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Review for One – Dreams of Tomorrow

Thank you for checking review #71 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**Note: a review prototype of the game was provided in exchange for an honest review.

The game is on Kickstarter: http://weirdgiraffe.games/DreamsKS22

An Overview of Dreams of Tomorrow

 

box cover

Dreams of Tomorrow is a game designed by Philip Falcon Perry and will be published by Weird Giraffe Games in 2019. The box states that it can play 1-6 players and has a 45 minute play time.

Gameplay differences for 1 Player

You are playing against the score of a Robot player, who has three difficulty ratings available. Each Robot difficulty has a different set of instructions, which essentially tell you how many spaces it will move, what types of spaces it will stop on (hint: it stops on the same 2 space types for all difficulties), what happens when it does its action. It also has you use two cubes of another color to track its turns which, essentially serve as a method for its score.

 

So while this robot is not competing for scoring the same way as the player, it serves as a clock for the player and a measurable bar to try and overcome for scoring. It forces the players to strike a balance between scoring points and ending the game quickly.

Rules Rating

I feel as though I cannot comment on this, as I am credited as one of the contributors to help go through and provide edits and suggestions regarding the rules. Needless to say, I feel they are done well and will be going through them at least one more time now that I have a few more plays of the game under my belt.

My Thoughts

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 The rondel system in this game is delightful, and I wish more games would implement rondels. Your meeple moves around this rondel of 4 cards, spanning 8 spaces. Where you land often provides a benefit for you, as well as a benefit for everyone else (Robot players do not gain benefit from your moves, but you can benefit from their moves!). You can move 1-3 spaces for free on your turn, and you can spend those easy-to-gain resources to move further.

 What really sets that rondel apart, though, is that it will not always stay the same. The cards are double sided, and you can gain abilities to flip and/or move the cards, and the Robot will have ways of doing the same. That action space you were planning to use next turn might suddenly be a long ways away from you, requiring an expenditure of resources or taking several turns to get there – all the while hoping it doesn’t move again before that happens. It can be frustrating in all the right ways when your perfect plans get foiled.

 

 The resonance for the set collection is interesting, and was something that I struggled to fully grasp in editing the rulebook. However, it took almost no time during gameplay to figure out how this works. It sounds like there are a ton of points to be scored here, however there is definitely a cap on there. See, each specific card has 4 copies in the deck, meaning that you can never score a set of 5 on both the top and the bottom. It is simply impossible. Which means the best you can hope for is a 5 and a 4, which would require getting all 4 of the exact same card, and one that matches either the top or bottom resonance. That was my first game, by the way. Most games after that had a 4, with the other half getting a 2 and a 3 as a pretty common result.

 One of the best things here is when you weave a dream. This is where you take a dream you’ve caught previously and add it to your eventual string of 5 dreams that you want to have at the end. On one side of every card is its action. When you weave a dream, you can add it either at the far left of your sequence, tucking that action under the other cards and removing it from your selection. Or you put it at the far right, making that the new ability you have. Granted, you can use the ability of dreams you’ve caught and not woven, but I like the decisions presented here as you’re trying to keep a useful ability while working on that set collection aspect.

 Night Mare Mode. Seriously, this adds so much fun to the game, making a mostly predictable sequence of events just a little more interesting. If you love being able to perfectly math out your turns 3-5 in advance, you’ll probably never use this mode. The Robot on its own can muck things up enough as it is. But you’ll be missing out on a fun variant for the game by skipping over this mode.

 The resources are too freely in abundance. I get it was a design choice, but it made it feel too easy to access the higher-point cards. Either they should cost more to gain and build, or the resources should be tapered down just a little. I’m sure it took a lot of playtesting to get here, and that the balance feels better at a higher player count. Then again, with 5 other players potentially triggering resources for you I don’t see how there can ever be an absence of resources.

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 That abundance of resources makes it equally confusing as to why anyone would ever want to take a 2-point card when they could take a 4-5 point card for just a little more in every resource. The only time I did it was when I was trying to end the game and a card in the rondel was moved, making me choose between getting what I could buy now and end the turn on the next round, or play a full cycle around the board. I probably just don’t have the right mentality, situation, or player count to understand it…and that’s okay. But unless I really need the card for set collection, I’m likely to look at my other options instead.

