Tag Archives: Indie Boards and Cards

The Force Behind The Power – Coup review

Coup COVER

It’s often been said that I am an idiot, it’s just that I don’t often admit it. After this year’s Essen, I came home with a stack of games that needed playing and so, dutifully, they’ve hit the table one by one. Sometimes the decision on what to play is made by seeing just what’s on top of the pile. Sometimes it’s triggered by reading a review or seeing a video and going “hey! I have that and really need to get a proper look at it!”. Sometimes the call is down to someone else looking through the stacks and picking something they like. And sometimes a game will sit on my table for days, weeks perhaps, just wanting to be played and getting bumped out by another title.

Coup, I am really really sorry. Sorry that you got bumped by game after game of Machi Koro. Sorry that you were ignored. But mainly I’m sorry that I didn’t crack the box open earlier, because it’s a bloody winner.

Regular readers will know that I am a fan of games where bluff and lies are at the forefront of play and Coup‘s simple mechanisms are powered by just that. Originally released by La Mame Games back at Essen 2012 with a kind of renaissance vibe, Travis over at Indie Boards and Cards picked up the licence and inserted it into The Resistance universe (a move that has brought in a fair few complaints, but I reckon it works fine – after all, it’s about the game, not the art, surely?). A Kickstarter campaign in early 2013 brought in $166,000 and the game is now hitting tables around the world on a regular basis as players lie, and lie, and lie again in a bid to be the most influential person at the table.

The game itself is pure simplicity. Five different roles are represented in a deck of fifteen cards – so, three cards each – and players receive two of these cards at the start of a round. These tell you the characters in the Royal Court that you currently hold sway over, but you do not reveal them unless entirely necessary. Think of them as your lives in the game, where if both get flipped over, you’re out for the rest of that round. Players also get a couple of coins at the beginning of the round, and the game is built around the idea of getting more income in order to perform a coup – in other words, forcing someone else to reveal one of their cards, losing them a valuable life and perhaps even kicking them out of the game.

plam plam plam

The six characters upon whom you’ll exert your influence! Click to make massive and check out the detailed art.

When play comes around to you, an action must be chosen. General actions are available – take a single coin from the pot, take two at the risk of being stopped, or spend seven to perform a coup, more of which on that subject shortly. The five different characters in the deck also have their own powerful abilities and you can choose to trigger one of them, regardless of whether you actually have one of their cards in front of you or not. Of course, doing this has its’ risks. You may say you have a Duke in front of you, allowing you to collect a hefty three coins from the central pool… but what if someone else has a Duke card face down before them? Or even two? The likelihood of you having one is much reduced, and it’s here where the fun starts. You see, if you don’t believe someone has the necessary influence card in front of them, you can call them out on it.

These challenges are brilliant but dangerous. The active player now has the choice to either back down and let play pass to the next person, essentially admitting that they have lied, or they can push on with their claim. If they choose to continue and they flip the card that shows that they do have the necessary influence at court, the action goes ahead, the card is shuffled into the deck and replaced with a new one. The challenger is punished, forced to reveal a card of their choice permanently, losing a life and bringing shame upon themselves – reflected in the fact that they now only have one face down card and their influence is much reduced after such a baseless accusation. On the opposite side, what if the challenge is right? The active player must admit their wrongdoing and the boot is on the other foot. Their lies have shown them up and a card is revealed in front of them instead! Thankfully, it’s entirely possible to win with a single face down card… it’s just an awful lot harder.

Some of the cards grant the ability to cancel actions – the Contessa, for example, will stop the powerful Assassin from killing someone. What’s even more entertaining is that you don’t even have to be the person being affected. Alliances are fragile and ever changing in Coup. One minute you can step in, saving someone from revealing a card, the next you can become the aggressor and utterly screw them over. It’s all down to bluff and making opponents believe that you’re holding certain cards. What you actually have in front of you doesn’t really matter that much… well, until someone else calls you on it. When that happens, it’s all about who blinks first. A coup action, however, is unstoppable – those seven coins are spent and immediately half your influence is gone. Such are the whims of this future society.

An alternative character, the Inquisitor, is also included in the box. Replacing the Ambassador (who has the ability to switch cards out for new ones from the deck), the Inquisitor does the same but more; they may also examine other players’ cards and even force them to exchange. It’s an extremely aggressive action to take, and one that will surely single you out as dangerous, but that’s all part of the fun.

