Tag: card games

Tussie Mussie Review

Tussie Mussie Review

It’s that time again, everyone. It’s time for me to gush about yet another Button Shy game.

I’ve sang the praises about Button Shy on this blog before. I’ve reviewed both Stew and Sprawlopolis, two games in their extensive library of micro games that I dearly love. If you haven’t read either of those reviews and are unfamiliar with Button Shy, allow me to spread the gospel. They specialize in micro games, games that are small enough to fit in a wallet. That’s not an exaggeration, by the way, they literally come in wallets.

The latest in this line of wallet games is Tussie Mussie, an ‘I Split, You Choose’ card game from Elizabeth Hargrave. If you don’t know who Elizabeth Hargrave is, you probably should. Hargrave is the designer of the recent smash hit Wingspan. Wingspan is essentially the board game equivalent of a piece of toast with an imprint of the Virgin Mary on it because a copy of it recently sold on eBay for over $1,000. If your game sells for 1,000 of anything, you’re probably doing something right.

While I haven’t had a chance to play Wingspan, Hargrave’s name is one of the biggest reasons I was excited to play Tussie Mussie. A collaboration between one of my favorite publishers and one of the industry’s hottest designers? Where do I sign up?? Button Shy was kind enough to send me a review copy and I must say, Tussie Mussie does not disappoint.

Tussie Mussie is about the Victorian era fad of giving and receiving flowers to express feelings. You see, back in Victorian times people didn’t have memes and gifs like we do today, so they had to communicate in other ways. A popular method was by giving bouquets of flowers, or tussie mussies, to each other. The flowers all had different meanings assigned to them, which allowed the giver to communicate certain things. One of Tussie Mussie‘s more subtle but delightful features is that it actually has flavor text on the bottom of each card, displaying the meaning behind that flower. For example, the orchid meant “You are beautiful”, the carnation meant “I do not agree” (which I’m sure led to many a passive aggressive end to arguments), and the hyacinth meant “Please forgive me”.

hyacinth
Nothing says, “I’m sorry for recording over our daughter’s dance recital video with a rerun of ALF” quite like a hyacinth.

This world of flower sharing is explored through Tussie Mussie’s ‘I Split, You Choose’ mechanic. For those unfamiliar with this mechanic, it generally involves the active player grouping sets of things, presenting them to other players and then being the last person to get to choose which set they receive. It rewards players for grouping items in as fair a way as possible so that they don’t get left with meager scraps. It’s a mechanic that feels criminally underrepresented in the industry, with the most popular examples of it being the pizza themed set collection game New York Slice and the beautifully agonizing card game Hanamikoji.

The way Tussie Mussie incorporates this mechanic is wonderfully simple. On your turn, you draw two cards from the deck. These cards all represent different flowers, each with a unique scoring condition or power. You choose one of the flowers to put face up and the other to put face down and give them to the person either on your left or right (depending on what point in the round you’re at). That player chooses one of the cards and you receive the other. Once everybody has four cards in front of them, the round ends and everybody scores their flowers. After three rounds, whoever has the most points wins!

Simple, right? Yes, but don’t let that lull you into thinking you can just sleepwalk through all the decisions. One of the key rules in Tussie Mussie is that the person receiving the flowers can’t look at the face down card. They either take the known commodity of the face up card or try their luck with whatever the face down card is hiding. This transforms Tussie Mussie from a peaceful game of collecting flowers into a fiendish string of devious mind games.

For example, let’s say you have a Red Tulip, which gives you a point for every red card you have. You already have two red cards and your opponent entices you with another red card as their face up offering. What seems like an easy decision turns into a torturous one as every synapse in your brain is shouting, “WHAT ARE THEY HIDING, IT CAN’T POSSIBLY BE THIS SIMPLE”. Do you take the red card, helping to bolster the Red Tulip’s scoring condition? Or do you take the face down card, hoping that you deny something that the giver desperately wanted? It’s not any easier being the person who is doing the splitting, either. Do you hide cards that benefit you, fearing your opponent will take it to deny you? Or do you flaunt it as the face up card, just daring the receiver to ignore whatever bounty you put face down?

It instills a manic sense of paranoia that I never thought I could feel from flowers. I can now see why nobody ever smiled in pictures and paintings from Victorian times. The cruel meta that develops from repeated plays of this game with the same group becomes a game unto itself and as someone who loves that sort of thing, Tussie Mussie more than satisfied.

Another thing I absolutely love about this game is that every flower is different. Yes, many of their powers are similar (things like ‘score for every purple flower’ and ‘score for every red flower’), but it still feels like everybody is plucking flowers from a garden and crafting their own tailor made bouquet. By the end of the round, you feel proud of your beautiful tussie mussie if it nets you a solid chunk of points, while you can practically see the cards wilt and droop when you have a bad round of flowers that don’t synergize well. The unique flowers also means play doesn’t get stale and you’ll start to develop favorites (“An orchid? Why yes, I’d LOVE to have a flower that acts as any color”) and not-so-favorites (“DON’T YOU DARE GIVE ME THAT MARIGOLD”). It’s as if each flower has its own personality, helped by that flavor text I mentioned earlier.

The only plant I’d be worthy of receiving is poison ivy if I forgot to mention this game’s art. The art is done by none other than Beth Sobel, one of my favorite artists in the industry. Probably best known for Viticulture, Sobel’s warm, comforting style perfectly fits this game’s theme. Each flower has its own illustration and you can practically smell the different fragrances waft off the petals as you sift through the deck. I mean no disrespect to the other games in Button Shy’s library, but this is almost certainly their most eye pleasing one to date.

tussie mussie cards
Who needs actual flowers when you have art like this? All I need is a vase to put these cards in and I’m good to go.

Is there a thorn on the stem of this beautiful rose of a game? I will admit there is one little issue I had with the game and that is with the scoring phase. The game is quick and breezy as players build their collection of flowers, but it grinds to a halt at the end of each round as everybody needs to score their sets. With each flower possessing its own effect that interacts with other flowers and their own effects, there is a lot of mumbling and poking at phone calculators at the end of each round which clogs an otherwise sublimely elegant game. It’s a minor thing and far from a deal breaker, but it did have enough of an effect that I felt it worth mentioning.

Tussie Mussie launches on Kickstarter on May 28th and I wholeheartedly recommend that you check it out. It’s a simple but deceptively tricky game that pops on the table despite being just a small deck of cards. If you have yet to try a Button Shy game, this is a fine place to start.