 The Robot’s score is heavily influenced by its turn tracker. I’m not going to say that I cheated, but I’m convinced that I miss moving its cube at least once per game. Its action is just so quick and easy to do, that I jump to that and sometimes forget to do that small, simple bookkeeping. If you are as prone to human error as I am, this could be a problem for you as well. And since it affects both its score, and what happens on certain actions, this could affect your overall experience (even if you never realize it). Bumping is also a very, very dangerous thing to consider.

 I’m all for language independence in games. I’m not going to say this game has iconography on a Race for the Galaxy level or anything, but it has some pretty heavy iconography. So much so that it takes both sides of a card to show them all. However, that isn’t even the real issue. The problem comes in there being only two of these in a game that plays up to 6. Solvable problem here, and I hope they consider adding in extras so that each player can have one.

Final Thoughts

 

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I wasn’t supposed to be interested in the game. It always sounded a bit simplistic for what my wife and I usually try out, but after I read the rules I knew it stood a chance. Because the rules didn’t provide much info about the solo play, it had me curious. When Carla asked if I wanted to review the game, I said yes mostly on the strength of the solo experience from both Stellar Leap and Fire in the Library.

I’m glad that I did.

Carla does it again with developing a solo mode that is interesting, challenging in the right ways, and leaves you ready to challenge it again. I wasn’t convinced after my first play against the Easy difficulty, but I’ve come to accept that I had a perfect run of luck on that one based on the other plays since that one. The Medium mode cranks things up enough to make you uncomfortable, and Hard is downright frustrating to any plans you’re hoping to make. In all the right ways. They all use the same core mechanics for the Robot player, just refining what happens when the Robot does certain things. Which is why Hard takes 2 cards.

I’m here to say that Carla from Weird Giraffe Games is designing some underrated solo experiences, and if you play solo games at all you NEED to pick up one of these games. This one has the least input randomness of the three I mentioned, and it still delivers an unpredictable and fun experience.

And then comes the Night Mare. Holy crap, that takes a fun game and cranks it to eleven. Well, unless you hate randomness. My wife would never play with the Night Mare mode. I would guarantee that right now. But for a solo game, sometimes adding in that extra element really enhances the experience.

Dreams of Tomorrow is a nice, fun, light game with amazing aesthetics. I love rondels, and this one has a small but pleasant rondel that sees plenty of use during your plays. This would be a great game with more players, but the fact that it stands up as a solo game is reassuring. If you want a game that is quick to setup and play, looks great on the table, and has multiple difficulties to challenge your abilities – this is a game you should definitely check out.

 

Again, this game is on Kickstarter: http://weirdgiraffe.games/DreamsKS22

***

Hopefully you found this article to be a useful look at Dreams of Tomorrow. If you’re interested in providing support for Cardboard Clash so I can continue to improve what we offer, check out my page over on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/CardboardClash.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

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Prayers for Elowen – 9/21/18 Update

My apologies for the long delay between updates on here. All has progressed better than the doctors expected since Wednesday night. All of the prayers, messages, and shares have reached us and helped us work through the chaos and emotions of this time. She’s doing fantastic and has had sets of visitors since yesterday afternoon. I’m sharing the three updates my wife messaged out to people, with the first being what was sent last night and progressing up to the one sent out tonight. I will do my best to provide another update tomorrow if there appears to be an interest in keeping tabs on her well-being.

Confused? Check out the first post and the first update regarding Elowen.

Thank you all, and God bless!

-David, Nicole, Archer, and Elowen Wiley

***

Elowen got her procedure to drain the kidneys today around 1:30. It took about 2 hours. She was sedated before, during and still sedated now, resting and the sedation is going to slowly work its way out of her system. Though they don’t want her very awake anyway so that she rests.

It is hard seeing her not moving much. Haven’t gotten to see her eyes open, David has though. Going from feeling her move in my belly to barely being able to touch her is rough at times.

With the kidneys draining her belly is beginning to deflate and is looking so much better! Love that, that pressure is going down. It will hopefully give her more room to breath on her own as well.

They will reevaluate the kidneys tomorrow with ultrasound and also look at the blockage they think are in her ureters.

I am recovering well. Walking on my own, though on pain medication. I was pretty emotional this morning but a nap helped.

