Monday, November 24, 2014

Push Your Luck Podcast Episode 47: Rage quit! RAWWWWRRRRR !

Eric and Jon discuss why people rage quit and games that may cause rage quit.

They also briefly talk about their gaming sessions of:
La Isla
Bruges: The City on the Zwin
How Many?

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The latest episode can be found here

Thanks for listening!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Push Your Luck Podcast Episode 46: Recent cool games we have played!

Jonathan and I give our impressions on some of the games we have played recently.

You can listen to the podcast here

Games covered are:
dead of winter
five tribes
mysterium (tajemnicze domostwo)

After recording note:
I have since made my own copy of Khmer and played a lot of times with my class mates and they all loved it. Its such a simple, elegant yet holds incredible depth. A game with as much calculation as there is mind games in play.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Of Tragedies and Lords

Over the past 2 weeks I had a chance to play Tragedy Looper and Lords of Xidit. Both are games that I have heard a lot about and after reading the rules I really wanted to try. I was kind of apprehensive about Tragedy Looper initially because I was not too sure it was a game that I will enjoy but Lords of Xidit I was very excited about because it seems right up my alley!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Zombie Story

During a Game Design class, my professor Eric Zimmerman showed us a narrative story book style game that he designed some years ago. What you have is a fixed Cover and Last page and a deck of 52 cards which contain short sentences. You shuffle the 52 cards and draw 5 and put them between the Cover and Last page and that is it. You read it from Cover to the Last page and that is your story. His design was called Life in the Garden which is about Adam, Eve and the snake.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

FLIP 9 - an interesting and simple solo game

I think I came across the game when I was researching the games that will be released at Essen 2014. I was looking for games that can be played solo as these games will probably be possible to cross platform and become digital games. I had just learnt Phaser in school and thus wanted to try my hand at digitalizing a tabletop game so I decided to work on Flip 9.

Flip 9 is a solo micro card game where only 9 cards are required. At the start, the cards are randomly shuffled and placed in a straight line. By means of swapping 2 cards, you are expected to reorder the line from 1-9 again. The swapping mechanism is quite clever because after you have selected 2 cards, your next card will have been selected and you only need to select 1 card from there onwards. How the card is selected is depending on the 2 cards that are being swapped.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Push Your Luck Podcast Episode 45: Top 5 Kickstarter games

Jonathan and I talk about our Top 5 kickstarter games. We may not have backed a lot but we managed to play quite a few kickstarter games and here is the list that made us thankful there is kickstarter. Though if we discussed about kickstarter games that disappointed us... that list will be much longer ;p

Direct link here  http://s3.amazonaws.com/PushUrLuckPodcast/PYLP+Ep+45.mp3


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Council and Contracts: We build this city...

I can't remember where I read about Councils and Contracts but I do love a good city building game and other than Suburbia and The Capitals, I have not yet found another good city game. I managed to get a review copy from the publisher and brought it out for a few games with my new school mates.

Councils and Contracts is a game published by  Mücke Spiele in 2013 and is the first game by designer Kalle Malmioja. In it, players vie for the resources from the different councils so that they can get and construct buildings which will give them points and additional actions. When the game ends, there will be some final scorings and whoever has the most points will win the game.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week of gaming from 14 Sept to 19 Sept: Lucca and Impulse

Our school organises Play test nights every thursday. This is the night where we can get our games/prototypes play tested and get some valuable feedback. This is also a time where we can try our fellow students' works and meet designers not from our school. Mostly we are using it to test our game design assignments and I will usually follow it up with a boardgame or two. Good thing about lockers, I can shift some of my boardgames over to the school and have a ready supply PLUS free up space at home ;p

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Imperial Settlers - Solo Play & Second Impressions

Well, I mentioned in my initial impressions post for Imperial Settlers that I would be having a second crack at the game over the weekend, and I did! Not only did I managed to get my second game in, I also managed to get in 2 solo plays on a very dull Sunday night. I'll start with the very short 2nd impressions and then on to the solo impressions.

For my second play, I headed the Roman Empire instead and seeing it was a 3 player game, I purposely left out the Japanese faction. To get the scores out of the way, the end points were 57/55/47. I came in second to the barbarian faction (2 wins out of 2). The Egyptians were dead last again (2 last out of 2). Am I implying anything? No. Just info for those who would like to know. 

Anyway, I much rather enjoyed my second play of the game. Not because I was actually competitive this time round, but this time I got to see some synergies in the game as I actually managed to get some decent production buildings from the get go. This really helped to provide resources that allowed me to manage a somewhat decent engine and to let me actually plan what I wanted to do instead of just doing what I could do with what I had (or didn't have - which is what my first game felt like). 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Push Your Luck Podcast Episode #44 : First Transatlantic Episode!

Eric is now in New York and Jon STILL is in Singapore! This is their first episode where they are SO FARRRRR Apart.

Eric and Jon do apologise for the long delay in releasing this episode because Eric had to get settled down and start school. Hopefully the schedules will become regular again. In this episode, Eric and Jon talk about 3 games each that they had played recently. Eric talks about Subdivision, Quantum and Nika while Jon talks about Imperial Settlers, Run Fight or Die and Too Many Cinderellas.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Initial Impressions - Imperial Settlers

Over the past weekend, I managed to get 2 Gen Con releases played - Imperial Settlers & Run, Fight, or Die. Both were rather hot releases I would say. Well, at least the hype for them were relatively high throughout the Con. I only managed to get 1 play in for each as we had other games we wanted to play as well. So this is really just a very brief look at the first of the two and me telling you my early thoughts from my playthrough.

The one I was more excited to get to the table was Imperial Settlers. It's the newest game by Ignacy Trzewiczek and Portal Games.
Imperial Settlers is a civilization and engine building game. There are 4 factions out of the box and each faction has its own unique deck of cards and play style. The game plays over 5 rounds, after which, the player with the most victory points is the winner of the game.
Each round is played as such,
1) Lookout Phase - Acquire 3 new cards
2) Production Phase - Produce your faction's fixed resources + resources from your buildings
3) Action Phase - Play cards / Activate Cards / Execute Actions
4) Cleanup Phase - Discard all unused resources

Sunday, August 31, 2014

29 August : A little bit of mingling, playing and lotsa cake...

Woot! The last day of welcome week for us and it was a gathering of the entire school of Game Center and where we introduced ourselves briefly and then mingled and even got to play some games! I am pretty sure I am one of the oldest ones in my cohort but luckily someone nicely mentioned that I did not look old and even looked 26! :P Well it pays to be always young at heart AND mingling with younger people lol... 

It was quite interesting seeing how different our backgrounds are. We have english majors who have never coded before and we have people who are very well versed in the various game development engines and have done a lot. It will be pretty exciting to see what our collaborations will produce. I also got to play 2 games which had been produced by our seniors.

