Sunday 31 August 2014

King of Tokyo: Power Up! Expansion

A new twist to the King of Tokyo, with super powers and all

Name: King of Tokyo: Power Up! (2012)

Price Range (AUD): $23.50 to about $35 (I've seen one sold on ebay for about $80 including postage - ridiculous).

Availability: Should be available at good hobby game stores and online

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

6.5 out of 10 (Decent - See my Rating Scale)

The primary kicker to this expansion is the fact that each monster in the original game finally gets their own set of "super powers" and playing styles through the introduction of the new evolution cards. These can be selected upon rolling three hearts at any time, even when in Tokyo. For example, one cool super power The King can now receive is "Twas Beauty Killed the Beast" which lets The King get 1 star after every player ends their turn when in Tokyo - but it has an interesting risk factor as, if The King leaves Tokyo, he loses all his points.

However, the downside is that many of these powers seem a bit trivial and not as strong as some of the others - in that sense, and I'm sympathising with the designers here, it is always difficult to ensure that there is a level-playing field between all the monsters and you can see that here with this expansion. But that doesn't necessary detract from the fun of the game. For example, some of the powers that allow particular dice rolls to give an extra turn or power, whilst fun and imaginative, aren't always practical

Of course, having the ability to play with 1 extra player is always fantastic when you need to accommodate that extra person - but the downside, again, as stated in my original write up for King of Tokyo is that I think this detracts from the game in that there is a long time taken in-between turns.

I must say something about the price of this game. For what you pay this is a little on the expensive side - I know I am being a bit precious as I've said the same thing for The Settlers of Catan: 5-6 Player Extension, but that's just me: I want value for money, which is presumably what everyone else wants. I always have this nagging thought in my head: "If you don't buy those two expansions and/or extensions Andre, you could get another game with that price." Heck, Mascarade and Coup, both fantastic games, are available for between $20 to $29!

The opportunity cost of an extension/expansion should always be considered before purchasing it. Ask yourself: "Can my money be better spent elsewhere?" The general, and obvious, rule is this: purchase only if you really like the original. This one is a bit borderline for me. On balance, I would say "Yes" as I liked the original game.

The Good:
  • Lets you play 1 extra player 
  • Small/Compact Box
  • New abilities unique to each monster - new gameplays unlocked!
The Bad:
  • Relatively expensive for what's inside!!!!

Should you get it?

Sure, it's a decent expansion - get it if you love KOT otherwise it might not be that necessary.

- This concludes the basic overview of the extension.
If you are interested in reading about the components please read on -

Components (photos courtesy of my mum, Joanne)

Not including the rulebook and promotional brochures, this is what you get from the box:

That is, you get: a pack of evolutionary cards, some tokens relating to special abilities from those cards as well as the Pandakai figure and the Pandakai health/score board.

There really isn't that much in this expansion. The cards do make a substantial difference to gameplay though, although you do have to roll 3 hearts to choose an evolutionary card - which isn't always easy. Each monster gets their own set of super evolutionary cards unique to their monster.

One variation of the rules says that instead of just choosing the top card on the evolutionary deck, you can draw two cards and then pick one of them - this is probably the fairer approach and gives players more options.

Some cards are "Permanent" whilst others are "Temporary" evolutions - the latter can only be played once. However, the former name can be deceiving because this is not necessarily true all the time; I haven't checked all the cards but, for example, one of The King's permanent evolutionary cards must be discarded once Tokyo is left ('Twas Beauty Killed the Beast').

Thursday 28 August 2014

Video Game Music: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

I take a break from reviewing board games to take a look at the soundtrack of this game (in truth, the review of Pandemic is taking far longer than expected but I will get there very soon!) .

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a great game that reminds me of why I got into the Japanese Role Playing Game (JRPG) genre of games a long long time ago (with the main series I have in mind being Final Fantasy). If I were to rate this game, I'd probably give it an 8.5 to 9.0 out of 10.

After months (possibly nearly a year) of procrastination, having reached the final stage a fair while ago, I finally finished it last night.

[On a related point, I do have a tendency to get to the end of a video game and/or book and not finish it; I don't really know why I do this.]

But I'm not here to discuss the game as such.

Here's a short ordered list of my favourite musical themes from this game:

1. World Map Theme (see also this vocal version: Kokoro no Kakera)
The grandeur of adventure, the heartfelt emotion felt by our characters as they endeavour to save the world, and the adversity they will and have gone through is captured extremely well by this melody. It's definitely up there as one of my favourite world map themes, and indeed, video game themes. The vocal version is simply angelic and fantastic.

