Board Gaming · Review for One · Review for Two · Solo Gaming

Review for One and Two – Shadowrift

Thank you for checking review #80 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 for what had been planned as a deckbuilding month. With the medical time spent on my daughter since September, than plan went by the wayside.

***Second Note: I didn’t know there was an upcoming Kickstarter for an expansion, but once I became aware of it, I played the game a few extra times in order to get this review up during the campaign. You can find the Kickstarter link here, and at the bottom of this review: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shadowrift/shadowrift-b…

An overview of Shadowrift

Shadowrift is a board game designed by Jeremy Anderson that was published in 2012 by Game Night Productions and later rereleased with a 2nd Edition by Game Salute (this review is based on the 2nd Edition). The box states it plays 1-6 players in 45-120 minutes and has a BGG weight rating of 2.69.

Haven Town is facing total annihilation at the hands (and teeth) of a horde of monsters from beyond the Shadowrift.

You, the heroes, must band together to drive them back. To do this, you will need powerful spells, skills, attacks and loot. When the game begins, you are a basic hero; you can explore and fight. Luckily for you, Shadowrift is a deck-building game! You can buy new cards to add to your deck, cards that will define you as an adventurer and complement the strengths of your fellow heroes. Unlike other deck-builders, there is constant interaction with your fellow players as you figure out who will gain which benefit from the limited supply of townsfolk, offer their coin to help construct walls, and seek healing from anyone who’s learned such magic.

Shadowrift also features monsters that don’t merely sit waiting to be slain; if you leave them alone, they will rip Haven Town asunder. They’ll kill people, break walls, and kick your heroes in the face. Combat with them is intuitive (though frequently painful). For defeating a monster, heroes gain Heroism, a simple, consistent boost to their power that makes them better at anything they undertake. Since the monsters won’t stop coming until the last Shadowrift is sealed or the town has been built into a mighty fortress, you’ll need every boost you can take.

The second edition of Shadowrift features many improved mechanisms, including a revised system for how monsters choose who to attack (based on types of villagers, instead of specific people) and a new system for monster powers (making them much more dangerous). It also has a revised card layout and a great deal of new and improved artwork.

Differences for 1-2 players

For one player: Assuming one-handed play for solo, you have 8 Heroism rather than 1 per player, and during the Monsters Gain Power round they gain 3 rather than 1 per player. Additionally, the player gets two full turns after each Monster turn; however, the Town and Traveller lineups do change after each player turn. 2 Shadowrifts are added to the deck rather than 1 per player as well.

For two players: Monsters gain 2 power per round, 2 Shadowrifts are added to the monster deck, and 10 Heroism cards are used. Really, these are just based on # of players and in no way changes the rules of the game.

My Thoughts

This game was a novel approach to the deckbuilding genre long before it rose to extreme popularity. To put it into perspective, Dominion came out in 2008. This came out in 2012. It came out after Ascension (2010), Arctic Scavengers (2009), Eminent Domain (2011) and Thunderstone (2009), the same year as Legendary (2012), Fantastiqa (2012) and DC Comics Deck Building Game (2012), and before both Star Realms (2014) and Aeon’s End (2016). Compare it to the ones out before, and around the same time, and this one stands pretty tall in its uniqueness. Maybe only Fantastiqa can really compete in that sense. Shadowrift still provides a very unique deckbuilding game that can stand alongside those other names because there isn’t one of them that does the same thing as Shadowrift.

At first this game appears to be about fighting off hordes of monsters. Then it appears to be a town defense game. Yet it is both of those things while at the same time being neither of those things. Some games, when they try to be clever and incorporate too much, lose some polish in the final product. And maybe the 1st edition had some of that. But the 2nd edition of Shadowrift juggles the deckbuilding genre, multiple types of currency, hordes of monsters, and town defense in a way that I’ve never seen before. For an older game (relatively speaking), it is surprising to get such a breath of fresh air from this game’s approach.

There are a lot of combinations in the box. Yes, astronomical computations could be made. But essentially you get six monster factions to fight against using a set of 8 market cards of your choosing. Most people will probably play a monster faction a handful of times, realistically, before wanting to either move on or expand the game. But even there you have roughly 20-25 plays just in the base game alone. The nice thing with these market and monster-driven games is that they are easy enough to integrate expansions into without needing to really change any core rules.

There are three currencies in the game, and you start with just the most basic of them in your deck. You can spend 2 to buy coins, which are one-time use and can be spent in a variety of ways. The most difficult to obtain would be the magic symbols, which often appear on spells but then you get the decision, when it is in your hand, on whether to use it for the spell or for the magic symbol. This factors into what I’ll be alluding to shortly regarding the absence of deck thinning, making it essential to decide early how to fill your deck with cards. Nothing is more frustrating than always drawing the Seal you need to clear a Shadowrift and never having a Magic symbol to use its ability.

Another neat deckbuilding decision comes from the Epic symbols on some market cards. On a player round (players take turns simultaneously, meaning the order in which you play cards as a team can matter and so communicating as a team is essential to be as effective as possible) you cannot play more Epic cards than there are players. So in a solo game (one handed, of course) you can play only one. Draw a hand of 3 of them? Too bad (unless a specific villager is in the Town to let you play an extra one). These are often the most powerful effects, usually based around combat in some fashion. You definitely want them in your deck. But you don’t want JUST them in your deck. They add interesting decisions along the way as you play the game, something you’re going to hear me say more and more about Shadowrift.

The Town and the Travelers are what really gives this game flavor and makes it shine when compared to some of the other staples in the genre. At the start you have 10 villagers in the Town deck, each of which have some sort of effect when in the Town or an Aid ability the players can use (once) on their turn. There is also a slightly thicker Traveler deck, which will flip over two cards every round. Some of the cards are people you can buy into the town deck, usually costing Coins and/or Prowess (the generic resource). However, there are some red Infiltrator cards that, when flipped into the face-up Traveler spots, immediately go into the Town discard pile. Which means they get shuffled in the next time you need to shuffle the Town cards to refill those five cards (which happens every round). If you ever have 5 corpses and/or Infiltrator cards into the Town display at the start of the Heroes’ turn, you lose. This deck refills before the monsters go, who then go before the Heroes. Which means even getting out 3 of those red cards can signal danger if there are some monsters about to act and Kill some villagers. Lucky for you, most Infiltators have a cost you can pay to put them back on the bottom of the Traveler deck (which is also where dead townspeople go). It is a simple pair of mechanisms at work here, but they add such intriguing decisions: do you spend resources to buy cards for your deck, or do you add travelers to the Town, or do you try and remove those Infiltrators?

The monsters follow a very simple sequence once they enter play. Every town they advance one space and do what is printed for that space# on their card. Many times it is to Kill some symbol of villager in the Town display, which not only removed that Villager from the deck (it goes to the bottom of the Traveler deck), but it also adds a Corpse card in their place. Which not only thins out the useful cards in that Town deck, it also advances the odds of losing. Because you can see what monsters will do on the next space, you can plan ahead on which ones you NEED to focus on taking out. However, with just 2 attack in your starting 10 cards, you’ll need to “level up” your hero some before taking down the biggest of baddies…

We come now to the elephant in the room that I can already hear people begrudging this game over: there is no deck thinning mechanism. Yep, you read that right. There are ways to remove wounds and afflictions, both cards that enter your deck via monsters, but once you buy a card it is in there forever. Same with your starting ten cards. Bold move? Perhaps, and something no deckbuilder today would dream of doing. Yet it is slightly balanced from the Heroism cards you get from killing monsters, which not only counts as any 1 of the 3 resources, but also lets you draw a card immediately when you draw the card into your hand. There’s also some Might cards that are the cheap currency which allow you to draw a card, but remove themselves when used for anything but a keep-in-play trigger on an action card. Rather than begrude the game for what it lacks, this should be embraced as an interesting puzzle each round. Every card you buy makes it less likely you’ll draw every card in that deck, meaning it needs to carry its weight. Is that generic 1 melee damage worth adding to your deck, or should you just buy a coin instead for a future turn? This is one of the things that makes this game so darn interesting to puzzle out right now, because most deckbuilders you can take thinning for granted and race to remove those starter cards.