Coup is not a game for the timid. It is best, in fact, when a bunch of forceful personalities are around the table, folks who are not adverse to a bit of trash talk and rubbing each other up the wrong way. Once you leave the table all is good in the world again, but that time spent playing the game gives you licence to be the meanest, most dishonest, cut-throat bastard around. In fact, I can’t think of anything I’d like to play more over the holiday season; it fits into the traditional Fox family Christmas of fights and arguments like a hand in glove. I just wish I’d started playing it earlier… I have so much to catch up on!

Designed by Rikki Tahta for La Mame Games, Coup is now available through Indie Boards and Cards. Between two and six can play, though I’d recommend three or more – the two player rules are a little different and offer a slightly weaker experience in my opinion. Games take anywhere from five minutes and upwards and I’d suggest playing the first to three rounds – with such a quick play time, Coup certainly has that “one more go” feeling down to a tee. Should you want a copy, Gameslore will see you sorted for a mere £11 – a bargain price for such an impressive little game. Chuck it in your bag with Love Letter and you’ll never be disappointed!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

I Am The God Of Hellfire… And I Bring You – Flash Point: Fire Rescue review

Time for a guest reviewer to stick their two pence in! Luke Hector has taken a look at Flash Point: Fire Rescue  to see whether it’s hot stuff or a damp squib… (apologies for the terrible pun…)

Anybody who knows me at a games club will testify that I am a big fan of co-op games. I love the atmosphere that is built up from a group of gamers working together to a common goal with the game as your adversary. One aspect that defines a good co-op game for me is the theme. A team game with no theme is just dull and boring – you’re almost willing to just hit the team suicide button and let the game win just to end the misery. You also have to be careful with an issue that cause some co-ops to get a bit of stick from non-gamers thanks to the Alpha Gamer syndrome where one person takes the leader role a bit too far and starts to dictate everything that the other players should be doing. It’s not fun and doesn’t embrace the element of co-operation between people.

My salvation, helping me to avoid both of these issues, came in the form of Indie Boards & Cards’ Flash Point: Fire Rescue. I unfortunately missed out on the last Kickstarter and didn’t get the special fire meeples and expansions for this game, but with a new expansion on the way you can expect to see everything reprinted in late 2013. Flash Point is a co-operative game for 1-6 players in which you take one of many roles in a squad of firemen and seek to rescue seven survivors from a burning house. The players must work together to keep the raging fire under control whilst locating the survivors and escorting them out of the building.

Characters have a set number of action points which are used to perform a range of actions. Moving yourself / escorting a survivor and extinguishing fire and smoke are the most regularly used, but you can also choose to open doors, chop through walls and even operate vehicles. Point of Interest (POI) tokens are scattered on the board for the firemen to investigate, all of which are face down to begin with. They can only be flipped by reaching them or using a specialist role, but often what you think could be a survivor ends up being a false reading.

At the end of every player turn, a dice roll applied to a grid system dictates how the flames spread as well as where potential survivors might be located, and the team wins by escorting those seven (out of the ten available) survivors out of the building. However should four survivors die from the fire, the players immediately lose. In addition to this, if all 24 damage cubes (used to represent broken walls that have been blown away by explosions or chopped down by firemen) are placed on the board, the house collapses killing everyone inside. And guess what? Yes, you all lose.

Possibly the best feature of this game is just how much it oozes theme when you squeeze the box. Fighting fires and rescuing people is what they make movies about and some kids dream of being a fireman and playing with the siren far too much! Story wise, the game writes itself. The brave firemen rush in and beat back the fire risking their lives to rescue helpless victims… (and pets because apparently they carry equal weighting to humans in this game). The fire is random which adds to the mounting tension and creates a “push your luck” aspect to the game whereby you don’t know whether to leave that room full of smoke in the hope it doesn’t ignite into flame or whether to take a shortcut and hack your way through the walls – even if it speeds up the collapse of the building.

The mechanics in the game make sense and feel right to how the theme is implemented. I’m not a fireman (obviously) so maybe there could be some creative license being involved, but the designer obviously did his research. The game is also very intuitive allowing for people to pick up the rules very quickly and make their own decisions, minimising the risk of an Alpha Gamer seizing control. In the Experienced game (a Family variant is included for outright beginners) players can choose from a plentiful selection of roles which vary the amount of action points  available and provide a unique special ability which either allows a special action or grants bonus actions for specific tasks such as putting out fires. All of these roles are very useful and again, thematic, though in the UK I don’t see many imaging technicians (who can scan POI’s to check for survivors) in attendance!