Check this out as well.

2. Ding Dong Dell
A folk theme of sorts that makes you think of festivals, marching and a traditional light-hearted atmosphere. Everything feels lively in a regal sense, but not in an overwhelming way; indeed it feels as if our travellers have arrived at a safe haven in style. Arguably it's a bit harsh putting this in second place; but what pips the world map theme for me over this theme is its nostalgic effect. Apart from that, I think this theme is just as great.

3. Taking to the Skies
A triumphant melody - our comrades can now soar through the skies all across the world, taking in the sights the world has to offer! Basically an airborne world map theme.

4. Drippy's Theme/Shizuku
This theme is mysterious and foreboding (in the good sense) and has this added feeling of an adventure to be enjoyed on the sly. It's all happening here; you can feel an almost magical and very palpable aura of tension and excitement - as if something fascinating is likely to pop up just around the corner.

5. Motorville
Peaceful and tranquil. It sure is nice to be home, away from the world and at rest.

6. Castaway Cove
A nice relaxing theme that does a lot for the mood of the beach environment. You feel like there is a lot going on here, and that the people of Castaway Cove are busy - but not busy in the sense of the "hustle and bustle" one might normally get in a city. No, people here seem to be busy enjoying themselves out in the sun and having a good time.

7. The Fairygrounds
A jovial laid-back happy-go-lucky melody. To my untrained ear, it appears to be a leitmotif of Drippy's Theme, albeit it sounds like a "smoother" rendition.

There are other melodies, I'm sure, that have slipped my mind but that's all I can think of for the time being.* In any event, I highly recommend this game to fans of the RPG genre and I'd also recommend its music to almost anyone. I will note, however, that the only downside of the game is the "grinding" involved as it takes a lot of effort to level up your characters - though this can be shortened.

* September 2014: I've added a few more to this list.


Andre Lim

Sunday 17 August 2014

The Settlers of Catan: 5-6 Player Extension

A small box can change everything.
Let's see what the 5-6 Player Catan Extension does for the vanilla game.

The box is actually quite small. From my rough calculations, it is about 3.5 times smaller in volume than the original "vanilla" Catan box.

Name: Settlers of Catan: 5-6 Player Extension (1996)

Warning: Be careful to distinguish between an "Extension" and an "EXPANSION" - the latter adds new content to the game; the former merely increases the number of players you can play with. The Extension boxes are the same colour as their original (hence, there is even a 5-6 player Extension for the expansion "The Settlers of Catan: Seafarers", which requires the vanilla extension here as well to play)

Price Range (AUD): $22.90  to $38, the latter end of the range being a shipped price. In my opinion even the lower end of this range is pushing it. The box is really quite small. Under $20 is worth it from the consumer perspective, but sadly, in today's inflated market you will never be able to find such a price.

Availability: Quite widely available, in hobby stores and online. May not necessarily be in department stores (even if its vanilla sibling is)

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

~7.0 out of 10 (Good - See my Rating Scale)

This is a fairly good extension as it makes the map significantly bigger (increasing the map size from the 19 tiles in the original version to 30 tiles here, creating an elongated hexagonal map) AND lets you play with 5 to 6 players.

If you play with 6 players the game becomes very competitive (cut-throat even) in terms of area control and room as there isn't much space to expand, especially given the distance rule. However, the same can be said for playing 4-player vanilla Settlers of Catan on the original game board. Therefore, a trick that many people like to use is to play 4-player Catan using the 5-6 player Extension.

If you wanted something new apart from increasing the number of players, you will be disappointed with this as nothing different is added. That is why it's called an Extension. Contrast this to an Expansion which actually adds new substantive content, such as Settlers of Catan: Seafarers (which I will review soon).

In summary, this is a relatively good thing to buy but some of the prices one sees around are quite excessive, given the components inside (see below for more details). In terms of increasing the number of players and making the map bigger, it does the job however, and is a positive in that sense.

The Good:
  • Lets you play 2 extra players (which cramps up the map - though makes the game more strategic and fun and arguably drags the game longer)
  • Bigger map!!!
  • Small/Compact Box
The Bad:
  • Relatively expensive for what's inside!!!!

Should you get it?

Only if you want to play Catan with more people, or if you'd like to play with a bigger map.