Getting the rifts closed is important in the game. With 1 or 2 players, you’re looking for two rifts that are added to a 20 card deck – one in the top 10 and one in the bottom 10. Another element of randomness, you see. However, you have a card in your starting deck that can place the top Monster card from the deck onto the bottom of that deck – and you can always see what the next card is coming off the deck (it is face-up) so you won’t accidentally throw that Shadowrift to the bottom. There are a few other cards that can help cycle those cards, too, letting you dig a little faster. I’ve seen both Shadowrifts only once, but I’m not a great player yet. It stinks that your rifts could be cards 1 and 22 off the deck, but it is great that you can help speed it along.

My first plays of the game felt like I was losing to the luck of random draw. And yes, that will always be a possibility. If you get a strong reaction toward knowing your game could end due to a bad draw, this one might leave a sour taste for you. However, the redeeming quality in here is that you can do things to give that Town deck better odds by buying new Travelers, eliminating Infiltrators as soon as you can, or preventing the monsters from Killing townsfolk. It is a lot to juggle, especially solo. I’ve heard the game is far easier at higher player counts, simply because you have more hands on deck to specialize and deal with the unique areas of the game. When playing solo, those resources are scarce enough that it makes every decision matter. And even when you are playing well, it still could end with 4 of the 5 cards flipping out red and the one monster that just got added happens to Kill the exact symbol that isn’t red. It can happen even if you only have 4 red cards in that deck. Early in the game, this doesn’t sting so bad. But if it happens when you’re nearing the end of a grueling, long fight…that could become table-flipping territory for some players.

Final Thoughts

When I looked at this game, my immediate thought was Aeon’s End plus Marvel Legendary. While it has some thematic and mechanical similarities to both, this game is nothing like either of those games, but is more like Legendary than it is like Aeon’s End.

What if I told you this game originally came out before either of those games?

Some older games do not age well. Others just take longer to gain popularity and hit their prime. I’m convinced that Shadowrift still has not “arrived” yet in terms of making waves, but it definitely should not be overlooked. This game provides a far more thematic approach to defending the town than you had in Aeon’s End. This game gives a greater challenge, and requires far less setup/teardown time than Marvel Legendary.

And boy, is this game a challenge. Not necessarily because of any heightened difficulty built into the game, but rather because you are trying to balance several things effectively. The obvious threat comes from the monster deck and the interactions brought about by the monsters traveling across the play area. Fighting them is essential, yet clogs the deck through wounds (usually) gained from battle. But if you overlook the travellers coming to town, you could find yourself filled with infiltrators and corpses and bring a premature end to your efforts, no matter how successful you are at fighting back the monstrous horde.

My first loss in the game was bitter. Not only was I doing a poor job at killing dragons, I was poorly managing the cards clogging up my hand and completely ignored the Town deck. It got overrun with bad cards, which meant sooner or later I’d see 5 dealt out to give me the loss. I felt like the game was impossibly hard and lacked good decisions. I tried it again against the same match, with the same market, and had much of the same results. Turns out the recommended starting game wasn’t a great starting one for winning solo.

But as I kept returning to the game and playing further, I started to get better at tracking my deck of cards and keeping an eye toward the Town deck. Have I perfected that balance? Hardly. In fact, I’d argue that I am quite a ways away from hitting that efficient stride after 6 plays of the game.

Which is something I really like about this game, because it makes you think in ways that other games in this genre don’t. Not only are there three resource types in the game, there are also two methods of attack. Resources can be spent to improve your deck, or to improve the Town deck, and sometimes to help cycle the monster deck. The game is more than just get buying power early to get attack power and then stop buying cards while you smack enemies around. The game is more than culling cards ruthlessly until you can play your entire hand for super turns every round.

And that is a breath of fresh air in a genre that, at times, can feel repetitive and stale. There’s a reason why Mystic Vale is my favorite deckbuilder: it takes the genre and does something fresh with it. Aeon’s End did the same thing with the breaches and not shuffling. But this game takes the deckbuilder concept and really makes you have to consider, every single turn, how your decisions will impact your long-term goals.

As a solo/co-op gamer, I hate high win percentages (looking at you, Sentinels of the Multiverse). My favorite game is sitting firmly at a 31% win rate after over a hundred plays, and that feels perfect. The wins in Shadowrift are coming for me eventually. And until then, I’ll enjoy having this hit the table as part of a rotation of games I definitely want to make sure I play every month.

As a reminder, the newest expansion is on Kickstarter right now. And yes, I am a backer. That should confirm things: I enjoy this game and it is in my collection to stay. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shadowrift/shadowrift-b…

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Solo Gaming

December 2018’s Solo Challenges

I thought it might be fun to gain a little fun interaction here with some of my readers who may also be solo gamers. I’ve done a lot of solo gaming, and it isn’t likely to end anytime soon. So because I can’t always play at the same table with others doesn’t mean we cannot play “together” with each other, tackling the same quests or matchups in certain games.

My goal is to choose 5 games each month going forward that I want to play solitaire and invite everyone who is interested to join along. You can find this sorted into a Geeklist at this link.

Do I expect you to play all 5 games? Of course not, odds are there are games I own that you do not. Or expansions I own that you do not. However, if there is a game you own that is on here, I welcome you to try and end up with a better result than I get. My hope is to have time to replay them until I succeed at them all – but that might be a distant dream.

**Note: there is a 100% chance that the Lord of the Rings: LCG will appear on this list every month, usually with a few quests from a cycle that I want to play through completely. In this case, the Dreamchaser cycle, which means you can safely assume the next two months will likely have the next quests in the cycle appearing…

GAME #1

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

Objective

Complete the following quests:

sauron Voyage Across Belegaer
sauron Raid on the Grey Havens
sauron The Fate of Numenor

Bonus

Use a deck containing the hero Cirdan the Shipwright and use it for the entire cycle (essentially, not only use that deck this month but for the next two months).

GAME #2

Shadowrift

Objective

Defeat the Glacien enemy deck using the following market:

indigo Brawler
indigo Wall of Snow
indigo Lightning Daggers
indigo Staff of Icy Blows
indigo Fireball
indigo Blessed Smite
indigo Fist Flurry
indigo Frozen Ground

Bonus

Accomplish victory with no cards remaining in the Monster Power Area.

GAME #3

Obsession

Challenge

Defeat the Cornwallis Solitaire Opponent.

Bonus

Read a novel by one of the authors quoted throughout the Kickstarter campaign: Jane Austen or Anthony Trollope.

GAME #4

Maiden’s Quest

Challenge

Defeat King Shawl, using the Maiden Jenavieve.

Bonus

Defeat King Shawl before you finish your first trip through the 4th level.

GAME #5

Sentinels of the Multiverse

Challenge

Defeat Chairman Pike in the Pike Industrial Complex using these heroes:

 Omnitron X
 Absolute Zero
 Fanatic

Bonus

Accomplish victory using the base variants of all three heroes.

Board Gaming · Expansion Review · Review for One · Solo Gaming

Review for One – Hero Realms: The Ruin of Thandar

Thank you for checking review #76 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.

*A review copy of this expansion was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to check out the Kickstarter for the new campaign and other content: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1172937197/hero-realms-…


An Overview of Hero Realms: The Ruin of Thandar

Hero Realms: The Ruin of Thandar is an expansion for Hero Realms and was designed by Robert Dougherty, Ben Chichoski, Daniel Mandel, and Darwin Kastle, and was published by White Wizard Games in 2017. The box states that it can play 1-5 players and has a 90 minute play time.

Choose your character, team up with your friends, and start your adventure! Gain experience points on each mission. Spend your experience points between missions to improve your character with awesome new skill and gear cards.

The 144-card The Ruin of Thandar Campaign Deck contains:

E Rules for solo and cooperative Campaign play
E Three different missions, each designed to be more challenging than the last!
E Skill and gear cards to improve and customize your character

My Thoughts

 There is a well-considered progression you can develop your characters on throughout this, and the sequential, campaigns. This one box has every character path and upgrade you’ll need for the five initial character classes you can use, allowing you to decide early on how you want to proceed and chart out where your character will ultimately end up. While this takes up a lot of the content in the box, this is also a nice benefit because it allows you to plan from the beginning for your progression.

