Tag Archives: dexterity

Wicked Little Town – Rampage review

Rampage COVER

During my childhood – as has often been mentioned here on the site and the show – I played a lot of video games. Still do, in fact, during those down times when there isn’t a pile of cardboard sat on the table. It’s interesting when these worlds collide, as generally it can lead to some pretty decent results – see the range released by MB in the eighties based on classics like Pac-Man, Zaxxon and the criminally underrated Turbo, for example. Now, many years on, we have a new addition to the stable as Repos Production presents Rampage. While not officially based on the Bally Midway arcade original of the same name, the premise is certainly very similar – giant monsters are destroying the city! The twist though? You’re the one doing the smashing and crashing.

Yup, in Rampage you get to stamp, crush and generally wreak havoc on Meeple City, dashing all the buildings within to the ground and eating the tasty inhabitants within. There are also vehicles to hurl, powers to trigger and a surprising amount of decision making to get involved in. Designed by Antoine Bauza and Ludovic Maublanc, this is a very different creation to games that they’ve previously been responsible for but what is life without mixing things up a little? Why shouldn’t the guys who created titles like 7 Wonders and Cyclades go off the deep end and create a dexterity game with massive kaiju? Thankfully the world allows for such madness, because Rampage is a bloody hilarious experience that also happens to be a great game too.

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Behold beautiful Meeple City! Stunning beaches! Breathtaking vistas! Giant flesh-eating monsters at every turn!

 

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that setting up the game takes a little time. You’re creating buildings that are dotted about the board by stacking meeples upon thick card ‘floors’, repeating until each one has three floors aside from the massive central stadium that is only one storey high. Everywhere you see a little meeple icon, randomly place one on that spot to ensure that the buildings are stable – for now, at least – then choose your monster’s starting corner. Players are then given three cards, one each from three different stacks that give you a characteristic and power (which everyone can see) as well as a secret super power. This is a one off boost that, once revealed, must be discarded. Once those are sorted out, it’s time to commence destruction.

Each player has their own monster lizard – no giant gorilla or werewolf in this game, sadly – that comprise of two wooden bits, the Paws and the Body. You get the chance to perform two actions per turn from a range of four, of which moving is the most basic – just put your body to the side and flick the disc that represents your paws to where you want it to go. I’d suggest a few practice flicks before beginning the game properly so you get your eye in as that disc is pretty solid, but with practice you’ll be hurtling about Meeple City in no time. If you’re in the same colour coded neighbourhood as one of the game’s four wooden vehicles, you can pick it up and throw it at a building (which is done by balancing the wooden piece on your monster’s body and flicking it) – this, with some decent aim, can be a very destructive action, so is a pretty strong choice. For even more ruination, you can pick up your body and drop it on a building as long as your paws are touching the sidewalk that surrounds it.

Finally – and most stupidly – you can unleash your monstrous breath. Literally. This is the most mental part of the game, where you must place your chin on your monster’s head, breath in and bloooooooow. Of course, being hunched over means that you can’t get a lot of air in your lungs, but it’s hilarious when you set yourself up to unleash hell on the city and end up with a pathetic gentle breeze that barely moves a meeple. Not that that’s happened to me at all. Oh no. Or my mate Ben.

Once your actions are done, any meeples that are in your neighbourhood are eaten, up to a maximum of the amount of teeth you currently have. Yes, teeth are important, and the amount you have are shown on your player board. You’ll always have a minimum of two, but your starting six can be lost by getting into fights with the other monsters or being responsible for meeples escaping. If any of them tumble out of their buildings and off the board, they’re deemed runaways and placed on a special side board. At certain times – every three or four, generally – something bad will happen to the monster who let the final meeple escape and complete a set. It’s not exactly a fair way of dealing with fleeing meeples as one player could get hit with every single punishment, but it’s certainly funny when that happens…

There are actually six different meeple colours in Rampage, and points are only given at the end of the game for each set of six that you manage to collect, thus emphasising the importance of a balanced diet. Each rainbow set brings in ten points, while any that are left over are worthless. Floors that are collected through the game give you a point each, regardless of size, and are grabbed any time you’re responsible for clearing one off. Bonus points may also be gained from your cards and – surprise! – whoever has the most at the end of the game is the bestest monster. The game ends when either the last floor has been eaten or the runaways board is filled, but either way you’re looking at a playtime of between thirty minutes to an hour.

Things are... well, not going to great in Meeple City.

Things are… well, not going to great in Meeple City.