- This concludes the basic overview of the extension.
If you are interested in reading about the components please read on -

Components (photos courtesy of my mum, Joanne)

The extension adds:
  • Playing pieces and summary cards for 2 new players (Brown and Green)
  • New dice roll chits for the bigger map
  • 2 hexes of each terrain (2x5) + 1 desert tile = 11 tiles
  • 5 cards of each resource (25 in total for wood, sheep, rock, brick and wheat)
  • 2 blank cards and 1 blank hex
  • 4 frame pieces that create the larger map.
  • Harbour tokens

Frame Pieces

Now in reality, the major game-changers are the 4 frame pieces that expand the map. These make the map significantly larger. Of course, the tiles are important too as they allow you to fill up the space. 

I haven't bothered to assemble the board but the instruction manual provides a diagram of what the extension does for you. The diagram doesn't show it so well but it basically creates an elongated hexagon. Below are the frame pieces as well:

Having the ability to play 5 to 6 players is quite welcome for when you want to play The Settlers of Catan with more people. 

Friday 15 August 2014

Igloo Pop

Though primarily targeted at kids, this is an interesting audio-based game that will put your listening skills to the test, albeit in a chaotic and senseless environment.

(Thus, it can be fun for adults too, with the right crowd!)

Sneak peak: The instruction book provides a cool depiction of how to set up the game, amongst other interesting things... (see trivia below)

Name: Igloo Pop (2003)

Designer: Heinz Meister and Klaus Zoch

Publisher: Rio Grande, Zoch Verlag etc

Players: 2 to 6

Age: 7+

Time to play: Around 20 minutes - up to you to decide

Price Range (AUD): $49 to $70 - I got mine for $38

Availability: Seems to be hard to find and my perusal of the internet leads me to believe that it is out of print!!

  • Audio/Sound
  • Kids
  • Family
  • Guessing
  • Wagering
  • Dexterity (sort of)

Random Trivia: Both the box and the instruction book provide a rather strange narrative and non-nonsensical description of the game:
The young ice giant has a big problem: he wants to buy fish sticks, but he cannot remember how many and he has nine shopping lists in his basket.
So he goes from igloo to igloo and shakes each. In each he listens to the delicious fish sticks bouncing off the igloo walls. When he thinks that the igloo in his hand has the same number of fish sticks as one of his shopping lists, he takes it home.

When he gets home, there are no fish sticks in the igloo. Instead, wild and laughing Inuit/Eskimo children tumble out of the igloo. Excitedly they shout, "Shake us again!" "That was great fun!"
"This is super", thinks the young ice giant. "Now, I have found some new friends to play with!" And, he promptly forgets all about his shopping lists.

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

7.0* out of 10. (An interesting and good game - See my Rating Scale)

One key thing that makes this game a good one, in my view, is its novelty - it's a game to bring out if you want to give people a surprise or to mix up proceedings. However, the type of surprise or reaction will obviously depend on the type of group you have. If you have an open minded group this game will be quite interesting to them. If you don't, your friends might find your selection too crazy!

The basic premise of the game is that there are 12 igloos, each igloo containing a unique number of beads from 2 to 13 beads. After having the opportunity to examine each igloo (by feeling their weight, shaking them and hearing the noise produced by them), players must wager or guess how many beads are inside each igloo.

They can make three types of bets - from  a risky bet that identifies the EXACT number of beads (worth the most points - 3 points) to a safe or conservative type of bet that specifies a range of numbers (with a maximum range of 2, eg. 1-3 beads; these are worth only 1 point). There is also the in-between bet, a range of 1, that is worth 2 points.

The downside of this game is obvious - it seems like a kids game and has minimal replay value (unless you take a keen interest in this genre of games). However, the game is challenging and not as easy as it seems. It provides a decent relief from other more strenuous games, and it doesn't take too long to introduce to a crowd. I quite like the game and I think it is severely underrated/overlooked.

September and October 2014: Reduced from 7.25/7.2. Whilst still a good and relatively different game, it feels wrong to give this the same score as say the innovative Hanabi, which is a game that I would consider to be the benchmark of the 7.25 score. It is wacky/different enough for it to be above 7, but perhaps not much more.

