The Bloody Inn, Nicolas Robert

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The Bloody Inn. This game made such a big splash last year, and for the few months it was out of print I was desperate to get it. However as I knew it was a card game (no big board, too many components or miniatures etc) I refused to pay a completely unreasonable price for it since I knew it would be back for another print run. So I waited patiently until a couple months ago I finally bought it for its RRP. And this is what I thought.

I’ll start with….it’s an unusual one. It’s a grower. I think perhaps after that anticipation it fell slightly flat first time round (no huge surprise after months of coveting) but as I’ve played it more I’ve grown to like it more. It’s medium strategy, easy to get wrong if you’re not careful and does require a bit of brain burning.

Ok let’s go back to the start. So in a nutshell you’re running an Inn and you kill your guests. Dark right? But fun.

  •  You begin by randomly drawing 6 cards from the central deck, and these are guests frequenting your hotel of horrors. You pop them in their errr lovely little room (on the board) and each player owns rooms, represented by coloured key tokens, some of which are neutral and belong to no one.
  • Each card/guest has a pick up cost. You can spend your two starting cards (‘peasant’ cards) and can either kill guests outright or you can pick them up and use them to kill somebody else, or use them to build annexes (places to bury your corpses).
  • Some cards have instant monetary rewards, some give you money when you build an annexe or when you bury a body.
  • You move along the score track as you earn and can use an action to launder money, so you go back on the track and pick up cash tokens instead.
  • At the end of each round you can gain points for any of your rooms with guests still present and are deducted points for cards left in your hand.
  • All cards used go into a spent pile.
  •  Your only allowed two actions per turn
  •  Building up your annexes means you can use the card abilities/bonuses to help you gain more money and spend less cards.
  • The game ends when your guest cards have depleted and the player with the most money (in both money tokens and on the score track) wins the game.
And that’s the general game play!
So why is this game such a tricky little thing? Well the trouble starts when your Inn is populated by ‘the law’ (constables, sergeants and the like) because if you end your turn with any unburied bodies you pay a pretty hefty fine (lose money/points) and lose the body. Only having two actions per turn is tough, especially when you have to use an action to get your peasant cards back. You have to play carefully to get some necessary end of round points by having your rooms still populated, (and making sure your opponent doesn’t) and somehow end the round by having no cards, all bodies buried but minimising how many times you spend a precious action next round getting your peasants back. All whilst figuring out the best times to launder money and stay ahead of your opponent. How do you achieve this? I wish I knew, I still haven’t cracked it! And therein lies the fun, it seems the more I play the more I realise this game is a challenge. I tend not to play games to hammer other people but to better my score and improve my strategy. This is how I have concluded that it was worth the wait and worth the purchase. I still don’t think a price point about £20 would be reasonable, but I’m glad I held out for it.
My only criticism would be that I think it could have developed on the bribing/trading between players. You have to work together somewhat when the Inn is overrun with the law, and you can bury a body under another players annexe. It would of been cool if you could of bribed an opponent to use your annexe or kill a police officer for you, or traded a card someone else might need for money. But I guess the designers had their reasons for not taking it there. That’s it! More info here. Ps- the art is weird and gorgeous, all these abstract angular faces and beautiful colour. Always a plus!
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Broom Service: The Card Game

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I actually made a video on Broom Service: The Card game that I decided not to publish. I don’t know, it’s the second time I’ve tried making a video and I don’t think it’s for me. I feel like I need another person to interact with and bounce off. Me in a room talking to a camera just doesn’t work. It’s not even a vanity thing, I know I have a weird wonky face and it doesn’t bother me (anymore!) but staring at myself as I speak is just too strange and watching it back over and over to edit is worse. So until I find a video buddy (and possibly someone who is an editing whizz) I think I’ll concentrate on my written posts. 

So Broom Service: The Card Game. I bought this game for a modest £8.99 last week, I do love those low price points! I very much enjoy the board game and thought this would be a nice addition to it. I haven’t played the card game yet but I have used the mini expansion for the board game that comes with it.

My first thought was concerning the box and card sizes. It’s a small box but has quite a lot of room inside. But the cards are tiiiiiny, like mini cards. Which isn’t a problem really, I just wondered why they didn’t make the box smaller or the cards bigger? Or maybe even sold them in a Love Letter style pouch with an emblem on the front or something, that would of been cute. But larger cards would of been nice because the artwork is so lovely. Anyway I’m sure they had their reasons for producing it how they did so fair enough!

