Board Game Thursday! GTM #187

Happy Thursday, everyone! Thursdays are especially exciting for me, because at my FLGS (Friendly Local Game Shop) The Dark Side Comics and Games, Thursdays are the days they get in new board game inventory, and also have their board game meetup night. SO, in honor of the exciting arrival of new games, and the celebration of gaming on Thursdays, we have Board Game Thursday!

Today I am going to go over some of the cool games that were in this month’s Game Trade Magazine, issue #187.

First, I want to talk about the cover games, Munchkin Hipsters and Munchkin Kittens. You can expect to see Munchkin: Kittens and Munchkin: Hipsters in blister pack form in December for Hipsters, and November for Kittens at your FLGS. Each blister pack is expected to have 30 cards in it with tons of fun cards. In Munchkin: Kittens, you might find yourself facing the level 20 Great Cathulhu monster, or the level 2 Kitten Whiskers. In Munchkin: Hipsters, you can expect to see fetch items like the Chunky Black Glasses you can wear as headgear, or you might encounter the level 10 monster, Lumberjerk. Whichever pack you choose, you can be sure to find the cards really entertaining.

Munchkin: Kittens Blister Pack will be $9.95 available November 2015 at your FLGS, item #SJG4215.

Munchkin: Hipsters Blister Pack will also be $9.95 and will be available December 2015 at your FLGS item #SJG4250.

A few of the games that I am also excited about in this issue of GTM are by Asmadi Games, and they are all available in FLGS now. The first one is Adorable Pandaring, which I currently own and have done a review on, which you can see here. The other two by Asmadi that I do not own (yet, because these look adorable) are Meow, and Mottainai.

Meow is a silly card game that supports 2-9 players, and is an elimination game. Players go around the table taking cards and saying “meow.” If a player says “meow” and is suspected of not holding a meow card, other players can call their bluff. If the player was holding a meow card, the accusing player is out. If they were hold a NOT meow card, they are out. The winner is the last player standing. Meow is available at your FLGS now for $12.00, item #ASI0030.

Mottainai is another Asmadi Games game I’m looking foward to. It’s being released in two sizes, Mini, which suits 2-3 players, and Deluxe, which suits 2-5 players. According to Asmadi Games’ website, Mottainai is game where players work in a Buddhist temple and are attempting to create works of display to sell to visitors to the temple. The winner of the game is the player with the most valuable completed works, sales, and backorders.

Mottainai Deluxe and Mini are available at your FLGS for $25 and $15, respectively. Deluxe item #ASI0120, and Mini #ASI0121.

GTM also had a few games that have been released before but are back in production and ready to ship. One of those games that I’m looking forward to seeing is 12 Days by Cheapass Games. It was originally published in 2011, but will be available for purchase from your FLGS in October 2015.

12 Days will be $7.50, item #CLP112.

Of course there’s plenty of other games in this issue that I’m excited about, but I couldn’t possibly talk about all of them today. Want to take a look at the rest of the stuff in this issue? You can pick up your copy of Game Trade Magazine at your FLGS for $3.99.

Mai-Star by Alderac Entertainment Group

Ah, I am finally reviewing this game! I have owned this game for a long time because I am usually not in a situation where I have three people to play a game with, I hadn’t gotten a chance to play it very often. Well, I finally got to play it after over a year of owning it, and once I realized that I hadn’t reviewed the game yet, definitely knew this game was the next one to debute on the blog.

Mai-Star is a game designed by Seiji Kanai, the same person who designed Love Letter, also by AEG.

Mai-Star is a 3-6 player game where players are competing geisha, whose goal is to be the best geisha at the end of game by having made the most money. The way you make money is by attracting customers. The only thing is, most customers won’t visit you unless you have a good enough reputation for them to accept your services. If you decide that you would like to improve your reputation in a certain topic, you may choose to have a customer be an advertiser for you instead, increasing your reputation.

The game comes in a standard sized box with a cardboard insert to keep the cards sorted. I don’t know if the game would still fit in the box if you sleeved the cards, but I’m not sure it’s necessary to sleeve them because there is very little shuffling. The game also comes with a score sheet.

These are the six geisha that players can choose to be. They all have different strengths and different special abilities. For this review I’m going to use the bottom middle geisha, Harukaze, Spring Breeze.