The Good:
  • Interesting theme of shaking igloos and guessing the number of beads within them - they feel solid in your hand
  • Tests those with, or who claim to possess, an acute sense of hearing. Also tests your sense/perception of weight as you compare igloos with different numbers of beads within them. Challenging even for adults
  • A different and relatively unique game - apart from Mord Im Arosa or Space Alert, there aren't too many games whose predominant game mechanic revolves around an audio component (of course, I exclude story-telling games such as Dixit, Once Upon a Time or Gloom, where the audio component of the game comes directly from speaking rather than the game itself or its components)
  • Light hearted filler (though this can work both ways - those demanding more substance to a game might not like this game)
  • Relatively east to explain rules and fast gameplay

The Bad:
  • Might be looked upon as ridiculous by those who feel too old to play this game - but I would say that these people just don't know how to have fun!
  • Can be quite hard to differentiate between the igloos - some may perceive this to be too hard
  • Replay value may be lacking, in the sense that it's game orientated towards kids BUT arguably this depends on the group - just be aware though that its novelty might wear out.
  • A little bit chaotic at times as everyone does their own thing (little accountability - you can't check to see if people are abiding by the rules) and not everyone will like that; thought I would suggest that this is not a game that requires a strict enforcement of the rules.

What makes this game fun? 

If you're after something amusing or an "icebreaker" game in between other games, try this audio-based game that operates as a temporary crowdpleaser in the right environment. It probably boasts a higher success rate with children and families though.

- 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)

Everyone gets a set of 10 betting tokens of their chosen colour - these are called thalers.

Minus the distribution of thalers, this is how the game is set up:

Igloo village set-up:
All igloos are placed in the middle, surrounded by 9 cards with the draw pile on the left: Notice the undistributed betting tokens (thalers) on the top left
Before your first game, the igloos shown here must be set up manually by inserting the right number of glass beads into each igloo. They must also be labelled UNDERNEATH with the appropriate number from 2 to 13, the number reflecting the quantity of beads inside them. There are 12 igloos in total and the base of the igloos must be sealed tightly.

Never look at the base except for once the scoring round begins! These tell you the answer to how many glass beads there are in each igloo


The youngest player counts to 3. On 3, each player simultaneously takes one igloo village of their choice and shakes it WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE IGLOO (as the bottom has the answer).

Shaking the igloo - random volunteer demonstrating what to do
If they want to, a player may place a betting token in the igloo and then place it on a card of their choice. You may only use the cards available in front of you.
  • Note that only 1 igloo may be shaken at a time. 
  • If no bet is placed, the igloo must be returned to the middle for someone else to shake.
  • Once an igloo is placed on a card it may not be taken, shaken, stirred or removed.
Each card has different numbers on it as demonstrated below:

Hardest bet to make is the card in the middle as you must get the bet spot on (you must place a betting chip on the igloo with EXACTLY 12 beads inside and then place that igloo onto the 12 card). This is worth 3 points if you get it right

The card on the right is worth 1 point and allows you to have a margin of error - so long as your igloo has 4-6 beads in it you have a chance of winning 1 point.

As you can see, there are three types of cards: those with only 1 number; those with 2 numbers; and those with 3 numbers.

These represent the range of beads that players think might be in the igloos.

Cards with:
  • 3 numbers give the least number of points (1 point) as there is a larger room for error. For example, in the right card in the picture above, this allows players to place igloos with betting tokens if they think the igloo contains 4, 5 or 6 beads inside.
  • 2 numbers give 2 points. A medium-risk option as you have two possibilities of numbersto choose from.
  • 1 number gives 3 points, being the hardest to guess as the player has to get the number of beads exactly right.

Scoring: begins when all the igloos are placed on a card or if no one wants to place any more igloos on cards

There is a very basic rule with scoring: If you guessed the number right, you always get your thaler/coin back.

If you get it wrong, you lose it forever.

If there is only one igloo on a card, this is straightforward - if the person got it right they get their thaler/coin back and the card too.

Cards are always kept for scoring purposes, as the number of eskimos represents the number of points one gets. If they get it wrong, they lose the thaler forever and the card remains where it is.

If there is more than one igloo on a card, the person who placed the thaler in the highest (correctly) numbered igloo wins the card. Everyone else who correctly guessed the numbers on the card gets their thalers back.

Whoever guessed the number wrong must give their thaler to the winner of the card - these thalers of different colours are used for scoring purposes by the winner of the card and cannot be used as future bets. If this rule is too confusing (but it isn't really) or if you think it's a bit unfair (it kind of is, in the sense that you don't always get to choose the higher-beaded igloo), you can ignore it.


Suppose these bets were made by Green, Yellow and Purple above.

Notice that Purple placed it on the 6.
On scoring round, we discover that Green is wrong as 11 does not fit into the range of 4-6.

Purple and Yellow are spot on as they are both within the range. However Purple gets priority for betting on the "6" Igloo so wins the card and also gets their vote back.

In addition, because Green got it wrong, Purple wins Green's token for scoring purposes (worth 1 victory point in the end).