First up is Guts of Glory which was kickstarted in 2012 and I believe, self published. Guts of Glory is a 2-4 player game where players are creatures trying to stuff their mouths with items, chew and swallow them for Glory points. First player to reach 7 will win the game. There are 2 types of cards, Condiments which usually do not provide any glory cards but give special actions, and Food items which usually comes with glory points. Both cards will also have a chew factor which indicates how many chew tokens needs to be placed on them before they can be swallowed and their effects/points activated/scored. During your turn, you have to take a card from the 3 face up cards that are on the "plate" and then place it into your mouth which is your player board. Your mouth can hold 3 condiments and 2 food cards. Then you are to take 2 chew tokens and place them onto the cards in your mouth. If any of them are "chewed" then you activate the action or score the points.
very interesting art but the score track weirdly reminds me of the behind..
The artwork is quite interesting as it has a very artsy somewhat whimsical feel to it. I commented that the score track looks somewhat like an exploding anus but it seems I was the first to think that way. Go figure ;p Gameplay wise it was pretty straight forward to play. The interaction between players seems to come in when you activate cards to steal their food OR forcefully feed them cards. IF they cannot keep the card in their mouths, then they will trigger a SPEW effect which will add +1 glory to the card being spewed and they pass it to the next player. If you can create a chain effect, then you can potentially score up to 3 points with 1 SPEW.

I did not finish a full game though because the other players were drawn to play One Night Ultimate Werewolf with the Chair of my school. Still this game is in our Game Center Library so I will definitely get a chance to finish up a game and post my thoughts about it. Perhaps I can even make a review video if I get the chance.

Next up is Nika which was also recently kickstarted and published by Eagle games. It is a 2-4 player abstract style game that plays from 30 minutes to an hour. It is a team play game so players sitting opposite each other will be part of the same team. The objective is to try to get one of your pieces into your team member's camp. To do that, players have to "walk" or move their pieces from their own camps pass an enemy's camp into your team member's camp.

here we go! Very nice art and board...
During your turn, you have up to 2 actions. Essentially you can do 3 things. You can move a piece OR a Phalanx, rotate a piece or a Phalanx and return a routed piece to your camp. Each player will have 6 discs with an arrow on them. The direction the arrow points will be the direction that army unit is facing. This is important because where you are NOT facing, that unit will be vulnerable to being routed by your opponents' pieces. To route a piece, all you need to do is move your piece into an opponent's piece that is not facing you at that time.

so much routed pieces I have!
To move a piece, you just need to move them along the squares that make up the paths on the board. The direction they will end up facing depends on how they moved. You can also not move and just rotate a piece. This is usually done to protect or threaten to engage an opponent's piece. The interesting part of the game lies in moving as a Phalanx.

Sparta is holding off my phalanx!
A Phalanx is formed when your pieces are adjacent to each other AND facing the same direction. Then you can move that entire group as a Phalanx OR rotate it. The reason for forming Phalanxes is that you will be using less actions to move many pieces. In addition, you can force enemy pieces to retreat because you have more pieces in your phalanx.
door is open for my partner to come in and for us to win!
The art is very clean and minimalistic and had good comments from those watching us play. It is a very abstract game in that thematically, the ability to have Phalanxes is the only thing tying this greek historical boardgame together. That being said, there is quite a clever game here. As a 4 player game, we had to somewhat decide on a path and tactically shift our pieces to both threaten our opponents and allow us to shift a piece to win. Halfway through the game, we thought we were in a bad position mainly because I had so many pieces routed and my side of the board was largely empty. My team mate had one of his side being held off by the opponent to his right. In the end, we both focused on our opponent to my right and manage to route his units enough to let one of my team mate's piece slip through. They did try to stop us but the interesting thing about routed pieces is, is that it allows them to start from your base and thus form a sort of protective corridor for your team mate's piece. I must say though that this game will be quite prone to Analysis Paralysis. Its quite a tactical game because while you may have a strategic plan, a lot of things may have happened before it comes back to your turn again. I guess after several plays you can get a game in under 30 minutes but the way we played it certainly did not seem that way. Take note that this is my first play so I cannot really give a good review of it yet but it was tense for a while as I was wracking my brain thinking of what I can do to help our cause. There are many opportunities for us to stall the game though and many chances for stalemates so that maybe a problem. If you have a chance, do give it a go and let me know what you think!

Oh one thing to note, I previously mentioned how One Night Ultimate Werewolf wasn't the game for me and my group. Well the students played several rounds of this and I realised 2 very important points. One, that yes it DOES require the RIGHT group to fully immerse themselves into the game and bring out the beauty of the game. Second, it is an amazing game to spectate. Similar to Esports and Poker, just watching the players play, lie, scheme is entertaining enough and allows the audience to be somewhat involved in the game! Especially when we saw how one player managed to confuse 3 others and cajole them into voting someone else out as he was the werewolf is like watching an exciting action packed movie. Better than a movie though because you cannot tell what the ending is until the voting.

So as some of you know, I just celebrated my 38th birthday last friday! :D I had a nice ramen meal with Wifey before heading to my school for the intro and welcome reception where everyone sang a birthday song for me and another student. When I got home I had a nice cake waiting for me baked by my Wifey.
birthday ramen! :P
At 38, embarking on a new chapter of my life, knowing I will be 40 when I graduate, can be a very daunting and scary prospect. But really, if there's something worth pursuing and something you are passionate about, why wait until you are way too old and too entrenched in your comfort zone before regretting? I am glad for this wonderful opportunity to be one of two Singaporeans to be selected to be in this program and am excited to see what I will create out of my two years here in the Game Center. It will be a lot of hard work, I will need to restart my somewhat rusty engine again to read, study and program but I am pretty sure there will be amazing outcomes from it. 

Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

23 August : Lots of building going around...

Yay! I have finally moved to New York City and have mostly recovered from the jet lag. My iMac and Huskie also survived the trip and when a Singaporean friend currently working in NYC wanted to get together, we played some boardgames!

First up is Subdivision, a review copy from Bezier games. [Thanks Bezier games!]. I read through the rules and played a few Solo games to get a grasp of it so I was very excited to give this a go with 3 players. Rules explanation was kinda easy to go through but it definitely pays to run through one or two rounds so that all players get a good grip of it before playing it seriously.

Subdivision - 3 player. Surprisingly better than expected
It feels like a lot of games where you are handed some cards (in this case, tiles) and then choose the best one at that moment in time. In Subdivision's case, you react to the results of the die roll. You can pay $2 to ignore the die roll and place it anywhere. The main difference between this and subdivision is that the tile you place does not get activated. Its the tiles adjacent to the tile you just place that gets activated. The next difference is what you get when the tiles are activated. These benefits is what will determine your strategies and also where to place the tiles. Of course you maybe restricted by the tiles you get (as these are passed around), but ultimately there is enough flexibility that you won't feel too screwed.
After our game, we talked a little about it and we agreed that it was surprisingly more fun than what was expected (after rules explanation). I was quite worried about the randomness (from the die roll and tiles you get) making the whole game seems very ameritrashy but I am happy to report that it doesn't feel that bad. The whole feel does remind you of suburbia but by itself is actually a different game. I will play a few more games with Wifey before doing a video review! Watch out for it!

