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XCOM The Board Game

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XCOM The Board Game Box & App

XCOM The Board Game Box & App

The Earth has been invaded! Time to assemble your Extraterrestrial Combat Unit and take the planet back. Let’s just hope you charged your smart-phone before they invaded…

XCOM The Board Game was announced in August 2014 by Fantasy Flight Games, and almost split the board gaming community in two, by requiring an analogue hobby to step into the digital age. There is no way to experience the game without downloading the companion app.

And the game is frantic. Rounds are split in two. The real time phase is guided by the app, it’s a crazy few minutes of shouting, with difficult choices made under short time constraints. The resolution phase is almost sedate by comparison, rolling dice, again and again, pushing your luck to see how your plans actually work out.

Then there’s a little housekeeping. If the app wasn’t here, you’d be checking rules, or hopefully a player aid and potentially 10 minutes of resetting the board. With the app it’s a few taps, and you’re ready to dive back into the fight.

XCOM – The Board Game is innovative, and the ability to adjust the difficulty settings provides great re-playability. The app does not distract from what’s happening on the board. It’s actually the non app phases where the game feels a little lacking. Rolling one set of dice to resolve almost everything can make for a lot of downtime.

If you love the XCOM world, you’ll love this game. It’s a great transition from console to the table, with the app adding in familiar FX and music, you really do feel immersed in the game.

If you love real time games, give this a whirl, you’ll get the expected adrenaline buzz you expect from real this genre of games and it’s been designed with good pacing across the game as a whole.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you about all the dice…

XCOM The Board Game is published by Fantasy Flight Games

Retails at £40 ish

1-4 players takes 90min

XCOM The Board Game unboxing

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XCOM The Board Game Box & App

XCOM TheBoard Game hit UK shelves last week. We snapped up a copy from our FLGS (That’s Harlequin’s Shop in Preston) and, after doing some mundane things like feeding children, we dived right in for a spot of unboxing!

I covered XCOM The Board Game in the 30th Jan podcast, but if you missed it, here’s our First Thoughts on the game.

My only play through so far is a 2 player game, the tutorial, and I was the one in charge of the app. It wasn’t optimal. For your tutorial play I’d really suggest hanging on for 4 players, it’s a hectic game, and as there’s no physical rules to read beforehand you’re really glued to the app & the info it spews out.

There were moments where we got confused, can we look at the cards we’ve got, can are the secret, face down? What about the cash, should I go big, does the budget roll over? And because it’s just spitting out the info one chunk at a time, it’s hard to know what to do. It’s very in with the “computer game” walk through the first level, but it felt stifling and clunky for a board game. Having moaned about it, it’s actually simple, there are only a few concepts to grasp, and the app leads you through it all.

There’s two parts to each round, a real-time section. Where whoever is in charge of the app is going to be shouting things like “CRISIS” , “Research ONE!” and “FIVE SECONDS!”!” while the others players are going to be trying to respond, see if they’ve got assets they can use to help in this phase, the player in charge of the budget will be cringing at the amount of credits they’re spending, and generally chaos.
Then the resolution section of the round, where you catch your breath, roll the dice (quite a few times) and push your luck, to see what continents are panicked, if the base is destroyed and what research the scientist actually drum up, if your troops are successful, and if all the UFO are destroyed. There’s some housekeeping. The app asks what the panic levels are, how many UFOs are in orbit, did you complete a mission this round, and do you still have a base?

Then you catch your breath, reset things, and dive in for the next Real Time section… If there were any UFOs left in orbit, then this part gets scrambled, you might not get your budget until the last part, you could have to pick your troops before you know the mission, and a whole load of frustration things, but it’s intense, it’s chaotic. It’s war against aliens.
If you win, you get a nice little victory screen, and a warm glow, as you look around your half destroyed base with 2 troops still standing, and a whole bunch of weird alien tech, that your crazy scientists have made up. And you need a nice cup of tea and a biscuit too. We really did feel like we’d just save the word, it was a bit stressful, but fun. I’m looking forwards to getting a full 4 player game.

 

XCOM The Board Game Box & App

A couple of people have asked what the app is like. Is it buggy? Has it crashed? How easy is it to use on a small (iPhone) screen? Does it drain the battery?