Yellow gets their vote back but not the cardas Purple won it

Game's End

The game continues until one of these conditions is met:

1) one or more players has no more coins to bet with left OR 
2) there aren't enough cards left for 9 cards to surround the igloo village. 

Each player adds the number of eskimos present on cards + the number of thalers a player has to give their total score (victory points).  Whoever has the most points wins.

Saturday 9 August 2014


Forming part of The Resistance universe, here's a fast-paced high-stakes bluffing game to please a group of 2 to 6.

Name: Coup (2012)

Designer: Rikki Tahta, La Mame Games

Publisher: Indie Boards & Cards

Relatives: Part of The Resistance universe. The classic card game Cheat readily comes to mind.

Players: 2 to 6

Age: 13+

Time to play: 15 minutes for a round, possibly less in a small group.

Price Range (AUD):   $20.95 to about $27. I got mine for around $19.

Availability: It appears to be a top seller, being a hit in early-2013 - it should thus be quite widely available online and in hobby stores.

  • Social Deduction
  • Bluffing
  • Cards

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

7.8+* out of 10. (Great quick thrill - See my Rating Scale)

This is a quick-paced bluffing game that reminds me of a more complex version of the classic card game Cheat.

The general premise or theme of the game is that you are a powerful government official that controls various subjects/minions in court (when I explain the game to people though, I just say that each person represents a mafia family who wants to eliminate the other families).The aim is to get rid of your opponents and be the last one standing. Everyone starts off with 2 cards, which actually represent their 2 lives and minions.

The reason this game is so appealing and gaming-friendly is because there is quite a lot of risk, reward and some degree of strategy. There are 5 different types of characters/minions/subjects you can control - and each gives a unique special ability or power. However, the beauty and key aspect of this game is this: even if you don't have these special characters, you can claim to have them by bluffing.

For example, anyone can claim they have the Duke which is arguably one of the most used characters in the game as he provides 3 income per turn (as opposed to the miserly standard 1 income per turn). Money is everything in this game as it can be used to pay for your opponents to be killed (pay 7 coins for a definite unblockable kill - called a "Coup" - or 3 coins for a kill if you claim to be the Assassin, but can be blocked if someone claims to be the Contessa).

Another critical aspect of the game is challenging other people's claims. When a claim is made, anyone can challenge the claim. If the challenger is wrong, they lose a life. If the challenger is right, the (fake) claimer loses a life! Therefore, there is considerable risk in this game. The only way to lose lives in this game is to either a) be on the losing end of a challenge, or b) have someone pay money for one of your "minions" to be killed.

The upside of this game is seeing your friends interact with each other and trying to call each other's bluffs. You can even forge "temporary" alliances - but remember, agreements aren't binding in this game.

The downside of this game though is that a lot of play comes down to sheer luck in the sense that if you happen to be the most powerful player on the pitch (ie. if you have lots of coins), everyone will try to attack you first - this is a manifestation of tall poppy syndrome, of sorts. However, there are ways to get around this by being on the sly and being more subtle by laying down low and not being too dominating.

In a nutshell, there is enough depth, speed and variety in Coup for it to be replayable. However, there isn't too much meat for me to call this a fantastic game. It's nonetheless a great game overall.

*August and September 2014: Upon further reflection, reduced from 7.9+ on the grounds that, whilst the game is fun, it doesn't have enough substantive material (or, arguably, replayability beyond the initial, say, 15 games) for me to give this a higher score. However, by the same token, I have to take into account the fact that the game was designed with that intention of being played in a casual context and at a fast pace - an aim it has met very well - hence it still deserves a score near or around 7.5 to 7.8. Because it is so effective in a small group of people, and is a great icebreaker filler game, I think it deserves to be on the high end of that scale.

My favourite aspect of this game is the amount of double-bluffing and triple-bluffing involved - you can, for example, do things that conflict with what you actually have, and then perform a move that correspond with what you actually have. Eg You can choose to income when you have the Duke, or choose to assassinate someone when you aren't the Assassin. Then, in future games, people have this memory of you as being "this type of player" and that can affect the way they call your bluffs. In many senses, it plays a lot like poker.

The Good:
  • Quick and fast gameplay - quite addictive
  • Some degree of strategy - it's usually a good idea to be in 2nd place where possible (as you won't be the source of targets and you won't be too weak either)
  • Variety of special abilities to experiment with
  • If you like a game that involves bluffing, risk and luck you'll love this - can you tell if someone is lying?
  • Relatively easy to explain but may require half of a practice round as it isn't completely straightforward

The Bad:
  • Some of it comes down to luck - in the sense that it often depends on what cards/roles you actually have
  • Player elimination always bugs me, particularly when you play with 6 people - if you get eliminated first you usually have to wait for a long time before the round ends. But it can be fun to watch people play.
  • "Let's pick on Person X" - this is one of those games where someone can be bullied or ganged up upon
  • Sometimes you may find yourself in a dead end - where you really have no choice and are going to lose no matter what you do. Sometimes this is the result of poor planning, but at other times it's not your fault and randomly occurs!