My milk production isn’t as strong as it was but it will hopefully go back up soon. They still are not feeding her yet, just an iv, so i’m not too concerned about not having milk for her.

She is doing really well, better than they expected.

Please continue your prayers! Still have a long road.

Thank you all so much for your support!!

***

They are happy with how well her kidneys have drained. They are still unsure on if the kidneys have been damaged but she has made some urine production since the drain. They think about 80-100 ml of urine made since drain.

They plan on doing another ultrasound today to look at them more now that the swelling is down and to look at the possible blocks as well.

If you remember she was 13 pounds at birth due to the amount of fluid in her kidneys, she is now weighing 9.8 pounds after drain! That is a much better newborn weight that will be going down in my records! She is a chunky little thing!

There next course of action is to have surgery sometime this weekend or monday to place a PD catheter in her belly. This is for dialysis if she should need it later on incase the kidneys are not healthy. They want to get it in and have it healed before it comes to her needing dialysis. She may end up not needing it at all but even if she does this is the type of dialysis that she can eventually come home on.

They are going to start giving her my breast milk slowly through the ivs in her belly button to let her gut get use to it. Only about 3 teaspoons a day but so happy she will begin to get it. All of her nourishment will still be through her iv though.

Her lungs are doing well enough that they will be weaning her off the ventilator slowly this weekend.

They are also going to be weaning her off the morphine so she will hopefully be more alert and less sleepy soon.

The genetics team wanted to wait till swelling goes down before they assess if she has dwarfism. They will take more precise measurements soon and possibly run blood work but she is so much more proportional now that her stomach is down that we are hopeful she will have a normal skeletal system.

There is still a lot going on but she is strong and she is surprising the doctors alot! God is healing her with their help!Thank you so much for your continued prayers!

***

Her surgery is scheduled 8am tomorrow. Should take about 2 hours. Everything should go smoothly. There is always risks but they don’t seem worried. Prayers are always good and appreciated. We will have a update on surgery and her plan of the day by noonish tomorrow.

Board Gaming · Review for Two · Two-Player Only

Review for Two – Microbrew

Thank you for checking review #70 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**Note: a review prototype of the game was provided in exchange for an honest review.

The game is currently on Kickstarter until September 31st: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1707132801/microbrew-a-full-sized-board-game-in-a-tiny-tin?ref=bggforums&token=c6e1c6e8

An Overview of Microbrew

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Microbrew is a game designed by Nigel and Sarah Kennington and was published by One Free Elephant in 2018. The tin states that it can play 2 players and has a 50-70 minute play time and a BGG Weight Rating of 3.00.

Gameplay differences for 2 Players

There are no differences, as the 2-player experience is the core experience packaged in the game.

Rules Rating

The rules are done relatively well overall, with minimal barriers to teaching the game upon reading. There are a few areas I had to continually check, such as trying to interpret if there are two action spaces on the Brew space of the board. Ultimately, reading between the lines, I went with “yes” on that since there are two icons for it whereas every other location has one. It makes a huge difference, given you cannot bump your own worker. It would also have been nice for clarity that some regional/flavor objectives are worth two loyal customers (the rulebook states one, but some clearly show two faces on there). However, the minor omissions do not interfere with the core of the game and getting an understanding of how best to play. Overall I’d give it a solid 8/10.

My Thoughts

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 The puzzle aspect of the game is the real star of the show. Don’t let the appearance of a worker placement game fool you, this part is hardly tacked on and can really add some tactical layers to the gameplay. Thank goodness you don’t need to have them in the right order to bottle them effectively, as just getting the worts you need into the correct row can be an incredible challenge in itself. This is the part of the game that really elevates the gameplay and makes it stand out when compared to its competition.

 There are a few ways to upgrade your ability to do things, including getting a third worker and adding a fifth row into your copper for gaining worts. Both of these feel priced well, but are rarely both used in the same game. You can also give your workers overtime, paying to remove one off the board, and an option to look through more recipe cards. This is one of the action spaces we undervalued in the first play, but quickly realized how great all four of these options can be.

 

 The worker placement aspect of this game is nice and simple, yet provides plenty of an interesting challenge. Mostly because you cannot bump your own workers, so planning accordingly is important. You cannot just spend the entire turn bottling unless your opponent does the same, bumping you off. Only having 2-3 workers adds to the challenge, as you will rarely be able to do everything you want to accomplish in a turn.