Next up 2 games of The Builders. Not much to add on this except the 2nd game, my friend managed to amass SO MUCH money that when she ended the game she was at 21 points (4 more from money). Wife and me could not catch up though wife was closer to 17 than I was.
1st game managed to win. 2nd game lost and winner had 21 points
I still think there is more to this game than I have seen so far. Perhaps its time for me to try other strategies to "test the mechanisms" of the game. I know that not having tools can be tougher when playing the game. Also getting the right workers at the beginning can be VERy advantageous. Wife and friend commented they felt like they were running sweat shops especially when all the workers are men. LOL :)

Final game is Russian Railroads! I am so glad I got a chance to teach my wife the game and see if she will like it. One very important point that my wife brought up to me afterwards was that the way I taught the game was too fast and not that friendly. I have to remember that I have to be more descriptive and patient when teaching. Sometimes I tend to forget that they are not part of the usual gaming group that I had back in Singapore so I go through the rules really fast without much context or theme.

Glad I managed to teach this to the wife! 
Wife really liked the game though so much so we played on Yucata afterwards in a 2 player game. Here's hoping for more games of this before the year ends :) One GREAT benefit of playing on Yucata is that it calculates the end of round scoring and even gives you a preview of how many points you will get from your moves. That is very helpful when calculating and for the mathematically challenged and helps you to find the most optimal move each turn. If you want to play against me, invite me "duckizz" to a game!

By now you may have figured out that I am in NEW YORK! Its been a smooth transition over even though we were quite worried about Comet since his flight was delayed and other than the transit at Frankfurt, he was pretty much stuck in the crate for almost 30 hours! But I think he is acclimatising well now and luckily has not peed everywhere in the apartment so his training is still holding strong.

So far I haven't met any other of my classmates (except my fellow Singaporean) so it will be exciting when orientation starts next week! I am SOOOO looking forward to it and I will blog about my experiences (if this sort of thing interests you!)

Our first walk!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Good Games, Good Party, Good Riddance

Hey all! I'm back! Took a long holiday (well, two medium length holidays back to back) and a nice break from all things gaming, except gaming. Haha. Meaning, took a break from blogging and podcasting. :P
We didn't release an episode on Sunday for those who are looking for it. Eric was busy preparing to leave our sunny island, and I was too much in a holiday mood to bother about anything except rest. Haha

Anyway, Eric has left. He's probably on the plane now as I write this. Goodbye Eric! It was nice knowing you. Haha. To celebrate this joyous occasion, a friend of ours opened his place to an all day and night of gaming - and it was awesome! Daebak! We gamed from 1pm to 3am. Started with a proper lunch but was literally eating out of our plates during dinner while playing games. Who has time for food when we have so much gaming to do!

Monday, August 18, 2014

16 Aug: So long so long and thanks for all the fish.....

2 more days to me flying off and this is my 2nd farewell with another group of friends whom I regularly game with. I was late because I had a gathering with my relatives as well and that ran a little too long. Anyway, when I arrived, there was a cake waiting for me! So awesome. After some picture taking we all got down to business again.... that is... playing BOARDGAMES! RAWR :P

Sunday, August 17, 2014

15 Aug : Something new, something old and thinking out of the box...

Saying goodbye is never easy so what better way to do so than playing games with my gaming groups? This particular gaming group, there are 5 of us and we have been gaming for at least 4 years now ever since I met 2 of them at a meetup playing K2 (where 1 of them remembered me not so fondly for always being a nuisance up the mountain) and then again at a cafe playing Cuba. I started to game regularly with them and often we will play till the whee hours of Saturday morning after we start from Friday evening.

This group is my Cult of the New group as most of us regularly buy new games and bring them to share with the others. That is also how I got addicted to always trying out new things and got my fix as well. It is quite astounding the amount of new games I get to play on a regular basis and for that I have to thank this group. Nowadays though, we seldom play until very late because, well, we don't really have that much stamina anymore plus saturday mornings are pretty much burnt out because of our all nighters. This session though, one of them could not make it due to family matters and after a very good piggy dinner, the 4 of us got down to gaming.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

One Zero One : Actual IT Programming in a game?

Not sure if everyone knows but I am in IT. I started working as a developer some 14 years ago and have moved on to being a Project Manager to Information Security Manager which, incidentally, I will leave this friday to pursue my Masters degree in Game Design! So when I received One Zero One for review, I was intrigued by the theme and was curious also just how much fun will a game based on the theme of Programming be and will it be too niche and audience to enjoy it?

Monday, August 11, 2014

9 August: Building ships and a coal empire!

2nd last weekend before my flight to New York to start a new chapter in my life! Very exciting as details of my class schedules, orientation and all that jazz starts to filter in and I start to plan my calendar for my first term! It is kinda nerve wrecking to get into school again especially at this age (ok I am not THAT old but old enough) and to re-learn programming but chatting with my fellow classmates and reading up on what my classes are is very exciting. I sure hope this experience will be as fun as I have it in my head :P

I have mentioned in my previous post and my latest youtube review that I really liked Kohle and Kolonie. So much so I was contemplating what strategies to try in my next game of K&K. So its little wonder that we manage to table it again when we had 5 players, 2 of which are new to the game. I decided to go with wagon strategy just to see how well it can be. Seeing how we all got creamed in our first game of K&K by a friend that did the wagon strategy, I was hoping to finally get a win here.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Shall we draw a snowman ?

If you are a regular reader/fan/viewer of our videos and posts, you will know by now that we are very fond of Oink games from Japan. They produce really good micro games of high quality and are great to look at. Its really an awesome load of fun in a very small package. Oink games latest release is actually a re-release of an older game but in an all new smaller package called "Fake Artist goes to New York". Seeing how I AM heading to New York, it seems fitting that I review this game.
What you get in the game. All those colors!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

6 August: Back to back heavy boardgaming goodness!

After playing Kohle & Kolonie (K&K) last weekend I was very excited to give it another go, trying out a different strategy I had in mind. Our friend also wanted to try Wildcatters so we decided to give 2 heavy games a go!

We were late in starting K&K as someone went to the wrong location and was late. Still we quickly started our 4 player game and since we all have played the last weekend. 

All the rounds of our game. I was the GREEN player
I started off with a strategy to build as many settlements as I can and use my miners to grab as many train tokens as I can and hopefully score some easy bonuses AND aim for the Yellow/Red railway bonus at the end. 2 of the players went ahead with the Wagon strategy, seeing how another friend grab so many points each round in the previous game. They both managed to flip the Pithead that granted wagon bonuses in the 1st round. RED player managed to grab early position with her mine and settlements which later on proved to be very good for her. Unlucky me was hampered with a mine disaster in the first round.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

3rd August: Much fun pimping and brain melting was done!

Our friend from USA is back with new games so that definitely warrants a gaming session. That and also I don't have many gaming sessions left with my friends in Singapore (only 2 more weekends left!) so definitely wanted to get as much gaming in as I can. It will probably be quite some time before I see them again! *sob*... :P

So many things to build but so little money... sigh
First up is City Council which plays 3-5 from Golden Egg games. I saw this on display at GENCON 2013 and it looked interesting but I was not too sold on it then and they were not running any demos I believe. Anyway, I managed to borrow a copy from a friend to try and we played a 3 player game of this. Essentially players are trying to manage a city together and ensure it does not get overly populated OR criminalized else everyone loses. At the same time, they are trying to gain points by fulfilling the needs of certain interest groups in the city. A player reaching 11 points will trigger the end of game and at the end of that round, whoever has the most points will win the game.