What makes this game fun? 

Try Coup if you want a high speed, high risk secret-identity bluffing game.

- 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)

Everyone gets a Reference Sheet/Summary Card.

Everyone also gets 2 cards and 2 coins. Cards remain hidden and placed face down (but you can look at them of course). The rest of the cards form a draw pile (called a "court deck"). The rest of the coins get placed in the middle for everyone to access. For example, this is what a 3 player game would look like.

Set up. Notice the court deck is on the right.

The aim of the game is to kill off all other players (ie. make other players lose all their influence and be the last survivor as the game puts it).

The face down cards are your "henchmen" or who they influence at court. They also represent your life - hence, everyone starts off with 2 lives.


On your turn, a player may only perform ONE ACTION. There are 3 "generic" actions that can be taken - these don't require a special character card.

First I will explain "unblockable" or what I call "free" actions are.

These two actions may be performed "for free" in the sense that they can never be challenged or blocked by anyone else:
1) Take 1 income coin
2) Launch a coup with 7 coins - this definitely kills off one player's card/influence/henchmen reducing them down by 1 life (note that you cannot keep hoarding coins - if you have 10+ coins you MUST launch a coup)

The last generic action is called Foreign Aid and is blockable - this allows you to take 2 coins. However, if someone claims to be the Duke, they can block you from taking the 2 coins. Hence there is a risk in taking this action (see below).

Characters can also give you special actions

However there are several other actions that can be performed if you claim to possess any of these particular characters:

  • Duke: Gives you 3 income this round.
  • Assassin: Kill/remove an influence of another player for 3 coins
  • Ambassador: Draw two cards from the court deck and of the four cards you have, choose 2 that you want.
  • Captain: Steal 2 coins from another player
All the characters - note that the Contessa, bottom left, is the only character that doesn't have an action.
Likewise, note that the Assassin, top right, is the only character that doesn't have a counteraction
Shortening speech - When claiming, colloquial language and phrases can be used. For example, instead of saying "I claim the Duke" one could say "Since I am the Duke.."

Importantly, please note that there are 3 character cards for EACH character (making a total of 15 cards in the whole game) - hence just because you have a particular character card doesn't mean that no one else can have that character.

When I say some actions can be blocked, this means that someone may claim to have a character that stops you from performing your action. These are counteractions. These characters have counteractions:

  • Duke: Blocks foreign aid (ie blocks someone from taking 2 coins)
  • Contessa: Blocks Assassination
  • Captain: Blocks stealing
  • Ambassador: Blocks stealing

When someone makes a claim, ANYONE can challenge the claim if they don't believe them (and I mean ANYONE; you don't even need to be involved in the interaction/action. For example, if X claims to be the assassin and chooses to assassinate Y, Person Z could challenge.)

If the challenger is correct, the person challenged ("the challengee") loses a life. They get to pick what card to lose and they must reveal it. (Shaun taught me this custom rule: The card lost/revealed is kept in front of them for the duration of the game. Alternatively perhaps you may want to shuffle it back into the deck to make it harder to guess what people are)
  • If the challenge is successful, the action is always blocked

If the challengee wants to PROVE that they are in fact what they claimed to be, they must reveal the card that shows that they are the person they claim to be. If so, the challenger loses the challenge and loses a life - they must reveal/lose one of their cards of their choice. Importantly, the revealed card gets shuffled back into the court deck and then one more replacement card is drawn for the successful challengee.
  • Critically, and as a device of deception, the challengee doesn't need to prove that they are what they claim to be if they don't want to. They can just concede the point and lose a life.
  • Similarly, just because you can challenge a claim, doesn't mean you have to.

Hence there are only three ways to lose lives in this game:
  1. Lose a challenge in one of three ways: a) being wrong if challenging another person's claim and you are proven wrong b) not being the character claimed or c) not wanting to show you are the character claimed
  2. Being on the receiving end of a coup launched by another player who pays 7 coins
  3. Being on the receiving end of someone who claims to be the Assassin (after they pay 3 coins), and you don't claim to the Contessa.


