A Review of Pepper and Carrot: The Potion Contest

Pepper and Carrot: The Potion Contest

 Design: Guillermo H. Nuñez

Artwork: Julieta GarciaDavid Revoy

Publisher: Loyalist Games

Players: 1-4

Duration: Approx. 30 mins

It feels unnatural and wrong having not posted on my blog for so long. I was consumed with prep for GenCon, being at GenCon and recovering from… GenCon. For anyone who wants to find out what I got up to on my first day and how I found the experience I posted vlogs to my channel.

So, now I’m back and fully recovered I’m getting the blogging ball rolling again with a short review of a puzzle game called Pepper and Carrot: The Potion Contest.

I didn’t have any prior knowledge of the Pepper and Carrot web comic, so I was coming at this from the perspective of ‘this is a cute game about a witchy girl and a cat’, which is pretty adorable as it happens, but the theme is light here. We are simply trying to match the spells, which are laid out at random on the central board, with our own ingredients on our player board. There are three difficulty levels and I chose the easiest variant since I know that I am uniformly terrible at puzzle games. The easy level removes some of the ingredients and gives you shorter spells to follow. You can make the formations anywhere on your board as long as they match the order of the spell and are joined accordingly. This would be fairly simple, except you are governed by ‘order’ cards that mean on that on your turn you can either rotate, swap or push your tiles. In some variants you have personal order cards that you can use once during the game, and are very useful at times when you’re stuck in a tricky situation. You can also play the game solo, which is rather nice, and here you are aiming to beat the clock so to speak by finishing your spells before the order deck cycles twice.

As I mentioned I struggle with puzzles games, I guess my brain isn’t as logical as I once thought. Despite this I had a rather pleasant few games where I was unceremoniously thrashed, and I enjoyed playing the solo variant. In a similar vein to Shahrazad a couple months ago, I will always persist with games that I am not very good at in hopes to become better and improve on my skills. I like that even though it’s an extremely twee and cutesy game in appearance it’s challenging and tough to beat, and the difficultly levels can amp up the challenge.

This would be a very good one for young gamers to get their teeth into, not only because of the theme and packaging, but it’s wonderful for encouraging little minds to think logically and puzzle solve. It has that video/app game appeal with the organic feel of a tabletop game, and this is something I’m actually going to be writing about in a future article.

My minor bugbears with the game were the rulebook not being great (not terrible, or  hard to follow, it just didn’t flow too well, but my that’s my proofreaders eye talking!) and I thought that the box was a tad on the large side and could have been condensed further. However as this was a review copy it may possibly go through some manufacturing changes here and there, and again it’s not a deal breaker. To echo what Nick from Board, Deck and Dice said in his preview video it would have been nice (in the base game) for there to be additional abilities from personal order cards, but I can see that the Kickstarter stretch goals will bring in a little more flavour.

I’m very pleased for Loyalist Games that Pepper & Carrot overfunded and I wish them all the best for future endevours! If you wish to view the campaign page, find out more information on the game or contact the creators. It aims to fulfill by December so keep your eye out for it early next year.

Thanks for reading!


High Treason! The Trial of Louis Riel, Alex Berry

High Treason! The Trial of Louis Riel

Design: Alex Berry 

Artwork: Tim Allen

Publisher: Frosted Games, Victory Point Games

Players: 2

Duration: 30-40 minutes



I was intrigued to play High Treason! The Trial of Louis Riel. I have a healthy (I think) interest in real life crime, and since the game’s designer is actually a lawyer I was all the more interested to discover more. I’ve considered many titles from Victory Point Games over the last year or so but haven’t gone as far to purchasing any.

I watched the unboxing of High Treason and must say that I loved the appearance. Beneath the game was a box similar to a takeaway food container. So much so that my daughter asked if it was a pizza. Alas not. But it did come with a Victory Point Games printed napkin, for the purpose of wiping the soot from tokens (post-punching). I thought this was a lovely touch. The rest of the components were no frills, and inline with the other VPG games I’ve perused (cardstock playmat instead of a board and the like).