 It is a small detail, but I like the decision to use oversized cards for the villains in the campaign. It helps the players to differentiate at a quick glance between the main target and the ancillary cards interfering with their objectives. Much like the oversized cards I use for Sentinels of the Multiverse, this simply adds a nice element that gives it better table presence and makes the ultimate target feel like a big deal.

 It goes without saying, but I appreciated this opening up solo play in a great way for Hero Realms. While I enjoyed a few matches of Star Realms against those little boss cards, this campaign provides a much meatier and more enjoyable experience for the solo gamer. This feels very much like a dungeon crawl-inspired implementation of a deck builder, coupled with some elements from games like Sentinels of the Multiverse. Does it do each aspect better than game X that specializes in that area? No, but by merging all three of those into one game it delivers a fun, fast package that is unique in itself and can satisfy a lot of what I want out of a gaming session.

 This campaign plays out almost like a choose-your-own-adventure book, which is really fun. What I mean by that is you still need to successfully defeat the first boss battle, but once you do there is a snippet or two to read in the book that lays out what happens next, and at the end of that you are faced with two choices on what to do next. Depending on which you choose you progress down a slightly different story arc and encounter a different boss battle as a result. And the third encounter simply blew my mind with the approach taken here. I now understand how there are 8 different oversized cards for 3 encounters.

 The rules of the bosses are relatively simple, using their constructed mini deck and consulting their card based on the colored symbol shown for activation abilities (in addition to whatever the card is). At least with a solo game, this keeps the pace of the game moving forward and makes the focus more on how I act and react to the boss rather than going through a convoluted system to operate them. It takes the bookkeeping and simplifies things in all the right ways.

 To prevent dumping of massive damage while ignoring everything else, the Master’s deck can drop champions into your play area or into its play area (elites go to its area, all others to the player’s area). If it has ANY champion in your play area, Guarded keyword or not, you cannot attack or target the Master or its champions in its area. Which really stinks when it drops a 9 Health enemy there early on in the game, but also makes for great interactions. And the clever ideas only get better as you advance in the campaign.

 While I like the character progression and how scarce the upgrade points are, there is one thing I am disappointed with: you can’t go outside of your class for upgrades. There aren’t generic ones to choose from or anything, they are all specific to that class and essentially replace the starting abilities with stronger versions that become slightly specialized. By choosing Cleric, I’ll never be able to upgrade into dealing damage even if I wanted to for those slots. It makes sense, of course, but I’ve found that some of the choices to upgrade toward are not really as suited for solo play and therefore making the decisions easier on which path to take.

 I’ve said it before about Sentinels and I’ll say it as well on this game: the boss battles feel too easy at times. I went 3/3 on my campaign as a cleric, and while I had fun there was never a point where I was almost dead. The final encounter had about 2 turns where I was getting hit hard but then my deck’s engine finally was set and I took about 5 points of damage for the rest of the fight while dropping it by over 50 in those turns.

 Tied with the above, the flipping mechanic is clever but it only happened on the 3rd encounter. Getting some deck control on the Master via the Discard ability felt overly powerful, allowing me to cycle the Mastery cards to the bottom. In the solo match, the decks never depleted and so I was always able to delay the inevitable. That changed in the 3rd one, but by the time the final battle flipped, I was gearing up to be in control.

Final Thoughts

This version of Hero Realms is exactly what I want out of the game. For a base game with such a small buy-in, this experience takes that initial package and enhances it in clever ways. Sadly, I don’t think my wife will ever want to experience it (she hates co-op games) but the nice thing is that there’s still the regular Hero Realms I can enjoy with her. But this is the essential expansion for anyone who wants solo play, or who enjoys the feeling of character progression and big boss battles.

The story is simply told, and unravels in expected but exciting ways. There aren’t really any curveballs, although the added story when a card flipped out in the 3rd encounter was pretty cool. It came too late to really make an impact on the game, but it was a neat touch. But I still like the linear story with the small branches of possibilities. The boss fights all felt unique, and I have only faced half the cards in that box.

I’m a fan of being able to have the full information of how each class can upgrade in the overall campaign, yet it feels wasteful since the majority of this box is the cards used to upgrade the five decks. The encounter cards are a small fraction of what is in the box, and in a solo game you only use 1 of the 13 “starter” cards when constructing those decks.

In spite of this, I definitely feel like this is a great expansion experience for an already enjoyable game. There is plenty of replay value in here, plus the challenge of completing it with all five different classes in existence. Even if White Wizard Games never released a 2nd Campaign box, there would still be enough in here to make it worth the price to pick up this box unless you hate cooperative games AND never play solo games.

However, this little box helped make Hero Realms one of my Top 10 solo games this year and I look forward to seeing the story continue in the upcoming The Lost Village box (something I still wish had been available at Gen Con, as I purchased a ticket to play it but the event was cancelled prior to Gen Con)

Be sure to check out the campaign running on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1172937197/hero-realms-…

Board Gaming · Interview · Solo Gaming · Solo Month

Interview with Carla Kopp from Weird Giraffe Games

You may have noticed the sharp decline in daily posts to close out the month. It was ambitious to try and do a post per day. Early on, it was nice because I had gotten 3-4 posts ahead in the queue and a decent number of posts were dependent upon other people providing most of the content via interviews, features, etc. And then the burnout hit. It hit hard. Content creator friends know what I’m talking about. I needed to separate for a short time and get some Lord of the Rings-based solo gaming to reset myself. Let’s just say I’ll never try a post-per-day idea again, no matter how fun that was.

Today I am closing out the month with the final interview, this time with the talented Carla Kopp from Weird Giraffe Games. I had the pleasure of working with her a little on the solo mode for Stellar Leap, playtesting it and providing some feedback along the way. I was beyond impressed with the execution in the solo mode for Fire in the Library. I’ve reviewed the solo experience for both, based on prototypes, previously.

But enough about me. Let’s let Carla take the reins and do the talking.

***

1)Let’s start with some background history. How did Weird Giraffe Games come about? Where did you get the idea for your first game, Super Hack Override?

Weird Giraffe Games came around mostly due to us having the idea of Super Hack Override. The idea for that came from attending Dragon Con. During the convention, we spent a lot of time waiting in lines and a friend I was with brought Love Letter. I figured out a way to make Love Letter easier to play while standing in line, by playing your discards face out instead of in a discard pile. I had some free time while waiting for another panel to start and had decided to go to a panel on How to Design a Board Game. One of the main points in the panel was that anyone can make a board game, just start with note cards!

On the way home from the convention, I had that idea that you just need notecards to create a board game and that there should be more games for playing while standing in line and so my friends and I brainstormed what this game would be. Afterwards, I took all the notes from the car ride, got some notecards, and started making cards. The first playtest worked surprisingly well, I wanted to keep going and making the game better, so eventually Weird Giraffe Games was formed!

 

2)What did you learn from that first game design/Kickstarter that you implemented when designing and running the campaign for Stellar Leap?

One of the major things I learned from the Super Hack Override campaign was to participate in interviews. I participated in a few for Super Hack Override after the campaign started, but I decided to make more of an effort to do so with Stellar Leap. I further learned in the Stellar Leap campaign that I should try to organize all the interviews before the campaign and did that with Fire in the Library and ended up with more interviews for Fire in the Library than for either of my previous two campaigns and most of them happened before the campaign even began, which meant I was able to focus a lot more on that campaign than I had with my previous ones.

I also learned about the power of conventions, as I had gone to Gen Con and met a number of great people right before the Super Hack Override campaign. I decided to try and attend more conventions, as they’re great for meeting people and creating relationships that can last years.

3)Your last two games, Stellar Leap and Fire in the Library, both have solo modes included in the game. What made you decide to design a way to play each of these solo?

My first Kickstarter was Super Hack Override and during that Kickstarter, I was asked about making a solo version of the game. Before this, as I hadn’t really known much about solo games. I told the backer that I would try to design a solo variant for Super Hack Override, but I didn’t know where to start so I did some research on how different solo variants worked. With this research, I designed a solo variant for Stellar Leap and was surprised by just how well it turned out! I did get a lot of help from you with refining and making the solo variant a lot better than it otherwise would have been. After seeing a positive response from both reviewers and backers to Stellar Leap’s solo variant, it seemed natural to try and add a solo variant to Fire in the Library, as well. I’ve actually made it one of my company goals to have a solo variant with every game that we release that can have a good solo variant. It’s not only good from a business stand point, but also a fun design challenge.