 There is a fair amount of player interaction available. There are face-up recipe cards open for the taking, and whoever bottles it first adds the recipe to their hand after it is served. Paying attention to the recipe they are working toward can allow you to bottle an imperfect beer and take that out from under them. The same applies to serving beers to customers – if they are about to gain a loyal customer you can serve a ready beer to that customer and cause them to flip. At the very least you’ll force them to waste an action to flip them over or wait for the next round to be able to serve that customer. And in the meantime you’ll get at least some cash in pocket from serving that customer.

 This game encourages tactical planning in relation to your opponent. Staying a step ahead of them can allow you to gain extra actions if they are bumping your worker back off a space. This especially happens in the first and final turns of the game when both players are typically trying to accomplish the same things.

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 I love that you can advertise to gain those customers rather than needing a perfect match to their drink of choice. This opens up new strategies, and the scaling cost of that advertise action helps make it easier for a player to use either early, or when they are behind. It helps you to feel like there is a chance to come from behind, and also lets you have a way to gain the loyal customer if you don’t have a matching recipe in hand.

 I love the idea of the brewmaster and his ability to give the opponent a free brew action when they go to his space. But I can still count on one hand the number of times he interfered with our movement during a game. His placement onto Bottle of Serve would be far more impactful in terms of providing those free Brew actions.

 This would benefit a little from player aids for both sides. A quick reminder about the spaces, and how the worts move via the Brew action, would be a great thing for players to reference. As well as what the brewmaster does when he moves to a specific space. Those two things, in particular, were needing referenced often as we played.

 Packaging the components into that tin can be a real challenge. Seriously. If you don’t want a game that requires methodical packing when you are finished, this game will drive you nuts. But if you are tired of opening boxes where the components can fit into 10% of the space…you’ll love this game and how they’ve packed it about as tight as it could possibly fit into this tin.

 Variability. Yes, you’ll have cards flip over at different times in the game but you will almost certainly see every card in the game at some point. In addition to that, there is no variety from game to game apart from the bonus scoring, of which all but two are used each game. Having more customers and recipes would be nice to see in the game, as that would prevent a player from sitting on a brewed recipe until the exact customer flips out. I don’t think that tin can really hold more cards, though. Also, having an odd number of customers should help prevent a tie from being as common since the majority of our games ended in a tie overall.

 A negative from my wife: the player’s coppers and the action board are all on two cards, meaning they don’t fit together perfectly and can easily be bumped and shifted over the course of the game. It adds to the fiddly nature of a game that some would already define as fiddly through manipulation of pieces. It appears the kickstarter is somewhat solving that by having these on the back of some beer mats, which can double as a coaster when not playing the game.

Final Thoughts

 

I knew that the theme wasn’t one in our wheelhouse going into the game, as neither of us really drink. Then again, we both enjoyed Viticulture and I’ve enjoyed Vinhos and we don’t drink wine, either. The theme itself isn’t really a barrier to entry so much as it is the seasoning added to enhance the experience. From that perspective, I really enjoy what Microbrew tries to accomplish.

The worker placement is, of course, what initially excited us about this game. Anytime there is that mechanic in a game my wife is certainly going to demonstrate at least some interest. However, the real star of the show is the puzzle component to add extra layers of strategy to an otherwise straight-forward game of recipe fulfillment. There have been times when the stars aligned and allowed us to immediately fill multiple recipes with minimal adjustment. There are other times when the required moves to get things aligned are not worth the time spent doing those actions. It all leads to a great challenge on deciphering what you need to do now in order to earn those loyal customers.

I like that there are multiple approaches you can take, primarily going for the perfect beers in order to win over loyal customers or making inferior product to boost money and then advertise those loyal customers into your fold. Both approaches have some strong merit, and your approach can change from round to round. Being able to use that advertise action to win over customers, even without an exact match in beer, makes this feel a lot more balanced.

Ultimately the biggest detractor for this game comes down to variability. You’ll always use the same 12 customers and the same stack of recipe cards. You’ll always see those 12 customers and usually see every recipe at some point, so an experienced player can plan in advance for later turns. In fact, there is no real penalty for brewing that perfect bottle early and having it prepared for when that customer finally flips. It’d be nice to have a greater number of both, and to use only X number of them so you can’t be certain to see a specific customer every game.