The symbols on the side of the text indicate what our reputation is in each skill. For Harukaze, she has a one reputation in the red Performance skill, a three reputation in the blue Service skill, and a five reputation in the Intelligence skill. When it comes time to go over the Advertisement action, I will explain her special ability.


At the beginning of the game, all players start with their geisha out, and a hand of four customers. The customers look like this:

Each customer has, in order of appearance on the card, the following information. Here are the numbers from the Scholar, the green card on the right:

The top number is what amount of reputation the customer requires for a geisha to have in that specific skill. For the Scholar, it is one in Intelligence. The next number on the gold circle is how much money that customer will pay. For the Scholar, it is two gold. The next symbol indicates what the special ability is on that card. Finally, the last number on the bottom indicates how much reputation power that customer can aid your geisha with if they are played as an advertiser, not a customer.

Now that we have looked at our hand, we must decide what action to take. There are five of them to choose from.

  1. Play a customer as a guest and gain the special action or ability from that customer.

  2. Play the customer as aid in Advertisement, and increase our reputation, then draw a card from the deck.

  3. Discard two cards then draw two cards.

  4. Exchange a card in my hand with an advertiser already played.

  5. Draw a card from the deck.

Looking at our hand and knowing what our reputation is for each skill, our action of choice will be to play the Scholar as a guest, since we have a five in Intelligence, and the Scholar requires only one. We also gain his special action, and choose ourselves as the target player, so we may draw one card. We play him above our geisha card, to indicate that he is a guest.

It now goes to the next player’s turn. Once it has come back to our turn, we look at our hand again and choose to play a Sumo-Wrestler customer as an advertiser instead of a guest. We gain no points from the Sumo-Wrestler, but we do increase our reputation in the red Performance skill. It is now the next player’s turn.

You keep playing turns until one player has used up all of the cards in their hand, or the deck is exhausted, whichever happens first. Then you count up points. Each guest indicates how many points it is worth. Each advertiser counts for no points, and each extra card in your hand counts as negative two points. Once points are tallied, all customer cards are shuffled up, and another round begins. Three rounds are played total, and the geisha with the most money made at the end of the game is the winner!

I really enjoy this game. I have only played it with three players, and it seems to go over very well. There is one thing about the game that I’ve house-ruled, and that is as long as we don’t have to, we don’t use the geisha card named Oboro, Hazy, because she has a five reputation in all of the skills, heavily throwing the game off balance. If you have more players though, I could see how that card would be an interesting mix, because a lot of customer special abilities and actions allow you to mess with other player’s guests, so perhaps it would end up making a lot of the other geisha use their special effects on the player with Oboro, so she wouldn’t keep winning all the rounds.

Other than that, I haven’t noticed anything about this game that I think is odd. I really enjoyed getting a chance to play this game again, and I look forward to playing more of this and others by Seiji Kanai.

Want to watch a demonstration of the game? Check out my YouTube video: Episode 2 Cassie Talks Mai-Star by AEG

Episode 2 Mai-Star Review

In episode two, Cassie Elle (hey, that’s me!)  runs through the game Mai-Star by AEG.

Niya by Blue Orange Games

I love two player games. I more often than not find myself with only one other person to play games with, so I get a lot of use out of two player games. I also love shorter games, like, no more than 45 minutes, and even that is pushing it. So when I found Niya by Blue Orange Games, I was super excited. A two player game, with a gameplay of 15 minutes, and in one of my favorite themes for board games, the Asian theme? Yeah, I can dig it.

The inside of the case is perfect. All the pieces fit neatly, and it’s a very sleek design. I really love the chips and how thick they are. The engraving on the back of them is really pretty. I also love the artwork on the tiles.

The game begins with each player having a stack of chips, black or red, and all of the tiles randomly placed out on the table like the picture above. The first player exchanges one of her chips with a tile on the board. That tile, just like all the tiles, will have two elements to it: a poetic symbol, and a plant. The other player will then exchange one of their chips for a tile on the board as well, only they now have a restriction: they may only take a tile that has either (a) the same poetic symbol, or (b) the same plant as the tile first chosen. This restriction now applies to both players for the rest of the game.

Why are you exchanging your tiles? Because the goal of the game is to get your chips in a row either diagonally, vertically, or horizontally, or in a grouping of four tiles in a square.

