Jaipur by Game Works

Game Works is a game publisher out of Switzerland. I have been playing a few of their games for a little while now, and I’m surprised that I haven’t written a review about their games before, because they are really great. I guess I get caught up in the high of buying and reviewing new releases haha.

So a few of Game Works’ games that I have been getting a great amount of replay value out of are Sobek, and Jaipur. Both games have a middle eastern theme about them and involve some type of goods trading. Neither are worker placement games. Outside of those two similarities (and having the same box size) the games are quite different. I’m going to focus on Jaipur in this post, mostly because it’s a two-player game only, and two people can enjoy this game, they’ll most likely also enjoy Sobek, which is a 2-4 player game.

As with all of the Game Works games I have played, the box comes in a great size, with a fantastic insert that fits all the pieces comfortably.

My only issue with the box is if you want to sleeve your cards, which I would recommend for this game, than you’ll have to take the insert out of the box, and I really enjoy how perfect the pieces fit into the insert.

The game also comes with a ton of instruction books in different languages.

The game is really easy to play. The winner of the game is the player with the most points. You gain points by trading the cards from your hand into the bank for points. The more cards you trade in of the same type, the more points you will gain. The sooner you trade in your cards, the more points you’ll get as well.

The game begins with each player having a hand of five cards. Any cards that display a camel are set off to the side. I will explain this reasoning later. There is also a set of five cards out on the table. These five cards represent the market.

On your turn, you may do one of these options, and only one:

  • Take one card from the market and replace it with a card from the deck, or

  • Take all the camels from the market, set them aside, and replace them, or

  • Swap cards from your hand with cards in the market, or

  • Play cards

The types of cards (“goods”) you play determine what kind of points you gain. The amount of goods you play also determines your points gained. Brown goods are the easiest to find, then green, purple, silver, gold, and orange. 

For the first three colors (brown, green, and purple), you can play just one card to get points. For the other three colors, you must play at minimum two cards. 

When you play cards to gain points, you must play all of the same color. Each goods type also has a corresponding point value to it. More rare cards (the silver, gold, and orange goods) produce more points. If you play two orange cards, you would receive 14 points, versus playing two silver cards, which would produce 10 points.

Points values are seen on the chips that match that good color.

The first player to play cards of a certain color gets the first chips of that color. The first chips have more points assigned to them then the chips on the bottom, so playing cards first will get you the higher valued chips. You also get bonus chip points for playing three, four, and five card sets instead of just playing two cards.

Remember those camels I mentioned earlier? If you have the most camels set aside at the end of the round, you get an extra five point chip.

Whoever is the winner of two rounds wins the game!

Jaipur is a fun, easy-to-learn game that is great for adults as well as children. If you enjoy this game but would like to try something for more players, I suggest giving Sobek by Game Works a try.

Thanks for reading!

Arboretum by Z-Man Games

I am particular on games that I pick up, and I tend to stray away from large boxes or games that come with a lot of pieces. I have noticed lately that I am genuinely attracted to playing a lot of the games published by Z-Man Games, especially their card games, and I recently tried Arboretum and LOVED IT!

Great box and art. The shape of the box is great. It’s the same size that Z-Man uses on many of their card games, including Parade and Black Spy. 

There is enough room in the box to sleeve the game as well and be able to leave the insert, which I recommend because you handle the cards a lot, and I am already starting to notice some wear on the edges and have only played the game three times. I am definitely getting clear sleeves though, because I just love the backs of these cards.

The game comes with the deck of cards, numbers 1-8 of each of the ten different trees available for your arboretum, the score tracker for the end of the game, and the rulebook.

Dependent upon the number of players, you will start the game with either all of the cards in the deck, two of the tree types taken out, or four of the tree types taken out, for 4, 3, or 2 players, respectively. Each player starts with a hand of seven cards dealt out plus one face-up card, which begins their discard pile. Each player will have their own discard pile throughout the game.

On your turn draw two cards, play a card into your arboretum, and then discard a card. That’s all you do on your turn. When you go to draw two cards, you may draw them from either the deck face-down, or from your opponent’s face-up discard pile(s).