 4)Which of the two was the more challenging solo mode to design? What made it difficult?

Stellar Leap was by far harder to design, mostly because it was my first time designing a solo variant and I didn’t have a lot of experience with solo games, so I had to do a lot of research and a lot of talking to others. It wasn’t too difficult to design, but it did require some iteration as I learned as I iterated what a good solo variant was. I went with an AI player and I knew that it should be simple and fast to play the AI turn, but one thing I didn’t know was that it would be better to not have the AI player’s score easily known. Stellar Leap is a 4X game and having the score be somewhat easy to calculate meant that you might take an extra 20 seconds per turn to see who was winning, which definitely doesn’t add to the fun.

I learned a lot with the design and development of the solo variant for Stellar Leap and I was able to apply that to the design of the Fire in the Library solo variants and they came together a lot faster.

 5)Now that you’ve done those games and added solo play, have you considered going back to Super Hack Override and making that have solo play? How do you envision that might function?

Definitely! It’s been one of my goals from the beginning. I think I’d have either an AI player or a race to get to a certain number of points within a certain number of turns. For the AI, I think I’d have it be simple and have the AI draw two cards and play one, based on how many points the other player has.

6) What are the next projects we can look forward to from Weird Giraffe Games? Get us excited about what comes next!

I’m really excited about a number of projects! I have a few of my own designs that are currently in progress. First is Recursive, which is a code learning game about the coding concept of Recursion. It has both cooperative and competitive game modes and will hopefully teach real coding concepts while also being a fun, puzzle-y game. The Fire in the Library Animal Expansion is also on it’s way to being a great addition to the base game, with having a number of additional tools to increase strategy and replayability and a new event system that changes up gameplay after specific tokens are drawn. Another game that is in the works is a pick up and deliver game based on the gondolas in Venice.

In the more near future, we also have Totemic, which is a set collection rondel based movement game about building totem poles. Each totem has two different types which are used for set collection, an ability, and a number of victory points, so you have many options for how to choose the totem pole that you create.

We have a few more games and partnerships in the works that I can’t reveal quite yet, but there’s a lot more to come from Weird Giraffe Games!

 7)Finally, where can people go to find out more about your games, or to find you on social media, etc?

Emailcontact@weirdgiraffegames.com

FacebookWeird Giraffe Games

Twitter@WeirdGiraffes

InstagramWeird Giraffe Games

KickstarterWeird Giraffe Games

Board Gaming · One-Player Only · Review for One · Solo Gaming · Solo Month · Uncategorized

Review for One (& two) – Circuit Breaker

Thank you for checking review #56 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.

**A prototype of the game was sent for review purposes. Opinions remain our own.

An Overview of Circuit Breaker

Circuit Breaker is a game designed by Peter Mariutto and was published by Freshwater Game Company. The box states that it can play 1-3 players and has a 30-45 minute play time.

Circuit Breaker is a casual strategy game that can be played solo or with up to two other friends. All players attempt to successfully re-wire their own houses in time for a hastily scheduled house party, and will score points by connecting a variety of quirky electrical doodads to their home circuits. Resource management and a crafty rodent will be put to use in a fun and cheeky race to be the most ‘happening’ place on the block.

—description from the publisher

Setup and gameplay for 1 Player

Lay out the party favor tiles and place the corresponding cubes on those tiles. Shuffle the Wire stack and place it face-down, and lay out two cards from the top of it next to that stack. Shuffle the Appliance stack and place if face-down beside the Wire stack. Place a breaker box in front of you. Stack the round tokens in ascending order. Deal yourself a secret objective card, 2 Appliance tiles, and a Wire tile. Take a mouse and 8 dice, and setup is complete.

The object is to score as many points as you can before the end of the 4th round. You’ll roll all 8 dice and then start taking one of four actions:

Buy a tile or Party Favor – spend 1 or more dice to take one of the 3 available Wire tiles or a Party Favor, matching the value spent exactly.

Trade for Appliance – Discard an Appliance card from your hand to take the top card off the Appliance stack into your hand. Or you can trade 4 value in Party Favors to look at the top 3 Appliance cards and keep one, putting the other two on the bottom of the stack.

Place up to 2 Tiles – Put 1-2 tiles from your hand out onto your network, making sure everything connects properly (1-wire to 1-wire, 3-wire to 3-wire, etc.)

Move the Mouse – Subtract 2 from an active die to move the mouse. The die must be used for a purchase on the same turn and must happen before movement. Then, the tile that the mouse was on is taken back into the player’s hand. That appliance cannot go back in its old spot on the next action.

Play continues until all 8 dice have been spent, at which point the round ends. Reroll all dice, draw an appliance card, and remove a round counter.

At the end of the game you score 1 point per single appliance not on your objective card, 3 points for each non-objective pair of appliances, 3 points for a single appliance on your objective card, and 9 points for a pair of appliances on your objective card. You also score points for the value of your remaining party favors, divided in half and rounded down (ex. 15 points in favors, divided by 2 = 7)

Changes for a 2-3 player game

Each player gets 6 dice. On a player’s turn they may complete each of the four actions once (so they take 1-4 actions). There is a mousetrap token that can be moved in the same manner as the mouse.

Placing the mouse on another player’s tile will allow you, when you move the mouse again, to bring that tile into your hand. Placing it on their breaker box will allow you, when you move the mouse again, to steal a tile from their hand. Moving the mousetrap onto a mouse will send it back to the appliance stack without losing your tile.

As soon as a player cannot make at least two actions the round ends and progresses in the same manner as above.

My Thoughts

 This game shines with another player at the table. The push-pull with the mouse is what really makes this game come alive. It becomes a fun exercise of trying to decide when to place those key appliances and how early to put out a pair or anything else that might become a target. Using the mouse trap is a great defensive addition, and this interaction here is what is really lacking in a solo game of Circuit Breaker. But I wanted to emphasize that there is a significant difference between the solo game and the 2-player game.

 I like the requirement to move the mouse being to not only reduce a die by 2, but to also immediately make a purchase using that die. The mouse can play a small part in opening up spaces on the board in a solo game, but it becomes a critical element in the 2-3 player game experience. The cost to move it presents some interesting decisions along the way, which is something that is otherwise limited throughout the game.

 There are only three ways to get those critical appliance cards: discard an appliance from your hand to draw a new one, or discard 4 value of Party Favors to draw 3 and keep 1, and you draw one at the end of each round. Well, apart from the mouse being on the top of the Appliance stack, too, which will get you a card once it is moved off there, so technically there are four ways. But for the majority of the game, it is only two. One is simple and costs you little but it is slow. The other costs you something you have to purchase with those dice, which is your finite resource to gain wires in order to expand your network.

 You can’t do the same action twice in a row, which prevents you from endlessly digging for those appliance cards. That means you either need to play cards or spend dice in between that desperate search. And in order to play cards, you’ll need to buy those wires, which cost dice to gain (up to 8 value!) and can bring the round to an end even faster. I like that the game requires you to change things up each turn, which will eventually bring that round to an end no matter how much you might wish otherwise.

 Scoring is relatively simple and straight-forward, rewarding you for placing pairs of appliances and for placing the appliances on your objective card. You also score for those leftover Party Favors, which is a nice touch and allows you to spend those “garbage” dice on something meaningful toward the end of the game if you don’t need wires to place appliances.

 I find the theme and the art to be really fun in this one. Honestly, that is what hooked me when they reached out to me. I think some people might be turned off by the theme, but they shouldn’t be. Unique ideas to a game’s theme, and some fun and vibrant art like the art in this game, should be rewarded and encouraged.

 That appliance deck can really suck. Like, brutally suck. There is a pretty thick stack of appliances and you’re looking for 4 specific appliances. There are a total of 8 cards in there you need because each appliance appears twice. Good luck trying to get that appliance you desperately need, because the odds are against you. And since a non-objective appliance is only worth 1 point (unless you get them both out), the game seems to encourage you to toss cards over and over until you dig up what you needed all along. I like that it is costly in resources to cycle that faster, but every game I’ve played started to feel like a challenge to see how fast I can get lucky and draw that card I needed.