Sprawlopolis Review

Sprawlopolis Review

A month or two ago, I reviewed a game called Stew. Stew is a brilliant little game that combines bluffing, deduction and press your luck and is brought to us by the wonderful publisher Button Shy. Button Shy is a game company that specializes in making hand crafted games that are small enough to fit in literal wallets. I own five of their games from their vast library and while Stew is my favorite of those, there is a very close second. And that game is Sprawlopolis.

Sprawlopolis is a cooperative tile/card laying game where you and your teammates are building a city together. The game, like almost every Button Shy game, is comprised of just 18 cards. Those cards are double sided, with one side containing scoring objectives and the other side being the actual city cards. Those city cards contain each of the four districts in the game (residential, commercial, industrial and parks) as well as a combination of streets snaking through in various directions. The game begins by setting aside three of those 18 cards and putting them scoring objective up. The prompt has a rule for scoring (such as 2 points for every Residential district adjacent to two Industrial districts, to pick an easy example) and a number. You add the numbers of the three cards together and that makes the final score you need to beat for that game. Then, after shuffling the rest of the cards, you and your other budding civic engineers try to make a city that doesn’t completely suck.

(Psst…chances are, it will suck. This game is hard.)

The game plays like many tile laying games, where you simply place cards adjacent to other cards to form a continually growing landscape. But! There is a twist. In this game, you can actually cover parts of already placed cards, even the entire damn thing. This opens things up considerably as you can try to overlap parts that are disadvantageous to your scoring while improving other parts of the city to improve said score. It’s like this game’s version of gentrification, only with much less of the sociological and moral ramifications that usually come with that.

It also leads to some very interestingly shaped cities. The first game I ever won of this, our city ended up looking like a duck.

sprawlopolis duck
I thought this was Sprawlopolis, not Quacks of Quedlinberg! Hahahaha oh god someone help me

The amazing thing about Sprawlopolis is that despite it being a mere 18 cards, the game gives you a lot to think about. You’re not just trying to score based on what the objectives have given you, but you also score based on how big certain blocks in your city are. The biggest continuous area of each district type gets gets one point per block in it. For example, if the biggest area of parks in your city is five blocks big, you get five points for your parks district. This extra scoring mechanism means that even as you’re focusing on the scoring objectives dealt at the beginning, you also have to keep in mind that you want to build up at least one big area of each of the district types. Focusing strictly on the objectives and ignoring the district scoring will rarely result in a win, but the rub is that often times the objectives don’t jive with making large masses of single districts. This creates a great decision space where you’ll be agonizing over how to maximize your overall score. It’s a balancing act akin to walking a tightrope while juggling Molotov cocktails. Also, there are puppies below you as you do so. Do you want to burn a bunch of puppies, you psychopath? Didn’t think so.

There is one more bit of scoring in the game, making it the thick syrup on this stack of scoring pancakes. The streets department of Sprawlopolis must be very lazy and cranky, because for each road in your city you lose one point. Joining together roads to make them longer and therefore less present in your city is the best way to minimize this damage. The worst thing you can do is to have lots of tiny little roads twisting and turning around your city, leading to nowhere like it’s an MC Escher fever dream. But again, trying to build long, continuous roads doesn’t always work with the city you’re trying to build for the objectives. Maybe there’s a great play you can make that will score you some extra points from the objectives but you notice that it will open up two new roads or even break apart a long connected road you had worked so hard on keeping together. As I said, it’s a balancing act and it packs so many great hair pulling moments in what is just a 10-15 minute card game.

When you deal with a microgame like this, one of the biggest concerns is its shelf life. As in, how many times can you actually play this thing before you realize it’s a much more shallow, and repetitive experience than you first thought? No disrespect to microgames, I love them, but it’s definitely a prevalent problem in a genre that is built around incredibly simple rulesets and low numbers of cards/components.

(I’m looking at you Coup and Love Letter.)

I’m happy to report that, maybe more than any other microgame I’ve played, this is not an issue with Sprawlopolis. One of the big reasons why is the different scoring objectives. Not only do the scoring objectives all feel different and varied, but you’re using a different, random combination each time. This, along with the fact that the city cards are all shuffled and come out randomly as well, means that every game of Sprawlopolis is going to feel unique and fresh. Sure, you may run into a couple games where two of the three scoring objectives have been paired together before, but it’s rare enough that it rarely feels stale. I mean, just do the math. With 18 scoring objectives, and a combination of 3 every time you play that’s like…uhh…umm…a LOT of combinations. Yeah, let’s go with that, ‘a lot’.

This also translates into wildly different looking cities every time you play. One of my favorite things about Carcassonne, perhaps the most popular tile laying game in the hobby, is that no matter how many times I’ve played it, the landscape me and my opponents had created always looked different game to game. That is very much the case with Sprawlopolis. I mean, I already showed you that damn duck. Depending on how the scoring objectives shape out, you can end up with smaller more compact cities, larger more sprawling (hey, that sounds familiar) cities or just some downright weird looking ones.

sprawlopolis city example
Well, it’s layout and design still makes more sense than Boston’s.

The last thing I’ll rave about is this game’s solo mode. I have been getting into solo gaming a lot over the past year (probably has to do with that whole ‘no social life’ thing I’ve got gotten on) and Sprawlopolis is easily one of the three best solo experiences I’ve ever played. The gameplay is completely unaffected. The only difference is you just simply keep a hand of three cards at all times since there are no other players to pass cards to. Which is completely fine, as it removes the one fiddly thing about the game anyway (in the multiplayer game you play, pass, then draw one card for a future turn, which for whatever reason has always felt clunky to me). This means the solo experience is just as enjoyable as playing the multiplayer game, something a solitaire game should ALWAYS strive for. In fact, in some ways it’s better, because playing solo means you don’t have to deal with your friends passive aggressively sighing at your placement of a card because you missed something obvious. It’s lack of a long time commitment makes Sprawlopolis the perfect bite sized solo game as well, meaning it’s super easy for me to pull out and kill 15 minutes with. All in all, if you are an avid solo gamer, Sprawlopolis is as good as it gets.

I really don’t have much in the way to criticize with Sprawlopolis. It’s variety game to game, elegant and simple ruleset, addictive solo play and its portability make it a game that anyone should have in their collection. It doesn’t quite beat the tile laying greats such as Carcassonne, Lanterns and Isle of Skye, but it’s damn close to their level. And that’s some high praise if you ask me.