The winner of the game is the player with the most points. The way you get points is by playing cards into your arboretum to create runs of cards in ascending order. The first card and the last card of your run must be the same tree type (which is also going to be the same color, as each tree type has it’s own color). It’s a little confusing, so here’s an example of an arboretum deep into the game:

In this arboretum, there is only one run that is available to score points, the purple run. The purple run begins with the purple 1 card, and ends with the purple 4 card:

(purple 1, purple 2, purple 3, purple 4)

While the numbers keep going up to a 5 and a 6 card, the last purple card was the 4 card, therefore making the purple run end at the 4 card. And while in this case the purple run only consists of purple cards, the 2 and the 3 card could be any color in order for the purple run to score points.

The green card does not create a run, therefore it scores no points. The blue cards could have scored a run, but the purple 2 card was in the way of the blue 2 card, so the blue run was unable to be created.

(If it was able to score and the purple 2 card was not in the way, it would have been blue 2, purple 3, purple 4, blue 5, blue 6)

Not only do you have to make sure you have the first and last card be of the same color, but at the end of the game, you also need to have the highest sum of points in your hand of the colors you are hoping to score. You first have to determine who gets to score which color. Only one person can score points per color. The way to determine who gets to score points for each color is by looking at everyone’s hands at the end of the game. Whoever has the highest sum of cards of a color type gets to score that color. So if Jim has a sum of eight points in the color blue in his hand at the end of the game and Sue has only the sum of four points in the color blue at the end of the game, then regardless of how many blue cards Sue has, Jim gets to score points instead. If Jim doesn’t have any blue cards in his arboretum, then Sue just misses out on the points, even though Jim doesn’t get any points either.

Scoring the points themselves is easy. Once you figure out who gets to score which color, you add up the amount of cards in the run. From the above example, we’ll use the color purple. The purple run had four cards in it, so that scores four points. One bonus point is given for the run starting with the number 1 card (one bonus point is given if a run starts with the 1 card, and two bonus points are given if the run ends with the 8 card). The purple run is also made up of at least four cards of the same color, so an additional four bonus points is given (one additional point per card in the run). So, the purple run scores the following points:

4 points for four cards

1 bonus point for the 1 card

4 bonus points for having at least four cards of the same color

Total of 9 points for the purple run.

Like I said, it can be a little confusing, but once you do a play-through, you start to figure it out. It’s a delicate balance of wanting to have a good run of specific colored cards in your arboretum, but also making sure you have enough of that color in your hand at the end of the game so you can get the opportunity to score the points.

I really liked the game and would definitely recommend it to those that like card strategy games. Game play is about 30 minutes and it’s not a too difficult game if you’re looking to play it with older children.

9/10 is what this nerdy lady gives Arboretum by Z-Man Games!

Murder of Crows by Atlas Games

Hello all, it has been a few weeks since I last wrote a review, but that does not mean I haven’t been playing games! I have picked up quite a few games lately, most of them card games, including Mr. Jack Pocket, Red7, Pie Factory, and today’s review,  Murder of Crows.

Murder of Crows is a 2-5 player card game, designed by Thomas Denmark and Eduardo Baraf of Atlas Games, which tells the story of a murder. BooOOoOo!

The packaging for Murder of Crows is pretty simple, the cards are put into two piles and have a small divider in between. If you wanted to sleeve these, you would definitely need different packaging. I don’t mind the slimness of the packaging, however, because you don’t shuffle the cards too often, so sleeving is almost unnecessary. I also like the compact size of the box because it keeps the game travel friendly.

On your turn, you will either draw two cards, or you will draw one and play one. You’re trying to spell out M-U-R-D-E-R, and each letter you play has an assigned action to it.

It’s difficult to see in the photo, but when you have completed spelling out M-U-R-D-E-R, the cards will lay out a small story of a murder. It’s really fun and I like that, essentially, your murder story is random, so it will be different every game. The above MURDER story is as follows:

“(M) Dawn broke the mist (U) in a weed-choked garden when (R) Finnegin Faust (D) in a jealous rage (E) used a frozen turkey to bludgeon (R) Petuna Nightshade.”