 Dice. I didn’t even try to teach this to my wife after my first two solo plays of this one because I just knew. If the dice in Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia and in Ars Alchimia bother her, there is no way she’ll like them in this one. Yes, if you are really unlucky and roll a lot of the same number the rules allow you to reroll. But there is no manipulation of those dice once they are rolled. If I roll a combination that is almost all 1-3 and you roll almost all 4-6, I’m way behind. My buying power is effectively half, at best, what yours is for the round so you’ll be able to get those wires (especially if they are all 7-8 cost) and party favors you need for “cheap” whereas it’ll cost me more dice to get the same things. No die roll is wasted, as you can buy party favors, but with no way to increase those dice you’ve very much at the mercy of the random roll.

 The solo game is just not interesting enough as the prototype stands. The mechanics of it are fine, but there is just something lacking from the experience. Yes, there is a scoring system (identical to with more players) and you can try and beat your own high score. But I don’t like these types of solo games that only have that. I need a win/lose requirement in there or some sort of AI or other system that competes against me. Fire in the Library does this well by having the AI score points and burn more of the Library with the cards that are already in the standard deck. Imperial Settlers does this well by having an “opponent” that gains cards and can steal your buildings with a simple set of cards. They both simulate something that can happen in a multiplayer game, and I really think that Circuit Breaker needs something like that to take it to that next level. It has that great mouse mechanic already in there. Now it just needs a way to simulate player interaction points in order to provide both an obstacle to the player and a point threshold for the player to surpass. If they can add something like that into the solo experience of the game, it would help that to be a great solo addition to pull out when you don’t have 1-2 other players to game with.

Final Thoughts

This game was an interesting one to get, and one I hadn’t really planned to review as a solo experience. It simply worked out that I ended up with an empty spot in the month late-in-the-game and I had played this a few times. My first play solo fell flat, but it was definitely on me rather than the game. I played it a little wrong, and that was the difference. It felt way too long and free-flowing. The next play, with the right understanding of the rules, was way tighter and ended up over 10 points lower for a score. It went from feeling sandbox-y to feeling tight with what I could accomplish.

At both player counts my one gripe remains the same: the game feels a little too driven by chance. There is a large stack of appliances, and it is difficult to dig through there without spending dice, which in turn will reduce the wires you can buy (that is one thing I do love). But there are so many different appliances in there. Each appliance has a single pair in that deck. Getting a pair of appliances can cost you a ton of actions. Digging for the ones on your card can cost you the game. If one person gets those cards early and the other one gets non-matching and non-objective appliances for most of the game then it can feel like it snowballs in a bad way. Same with the rolling of dice: if I roll higher than you, I will be able to buy more over the course of the game.

In the solo game, this becomes a chore of trying to dig until you find pairs and/or objective appliances. And it can be really flat when you have to dig for a long time.

In a 2-player game, this aspect can shine. Your opponent draws that appliance you need? There’s the mouse to pull that into your hand. That push-pull system is so much better with a higher player count, which is something I had been told to expect when they sent me the game. And I agree – 2 players is probably the perfect player count on this one. I imagine the 3-player game can be interesting, but could have a small chance of kingmaking or runaway leader. The solo game is a puzzle without any real win/lose conditions (something that, maybe, could be tweaked before the game is published? I’ll be asking for that!)

Overall, if you like a strategic game that does have some above-average dependence upon dice then this is a good one. Its length is a little longer than I’d like for a game with that much luck, especially solo, but the interactions can make this one fun enough to forgive that randomness. Plus my wife and I are pretty averse to random elements as a whole, so we’re not necessarily the target audience here. If you enjoy dice-rolling, interesting decisions, player interaction, and a fun and unique theme, then you should definitely check this out when it hits Kickstarter.

***

Hopefully you found this article to be a useful look at Circuit Breaker. 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

Board Gaming · Interview · Solo Gaming · Solo Month

Interview with Todd Sanders, designer of Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden

 

I was fortunate enough to corner Todd Sanders and, after much begging and pleading, he was gracious enough to answer a few questions before disappearing back into his garden.

In all seriousness, Todd was a fantastic candidate for the interview and was really awesome to interact with. If you haven’t already, go check out Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden on Kickstarter!

***

  1. You’ve been designing board games for many years now. How did you get started in game design and tell us about the first game you completed?

I began by redesigning older games and I’m most known for my re-visions of Barbarian Prince (over 3000 downloads on BoardGameGeek.com) and for Hammer of Thor. Both of these were originally released in the early 1980s, long before computers or better printing techniques and there is a mystique about them, but both are long out of print and therefore inaccessible to most players.

Barbarian Prince is one a lot of people wish would be reprinted. You play a barbarian trying to find gold to save your kingdom, wandering a map of various terrain types, rolling dice to find events and encounters on various tables. It combines aspects of war-games, RPGs and Choose Your Own Adventure style games. I completely redesigned the entire map, created new rule and events books and a series of player sheets and counters to give the game a better scope. It took me a couple of months to complete but I think the changes make it feel more like a modern game.

Hammer of Thor is a very strange game from around ‘83 that can apparently support between 1 and 65 players, although 1 or 2 players is probably best. You play viking gods and visit locations throughout the nine realms encountering various types of creatures and humans. You combat these beings and in turn can make them part of your clan. The game mainly uses cards (which were originally badly printed on construction paper) and a large map of Yggdrasil, the world tree of viking myth. My work included redesigning (and correcting the errors of) over 720 cards, designing 1100 counters and I updated/redrew the map. On top of this I completely rewrote the rulebook to remove a huge number of errors in the original text and updated the language for modern boardgamers.
It was over 6 months work and I really didn’t design anything for many months afterwards because the task left me exhausted.

For both games what appealed to me was the challenge of taking older games and giving them a fresh modern look. As a graphic designer I am attracted to projects where a design overhaul can give a value and prominence to games in our history that are overlooked by many. For Barbarian Prince I also wanted a copy to play and this was a fun way for me to make that happen.

From there I entered several of the designer contests that the Print and Play community sponsors and slowly began learning to process of design games. There are several of these contests every year on BGG. The Solitaire PnP contest (every summer), the PnP Wargame contest, the 18 card contest, and the Mint Tin contest where all components must fit inside of an Altoids tin. In the past there have also been game contests with constraints like only using dice, fitting the game on a single sheet of paper, or only being able to use 9 cards.

My first true, and complex, game was Aether Captains which used dice as sections of a steampunk zeppelin war ship. It was a solo game that eventually had a number of expansions and then a whole series of other games within the same narrative universe. It was not a game really about rolling dice (though D12s are involved in combat) but in simulating sections of ships where you would rotate the dice to show damage, like a very slow movie

  1. Many of your game designs are soloable games and play in the 10-30 minute range. Is that a design sweet spot for you? What about those two criteria appeal to you as a designer?

Yes I enjoy this niche I have found myself in – solo games that play quickly. It is an avenue of interest because it affords me the ability to combine really rich graphics and narratives with the structure of game play. I like to design AI systems that are an aggregate of small mechanics which, when added up, simulate the logic and/or randomness of a real player.

  1. It is also worth noting that you are a frequent participant in the game design contests run here on BGG. What is your favorite thing about participating in these contests?

I mostly participate in the Solo Game contest now because that one is near and dear to me and I do not have as much time as I once did (Many of my games are now being published and I am the graphic designer on those as well as the game designer and it takes a lot of time to design and prepare the files to be printed)

My favorite thing is the community of course. Dedicated designers helping each other with advice and playtests and sharing artwork and such. We are a strong community of helpful people.

  1. During those design contests, how does the feedback you get from playtesters help shape the final product of a game? Is there a game, in particular, that really evolved because of that contest feedback?

I would say that Pulp Detective is the game which has benefitted most from playtesters. That game began as an 18 card contest entry (18 cards, no dice or any markers) and has evolved into its current form of 60 cards, an expansion, 7 dice and a handful of counters. The game had a good structure to it but was too random because I was trying to do too much with only 18 cards. Playtesters stuck with me and helped expand the concept and provide ideas to build on.

  1. If a solo player has never played a Todd Sanders game before, which of your games would you recommend they look at, and what about those might interest the gamer?