What I Played Last Weekend (3/15/19-3/17/19)

This past weekend was St. Paddy’s Day weekend! That means while everybody else was out and about getting drunk and making terrible decisions, I was also doing that exact same thing. Ahem. BUT. I also played some games this weekend! Five to be exact, and they were all varying degrees of fun. To celebrate this, I’m trying a new type of post where I briefly discuss these games and what my initial impressions of them were. This was the first time I played any of these games, so these are strictly off one play. Therefore, don’t expect my usual scholarly amounts of critique and detailed, well thought out pfft hahaha, even I can’t type that with a straight face! Also, I don’t own four of these five games, so I won’t be doing pictures for this post. My suggestion to fix this is that you read the rest of this post aloud in your best NPR voice and imagine you’re listening to this content through a picture free podcast. What other blog includes such fun levels of audience participation?? Anyway, let’s get on with it.

Game the First: Yamatai

My very first review on this blog was of Mr. Jack, a game designed by my favorite designer Bruno Cathala. I looove his games and he is easily the designer I’ve played the most. You could put his name on a box of used diapers and I’d be interested in playing it. Yamatai was the last of his ‘big’ games that I had yet to play and I wanted to make sure I gave it a shot before its owner (one of my best friends and main board game partner) moved to Japan, damning this game to a life of eternal storage. I went in with tempered expectations, as this is a game that is described with a resounding shrug from most of the board game community. It doesn’t seem like a lot of people disliked it, but you rarely hear people exalting it either. It is what many would call ‘fine’. Do I agree?

Hmmm, that’s a tough question. In terms of gameplay and mechanisms, there’s actually a lot I love about Yamatai. For one, I love it’s unique take on route building. In the game, you and the players are building chains of boats that circle around islands and the colors of the boats dictate your ability to build buildings on said islands. This effectively means the routes and networks double as a sort of currency in the game. This creates a very puzzley game where you’re trying to build a route of boats that you can reap benefits from while not leaving things open for your opponents.

This balancing act of helping yourself while playing defense against the others is a trademark of Cathala design, something seen in games like the aforementioned Mr. Jack, Hand of the King (a lesser known and grossly underrated work of his, built around the Game of Thrones IP), Five Tribes, 7 Wonders Duel and, maybe my favorite game of his, Raptor. It’s alive and well in Yamatai and that lends itself to some satisfying but exhausting brain burn. I chortled when I watched the Dice Tower and they said this game was heavier than Five Tribes, perhaps Cathala’s heaviest game, but they weren’t kidding. I legitimately had a bit of a headache from this game when we were finished because the decisions have so much weight.

So if this game offers such a hefty but satisfying puzzle to chew on, why am I conflicted on it? My biggest gripe was the downtime and length of the game. I played this with just two players and it still took us about two hours to finish. Two hours of this kind of puzzling is draining and led to me being somewhat burned out by the end. Again, it literally gave me a headache. But the bigger sin was the downtime. With two players, you take two turns per round versus one turn in the other player counts. That sounds like it’d be great and would actually reduce downtime but I think it might have made it worse. My reasoning is because trying to puzzle out not one but TWO turns can reeaaally bog you down in AP. It’s made worse towards the end of the game when every move is precious and players are popping off endless amounts of special abilities they’ve racked up throughout the game, lengthening turns that much more. I wish I could see if downtime is less of an issue in a 3 player game, where players only get one turn.

As it stands, Yamatai is a game that I would say is not in the same echelon as Cathala’s greatest games, but it definitely isn’t bad. I’m glad I played it, but it’s not necessarily a game I need in my collection, especially with Cathala’s other games on my shelves. So, yeah, uh, *shrug*

Game the Second: Sunset Over Water

This is the one game on the list I DO own and therefore a game that I might review some day. With pictures, even! So I’ll keep this one short.

This is a set collection game where you and your opponents are rival painters trying to find the best landscapes and just paint the crap out them. These landscape pictures are placed in a grid that players need to navigate by selecting action cards from a hand of three. The cards have a wake up time, a movement allotment and an amount of paintings that you can remove from the grid on your turn. Earliest wake up time goes first, and that player moves according to their restrictions and picks up paintings along the way.

You’re essentially trying to grab paintings that have certain symbols on them to satisfy commission requirements which are the main source of points in the game. I played this at two players and found it to be both a leisurely walk through the forest, enjoying the beautiful sights while collecting sets, and a cutthroat race to the finish, where I could practically see the artists sharpening the ends of their brush handles into makeshift shivs as they undercut their opponents at every turn. It’s nice to have a game that manages to be both laidback and tense at the same time and I really enjoyed it. I’m a big fan of fillers of this type, so it was nice to not be disappointed.

As I said, there’s a good chance I do a full review for this game so I’ll save all my hilarious observations for that post. Onward!

Game the Third: Clacks

When I first saw this game in a game store, I saw the tower on the cover that looked like an oil derrick and assumed this was some sort of Euro about running an oil business and trying to be the best damn oil tycoon this side of the Mississippi. Turns out, it’s an abstract puzzle game set in the Discworld universe that’s about lighting towers to send transmissions. Close enough, right?

One notable thing about this game is its both a competitive and cooperative game. The game includes rule sets for both modes and both have their own unique spin on the core mechanism in the game. That’s always a worrying sign for me because I assume (perhaps unfairly) that if the game includes multiple modes that the designer spread themselves too thin and lost focus, thus resulting in a half baked pie that has both pumpkin filling and raspberries crudely smashed into the crust with a hammer.

I can’t speak for the competitive mode because me and my friend only played cooperatively, but I’m happy to report that the cooperative mode was actually pretty fun. Fun enough to the point that I scratched my head throughout, wondering how they even made a competitive version of the game. It seemed as if it was made from the ground up as a cooperative game and that’s about all you can ask from a game sporting more than one way to play.

The gameplay in Clacks is basically just a big puzzle. It’s made up of grid of tiles with tokens on them which have a lit and unlit side on them. You and your teammates have a message you need to transmit and those messages are made up of letters which have a specific pattern of lights that need to be made in the grid. If you match the pattern of lights with a letter, you mark it as transmitted and move onto the next letter.

This is done by playing tiles which have MORE patterns on them, which show a specific shape in the grid that you can affect. When you play the tile, you choose an area of the grid matching the shape and flip over all tiles in that area. What’s lit is now unlit and vice versa. These tiles all have symbols on them indicating ‘stress’ which in the cooperative mode stands for the amount of spaces a figure called the Post Master moves on the board. The object is to transmit the message before the Post Master makes it to their destination.

