Tag Archives: Bruno Faidutti

The Little Metal Dog Show – Episode 4

OK, so we’re back with another show. Episode 4 has another pair of splendid interviews, as always from different areas of the industry. First off, I chat with Charles Ryan, the marketing manager at Esdevium Games (the UK’s biggest distributor of… well, pretty much everything in games, from board games to RPGs and more besides). Then there’s a great talk (if I say so myself) with one of the world’s most famous and popular designers – Bruno Faidutti. If you don’t have one of his games in your collection, what are you doing?!

Enjoy the show and let me know what you think! Email me on littlemetaldog@gmail.com or poke me on Twitter – you can find me at http://twitter.com/idlemichael – and as always, cheers for listening!

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News and stuff – 11th June 2010

While the eyes of the whole world are focusing on football (mine included, I’m writing this just as South Africa have taken the lead against Mexico) the crushing inevitability of The Little Metal Dog News Report arrives to the sound of a stadium full of vuvuzelas!

Following last weekend’s UK Games Expo, the results of the Expo awards have been released. Voted by show visitors and a panel of selected judges, the gongs this year went to the Ragnar Brothers Workshop Of The World (Best New Board Game), Forbidden Island (Best Family Game), World Cup Card Game 2010 (Best Card Game, but there weren’t many others!) and Mijnlieff (Best Abstract). There’s been plenty of talk about the first two, not least on Little Metal Dog, and of course if you’d like to read more about the Expo, you can check out my thoughts right here. As the dust has now settled, there’s been a bit of discussion on how the show can be improved – people who pre-ordered tickets seemed to be a little annoyed that those paying cash on the day got in quicker, for example, but it looks like the organisers are taking things on board and will be continuing to do so when organising the 2011 event.

Days of Wonder are a company who have really embraced their online presence, making great versions of their board games for online play through their website. It’s obvious that their customers enjoy them as nearly 20 million games have been clocked up on their servers since the launch a few years back. To celebrate reaching this momentous figure, DoW have announced a competition of sorts: the players of the 20,000,000th game – no matter what it may be – will recieve some rather nice prizes:  the winner of the game will be sent a brand new 16GB iPad, pre-loaded with one of their more recent releases, Small World. The other players won’t be left out though, as they’ll all get an 8GB iPod Touch to help them deal with the ignominy of defeat. Not a bad little deal at all, so what have you got to lose?

Finally, a few mentions of interesting upcoming releases. Bruno Faidutti (who you’ll be able to listen to on the next episode of The Little Metal Dog Show) and Gwenaël Bouquin are putting out Smiley Face through Fantasy Flight Games later in the year. Another quick card game, players need to match up cards while causing mischief to others. There’s also an element of betting in there, as you can pull out of rounds while nominating someone you think will win – this will give you points as well as them. Bruno has also been talking about the upcoming Mr. Jack Pocket, due to be released in the summer. A portable revision of the excellent Mr Jack, one player must be cunning enough to escape the detective skills of the other – it’ll be interesting to see how it translates into a card game format. Last of all, Founding Fathers – the new game from the team behind 1960: The Making Of A President – sees the light of day in a few short weeks. Knowing how well respected games are, this is getting me excited – if only because I’m a new convert to studying American history. It’ll be nice to see how much of a change I can make!

And that’s it. As I said on Twitter, the latest episode of the show should be available on Monday – there’ll be interviews with legendary designer Bruno Faidutti as well as the Marketing Manager of Esdevium Games, Charles Ryan. If you’ve got a question or comment for the show, email littlemetaldog@gmail.com – it’d be splendid to hear from you! Cheers for all your support, and thanks for reading!

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Castles Made Of Sand – Citadels review

Simple and nasty – a combination I like in games. An easily understandable rule-set mixed in with an opportunity to regularly mess with your opponents is a wonderful thing to experience, and one that many designers strive to achieve but often fail to attain. Citadels, designed by Bruno Faidutti, is one of those games that hits the mark – a simple game of choosing roles, purchasing buildings and stabbing your mates in the back. Lovely!

Catering for anything from two to eight players (though best with five or six, in my opinion), players begin each round – starting with the King, who gets to keep a chunky yellow crown in front of them – by secretly selecting a role card and passing the deck to the player on their left. Each card is numbered and each role has a special ability – the trick to Citadels being that you must reveal your roles in order, not knowing what ones your opponents have chosen. For example, the Assassin always goes first, and must announce a role they wish to kill (who then takes no further part in that round) – if they choose one that has been taken, excellent! However, if their choice is still left in the deck, it’s pretty much a wasted turn. You must deduce what roles your opponents have and act accordingly, all the while watching your own back.

After you have revealed your role and taken your action, you then get the chance to spend some gold. The main objective of the game is to purchase a selection of buildings, and the first person to collect a set of eight automatically triggers the endgame. They may not necessarily be the winner, however, as each building card has a number of gold coins down its side – as well as being the cost to buy them, they translate into victory points. Whoever has the most is declared the victor and even more can be earned by hitting bonuses – collecting a type of building from each of the five colour sets, for example, nets you more points. Some buildings also have special abilities, so always be aware of what’s available…

Victory! Even without a full set of colours!