Rampage is raucous, silly, wonderful fun. Sure, the decision making is limited, but there’s enough in there to silence the critics who have decried it as dumb. Do you attempt to slam into an opponent and hopefully limit their meeple munching abilities later in the game or try and sidle up to a nearby building and prepare to drop onto it from a great height? Planning for that balanced diet can be a tricky too, so moving around the board as you seek precisely what you require is a challenge in itself. Of course, the main issue is that of your dexterity – if you’re unable to flick that Paws disc of yours efficiently, you’re pretty much going to be screwed when it comes to Rampage, but I’d urge you to practice. Dismissing this as a stupid party game because you’ve not got the skills or patience to get good at it is a ridiculous notion – devote a bit of time to it and you’ll see that this is a (not so) little gem.

On that subject, there’s been plenty of comment on BGG about the price being too high for what can be boiled down to a simple game. However, you look in the box and tell me that you can’t see where all the money goes. More wood than you can shake a stick at. Gloriously thick tiles that are designed to take plenty of damage. Individual art for each card. As always, Repos have excelled in their production quality and it’s fantastic to see the company taking a chance on something that’s very different to their normal releases. Yes, it’s far from the most serious and deep game in the world, but it’s such bloody fun! And after everything is done, isn’t that why we play games? For the fun and enjoyment? Put aside any qualms you may have and give Rampage a go – the kid inside you will be delighted.

Rampage was released through Repos Production and was designed by Ludovic Maublanc and Antoine Bauza. Released at Essen 2013, between two and four players can get in on the destruction of Meeple City (though I reckon that more is better – plenty of opportunity for smashing other monsters up). Copies are a bit hard to find at the minute, but expect to pay around £40 when it’s easier to get. Let the destruction begin!

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Cover Me – Maximum Throwdown review

MT Cover

The folks over at AEG are certainly working on putting out a load of games recently, with a seeming push to get a few of their smaller titles onto people’s tables going down rather well. Of the latest bunch, Maximum Throwdown (by Pixel Lincoln designer Jason Tagmire) attempts to strike a balance between a tiny box and a lot of gameplay. Consider it a dexterity game with the chance to really screw over your opponents – as long as you happen to be able to chuck a card with some degree of accuracy. Without that skill that most of us invariably honed in childhood, you are going to be pretty much boned…

However, for the rest of us who spent their lunchtimes round the back of the cafeteria attempting to flick cards onto a target – it was a small school, not much to do – this is a quick and entertaining way to test your abilities. Taking elements from a whole series of AEG games, the box comes with decks representing the Thunderstone Demons, Smash Up Aliens, Nightfall Werewolves and more besides, making six decks of fifteen cards each. Once a player has picked a side, they are give a Starting Location card – all of these are then placed on a flat surface into whatever configuration you please, as long as the Locations are in close proximity to each other. Once that’s done, it’s time to start throwing stuff.

Each card has the image representing your selected side on one side and a bunch of circular icons on the other. Each turn sees you attempting to throw a single card at the ones sitting in the middle of everyone, hoping that your one will make contact with at least one other card. Should those icons land face up, on your next turn you’ll get to “activate” them as long as the icon is completely uncovered, allowing you to hopefully score some points as well as giving you a bunch of extra abilities. First of all, you’re looking for pips – each set of six will give you a single point. Then you get to be a bit aggressive, dependent on what’s showing…

Your various icons. Throw is top left, then Steal, Break, Attack and Draw in the bottom left. Any icon that is even marginally covered is declared useless!

Your various icons. Throw is top left, then Steal, Break, Attack and Draw in the bottom left. Any icon that is even marginally covered is declared useless!

This whole next phase is called ‘Attack and Steal’, where you check for sword or mask icons – again, they must be totally uncovered – and either force an opponent to discard something or take one of their cards which you’ll then get to throw yourself. Once those are done and dusted, you check whether you can possibly grab and throw extra cards, then play moves on to the next person. There’s also a final icon, the Break, which lets you keep one card that has missed in play; normally, anything that doesn’t make contact with another card has to be removed immediately and put on the out-of-play pile. These are pretty valuable, especially if you’re a little inept at the whole card throwing bit.

Really, that’s pretty much the whole game. Play continues until everyone has thrown their last card, then whoever has the highest points total is declared the winner. There’s no theme in here whatsoever – the images on the cards really only serve to make sure everyone knows who’s who – but despite the simplicity, this is a really entertaining and surprisingly challenging little game. Difficultly can be scaled by extending the distance between the throwers and the central target area; while it can be played on pretty much any sized table, the true challenge comes when you’re all in separate corners of a room and are desperately attempting to cover up the current leader’s highest scoring icons. It’s definitely one that’s more suited to a light, party-gaming atmosphere than your average ‘serious’ game night, but that is in no way a bad thing.