And that’s literally the game. You manipulate the grid, trying to get the lights in the shape of the patterns needed to transmit a letter, perhaps even hoping to get more than one letter in one turn. This is waaay easier said than done, though, as you’ll find you’ll be constantly undoing the work you’ve done on previous turns. It’s like a puzzle in a Jonathon Blow video game, only without all the pretentious poetry. But you know what? It’s actually pretty fun. While I wished there was a little more to the game than just literally cooperatively solving a puzzle, I had a good time trying to work out with my friend how the hell to send the message in time (turns out the answer was: we wouldn’t!).

This is the board game equivalent of sitting next to a friend and completing a sudoku together, so if that doesn’t sound appealing to you, you may wanna find a more thematic cooperative game than Clacks. But for someone who loves a good puzzle, it’s worth checking out (though this may be horribly out of print? Not entirely sure).

Certainly better than the raw pumpkin and raspberry pie Frankenstein’s monster I expected it to be.

Game the Fourth: Tybor the Builder

Ahh, now HERE’S a game! Without a doubt my favorite of the weekend, this is a game designed by Alex Pfister, my second favorite designer (and hey, look, he just happened to design the game I reviewed last week, Port Royal, please read, I need to eat). In this game, players are drafting in a “Play and Pass” style seen in popular games like Sushi Go and 7 Wonders. For those who don’t know how it works, players have a hand of cards, everyone simultaneously picks one, plays it, then passes the hand to the next person.

The cards players are drafting in this game are people in your village and they can be used in one of three ways. You can put them above your little player board to make them a citizen, where they provide symbols for end game scoring and (usually, but not always) a discount on purchasing buildings in the future (more on that in a bit). You could also play them as a worker, where you place them to the right side of your board. They sit there patiently, with their strength number proudly displayed until you send them off to work when you do the third action. And that third action is you can build a building, which requires you to discard the card you just played and then to spend workers in your work force with a strength equal to the cost of the building you’re trying to buy. If you are building something that needs 8 strength, you need to spend workers worth at least 8 combined strength.

It’s incredible that a game that essentially has only three decisions with each card can be so satisfying and fun. When you’re looking through your hand, you’re thinking about every possibility of those three actions with all the cards. This card gives you a symbol you could really use for the endgame, but they also have a ton of strength. Do you use them as a citizen or worker? Similarly, you’re looking at what buildings you want to build and what cards can provide discounts as citizens. Citizens with a specific card color on their side provide a discount of one strength for that color building for the rest of the game, creating a simple, Splendor-esque bit of engine building in the game. And then there’s the buildings themselves, which all provide a various amount of points, end game bonuses and even the occasional special action to immediately use.

Like I said, I can’t believe that a game this simple has latched its hooks into my brains so thoroughly. The blend of long-term strategy and cunning tactics in a package that you can finish in a breezy 20-30 minutes makes this such an addictive little filler. I’m already depressed that I don’t have any way to play this game since the only copy was my friend’s who, again, is literally going to the other side of the planet. I will definitely look into importing a copy of this game, as it doesn’t look like there is a North American release in the cards (hahahah).

Onward!

Game the Fifth: Korrigans

I end the list with maybe the weirdest but most appropriate game on here. It’s weird, because it’s basically a kids game about leprechauns which is not generally the type of game I seek out. But it was very appropriate for this past weekend because, again, St. Paddy’s Day. What better time to play a game of leprechauns/korrigans riding woodland critters around verdant and colorful fields, seeking out a pot of gold? The only thing missing is drinking a keg of Guinness and way too many unanswered 3 a.m. texts to friends you haven’t seen in years quoting Boondock Saints.

In the game, everyone has two figures representing their leprechaun-esque creature. On your turn you simply move to an area on the board that you’re legally allowed to based on the companion tokens you have. If you have a rabbit token, you can move to an adjacent area with a rabbit symbol. If you have a mole symbol, you can move to any area on the board with a mole provided you’re already on a molehill. There are some other critters with equally simple rules which you can use for the rest of the game once you find a token of theirs. Which is pretty much the core of the game: when you enter an area, you take a look at the pile of tokens in the area, secretly pick one and put the rest back. Most of these tokens are gold, but some are critters to provide you more movement versatility.

Eventually the pot of gold appears and everyone gets one last turn to spend their critters (permanently, this time) to get to the pot. Get there with one and you get a bonus 10 points. Get there with BOTH and it increases to 15. So the basic conceit of the game is do you take gold tokens for guaranteed points or critter tokens to solidify your chances of making it to the gold? Not exactly Vital Lacerda style choices here, but like I said, it’s essentially a few notches above kid games.

There is some fun decision making to be had as you’re trying to map out the best and most efficient route to get to areas with a sizable pile of tokens to sift through while also keeping close to where the pot of gold can potentially appear, but if you’re looking for something to offer more than just goofy way to kill thirty to forty minutes, you’ll likely be disappointed. I will say that when you combine the facts that it was St. Paddy’s weekend, that I was drinking Guinness, and that we had some traditional Irish folk music playing in the background, I actually enjoyed my time with Korrigans. I wouldn’t say no to it being in my collection strictly for the purpose of playing it during St. Paddy’s Day. I know it’s not exactly a sterling recommendation to say, “I would definitely play this exactly once a year” but hey, that’s more than I play Captain Sonar!

*

And that’s my recap of the games I played for the first time this past weekend. I kinda wish I started doing this type of post earlier, because the friend I keep referring to in this post was one of the main source of new games to play and with him moving to Japan, the influx of new gaming experiences is going to dry up. I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to do another one like this any time soon, but hopefully I can because this was pretty fun. Hope you liked it too, because my pathetically fragile ego depends on it. Cheers!

Port Royal Review

Port Royal Review

Arrgh! Welcome to Port Royal, matey! It be here that you do trade with merchants, hire a crew and try to score 12 points before anybody else, just as the real pirates did, y’arrghhh.

(If I was Shut Up and Sit Down, I’d have said all that dressed in full pirate garb but seeing as how I can’t afford a pirate costume, have no talent and do written content instead of videos that traffic lots and lots of viewers, I’ll guess I’ll drop the pirate act and continue the review as normal.)