My strongest solo game and one that is the most fun is Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden which will be on Kickstarter this month but the PNP version is still available. Others I would suggest are The Draugr and Six Sons of the Sultan which do not take much to craft (Six Sons of the Sultan can in fact be printed as a single page). My Maiden in the Forest game which only uses 18 cards is also a favorite of people who have tried my games out . It takes 10 minutes to set up and play but it tough to beat.

  1. Some of your games, such as Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden and The Draugr, seem to get mentioned frequently by solo PnP gamers. What games that you’ve designed surprised you in how well they’ve been received? Are there any that haven’t been played or talked about often that we should be sure to check out?

I think Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden was a surprise. Initially to me because of how quickly the game came together when designing it and how robust the narrative and humor became. When I presented it on my design forum there was a lot of early and strong interest.

I think one slightly more neglected is The Tain which I feel is one of the best 2 player games I have designed. It is a wargame without a hex map, without counters and one man against an army. I put a lot of new ideas into that game and think it is very aesthetically appealing.

  1. I understand the files for The Court of Xiang Chi has just become available again for download, which is something that I’ve seen some excitement over. Tell me a little bit about that game.

This was another game that came together quickly and was inspired by all the great artwork I found of Kabuki theater costumes. It is a game about adjacencies. You place cards in a grid, often on top of previously placed cards. Card actions trigger based on other cards showing in the grid. There is a loose auction mechanic for buying cards from the center row and some Daemons to fight.

  1. You just recently had a game fund on Kickstarter: Pulp Detective. Tell us a little bit about that game. Did you design the solo aspect first, or the 2-player aspect? How does the solo experience differ from the 2-player experience?

The solo game has a long long history (over 2 years in development) The game was originally designed for an 18 card contest and eventually grew well beyond that. At its heart it is a dice management game with the goal of finding the criminal who has committed a heinous crime. There are a number of detectives, criminals and sidekicks included so there are lots of different matchups of actions available.

My publisher – Alban Viard of Alban Viard Game Studios- requested the two player version and we eventually created both a cooperative and a competitive option, as well as 4 Police Inspectors to choose from as characters

  1. I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to simply admire the artwork that you put into your games. Do you design a game around the artwork/theme you have in mind, or design the art after you’ve hammered down the mechanics and theme of a game?

I tend to work on both the structure and mechanics of the game while doing the artwork. It’s a very organic process and both elements grow together. I am not an ‘artist’ artist, meaning I don’t really draw or illustrate anything by hand ever, I do all my work on the computer using InDesign and Photoshop, often using those applications as you would Adobe Illustrator (but I don’t own a copy of that).

Early on I tended to do redesigns of earlier games. In taking apart another designer’s work and re-visioning it, you learn the inner workings of the mechanics and how the game is put together, thereby learning something about the design process. I suppose the best thing I have learned is to be open with my work and let people interact with it as it is being designed. Everyone has different experiences and knowledge. Their input can only make a game stronger, especially since one tends to design in a bubble so you can quickly convince yourself that something works. This is because in your head it does, but you often find that once you write rules other people find holes in this logic as you didn’t impart that understanding within the framework of the game itself.

  1. Finally, what advice would you give to someone wanting to someday design a solo game?

Read rule sets. Download as many as you can from BGG and learn how designers structure their games and how they explain them in the rules they write.

  1. Thank you for your time! Where can people find out more about what you’re working on and find you online?

Twitter is probably the best place – I am @lackriver over there

And my design forum on BGG – https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/617727/todd-sanders-current-projects

And lastly my complete list of all games I have designed or re-designed – https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/65610/games-ive-re-designed-or-created

Board Gaming · Solo Gaming · Solo Month

Designer Spotlight: Todd Sanders

In the world of solo PnP board games, few designers are as well-known as Todd Sanders. He has designed dozens of games, most of which can be played solo. His designs are varied in approach, yet they all share one other common feature: they are raved about by the solo PnP community at large. I would be remiss to feature solo designers and to not bring Mr. Sanders into the spotlight, so here is a brief coverage on a few of the games he has designed for solo play, all of which you can download and print over on BGG.

Stay tuned tomorrow for an interview with Todd Sanders, where he talks a little about his design process, why he designs solo games, and what the community of solo PnP gamers means to him.

***

  • Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden
    • Published in 2016
    • 1 Player
    • 10-20 Minutes
    • Description:
      • Each year Vernon Cabbagehead, (Mr. Cabbagehead to his friends), wants to be left in peace to grow his award winning vegetable garden for the annual Garden Club contest. However, his tedious neighboirs tend to interfere when he is away, and frequently drop by to help themselves to the garden produce. Can Mr. Cabbagehead create a beautiful garden and finally win the blue ribbon?In Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden, Vegetable cards are drafted and placed in the garden plot, a grid of six cards by three cards. Depending on which cards are selected, one of the tedious neighbours may interfere with the garden in a variety of ways.

        Players must be careful in their choice of Vegetable to plant, its position in the garden, and in maintaining their supply of invaluable bees, which give Mr. Cabbagehead more flexibility in planting.

        Once all cards have been drawn the game is over and the Garden Club committee visits to evaluate Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden. The number and position of Vegetables matter and players must be creative in developing a garden that is both pleasing to the eye and plentiful in Vegetables.

        Originally released in a Print & Play version with 4 Neighbours, the published deluxe edition of Mr. Cabbagehead adds more Neigbours, more variety in scoring, and a streamlined set of rules that includes a fixed garden plot grid variant. More importantly, the published version includes rules for 2 players.

    • Rules Link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/127654/rules-and-tokens

 

  • Shadows Upon Lassadar
    • Published in 2011
    • 1 Player
    • 30 Minutes
    • Description:
      • The land is corrupted. The silent Grayking, brooding upon his throne in the Tower of Ash, is a far-reaching shadow upon Lassadar. We feel his presence in each of our days. His servants grow bold, stealing into our cities, inhabiting the alleys and dark places of our streets. They jeer at us from our mirrors, shaming our reflections.The books of the Council of Wardens, handed down to us across the years, say that the era of broken barriers is upon us. Omens tell us, by winter, the Grayking will break through the few defenses we have remaining, cross to Lassadar, and our lands will fall to despair.

        We few who are left, who remember the Grayking’s original imprisonment across the Barrier Planes, struggle to keep his power from growing further, but we have little time and far too few disciples. You are young but have proven to hold the strength of our teaching inside you. We have trained you in the arcane arts of ice, oak and flint magic and have taught you those powers are capricious and can damage your spirit if relied upon too much. We wish we had more time to train you further. We do not.

        Go now into the wider world, with our blessings, and seek a means to defeat the Grayking. Find the three Warding Keys stolen by his servants and re-lock the gates to force him back behind the Barrier Planes forever. Our agents, spread thinly across places still untouched in Lassadar, will aid you in your quest as best they can.

        Go now, and save us all……

        Shadows Upon Lassadar is a solitaire fantasy quest game. You play a young magic adept who has been charged with finding three lost keys to lock the gates between the Barrier Plains and prevent the Grayking from reaching the world of Lassadar. You will journey to different cities using a deck of cards; other cards list spells you learn during the game. Magic in Lassadar is, however, a two edged sword and if you use powerful spells you may end up corrupting your own spirit in the process and lose the game. Three specific cards lead to expanded battle maps where you fight the Grayking’s servants for possession of the keys. The game uses a variety of AI mechanics to simulate an enemy that learns and adapts as the game progresses.

        Needed to play:
        the 48 game cards + the 4 last battle cards
        9 six sided dice
        25 black eurocubes
        and 3 eurocubes: one each in red, blue and yellow.

        This Print and Play game can be assembled as a deck of cards or as cards and a series of mini game boards.

        There are several types of quests in the game that will need to be completed. These quests are encountered by turning over cards from the draw deck:

        City Quest cards showing the name of the city you’ve journeyed to, win and loss table reference icons and event instructions for the battle in that city. As you win battles in these cities you will remove these cards from the game. If you lose a battle in this city you will place this card on the Quest discard pile to be shuffled back into the game. Dice are rolled to determine the outcome of these battles.

        Council of Wardens Quest cards always have a white top. Their event instructions will help you gain spells and refresh your Mana and Spirit. These cards will always be placed on the Quest discard pile to be shuffled back into the game.

