Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Shadows Over Camelot

Dark shadows; sinister scheming; and that dreadful feeling that something is horrible is going to happen...

Who is the traitor, if any, amongst us?


My last review to close out 2014, I end with this great game that promises tension, tough decisions and speculation.

Name: Shadows Over Camelot (2005)

Designers: Bruno Cathala and Serge Laget

Publisher: Days of Wonder

Awards: Many, including Spiel des Jahres winner (Special Award for Fantasy)

Players: 2 to 7

The expansion Merlin's Company provides for an 8th player.

Age: 10+

Time to play: 90 mins, possibly longer from experience

Price Range (AUD): $68 to well over $100+. I bought mine for $54 sometime mid-last year.

Availability: It's a popular title that should be stocked at your local hobby game store; however at the time of writing, apart from the major online retailers, its online availability isn't exactly what I would call widespread.

Genres
  • Traitor
  • Hidden identities or alliances/Mafia-style (though not exactly)/Social Deduction
  • Semi-cooperative
  • Fantasy
  • Cards

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

8.1 out of 10. (Great - See my Rating Scale)

This is a great semi-social deduction and cooperative game whose alleged 'complexity' and arguably 'mechanical' nature is easy to overcome once you get the hang of all the rules.

The main thrust and attraction to this game is the idea that someone amongst the group could be (but isn't necessarily) the traitor. If 7 players are playing for example, 8 loyalty cards are shuffled, 1 of which represents the traitor. Each player gets a loyalty card and therefore there remains the possibility that no one got the traitor card. Therefore there doesn't necessarily need to be a traitor. However, even without any traitor present in the game, the forces of Evil are strong enough to make the game difficult to win for the Good Knights. The most interesting games are at times those ones where the group to finds out that in actual fact no one was the traitor - because it makes everyone feel like a fool for not trusting everyone!!

This added dimension of there 'possibly being a traitor' amongst the group certainly increases the difficulty of the game by two-fold because it disrupts group unity: for example, it is not uncommon for questions to  be raised as to whether certain actions should be performed and, related to that question, whether a particular individual has a hidden agenda in advocating for those actions. Sometimes innocent mistakes are blamed and questioned. It is difficult therefore for the group to trust one another. In any event, to win the game, quests must be successfully and cooperatively completed. It is up to the traitor (if there is any) to cause chaos by throwing around false accusations (which could be the difference between the Knights winning and losing), deliberately wasting a turn or failing to complete certain quests. The timing of when to stab the Knights in the back is often critical to the success of the Evil team.

I like this game because it provides a nice variety in the social deduction genre in contrast to games like The Resistance: Avalon. The very idea that there might be a villain (and the uncertainty behind that daunting thought) makes the game what it is. The only downside to this game is that it may seem a little convoluted and mechanical at first but it isn't too bad once you get the hang of it! There is some degree of strategy for either Good or Bad players.


The Good:
  • That dreadful feeling that someone amongst your midst could be a villain makes for an exciting game where suspicions are aroused and no one can truly trust one another. This is a good social deduction game where eliminating suspects one by one is key to winning for the 'Good guys'. Often the traitor can't sit by and do nothing as their input can be the decisive factor between the Good guys losing and the Good guys winning.
  • Great Arthurian and Old English theme to the game. There is plenty of tension as Evil seems to be rampant and there is this feeling of hopelessness - which only serves to emphasise the important role of the Knights.
  • After all the rules are explained and players get the hang of it, gameplay isn't too difficult.
  • Wide variety of quests to do
  • Great graphics and artwork that adds to the atmosphere of the game.
  • Massive teamwork and cooperation required!! You can't finish quests without the help of others!!
  • Sometimes actions done in a 'strange manner' can often be interpreted the wrong way - which adds to the chaos and confusion of the game. Often innocent 'accidents' are thought of as suspicious and it is hard to clear that person's name once something like that happens. This is a fun aspect of the game, but perhaps not for all.

The Bad:
  • May seem overtly complicated at first, but it really isn't once you get the hang of it. The sheer abundance of quests available arguably contributes to this feeling.
  • Arguably, gameplay seems "mechanical" in nature: you do tend to feel constrained and limited by the quest's options, such as for example, merely placing 1 card down per turn. However that is probably the whole idea of the game - progress is slow unless you seek the help of others.
  • Usually very hard for the Knights to win (a good thing I think)
  • At first, it may seem like there is little strategy to being the traitor but there are a few subtle ways to improve Evil's chance of success.
  • Don't play this if you are easily offended or if your group gets easily offended by accusations.

What makes this game fun? 
If you want to see how your gaming group deals with the pressure, tension and fear that someone amongst you could be the villain, give this cooperative game a go.





- This concludes the basic overview of the game.
If you are interested in reading about the components & rules to the game, please read on -









Rules & Components (Photos courtesy of my mum, Joanne)


Set Up: Loyalty Cards


If there are X people playing, shuffle X+1 loyalty cards face down (Green side down).

Everyone gets 1 loyalty card. The loyalty card will specify if you are LOYAL or a TRAITOR.

Since there are only X people playing, there will be 1 loyalty card remaining which is put away, unseen. There is thus the possibility that everyone is loyal, which raises the question: do we even have a traitor amongst us?

Everyone also gets 1 Merlin Card and 5 White cards each.

All the boards should also be laid out face up. I haven't provided a picture showing what this looks like as it is too big but I will go through all of the boards individually under "Quests" below.

The Black and White deck of cards are laid out on the Camelot "home" board.


Coat of Arms

Everyone also gets a Coat of Arms, and a die and figurine (shown later - see Camelot heading) to match.


Everyone should set their life (on the die) to 4.

The Coat of Arms also provides a useful summary of what is involved and details your character's super power. King Arthur can exchange White cards with another player once per turn, for example.


Victory Conditions

The Knights (Good Guys) win if a majority of swords on the Round Table are White. Ie. 7 or more of the swords have to be White. White swords are rewarded when a quest is successfully completed.

The Good Guys lose (and the Traitor wins) if:

- 12 Siege Engines surround Camelot
- 7 or more Black Swords sit on the Round Table
- All Knights, not including the Traitor, are dead


Gameplay

When it is a player's turn they do one BAD/EVIL action first and then they do one GOOD action:

BAD or EVIL actions include:
  • Drawing a card from the Black Deck - this causes a random event to happen or it causes the forces of evil to progress over good in a certain quest.
  • Adding 1 Siege Engine to Camelot
  • Losing 1 Life Point

GOOD actions include:
  • MOVING to a new quest outside of Camelot (Yes, moving to any quest takes up an ENTIRE turn! The exception is if you are in Camelot, you can freely move between the Siege area and the Round Table at no cost)
  • Performing a quest's heroic action (If you are at Camelot this includes drawing 2 White cards)
  • Playing 1 Special White card
  • Discarding 3 identical cards to gain 1 Life Point
  • Accuse 1 Knight of being a traitor if there are 6 or more Siege Engines or 6 Swords on the Round Table [If the traitor is correctly unmasked, 1 White Sword is added to the table; If the wrong person is accused, 1 White Sword is flipped over to a Black Sword]

Quests

On each of these quests I explain what the quest's heroic action is and the general goal of the quest.