If you have spent a good amount of time in the hobby, then there is a good chance you know the name Alexander Pfister. He is one of the hottest designers in the industry at the moment, being the mastermind behind heavy Euros such as Mombasa, Great Western Trail and, most recently, Blackout: Hong Kong. Great Western Trail in particular launched his career to the stratosphere, a game that comfortably sits in the top 10 of BGG’s top 100 and is considered a must play if you’re into Euros and cows (I wonder what that Venn Diagram looks like).

For me though, Pfister’s best work is his lighter fare. I’m talking games like Broom Service, a pick up and deliver game of witches delivering potions that has a wonderful social dynamic, Oh My Goods!, one of the most satisfying engine builders I’ve ever played despite it being just a deck of cards, and Isle of Skye, a Carcassonne-esque tile laying game with an ‘I Cut, You Choose’ bidding twist. However, as good as those games are, my absolute favorite Pfister game is Port Royal, a push your luck tableau builder that is one of my favorite games of all time. Seriously. I know, because I once made a list of my top 100 games once because this is my life now.

Port Royal whisks you away to the titular port where you’ll play the role of the world’s nicest, non violent pirate and try to build a crew that can net you gold, complete missions and, most importantly, count as victory points to win you the game. It’s all played with just a single deck of cards, which is the first thing that I’ll rave about. I am beginning to really gain an appreciation for games that do a lot with very little in terms of components, and this is a prime example of that.

A player’s turn is split into two phases: the Discovery Phase and the Trade & Hire phase. In the Discovery phase, you draw cards from this deck one at a time. The cards are mostly gonna be one of two things: ships that can be traded with or crew members who can be hired to enter your tableau. You can stop at any time and enter the next phase of your turn, or you can keep drawing, adding cards to the ever growing display.

But be warned: this wouldn’t be a push your luck game without some sort of risk involved. Then it would be just a push your patience game or push your table space game. Nope, the ship cards I mentioned earlier all have one of five country’s flags on their card and if at any point there are two identical flags in the harbor, you bust. You completely forfeit your turn, everything you’ve drawn is discarded and the next player starts their turn. No one said a pirate’s life was going to be fair or easy. Haven’t you even seen Captain Phillips?

But let’s say you wisely end your turn before your head is taken off by a couple of cannonballs from British ships. You enter the Trade & Hire phase, which means you can now take a look at the display of cards you’ve made and take some for yourself. Here’s the twist: the amount of cards you can take is dictated by the amount of unique flags present on ships in the harbor/display. If you have 0-3 flags present, you can take one measly card. But if you have four of the five flags present? You can take two. If you managed to reveal all five of the countries’ flags without busting, you can take a whopping three cards, which can be a big game changer.

And herein lies the push your luck element that drives the draw phase. The moment a flag is present in the harbor, you’re sweating bullets. Losing a whole turn is rouuugh, and you’ll be double guessing every draw from the deck. Every time you bust you’ll be cursing yourself like Chris Farley in that SNL skit where he hosted the talk show, calling yourself an idiot and asking why you didn’t just stop drawing and go to the next phase. But when you manage to get four or five flags in the harbor, you feel like a pirate god, Blackbeard meets Jesus as he walks on water to do business with the myriad of merchants docking into port.

So let’s talk about the Trade & Hire phase, which replaces the push your luck found in the first phase with card drafting and tableau building. As mentioned, you take the cards you’re allotted, but what to choose? If you take a ship in the harbor, you gain the number of coins printed on the card. Alternatively, you can use coins gained from ships to hire crew members, who give victory points and a passive ability throughout the game. For example, there are sailors and pirates who give you swords which allow you to swat away low level ships in the Discovery phase like the annoying gnats they are, mitigating your risk of busting. There are Mademoiselles, who give you a coin discount on hiring any future crew members. There are Governors, who allow you to grab an extra card during the Trade and Hire phase. There are more I won’t bore you with, but suffice to say that there are enough characters and powers to allow a wide breadth of options and to cultivate a game flow where multiple players can follow their own strategies. What’s also cool is that these crew members’ abilities stack when combined with other cards of the same type. So if you manage to get four Mademoiselles in your crew? That is a four coin discount on all purchases, my friend.

Port Royal Mademoiselle
Though now you’re becoming less pirate and more pimp, which is a bit disturbing.

But guess what. When you’re done taking cards from your display, everybody else around the table has a chance to grab a card from the display too! If that makes your blood boil like a Republican complaining that welfare is just lazy people making money off your hard work, don’t worry. If the players opt to take a card on your turn, they pay you one coin for doing business on your turn. So you can pump the breaks and let go of the Reagan bobblehead you were gripping in rage, bud.

This brings me to one of the things I really like about Port Royal: positive player interaction. Positive player interaction is where the decisions of other players can positively interact with things you’re doing on your own and not enough games feature it. Most games that feature interaction with players do it in a more negative and conflict heavy manner, where you take things from other players and destroy things they’ve built. I have no problem with this, area control is full of that and it’s one of my favorite types of games. But positive interaction is perhaps even better because it leaves things people feeling…uh, positively.

It’s nice to have a game where somebody does something and you can say “Thanks! That actually kinda helps me out!” instead of “I hope, when you least expect it, you stub your toe on something really hard.”

There are even crew members that have powers built around the idea of other players doing things. Take for instance, the Jester (ah, that old pirate archetype) who gets a coin whenever anyone busts on their turn OR if there are no cards left in the display by the time it comes to their turn to draft.

Port Royal Jester
Some men just want to see the world burn.

Then there is the Admiral, who gets you two coins every time the display has five or more cards when it’s your turn to draft. Meaning when you see somebody drawing card after card, you’re greedily rubbing your hands in excitement like a goblin for the payout that your Admiral(s) will give you. Sure, it’s not all a happy go lucky montage of everyone high fiving and patting each other on the back. This isn’t a cooperative game after all. There are times when opponents will take a card you really needed, but it’s rarely back breaking and never feels like they’re out to get you. Ultimately, this constant positive player interaction, from the aforementioned crew members to the payouts you get from players drafting on your turn, make a pirate game less about plundering treasure and ship combat and more about fair trade in a peaceful port town.

(Hmmm…maybe the theme is kind of thin here. But who cares, anything pirates and nautical is awesome in my book.)