The game itself is a true-to-life account of the trial of Louis Riel. In reality he was found guilty and sentenced to death, but in the game (where you play as either the prosecution or defense), you can alter the fate of Riel. At first glance the various symbology on the playmat and the amount of detail on the cards can seem a little complex. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s fairly straightforward in terms of gameplay, and once you get started it all clicks into place. In brief, you play across five relatively quick rounds:

  • Jury selection- you each use five cards to learn more about the jurors. By examining their traits you can attempt to keep those that may vote in your favour and dismiss others that will not be sympathetic to your case. You also ‘bank’ cards prior to jury selection and every round thereafter to use during the Summation round.
  • The Trial in Chief (Rounds 2 & 3) is where you can play cards for their abilities or action number. Actions will allow you to place sway markers on the jurors, and once a juror’s sway spaces are full they are then ‘locked’. You can also use actions to argue (move) aspects of the jurors into your favour. If you choose to utilise the abilities instead this will allow you to move the ‘insanity’ and ‘guilt’ markers, as well as arguing (moving) aspects.
  • The Summation round is when you play your banked cards, either for the ‘summation event’ or to sway unlocked jurors.
  • Deliberation is the final round. The trial is over and all traits on jurors are revealed. For any jurors you locked you can move the corresponding aspects. You then move on to final scoring.



What struck me initially is how short a duration High Treason! is. Perhaps this is because I associate trials with being lengthy, heavy and epic, therefore I imagined the game was going to have a similar feel. The fact that it plays more like an ‘opener’ is interesting. I would have possibly preferred it to be heftier, but there’s enough going on here to compensate for the relatively short time frame.

If I’d reviewed High Treason! after one or two games I would of described it as a game of clever hand management, delicate balancing and deduction. Now I’ve played a few more times I still stand by those statements, only now I would add ‘cut-throat’ and ‘slow burner’ to the mix. The way you must manage your hand and the absolute wealth of tough choices to be made is really what makes High Treason! a thoroughly decent game for me. There’s so much to be considered- from the jury selection, to which cards to bank, to whether to use a card for the actions, or the abilities. I really enjoy the Summation round- if you’ve been smart and banked some excellent cards then you can really kick some ass. As the prosecution you have to be especially carefully about the sequence in which you play the summation cards, because you only play 3 and then the defense plays theirs in one hit, leaving you to finish. The deliberation phase is possibly the most anxiety inducing (again with the nice thematic touch). This is where you hope you’ve been wise enough lock a decent number of jurors. You’re also prepared for a last minute change of heart from one of the six, meaning that it could really go to pot for you at the very last minute (depending what cards your opponent is holding of course). It’s all about those sway markers!

It’s also about the balance, and there are so many things to be balanced in this game. The arguing of the aspects on the central play area is also very important, and much of the game is spent trying to influence in your direction. But the locked jurors can also have an effect on this during the deliberation phase, so depending on your strategy there is an opportunity to tackle this at the last minute.

I’ll end with a summation of my own (see what I did there?)

  • The plentiful and rapid decisions you must make throughout the game make for pretty stellar hand management.
  • The five short phases make High Treason! a nice streamlined package.
  • The nice thematic touches.
  • Historically it’s fascinating, and there’s much room to learn about the case and trial through the information on the cards. But it’s not essential to know (or necessarily care) about that aspect either.
  • There are many strategies to try, so much so that I almost didn’t write this review as even after several games I feel like I’m only just starting to figure them out. It’s a slow burner.
  • You have a fair bit of control over the game. The only thing that breaks this control and adds the element of surprise is your opponent of course. The good news is you have the opportunity to play it well enough so they can’t possibly win. Maybe.
  • I would have liked it to be possibly a little bit lengthier but I think it makes sense that it’s not.
  • As much as I’m all for the lo-fi aesthetic, it bothers me that the player ‘board’ doesn’t sit flat, and I don’t have a plate of glass hanging about to pop over it. I also don’t own enough games to merit owning said glass plate of glass.
  • If ‘mean’ games aren’t your thing, High Treason! most likely won’t be your thing. However it’s not mean for the sake of being mean. It’s a trial. No one is fighting fair. Obviously.
  • This is a perfect two player game, but I would of loved to see an AI option. 

Overall I found High Treason! to be a very interesting game, with many layers to peel. I was also pleased to see that this is possibly the first in a series of ‘World on Trial’ games, where further historic, and not necessarily well known trials are open to be designed. Susan B. Anthony was one that caught my attention, and I’m excited to see how this develops further.

Thanks for reading! I hope there are no objections. I’m a dork.

My First Delve Into Warhammer40K, Dark Imperium…

Note: I’m not proclaiming to be an expert on Warhammer. This is a post about how I found my initial experiences of the game and how I find it compares to board gaming so far.



Okay, I will start by ‘fessing up; I never considered playing Warhammer.