The only minor negative is that there’s no way of keeping track of your score straight out of the box. It’s not exactly a high scoring affair, so a few tokens could probably have sufficed, but for those of you with an iOS device handy there is actually an official Maximum Throwdown Scoring App on the store that’ll set you back… well, nothing. It keeps track of all points totals and even tells you who is currently leading – perfect when you’re trying to work out who to target.

Maximum Throwdown is far from complex but is certainly a very enjoyable experience, and one that is improved with more people getting involved. Managing to score yourself a couple of points while ruining things for the other competitors is really rather satisfying, and with a good group who don’t take things too seriously, I could see this one coming out again and again.

Maximum Throwdown was designed by Jason Tagmire and released through AEG in 2013. Between two and six players can get involved in the fray, with games taking thirty minutes at the very most. Pick up a copy yourself for £14 from the team at Gameslore!

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Sprocket Games announces their brand new release: FrogFlip by Jason Kotarski!

So, time for a little announcement!

As many of you know, The Little Metal Dog Show recently set up a spin-off games publishing company called Sprocket Games. Just over a month ago we successfully crowdfunded our first release, Fox & Chicken, the production of which is now coming along very nicely. We’re aiming to get copies of the game into the hands of our backers within the next few weeks, which many people have found surprising – however, we prefer to use local companies here in the UK which means we can turn production around on a much quicker basis than if we’d used facilities abroad. Anyway, safe to say, things are going well.

What we’d like to announce today is our prospective second release, a brilliantly silly dexterity game from the designer of The Great Heartland Hauling Company, Jason Kotarski and his awesome little girl Claire! FrogFlip is an easy to learn, quick to play game that fits perfectly into the Sprocket Games ethos of producing games that are fun for all. The aim of the game is simple – flip your Frog counter from the side of table in a bid to hit the right lilypad as determined by the scorecards. Touch the correct lilypad and you score the points shown, but manage to land on it and you’ll score double! FrogFlip takes seconds to set up and minutes to play, is totally portable and you can Flip your Frogs pretty much anywhere! Whether you’re at the restaurant waiting for your dessert (no bonus points for landing in the wine) or looking for something to pass the time at your game group, FrogFlip is the perfect filler no matter what you like.

Jason previously made FrogFlip available through The Game Crafter, but Sprocket Games plans to turn the new edition into something truly special. From laser-etched wooden discs to entirely new art throughout (as well as the potential for some VERY limited edition sets in some interesting materials…), FrogFlip promises to be the greatest little game you’ve ever played.

Here’s a little video by Jason where he talks about how the game came to be and – of course – how it works. We loved the game so much here at Sprocket Games that we wanted to make it even better, so we’ll be launching a Kickstarter in July to produce it and turn it into something awesome.

FrogFlip is ostensibly a two player game but can easily be expanded to four. Games generally take less than fifteen minutes and pretty much anyone can play – if you can flick a coin, you can Flip a Frog! This little game by Jason and Claire is sure to delight and entertain, so for more information on when we’re launching, please follow @SprocketGames and @JasonKotarski on Twitter. If you’re a reviewer and would like to check out a copy of the game before the campaign, get in touch with us via email: michael@littlemetaldog.com.

We’re really excited to be working alongside Jason (and Claire!) to get their game into the hands and onto the tables of as many people we can. We hope you’ll come along for the ride too!

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Animal Magic – Tier auf Tier review

TierCOVER

I honestly don’t think that I’ve ever properly grown up. Sure, I’m a lot bigger than I was when I was seven, but in my head – like many of you, I imagine – I’m still a kid. I believe that if you’re into games, especially as an adult, you have to retain some element of childishness – after all whenever we sit around a table, we’re playing, and to play is something inherently childlike.

Now, while I’m a fan of many different types of games, from cube-pushing Euros to the plastic minis of many an Ameritrash release, sometimes you need a palate cleanser, something simple and fun that doesn’t require a lot of thought. Dexterity games are great for this – beyond a steady hand and nerves of steel, most of the time you’ll be golden. However, the great dexterity games are few and far between; I can think of Bausack and Villa Paletti, and there’s always Jenga of course…

As so often happens, we must look to Germany to find something that fits the bill, but this time our attention should go to the kids game experts HABA and their bright yellow boxes filled with fun. While Tier auf Tier (known in English as Animal Upon Animal) may be aimed at the smallest of players, it is the perfect package for anyone seeking a challenging dexterity game no matter what their age.

Each player (up to four) is given a selection of brightly coloured, chunky wooden animals at the start of the game. A single piece, the crocodile, is placed in the middle of the table where everyone can get to it, the first player is handed a lovely big red dice and we’re ready to go…

That is one crazy stack of animals.

That is one crazy stack of animals.