Since I’ve downloaded it, I’ve played the Tutorial and just poked about (technical terms) in the app. It seems to be doing fine on iOS, and hasn’t sapped the battery any more than my terminal twitter use does. It fits nicely with the game, I just wish I’d realized you could have read the rules in the app before you play the tutorial.

If the app is something you really worry about, I suggest you search the app store, download and play with it yourself. It’s free, and you can see if you can crash it, how it works and check out the rules & FAQ yourself.

We still haven’t managed to get this to the table for more than the 2 player. As soon as we do, we’ll let you know!

AEG Black Box – Review – Was it worth it?

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On Friday, Black Friday, Alderac Entertainment Group released the AEG Black Box.

We snapped one up from our FLGS, Harlequin Games, and dashed home to play it, stopping only to film a hasty unboxing video.

The box promised to contain 4 great games, and opening it up to see Trains by Hisashi Hayashi, it instantly proved to be worth the purchase.

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Trains is a mix up of deck building and territory management, yet despite it’s rather boring first appearance, it’s great fun, and rather simple to get into. Plus on it’s own retails at more than the whole Black Box. You can’t see my face in the video, but I was very pleased that Trains was the star of the show. It’s also quite satisfying to have so many things! Trains has 500 cards and 40 extra to help you sort them, 120 wooden tokens and a double sided board!
It plays in about 45 min & fits 2-4 players.

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Next up, Guildhall Seven Seas by Hope S Hwang. Not a game I’d heard about nor a game that at first glance I’d probably have bought. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun.

Its a pirate themed set collection style game, and a race to 20 VP. It’s the second biggest game in the box with 120 cards and 30 card tokens and was a game that took us a little while to get our heads around. Once you’ve gotten to grips with what some of the pirate cards do, and the ways you can combine these with the special cards you buy then it gets a little less confusing. Not the strongest game in the box for us, but a bit of fun for 2 to 4 players.

 

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After that there’s Doomtown Seventh Hero by Kuro. When I first saw this in the box, I didn’t pay too much attention to the second part of the name, and was a little excited thinking, not only do I have Trains in The Black Box, I’ve also got Doomtown; Reloaded by Dave Williams & Mark Wootton! This isn’t that game. It’s a reskin of Seventh Hero. A little similar in style to Guildhall Seven Seas, instead of recruiting a pirate crew, we’re recruiting a posse to take out a giant water dragon. It’s a quick set building game, there’s a little bluffing and remembering what the special powers are for some Dudes, and then working out the best ways to combine them in your posse. This is the smallest game in the box with 83 cards including the 5 reference cards.
Good, quick fun and sits 3 – 5 players.

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Lastly there’s Maximum Throwdown Overload by Jason Tagmire.
This was the weirdest game in the box, and made me think a little of 52 card pick up mixed with AEG’s Smash Up.
This is a card throwing battle game. Yep, you throw cards around the table. There are 6 different factions and 6 locations. Each player pics a faction, a little like Smash Up, you pick from Zombies, Wizards, Robots ect, and you collectively agree on the lay out of the bases. Then you take turns to throw cards onto the bases. The back of the cards have different icons in different configurations, different factions have different strengths, and you aim to cover up some of your opponents icons whilst having more of yours on show, so that you score more VP and can use more special abilities. It fits 2 to 6 players, but was more fun with at least 4.

That’s all the games!

Was it worth it?
Yes, I’ve already said so! I really enjoyed the game Trains, and we had great fun playing Doomtown Seventh Hero, the other games were great too, and if they weren’t over shadowed by the main two, would have probably gotten more love.

The box itself could have done with a better insert. Trains and all it’s cards takes up one side of the box, whilst Doomtown Seventh Hero, Guildhall Seven Seas and Maximum Throwdown Overload, still flop about in the opposite side. If you’re handy with a bit of foam you could make your own holder to fit things nicely, or could just buy a few Deck Pro boxes to put the 3 smaller games in, or just keep the box flat and don’t jiggle it too much.

I’d be disappointed if I was a hard core AEG fan to get this and end up with a duplicate copy of Trains though. But it was less than £40 so it was a BARGAIN especially if you consider Trains alone retails at around £50!

The additional games would make nice easy games to get into over the festive season, you can tell granny that Guildhall Seven Seas is kind of like a pirate version of Rummy and the kids will love flinging cards about the table. At least 80% better than fighting over Monopoly.