        Three Warding City Quest cards, each with a colored band and a numbered Warding Key icon across the bottom will signal when you use the Expanded Battle Maps (wargame hexmap style). On the Expanded Battle Maps you will encounter AI driven servants of the Grayking. Dice are rolled to determine the outcome of these battles. As you win the battles in these cities, and gain the Warding Keys, you will remove these cards from the game. If you lose a battle in this city you will place this card on the Quest discard pile, to be shuffled back into the game.

        Winning or losing the game:

        Draw cards one by one working your way through the quest. If you gain each of the 3 Warding keys you may cast the Oaken Spell: Barrier Lock and lock the gates of the Barrier Plains. The Grayking is instantly drawn back to the Tower of Ash and you have saved Lassadar and won the game.

        If at any time your Spirit falls below [1] on the Character Stats card, or if the Grayking reaches Lassadar on the Progress Track, you have lost the game.

        2nd place in the August 2011 Solitaire Print and Play contest
        and was also awarded Best Art, Best AI and Best Horror Game

        Tied for 1st place in The 2011 Print ‘n Play Awards for Best Solitaire Game

        2012 Golden Geek Awards Nominee

    • Rules link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/70584/shadows-upon-lassadar-rules

 

  • The Draugr
    • Published in 2014
    • 1 Player
    • 20 Minutes
    • Description:
      • The Draugr, reanimated dead imbued with magical powers, have come to the region of Trøndelag seeking to corrupt the town of Stjørdal. Only you, a lone revenant hunter, can protect the town and slay they who walk again.Armed with limited supply of holy water and iron spikes you enter the town square and prepare for the coming onslaught.

        The Draugr is a solitaire game playing in about 20 minutes.

        To Win:
        You must slay 4 of the 6 Draugr. If at anytime during Phase 1 all 7 Townspeople, or more than 7 of the cards (a combination of Townspeople and Locations) are corrupted you lose.

        Playing the Game:
        The game is played in rounds consisting of two phases: Corruption and Hunt.

        Phase 1 – Corruption
        Roll the six-sided die once to see which Draugr will hold sway over Stjørdal for the round and will corrupt Locations and Townspeople in the row they are adjacent to, matching the die face to the image on a Draugr Card.

        Roll the die a second time and look at the symbol in the upper left corner of the die. Place a Corruption Marker on each card in that Draugr’s row with the matching Corruption Sigil. (See the section on the Shepherdess for protection from this rule.)

        If a Townsperson card has been turned over you do not need to place additional Corruption Markers on the card.

        Phase 2 – The Hunt
        You must now move your player marker up to two adjacent cards in distance (The Nunnery and Foundry are the only two cards to supersede this rule). All movement is orthogonal (horizontally and vertically).

        Once you have finished moving you may choose a Special Action of that Townsperson or Location. Some cards have only 1 Special Action, some allow for a choice between 2 Special Actions. You do not have to choose a Special Action if you do not wish to.

        If you land on a Townsperson card that has been turned over, no Special Action can be chosen.

        If a Special Action allows you to place Holy Water or Iron Markers on a Draugr, take one from your supply on the Town Square card and place it on a Draugr of your choice. If you match the number of markers as indicated in the upper left of the Draugr card, that Draugr is slain and removed from the game. Return all Holy Water and Iron Markers on that Draugr to your supply.

        Once a Draugr is slain and their card removed, slide one of the adjacent Draugr cards up or down so that is partially spans either 2 rows (or if 2 Draugr have been slain, 3 rows). The Draugr now holds sway over 10 (or 15) cards for rolls during the Corruption Phase. If you slay all 3 Draugr on one side, no further Draugr are moved to replace those slain.

        Game End:
        If you are able to slay 4 of the 6 Draugr you are successful and the other Draugr are forced to flee. If at anytime during Phase 1 all the Townspeople, or more than 7 of the cards (a combination of Townspeople and Locations) are corrupted you lose.

    • Rules Link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/105461/cards-counters-and-rules

 

  • Aether Captains
    • Published in 2010
    • 1-6 Players
    • 30-60 Minutes
    • Description:
      • Aether Captains is a steampunk themed, scenario-based, asymmetric board game for 1-6 players.One player commands the mighty naval zeppelins of the Grand Compact: Dauntless and Dominion. As Commander, you have been tasked by the Emperor to defend the Grand Compact and Arkady from the merciless sky pirates. With your staunch crew of steam welders, engineers, navigators and gunners, you fly with honor to confront the pirates threatening Arkady.

        The remaining players command waves of attacking sky pirates, each with their own unique objectives which may pit them against any player when it results in the greatest profit for themselves. Infamous and feared, you have risen through the cutthroat cadres to become a War Captain. You swear to never rest until you control the skies and the Grand Compact falls!

    • Rules Link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/60310/full-set-all-rules-dice-and-expansions-and-players

 

  • The Seeker in the Forest of Wyr
    • Published in 2014
    • 1 Player
    • 20 Minutes
    • Description:
      • In ancient days the Seeker, guardian of the Metsäsuomalaiset people and endowed with five magical objects, journeyed within the Forest of Wyr, one with the natural world. The Seeker attracted the company of the Menninkäinen and Keiju, kindly though capricious forest spirits, while protecting those under his care from evil pursuits of the Ajatar.You are this Seeker, bound to the wood and the land.

        Beware though, the Forest of Wyr is large and its paths many. Its elder trees can confuse the unwary and cause them
        to lose their way.

        The Seeker in the Forest of Wyr is a solitaire game lasting about 20 minutes. It needs only the deck of game cards, no dice or eurocubes required.

        To Win:
        The goal of the game is to finish one of six Quests randomly chosen from the Quest Deck at the start of the game.

        Play:
        During each turn of the game you will choose one of the two bottommost row’s Stage Cards – your Seeker’s Path. Two of the goals (see next page) may make this choice for you. You must choose the card before you draw any cards to your hand.

        Each Stage Card on the Seeker’s Path has a number in the upper left representing the Amount of Time you must take to overcome the card with the Abilities you have in your hand. The pointer icon next to the number shows whether you must have a total Abilities Number either great than or exactly one less than the Amount of Time needed.

        From the cards in your hand, discard cards to your Seeker Deck’s discard pile, adding the Abilities Numbers in the upper left. of those you discard, to overcome the Stage Card you chose on the Seeker’s Path. Be sure when discarding cards to keep their current orientation when placing them on the discard pile (i.e. the current Abilities Numbers should be oriented upward when placed face down on the discard pile.)

        The Magical Objects in your hand of cards can grant you special powers during your turn. You can play a Magical Object at any time during your turn. Discard them when you use their powers.

        If you are able to overcome the Stage Card it will either be removed from the game, temporarily grant you a temporary Abilities bonus or penalty, be set in a special pile, or be added to your discard pile depending on the card.

        End of the Game:
        When the Quest Card is drawn from the Stage Deck’s draw pile, it is added to the Seeker’s Path and play continues normally in its final phase.

        When the Quest Card reaches the bottommost row of the Seeker’s Path (The Quest Card always has the highest Initiative Number when deciding what cards to move at the end of a turn) the game ends.

        2014 Solitaire Print and Play Contest Awards

        Best Artwork
        First Place

        Best Medium Sized Game
        Second Place

        Best Written Rules
        Second Place (Tied)

        Most Innovative Mechanic
        Second Place (Tied)

    • Rules Link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/106438/rules-cards-tuckbox

 

  • The Maiden in the Forest
    • Published in 2015
    • 1 Player
    • 10 Minutes
    • Description:
      • Long ago a maiden mage was trapped in an enchanted forest ring. Through her cunning, and with the help of four magic objects, she attempts to escape her fate.This is an 18 card solitaire game using only cards, no other components needed. The rules are contained within the 18 cards.

        The object of the game is to rotate, and then turn over, each of the twelve Tree Cards from their blooming to dormant side. If you are able to do this before the end of the twelve clock cycles of Day and Night you shall win your freedom.

        To begin, shuffle the twelve Tree Cards and place them in a ring like a clock face. All cards should have their blooming side revealed and the trunks should point towards the center of the ring. Each card also shows one of four objects. Place the Maiden Card inside the ring at the 12 o’clock position. Set the four Object Cards to one side.