Each letter has its own action. For example, if you play an R on your turn, you get to draw one card. If you play an M, you get to take one card from someone else’s played MURDER and put it into your hand. Players may also play a card from their hand to prevent a card’s action, like the M card’s. You do so by discarding a card with the same number of crows in the upper left-hand corner as the card played by the current player.

I played this game with two and with three people, and both groups seemed to enjoy it. Definitely a game that makes for a shorter, in between game. Most games I played lasted around 20 minutes. If you enjoy shorter card games and are ok with spookier games, you’ll definitely enjoy this one.

Red7 by Asmadi Games

In keeping with my recent love of card games, last week I picked up today’s review Red7, a game designed by Carl Chudyk and Chris Cieslik of Asmadi Games.

Red7 is a 2-4 player card game that I would say is a little like a mash up of Fluxx and Uno. Everyone starts with a set number of cards in their hand, and they are trying to be the last one standing at the end of the round. The way you knock out other players is by playing cards from your hand that either satisfies the current rule AND makes you be winning the game, or you change the rule to make it so you are winning the game.

The packaging for Red7 is simple enough. Sleek box with a cardboard insert to hold the cards in place. This is definitely a game for sleeving, but if you want to keep the original box, you’re going to find that to be a little difficult. If you take the insert out, you could fit the cards sleeved by stack height, though it’s such a snug fit that you might bend the cards.

Players play until they reach 40, 35, or 30 points for a 2, 3, or 4 player game, respectively. Each game (I’d prefer to call them rounds, because the game actually ends when a player has reached the appropriate amount of points) begins with the same rule card, which is the red card in the photo. Everyone starts with a hand of seven cards kept secret, and one card played face up. Whoever has the lowest number begins the game.

The game begins with the starting player playing one card either in their play area, or onto the rule card, changing the win condition. The round starts with the rule that whoever has the highest numbered card played is the winner of the round. So if you’re opponents have played a card with a higher number than yours, you must either play a card that’s higher than your opponent’s, or change the rule so you are winning the game.

 If your opponent has played a seven, which is the highest number you can play, and you also have a seven but it’s of a higher valued color, you will be winning the round if you play it. The value of the colors are in order of the color spectrum, ROYGBIV. Highest color is red, and then orange, and then yellow, all the way to violet being the lowest color.

Each color has a rule written on the side of the card in case you want to use the card to change the win condition. For example, if you played a yellow card to change the win condition, then the new win condition would be whoever has the most cards of one color. If Player A has three green cards played, and Player B has three yellow cards played, then whoever has the highest numbered card in their set of three would be winning the round at that moment.

If both players are equal in their amount of cards of one color AND their highest numbered card in that set is the same, then Player B would be winning, because yellow is of higher value than green (remember, ROYGBIV).

Some of the other rules that change the win condition are most cards played in a row (indigo), most cards of different colors (blue), and most cards below the number 4 (violet).

I have played this game with two and four players, and no matter how many players there are, you still seem to have a good time. The game lasts a little longer with more players, stretching it out to about a 30 minute game, while two players can last about 15 minutes. Once you’ve played the game once over, you definitely get the hang of the rules. 

You can pick up Red7 from your FLGS for $12.99 MSRP.

VivaJava The Coffee Game: The Dice Game by Dice Hate Me Games

Two nights ago I finally got the chance to play this weirdly titled game, VivaJava The Coffee Game: The Dice Game, at Dark Side Comics and Games in Sarasota Florida. Before I picked up the game, I had not heard anything about it from friends. I chose the game because the theme of coffee caught my eye, and boy do I love coffee.

This game is produced by Dice Hate Me Games, and I had never played a game by this company before. It took me about two weeks to finally play this game because I needed a friend’s help in figuring out the rulebook. I thought it was me, but apparently it wasn’t, because two other friends read this book and found it extremely difficult to follow.

