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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Rococo: Jewelry Box Expansion Review

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I acquired two new games last week, Broom Service the card game and the Rococo Jewelry Box expansion. I decided to write about Rococo and make a little video on Broom Service (coming later this week). As I mentioned in my post a few weeks back I absolutely love Rococo, its a beautiful Euro and up there in my top ten.

So what does Jewelry Box add to the game and is it worth purchasing? Well you get 28 additional employees, an exam card, jewellery box board and jewellery tokens, and yes I believe it’s worth purchasing (for a vey reasonable £12.50 RRP.)
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So what does it do? Well first off there’s the personal ‘exam’ cards. You take the exam using your apprentice and journeyman cards to meet the three set requirements (same for every player and easily achievable e.g- use an action with your apprentice to buy a yellow or red material) Once you’ve completed the exam you spend an action trading in your standard journeyman/apprentice card and pay the hiring cost to choose one of the special guys. These let you add on a cool free action e.g. – make a dress for free and sell only (instead of placing it in a hall, and hey that extra money is always welcome!) you can take the exams as many times as you like. The jewellery itself is displayed on a separate little board and consists of coloured ring and necklace tokens. You can only purchase these when you make a dress and as the game progresses and they are purchased you can move them along the board and lower their cost. When you buy a piece of jewellery this gives you income every round. If the one that you buy matches the colour of the dress you made then you can pick up a free material. I find this comes in handy because personally I dislike spending too many actions purchasing! Some of the expansion cards are shuffled into the regular deck too so you can snap one of those up as a hiring action.
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In my opinion if you like Rococo you’ll welcome this expansion and probably enjoy it as much as I did. I love that it adds more to an already tough game and makes choosing what to do next even more challenging. I only wish it added on an extra round because this game seems to end so quickly as it is, and you feel like there’s so much more you could achieve if you had just a bit more time. There’s the inevitable ‘check the rule book 500 times to remember what the symbols mean’ but that’s to be expected when you first start playing a language independent game. The jewellery box and the exams seem to give you quite a bit more income to play around with too and can earn you some valuable extra prestige points early on, so it definitely feels like you are gaining more which is always nice.
It’s an all round good review from me, a must have if you own the game and an incentive to give Rococo a try if you haven’t already!
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Empty packet of Revels optional! 

The Gallerist, Vital Lacerda

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I heard many great things about The Gallerist and after watching a review I agreed that it looked like a lot of fun. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype or to the slightly hefty price tag. I am pleased to confirm that on both accounts it certainly did. It is a great game, and once you see the and feel the quality of the box and components it is definitely worth the money. The box is huge, the board is big, the pawns with their nice little hats are made of vibrantly coloured wood. The tiles and money tokens are thick cardboard and the art work displayed on the tiles is actual art that was submitted for the game. The graphic design is neat and functional. So aesthetically The Gallerist gets a big thumbs up from me!

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The game itself is smooth and fast moving, with plenty of tough decisions to be made. As always I won’t go into the rules, but a quick overview; You move your pawn around the board to the action spaces. Your aim is to discover artists, buy art, sell art and set collect for bonus VP’s. It sounds fairly simple but the reality is bloody tricky. You also have to decide what you want to achieve most; a great selection in your gallery, money for the art you sell, to have  certain sets (as outlined by your objective cards) to discover as many artists as possible to buy at a commissioners rate….there’s a lot of thinking to do here.

So what makes it tough? Without people in your gallery or plaza there is a limited amount to what you can do, you need tickets to get those cute little art lovin’ meeples in the door, you need meeples in your plaza to take actions to generate money, gain influence (which will gain you money at the end of the game) bring out new meeples, take tickets etc. You need money to buy more art, contracts to sell it, assistants to help you achieve this and don’t forget about the international market. This is where you go gain the piece of art on display that will gain you some lovely bonus cash in the end scoring. You need to spend some time getting your assistants in the high value market spaces in order to win the piece. I could continue but I think that you get the idea. So we’ve gone from this sounds simple to ludicrously complicated but fear not! It works. It’s fast paced and enjoyable, it can be head-in-hands frustrating, but it’s such fun! Making these tough choices around what your opponents are doing is one of the hardest parts. The ‘kicked out’ actions allow you take the same action as another player but it means they’ll get a free turn. I didn’t think this seemed that bad but actually you really notice the difference when your opponent starts steaming ahead of you!

All in all The Gallerist is very fun and well worth the money. Jump on the bandwagon and play it! More info here. I was really hoping to make a video this week but i’m still waiting to get a tripod. Hopefully next week!

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Bretagne, Marco Pozzi 

  
I really fancied trying Bretagne because for some reason the idea of building 19th century lighthouses appealed to me. It looked quaint, and didn’t disappoint on that front. It’s an attractive, fairly peaceful game with a slower place. It is classed as an economic/area control game but it has worker placement elements. You can use workers (cubes), engineers and resources (coloured wooden pieces) to complete lighthouses and when you complete all lighthouses in each area then the improved abilities on the nearby harbours are activated.
  
It’s best to work together to get lighthouses completed, but you need more workers on your section of it, so you can use the cards you’ve collected to their best ability. The lovely weather gage cards tell you how the elements will affect your building and how many engineers you’ll need each round. You use your components to trade for others and to get workers on the harbours to gain cards or workers each turn.
  
It’s definitely got some strategy involved but not overly heavy, but it is quite ‘thinky’ which is good! As with a lot of area control/WP games there doesn’t seem to be enough time to achieve everything you want to but with repeated plays it should fall in to place a bit more.
  
The board, though very nice looking is kind of badly laid out in some respects and the lamented pieces are slippery AF and the awkward placing causes bits to fall all over the place which can get really annoying! The only other complaint would be that the cards and symbols are a little counter intuitive and the rule book translation isn’t fantastic, so it’s a bit difficult to get your head around. But all in all Bretagne is a fun game. It isn’t mind blowing but I’d recommend it if you like moderate strategy, a slower pace and lighthouses! I’m glad I bought it and look forward to future plays. More Info
 

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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Concordia, Mac Gerdts

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I love the fast pace of Concordia! I must say that this is the first game for a while that has made me genuinely excited to be playing, and really engaged. Concordia actually works great with only two players, and i’m so anxious to beat my highest score each time it’s ludicrous. I definitely find the challenge of playing games, and bettering myself each time the best part of playing. I like winning when i’ve continuously lost a certain game, but in general the ‘winning’ aspect i’m not too fussed with. So I really love Concordia and I look forward to buying the expansion Salsa, hopefully very soon! More Info

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