        Each Day you will perform two actions:

        1. Shuffle the four Object Cards and place them face down in a pile. Draw the top card and view the object shown therein. All Tree Cards with this object may not be touched by the player during this cycle of Day and Night.

        2. Gather the remaining three Object Cards to your hand and use their actions to move, that is to … swap … the positions of the Tree Cards allowed to be touched, keeping their current orientations. You may use these actions in any order and may use none, one, two or all three of the actions as you choose to.

        Each Night you perform two actions:

        1. You may now rotate blossoming Tree Cards with matching colors or matching objects that you are allowed to touch this Night. Cards are rotated so that their trunks point outward from the ring. Cards previous rotated can then be turned over so that their dormant side is showing.

        Cards must be rotated (either clockwise or counter-clockwise) or turned over to their dormant side in accordance with the three patterns on the other side of this card. You may use each of the patterns only once during this Night but you may use them in any order you choose.

        2. Move the Maiden Card one position in the ring clockwise to signal the end of this Day and Night and the beginning of a new turn.

        If you are able to turn each of the twelve Tree Cards over to their dormant side before the end of twelve clock cycles of Day and Night you shall win your freedom.

    • Rules Link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/112518/maiden-forest-cards-and-rules

 

  • Bibliogamo
    • Published in 2011
    • 1 Player
    • 20 Minutes
    • Description:
      • Bibliogamo is a solitaire game of book production and libraries. In this game you will play the role of a publisher in the city of Bibliogamo. Using cards to hire artisans, you will put them to work in six city tower workshops, each devoted to a different kind of book. The Chief Librarian of the City will, in turn, tour the city buying books at what he considers their proper value. Prestige Collection cards generate victory points depending on how well you can fulfill the requirements of the Chief Librarian’s collection.Needed to play: the game board showing the city of Bibliogamo, the 47 Artisan cards, the 7 Prestige Collection cards, 26 black eurocubes representing your Artisans, and 16 red eurocubes to act as track markers in the game. Additionally you’ll need one pawn to represent the Librarian.

        Win: The game is over when the Time Track eurocube reaches [40] and you complete your turn. For each book you produce, you gain 1VP. For each 5 Florins you have, you gain 1 VP. Prestige VP is awarded as indicated on the Prestige Collection card chosen at the start of the game. Your total VP is your score for the game.

        The Five Turn Phases:
        1. Move the time track eurocube forward one day closer to [40].

        2. Move the Librarian Pawn clockwise 3 spaces, then turn over the top Artisan card from the draw pile on to the discard pile and move the Librarian accordingly as indicated by the Librarian icon on the left-hand side of the card.

        3. Look at the small Artisan icon below the Librarian icon on this same card. You may not play any card with that Artisan symbol on it this turn unless you discard a card from your hand with a matching small Artisan icon.

        4. You may now do any of the following, but in order:
        a. Pay 1 Florin to move the Librarian forward or backward one space. You may pay 1 Florin for each space you wish to move the Librarian.
        b. Sell a book, if completed, in the Tower the Librarian is currently standing on. Turn over the next 2 Artisan cards from the draw deck. Place the second card to the right of the first and look at the florin value on the second card as indicated by the Florin icon at on the first card. This is the amount the Librarian is willing to pay for this book. You may pay extra 1 day of time to turn over another card replacing the current Florin amount. You may continue to do this, paying 1 day of time per card turned over, until you are satisfied with the price.
        Mark this amount on your Florin Track and return all Artisan eurocubes from the completed book to your pool. Then mark the production of a book on your Book track, moving the red eurocube forward one space, and if the book is one of those needed for a Prestige Collection, mark that book on the Prestige Collection card as well with a red eurocube. Note: you may pay extra days of time only if they remain on the Time Track. Lastly, place all drawn cards used to calculate the Florin value on the discard pile.
        c. Discard one Artisan card from your hand to the discard pile and place that number of black eurocubes on the Artisans indicated by the card, on any one Tower. Then discard one more card from your hand to pay for those Artisans. You may do this action twice if you wish. You do not receive any surplus Artisans from the discarded card. Nor do you receive any surplus Artisans if your tower already has the number required for that Artisan type. The second time you do this action you may add Artisans to the same tower or a different one.

        5. Draw back to a hand of 5 cards. If the draw deck is exhausted, shuffle the discard cards for a new draw deck.

    • Rules Link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/70506/bibliogamo-rules

 

  • Do Not Forsake Me (Oh My Darling)
    • Published in 2015
    • 1 Player
    • 30 Minutes
    • Description:
      • Crewed by a group of misfits under your command, the Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling is a bounty hunter ship of the Rim Quadrants, sailing the edges of space in search of the dread pirates, criminals and charlatan messiahs who prey on the innocent. Bring them to justice and collect the Bounty Megacredits. Earn 30 Megacredits and you can retire from the wandering life among the stars. Lose your crew and be doomed to haunt the spaceways for all time.This is a solo game of high adventure in space using only 18 cards and no other components. Rules are included within the 18 card format.

        Each turn is broken down into the following phases:

        1. Movement
        a. Station Re-Equip
        b. Repairs in Space

        2. Events
        a. NavComm
        b. Bounty
        1. Evade
        2. Engage in Combat

        3. Combat

        The player moves around a randomly generated map of cards and has 4 Ship Systems (Crew, NavComm, Wave Motion Cannon and Fusioncasting Engines) they must balance the use of during the phases of the game.

        The game also features a set of Bounty cards which are double-sided and generate all random dice rolls as well as act as an AI in the game, balancing the strength of the bounties again the player’s current stats.

    • Rules Link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/112519/do-not-forsake-me-rules-and-cards

 

  • The Court of Xiang Chi
    • Published in 2015
    • 1 Player
    • 15-20 Minutes
    • Description:
      • As ruler of the three clans – Sun, Moon and Earth – it is your task to rule over your court of ministers, tax collectors, generals, poets and courtesans who will bring prosperity to land and protect the people from the Daemon Princes of the Fire Clan.A Solitaire Game lasting 15-20 minutes

        Setup:
        Shuffle the 54 cards and place them face down as a draw pile. Four cards are dealt face up to form Society Row.

        The player chooses 3 of these cards to place below in their Royal Court as starting cards. The cards may be placed in any of the 4 spaces in either of the 2 rows forming the Royal Court. If any Daemon Prince cards are drawn, they are set aside and will be shuffled back into the deck after the player chooses the three they want (dealing out replacement cards to Society Row). The player also begins the game with 10 copper pieces (CP). These starting cards will not have their powers activated during the Game Setup.

        Play:
        A game turn consists of three phases:

        Phase 1A. The player may purchase 1 card from Society Row and place in the Royal Court OR they may skip this phase and go to Phase 1B.

        If the player purchases a card, any cards to the left of the gap slide to the right and a new card is drawn and placed in Society Row.

        Cards will be purchased during the game from this row in an auction format.

        Phase 1B. If the player does not wish to purchase any cards, the rightmost, non-Daemon Prince card is discarded and all remaining cards slide to the right and a new card is drawn and placed in Society Row. The player then receives 1CP and an additional 1CP for each Tax Collector in the Royal Court.

        Phase 2. The player may now use the combined strength of their Generals to combat one Daemon Prince. If the player has 3 or more Generals in the Royal Court representing each of the three clan icons, the player adds +2 to the total strength to the Generals. To defeat one Daemon Prince during this phase, the total of all Generals’ strengths must be equal to or greater than the Daemon Prince’s strength (as shown by the black number). The player may additionally pay CP to add 1CP/1 Strength to this total. The defeated Daemon Prince is placed to the left of the draw deck, any cards to the left of the gap slide to the right and a new card is drawn and placed in Society Row. The player gains VP as listed on the Daemon Prince card.

        Phase 3. If Daemon Princes remain in Society Row, the rightmost non-Daemon Prince card is removed from the Society Row and placed in the Court of the Daemon Princes. All remaining cards slide to the right and a new card is drawn and placed in Society Row.

        Game End:
        The game will end after Phase 3 if either:
        4 Daemon Princes are in the Society Row or all 9 Daemon Princes have been drawn.

        The player then adds up the total VP gained during the game and additionally gains 1VP for every 3CP they have left. Each card in the Daemon Prince pile subtracts its listed VP from the player’s VP score.

    • Rules Link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/161962/court-xiang-chi-rules