1st August Gaming session: Many races and an Abstract

We started late last friday and because so many of my games are sold, I don't have much heavy games to bring to the table. So this session, we had many light race-style games and 1 medium weight abstract.
First up is Madam Ching:

Hong Kong sure is attractive but may not be lucrative...
Jonathan had blogged about Madam Ching before and since this is relatively new to this gaming group, we brought it out for a go. I feel that Madam Ching is a race-style game because players are racing to grab as many expedition tiles before they run out, to score them OR players are trying to get as many points as they can and trigger end of game before the other players can do so. This time I went with the strategy to get as many action cards as I can because they provide a lot of interesting actions and options so I can disturb the other players and also potentially have good points in my hands. Unfortunately my 2 and 3 point cards got stolen and while I manage to grab 2 skill cards, I was not fast enough to trigger the game end. So far though I have not yet seen anyone get 4 different skill cards to trigger the game end in that manner. Might be an interesting challenge for me the next time.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Push Your Luck Podcast Episode 43: What we are expecting from GENCON 2014!

Jonathan and Eric what they are looking forward to from GENCON 2014 and why you should also look out for these games!

This could possibly be the last podcast before Eric leaves for New York so regular scheduling maybe paused for a while. Eric and Jon will resume recording as soon as possible! Provided Jonathan still wants to....

Podcast feed is here

Games covered:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dice, Hoo Haaa, what are they good for ?

1 of 5 games released this year by designer Andrei Novac, Praetor is a worker placement game where players use dice as workers to perform actions or activate different locations on the board. Workers/dice will eventually grow in experience thereby providing better benefits when retrieving resources but eventually they will retire and may only be reactivated again via special locations. Players can gain new workers by sending them to school in a 2 step process and at the end of a turn, players will need to pay income and pension, otherwise, they will suffer penalties in terms of morale. When the game end is triggered, the player with the most points will win the game.

Monday, July 28, 2014

ARggh ARggh Human, Have you any brain? Zombie HUNGRY!

Its the near future and while you are in a meeting with your cabinet, the television started reporting news flashes. Reports are now coming in of a strange outbreak and its not just an isolated incident. At least 1 outbreak of an unknown disease has been reported in each of the 5 major areas of the world. As live footage start to trickle in, you are greeted with scenes of chaos and people eating people and the dead rising afterwards. As the horror starts to set in you realise, this is it! This has been foretold in so many movies, books and TV shows. This is the Zombie apocalypse! Can you keep your population alive enough to overcome this scourge? Will you be the first to succumb to the unstoppable horde? Welcome to Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Push Your Luck Podcast Episode 42: Awards! Awards! So many awards!

Jonathan and I talk about some games they have played recently. Namely, Packet Row, Agora and Citrus.
We also discuss the recent announcements of the Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres winners and also the Dicetower Awards 2013 and what they thought about the winners.

The auction for my boardgames is over and I am now busy contacting the winners to arrange the logistics. I am very humbled and grateful for the support and well wishes shown from this auction and would like to thank EACH and EVERYONE of you that have bid on my items so generously. I have been touched and pleasantly surprised by the congratulatory words and best wishes when I met some of you. 

Thank you everyone and I hope I won't let you all down! :D

The link for the podcast can be found here http://s3.amazonaws.com/PushUrLuckPodcast/PYLP+Ep+42.mp3

As usual, do subscribe to us on iTunes and PLEASE rate and review us! This will help others find our podcast as well. Also do leave us feedback either on this post or via our guild on BGG. I am sure we cannot be so perfect such that there are no complaints so do talk to us, I promise we don't bite :P

Follow me on twitter @duckizz and also my youtube channel (search duckizz).

See you in 2 weeks!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like... Pimping - Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island

Well, this is the last of the custom inserts I got from Chris. Haven't made any new orders since then, although I am extremely tempted to get one done for Keyflower, Dungeon Petz, and Trajan. Haha. *Must control self...*

Anyway, its the last one for now, but the nicest one of the lot! This post does not only show the custom insert, but also a few other nice upgrades I got for some of the tokens in the game. Heh heh. Enjoy!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Longer, Bigger... Haha, oops.. Istanbul! Helios! Macao! Homesteaders!

Previously I had posted a session report on the small filler games we played at Eric's. This time this report is for all the heavy hitters we played instead, and all of them except for one were new to me. Did the heavy games turn out to be as mediocre as the lighter games we played? Well, you'll see.

The first game to hit the table was Istanbul. I was not expecting to play this game but a friend went out to borrow it from another friend so we could get it tabled. Istanbul is a nominee for the 2014 Kennerspiel Des Jahres award and is also my pick to be the winner ( although I made the pick without having played it yet. Haha ). Did it turn out to be as good as I thought it would be? Well, the answer is a resounding Yes!

The game is very colorful and eye-catching. A thumbs up from me.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Faster, Smaller, not necessarily Better

In what may have been my last weekend of games with Eric before he leaves, we played a whole bunch of games in the span of 12 hours. There were a lot of new games played and I'll try to cover most of them in 2 posts. This first post is for the bunch of smaller games we played; though they were small, did they pack a punch? Let's find out!

First up was a print and play that Eric made - Yardmaster Express. 
I had my eyes on Yardmaster when the game was up on Kickstarter, but in the end I had decided that I would wait for its release to see if it deserves the buzz it received during the campaign. 
I had completely brushed aside Yardmaster Express since I was waiting for Yardmaster. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Push Your Luck Podcast Episode 41: Our 2014 Spiel and Kennerspiel des Jahres predictions

Eric and Jonathan discuss the nominations and recommended list for this year's Spiel and Kennerspiel des Jahres awards and also predict who will win them!

As usual, to comment about our podcasts, leave us reviews and rate us on iTunes. Or join our guild on boardgamegeek for more information.

Also Eric's auction to sell his boardgames to raise funds for his tuition will have 1 final day tomorrow!
If you have not bid, what are you waiting for ? Check it out here

For direct link to our episode, click here

Friday, July 4, 2014

Nations - Building a house of cards, one card at a time

I've only managed to play Nations once previously and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. My first game was with 5 players and took us 3 plus hours. But during which I was very engrossed and taken by the game and it most certainly did not feel like 3 hours. Well, I managed to get another game of it in, and this time it was also with 5 players! Was it another 3 hours? YES. Hahaha

Now, if you know me, Nations is the type of game that I don't normally enjoy. It takes too long, has too many flowing phases/parts in the game, and it requires players of similar "levels" to fully enjoy a competitive experience. So I guess it was quite a shock to Eric and the others when I suggested we play Nations with 5 right after dinner - it was already 8 close to 9pm by then.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Russian Industry, Robinson Traits, and Life

I thought I would just do a short write up on my Friday night session of Russian Railroads, Robinson Crusoe, and That's Life! ( with a bit of advertising )

I must say, it's been a long while since I last played Russian Railroads. Which is surprising to me since it doesn't even take that long to play! Haha. Well, I decided to go with the double industry strategy this time round. So that's how my whole game went really. A one track mind focus on the industry and a little bit of Kiev on the side when the opportunity presented itself.

Early on in the game - Round 1

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like... Pimping - Russian Railroads

Ah, Russian Railroads... Eric's ( surprisingly ) favorite game.
What else could be better than to have an insert he would be insanely envious of? Hahaha. But no, that was not why I got an insert for the game, I got it cos Chris had already designed one; I saw it, I loved it, and I had to order one from him. Ha
His design for the insert is AMAZING. I shall let the pictures speak for themselves.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Manliness, Sailing, Racing, Outfoxing, Tiring... Eric's Back!