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The witches

This 3-6 player card game takes the ‘cowardly/brave’ element of the board game as it’s core mechanic. We have factions of witches such as Sun, Night, Fire, Meadow and so forth and each has a corresponding colour. Played over 4 rounds each player takes a turn placing one of the cards from their hand in the ‘cowardly’ or ‘brave’ position. When the next player takes their turn and if they have the same card as the one previously played they can use their card brave and cancel the previous one played, taking it out of the round. Or you can play cowardly and no one can stop you. So what’s the difference? Well if you play cowardly you’ll score at the end of the game for your potion points, but as there is only one potion on the cowardly side of the card you’re not going to score very big. The brave side has more potions and special potion symbols but if you play too many brave cards you run the risk of having the next player cancel them. The end scoring is based on how many sets of coloured potions you have, how many ‘brave’ potions you have accumulated and if you have met any of the task cards throughout the game. The task cards can be taken by a player at the end of a round if during that round you met the conditions on the task card e.g- 3 purple potions, 4 yellow.

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Task card

It looks like you will have to play carefully in Broom Service card game, keep an eye on how many cards are in the particular witchy faction you are playing and how many are already on the table. It looks to be a tricky one and I’m really looking forward to playing it in full.

So aside from this there is the mini expansion for the board game and this gives you 16 extra cards. You can pick up one of these when you choose to play cowardly and each card has an objective you can meet to gain extra points, like trading in potions for points. If you don’t meet the objective you can still get a point for the unused cards. So they’re worth having, and add an extra something to an already pretty tough game.

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Expansion

I love Broom Service, I think this card game looks like a lot of fun. Nothing amazing maybe, after all it just a set collection/press your luck mini game, but for a low price point and a little expansion included what’s not to like? I also really admire the cute artwork in this game. I just wish that they’d made the cards bigger. Or put an insert in the box. Damn those production costs hey?
More info can be found here.

Escape From The Aliens In Outer Space

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I was looking forward to this for some time and having heard mixed opinions (along the lines of ‘brilliant, love this game’ to ‘doesn’t work very well in practice’) I was curious to try it myself and wanted the re print with the matte finish book-like box, the map/log manuals and wipe clean markers. It has a great design, the minimal art work is very fitting and the creatures are pretty horrible, it really does have that ‘Alien’/space horror feel. But is it any good? I won’t beat around the bush, yes, yes it is. In my opinion.

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Let’s start with the setting. You’re on a research mission in deep space. The bad news is that your craft has been badly damaged. You’ve been plunged into darkness. The worse news is that an alien plague has got on board and it’s going to creep about and pick you off one by one and transform you into a flesh eating monster too. Run.

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So how do you play? Well despite the slightly intimidating rule book (symbols everywhere…brain melting) it’s actually pretty straightforward. It’s bluffing/hidden movement basically. You randomly determine in secret who is playing the alien and who is the human. Each come with a special ability (optional) and you choose which map to play on (there’s a recommended beginners map and they all state the number of players they’re best used with). From here on you decide where to move on your map to escape the alien or hunt the human. The white sectors are silent sectors, so you can announce you’re located in a silent sector but don’t have to draw a card. Then there’s the grey ‘dangerous sectors’ where you randomly draw a card from the main deck. Green cards mean you have to declare a sector but not necessarily the one where you’re in, red cards means you have to be truthful about where you are. So there’s a fair amount of bluffing here. Which for some reason took me a while to get the hang of but when I did, I realised I’m actually pretty good at it! So you move around your map trying to get to an escape pod. If the alien player or players find you then they can attack and kill you! Then it’s ‘game over man, game over!’ So a pretty abrupt ending. You can also randomly draw ‘action’ cards from the deck instead of a noise card, you can keep these to yourself and play them on any turn once. This is also optional!
A few points:
  • The maps matter. I was playing a two player game with the starter map which is actually recommended for 4-8 players. The first two times I played I died within about three minutes (but was also not bluffing very well) and as soon as we started playing with the 2-8 player maps the game went on (for about 10 minutes) and was a lot tougher.
  • It works as a two player. This was a concern I had but it still works really nicely. Only with two players you both know who you are so there’s really no secret there and also a couple of cards that would be cool you aren’t able to use, like ‘mutate’ so you can change into an alien secretly and trick your opponents. It would also last longer with more players, so I really want to try it with 2+ to see how it differs.
  • I’d recommend playing with the character ability and events. It means there’s more going on, more options and you can (try) to get smart. For example one action card means that the human player can attack an alien. So I deliberately tried to trick my alien opponent by bluffing as to my whereabouts and was secretly following where I thought he was to kill him. Then I played the card at the wrong time and promptly died. Not so smart. But it was a fun way to play. Maybe next time!
  • It can be over pretty quickly. If you play with 2-3 players it’s more of a filler game.
  • I’ve never played a game that involves mapping and writing and I really enjoyed this aspect. But as much as I liked the laminated maps I found the pens to be fiddly. Also hiding your manual from the other player whilst writing and trying not to smudge your ink is tricky. Give me a mini pencil any day!
  • You have to announce ‘silent sector’ ‘dangerous sector’ ‘noise detected in sector X’ every single turn. After saying the phrases in various theatrical tones, like the whisper, the Dalek, the generic ship computer voice, it got a little annoying. It’s a small criticism, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment!
Overall I’d give it a 8/10. It’s a good game, fun with two, probably a ‘bigger’ game if played in a group, and with the lights down and some atmospheric music it’s even better. Maybe not worth paying over the odds for but definitely worth the RRP (£25-£30 depending on where you shop.) More Info