It’s very difficult to pick up an original Citadels nowadays as the game now automatically comes bundled with the Dark City expansion. This set of extra cards have new roles but must be switched out for the same numbered ones is they are used – for example, exchanging the King for the Emperor. They all have new powers and really add an extra element into the game, as do the special buildings that are also included. As many or as few Dark City cards can be included in your game as you like – it’s a perfectly enjoyable experience without them, but a great way of giving Citadels some longevity. I really appreciate Fantasy Flight including them in the sets now – there are far too many companies out there who’d be happy to charge you over the top prices for what amounts to just a few extra cards.

As I said in the beginning, Citadels is simple and nasty. It’s a game which is very easy to pick up but still filled with bluffing, strategy and skill – who could really ask for more? The amount of fun you’ll get from it far outweighs its size – seriously, the box is tiny (and could well be even smaller). Just make sure you get a few card protectors sorted out, if only for the role cards – they get handled so much, it’s good to keep them safe and under plastic. Citadels is a great little filler game and well deserving of a place in your collection.

Citadels was designed by Bruno Faidutti  and published by (amongst many others) Fantasy Flight Games in 2000. It was also nominated for that year’s Spiel des Jahres.  Between two and eight people can play, with games taking around thirty minutes to an hour. This review is based on the third edition released by FFG, currently available online or in your friendly local game store!

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Going Underground – Diamant review

I was a little bit reticent about reviewing Diamant what with it not being in print any more. Of course, it has been redesigned and reissued by Funagain, Sunriver and most recently Gryphon Games under the guise of Incan Gold but for me the original is king. Originally released back in 2005, Diamant was the brainchild of two of the greats of game design in recent years; Alan R. Moon and Bruno Faidutti. Between them they have created classics like Ticket to Ride (previously reviewed right here on Little Metal Dog) and Citadels – Faidutti is also responsible for one of my all-time favourite games, the excellent Mission: Red Planet. Surely a collaboration between two of the better game designers of recent years would be a winner, yes?

Thankfully, yes, it is. While Diamant is a very simple game, it is extremely entertaining and a lot of fun to play. Between two and eight players are given a very simple task – collect more diamonds than your opponents. The game is split into five rounds, each one representing a visit to an underground cave. The players are explorers, venturing deep underground in a bid to become wealthy – however, the mine’s previous owners have very different ideas. Turns begin with a card being drawn and placed face up in the middle of the table. Numbered cards (between 1 and 17) are good – the diamonds (which are only plastic, but still look brilliant!) are divided between the players still in the round at the time, and any remainders are left on the card. After each card has been drawn and the loot shared out, players are given a choice – do they wish to continue further into the mine, or do they want to leave? Your selection is made with your Indiana Jones-esque meeple – secrete it in your hand and you leave (sharing any diamonds on the track with other escapees). If you do leave, all diamonds you collected in that round are placed into your treasure chest and you take no further action. An empty hand means you press on in search of further riches… but as mentioned above there are some little presents left behind.

Shuffled into the card deck are a series of hazards – three cards of five different types such as poison gas traps, giant scorpions and explosions. While those staying in the cave may well get a bigger share of the diamonds, they may also run into these hazards – and if a matching pair appear on the track, the round is over. Any players who didn’t run away leave the cave with nothing, having pushed their luck just a little too far this time. Thankfully, as the game consists of five rounds there’s always plenty of opportunity to catch up with others. As the game progresses, players who are lagging behind will find themselves taking more risks in the hope they’ll turn up that elusive 17  card (and keep it all to themselves!) – however, when there’s a plenty of dangers already on the track, the chances of the round coming to an abrupt end get higher and higher. And there lies the big draw of the game – how far do you press your luck? Do you keep pressing further and chance losing everything or leave early with a guaranteed (but invariably smaller) amount of gems?

If you found diamonds that large, you'd never work again.

Diamant is one of those games that – although it plays well with a few people – is definitely a case of the more the merrier. My copy is pretty much wrecked (surely the sign of a good game!) thanks to it getting thrown around and played a few times a week with the kids at school – they jeer at the early quitters, cheer on the brave and bold classmates who choose to keep going and yell madly when a second rockfall card comes out, ruining their chances of actually beating someone who played smart and left with a mere handful of prizes.

To summarise, I love Diamant, but please don’t think that Incan Gold is a poor replacement. It is, in fact, exactly the same premise – only the theme and pieces are different. There’s still the same element of pushing-your-luck while keeping an eye out on your opponents’ totals, but… well, Diamant is just so shiny. The jewels, the little Indy-meeples… everything comes together thematically to really enhance the game. If you really want to play it (and I really do recommend you do), go for a copy of the remake; however, if you’re patient I’d say check out the boardgamegeek marketplace or even hunt around on Amazon.de and get yourself a copy of the original and best.

Diamant was originally released in 2005 by Schmidt Spiele. It was designed by Alan R. Moon and Bruno Faidutti, can handle between two and eight players and is really quite splendid. Go find a copy now, seriously. Or, if you fancy it, grab Incan Gold. I don’t mind! They’re both ace!

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