Gaming, LLC.
Outside of wargamers, downtime and game length are probably the biggest turn-offs in this genre. Warlords has two mechanics that seem to address both problems, yet do not alleviate them completely. Though honestly, I'm not sure that's possible for a game of this nature without removing its heart and soul. It would be unfair to ask for evangelical titles to convert the light hobby or Euro gamer to the wargaming faith. So how does its mechanics connect with kids?
While still an afternoon affair for 3-4 player games, the victory condition mechanic and scenario options go a long way to help reduce overall game length. Rather than conquering every last square inch of land or completely eliminating all enemies, your goal is to capture and hold a majority of castles (all of them in a 2-player game). That is still no easy task - which accounts for the games 2-4 hour span. Yet it provides a finite goal in what might otherwise turn into an exhaustive marathon of give and take. This measurable victory condition will also guide players' strategy and is conducive to streamlined game play. Castles are extremely important in this game, which makes sense given their political, military, economic, and social dominance of the times. You must own one in any given kingdom in order to collect taxes from its fiefs. If you control a majority, or all, of the fiefs in a kingdom, you are awarded bonuses in the form of extra taxes and free levees. Losing your last castle means you no longer collect money, nor can you hire knights - and that's a tough slog. On another note, suggested scenarios scale the playable map area to a smaller number of kingdoms, eliminating the slow and boring build-up and forcing players into early confrontation.
|Six to seven fiefs comprise one kingdom (highlighted in yellow).|
Own them all and reap the rewards.
|An unfinished castle.|
Okay I'll Shut-Up Now:
In the end, I personally give Warlords of Europe an 8 on the Board Game Geek scale (Very good game. I like to play. Probably I'll suggest it and will never turn down a game). It would not be the first wargame I recommend introducing to your children, especially younger than junior high. But kids, like adults, will be hard pressed to resist its sweeping historical narrative and epic theme. While most mechanics will be familiar to even moderate wargamers, top-notch components and fresh tweaks create a fun medieval experience. Simply stated, if enjoy conquest games you must have this title.
|Card examples (from top): Conquest, Papal, Merchant|
February 15, 2012
February 08, 2012
"Hey, kids, I'm going to teach you all a new card game. It's really simple. You deal out the whole deck and you work with a partner. Each round you play a card and the highest card wins that round, with one suit always beating the other three. The team that wins the most rounds earns points until one team wins a total of seven points for the game."
"Sounds easy, what's it called?"
"Whist? Why do they call it that?"
"Well, whist means 'quiet,' and a long time ago you couldn't talk during the game and it required a lot of silent strategy."
"Um, you can't talk at all? I don't think I can do that, dad."
*sigh* "Yeah, tell me about it."
The Quick Rundown:
Whist is a classic and elegant trick-taking game played with a standard 52-card pack (13 cards ranked A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2 in four suits of Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, and Spades). For the slightly more complex variation, Bid Whist, you can throw in one or both Jokers. In Classic Whist, you sit across the table from your partner and everyone begins with 13 cards, so that the entire deck is dealt. The last card, which belongs to the dealer, is turned up to determine trumps - that is, which suit will supersede the other three for that hand. Then the player to the left of the dealer begins by leading any card. Each successive player must play a card of the same suit that is led, if they have one, otherwise they may play a trump or any other card. The highest trump card or, if no trump was played, the highest card of the suit led, wins the trick - that is, the four cards played that round. The winner of a trick leads to the next one. After all 13 tricks have been played, the team with the most tricks scores 1 point for each trick that they own over 6. So, for example, a team that won 8 tricks would score 2 points. Traditionally the first team to earn a total of 5 or 9 points wins the game. We play to 7 points, which seems to be the popular choice in the U.S.
|Replica of 17th century English deck|
when Whist was on the rise.
Bid Whist is played mechanically the same, but adds some sophisticated twists. First, only 12 cards are dealt to each player. This will leave some left over, called the kitty. Depending on whether you play with a Joker or two, the kitty will have 4-6 cards. Then, instead of establishing trump randomly with the last card of the deck, players will bid on trump by first declaring how many tricks they think they can capture in excess of 6. Hardcore Whist players will insist on a minimum bid of 3, which means you need to take a total of 9 tricks. But for casual play, any bid from 1-7 is fine; unless another player outbids you, of course! At the time of your bid, you will also declare whether you will name a trump suit with high cards winning tricks as normal (called uptown), or name a trump suit with low cards winning tricks (called downtown), or even play without trumps. In uptown or downtown bids, the two Jokers (one designated big, one small) and the Ace are still the top three cards. Downtown bids out-rank uptown bids. In the case of a no trump bid, the Jokers essentially become worthless and the Ace is high followed by the King on down, as traditional. The winning bidder will then name the trump suit, if declaring uptown or downtown, and can exchange cards with the kitty, keeping the unwanted cards aside which actually count as the first trick. Play proceeds as in Classic Whist, bearing in mind that downtown and no trump bids change how tricks are won. If the bidder's team is successful in winning the number of tricks declared more more, then they score as normal. If they do not make their bid, they lose that number of points. While there are many variations on scoring, generally the winning team is the first to earn 7 points, or set their opponents back a total of negative 7 points.
E for Everyone:
Charles Cotton summed up this classic, trick-taking game's family friendliness in The Compleat Gamester (1674) : "Ruff and Honors (alias Slamm) and Whist, are Games so commonly known in England, in all parts thereof, that every Child of Eight Years old, hath a competent knowledge in that recreation." While perhaps not as commonly known today in the United States, it would be no difficult task for a child of eight years old to develop a compentent knowledge of this recreation.
|Whist began life as a crude game for common folk,|
but eventually gained "respectability."
Bid Whist retains the majority of that classicality while adding two new common attributes of card gaming: bidding and alternate trick-taking. In bidding games, learning both to take advantage of those "lucky" hands and risking a bold move with a less fortuitous deal is a good part of card gaming's charm. In a plain trick-taking game like Whist, the bidding process is more elemental. In point trick-taking games, one has to be concerned with calculating on how to capture X number of cards/points. The plainer task of winning a set number of rounds is more manageable for new players. Additionally, Bid Whist is a good example of illustrating that not all tricks are as they seem across the card gaming universe. With the option of downtown bidding, the card rankings reverse in order from the traditional understanding of Ace/King and on down to Deuce. This simple flip is a bit easier to grasp when contrasted with some unique ranking switches as in Jack-high games (like Euchre), ones with off-trumps (like Pitch), and the Ace-Ten family (like Pinochle), as well as a variety of odd combinations in many European games.
Okay, I'll Shut-Up Now:
While historians doubt its originality and it is often difficult to trace concrete roots between games, Whist nonetheless is essentially the grandfather of innumerable modern, trick-tacking games. As so, it is a smooth introduction for children to this particular world of card games. Without over-complicating things, Bid Whist is an effective companion to then teach them a number of additional mechanics that will apply in a variety of games so that they may explore the genre further.