Coming Soon! Rococo: Jewellery Box

I recently discovered that there is an expansion on the way for the Euro gamers favourite Rococo. So stoked for this!  Jewellery Box will add 28 cards with new bonuses to change up the game without changing the rules. As the title  suggests it also attaches a jewellery option accompanied with lovely new tiles and you can receive a master craftsman’s diploma. All for the RRP of £12.95 (in the UK) not bad hey?

Despite its release in 2013 I only bought and played Roccoco this year after a bit of umming and ahhhing. I’m glad I did and could immediately see why it’s a firm favourite. Some games you find just work. The Castles of Burgundy, Suburbia, 7 Wonders, Twilight Struggle, Puerto Rico and Concordia to name a few. They seem to play out smoothly, make sense, are challenging without being horrible excruciating and are just…fun. I find that it’s usually games that aren’t overly complicated, that don’t have 10 million rules that you have to check up every five seconds, then go online to double check and triple check. They cultivate healthy competition without you wanting to reach across the table and strangle another player. They make you think, you strategise, but you don’t have steam coming out of your ears in sheer frustration. You definitely care if you win but won’t be too pissed if you don’t, because you had fun in the process. These games allow the player to gain as they go and feel a sense of achievement. Lastly the theme and mechanics in ‘games that just work’ all meld together nicely.

Roccoco is one of those games. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and on the surface I guess that making dresses for a lavish ball may seem a little feminine, although all the characters (except for the queen) are male. But none of that kind of stuff matters when the game itself is one that works. Everyone can get down with a bit of frivolity and 17th century fashion if the game’s a good one!

Roccoco is a clever take on deck building, there are some tough choices to be made, you are constantly in close competition to your opponents for area control, hiring employees first, nabbing the best monument spots on the board and obtaining the correct requirements in time to make your garments. At the end you are able to reap lots of rewards in the form of prestige points which is always nice (aka not an abrupt ‘is that it then?’ ending) Also, let’s face it the game itself is hella pretty and biiiiiig.

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Having said all this I never win it, ever! My partner clearly has more fashion prowess than me.  I am most definitely looking forward to playing it with the Jewellery Box expansion next month! If you have yet to play Roccoco I suggest you do, it’s a real gem. I’m so corny in my posts sometimes *blush*! More info

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One to Watch; Kill The King

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My attention was recently brought to Kill The King, a new board game in the making, hailing from Norway (so you know it’s going to be good right?!)  Kill The King is a strategic tabletop for two players. In a game of attack and defence you are either trying to kill the king or you’re defending his honour.

The game comes with two alternate game modes. The  first is a regular battle between the two players armies outside the castle walls; one attacks the castle while the other tries to defend it. The second mode is a larger version, where you combine two game boards and one player defends the  castle, while the other attacks the castle on side each. It sounds intriguing! I’m really looking forward to playing more strategic battle games so this sounds right up my street. I’m excited to be playing the print and play game in the near future! 

It’s coming to Kickstarter in September, if you want to keep up to date follow the links below. This is one to watch.

Facebookofficial website , Instagram, Twitter

Thanks to Petter for the great images of the prototype game, which looks pretty damn cool already.