But there is not really much room in that tin to add more content in the way of anything, really. It is so packed full of stuff that you feel like you are getting great value…until it comes time for the game of putting it all back into that tin. If you prefer games where you can just toss stuff back into the box then you might go crazy with the required precision for packing this game away.

Overall I really enjoyed this, and my wife became a fan once she realized the worts didn’t need to be in the exact order as the recipe called for. It was fun seeing her go from struggling early to coming back and throttling me game after game. Even in my best game where I managed to snag 7 loyal customer cards, I ultimately lost thanks to her fulfillment of those extra scoring cards (which I fell short on) and the tiebreaker. That went to prove that early dominance in the customer battle doesn’t necessarily equate to a victory, a fact that was disheartening to me but also encouraging overall. Due to its portable size and intriguing combination of puzzle and worker placement, this game is capable of earning a place in many collections that might already have worker placement games – or even ones that already have other small, portable worker placement games. Even without variability in cards there is the unpredictability of the order in which things appear and the way in which your worts will be sorted in your copper. There is far more game in this tin than in many bigger boxes, making Microbrew a steal at the price it is being sold for.

You can check out their Kickstarter, running now through September 31st: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1707132801/microbrew-a-full-sized-board-game-in-a-tiny-tin?ref=bggforums&token=c6e1c6e8

***

Hopefully you found this article to be a useful look at Microbrew. If you’re interested in providing support for Cardboard Clash so I can continue to improve what we offer, check out my page over on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/CardboardClash.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

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Prayers for Elowen – 9/19/18 Update

Because it is late, this will be brief:

Elowen was born at 2:51 pm, is 18 inches long and weighs 13 pounds! Most of that weight is from the fluid trapped in her Kidneys. Her stomach is so large! It is scary to see! They plan on draining the kidneys tomorrow and will hopefully have a more accurate weight afterwards. They believe she has a blocked valve in both sides of bladder which has been causing the fluid retention in the kidneys. They are going to see about doing a procedure tomorrow to correct that. No word yet on how the kidneys are functioning.She is currently on a ventilator for breathing so we can not hold her. Might be a few days until they take her off that. They say she is doing so much better than they thought she would with breathing. Hopefully the the kidney drain will help the pressure on lungs and she will breath better. They are not currently feeding her mommy’s breast milk but pumping is going well. She does have dwarfism just do not know what kind yet. Do not have more to say right now. Thank you all for the prayers! Will update again when we know more!

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Prayers for Elowen

I’ve been torn on writing this for a while, but I find this cannot delay any longer. For those who are only here for the board games and don’t wish to read anything more personal, full disclosure: this is a 100% personal post.

I had planned on writing something lengthy, uplifting, and faith-filled in contrast to the uncertain situation we have found ourselves in right now, but I think conciseness (for a change) is the best approach here.

Tomorrow (September 19th, 2018), our daughter will be born at 37 weeks into my wife’s pregnancy. We have had a really rough pregnancy, with talk our daughter having Down Syndrome (ultimately tested and came back negative), skeletal dysplasia (commonly associated with dwarfism), underdeveloped lungs, and severely enlarged kidneys. The talks have ranged from “she might prove us all wrong and do just fine” to “you may only have hours with her” and everything in between. We’re having a scheduled c-section at a hospital about 90 minutes away from home and are optimistically looking at several weeks or months with her staying there in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

This uncertainty about what trials we, as a family, may face when she is born has been weighing heavily on our hearts and our minds for several months now. We have a 2-year-old boy (Archer) whose life may also be about to change in ways he can’t expect. All of that uncertainty will end, in one way or another, tomorrow.

If you have provided us with a review copy of a game, I ask for your patience as we try to figure out what our lives will look like going forward. I have a list, and several of them are ready to be reviewed as soon as I have the time to write them and those should appear soon enough. There are others that still need played more before I feel comfortable with a review, and that timeline is something I cannot commit to yet.

But ultimately why I am writing this, and all I am genuinely asking for, are prayers. I believe in God and have a strong faith. It has been tested these past few months and has come out even stronger than it was before. I am firm in my conviction that, no matter God’s plan for our little Elowen, it was according to his plan and we will one day be able to look back and see the reasons for our pain and tears throughout this process.