In the above picture, black has won with the cluster of four chips. The amount of points won is equal to the amount of tiles remaining. In the above picture, black has won with seven points. To win the game, you need ten points total.

If you really enjoy this game and you want to extend your play time, you can always play winner is the best out of three or five games. Niya is a great game, I enjoyed it very much, and I am looking forward to playing more games by Blue Orange Games.

Want to see a demonstration of this game being played? Check out my YouTube channel!

Episode 1 Niya and Adorable Pandaring Review

In this episode, Cassie Elle reviews Adorable Pandaring by Asmadi Games, and Niya by Blue Orange Games. No time to watch? Read about both games here:!blog/c129a

Please subscribe, share, like, tweet, and all that other fun stuff!
Twitter: @FriedmanCassie

End song: Enter the Ninja by Die Antwoord

Blokus by Educational Insights

Before I purchased this game I had played Blokus a few times at my Waffle Boat Podcast partner Wayne’s house. I didn’t realize that it was a classic game until I noticed it was in publication by many companies.  Regardless of it’s age, I enjoyed the game very much and had high intentions of purchasing it one day. Well, to my luck, I found a copy at a thrift store for $2.00. TWO DOLLARS BOIIIIII! I was SO excited to bring it home and play it. I knew it was 2-4 players, and I had not played the two-player version before, so I tried it out with Mr. Cassie. 

Remember that whole TWO DOLLARS BOIIIII thing I just did right up there ^? Mmmmk well the thing about thrift store games is sometimes things like instruction booklets are missing mmk so with the instruction booklet missing  we tried to play this game with two players and ended up playing the game and then the game just ended. And we just sat there wondering if…It was over. I later found out online that there is a two-player VAR-I-ATIOOON that we didn’t do, which changes the WHOLE GAME. I will explain it down below, in the review.

Blokus is a two-four player game that’s kind of like the old game Tetris, but instead of getting shapes to fit near each other, you’re trying to get your shapes to touch corner to corner.

Each player has twenty-one pieces and you go back and forth placing your pieces until you can’t legally place one. Your pieces cannot be touching on any sides, but must be touching on a corner.

So that two-player variant I mentioned? It has each player using two colors. If you don’t use two colors, you will get this:

All your pieces will fit. Aaaanndd your game will end. I have heard that another two-player variant that is better for some people is to basically make the board size smaller, so it is 14×14 size. You can use one of the other unused colors to create a border, like this:

Either way you play, the way you win is by having the least amount of squares remaining in your hand, so it’s best to use the larger pieces early on in the game so you don’t have to count them as points later.

Blokus is a great game for families and adults, and has received many awards, including Mensa Select, Dr. Toy 100 Best Children’s Products, and many others. 

I definitely recommend you pick up Blokus, it is a great classic game, available almost anywhere, and can be very inexpensive, if you know the right place to go. Just make sure YOU HAVE ALL THE PIECES.


Mentality Nail Polish Debacle

I don’t know how many of you are into nail polish, but even if you aren’t, you might find this story interesting.

An indie (as in not main stream) nail polish brand is under a lot of fire for creating nail polishes with ingredients in it that is causing their client’s nail beds to lift off of their fingers.

Ouch. Sounds painful. It’s also pretty gross looking. Check it out.

So far the company Mentality is unsure of what is causing the issue, but they are sure putting the blame on the company who produces their nail polish base. Not only are they not accepting blame, but they posted an update on their Facebook page stating that they would not longer be accepting returns or issuing refunds.

A day later, the creator of Mentality, Danny Dannels, posted that he fired his blogging staff because “They need an ‘out’, because a group of very mean people are bullying them relentlessly online.” The day after he posted that to his Facebook, he shared a scanned letter he received from the company that creates the in-question base, ordering him to cease and desist. Being the odd person this man is, he continued to blame the company of the base for the nail issue even after receiving the C&D, stated he was going to file a class action lawsuit (alone, apparently), asked for people to return their recalled nail polishes (even though Dannels said days prior that he was no longer accepting returns, and many polish users believe this is a ploy to destroy evidence), and he also said that his company was too broke to afford testing, but not days later stated that his company was sending polishes in for testing.

This guy sure doesn’t know what’s going on, and a lot of nail polish users and bloggers are not happy about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this company wasn’t around for too much longer. I sure hope he gets some professional help, though.

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.