Note that the rewards of each quest are written on the corner of the relevant quest board.


Team Non-Combat Quests - where more than 1 player can join

Holy Grail: In this team quest, players must construct 7 Holy Grail cards in consecutive order. This is done by playing one Grail card at a time per turn [which is the Quest's heroic action]. Therefore it is important that players stock up on Grail cards before entering this quest.

However, certain Black cards (such as Dark Forest, which forbids any further Grail cards from being played until another quest is successfully completed, or Despair cards, which effectively require two Grail cards for each usual Grail card slot) can make the job harder.

The Holy Grail relic is that grey thing on the bottom left of the board - it's a bit small


Despair cards have to be removed first by a Grail card before the empty spot can be filled by another Grail card
The person to put the last Grail card wins the Holy Grail, which can heal a person who is about to die back to 4 life points.

Winning the Holy Grail quest results in 3 White Swords added to the Round Table, 7 cards to share around and +1 health to all players. Losing (where 7 Despair Cards are laid in a row) results in almost the exact opposite (3 Black Swords and -1 health to all).


Excalibur: On this team quest, the Quest's heroic action is discarding ANY one White card FACE-DOWN. This moves Excalibur one spot closer to the Green side.

The player who plays the last card that moves Excalibur to the Green side claims Excalibur which adds +1 to the outcome of any combat quest they are currently on.

When Excalibur is obtained 2 White Swords are added to the Round table; the players share 7 White cards and all get +1 Life.

The opposite is largely true if Excalibur goes to the 'Frozen' side [this happens if too many Black Excalibur cards are drawn].



Combat Quests and a Note on all Combat Quests

Before I talk about Solo Combat Quests here are some things that apply to ALL COMBAT QUESTS, regardless of whether they are Solo or Group ones:

Heroic Actions: Combat quests all have one thing in common: The heroic action for each quest is playing one battle card of a specified numerical value. 

Aim: The sum of all the cards must be > than the sum of all the Evil cards. Ties are resolved in favour of Evil!!

However each combat quest demands that different combinations of cards be played. For example Lancelot's quest asks for a Full House to be progressively constructed, one card at a time; whereas the Tournament against the Black Knight demands that Pairs be progressively constructed.

End: The quest ends when either all Evil or Good card slots are filled up.

"Face down" rule: For all combat quests (regardless of Solo or Group), a card can OPTIONALLY be played face down. This prevents your team mates from knowing what the numerical value of the card is and therefore arouses suspicion (because the traitor would likely, but not necessarily, play down a high Evil card and not reveal it to everyone). As a reward for doing so you get to draw an extra White card.

Ties: All ties are resolved in favour of the bad guys


Solo Combat Quests: Where only one player can do the quest

Note that, if for any reason and at any time a player leaves a solo quest, all cards played down are lost forever.

Lancelot's Quest: The solo hero plays one card at a time and attempts to create a full house whose collective sum is > than Lancelot's collective sum.


In the example above all the Good card slots have been filled up. Therefore the Quest has ended. The Black cards are revealed (if any of them were played face down).

Taking the Lancelot value only (ignore the Dragon value - the Lancelot quest turns into the Dragon quest when this is done). The sum of the Black Cards is 3 + 3 + 1 = 7

The sum of the White cards is (1x3) + (2x2) = 7.

There is a tie, so Evil wins!

The solo hero loses 1 life point and 1 Black sword is added to the table.

Winning Lancelot's quest grants the player Lancelot's armour which allows the owner to draw the top 2 Black cards and choose between the two.


Tournament against the Black Knight: More or less the same as in Lancelot's quest, except that Pairs need to be created by the Solo hero.


So in this above quest, it looks like the Black Knight is going to win quite easily, even before the other face-down Black card is turned over as 10 (7+3) > 6 (2x2 + 1x2)


Team Quest: Dragon Fight - this quest starts once Lancelot's quest is over.

This is largely the same as the above Solo Combat Quests with two important exceptions:

1) This is a group quest, meaning all may help out.
2) Triples must be constructed (and the sum of all their values must be > the collective dragon's sum).



Camelot and Surrounds



There is a lot going on in the home base at Camelot and its surrounds.

On the top left corner of the board is the Tournament against the Black Knight which I have already covered. I will deal with the rest.


Camelot: Round Table and Siege area (free travel between both)

Round Table: In the bottom right corner lies the Round Table, which is where all Knights start out. This is the ONLY LOCATION WHERE ONE MAY DRAW TWO CARDS per turn. It is also where the White and Black swords are placed upon completion of quests.

In the below example there are 3 White Swords and 1 Black Sword.


Siege Area: In the middle of the board lies the green Siege area.



This is where Siege Engines are placed (one of the three Evil actions you can choose from). As their turn, a player can fight a Siege Engine when they are in Camelot by placing as many Fight cards down and then rolling an 8-sided die.

If the die has the greater or equal value than the sum of the cards, then the Siege Engine survives and the hero loses a life.

If it is the other way around then the Siege Engine is successfully destroyed.



For example, suppose a player plays down the fight cards 3, 4 and 1. This equates to a total of 8. The red siege die is rolled and it also produces an 8. It is a tie and the siege tank wins. The hero loses a life and the siege tank stays.


Camelot Surrounds (Pict and Saxon Wars as well as Tournament against the Black Knight)

The Tournament against the Black Knight as well as the Pict and Saxon Wars must be travelled to and that act of moving there alone takes up an entire turn/good action.

The Saxons are attacking from the left corner of the board (the beach) and the Picts are attacking from the top right of the board via the stony hills. Both are Group quests.

Both have the same agenda: the heroes must collectively construct a straight from 1 to 5 by playing 1 card down at a time on their heroic action. The straight must be completed before 4 Saxon/Pict figurines land at the beach/hills.

If 4 Saxons/Picts arrive before you complete the straight then 2 Siege Engines get placed on the Siege area, all heroes on that quest lose 1 life and 1 Black Sword gets added to the Round Table.



Cooperating

Players must never state the exact value of the cards in their hands nor what cards they have; but they may generally say whether they can help with a particular quest.