The next thing I want to rave about is how many avenues to victories there are in this game. I have played this game more times than I can count and I’ve seen almost every strategy employed and each one has worked at least once. I’ve seen somebody go heavy into Mademoiselles so that they could buy whatever they wanted in the last portion of the game since everything was so cheap. I’ve seen somebody go heavy on swords so that they were able to fend off any ship that they drew from the deck, allowing them to search for the exact card they needed. I’ve seen somebody load up on Admirals and get so much gold that they were like a pirate Jeff Bezos. Any strategy is effective, it all comes down to how smart you are when you’re pushing your luck and pulling the trigger at the right time for the cards that will help bolster your tableau and push you to victory. This certainly isn’t a super deep game but seeing this many paths to victory in a game that is just a deck of cards and plays in less than an hour is always heartening.

Seeing as how this is one of my top five favorite games ever, I don’t have much to complain about. My only issues with this game are from the publishing side of things. I have the Steve Jackson Games copy, which was the version that was published in North America. The first problem with how they handled publishing this game is the box art. The box art is a detailed painting of a frowning pirate locked in a rigid action figure pose, sword in one hand and flintlock in the other. Not only does this dour looking pirate ready for combat mislead the player into thinking this is a more traditional pirate game of swordfights and ship raids, the art doesn’t match the art in the game AT ALL. Klemens Franz, who is easily one of my favorite artists in board gaming, supplied the illustrations for the cards and his warm, cartoony style is literally the opposite from the art on the cover, which is dark and dim with muted colors. The box art also looks incredibly generic, like it should be the front page of a menu at a pirate themed restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland.

Port Royal cover
Definitely looks like the kind of place that has 2 and a half stars on Yelp.

The second sin that SJG committed with this game is even more egregious because it actually has ramifications on the game going forward. The European version of the game has expansions available, but they are completely incompatible with this version because: A) The cards are different sizes and B) the ships in the North American version have specific countries tied to their flags (as I mentioned a couple of times before) while the European version has flags that are simply colors. These two things mean that the European expansions can’t be played with the North American copy, making it feel like I have the inferior version. It wouldn’t be that big a deal, but according to comments on BoardGameGeek, SJG has no intention of publishing the expansions themselves. So yeah, that sucks.

Aside from these unfortunate publishing decisions for the North American version, there’s nothing I can criticize about this game. The push your luck is addicting, the tableau building allows for forging your own strategy and creating your own unique crew, and it’s all tied together by the wonderfully endearing Klemens Franz art. I’ll end the review with a quick story. I actually just played this game a few weeks ago, and there was a point where I looked over at my opponent who was just a few points away from the game winning twelve. I looked at the gold he had, looked at the gold I had and did the math to discover there was no way any of us could stop him from winning on his next turn. I was incredibly bummed. NOT because someone besides me was going to win. Nope, I was bummed because that meant the game was going to be over. I love this game so much I literally became depressed when it ended. If ‘this game is so good it’ll make you sad,’ isn’t a glowing recommendation, I don’t know what is.

Archaeology: The New Expedition Review

Archaeology: The New Expedition Review

Oh dear, I’m sorry. I’ve come into your room and I’ve brought sand everywhere. Sorry, sorry, this happens ALL the time after I get back from treasure hunting in Egypt. The good news is, I’ve sold all the treasure I found for a lot of gold and I can afford to buy you a Roomba! The bad news is, this is just a metaphor for me to introduce my review of Archaeology: The New Expedition and I actually don’t have any money to buy you a Roomba. The sand is still real, though, all too real.

Ignore the sand, let’s talk Archaeology: The New Expedition. Archaeology is a filler card game that just got reprinted by Z-Man Games, after a long absence off the market. Funnily enough, the original game was a reprint as well, as the game used to be simply called Archaeology: The Card Game. The New Expedition included new art and a couple of gameplay tweaks not seen in the original. This reprint is just a straight reprint of that one which can be confusing but I suppose The NEW New Expedition just doesn’t have a good ring to it.

The game is designed by Phil Walker-Harding who has been gaining a lot of popularity with recent hits like Barenpark, Gizmos, and Gingerbread House. My main experiences with him have been with the adorable drafting game Sushi Go and the tile laying game Cacao (a game that has flown under a lot of people’s radars despite being very, very good). So I was quite interested in trying Archaeology since I enjoy PWH’s work and because I’ve heard a lot of good things about it as a filler card game, a genre of game that I’ve really started to love lately. Does it live up to its praise? Let’s find out.

At its core, Archaeology is a set collection card game that incorporates some trading and push your luck. You and your opponents are digging at a dig site (what else would you do?), trying to find treasure and wrangle up enough of the same types so that you can sell them for maximum profit. Gameplay is simple: draw a card and then either trade cards from your hand with a central market and/or sell sets of like cards for points at the end of the game. This elegance is one of my favorite things about the game. I mentioned in my last review (for the wonderful Vegas Dice Game , check it out) that I really love gateway games because I find them to be great tools for getting others into the hobby. Plus, I enjoy games where I don’t have to shave freshly grown five o’clock shadow after I complete it (looking at you, Eldritch Horror). In this sense, Archaeology sings. I can teach this game in less than five minutes and its ease of play creates an incredibly breezy experience which flies by.

To be fair, though, just because something is simple and easy doesn’t mean it’s good. Goodnight Moon is one of the easiest books on the planet to read, but I didn’t see that win any Pulitzer Prizes. So Archaeology is simple, but is it good? Short answer: yes. Long answer: yyyyeeeeeeessss.

The core gameplay loop is quite fun in the game. As you draw cards, you start to get a feeling for what types of treasure you want to go for, especially when you look out and see what’s in the market, where everyone at the table is doing their trading. Maybe you wanna go for the parchments, which don’t net a ton of points but are so common that you often accidentally procure a whole set of them without even trying. Then there are the rarer treasures that provide bigger payouts, but are obviously tougher to get. Trading with the market to get the goods you want is simple on paper, but tough in practice: you just trade equal value for equal value (so you could trade three cards with a one gold value for one card with a three gold value, for example) but you never want to give up something that your opponents can snatch up on their next turn. Deciding when to actually sell your artifacts is another tough decision. The game incorporates a scale similar to Bohnanza‘s ‘beanometer’ (I’m assuming that genius name is trademarked, so hopefully I don’t get sued by Uwe Rosenberg’s lawyers for mentioning it) where you can speedily sell small sets to get quick bursts of points or wait till you have a full set to get a whole bucket of them. This is made even tougher by the most diabolical mechanism in Archaeology: the sandstorms.