For example, suppose Player X (bottom/south) claims to be the Duke and takes 3 coins as below:

If Player J doesn't believe X then Player J (left/west) can challenge X.

However, Player X proves that X is the duke by revealing the Duke card:

Then, Player J must lose a life. J chooses to lose her Contessa. She is now on 1 life.

Player X now draws a new card to replace the revealed Duke card. The Duke card gets shuffled into the Court deck and a new one is drawn (the court deck includes the recently-discarded Duke card - my example below was illustrating the fact that the Duke goes into the deck):

In an alternate universe, suppose Player X was actually lying. Then, Player X would lose a life (ie the captain here) and return the 3 coins

Fatal Challenges

  • a player challenges a player who claims to be an Assassin AND LOSES the challenge OR 
  • the player who claims to be the Contessa LOSES the challenge (because they aren't the Contessa)

Then two lives are lost by the loser of the challenge. This is because the player not only loses a life for losing the challenge (this is a fixed penalty) but the assassination also proceeds - thus two lives are lost.


Also, do remember that whilst they aren't binding in this game, agreements can be made.

Wednesday 6 August 2014

6 Nimmt! (Take 6! or Category 5)

An unpredictable game that, loosely speaking, involves "dodging numbers and rows". Its inherent chaos (and fun) increases with the number of players present.

Name: 6 Nimmt! (1994) - also known as Category 5, Take 6! and sometimes even 6 who loses!

Designer: Wolfgang Kramer

Publisher: Amigo

Players: 2 to 10

Age: 10+

Time to play: 45 minutes but less if you choose to play less rounds

Price Range (AUD):  Approx $20 to $40 when you include shipping. I bought mine for $15.80 pick-up. If my memory serves me well, I remember seeing this game on sale for something ridiculous like $3.50 in a shop in the city - but I'm not sure why that happened or whether it was merely a fire sale.

Editions: There is a jubilee edition which apparently incorporates joker cards ranged from 0.0 to 0.9 which act as wild cards.

Jubilee edition - celebrating 20 years

There is also 11 Nimmt! which is quite an interesting spin-off as it uses the concept of getting rid of all your cards (you must play a card not more than 10 points higher than the card in the stack - or else you have to take the stack of cards) but also incorporates an element of risk-taking in that you can choose to increase the number of cards you can play if you choose to take more stacks (which disadvantage you in the short-term, but are hopefully offset by the increased ability to play cards). Thanks to Sean for showing me this game.

Availability: Seemingly available online but I can imagine this to be a game that isn't necessarily stocked a a matter of priority (but I wouldn't know for sure).

  • Card 
  • Game theory
  • Classic
  • Simultaneous Action Selection (Here, everyone reveals their action at the same time)
  • Party

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

6.6+* out of 10. (Decent - See my Rating Scale)

This is a pretty decent card game for a multitude of people - the more people you have, the more chaotic the game gets (which probably makes it better - but, at the same time, a larger group makes the game arguably less strategic).

Here's a brief summary of the rules. There are 104 cards in total, numbered from 1 to 104. Players each get 10 cards. Players each put a card face down and then all cards are simultaneously revealed. The cards get ordered into rows based on their value and in ascending order (See Rules below for a better explanation). Whoever's card is sorted into the 6th card of any one of the 4 rows takes all the cards (and hence, loses points!). These cards don't go into your hand but are used for scoring purposes. You don't want to take cards in this game as they are worth negative points.

The inherent thrill in the game lies in the unpredictability of the outcome of each round. Given the rows of cards shown in front of you, you'll have to try to guess what other people are likely to play. Depending on what you think that is, you'll either try to play a high-valued card, a low-valued card or a mid-range card to stay out of trouble.

If you don't like "numbers" (even in the general and simplistic sense of deciding which numbers are bigger than others) you probably won't like this game.

The game also adds an option for "advanced play". Instead of being dealt a random set of 10 cards, each person gets to pick cards that are publically revealed to all players. This adds considerable strategy, although such strategic thought may be hard to logic out in a large group of people.

* September 2014: Reduced marginally from 6.65. The game itself isn't too much better than 6.5 so I have adjusted this accordingly. It has a few quirks about it that make it a bit different, but that's about it.

The Good:
  • Fast gameplay - can play many sessions
  • Unpredictable and interesting reactions and outcomes, especially with a decently populated group
  • There is a measure of thrill in trying to duck or avoid collecting rows by playing high or low cards - a considerable amount of game theory is involved.
  • Can be a good party game in certain, but not all, situations.
  • Replayable if you are after something simple.
The Bad:
  • People who hate the sight of numbers may not like this game - even though the game isn't really that mathsy! 
  • May be a bit clumsy to explain the rules at first - needs demonstration in the first round for people to understand what's going on.
  • Replay value is questionable if you are after something with more substance

What makes this game fun? 