No one should ever cheat in terms of breaking the rules of the game. But dishonesty is often found in this game, to varying extents and degrees (I try not to be dishonest though, even when I am the traitor)!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

White Elephant Gift Exchange ("Kris Kringle night")

It must be the time of the year: I expand my review horizons with this Christmas party game.

For once, this is a game that doesn't require you to actually buy the game itself, apart from costing all of your friends/ family a small entry fee....

What a present pile might look like on "Kris Kringle" Night - courtesy of Uel
I was unfortunately sick on that Friday night and could not attend :(
Again, I thank Uel, Shannelle, Lael and all my church friends for first showing me this game 2 Christmas' ago.

[It seems like I have been thanking them too much lately this month: See Bang! The Bullet! and Telestrations (12 Player Party Pack) ]

Hopefully I'll get to review more party and card games that aren't exactly 'sold in a store', but are playable by anyone with the time and energy to prepare for it.

Name: White Elephant Gift Exchange (Year: Unknown?)

Also known as...

Black Santa
Chinese Auction
Cutthroat Christmas
Dirty Santa
Greedy Punter
Machiavellian Christmas
Pollyanna
Naughty Santa
The Grinch Game
Thieves' Christmas
Thieving Elves
Thieving Secret Santa
Rob Your Neighbor
Steal-a-Thon
White Elephant
Yankee Swap

[According to this website]

Designer: ???

[Although I have read that the term White Elephant was popularized in North America by Ezra Cornell - I don't know how true that is.]

Publisher: None, although there is a recent card game called White Elephant that is based on the same rules as WEGE published by Mayday Games.

Players: Infinite - as many as you can fit in a room

Age: 8+

Time to play: Maybe an hour to an hour and a half, with a room full of people

Price Range (AUD): Costs nothing for the game itself BUT each person does have to pay the designated price of a present set by the host  (Eg. you can specify that all presents are to be in the price range of $15-$20)

Genres:
  • Christmas 
  • Party 
  • Stealing
  • Game doesn't need to be "bought"

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

7.1 out of 10. (Good - See my Rating Scale)

This is a good Christmas party game for that time of the year.

Everyone pays an 'entry fee' that takes the form of a present or gift of a specified price range. Players can choose to be creative and spend their money however they like to secure the present. In fact, players are encouraged to produce a wide variety of gifts - both good and bad - to make the game interesting. It is important though that you do not set a price range that is too low (where there will be a limited variety of gifts on offer) or too high (where people cannot afford it).

Obviously adequate notice should be given to everyone involved so that they have enough time to buy their presents. On the day of the game itself, the presents are amassed into a pile.

A player, on their turn, chooses to either touch (yes, touch) a present in the pile (thus securing it) or steal a gift in the possession of another. This continues until everyone has a present. There is a person designated as the joker who a bit of a random wildcard who can choose to enter the field before someone takes their turn (subject to some rules, see the below).

I like this game because it is a wonderful social lubricant, reserved for one special day in the calendar - the game does feel like a nice occasion or celebration, as all players know that a minimum amount of planning and effort has been consumed on the part of each player (in so far as effort is involved with purchasing a present!). However, I should note that the cost of purchasing presents could present a significant setback and deterrent, especially for those with tight budgets; but once this hurdle is overcome, the merits of the game are there for all to see. Setting a price range that is too high, even for a group of 'rich' friends, might not be a good idea either - rather it is good to see people use money as efficiently as possible which is a skill in itself.

Finally, treat this game as a party game. Forget about being serious and loosen up - there is strategy involved, to a limited extent, but that is not the main focus of the game. It is exciting enough seeing what people have brought to the table; it is also fun seeing people avoid certain presents they don't want to take (and contrarily, see your friends scheme for a present that they really want)!

The Good:
  • Fun and easy to explain
  • Random - the element of surprise (when unwrapping gifts)
  • The concept of stealing presents off other people is quite fun and brings out a lot of social interaction
  • Easy to explain
  • Little bit of strategy involved - you can form tentative alliances.
  • Good party vibe and atmosphere if you invite your friends!! Can plan a whole Christmas day/event based on this.
  • Plenty of room for creativity as each player decides how to most efficiently use their money. 
  • 'oohs and ahhs' to go around as each present is opened

The Bad:
  • Not too much strategy - but who cares really!
  • Entry fee: Requires some expense on the part of all your friends (for once), but this is really a one-off sort of game, for a special time of the year: Christmas
  • Materialistic in a sense, but most of us are

What makes this game fun?
The element of surprise as each present is unwrapped, and the feeling of suspense as each present could potentially end up in anyone's hands. If you like the sound of that please organise a White Elephant Gift Exchange!!!





- This concludes the basic overview of the game.
If you are interested in reading about the components & rules to the game, please read on -









Rules & Components (Mobile photos courtesy of Uel and Chloe)

Preparatory steps:

1) Organise a time, date and venue and invite as many people as you like.

2) Set a price range for gifts to be bought (eg. $20 to $30)

3) Buying gifts: Each person should now buy ONE gift of their choice within the specified price range. You may or may not want to emphasise that the price must be strictly confined to this range.

Players are encouraged to buy either a "dud" present (that is, a present that is generally undesirable or one that nobody will like) or a "good" present (ie. a present perceived to be cool or one that you foresee will be in demand amongst the people in your group). A variety or mixture of such presents makes the game interesting; however, it is probably better that there are significantly more good presents than bad presents. You can also buy an 'average' present, whatever that means. It's up to you.

Some presents can share both of the characteristics of being a good and dud present.

For example, $30 worth of toilet paper might make for an interesting dud present - whilst practical for some, it obviously won't appeal to everyone for obvious reasons.

Money itself can make for an interesting present, but it is obviously desirable that only 1 or 2 people (maximum) bring money to the table. Otherwise this makes the game boring!

4) Ensure the presents are wrapped - be creative in terms of how you package them (perhaps to deceive people with shape or look)


On the day of the party itself:

5) Amass all the presents into a large pile, like so:




5) Get a piece of paper and draw X small squares, where X is the number of people playing.

Write down one number on each square, starting with the number 1 on the first square; 2 for the second square.....etc etc until you get to number (X-1) for the (X-1)th square.

For the Xth square, put the letter J on it. J stands for the Joker.

So, for example, if there were 20 people playing, I'd create 20 squares:



I'd number 1, 2, 3 for each of the first 3 squares respectively....until I reach 19 for the 19th square. For the last square, the 20th square, I write J for the joker.

6) Cut the squares out and shuffle all the squares into, say, a bag.

Give everyone a square.

[Alternatively get a pack of cards; get numbers Ace, 2, 3, 4....Jack of Spades if playing with 11 people or less. If more are playing add a different suit..]

7) Draw squares from a bag and give a square to each person.