The only minor nit-pick on the theme is the vehicles. Players can command the fire engine to attempt to extinguish fires on a larger scale and the ambulance represents the point where the players have to escort the survivors to. However the building is one large detached property and you have to drive the vehicles around it to reach other areas or victims, which to me seemed a bit weird. I mean, who designed this property anyway? It must be like a mansion or something! You could argue, however, that in real life victims aren’t expected to make their own way to the emergency services, the ambulance comes to them – they don’t park two streets away!

The game is all about tactical thinking because as the fire spreads randomly from turn to turn. Explosions can devastate parts of the house, turning smoky rooms into raging infernos. Each turn sees players having to assess how much time they want to devote to rescuing victims against how much should be spent putting out fires. Everything might be fine on one turn but it only takes one hazardous material to explode at the wrong time for fires and damage cubes to spawn in quantity!

When comparing strategy to tactics, I prefer a game that revolves around the latter as it forces you to think on the fly and make quick decisions. When combined with the theme in this game, the tension is constant and you can’t let your guard down. Beating the game is very rewarding as you pull that last victim to safety. Components are of high quality and are very colourful with pleasant artwork on the board and the role cards. A fully laid out board always draws a passing eye and helps to add to the theme and immersion of the game. The game can be wrapped up in less than an hour easily and there is very little downtime as the game plays out at a fast pace with a lot of player interaction.

You can tell I like this game and I cannot wait for Indie Boards and Cards to reprint the expansions later this year so I can get my fire gloves on them. The base game already has good replay value due to the double sided board (depicting two different house setups), plentiful roles and varying difficulty levels. The expansions add in multiple storeys, additional hazards and more roles/locations to boost it even further. Some people have criticised the randomness of the fire hoping for a more predictable way of implementing it in an almost puzzle style, but I honestly don’t favour that at all. A real life fire is random. You can’t predict the spread or speed of a blazing inferno; this is why firemen are at huge risk in these situations. The randomness adds to the tension and fits with the theme perfectly.

Components are of high quality and are very colourful with pleasant artwork on the board and the role cards. A fully laid out board always draws a passing eye and helps to add to the theme and immersion of the game. If you like co-operative games I highly recommend giving this one a try for all levels of players.

Flash Point: Fire Rescue was designed by Kevin Lansing and was originally published through Indie Boards and Cards back in 2011. Between one and six players can get involved, with games taking around 45 minutes to an hour. Copies can be picked up for around £25 from Gameslore. Thanks to Luke for the write up!

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Episode 48 – Essen 2012, Day Three

Welcome to Day Three of The Little Metal Dog Show’s coverage of the Essen 2012 Fair. It’s another long one, clocking in at just under 100 minutes of interviews straight from the show floor with some of the biggest movers and shakers in the industry as well as newcomers aplenty. In this episode I get to talk to the following luminaries…

Seth from Mayday Games – http://maydaygames.com/

Editions du Matagot’s very own Fabien – http://www.matagot.com/

Doug Garrett of Garrett’s Games and Geekiness – http://www.garrettsgames.com/

Todd Rowland from AEG – http://www.alderac.com

Kuznia Gier’s Piotr – http://www.kuzniagier.pl/english.html

Thomas from Repos Production – http://rprod.com/index.php?page=news

Feuerland’s Frank only had a few minutes – http://www.feuerland-spiele.de/

Travis from Indie Boards and Cards – http://www.indieboardsandcards.com/

Days of Wonder’s Adrien – http://www.daysofwonder.com/en/

Revision Games’ Juha talked Iron Sky and Arctic Union – http://www.revision-games.com/

Sander and Tim from Sandtimer Games – http://www.sandtimer.be/home.html

If you want a direct download of the episode, it’s here – http://littlemetaldog.podbean.com/mf/web/wtt9dp/LMD_Episode48.mp3

Leave a comment

Filed under Podcast

I’m With Stupid – Gauntlet of Fools review

You know, it must be a bit weird being Donald X. Vaccarino. The guy’s first published game was the stuff that designers can only dream of: basically starting an entirely new genre, winning the Spiel des Jahres and having one of the most successful games of all time under his belt. However, while Dominion is still massive, it casts something of a shadow over pretty much everything else he’s put out since. I can’t help but think something like Nefarious would’ve been more successful if it’d been by someone else, you know?

His latest release, this time from Indie Boards and Cards, is called Gauntlet of Fools. Again, while it’s nothing groundbreaking it’s certainly disposable fun, especially when you have a larger group sitting around your table. Gameplay is split into two separate sections and can be best described as quick and dirty, with players vying for the best hero in the first instance, then sending them to their doom against a never ending series of monsters in a dungeon. The characters will die, that’s assured, but whichever of them has the most gold at the end of the game is the winner.