Well, as you all know, Eric is back... Ho hum. Haha
And in typical gamer fashion, what other welcome would be more appropriate than a gaming Saturday!
It's been awhile so we had something like a 12 hours session (with only a break for dinner)
Much was played so let's not waste time on formalities!

Dungeon of Mandom
Everyone else was late - that's how much they missed Eric, haha - so we got in a 2 player game of Dungeon of Mandom. It's been awhile since I played Mandom, much of my filler time has gone to Donburiko. I've never played it 2 player before and I must say it works perfectly fine with 2. It's a simple you or me to the death and bluffing is much more evident with 2. I came out on top with back to back successes in the dungeon. He who dares wins!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Horse Fever /hɔːs/ˈfiːvə/ noun: a disease that causes someone to suddenly shout names of colors with much vigor and excitement

Ah Horse Fever, it's been awhile since "Come on Red!" I last took you off the "Red!" shelf. Those were the "Blue Blue Blue!" days, hanging with my pals and "Just roll Yellow damn it!" having a jolly good time of Horse "Sprint White Sprint!" racing and wild bets. Not many games can "Green for the win baby!" make 3 grown men stand and shout with such "Bla Bla Bla Bla Black!!" ferocity and much joy at the movement of clay pieces "Wooooo Blue baby yeah!" down a cardboard stretch.

Well, my friends were reminiscing about it during previous game sessions, and I was feeling it, so I took it out again, and man, what a reception. Haha. The last game that brought about so much emotions in them would have to be Robinson Crusoe. But this time, we weren't feeling like working our way off or around an island, we wanted to get our hands dirty in some old school - fixable and rig-able - horse racing.
So off to the races we went!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Push Your Luck Podcast Episode 40: Top 7 Spiel Des Jahres winners

As the announcement of the winner for the 2014 Spiel Des Jahres awards is coming soon, Jonathan and Eric discuss and list their Top 7 previous Spiel Des Jahres winners over the years.

Eric is also currently liquidating his board game collection to fund his graduate studies in Game Design at NYU! If you can, please bid generously and help him out. For list of items he is auctioning off and details about his studies, visit

Push Your Luck Podcast is a STUPENDOUS member of The DiceTower Network. Do check out other amazing podcasts in the network.

We are also proudly sponsored by Hobbygamesmart. Do visit the website for all your board gaming needs and let them know Push Your Luck sent you!

We WANT you to rate and comment about us on iTunes so we can improve and bring you WHAT you want to hear!

Direct link to the episode can be found here

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Trieste: 2 Session Impressions in 1

First Play - 31st May 2014 
Stealing > Arresting > Hoarding

I've been wanting to play Trieste for some time as I heard it is a very excellent 3 player game.
Well, one of my main groups is usually just the 3 of us, so this was a game that I bought as soon as I saw it available at one of the online game stores.
Trieste is an asymmetrical game where players take on the role of a faction with different abilities and victory conditions. The 3 factions involved are the thieves, the city guard, and the merchant.

Each round is played simultaneously whereby the players will select a card from their hand to play facedown. In fixed faction order, players reveal their card, pay for the cost, and then trigger the abilities of the card. It is during this phase that most of the action takes place. Each faction is unique because of their respective card decks; thus, during the reveal phase, each faction's cards will react based on what has been played by the other factions.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sails, Tales & Junks

I was supposed to have a nice long day of gaming on Saturday, but die to World Cup weekend, my friends overslept and came an hour late, and left early due to tiredness. Zzz. Weaklings. Haha
Anyway, I finally managed to get my hands on Sail to India recently thanks to AEG picking up the game, so I was much eager to give it a go after hearing many good reviews on it. 

Early on in the game

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Liquidating my boardgames.... oh the horror! I fear I may faint...

Hi Everyone,

I have decided to pursue my passion and will be starting my Masters program in Game Design at NYU this fall. 

Gaming is something that I love, and I have met and made so many friends ever since I began playing boardgames and started my podcast with my friend. I hope to be able to contribute back to the tabletop gaming hobby using the knowledge and network I will gain from my program.

Tuition and living expenses will unfortunately be quite challenging for my wife and me because our student lives will be overlapping for a bit until she finds employment. As such, to raise funds, I am auctioning off my collection of boardgames. Any help is much appreciated so if you, please bid generously on the items listed! If you want to contribute in some other way, do geek mail me.

My wife and I are very grateful for all your help!

Please go to the link here


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wildcatters: First impressions after 1 play

Wildcatters is something that I have never heard before until a friend brought it to a meetup and I signed up for it. I saw that it was a 2 hourish economic type of game and relatively new (Essen 2013) and decided to give it a go based on those information, hoping that it will be fun. In some ways it was and I am interested to try it again just to see if it will stick with me like Brass did.

Wildcatters is a medium-heavy economic game by first time designers where players are playing 1 of 4 oil companies trying to get enough oil and ship them strategically to different refineries, aiming to score majorities in regions, shares of each company held and money. There will be a minor scoring somewhere in 3/5 of the game as well as a major scoring at the end. Player with the most points will win the game.

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like... Pimping - In the Year of the Dragon

Carrying on with my craze for custom inserts is another one for an Alea game - In the Year of the Dragon.
The insert for Ityotd is identical to that of Castles of Burgundy, except that the top row of trays have exploded from 6 to 8! (or when divided, from 12 to 16!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Abluxxen : No I don't want your cards....

Eric Martin had been raving about Abluxxen for some time now and I was fortunate enough that even though it is in german, a few of the London gamers had already gotten a copy and I have played it a few times now.

Abluxxen, designed by the famous pair of Kiesling and Kramer who brought you other games like their recent release, Coal Baron, is a set collecting style card game for 2-5 players and can be played as fast as 25 minutes. I will not go into the rules of the games but go straight into my thoughts about the game.

Component wise it is just cards. You could feasibly combine 2 sets of poker decks and have your own version of Abluxxen. That said, the box is a whee bit too big for just cards.

Rules wise, this can be a little tricky to get into. Mostly because the flow of the game may not be intuitive. When I first learnt it, I had one or two rules wrongly taught. When I tried to teach it, there was a player who just did not get the game even though we played about 2 rounds and others were helping him. The key point to explain will be whatever you play, you will always need to look at what others have played; if someone has the same number of cards as you just played, then you need to look at the number on the card to see if they are impacted. But when you are explaining number of cards and number ON the cards, using "numbers" may become confusing for some.

Game length wise, it is usually about 30 minutes. People can start to overthink a bit but rarely does it stretch beyond 30 minutes. Some people do play a few times with the player being first to reach X points winning the game. I think if you set the goal of 40 points, that will translate to roughly 2-3 rounds.

Replayability is very high because of what other players will do and the strategy you want to use. Do you want to just finish up your hand as fast as you can so you can cause your opponents to get loads of negative points OR do you want to grab as many cards as you can to have a big score at the end of the round? The biggest so far I have seen is 29 points in 1 round which was quite amazing to us (prior to this usually we are scoring 15-20 points per round). Furthermore, this game gets better with experienced players as they start to remember what you have played and try to form sets to sabotage you or just to grab your cards for themselves.