8) Start with 1. Call the number 1 out.

Whoever has the number 1 on their piece of paper approaches the pile. Whichever present they first touch, whether intentionally or accidentally, is the present they get.

The present they first touch is unwrapped and shown to everyone.

9) From now on, starting with the number 2 being called out, when a number is called out:

This person can either:

a) Touch a present on the present pile
OR
b) STEAL a present that anybody already has in their possession

Suffice to say, the game ends when everyone has a present.


Rules about stealing (custom rules - not all Kris Kringle games are like this)

Here are some important rules about stealing. Stealing is defined as a present being taken by Person A from Person B.
  • If a present is stolen 3 times, the present is "locked in" and cannot be stolen any more by ANYONE.
  • If you have been the victim of a steal, you are now free to either TOUCH a present on the present pile OR STEAL a present that anybody already has. While the victim steals, and before the next number is called out, this still forms part of the same round (relevant to rules about the joker)
Thus, some interesting alliance triangles/chains can be created which could involve you stealing presents at the behest of others, in return for them doing something for you. This is particularly the case with family members


Rules about the joker (custom rules)

The joker can INTERRUPT proceedings at any time, so long as they interrupt the proceedings at the start of a new round (ie. before the person whose number is called out makes their move).

For example, if the number 7 is called out, suppose 'person 7' then steals from Person A. Person A steals from Person B. 

The joker can only interrupt BEFORE 7 makes their move, not AFTER 7, Person A or Person B does their move as that is during the round, not before the round starts. 

(Alternatively you can say the joker can interrupt 'after a round has ended' which is when all stealing actions after the person whose number was called out are resolved).


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Bang! The Bullet! (Deluxe Edition)

After The Settlers of Catan, this is my second most influential game that veered me onto this adventure of collecting games (=



I thank Uel, Shannelle and Lael for showing me this Spaghetti Western, which is a cult classic (of sorts) for them. They knew this game long before I got into the hobby :)


Name: Bang! (La Pallottola!) The Bullet! (2007): this is the deluxe edition of Bang!.
The original Bang! was released in 2002.

Differences: The deluxe The Bullet! edition contains the original Bang! along with three expansions called "High Noon", "Dodge City" and "A Fistful of Cards".

As a special bonus 3 special characters called "Uncle Will", "Johnny Kisch" and "Claus "The Saint"" have been included in The Bullet!, along with 2 'new' cards for High Noon ("New Identity" and "Handcuffs").

There is also the very handy and cool Sheriff's badge.

Designer: Emiliano Sciarra

Publisher: dV Giochi amongst others

Players: 3 to 8 (in the original Bang! only 4 to 7 can play as presumably only 7 role cards are provided). The rulebook has special rules for 3 players, though I'm not sure I would recommend this game with any less than 5 players (this is debatable).

Age: 8+

Time to play: 30 mins

Price Range (AUD): $57 to $130 for the Bullet, but if you ordered the normal Bang it would be about half this price (around $40 including shipping). The lower end of this scale is a bit hard to find, just from a quick search of online retailers. I got the Deluxe Bullet edition for $52 including shipping sometime June last year, which just goes to show how expensive everything is now.

The reason the price has changed so much must be because of 1) the AUD dropping in value relative to the USD at the time of writing and 2) there being less copies of the Bullet floating around.

Availability: Available online and I've seen it in a few hobby game stores - but it's quite expensive

Genres
  • Mafia (kind of anyway)/ Social Deduction
  • Card
  • Spaghetti Western
  • Teams/Hidden Alliances

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

7.9+/-* out of 10. (Great for mafia lovers,  but not everyone will like it or agree with this score - See my Rating Scale)

I want to keep this short and simple: Bang! in itself is a great card game if you enjoy mafia-style games and hidden team alliances or partnerships. Bang! The Bullet! is just that much better as it includes so much bonus content in a cool-looking case. 

In the base game Bang!, Players basically are sorted into one of 3 types of teams: The Sheriff's team, the Outlaws and the Renegade(s). The Sheriff's team includes the Vice Deputy and the Sheriff. Everyone's identity is unknown EXCEPT for the Sheriff. This is where it gets interesting, as the Outlaws want to kill the Sheriff; whilst the Renegade is the most complicated character as he/she wants to kill the Sheriff at the very end (after eliminating everyone else; because if they kill the Sheriff before the end the Outlaws win).

The tension as each player tries to figure out which team everyone else is on is gold. Often inferences will be drawn based on actions done in relation to the Sheriff. For example, shooting the Sheriff is seen as an obvious indication that you are bad (but this isn't necessarily so - people have strange, weird and other reasons for shooting the Sheriff!! Ridiculous I know but it HAS happened before). People, often Outlaws or Renegades, will bluff and try to make friends with the Sheriff, and the Sheriff will have a hard time deciding who his/her real friends are (and, likewise, the Sheriff's real allies, the Deputies, will have a hard time proving their allegiance to the Sheriff).

This is a good game if your game group likes this kind of tension. The variety of action cards provided in The Bullet is staggering and will keep you interested for hours. The overwhelming number of character cards, all with special abilities, is extremely fun and provides diversity to the game. These unique abilities make all the difference and add to the whole Wild West theme and flavour of this game.

However, this is not a game for those who don't enjoy a bit of conflict; nor is it a game for those who can't be bothered learning rules or the effects of different cards, including character cards (it's not a game where you can easily pick up the meaning of all the cards as not all the effects of the cards are immediately obvious, as they are depicted by symbols). It's also not a game for the impatient as sometimes players can take a long time to decide what they want to do.

* Great game but suffers from that drawback common to player elimination games - where those eliminated have to wait until the next round starts before they can play again (much like King of Tokyo - except Bang! arguably offers a bit more variety and tension than that game)

The Good:
  • The hidden team alliances/partnerships are really fun aspects to this game - you don't really know who is on your team! All you have to rely upon are inferences, which are drawn from people's actions taken in relation to the Sheriff (who is the only known identity). This uncertainty causes chaos and you do get funny situations where people are attacking their own team mates without even realising it! You will find that some people just attack each other out of spite that is unrelated to the dynamics of the game.
  • The role of the Renegade, who continuously swaps sides (as his aim is to kill the Sheriff himself at the end, one-on-one, in order to become the new Sheriff and be the last person standing) is what makes this game. The Renegade cannot kill too early or else the Outlaws win (as they win if the Sheriff dies at any time so long as the Sheriff does not die to the Renegade at the end). Thus the Renegade is likely to side with the Good Guys (ie. the Sheriff and Vices) if the Good Guys are outnumbered by the Outlaws, because the Renegade doesn't want the Outlaws to kill the Sheriff first. This tentative "alliance" changes quickly when the circumstances change.
  • Considerable strategy for players because of the above dotpoint, as each team, including the Renegade on their own, tries to figure out what needs to be done.
  • The variety of character cards and special abilities is awesome! Where else will you find cool fellows like Calamity Janet and Tequila Joe?
  • Contains two good expansions (High Noon and Dodge City) as well as 3 great character cards (Uncle Will, Johnny Kisch, Claus "The Saint"), for, assuming you look for the cheapest option, a combined cheaper price than what you would pay if you bought the games separately.
  • Flavour of the Wild West is really felt here, and the Spanish/Italian (?) words used on the cards make the game seem more exotic