A hero laden with a bunch of boasts. Taking on a dungeon full of monsters while juggling with one hand behind their back, AND without breakfast? This’ll go well…

The first part of the game is the bit I find the most entertaining. A combination of Class and Weapon cards are put out on the table, one for each player, and what follows can only be described as an anti-auction. You take a character you like the look of and may add ‘boasts’ to it if you wish. These boasts will knock down your hero’s abilities; stuff like Not Having Breakfast will mean you begin the round with a wound, while others will see you throwing less combat dice or having a lowered defence stat. You’re allowed to steal a character from another player, but in that case you must add a boast. Once every player has a character before them, it’s time to move onto part two of the game – adventuring!

This part is basically a dicefest. An encounter card is drawn, most of which are monsters that you will face. Players attack simultaneously, rolling the amount of dice shown on their weapon card. If this total is equal to or higher than the monster’s defence stat, it’s ‘beaten’ and you collect your gold as a reward; fail to beat the number and… well, nothing happens, really. The monster then fights back – or in other words, you compare its attack stat to your defence and possibly lose a wound. Get to four wounds and you’re out of the game (maybe – there are certain cards that may extend your life). And it’s here where it kind of falls down a bit.

Well, this one will be fun… It’s certainly possible with five dice but it’ll be a tall order.

The first section where you’re all clamouring to get the character you want is great gaming – lots of interaction between players, plenty of stitching up other people when you try and work out which one they’re really after then loading them up with negatives… then realising they didn’t actually want it after all and you’re stuck with utter crap. That bit’s fun! Then the adventuring bit begins and everything turns solitaire; it’s still entertaining enough as you’re chucking loads of dice around, but there’s not really that much meat to this second section of the game. Sure, there’s a bit of decision in there where you need to decide when it’s the optimal time to use your ability tokens that you start with, but really there’s not much else to do.

Gauntlet of Fools might feel a bit schizophrenic, but it’s perfect filler material. Doesn’t require much in the way of thought, plays quickly, good for up to six people… but I can’t help but feel that it’s not going to do as well as it could. I’m sure that many will pick it up on the strength of Vaccarino’s name alone but then they’ll realise that it’s essentially a piece of disposable fluff. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but there are plenty of folks already whining over on BGG that it’s not what they expected.

Go into it dreaming of the huge amount of possibilities you get from a decent Dominion collection and you’ll be sorely disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a game that will pass a short while between heavier efforts, Gauntlet of Fools will see you right.

Gauntlet of Fools by Donald X. Vaccarino is available now through Indie Boards and Cards. Between two and six can play, and games will take half an hour at the very most. If you fancy your own copy, get in touch with the folks at Gameslore and they’ll do their best to order one up for you!

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Episode 31 – Essen 2011; Day One

Blimey. Having never been to Essen before, I really had no idea what to expect. I knew it’d be busy, but I didn’t realise quite how busy! I wandered, I played, I chatted away and recorded more interviews than I knew what to do with… so here’s the first of four Essen specials, one for each day! Download directly from here or grab it from iTunes – and why not leave a wee review?

Spiel is the biggest games show in the world with over 100,000 people walking through the doors over the four day event. It’s truly a gaming extravaganza, and even though I was there for the whole thing I honestly reckon I missed loads. Whether it’s board games, card games, RPGs, Live Action Role Play, whatever… Essen is the place to be. Roll on next October and the 2012 event!

This episode has interviews with the following lovely people:

Travis Worthington, head of Indie Boards and Card Games, the makers of Flash Point: Fire Rescue, The Resistance and more – http://www.indieboardsandcards.com/

Kevin Lanzing, designer of Flash Point: Fire Rescue 

Lorenzo Silva, co-designer of Cranio Creations’ Dungeon Fighter – http://www.craniocreations.com/IndexENG.html

Gil d’Orey from Portuguese publisher MESAboardgames, designer of Vintage – http://www.mesaboardgames.pt/

Justin Gary from Gary Games, the fine people behind Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer and the new expansion, Storm of Souls – http://www.ascensiongame.com/

Nate Hayden, creator of Cave Evil – http://www.cave-evil.com/

Michel Baudoin from Wacky Works, designer of Space Mazehttp://wackyworks.nl/

I’m joined throughout the four Essen episodes by the mighty Paco from GMS Magazine. Go listen to his podcast and read his fine site! http://www.gmsmagazine.com/

The episode is sponsored by Eagle Games’ new Kickstarter project Pizza Theory – check them out over at http://www.eaglegames.net

 

Download the episode straight from here – http://littlemetaldog.podbean.com/mf/web/agvpy2/LMD_Episode31.mp3 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Podcast