No, not the song “Sandstorm” by Darude. I’m talking about actual sandstorms. One is an unstoppable force of nature that wreaks havoc wherever it goes, and the other is a mechanism in this game. In the deck of cards that you’re drawing from every turn, there’s a set number of sandstorms. When drawn, they force everyone at the table to discard HALF your hand. Oh, you thought you could safely hoard all those Pharaoh heads, broken cups and talismans like the world’s messiest museum curator? Heh, cute. Nope, you have to get rid of half of them and they allll go into the market. Luckily, you choose what you lose but occasionally the sandstorms come at a really bad time and you may lose something you really need. And the moment you lose something valuable, everyone’s eyes light up as you begrudgingly put it in the market. Suddenly, this easy, light card game becomes a tense race against time, where you’ll be gripping your cards so tight you’ll practically squeeze the linen finish out of them. You’ll dread every draw from the deck, pleading for just one more turn to trade for that last card in the set you need.

The game does offer a counter to the sandstorms in the form of a tent card. Everyone starts the game with one tent card. If a sandstorm appears and you just aren’t in the mood to deal with that crap, you can flip over said tent card and gain immunity from its negative effects. BUT it’s a one time use, creating yet ANOTHER difficult choice. Do you use your tent early, trying to preserve a hand but knowing your chances of hitting another sandstorm are still relatively high? Or do you save it for later, but risk losing so many cards in the process that by the time the last sandstorm hits you have nothing left to protect? I’ve hit both situations and cursed Past Kyle for his decisions which is always the sign of a good game. I certainly don’t have enough opportunities for self loathing in my life.

The last thing to mention are the monuments. In the game is a monument set to the side which can be explored using map cards. Rather than selling those map cards in for a small amount of points at the end, you can spend sets of them to activate the monument and gain extra cards through that avenue. There are even six monuments in the game, each one behaving differently and creating a uniquely different flavor for each game. Enjoy the plain but classic taste of vanilla? Try the Pyramid, which has three stacks of cards, each one getting bigger than the last. Trade in bigger sets of maps, and you get the bigger stacks which gives you a TON of cards to work with. Prefer your monument with a bit of spice in it, like a habanero based hot sauce? May I suggest the Mines, which lets you play a mini game of Blackjack, drawing cards one at a time and hoping you don’t go over a certain gold value which would result in a bust. These monuments don’t just add another decision to keep in mind, but help freshen each game of Archaeology. This is particularly useful since, at a brisk 15-20 minutes, this is a game that you’ll like play two or three times per session. It’s a small addition (one that actually wasn’t in the original Archaeology: The Card Game) and a welcome one.

Now’s the part of the review when I tell what isn’t great about Archaeology. Luckily, there’s not much to dislike there, but there are a few things worth mentioning. For an otherwise peaceful game of trading artifacts and selling them for gold, this game can be mean. The sandstorms can really wreck your day if the timing is bad for you, even with the immunity granted from a tent. Having a great set of treasure sliced in half because of a sandstorm will have you creating new curse words to say. People out there might smugly slide their glasses up their noses and proclaim, “Well, sell your treasures before the sandstorm and get gud lol”. To that I say, easier said than done. It’s impossible to tell when a sandstorm will hit till the deck starts to hit its second half and the odds start to become clearer, and up till then it’s a crap shoot as to when to sell and when to hold on for juuust a bit longer. I’ve played with a player who detested having their hand constantly under attack by random pulls of the deck and they didn’t have a fun time with the game.

And did you think the sandstorms were mean? Then allow me to finally introduce the thief card to you. In addition to sandstorms, there are sneaky thieves lying in wait, which, when drawn, allow you to take a card from another player’s hand and add it to your own. This is doubly frustrating because not only do you lose the card, but your opponent gains it. When you see that player immediately sell it as part of a large set on their following turn? The curse words you make up here will make the curse words you made up during the sandstorm look like they belong in a Berenstain Bear’s book.

The last possible hang up people might have is how swingy the game can be in terms of luck. You can get useless cards all day while your opponents are drawing all the high priced treasure and maps and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can adjust and try to go for selling tons of cheap treasure but I’ve yet to see that pan out.

archaeologyhand
Alrighty, let’s see what Lady Luck has in store for me this turn oh cool it’s a 9th parchment scrap.

Ultimately, if you get annoyed with luck deciding a game, this might not be for you. I personally don’t mind it since it’s just a short 20 minute filler that can be quickly played again, but I’ve heard some people grumble about how lucky the game can be.

Ultimately, if you don’t mind luck heavy gameplay that will occasionally bully you, then Archaeology: The New Expedition is a great filler to add to your collection. It combines tense push your luck with trade based set collection in a tidy little package that will keep you entertained even several plays later.

Stew Review

Stew Review

A couple of weeks ago, I did a review of Biblios, a game about trying to curate a monastery’s library in Medieval times. If you thought that theme was more soporific than a turkey breast injected with half a gallon of Nyquil, then get allow Stew liven things up. In Stew, you and up to 3 other players are pioneer farmers, trying to make the best winter stew.

Hmm, yanno, there may be a reason as to why board games haven’t gone quite mainstream yet.

Okay, maybe this bit of info will make it more exciting. In Stew, you and up to 3 other players are pioneer farmers, trying to make the best winter stew and ONLY ONE OF YOU CAN EAT IT. If this were a commercial, this would be the part where the explosions would happen, metal music would start blaring and you’d hear a Wilhelm scream somewhere in the chaos.

STILL not exciting enough? Damn, you must have ice water in them veins. Okay, if the theme doesn’t sell you, at least allow me to explain the game to you and tell you why this game, which is made up of just a mere 18 cards, is one of the most fun and addictive games I’ve played over the past couple months.

Before getting into the game, let me give you a little bit of info about this game because there’s a very good chance you haven’t heard of it, even if you are plugged into the hobby. Stew is a game published by an independent publisher called Button Shy Games. If you don’t know who they are, allow me to change that. They’re a game company that specializes in something called ‘wallet games’ which are exactly what they sound like. They’re games not just small enough to fit in a wallet, they’re literally IN a wallet. Button Shy handcrafts all their games in custom made wallets, meaning their games can quite literally fit in your pocket.

stew wallet
So small you can whip it out anywhere, especially in front of family and friends! Hmm, I dunno why Button Shy hasn’t adopted that as a tagline yet…

I have played a couple of other Button Shy Games and they have ranged from good (the meta heavy In Vino Morte, a party game where you’re poisoning your friends in a style that evokes that one scene from The Princess Bride) to very good (the two player tug of war Avignon: A Clash of Popes, a game where you and your opponent are pushing and pulling cards to get three of them on your side) to excellent (the cooperative city builder Sprawlopolis, a game that manages to pack a crunchy tile laying puzzle in just, again, 18 cards). After playing all these, I’m happy to report that Stew is my favorite of the bunch.