The Bad:
  • Obviously luck based due to cards - but that's the nature of the game.
  • You can get bogged down in explaining the rules and the effect of cards - it is slightly convoluted for those new to playing card games. I wouldn't recommend showing this to those completely new to games, unless they are friends willing to learn!! :)
  • Apparently "it's not a game for everyone" so I was told; probably for the above and below reasons
  • Sometimes indecisive players can take up a LONG time in this game on their turn, especially if they are new to the game
  • As with all mafia or hidden identity games, accusations as to who is on what team can cause offence and hurt. Be careful playing this with sensitive people such as loved ones.

What makes this game fun? 
The confusion and strategy associated with figuring out who is against the Sheriff and who is with the Sheriff makes this game a blast; if you enjoy this kind of social deduction - although in a different, and slightly more convoluted, format to The Resistance: Avalon - give this game a go.





- This concludes the basic overview of the game.
If you are interested in reading about the components & rules to the game, please read on -









Rules & Components (Photos courtesy of my mum, Joanne)

I won't show you the High Noon and A Fistful of Cards expansions just yet (see the very end of this review), but otherwise the contents of the game are depicted as below:


The game (or, at least my copy of it) provides 12 role cards:

  • 2 Vice/ Deputy Sheriffs; 
  • 2 Sheriffs or "Sceriffos"; 
  • 3 Renegades or "Rinnegatos" and 
  • 5 Outlaws or "Fuorilegges"

However, despite the supply of these 12 role cards, note that the game recommends play for only up to 8 players - which makes sense because it would be chaotic playing the game with 12 people (as you probably wouldn't have enough cards to do so - you are welcome to try though of course).

Role Cards Explained

There are essentially at least 3 teams in this game constituted by 4 different types of roles:


Sheriff: The Sheriff is on the Sheriff's own team where the aim is simple: Kill all the Outlaws and the Renegade(s) without letting yourself (the Sheriff) die first. [Note that the Sheriff starts off with 1 additional life point, as indicated by the + Bullet symbol on the bottom right side of the Sheriff card]

Vice/Deputy: The Vice or Deputy Sheriff(s) is on the Sheriff's team. The Deputy's job is to protect the Sheriff and kill all the Outlaws and the Renegade. This may sound easy but it involves obtaining the trust of the Sheriff, which is extremely difficult to secure at the start as others will seek the Sheriff's allegiance.

Outlaw: The Outlaw is on the Outlaw's team, and their aim is simple: Kill the Sheriff. If the Sheriff dies at the hand of another player, they still win. A dead outlaw still wins if the Sheriff dies after they die. They can achieve their aim directly through brute force (by attacking the Sheriff head-on) or through cunning (by pretending to be the Sheriff's friend and attacking the Sheriff's enemies, to gain the Sheriff's trust - much like what the Renegade would do).

Renegade: By far the most complicated character, the Renegade is on their own team. Thus, if there is more than one Renegade in the game, each of the Renegades are on their own separate team. The Renegade's aim is complicated and, perhaps, two-fold.

The Renegade's aims are to:

1) Be the last-person-standing in the game (ie. eliminate everyone else in the game) subject to the proviso in 2);

2) Ensure that the Sheriff is the last player to be eliminated; that is, the Sheriff cannot be eliminated until the very end. Therefore, if the Sheriff dies when there are 3 or more players left in the game, the Renegade(s) loses and the Outlaws win.


Character Cards

Character cards are equally important as they determine your special abilities and life points.

Role cards - the bottom two are from the original game. The top left is from Dodge City (as evidenced by the bull symbol); Teren Kill and Greygory Deck are actually from the Wild West Show expansion (not included in Bang! The Bullet!) - I mix them up with the normal characters and forgot that they were an external expansion

Here's a selection of a few characters found in the game, some clearly more powerful than others.

For example, Teren Kill (not included in the Bullet!) draws a card when he is about to be eliminated and if he draws something that isn't a Spade he stays at 1 life point and draws 1 card. He basically gets a 75% chance of coming back to life, assuming an even distribution of suits in the deck. For such a strong ability, he only has 3 lives.

As another example, Calamity Janet can play Bang! cards as Missed! cards and vice versa, which is a crazy ability to have.

Representing life:


The backs of the character cards are used to indicate life. For example, if you chose Teren Kill (who is from the Wild West Show expansion, which is not included in this game), you'd cover up the bullets like so to indicate your starting health of 3 bullets. (If you were the Sheriff you'd start on 4).

The Concept of Distance

Usually, unless the card says otherwise, each player can only shoot or attack someone one distance away from them at the start of the game. That is, you can only shoot people directly on either side of you. Distance can be increased or decreased with the aid of various Blue Equipment Cards (discussed below)


So in this 6-player game, the Sheriff would need a gun of range 3 to shoot the furthest person in this game (the player on the bottom), assuming that no one has any special equipment cards that increase their distance away from other players (see below).

Brown Action Cards

These cards perform immediate actions, such as shooting other players, discarding or drawing cards.



For example the Moncato! or Missed card (top left) is a reaction card that can be played when a Bang! card (top right) is played. Note that under normal circumstances only 1 Bang! card per turn may be played, although the Volcanic gun lets you shoot an infinite number of Bangs (at the cost of only being able to shoot to those immediately adjacent to you). If you are hit by a Bang you lost a life point, and reduce your health by 1 bullet by sliding your card over to cover a bullet.

Beers or Birras (not shown above) can be used to regain life points but may not be used to help others.

The Cat Balou card is used to discard a face-up card in front of a player, or a random card from another player's hand (you blindly pick in this latter option).


Blue "Equipment" Cards

These cards are played up in front of you. You cannot have 2 of the same card (I think - I know this is true of weapons, but I am assuming the same for Blue cards in general).



Green Dodge City "Delayed Action" Cards

The green cards are delayed action cards, which can only be played 1 turn after they have been put down.


For example the Sombrero (top left) and Iron Plate (bottom left) help you dodge a Bang! card if you have played them down 1 whole turn before you use them (ie. you play them down and, after everyone else has taken their turns, it comes back to your turn).