But as we approach the time where my daughter will come into this world, I am convinced that we cannot have enough people praying for her to be a fighter and to come out strong. I’ve wanted a daughter for so long now, and I pray she will get that chance to grow and be a presence in our home. Here are the messages my wife, Nicole, sent out yesterday regarding Elowen and her conditions:

Had appointments in Iowa city today. Elowen’s kidney’s are bigger than 2 weeks ago so there is still concern there. I am also starting to have excess swelling and higher blood pressure. Not currently having preeclampsia but borderline. They have decided due to Elowen’s stomach size that I should have a c-section so she does not get stuck coming out vaginally. Also due to the blood pressure I am having the c-section will be this Wednesday the 19th which is 37 weeks gestation. Do not know the time yet. They are still unsure about how she will do after birth. I had a steroid shot today to help with her lungs and getting another tomorrow. Lots of prayers needed especially for her when she is born since we do not know what God’s plan is for her life here. Thank you all for your prayers!

***

Sorry about my short post earlier about the baby. Wanted to get some prayers in. Throughout my pregnancy Elowen has had many medical concerns. Her most pressing concern is she has very enlarged kidney’s. Doctors are concerned on if they are working properly. She may need dialysis or surgery after birth or a kidney transplant later on. Due to the fact that her kidneys are so enlarged, therefore making her stomach enlarged, it is putting a lot of pressure on her lungs, which may cause them not to work well. She also may have a form of skeletal dysplasia (dwarfism.) I was originally going to be induced October 3rd because of all of this but now I have started to develop high blood pressure and swelling. Not yet preeclampsia but borderline. Due to this they have decided to do an c-section on Wednesday the 19th. This is 37 weeks gestation which is not too early but still early, and with her health concerns we are unsure of Elowen’s future. We may be in the NICU for a week or months or she may pass away at birth. I do know, weather you believe it or not, that God is powerful and his power is supernatural. If it is his will he can heal her. It is all up to his plan for her life here though! I ask that we all be calling on his name and that power in the next few days to heal Elowen if it is his will.

I want to thank you, in advance, if you are reading this and you say a prayer or two for Elowen. Whether you pray or not, your sharing of this post is equally appreciated so that it may reach more eyes and receive more prayers than it ever could through my own efforts.

Look for an update, possibly with pictures, a little later this week as we find out how she does and get a better idea of what the next weeks and months have in store for us. Thank you and God bless you for prayers and for sharing. If you have any questions, you can reach out to me directly via email at: cardboardclash7@gmail.com

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Update on 9/19: Elowen was born at 2:51 pm, is 18 inches long and weighs 13 pounds! Most of that weight is from the fluid trapped in her Kidneys. Her stomach is so large! It is scary to see! They plan on draining the kidneys tomorrow and will hopefully have a more accurate weight afterwards. They believe she has a blocked valve in both sides of bladder which has been causing the fluid retention in the kidneys. They are going to see about doing a procedure tomorrow to correct that. No word yet on how the kidneys are functioning.She is currently on a ventilator for breathing so we can not hold her. Might be a few days until they take her off that. They say she is doing so much better than they thought she would with breathing. Hopefully the the kidney drain will help the pressure on lungs and she will breath better. They are not currently feeding her my breast milk but pumping is going well. She does have dwarfism just do not know what kind yet.Do not have more to say right now. Will probably keep to no visitors right now apart from our parents. Thank you all for the prayers! Will update again when we know more!

Board Gaming · Review for Two · Two-Player Only

Review for Two: Circle the Wagons

Thank you for checking review #69 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**Note: a review copy of the game was provided in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of Circle the Wagons

 

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Circle the Wagons is a game designed by Steven Aramini, Danny Devine, and Paul Kluka and was published by Button Shy in 2017. The “box” states that it can play 2 players and has a 15 minute play time and a BGG Weight Rating of 1.73.

Gameplay differences for 2 Players

There are no differences, as the 2-player experience is the core experience packaged in the game.

Rules Rating

The rules are simple, laid out well, and makes for an easy-to-teach game. There is a little vagueness about the scoring of territories at the end, and a few key things (such as what happens in a tie) are missing. It would also help if there was a small section to clarify some of the scoring cards. Overall, a solid rulebook with marginal room to improve, mostly through including a little more explanation.