The insert of the box was really awkward and unnecessary, so I removed it from the box. It was a white folded piece of cardboard that was supposed to be used to separate the game pieces, but it just was in the way, and was also left with grease stains from the burlap bag, so I decided to just toss it.

The game comes with white dice, black dice, tokens for each player, score sheets, and a ton of different coasters that are used in the game, dependent upon if you play with multiple players or just yourself.

How the game works:

On your turn, you will roll five white dice.

Your goal is to roll the best sets of same colors. Each color has a value, and the better valued dice beat the lower values, and more dice of the same color beat fewer amounts of dice with the same color.

For example: Green is a higher valued color than red. If Player A rolls three green ones and Player B rolls three red ones, Player A’s roll will beat Player B’s.

If Player A rolls three green ones but Player B rolls four red ones, Player B’s roll will beat Player A’s roll.

Whoever rolls the best combination of dice will gain one point, and if they can hold the best combination until the beginning of their next turn, they will gain an additional three points.

If the player who had the best combination of dice (also known in the game as the “featured blend”) is able to hold the best featured blend until the beginning of their next turn, they gain the three points, then they must remove a die from their featured blend.

Each time they maintain the best featured blend, they must remove a die. Eventually they will not have the best blend, or they will reduce their blend to one die, at which point they will relinquish the title of the featured blend.

While this is the easiest way to gain points, if a player cannot role a combination of the same colored dice and ends up rolling each die with a different color, they will win the rainbow blend, gain a point, and will gain an additional two points if the hold the only rainbow blend until the beginning of their next turn. Unlike the featured blend, you don’t remove any dice from the rainbow blend each round, but it’s easier to lose the rainbow blend, because there are no rankings of dice rolls for the rainbow blend.

A player can only score points for one type of blend at a time. If a player rolls the dice and can’t satisfy either a rainbow blend of five different colors, or beat the current best featured blend, they may choose to use their dice to gain research points, which allow them to gain extra abilities, dependent upon the color of the dice they rolled.

When a player rolls dice, they may choose which color facing up they would like to research. If two more more dice are the same color, the player may research that color multiple times. When a color has been researched 2, 5, and lastly 8 times, they gain abilities. The abilities gained correspond with the color researched.

When a color has been researched twice, they gain the ability. When it’s been researched five times, they gain the ability twice, and when the color has been researched a final eighth time, they gain points equal to the number listed on the coaster for that researched color.

IE in the above photo of the “lite” coaster, Field Testing, the brown color, gives 3 points when completed. The yellow Improve Bean color gives 4 points.

Note the black color is not listed on the “lite” coaster. This is because if someone chooses to research a black color, instead of gaining an ability, they gain black dice equal to the amount of black beans rolled. These dice in the game are called Flavor dice.

Flavor dice can be used to add to dice rolls to attempt to roll the best featured blend, or they can be used to assist another player’s dice roll. While doing this allows your opponent to gain points, by assisting your opponent, you would also gain a point for every die you assisted with.

The game ends when one player has reached 21 points.

I enjoyed this game once we got into the swing of things. The instruction booklet really made it difficult to figure out the game, but once we got the game rolling (pun intended), I found the game to be really enjoyable.

 

The dice are very nice quality, and the coasters are also very nice. The score sheets are double-sided paper sheets you write on, so I plan on getting four of them laminated and using dry erase markers, because you will eventually run out of score sheets.

The game also has a single player version to it, where the game plays against you as an evil corporation. I have not played this version yet.

I would give this game a 7/10. I think if I had been taught the game by someone who had played it a few times already I would’ve enjoyed it more, but the difficult instructions made the game difficult to get into at first. It’s also very coffee themed, so if you’re not into the theme that much, you may have a lack of interest in this game.

If you like to roll dice and enjoy a game with a bit of strategy, a bit of chance, you will really enjoy this game. While the dice rolling is all chance, what you do with your dice is where the strategy comes in.