The pepperbox is upside down but lets you

High Noon and A Fistful of Cards

These cards are additional cards that change the scenario in an unexpected way each round (someone draws one card whenever it is their turn again - and this replaces the effect of the previous card drawn). The game advises you to choose one deck or the other, but you could choose to draw both if you were feeling a bit crazy.



For example, the Hangover card in the High Noon deck makes all characters lose their special abilities for the whole round!

The Judge from A Fistful of Cards prevents any player from playing cards in front of themselves or another player


Special Character Cards

Three special character cards, evidenced by the gun symbol, are added to this game. They all have some pretty crazy abilities.


Claus the Saint is a favourite - he gets to distribute cards to all players including himself on his turn.

Notably, the game also includes blank cards for you to create you own custom cards or characters.


General Gameplay (Without going into too much detail)

On your turn follow these three steps:

1) Draw 2 cards

2) Play as many cards as you like so long as you do not play more than 1 Bang! (shoot) card per turn and do not play the same card twice

3) Discard excess cards over the hand limit. Your hand limit is equal to the number of lives (or bullets) you currently have.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Telestrations (12 Player Party Pack)

I am pleased to announce that I have a new favourite game that has comfortably overthrown my previous number #1.

A distinct hybrid of Chinese Whispers and Pictionary, this is an ingenious, chaotic and crazy game well-equipped to please a crowd.

I'd like to dedicate this review to a number of people who played this game with me (and those who will play it) including: Chuen, Uel, Shannelle, Lael, Nick, Sam, Kevin, Diana, Carina, Vanessa, Chloe, Joanne, Shaun, Nimalan, Roy, Hari and Jack.


If you'd like to cut to the chase, please scroll down to the 6-Player Example below to get a quick gist of how this game operates (=

Name: Telestrations (2009)
(I am reviewing the 12 Player Party Pack)

Designer: Apparently uncredited

Publisher: USAopoly amongst others

Players: 4 to 8 for the original version, with the 12-player Party Pack playing 4 to 12!
The latter pack is much better as the game is best played with more people.

Age: 10+

Time to play: 30 mins or so (depending on how many rounds you play)

Price Range (AUD): $55 to $80 for the normal 4 to 8 player version. I bought the 12-Player version from Barnes and Noble for $57 which included shipping!!

Availability: Seems to be quite widely available online, but I am unsure if your average hobby game store here in Australia would stock this [though they should].

Genres
  • Party
  • Drawing and guessing
  • Chaotic/Crazy
  • Multiple partnerships - in the sense that you are both reliant on and helping those who are sitting on either side of you. This is a pretty cool aspect of the game.

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

9.3 out of 10. (Best that party games have to offer - See my Rating Scale)

I love how creative Telestrations is, not only in terms of its gameplay but also from a game design point of view.

Whoever thought of fusing Pictionary with the concept of Chinese Whispers is truly a genius. In my view, Telestrations is the perfect example of how radically different and effective a game can be when one chooses to introduce a new and distinct concept into the fold.

To summarise the game, each player has a whiteboard notebook and selects a secret word. Then, the secret word is drawn, and this gets passed on to the next player. This next player has to, without looking at the original word, guess what was drawn. Then the notebook gets passed along again to the next player, who has to draw the word just guessed. And this continues until the notebook reaches the original player. As you might imagine, the word originally established will often turn out to be completely different to the final word guessed, though this in large part depends on how easy the original word/phrase was and the players' drawings.

I like this game a lot because it is minimalistic, in the sense of it not requiring too many rules, yet its fun factor is still maintained at a maximum. It's also a game that I feel everyone can enjoy, regardless of how bad you are at drawing; in fact, I believe a mix of good and bad artists is essential for this game because it can lead to some funny scenarios: On one hand, "good" artists occasionally place too much detail into their drawings and hence overcomplicate it for the next person trying to guess the word; whilst bad artists just muck the whole picture up in general or just have very bad ideas as to how to convey messages to people. This is often what creates pandemonium as the final word guessed is no where near the original word.

I also really enjoy the fact that certain dynamics of people make for good partnerships. For example, even though I am a messy and horrible drawer, if I sit next to someone who knows me well it is more likely than not that they will understand what I am getting at, even if it is messy. Much strategy, if you can call it that in this game, hinges on drawing to suit the person receiving the drawing. It is all about understanding your audience!

Overall I highly recommend this game to anyone. It truly thrives on people misinterpreting the drawings of their friends.

The Good:
  • Crazy fun
  • Easy to explain
  • Plays a crowd!!
  • Massive room for creativity - less is more, more is less?!
  • You can play a version with no winner or loser - flexible rules. 
  • The dynamics of the game radically change depending on who you play with, who you sit next to and which direction you choose to pass the notebook. You can mix it up to get a bit of variety (certain pairs of friends can match each other well). Everyone has their own way of interpreting drawings and communicating messages to people.
  • You can always make up your own words to guess
  • Some degree of "strategy" as you need to draw to suit the person sitting next to you - the interpretation of any given picture will largely depend on who is looking at the drawing and the drawer must keep that in mind!! 
  • Also funny when someone deliberately messes up the "production line" - in fact the humour to the game depends on it.
  • Honestly can't really think of a negative for this game, which is what makes it such a strong candidate! 

The Bad (Contrived and not genuine negatives):
  • A bit pricy too perhaps, but kind of worth it. In reality, if you really wanted to, you could play this game with pen and paper - but it would require a lot of paper and effort. Buying this saves you a whole lot of time
  • This is being too picky but you might run out of words if you play it too often, but there are about 2000 words included in the 12-Player Party Pack, which include "600 new words" (I infer that the normal version only has 1400 words).
  • Do be careful with rubbing out drawings etc as the drawings can stick if you keep them for too long. 
  • Markers are of course replaceable after they run out of ink but you may need to spend more $ to maintain your game. They should last for a reasonable time though.
  • Notebooks might be a little fragile since they are spiral bound and the pages are not as sturdy as one might like.

What makes this game fun? 
If you want a fantastic party game that is sure to produce laughs in your group, due to bad misinterpretations and/or drawings, please give this game a go!





- This concludes the basic overview of the game.
If you are interested in reading about the components & rules to the game, please read on -









Rules & Components (Photos courtesy of my mum, Joanne)

Thankfully, the game is easy to play and easy to understand.

Have a look at the contents of the box.

Notice there is a timer and die, and sets of cards, cloths, pens and notebooks.

Everyone gets a whiteboard notebook, a whiteboard pen and a cloth.

Everyone also gets a card, which they should keep hidden from the view of others. Each card has a blue "That" side and a yellow "This" side. Randomly decide as a group whether everyone will be playing with the blue or yellow side.