If Stew were an actual stew, the recipe would read like this: add one cup of push your luck, one ounce of deduction and a pinch of bluffing into a bowl and stir for 15 minutes. Serves 2-4 people.

If I had to compare it to a more well known game, the obvious choice would be Welcome to the Dungeon. In Welcome to the Dungeon, players are passing around a deck of cards that’s comprised of creatures. On their turn, they are either adding creatures to the dungeon or tossing them to the side and removing equipment that can help kill said creatures. This keeps going until one player is finally forced to enter the dungeon and take on the creatures everybody else put in there and hoping they don’t die but let’s face it, they probably are going to die and horribly.

The first time I played Welcome to the Dungeon, I reeeaally wanted to like it just fell short. One big issue was player elimination. Sure, it’s a fairly short game, but it’s just long enough that being eliminated early can be a huge problem (which happened to me). It also can be a little fiddly when you actually enter the dungeon and then have to cross examine every creature that pops up with the equipment you’re still holding while keeping track of your health in your head. This all led to an ultimately disappointing experience. Luckily, Stew takes the formula that I oh so wanted to love in Welcome to the Dungeon and makes an actual good game out of it!

Play is very simple. Every one is passing around a deck of ingredient cards and looking at the top card. These ingredient cards all have certain point values and represent the hallmarks of any great stew such as hearty potatoes, flavorful garlic and…a rock?

stew rock
Okay, who the hell invited Charlie Brown?

After looking at this top card, they then have a choice: put that ingredient face down in the stew or put it face down on a vermin card (more on the vermin later). Eventually, the stew will get bigger and bigger until some brave soul yells “STEW!”, which is the universal phrase anyone shouts when about to eat some stew. They take the cards in the stew and reveal them. If the sum of the points on the ingredient cards equals 12 or more, congratulations! You’ve eaten a damn fine stew and earn yourself two points. However, if the stew is 11 points or less then you have eaten a stew that can only be described as ‘not good’. With this, you receive no points, the rest of the players get one point and you are forced to write a negative review on Yelp. First to five points wins.

Calculating points is not as easy as just revealing what’s in the stew, however. Remember those vermin I vaguely mentioned earlier? Yeah, they’re a bunch of a-holes and they are gonna steal stuff from your stew if you didn’t feed them. If a vermin is unfed when the stew is taken off the stove, they steal specific ingredients as they pop up. For example, the rabbit steals the first carrot revealed from the stew, the fox steals the first chicken and the gopher steals the first leek (because everyone knows that gophers just effing LOVE leeks). This is bad because those are precious points leaving your stew and in this game, every point is precious. There is even a vagabond who just kinda chills outside and then pops in to see what’s in the stew. If there is a chicken in the stew, he mooches some of it off you and you lose 3 points. If there isn’t, you get a bonus 3 points as he passes it on by because he is apparently the pickiest drifter ever.

These vermin help provide much of the suspense in Stew, as you’re not quite sure what your opponents put in the stew and what they fed to the vermin. You CAN use the stone, which subtracts 3 points from your stew, against these vermin but most of the time you’ll get ingredients which makes every decision tense. Side note: using the stone on the vagabond paints of dark picture of these pioneers just straight up murdering this guy with a rock, making it feel like Stew takes place in a Coen Brothers film.

stew vagabond
No word yet on whether there will be an expansion where you hide him in a wood chipper.

 

Feeding these blasted vermin is important, but if you’re feeding them high scoring ingredients, then the stew won’t have enough points to put you over the 12 point threshold. Don’t feed enough of them though, and it won’t even matter what’s in the stew because it’s all just gonna be taken by these surprisingly stealthy and precise animals who know exactly what to take from your steaming bowl of stew. All this doesn’t even take into account that every player is side eyeing each other, twitching their fingers like gunslingers in a Wild West duel, wondering who will pull the trigger and yell ‘STEW!’ first.

And so begins the madness and double thought that you’ll be ensnared by for Stew‘s 15-20 minute run time.

This game will have you thinking and double thinking and triple thinking every decision that you and your friends make. The stream of consciousness that occupies your thoughts throughout this game would look like the ramblings of a psychopath if put on paper. ‘Ohh, Sally just put a card on the fox, which means she might know there’s a chicken in the stew and wants to keep it in there but wait maybe she fed the fox the chicken and she’s trying to lead us into believing there is going to be chicken but then again maybe she wants us to think that so that we don’t try to eat the stew and oh look Trevor just put something in the stew maybe it’s a potato those really rack up the points but the raccoon isn’t fed yet so that’s just gonna steal it anyway but maybe that’s what he wants and oh god it’s my turn I just turned over a garlic what do I doooooooo’. The transcripts of your brains thoughts at game’s end will read like a James Joyce novel, but much more enjoyable and less pretentious.

That sort of panicked battle of wits is one of the reasons why I love these types of games. It reminds me of Skull, one of my all time favorites,  with every move being scrutinized and lots of bravado and confidence being deflated with each flip and reveal of the card. Cheers will erupt and groans will echo throughout the game, such as when you angrily shake the Stone card in everyone’s faces, demanding who put it in the stew. It’s an incredibly social game for that reason and helps showcase what makes board games so damn fun.

And you know what? Like with Biblios, I poked fun at the theme earlier in this article, but I honestly love the concept behind the game. It’s so unique and fun, with rustic looking art that really helps add to the pioneer era feel they’re going for. Throw on some bluegrass music in the background, and you’ll be wearing a straw hat and slugging down moonshine in no time.

I honestly don’t have much bad to say about Stew. As I already mentioned, the game will only take around 15-20 minutes, meaning it not only doesn’t outstay its welcome but is perfect for playing back to back (to back). Sure, the strategic depth of the game lives and dies by the meta, but that’s par for the course for these type of games. And really, that’s the only negative thing I can say: if you don’t like these types of games, games with bluffing and misdirection and doublethink, then Stew won’t do anything to change your mind.

I’ll simply end by saying that if this kind of game does appeal to you, do not hesitate to pick this up. You can find it on Button Shy’s site, along with the rest of their wallet game catalog. Tell them Kyle from Boar & Arrow sent you. Actually, they’ll have no clue what any of that means, but I’ve always wanted to say that.