I have already started to see standard strategies from my various plays. Usually the first few rounds, players will play a single "1" card in hopes that others will be forced to grab their card and they can grab nicer cards from the middle. Players sometimes also wait for a few same number cards to be played before playing a higher one to grab all of them to form a bigger set. For a simple card game, it is quite cool to watch all these strategies develop.

There are many games that often do not live up to the hype but Abluxxen for me did. It plays fast, is fun, can be quite thinky. I think it works best with 4 or 5 but I have not tried the 2 player variant. Only downside I can think of is the card that indicates who is the active player. More often than not people will forget to pass it along and it can be tedious to do so. Someone replaced it with a small cat figurine and I think that works best as its easy to grab off the table. Abluxxen will not appeal to everyone (indeed I have heard some people thinking its just average) but so far I have not met anyone that think it is a dud.  


Monday, June 9, 2014

Table for 2: Three Races & Blocking in the Desert

I managed to catch up with an old friend on Wednesday. His wife had just gone back for the holidays so that was the cue to break out in dance and games! We decided to have a 2 player session to open up his "months of freedom" so to speak. Haha. I know his wife doesn't read our blog, so there. Heh

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Push Your Luck Podcast Episode 39: Its June its June!

OMG where has the time flown! Its June and half a year has gone. Eric and Jon talk about a few games they have played. In other exciting news, Eric will be starting school at NYU in Fall this year. As part of his fund raising efforts, Eric will be selling most of his board game collection on boardgamegeek. More information will be available in the next episode! Follow him on twitter @duckizz to be updated as well.

Games we talk about - Tortuga, Port Royal, Traders of Carthage, Sanssouci, That’s Life and Dungeon Dice.

Direct link here

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Camel (C)Up - Watch out for Humps

Over the weekend, I managed to get in a play of Camel Cup! Or Camel Up! Seriously, the cover is so deceiving that it could be either. Who knows! I'm calling it Camel Up for this session report.
Anyway, I only bought Camel Up because it was nominated for the 2014 Spiel Des Jahres award. As of late I have found that the awards are spot on with what my lighter gamer group prefers. Hanabi, Dixit, Ticket to Ride have all gone well with them, so have Augustus, Splendor, Witch's Brew. So if Camel Up promises the same enjoyment for all of them, then I think it would have been a solid blind buy.

I decided to take this out with my medium weight group ( just the 3 of us ) since they are the first to come over since the game arrived at my doorstep.
I was slightly hesitant with my decision as they do prefer medium weight thematic games - with some thinky euros every one in awhile - and I also wasn't sure what to expect with 3 players Camel Up.
But well, it is new and it looks exciting and I will probably need to talk about it on the podcast! So it was a quick teaching session and off to the races we went!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Dragon's Hoard, Metropolys, Dungeon Dice, Star Realms, Haaaaaaaanaaaaaaaaabiiiiiii

Hanabi - 10 Skies A-blazing

It seems like I can never go more than 2 game sessions without playing Hanabi.
Not by choice I must say, more like, everybody else wants to play it. I've played it so often now that I am almost tired of it. Haha.
The only way I am playing Hanabi in the next few weeks is if:
1) It's with a new group that would lead to different team dynamics
2) You've never played it before and it could introduce you into the board gaming world
3) You are female, hot, have extremely lovely eyes that I can gaze into while I pretend to look at your cards

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like... Pimping - The Castles of Burgundy

Another day another new insert! Will the madness never cease?
Well, with my sudden fetish for custom inserts, there was no way I was not getting one done for my absolute all time favorite game right? That would be inconceivable! :P

Likewise the insert was made by the very talented Chris Whitpan.
It was designed by yours truly; and Chris did a fantastic job making it to every specification I listed.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Collin and Maginos rise to the occasion, and Pushing My Luck at Port Royal

My friend enjoyed Mice & Mystics so much that he requested for a session to carry on the story without our other friend who found it boring. My friend brought his brother along who he says will surely love the game. Well, I was hoping to jump in again to get the not so flavorful taste out of my mouth, so I couldn't say no!

Dear Collin, Maginos, do not fail me this time. Thanks

Friday, May 23, 2014

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like... Pimping - Suburbia

So one of the newer upgrades I have done to my games is a custom insert for Suburbia.
I'll probably shuffle between older and newer pimps since the older ones are pretty mediocre ( and I'm vastly excited about my new stuff !! )

Push Your Luck Podcast Episode 38: Special special guest!

Its a early release of Episode 38! Joining me is my special special guest, none other than my wife! :D Together we talk about some games we have played while in London.

Leave us comments and feedback. Subscribe to us on iTunes and leave us feedback and rate us! Join our guild on Boardgamegeek and stay tuned for exciting news in the next few episodes.

Games covered:
Eldritch Horror
Battle for Souls
Le Fantome de l'Opera

Direct link here

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Story Building, Deck Building, Engine Building Saturday

Story Building - Mice and Mystics

I FINALLY got Mice and Mystics to the table. Oh bless my soul !
It took almost 3 months but I did it ! And it felt... Ok.
To lay it out there, I'm not a RPG game kind of guy. I didn't play Dungeons & Dragons when I was little and so these read and adventure and read style of game is new to me.

We played it 3 players, and only the first chapter so far. I took control of Maginos and Colin, while my 2 friends took Tilda and Nez. The first chapter took use almost 2 hours plus the story reading and some rules management. That's a long time people. Phew.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like... Pimping - Horse Fever

As of late, I've been busy "pimping" / customizing my games since I've been in quite a downer of a mood. Prettying my games have always made me feel good. :)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Push Your Luck Podcast Episode 37: Another Hidden Gem!

Eric and Jonathan talk about some games they have played recently and talk about another hidden gem in their collections which people should try if they had not.

Games talked about - Um Reifenbreite, Mad City, Card City, Legendary Paint the Town Red, Heroscape, Milestones and Ristorante Italia.

Take a listen here:


as usual, leave us comments here, follow me on twitter @duckizz and join our guild on Boardgamegeek!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cooking in Italia, Ninja-ing Bluffing Building in Japano

After some time, I finally managed to gather the same group of players whom I introduced Castles of Burgundy to previously (when I got comprehensively destroyed).
I was wondering if they had what it takes to "level up" so to speak, or if the lengthy break from games had washed away all that was build up so far.

Well, I started off with a game whose theme I taught would work well with them - Ristorante Italia.
I hadn't played this game for 2 years already! How time has flown by.
In Ristorante Italia, each player is a chef/owner of a particular restaurant, and through the course of 4 seasons, players are trying to build their restaurant up to earn prestige and also to compile the best menu for the year end cooking competition.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Of Marvel and Mancala

Something mystical always happens when I plan to play Mice & Mystics, and that is that something will always screw up!   #%$@#
Well, my Saturday game session for 3 got wilted down to a 2 player session. So back to the shelf the mice went. :(

We settled for a 2 player game of Trajan instead.
Its been a terribly long time since I last played Trajan. It's in my top ten games of all time and I wonder why I don't play it more often. I think its just that there are too many new games that keep screaming for attention, so poor Trajan got lost in all the noise.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Push Your Luck Podcast Episode 36: Top 7 game components

Eric and Jonathan discuss their Top 7 game components from the games they have played. Not only are they functional they are also high quality and cool looking!

games covered:
Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game – Millennium Falcon Expansion Pack
Big City
Riff Raff
Château Roquefort
Ca$h 'n Gun$
Mord im Arosa
Dungeon Petz
In the Year of the Dragon

direct link here

for all this and more, head on to our website www.pushurluckpodcast.com

Friday, April 25, 2014

No Wines, Much War, Wow Indians !