Someone randomly rolls the die and tells everyone what the number rolled was. The number rolled will match a word on each person's card. This is the secret word that needs to be drawn.



For example, in the above scenario if a 3 was rolled, the the word that would need to be drawn would be GPS.

Everyone now writes down the secret word in their notepad.

Gameplay

Get everyone to sit in a circle or something close to a circle (this is important).

If you are playing with an EVEN number of people, the writer of the secret word draws first and then passes their notebook to the person on their left.

If you are playing with an ODD number of people, the writer of the secret word does NOT draw first, and they pass their notebook to the person on their left. This person on the left is the person who draws first. This person then passes it to the person on their left. [This is to ensure that the notebook ends on a guess although it does mean that (X-1) tabs would be used rather than X [which would be the case if playing with an even number of players], where X is the number of players playing]

In summary, what happens is that right from the very get go, everyone will have to alternate between:

a) drawing a word given and;
b) guessing a drawing given

until they receive their notebook back.

In other words, Player A will draw their secret word and pass their notebook to the player on their left; the player on their left, Player B, will guess the word from the picture Player A drew. Then Player B passes their notebook to the player on their left (Player C). Player C then draws the word guessed by Player B....

...and this continues until Player A gets their notebook back, which will end on a guess.


6-Player Example 

Now let's assume in this example that there are an even number of people playing, namely 6.

We will be tracking the progress of one player's notebook as it gets passed around the table, namely, Shaun's.

Shaun's notebook - as actually used in a game


Suppose also that the secret word for Shaun is "Oral Exam":

Shaun writes this word on the first tab - the tab with the winking smiley face:



Since there are an EVEN number of players, Shaun flicks to Tab 1 and draws his secret word:

[Had there been an ODD number of players he would not draw the word first; he'd pass his notebook to the person to his left, and that person would draw it on Tab 1]


Shaun goes for an elaborate drawing - which may or may not work!

He flicks over to Tab 2, and passes it to the player on his left [this is optional - you can just pass your drawing/guess over to the next player if you want; however, flicking to the next tab is sometimes done to hide the drawing/guess from other players].

The player on his left, Chloe, flicks back to look at Shaun's drawing on Tab 1 and then makes a guess:


"Tooth filling" is guessed - arguably, having regard to Shaun's drawing, this is a reasonable guess. But the meaning of the original secret word has now been officially lost (hence the Chinese Whispers aspect of this game).

Now, Chloe flicks over to Tab 3 and passes it to the player on her left, Joanne.

Joanne flicks back to Tab 2 and tries to draw "Tooth Filling" on Tab 3:


Joanne then flicks to Tab 4 and passes it to the next player.

The next player makes an unfortunate spelling typo, thus throwing this whole notebook into a completely different category. It's absolute chaos:


"Plague" is accidentally guessed (as opposed to the intended "Plaque")

The notebook is passed to another player, Hari, who draws whatever he sees on Tab 4 onto Tab 5:


Hari passes the notebook to Andre, who thinks he knows what the picture is trying to say, especially since there are rats in the picture. He writes it down with his messy handwriting on Tab 6:


Andre is sitting next to Shaun so Shaun gets his notebook back.

Shaun wonders how on earth "Oral Exam" turned into "Bubonic Plague"... but that's just the way life is.

Storytelling

It is good at this point, after all notebooks return to their respective owners, for each person to go through their own book and tell everyone what happened, tab by tab.

Not using the timer

The game's rules say that a 60-second timer should be used for each tab of the game but I don't think that is a good idea as some pictures are much harder to draw than others (perhaps only use it if you are playing the competitive version I outline below under "For a more serious challenge").

I think it's best to implement a custom rule that says that everyone is allowed as much time as they want to draw the pictures. Obviously some words will be easier than others to draw, and thus it is likely that there will be a bottleneck in the production line as some notebooks accumulate at a particular person, who is trying their best to draw a difficult word/phrase. But overall this is a good rule to have as you don't want to pressure people too much, so long as people are reasonable with their time.

Kudos to Shannelle (I think) for first suggesting this when we played it =).

Scoring

You honestly don't need to score in this game but the game does offer some suggestions for friendly and competitive scoring.

For example, a player holding a notebook can give points to the player who drew their favourite sketches. Or you can choose to give points if the guesser guessed the secret word [or a previous guess ] OR if in everyone's opinion a sketcher helped a guesser make a match by drawing particularly well.

Mixing the Game Up

For future games, be sure to mix it up by swapping seats with people or passing the notebook in a different direction. It makes all the difference!! Certain partnerships of drawers/guessers make for interesting combinations.

For a more serious challenge: Perhaps when you host, you can have two groups of (6?) people competing with each other - each group receives the same word or set of words and therefore it is up to each group to see how good they are at transmitting or communicating the message to their team mates. [This would be an awesome idea for a Telestrations World Championships type of tournament, with say the best artists from each country joining up together to face off against other nations]

Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Downfall of Pompeii

Brought to you by the creator of Carcassonne, here's a tribute to that fateful event in 79 A.D. that has players frantically positioning and evacuating as many citizens as possible from the wrath of Mount Vesuvius.

Can you escape the inferno?

This is the Mayfair 2nd Edition (2013)


Name: The Downfall of Pompeii (2004)

Designer: Klaus-J├╝rgen Wrede

Publisher: Mayfair Games

Trivia: In my copy of the game I only received 25 Blue pieces and 28 Yellow pieces (where the instruction manual said that I was supposed to have 30 of each colour). I emailed Mayfair games to get the missing 5 Blue and 2 Yellow pieces.

In previous editions of the game you apparently were forced to pick certain colours depending on the number of players you had as not all colours had the same number of pieces (which, if true, is ridiculous).

Players: 2 to 4

Age: 10+

Time to play: 45 mins

Price Range (AUD): $41 to $80 (with one shop even selling it for $107 inclusive of shipping).

Availability: Quite widely available online and I would imagine many hobby stores should stock this.

Genres
  • Historical
  • Tile placement
  • Grid movement

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

8.1* out of 10. (Great game - See my Rating Scale)

The Downfall of Pompeii is one of those rare games that properly acknowledges and tributes a particular moment in history - both in terms of its gameplay, feel and artwork.

Players aim to place as many citizens in the city (preferably close to the city's exits and on the same squares/buildings as other citizens) during the first two phases of the game. Then, in phase 3, Mount Vesuvius erupts and each player must then evacuate as many citizens as possible. Through the drawing of lava tiles, each player gets a say as to how the lava enters the city which makes the game very interesting as the lava can potentially harm any of the player's citizens [see below rules and pictures].