If your FLGS still has any of these left, seriously think about snapping one up!

We’ve only had  the weekend to play them, we’ll tell you more about them once we’ve played them a few more times.

Have you gotten one yourself? What did you think of the games?

This little piggy played a card game! – Hogger Logger Review!

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You must know the kiddies rhyme?

This little piggy went to market,This little piggy stayed home,
This little piggy had roast beef, This little piggy had none,
And this little piggy cried wee wee wee all the way home.”

Well, we propose a new verse,

“This little piggy worked in lumber, This little piggy played card games,
This little piggy screamed LOWER! This little piggy played Flying High,
And this little piggy lost the round and I’m the next Guesser.”

Hogger Logger is a card game for 2 – 5 people, that’s incredibly fun for such a simple premise.

If you’re a UK child of the 80s like me, you’ll remember a game show on TV called “Bruce Forsyth’s Play Your Cards Right,” and congratulations you’re about 80% of the way to knowing all the rules for Hogger Logger.
However in Hogger Logger, you do get something for a pair, there’s no silly questions, “out of 100 production assistants surveyed how many hated researching for Play Your Cards Right?”, and no “Brucie Bonus,” (For any Americans reading, that’s a good thing, it NOT being included.)

Hogger Logger Decks

The game comes with 2 decks of cards, a “Numbers Deck” and an “Action Deck.”

The game mainly centers around the Number Deck. 75 cards numbered 1 to 15, five times.So like Brucie and his glamorous assistants, 4 cards are going to be dealt face down in to the middle of the play area, and then one face up. Plus each player is going to get dealt 3 cards into their hand. Someone starts as “The Guesser,” although I really wish this was called “the little piggy” or something, and they have to make a guess if the next card turned over is… yep, Higher or Lower than the one face up. You get it right, you remain the Guesser, the newly revealed card becomes the start card and you keep guessing, you get it wrong and the next player becomes the guesser, and whoever guesses the last card wins the round. Simple.

So where’s the fun?

I know you’re asking this because everyone I’ve explained it to has looked at me with the sideways owl face, and inquired where the fun is. Then I’ve forced 3 cards into their hands and made them start the game as the Guesser.The hand of 3 cards allows anyone playing to change the start card, for one of theirs, so a relatively easy guess of “higher or lower than a 4” becomes slightly more a game of luck when you play a 7 on that 4, and it’s almost 50/50 if the next card is HIGHER.

BUT…

What about if you know in the round earlier a whole heap of cards that could have been lower were played, and so won’t have been available to deal in this round? It’s ok, even though you weren’t paying attention you’re going to play a 15 card, you’ve been keeping it in your hand, all round, and you’re going to slap that down & obviously guess lower. And just as you’re about to do that the player on your right plays an Action card. Everyone has to pass their hands to the left, and you’re left with nothing, as the player to your right has used all their cards up, instead of your guaranteed win!
I taught it to my 6 year old daughter, and now I have to play it almost every day. It didn’t take her long to work out what cards were good to keep for when you’re the Guesser, and what cards to play on your opponent. She knows that action cards, that you can get by “doubling up” on number cards or playing an 8 card from your hand, can bring both help and chaos to the round. One could add river card to the face down cards, giving you time to snipe control of guessing, one forces the Guesser to pick only Higher , another only Lower, others may give you choices, do you want 2 extra number cards? Or should you steal one off your opponent?

Dogget from Preston Board Gamers playing Hogger Logger

Dogget from Preston Board Gamers playing Hogger Logger

We also took it down to our local games group, Preston Gamers, and played a few rounds at the start of the night. It was great, if a little chaotic, and does work well with the full 5 player groups, as is does with the less noisy 2 player games, and further proved that this simple game packs a huge amount of fun. Honestly, until you’ve stolen control of a game because someone guessed LOWER than a 10 and then drew a 14, or you’ve won a game when forced to guess HIGHER and against all the odds you’ve flipped over the last 15 card in the pack, you’ll not appreciate how brilliant this little piggy of a game is.

Hogger Logger is on Kickstarter now, until 15th September,

and at time of writing they need less than $2,000 to hit their $9,500 goal. Go check them out!

Thanks to Ryan for sending us a copy to review!