Last Saturday was the first time in a long time that I met the group that normally gathers at Eric's place. We haven't seen each other much since Eric left. I wonder if it's my fault or if it's Eric's. I think it's his fault. He left, not me. Haha.

Well, we ( as in myself and the host ) had wanted to play Robinson Crusoe and Dungeon Petz, but somebody's boyfriend came over uninvited. :P Haha. Totally ruined our potential thematic experience ( we ended up with 5 players ). So we had to settle for a much lesser thematic fare.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Kickstarter Preview - Cops & Robbers

Designer: Kieran Billings
No. Of Players: 2-6
Kickstarter Link: Cops & Robbers Kickstarter
Funding Ends: 18th May 2014 

Copy on display is a prototype copy without finished art
Copy was provided by the designer free of charge, but this preview is not paid for in any way

Cops & Robbers is a family/party style push your luck game where players are robbers trying to steal the most cash in a stipulated amount of time or to steal a pre agreed amount of cash. The robber that is able to accomplish this is the winner of the game.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

One Night Ultimate Werewolf: Why can't I see what the others have seen?

So I am going to go against the grain here and say that One Night Ultimate Werewolf did not hit it out of the ballpark with me and my gaming group. I have heard and read a lot of reviewers and reviews and everyone seems to be raving about it but it just did not do it for me and my groups. This is really surprising because one of the groups which consists of my cousins really loved Resistance and Avalon and I had thought this will be a hit but alas, it was not meant to be.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf, published by Bezier Games, is a super condensed version of ultimate werewolf where players now have only 1 night, discuss and then have someone eliminated. Players then see who has won and that will be the end of that game. Quick, easy and touted as a micronized version of Ultimate Werewolf. It has a free iOS application where Eric Summerer voices the narrator and will instruct players when to close their eyes and all that, thus allowing all players to play.

So why did it not work for us?
For starters, I do feel that you need the right group to appreciate the game. A group that discusses, throws accusations around and lies like there's no tomorrow should like the game a lot. I feel this is similar to my experience with Coup. Some like it a lot, others just cannot take to it.

The roles are also new to me and my groups. I have not played Ultimate Werewolf yet so perhaps these roles already exist but they create a steep learning curve, especially some of the more advanced ones. I feel its because the nature of the character and their special actions need to be first made known to everyone and then that person who has gotten the character must remember what to do when he/she is being called. Some of the actions seem counter productive and leaves us wondering how to play it properly.

Surprisingly the win conditions was also slightly convoluted and I had to explain the rules several times before we gotten it correctly. Even I missed some rules (i.e. some roles' actions are optional) so surprisingly for a short simple game it can get more complicated than necessary.

So for our play, it was over pretty quickly and quietly because we did not discuss as much and I felt most of us randomly pointed at someone at the end. We tried playing it again but it still did not click with us and we moved on after that.

I am very grateful to Ted for this review copy and I will be willing to try it again with the right group just to make sure it is what I suspected, that there is definitely a game in there but needs the right people to make it happen.

Revisiting Old Friends - a Love Letter about Mapping the Coast of Japan In the Year of the Dragon

My plan to get Mice and Mystics to the table has hit a roadblock yet again.
The first time, a new friend was invited to my place, so I didn't want to start the adventure with a group that won't be consistent throughout the campaign.
This time, my friend forgot to tell me that he had to leave after only 3 hours. So that would mean our table of 3 would become just a 2 player affair. Immediately we roped in my friend's brother for reinforcement. Yet again another try and another failure. I wonder if I will ever get down to playing Mice and Mystics.....

Anyway, what we did play instead was a slew of games that I haven't touched for a long while. Well, excluding the obligatory plays of Hanabi which I shall no longer write in detail about; in case people start to think that that is the only game that is ever played at my place. Haha. We finished off 3 games without any great success. Nothing to shout about.

What was very exciting though was our 4 player game of Kaigan.
The last time I played Kaigan was more than 1 year ago. Geez. And to think I really love the game too. It used to be in my top ten list of games, but has since fallen off. But after playing it on Saturday, I am strongly considering putting it back on the list. Every time I play it I am constantly reminded how tense and tight the game is.

Kaigan is a game about mapping the coast of Japan. The theme is very weak if you ask me, nearly meaningless.
Anyway, it is played over 5 rounds, after which the player with the most points is the winner.
The main ways to score points are by completing map tiles and by advancing on various tracks on the main board. Completing map tiles offer you immediate points, and also allow you to immediately advance your position on 1 out of the 3 tracks (art, government, travel).

Its ugly I know, but the gameplay is amazing ! I swear !

The art and government tracks will score thrice in the game, whereas the travel track only scores points at the end of the game, but with much higher returns of course. More importantly, the art and government track will give you income at the end of each round, and money is VERY tight in Kaigan. So throughout the game, players are fighting for positions on all 3 tracks and also to complete the map tiles on the board.
The map tiles may be completed cooperatively by players, with each reaping the same points benefits, so there can be some "discussion" to help each other out. But as we all know, this also means that there are multiple ways to lock a person out. And that happens often in the game as sharing points isn't the optimal way to go unless you are the one who reaps with lesser effort.

All this sounds like a typical euro game, and it is. But the beauty of Kaigan comes in how the actions available to the players are fought over and selected.
Before players get to execute any actions that aid them to complete map tiles and gain advancement on the tracks, they have to jointly fill the action selection board with action cards from their hands. Each player has a similar set of cards in their hand, and on their turn, they must place one card from their hand onto the board. After which, the player may choose to claim a row or pass. Once the player has claimed a row, he/she is out of the round.

2 out of 4 rows have been claimed !

The board is a 5x4 board with spaces for action cards. Some spaces have fixed actions printed on the board. The 4 rows are completely used in a 4 player game but gets reduced accordingly based on the number of players.
Where and when the players place the action cards on the board is the whole gameplay experience in Kaigan. Each player does not own their action card. So if it is placed in a row that is claimed by another player, that player gets to execute the action instead. This leads to a game of chicken being played where players try to sabotage certain rows or to shoot out quickly and claim actions that will be desirable to execute their plans. Because the turn order of when the cards get executed are important, you can seriously mess with the other players by playing a less useful action in the front spaces of each row (the actions are carried out from top to bottom starting from the left column).
Timing is crucial in Kaigan, so being slow to a spot could cost you the points from the successfully mapped map tile.

Just a few examples of the actions on the players' cards
1) Advance on the art track
2) Advance on the government track
3) Collect money / Pay money for points / Pay money to advance on a track
4) Place your meeple(s) on a map tile
5) Place mapping marker(s) where your meeple is

The actions aren't very varied in terms of what you can do, but each card serves its purpose well and are vital at certain points in the game depending on what your plans are.