There is therefore some degree of strategic thought to this game as you try to amass your citizens in the right areas, whilst keeping an eye out on what your opponents are doing. You are constantly checking to see if any one player is doing too well, and there will be opportunities to 'keep the playing field even' by throwing their civilians into the volcano (through the Omen cards) or threatening their citizens with lava tiles in phase 3. However, cunning players can hedge their risk by placing their citizens alongside their opponent's citizens in the same square - thus reducing the incentive of a lava attack by that opponent on that square because 'If you attack me that will bring you down with me too".

Overall this is a gem of a game and, minus a couple of annoying things I outline below (relating mainly to the setting up of the game) I'd highly recommend it to anyone.

The Good:
  • Great artwork and theme. Love the plastic volcano provided as it adds real depth to the game.
  • Gameplay is fantastic and fits the theme of the historical event well.
  • Interesting mechanic of evacuating citizens through the multiple city gates. The third phase of the game is excellent as it is the ultimate culmination whereby all citizens try to flee the burning lava. All that matters is that as many of your citizens as possible escape the ensuing destruction. The different phases of the game are interesting too and build up the flavour of the game.
  • Considerable strategy - the idea is to hoard as many citizens in the same area (as this increases movement options) whilst balancing this with ensuring that your citizens are within close proximity of the city gates (and far away from the potential lava hotspots).
  • Relatively fast gameplay

The Bad:
  • Setting up the deck is a pain - it can be annoying and time consuming to follow the instructions as the deck is configured differently depending on the number of people playing AND you need to ensure that the 3 phases of the game are properly incorporated into the deck.
  • Obviously luck-driven as cards are involved.
  • May be difficult explaining the different phases of the game to newcomers (but like all things, the first time is always going to be the most difficult and things should get easier after that)

What makes this game fun? 
If you want to relive the downfall of Pompeii, then you should give this game a go.





- This concludes the basic overview of the game.
If you are interested in reading about the components & rules to the game, please read on -









Rules & Components (Photos courtesy of my mum, Joanne)

At the outset I should tell you that the aim of this game is to evacuate as many citizens as possible from Pompeii. This involves, firstly, placing citizens in the city and secondly, evacuating them when it hits 79 A.D.

The deck needs to be configured in a certain way - which I won't go into as it is a bit annoying to explain.

The board looks like this, which is really cool especially with the 3D volcano. The artwork is particularly nice.



Give each player all 30 circular pieces (citizens) of a colour of their choice.

There are 3 phases in this game, all of which have been configured into the deck at setup.

First Phase - new citizens move to Pompeii 

In the first phase, gameplay is simple - on your turn you:

1) Play a card;
2) Put a citizen of your colour down in the spot that is the subject of the card and;
3) Then draw a card.

For example suppose that Black plays the Brown 10 card.


Black can place her citizen in any of the 5 positions (circles) in the Brown 10 building [the bottom of the card shows that the Brown 10 building is split up into 2 sections: one with 2 positions and one with 3 positions - this is important for the purposes of the "Relatives" rule in Phase 2].



Second phase - Omens and Relatives

The second phase of the game occurs after 8 cards have been drawn and the first A.D. 79 card is drawn.



In this phase, play continues as it did in the first phase as stated above.

However two extra rules are added:

1) "Relatives": This is a strange rule name.

If a building is already filled with citizens of any colour (not necessarily your own), if you place your citizen in that building, as a bonus you get to add X more citizens to buildings of the same colour OR a neutral (beige) building where X is the number of citizens in that building part before you placed your citizen.

(When determining X, ignore other pieces in a different part of the same-coloured building. "Different part" meaning a part joined by a hallway or a "bridge" - like how in Turquoise 6, Brown 10 or Pale Grey 8 below their buildings are separated into two parts. As was shown above with the Brown 10 Card, your card should clarify how the building is split up. You also cannot place your bonus citizens in the same part of the building that your citizen was originally placed in.)

For example, suppose Black places her piece on the Turquoise 9 building:



There were 3 occupants already in that building before Black entered so under the Relatives rule, as a bonus she gets to place 3 Black pieces on either other turquoise buildings or neutral (beige) buildings which she does:




2) Omens: Omen cards will now appear as they have already been shuffled into this portion of the deck at the start of the game. When you draw an omen card you get to choose any opponent's citizen and throw them into the volcano. Then you draw a replacement card.



For example, Black draws an Omen card. Seeing that Yellow is her nearest competitor, she chucks the Yellow citizen from Pale Grey 8 into the volcano.




(Note that, should there be a tie at the end of the game, the number of citizens thrown down the volcano will act as the tiebreaker.)


Third Phase - Mass Evacuation!

When the 2nd A.D. 79 card gets drawn all cards get put away as they no longer matter. From now on, lava tiles are drawn and everyone's citizens will attempt to escape to outside the city gates!!

Shuffle all the lava tiles and place them in the bag provided by the game.

Now each player, one at a time, draws one tile from the bag and places it on the board according to the symbol found on the lava tile and on the board (see below). This happens until 6 lava tiles are on the board. Lava ties must be placed orthogonally adjacent to other lava tiles of the matching symbol (ie. not diagonally and they must be touching another lava tile of the same symbol).

If a lava tile is placed on a group of citizens, they all get thrown down the volcano!!

Example 1

For example, Player A draws the first lava tile and it has the white column symbol on it so he places it on the lava tile with the column on it


Note that in the bottom left corner of the picture above there is a blue mask symbol (which is another symbol for the lava tiles); whilst the right side has a bronze helmet symbol.

Then 4 more tiles are drawn and this is what eventuates.


Player B draws the 6th tile and decides to place it in the below position to destroy the Yellow and Black citizens. They get thrown into the volcano.





Phase 3 continued: After the 6th lava tile...

Then, from the 7th lava tile onwards, on their turn each player:

1) Draws 1 lava tile and places it onto the board following the rules as above;

2) Then moves up to two of their citizens.

The number of movements each piece can make is equivalent to how many citizens are occupying the same square inclusive of that citizen being moved (which is a maximum of 4).

Exceptions: If the piece is either your only citizen left in the city OR is a lone piece that is by itself in a given square in the city - a player can opt to move that piece two squares (instead of moving two separate citizens in the latter exception).

Example 2

Suppose this is the current situation and it is Black's turn.


Black wants to move her citizen from that group of 4 on the very left.

Therefore, that black piece can be moved 4 steps like so as it is sitting in a square with 4 citizens (including itself):

1

2

3

And 4....safely escaped!

If this is Black's first escaped citizen, Black is currently sitting on 1 point (it therefore pays to congregate citizens together!)

Victory

Whoever has the most number of citizens evacuated wins. Should there be a tie, the person who has the least citizens in the volcano wins.