My Thoughts

The most incredible part of this game is the selection mechanism in the game. Seriously, I love this aspect so much. On your turn you can select any card available in the circle of cards; however, every card you skip over immediately goes to your opponent to add to their tableau. Really want that card with 3 cattle on it? Take it now and your opponent gets those two cards you skipped. Sometimes it is worth it. Other times it is a questionable decision. And part of me really wants to open a game by picking the last card…just because it’d be fun.

 

Mixed in with that above point comes the most important decision the 2nd player will get to make: where Player 1 begins on the circle of cards. I really enjoy this idea, as this decision could have a strong impact on how many cards they get before they even get to take the first turn. Which seems really weird, when typing that out, but it is so true. This is a nice touch to offset the “disadvantage” of being second.

Building rules are straightforward. There is no rotating of cards, no tucking of the new card underneath an existing card (I wish you could tuck, though!). It simply has to be adjacent in some fashion, whether touching or covering an existing card in your territory. The simple rules for construction allow you to simply dive into the meat of the game without worrying over complexity.

 

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All 18 cards in the game have a different scoring condition on the back. I think we’ve used all 18 at some point in time by now, but I can’t promise that with any certainty. Sometimes they have some minor synergy, allowing you to compete for several in trying to accomplish one of them well. Other times they seem to work against each other, to where you can make progress on one but not much on the other. The goals are varied, some of them quite clever, and they all help make each play feel fresh and interesting.

There are six different terrain types, spread across (18 cards x 4 territories per card)… 72 different territories. There also happen to be 6 different symbols that appear on those territories. The terrain matters every game, the symbols may matter in some games. I like that there is variety built into these cards, not just the scoring mechanisms. What you need for one game might vary wildly from what you need to focus on in the next one. However, you’ll always want to have at least half a mind toward building a large terrain for 1-2 types.

This game, like every Button Shy game, wins on portability. It comes in a literal small wallet, which I rarely notice having in my pocket when I take it with me. The game takes minutes to set up, plays and scores in under ten minutes, and can be reset in a minute or two. So not only is this perfect for being portable, it is also lightning-fast for playtime. Huge wins for that, making this the game I’ll slip into my pocket any time we head out and there’s a chance to game.

This game can be taught to a new player in minutes. Literally. I had about 5 minutes at Gen Con after playing Liberation with Jason Tagmire, and he was able to teach me the game AND we played a round of it in that window of time (and yes, I won! Revenge for that loss in Liberation!). Yet in spite of the small set of rules and quick gameplay, this one is FUN. Genuinely fun enough that I want to play again and again when finished with a round.

This isn’t a massive table hog, but you’re going to need a fair amount of table space to have the 3 scoring cards, the circle of 15 cards to draft from, and room for both players to build their town as they gain the cards. So while this doesn’t need a massive space to play the game, it does need a moderate space to comfortably play the game.

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As mentioned in the rules review above, there are a few things that simply aren’t mentioned. In a 2-player competitive game, leaving out a tiebreaker baffles me. Ironically, it was our very first game against each other that ended in that tie! Thankfully, BGG held the answer and my town was smaller, granting me the victory.

It isn’t a dealbreaker by any means, but some will complain that this game has no method for keeping score. Yes, it could have included a small pad for scoring, but I imagine that would have inflated the cost by quite a bit. I personally find that a Magic: The Gathering Life Tracker app works perfectly in this situation for tallying up scores at the end. It can be easy to lose track of what your score is across the 9 scoring mechanisms.

Final Thoughts

 

Sprawlopolis was a game that took the board game media by storm in 2018. Every single review I saw of the game was positively glowing, and my own review held it in pretty high regard. It was definitely a good game packaged in 18 cards, and I loved the win/loss condition being tied to the scoring mechanisms exclusive to that setup. And therefore the burning question on my mind was: which game would I prefer, Circle the Wagons or Sprawlopolis?

And the answer is definitely Circle the Wagons, for reasons that have everything to do with our preferences as a couple. We’d rather compete than cooperate in a board game, and therefore our tendency will always be to take a competitive game if all other things are equal. There are great things about both games, and reasons to love both. One could very easily enjoy them both and have them existing in the same collection because they scratch very different itches.