Turns are quick and packed with pressure, particularly later on in the game. The die is rolled and, depending on the result, an animal will be added to the stack in the middle in some way. Should one or two dots appear on the die, the instruction is simple: add that number of animals from your selection to the pile, heaping them on top of the crocodile. The Speech Bubble sees your opponents deciding which of your remaining animals you’ll get to add to the menagerie while the Hand lets you pass one over to another player. Rolling the Crocodile means you have to slide any animal so it remains of the table so it touches either end, extending the area for everyone to play on top of.

To win you must simply be the first to get rid of all of your animals but – of course – it’s never that simple. Your turn doesn’t end until the next player actually picks up the dice, and should your actions result in any animals tumbling you’ll need to add two of them (your choice) to your stockpile, the rest going back to the box. This makes getting rid of the lot a bit more difficult but far from impossible, and as games will generally last only a few minutes even a disastrous series of events are quickly forgotten.

HABA games are renowned for their fantastic construction and Tier auf Tier is no exception. The animal pieces are massive, cute things, solidly crafted and made to last for years. As you’ve read, the rules are simple and anyone can play and yes, you’ll invariably have a very different experience depending on how old you are, but whether you regard it as a pleasant little time-waster or a challenging first step into the world of gaming, it deserves a place in your games pile. Grant yourself the chance to really play – you won’t regret it.

Tier auf Tier is a HABA production that was originally released back in 2005. Since then, another seven games have been released in the series, all of which can be mixed and matched (aside from the Card Game which is a different kettle of fish altogether). Designed by Klaus Miltenberger, between two and four can play with games taking ten to fifteen minutes at most.

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Chain Reaction – Geistesblitz review

I don’t mind admitting it. I’m getting old. My reactions are growing duller by the day. Where a few years ago I could happily rack up a decent killstreak on Halo, now I’m lucky if I can remember where I put the 360 controller. This is probably the reason I play more boardgames than ever… well, that and the fact I grow tired of wunderkinder sniping me from halfway across the map… Anyway, I digress. As always.

Retreating to my table is always entertaining and even though I’m slower than I used to be, I still have the speed to play something like Geistesblitz. Yes, it’s a game for children but if you worry about that kind of thing go and read some other review. Real Men Play Kids Games. I should put that on a shirt.

Anyway, it’s a game of quick reaction… but not too quick, for that could screw you over. The teeny boxy comes with a stack of cards and five wooden items – a grey mouse, a red chair, a green bottle, a blue book and a deranged looking white ghost. These get put in the middle of the play area within reach of all the players, who are then also given an even(ish) share of the cards. Then the fun (and often the cursing) begins.

The loveliest, chunkiest bits in the world

One by one, the cards are flipped over. Each one depicts a scene involving two or more of the items on the table – kind of. For example, the grey mouse may be holding a blue bottle, which means that each player must immediately go to grab the mouse. Basically, anything that is depicted correctly on a card is a target. Grab that item first and you’ll take the card, scoring a point while it remains in front of you.

Something else that may happen is that nothing on the revealed card is correct. Take the mouse and bottle combination again. If the mouse is blue and it’s carrying a red bottle, you need to grab the item that isn’t represented; in this case, it’s the white ghost. Anyone who grabs an incorrect item must give up one of their precious scoring cards to the player who took the right one, which is basically the game rubbing your nose in the fact that you’re an idiot.

OK. As the card on the left has the White Ghost, you’d need to grab that. The card on the right would need you to go for the Green Bottle. See?

Confused? You will be, but only for a few minutes. It just takes a couple of turns to get your brain into the correct mindset to play this uproarious little game. You can pretty much guarantee that at least one person will declare Geistesblitz stupid, but eventually everyone warms to it as they slowly get exactly what’s expected of them. Games take no time at all and can be played with anything from two to… well, I’ve played with ten, but it got violent pretty quickly.

Production is of a high quality; the cardstock is nice and thick, the cartoony images throughout bright and appealing, but the most charming part of the game are those amazing chunky wooden bits. Whether you’re a kid or a grown up, you get a spectacularly satisfying feeling when you have one of them in your hand; even more so when it’s the right one and everyone else has to hand over their own hard earned cards.

It’s not a hard game by any stretch of the imagination, but by god it’s a laugh. Just be sure that everyone you’re playing with has clipped their fingernails – there’s not much worse than going for a piece and having a chunk of flesh gouged out of the back of your hand by someone else. Geistesblitz should probably come with a health warning of some kind, but that just wouldn’t be fun, would it?

Geistesblitz was originally released in 2010 and designed by Jacques Zeimet. Produced by many companies, my copy is by Zoch Verlag and can be picked up for around £10. Games take only a few minutes and can easily accommodate between 2 and 10 players, though I reckon it’s best with five of six. Anything more than that and blood will be spilt. 

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