The inherent uncertainty and chaos associated with each round played (as players try to ensure they aren't the 6th card in a given row) makes for quite an interesting game.

- 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)

Everyone gets 10 cards to start the game. Each player should probably sort their cards into ascending order.
The aim of this game is to avoid collecting cards.

Set up the game by playing 4 cards in a vertical column. These cards each represent 1 row - for a total of 4 rows like so:

A random set-up. 30, 37, 55 and 13 from top to bottom

Rules for playing cards.

Since each person has 10 cards, there are only 10 rounds. In each round, every player plays a card face down. When everyone is ready their card is flipped over and revealed.

There are a few rules that must be observed:

1) All cards just played must now be ordered in ascending order. For example, suppose that in a 3 player game, these cards were played:

In this 3 player game, the cards 36, 38, 99 were played and are now ordered in ascending order

2) Then, starting with the lowest card just played (and proceeding in ascending order), each card must be fit into one of the 4 rows. This is done by two ways as per Rules 3 to 5:

3) If any of the cards played are HIGHER than any of the values in the row, the card will be placed to the RIGHT SIDE of one of these rows.

4) If there is more than one row in which Rule 4 can be satisfied, the card played always goes into the row where the numerical difference between the card just played and the value of the card in the row is the lowest.

For example, using the above numbers played (36, 38 and 99) the 36 card will have to be positioned first. Because it is higher than the numbers 30 and 13, it can potentially go into any of those rows. However, to satisfy Rule 4, it must go into the top row next to the 30 because 36 is closer to 30 than 13.

Then the 38 card would NOT go next to the 36, but next to 37 as 38 is closer to 37.

Then 99 would go next to 55.

5) If any of the cards played are LOWER in numerical value than all of the values in the row then a row will have to be removed. The owner of the card gets to select which row of cards they would like to take and "empty". They do so and replace that row with the card they played.

For example, if a 1 was played on the next turn, the owner of the 1 can decide which row they want to "empty". The best option would be to empty the bottom row as that is only worth -1 points (not -2 points as in the second row). The number of bullheads on the card indicates how many negative points it is worth. The more colourful cards are more "dangerous" and should not be taken.

However, in this example, the owner of the 1 chooses, maybe for mysterious strategic reasons, to take the second row:

The 1 replaces the whole second row, and the cards that were in that row now form penalty points for the owner of the 1

The cards "taken" do not go into the player's hand but are used for scoring purposes - the more bullhead symbols you have the worse off you are (see below for a better idea).

Taking rows

6) If a card is placed in accordance with Rules 4 and/or 5, and the card played is the SIXTH card in the row, the owner of the card played takes the whole row. This is obviously very bad because the person who takes the row receives a lot of negative points. The number of negative points is shown by the number of bullhorns on the card.

For example, suppose this is what the game is like thus far. As you can see the top row has 5 cards:

Then, if a person plays the 68 card and it's next to be sorted into the rows, it clearly fits into the top row. This would make it the 6th card in that row.

Hence, as a punishment, the entire row is taken by that owner and the 68 card is left behind, starting a "clean row":

This must obviously be avoided at all costs but it is usually hard to tell whether you will end up being the 6th card in the row (as you must anticipate what others will put down).


Whoever has the most bullheads at the time the game ends loses. The game suggests that the game should continue until someone gets 66 bullheads (ie. gets -66 points). It can be a nuisance to keep track of scores though. Perhaps an arbitrary points total can be used to activate the end game.

The bullhead symbols appear in the top middle of the card. The more bullheads, the more negative points

The top right card is actually a 66 (I put it upside down). It is red because it is a dangerous card to take, penalising the taker 5 points. 

For example, if these were the cards a person had at the end of the round (eg from taking the top row in the most recent example above), they would be on 1 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 3 = 11 bullheads = - 11 points.

Monday 4 August 2014

Project Clean Up

I thank my mother, Joanne, for helping me to re-take photos to entries on this site using her special flash photography (a vast improvement on some of the older photos taken). She has made this site possible :)

We have just cleaned up The Resistance: Avalon, partly thanks to our spanking new orange background.

If you see this orange background, the entry in question is likely to have been cleaned up:

Work will be done in the next few weeks to re-post images of Las VegasCarcassonneThe Settlers of Catan etc..