I knew of it, and had nothing against it per se. I just wasn’t too fussed with discovering more. I was also a bit ‘meh’ about Games Workshop, who are known to have a worryingly long list of consumer misdemeanors (which I won’t comment on in this particular post). Still, I was quite keen to try the new edition of Blood Bowl last year, as it sounded fun and had a ‘familiar’ board game feel. Warhammer on the other hand is a different sort of ballpark and has a whole universe of it’s own. Warhammer40k, as I’ve recently discovered is separate from Warhammer, which is far more generic fantasy fodder. 40k however is geared toward the gothic/sci-fi aesthetic.

Sometimes it takes another person to push me into a gaming experience. Magic The Gathering, D&D and Pathfinder were things I wouldn’t have necessarily tried if they hadn’t been suggested to me. In the case of MTG it’s actually what lead me down the board gaming path, so I always think trying things is worth it. On the whole I’m pretty easy going and opened minded, whether it’s movies, games or activities. My philosophy is that you don’t know until you try, and if you’re not keen then what have you really lost? Except, possibly, an hour or two out of your life. Which in the grand scheme of things isn’t that bad- especially if you’re anything like me and will gladly procrastinate for an evening doing…well anything except what I’m supposed to be doing. So having spent a week getting Warhammer happy I thought I would write a little piece on how I found it so far, and how it compares to playing board games.

Bit of background; this is a newest (8th to be exact) edition of a 1987 game. The rulebook comes with all the information you need to play the style of game that you want and there are 22 different missions, with more to be released. But aside from the starter set (we are playing Dark Imperium) you may purchase further sets to mod your army. It’s an expensive hobby, depending how deep you want to go with it. Having watched the game being unboxed I must say it was a lovely package with gorgeous artwork. The only thing that left me a tad miffed was the outer cardboard sleeve. For a fairly costly product I wondered why it wasn’t a regular box lid. I suspect manufacturing costs are the root cause, but also that hardcore fans are likely to transfer their pieces into an epic storage unit, (a gilded trunk springs to mind), and therefore the original box isn’t so important.

What you do get is a beautiful hardback rulebook, which is lovingly detailed with backstory and illustrations. The actual core rules are also printed on a small foldout booklet. There were also ‘sprues’ (sheets) of miniatures, which was no big surprise of course. But my experience of miniatures so far has been that they are ready to go. If you want them to look pretty you have to paint them, but I was surprised that you had to self assemble them, buy your own supplies to clip them/glue them etc. I wouldn’t say that this put me off though, in fact I quite liked the idea, and I was definitely up for painting them at a later date. I assisted (somewhat) with the cleaning (scraping off the gluey nubs here and there) and assembling of the miniatures (there is a really decent guide manual) and for the most part I found it super relaxing. It was quite a departure from a regular way to spend an evening and it certainly gave my busy mind a focus. I found the more complex models a bit too fiddly and they got me feeling quite impatient and irritable. Then again this was on a different day of the week, so my mood had shifted from where we first started. One day I might be happy to fiddle around with little pieces and get super focused. Another day I might want to throw it all across the room in despair. The models I found to be impressive. They are very detailed, very attractive and so evocative. I think attractive is the wrong term perhaps, one of them in particular left me feeling uneasy and I hated handling it, it was just horrible. The fact that a model could evoke that revulsion in me is pretty interesting. So it definitely achieves what it sets out to, especially with the Death Guard (i.e.- bad guy) faction.

Last weekend the actual game was finally upon us. Data sheets (factions and their various details/abilities) had been reproduced from the manual and printed, and I must say I was a little surprised that there was nothing like this included in the game itself. Aside from the hardback manual and small rules leaflet, everything else is only available in the manual. Which is bizarre to me. It’s a gorgeous book, most certainly a collectable. Wouldn’t it being passed around and manhandled by grubby paws make every collector want to keel over and die with anxiety? Maybe we’re supposed to remember all the information, but c’mon. There was so much to remember, even with just the starter factions. Without the self made data sheets I would have been screwed. So that (to me) is baffling, but I have an inkling as to why this might be, which I’ll touch upon shortly.