I love the quick playtime of this game, coupled with the extreme portability. I don’t notice it in my pocket – something I can’t say about a game in a mint tin. I love that it takes less than a minute to get set up and ready to play. I can teach the game, including scoring for a specific setup, in well under 5 minutes. It takes a minute or two to reset for a new game. All of those are strong positives.

Which is why we have played this game nearly a dozen times already since it entered our collection at Gen Con.

The cleverness of the game comes from the card selection, and the tough decisions it can create. It can make you feel great when choosing a card 5 down the line and watching your opponent realize they need to place all of those cards, in order, without messing up their plans. A game can end abruptly with one bold selection, tossing every plan out the window. There are several ways to win, as we’ve had victories where almost no points came from territories and victories where almost no points came from the three scoring cards.

This game is wonderful for what it sets out to accomplish. It may never make a player’s #1 game spot, but I find this is the game I’ll reach for first to toss in my pocket if there’s a chance we’ll be eating out or have downtime somewhere. To be able to play a game with meaningful decisions in 5-10 minutes and the game literally fits unnoticed in my pocket…that is a feat worthy of including in the collection.

For those keeping track, this is the third Button Shy game I’ve reviewed so far and, if you don’t own a Button Shy game yet, any of those three (Circle the Wagons, Sprawlopolis, Liberation) would be excellent choices as a first game to introduce you to the wonderful games they produce.

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Hopefully you found this article to be a useful look at Circle the Wagons. If you’re interested in providing support for Cardboard Clash so I can continue to improve what we offer, check out my page over on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/CardboardClash.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

Game Design · One-Player Only · The Honor of the Queen

The Honor of the Queen – A Solo PnP Game

A few of you may already be aware, but it is time to open that awareness up to a broader audience. Last week I had a game design idea reach fruition, and thus The Honor of the Queen was born. 9 cards, 15 counters, and 4 pages of rules is all you need to print out to try this out. But I’m getting ahead of myself a little here.

The idea for the game’s constraints came from Button Shy Games, actually, when they tweeted out a few weeks ago that they were on the lookout for designs that use 9 cards and a few components. Challenge accepted. I also happened to dialogue a little with Alf Seegert, designer of games such as Fantastiqa and The Road to Canterbury, regarding our shared love for literature. He encouraged me to attempt a design in the future with one of those stories in mind, and there was where the theme eventually came into play.

Story

Lancelot, the greatest of all of King Arthur’s knights, was accused of having romantic trysts with Queen Guinevere. First to accuse him was Meliagaunt, whom Lancelot challenged in combat to prove the Queen’s innocence. During the contest, Lancelot cleaved his opponent’s head in half and cleared the Queen of those charges. However, rumors continued to abound and soon other knights became suspicious. Sir Agravain and Sir Mordred gathered twelve knights and stormed Guinevere’s chamber, finding Lancelot there with the Queen. Now you, as Sir Lancelot, must try to escape and fight your way out of the castle and prove the innocence of Queen Guinevere before King Arthur has her burned to death for infidelity.

Object of the Game

You are fighting to escape the perils of the castle and, at the same time, trying to defend the Honor of the Queen you love. You will test your Knightly Virtues against those of the 14 knights standing in your way and fight to emerge victorious. If you can defeat 8 of the 14 knights along your path you will clear the name of your Queen and escape into the night. However, all is not as easy as it may seem. With every failure to defeat a knight, your Knightly Virtues will decrease and the Honor of your Queen will move one step closer to peril. Should you lose to 7 knights, or have two of your Virtues reach a value of 0, Lancelot will be banished from the lands and the Queen will burn for her sins.

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There was a sliver of time left to slip this one into the BGG Solitaire PnP Design Contest, and so a thread for the game is up and running where you can find the files to print the components and the rules. I can make changes until the 16th, and after that the game is locked in for the contest.

So my hope, dear readers, is that you might find some interest in trying out the game. Even if you cannot get to it by the 16th, every little bit of feedback will help this game grow and evolve before I send a final submission over to Button Shy.

So check out the thread, and be sure to post there and let me know any feedback you have regarding this quick-playing solitaire game.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/2055540/wip-honor-queen-2018-solitaire-pnp-contest-compone