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Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, Bruno Cathala Ludovic Maublanc

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I coveted Fantome d’le Opera for aaaaaaages. I saw it reviewed and thought it looked cool. That was about 18 months ago, and admittedly my tastes were a bit shallow. Recently I looked at the review again, and even though it wasn’t particularly glowing I thought ‘I still want this dammit!’. It looked to be out of print or at least hard to come by in the UK so my ‘covet-o-meter’ was going mad! After coming into some spare money (tax rebate!) I found it on eBay and decided to go for it. It’s in the same family as Mr Jack, which I’ve never played, and it’s a simple, but kind of tricky hidden movement game.
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You can choose to play as The Phantom or the other characters who are trying to escape his clutches. You move around the board using the movement ability and conditions on the character cards, to deduce who the Phantom is.  At the bottom of the board we have Carlotta and she moves up the track each round and can be ‘scared’ by The Phantom, and if she reaches the end before you’ve figured it out, you’ve lost! Personally I found playing as the characters and guessing too easy, it’s running away and disguising as The Phantom that is tricky!
 Now, in hindsight, maybe I should of taken heed with the video review I saw. It’s a bit thin. I don’t regret buying it, it’s a great game to have in the collection, and sometimes when the mood takes I could really fancy it. Also it’s worth remembering that since this was released in 2013 gaming has moved on somewhat, with small box games and print and play especially becoming more popular. It comes in a fairly large box (though not huge by any means) and has a nice board, big cardboard cards and chunky tokens. It definitely has an old school feel, which I really like. But because it’s quite ‘big’, you feel that there should be something more substantial to it, especially for a two player only game. But there really isn’t too much going on apart from what it says on the tin. It just seems quite unnecessary to have the board, the heavy cardboard etc, because it’s a filler game basically. It’s over really quickly, even when we house ruled to put the start marker two steps back so it takes a bit longer. I’m sure we never had a 30 minute game as estimated in the game overview. This could be a little card game or a print and play, it could probably be re-released as such, because it’s definitely a fun party or filler game.
Next time I play i’m lighting the candles and putting the soundtrack on! Not the one with Gerard Butler. That was weird. More Info
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The Producer (1940-1944), Manlio Zaninotti

I’m crediting Jon with this one as well, because these thoughts were borne out of our many animated conversations after playing The Producer….
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I spotted this game whilst online browsing and thought ‘wow, could this be any more up my street?’ I love movies, I love that golden era and Hollywood glamour and I couldn’t of been more excited to play it last week. So, in hindsight maybe perhaps should of researched a bit further before making my mind up. Because most people who have played this have pretty much said the same thing. It’s not bloody finished. I don’t know what happened here, if it was rushed out or just not tested enough or whether they just thought fuck it lets not bother. And it’s such a shame. Because here we have a gorgeous looking game with lovely shiny components and thick luxe cardboard and the skeleton of a really great idea. It looked super heavy with loads going on. And as you will see from the pictures it’s a sprawling game that you need crazy table top space for. It’s a game you don’t have to be a ‘gamer’ to play, and if, like me, you love the theme then it’s perfect to have in your collection.
But I can’t ignore the fact that many of the rules are unexplained or non existent, the event cards (which could make the game more difficult and exciting) don’t actually make a blind bit of difference for the most part and some of the effects they have just don’t do anything period. For example, ‘if your actor is married but having an affair they lose a star’. But how do we know if they were married, like Jon said are you meant to Google for further information? Because this is not stated anywhere on the cards. Just weird stuff like that is a big no no. Per turn you can do a number of things, but at the core of it there’s not much going on. Joining the mafia seems pretty pointless, ruining your opponents reputation makes little difference, and getting themed sets doesn’t really add anything of value to the end game. Argh, it just doesn’t add up and it’s so frustrating because there are lots of things this game could of done differently.
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Much of the game centres around making money from your movies, and you do this by getting scripts and actors. You use certain cards to increase your audience values and then take your movies to the Oscars. And that is the fun part in my opinion but is actually pretty simplistic. I think that the audience values could be a bit more varied because no matter what you always seem to make around the same revenue per movie. And you make all this money but no receive no bonus points for having it. You have a better chance of winning against your opponent at the Oscars if your movie scripts match up with the correct actor and director cards, which is tricky because there are so many of them. But to spend every turn just getting cards out to try match up them doesn’t seem worth it. There’s a chance that it could be better with more players, but I can’t imagine how long your game play would be, we played the ‘short’ three round version with two players and it took 2.5 hours. I think i’ll have to play again, just to see if there’s anything else that can be done to add something more, or maybe there’s something glaringly obvious we missed. I have a bad feeling it will just present more unnecessary flaws. So in a word, i’m gutted, because as I said there are some enjoyable parts but the all over game is just a bit of a mess. I think they’ve had trouble with copywriting in the US because of the use of the images and people, but if by some chance this gets a re-release or second edition in the future, and the issues are ironed out, well it could be a fantastic game. But until then, as much as it pains me, it’s a really crushing disappointment. More Info
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