We made our ‘terrain’, and as beginners this was no more than a fluffy throw rug chucked over the table and a few random objects (coasters, jars) in for good measure. For those familiar with the game, or for fanatics I can imagine making the terrain would be fantastic fun, and once again I’m not opposed to the idea of wiling away an afternoon doing so. Because actually when it came to playing the game I realised that setting the scene is important. Creating this fictional world and immersing yourself within it is important. Caring about anything you’re doing is important. Because if you take all that away then it really is just throwing dice, totting up numbers and measuring distances. I wouldn’t say that as first time players we did all those things, I certainly wasn’t playing pretend and shouting ‘over the top lads!’ or anything like that (not to say I might not in the future if the mood strikes!) but put it this way: the first night that was spent playing with the basic rules and figuring it out my brain quietly melted. I’m pretty impatient with new games and just wanting to play. I love information; my problem is I need to know it all, immediately, and when I can’t grasp it quickly enough I become super frustrated. I did wonder if I was ever going to find it fun at one point (and had accidently stabbing myself with a scalpel whilst modeling been worth it). The second night was a little more fun. This is when I could see myself enjoying it long term. It came at the exact moment I finally remembered the sequences, actions and had memorized some numbers (without continuously peering at data sheets) and I was away. I like it when I know stuff, I like when I grasp that knowledge and run with it. I just don’t find the muddling- through-feeling-like-a-blundering-idiot part all that fun.

Now having learnt the (basic) game it’s not all that complicated. It just seems to take a long time. Imagine playing a board game where each player’s turn takes 20-25 minutes. That’s Warhammer, and if this isn’t your regular type of gaming it can take a while to get used to. That’s also why you need to immerse yourself in the setting in order to give damn. Otherwise you may sit there wondering why you’re watching someone else do all the things for a fairly lengthy (by board gaming standards) amount of time. Many modern games these days tend to take this into account, and pre-empt that this may not be all that fun for other players. Games Workshop have clearly stuck to their guns and kept it traditional. The same applies to the rules manual being the only place to access information. Part of me thinks ‘good for them’. I mean you can only bend to the consumers will so much, and then aren’t you just selling the product to be like everything else? They’re keeping it old school, and that’s fair enough. It’s different for sure. But not necessarily bad! Admittedly it helps that as the rounds progress and more of your army dies off, then things start moving far more rapidly, as there are fewer pieces to utlise. The combat phase involves everybody so that’s always something to look forward to. I embrace the fighting aspect- always down for a rumble.

Without going into a full breakdown of rules (which would be agony to repeat at this point) I’ll briefly lay it out:

  • You have your chosen army faction.
  • You divide the surface area in which you are playing.
  • You each place terrain.
  • You each place objective markers.
  • Each player’s turn consists of moving, using physic abilities, shooting, charging, fighting and checking morale. Rolling dice, measuring distances with tape measures and referencing your faction’s data sheets, achieves this.
  • Victory conditions depend of whichever mission you are playing.

And that is the premise of a basic game of 40k. I’ll end this by saying that I actually enjoyed the game quite a bit, and I absolutely want to play again. I weirdly enjoyed handling a tape measure. Maybe it’s because it’s a novelty, or perhaps because I rarely have a reason to measure anything in my daily life. It was fun! I liked the precision that you have to make your moves with. I liked the combat and popping off the enemy one by one. Once again I enjoyed how good the miniatures were, from their appearance to poses, I think they work really well. I can imagine them actually fighting, what they would be doing or saying, and I can see why this is a fantastic fantasy gaming system, that you can create a world around. It’s like a grown up make-believe. I’m especially looking forward to some miniature painting, although how they’ll turn out is anybody’s guess!

To summarise, from one board gamer to another: You’ll probably like Warhammer40k if….

  • You played the original game.
  • You don’t mind a dungeon crawl style affair.
  • You like RPG.
  • You can get into the theme and the setting.
  • You enjoy measuring things and being precise.
  • You are happy to create the game from scratch, to get a little imaginative and arty/crafy.
  • You don’t mind daft sounding terminology. The word Nurgle. Hmmm.
  • If you want to play something a little bit different from the norm.
  • You don’t mind getting a little old school.

You probably won’t be so fussed if….

  • The thought of gluing together little pieces brings you out in a cold sweat.
  • You are enraged at the mere concept of a game costing well over £50 and having to self assemble the models and create your own terrain.
  • You like cards, boards, player aids and components. To your mind a game simply isn’t a decent game without that stuff (btw there’s nothing wrong with that! It’s a preference like any other.)
  • You are incredibly impatient to have your turn, in which case you are SOL with this game. There is much waiting in those first rounds.

I hope you enjoyed this departure from the usual and thanks so much for reading!