Our game took longer than I expected, a total of 2 hours. I was the only player who has played the game before so that certainly factored into the timing. But it certainly didn't feel like 2 hours. I was completely engaged throughout.
The remarkable thing about Kaigan is that the scores are usually very close, and this time was no different. First and last was separated by 8 points. But first and second was a difference of a mere 1 point (I came in second). Second and third a difference of 3 points. It could have been anyone of the top 3 to win, the last place player was certain he was out of the running by round 3. He did play poorly but he had 3 hours of sleep. So well, what can I say. I nearly edge out with the win had I claimed the 5 points for most money. But was thwarted by the last placed player who was shooting aggressively for it since there wasn't much else he could do. Still, a hell of a fun time and everyone agreed that it was a game they would certainly play again.

Next up was a 3 player In the Year of the Dragon.
A Feld oldie that I enjoyed quite a bit when I had played it previously.
It is a worker placement engine building game where players are trying to successfully survive the year of the dragon that opens up with 2 months/rounds of peace and follows that up with10 months/rounds of great perils. To stave off the perils, players will be trying to build up an army, harvest rice, research medicine, and store up money to pay tributes to the emperor. I will actually come out and say that the game has somewhat of a theme, which is a shocker for a Feld game. You are actually trying to achieve certain conditions to overcome the perils which are realistic and fits into the theme of what may happen in a year. Yes its not a great thematic connection but its definitely one of his more thematic games (which isn't really saying much). Haha

Anyway, each round proceeds with an action selection via worker placement where players may gain resources such as money, or rice, or to build fireworks. After which, each player has a chance to play a card to hire a worker into his/her palaces. These workers give each player benefits when they perform certain actions. This is the engine building portion of the game. If you hired say many "accountants", instead of getting 2 coins from the take money action, you may get 3 additional coins per accountant you have. And likewise for obtaining rice, the more farmers you have, the more rice you get.

Once the action is done and a new character is hired, the event for the month is executed. For whatever resources the players cannot surrender to fight the perils, they will lose a character from their palace. Points are then tabulated for the round; players score for having multiple palaces and some characters give outright points per round. That is the gist of how a round plays out. This happens twelve times and at the end of the game, players score 2 points per character still alive, and any end game bonuses to determine who is the best magistrate for the year of the dragon.

Overall, I very much enjoy my plays of the game. I love balancing out how to avoid the perils or to tank it and still carry on with my plans. Some characters are only useful for certain events and once it has passed, you may sacrifice them like sheep for your cause. Trying to survive every event is possible, but never a winning strategy.
I highlighted that from the start and 1 of my friends wanted to prove me wrong. But well, he finished dead last. Quite a bit back from the 2 of us. :P

Now, one (slight?) problem with the game.
There is an action that allows you to buy a privilege tile that scores you points at the end of every round. You can pay 2 dollars for the single privilege tile which gives one point per round (so max is 12 points), or you can pay 6 dollars for the double privilege tile which gives two points per round (so max is 24 points).
Before I purchased the game, I had heard about the double dragon play that breaks the game. This is when a player uses his/her first action to buy the double privilege. Apparently, that leads to automatic victory in the game (as long as you don't do anything foolish along the way). Now, that is 24 points, surely not game changing right? Winning scores are about the range of 85-100.

A 5 point win. End game palaces with my surviving characters (the extreme left palace should have been removed)

Well, I have played 3 games now where the first player bought the double privilege. None of them knew of this so-called break in the game as they have never even heard of the game before I took it out to introduce it to them. So it was just simple innocent plays on their part.
Results? 2 of the 3 games were won by that player.
The first was rather unfortunate as I was trying to beat the break but failed because I made a big boo boo in the game that set me back forever. I mistook paying 4 coins as needing 4 rice so I lost all my people for the remainder of the game. The first game was won by the double privilege player - she is what I would say a rather total newbie.
The second game I tried very hard again to beat the double privilege player again. He won nonetheless and I would say by about 10 points or so. He is probably best described as a middle level gamer. And he didn't make any mistakes during the game.
The third game occurred on Saturday. I finally managed to beat the double privilege player. I squeak a win by a mere 5 points. But, he is definitely a newbie. My friend's brother who has only played the likes of Citadels and Last Night on Earth.
I must mention, the first two times that I was trying to beat the double privilege, I did not buy any privilege tokens myself. This third time, I waited until the 7th round or so before I bought my own double privilege token. That was for 3 reasons. I didn't feel confident that I could overtake him without buying the token, I had much excess of money, and I waited till past the midway point of the game so that I would have been somewhat behind for a great portion of the game so as not to take away the advantage that the double privilege would have given the first player.

So, do I think that move breaks the game?
Well, a small yes. I think if each player is equal in their experience with the game, the double privilege at the start is a huge advantage. It can be disastrous if the tribute event is early in the game, then the player who buys the double privilege will be in some trouble as he/she will likely have no money left to overcome that tribute event. But otherwise, it is quite a handsome and easy 24 points that doesn't require any upkeep. Points in In the Year of the Dragon is hard to come by. You mostly find yourself having to work for it. And working for it means maintaining happiness and balance in your palace. But the double privilege gives you one quarter the points you need to win the game, and with no cost beyond the initial payment cost.
I still am eager to play the game again, especially now that I have bested it once. I am just starting to feel like I need to house rule it or to remove the privilege action and replace it with the expansion action which I have yet to play. I'll have a look on my next play what I deem best.

Pigs and Goats are secret best friends

From palaces to Castles....
I got them to play Castles with me, haha. Its my favorite game! What can I say? If they are willing, I am table-ing it. No question about it. :P
From my previous crushing experience with 3 newbies, I decided not to be cocky and put on my "I'm gonna crush you" hat.
This time, I decided to try a new strategy that involved no mines. I used an early knowledge tile to get money from exchanging a die for workers. This was to be my main source of income. And it worked ! I would have liked to have my regular source of steady income but the tile allowed me to be more flexible in my choices and I think it made a whole lot of difference. More than I had anticipated.
Well, crushed them I did. I think it was 242-200-189. They loved it though. That's a good sign for me to take it out again in the future. :)

To round up the day, we played 2 games of Love Letter.
For quite some time last year, this was the most played game in my house. Well, it has now been overtaken by Hanabi - quite significantly. Love Letter used to be 20-7 against Hanabi in terms of number of plays. And checking on it now, it is 28-50, in favor of Hanabi. Explosion indeed.

Anyway, my copy of Love Letter is a self made one. I had wanted to buy it but it was constantly sold out when it first released. I rethemed mine to the theme of the avengers (plus wolverine and spiderman). I thought I did a good job linking the abilities to their powers, making the game as thematic as possible. *self pat on the back* Haha

For some strange reason, plays of Love Letter in my house usually come down to the last and final game. Why is this strange light filler so "balanced"? Haha. It comes to the point when a game of it would take 20-30mins cos we play all the way to the final game. I'm not complaining but for a pretty random game, it never fails to amuse me how close we make the game feel. Anyway, the avengers theme is always a hit with everyone and I think it makes the game more fun than it normally is. Everytime we play it, people are shouting (literally) Spiderman! Black Widow! when using Wolverine for the kill. Hilarious.

A fantastic way to end the night and maybe (just maybe) the next time, I will have a Mice and Mystics report to post. Fingers crossed.