I will be bringing this game with me to International Table Top Day on April 11, 2015, at the Dark Side Comics and Games in Sarasota, Florida if you’re interested in learning to play this game and giving it a go.

Hope to see you there!

Just Desserts by Looney Labs

My local comic shop, the Dark Side Comics and Games in Sarasota Florida, received in the mail this week the demo copy of Just Desserts by Looney Labs.

Because Looney Labs seems to produce a lot of the same game with slight variations (IE all the Fluxx versions, Seven Dragons, etc.), I expected this game to be really similar to many of their other games. I was happy to learn that this game has a different style of game play.

The box is a standard sized small box with a cardboard insert to hold the entirety of the cards.

It’s hard to tell, but the instruction insert on the left of the photo is larger than the box size, so it came a little crumpled and ripped. I don’t know if it was packaged this way because it’s a demo copy, but if not, I don’t know why they wouldn’t just fold the insert to fit in the box properly and prevent destruction to it.

Anyway, the game begins with two decks, one for desserts and one for guests.

All players start with a hand of three dessert cards, and there are three starting guests out on the table. The dessert cards have icons on them, indicating what type of cravings they will satisfy.

IE the “ice cream cake” card satisfies the “ice cream” craving and the “cake” craving.

The guest cards will also have those same types of icons on them, indicating what cravings they desire to satisfy in order to be won.

 

IE the “Boston Boy” card is craving cake, pudding, pie, and chocolate icon cards.

On a player’s turn, the first draw a dessert card from the dessert deck, flip a guest card face up on the table, and then do one of the following three actions: Win over up to two guests, draw one more dessert card, or discard their hand of dessert cards and draw up to the same amount as discarded.

If a player chooses to win over a guest, they must play as many cards as they’d like to satisfy the guest’s craving, avoiding disliked flavors.

 For the “Lumberjack” guest, these two cards, while having additional flavors, satisfy the cravings of ice cream and cookie. However, if you notice on the “Lumberjack” card, she has a craving of Ice Cream Cone. If a player has this dessert card and can match it to the guest’s craving, they will also get to draw a card in addition to winning a guest.

The game ends when one player has either won three guests of the same color, or five guests of all different colors.

This is a light game, plays 2-5 players, and can play anywhere between 10-40 minutes, depending upon how many players there are.

This game is scheduled to be released April 10, 2015.

This demo copy will be available at the Dark Side Comics and Games to try out before the release date, and you can come learn to play it on April 11 at the Dark Side for the event International Table Top Day.

Friday the 13th by Iello

If you’re familiar with Parade or Coloretto, you’ll figure out this game quickly. Friday the 13th is an adorable game where everyone starts out with about an equal hand of four types of cards: walking under a ladder, breaking a mirror, seeing a black cat, or Friday the 13th. There are equal number amounts of the first three types of cards, and a handful of Friday the 13th cards, all shuffled out to everyone. The first player plays a card of any of those types, and then it goes to the next player. The players can only have three piles of cards, one of each main type (not Friday the 13th). When a pile reaches a total of 13th points or higher, whichever player caused this pile to go over must take all the cards from the pile, and they will count negatively against this player at the end of the round. You play until you have no more cards. Friday the 13th cards can be played in any pile, but MUST NOT HAVE A PILE OF THEIR OWN. For some reason Iello was hella adamant about this rule, and I quote:

“Each round begins with no card on the table. Friday the 13th cards may be played in any pile. There is no Friday the 13th pile: Do not start a fourth pile for these cards.”

Alright, I got it, Iello. Anyway, you play three rounds of this, and then whoever *basically*  grabbed the fewest amount of cards wins. It’s a little more complicated than that, but the scoring isn’t difficult. My friends and I really enjoyed this game, we played a good two or three rounds of it (we didn’t keep score, that was my fault, sorry :3 ), and had a good time.

Overall
I’ve got to give Friday the 13th a good 8/10. I hope they come out with expansions, eventually, with variations of bad omens, or if they did variation games that are bad omens from different cultures and countries. Cute game, I would recommend to beginners and advanced board gamers.