Game Review: Bananagrams

By Drew

 

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Background
Bananagrams is a tile laying game where the goal is to be the first player to complete a word grid after the pool of letter tiles has been exhausted.

Initial Thoughts
The game is inexpensive and very quick to learn.  It uses elements from Scrabble and Boggle; so, players familiar with those games will have almost no learning curve.  Bananagrams is a multiplayer game, but you have little interaction with the other players.  The only player interaction is racing to complete your grid first after the last tile has been drawn.  There are no turns.  Everyone places at the same time.

Review
Pros: Bananagrams has very high replayability.  Its easy rule set makes getting new players up to speed a quick process.  If you get bored with the base rules, there are variants to the game that people have posted online.  The game has a heavy dose of luck which does help level the playing field when playing with poorer spellers.  Bananagrams is great for causal gamers and those looking to take a break from more complex games.  The only set up is placing all of the tiles into the middle of the table face down.

Con: I have few, if any, complaints.  The game does bounce between being skill based and luck based, but many games are.  The basic game can get repetitive if you play too many rounds, but that’s while variants exist.  The pieces are high quality.  The packaging is very thematic (it’s a zip up banana), but it can make putting Bananagrams away more difficult.  You can’t just put it at the bottom of your game pile.

Final Thoughts
This game is loads of fun, quick to teach, quick to set up, and a great breather from more complex games.  It’s fun for heavy table gamers and casual players.  Each round is short, and you can keep playing rounds until you are bored with playing making the game last essentially as long as your group wishes.  I highly recommend playing this game.

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Game Review: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous

By Drew

 

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Background
The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is from the same company that designs the Pathfinder role playing game.  The card game is a cooperative game for 1 to 4 players (up to 6 if you get the expansions).  Each player’s character is made for a deck of cards, stats, and class (familiar to all roleplayers).  You’ll improve your character (specifically the deck you use) by earning or finding new spells, items, upgrades, and other loot to change your deck.

According to Paizo, “the adventure begins with a Base Set containing nearly 500 cards, including the first chapter of an Adventure Path that offers your characters interesting locations to explore, monsters to fight, and villains to hunt down, as well as piles of weapons, spells, armor, loot, and everything you need to build you own unique character deck.”

Initial Thoughts
Getting into the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is for only dedicated players.  The full Adventure Path will take you months to play (assuming a season a week like my friends).  The base game is only around $60.  However, the base game is only the first of many parts to the Adventure Path.  With 6 expansion decks at $20 a piece, the full adventure will be over $200.  If you want extra characters, items, and the ability to have up to 6 players, it’s another extra expansion.  However, there is enough content to last 7-12 months depending on how frequently you play.

Review
Pros: I enjoyed the mix of a card game and the idea of leveling up and gaining new equipment.  The story was a little thin, but most card games, if they even have a story, ignore it during the actual game play.  The full Adventure Path can take awhile to play.  The group I play with has been playing almost weekly for three months, and we are not finished with part 1 yet.  At the rate we are going, when we finish, we will feel as though we accomplished something.  New players can join at any point and other party members can sit out if they can play that session (although if you sit out you miss out on possible loot).

Con: I have two main complaints.  First is the price.  Yes, the game is expensive if you want to do the full Adventure Path (about $200).  If you are a fan of collectible card games or miniature war games, you may not have sticker shock.  For others, here is my reasoning.  If my friends and I are actually going to play it through, then the price is fair for the total hours play (100+).  If you think you will only play a few times, only get the base game.  It’s much cheaper, and you can try it out.

My second complaint is the potentially repetitive nature of the game.  Once you learn the game play, each session consists of using your cards to defeat other cards until the boss creature is found and destroyed.  Unlike Magic: the Gathering, there doesn’t seem to be too many synergistic decks you can make out of found loot.  Rangers take range weapon cards; paladins take swords, and so on.  However, we are still early in the game, and that may change.

Final Thoughts
In the end, the question is, “is this a fun game and worth the price?”  My answer is yes.  After you get over the potential sticker shock, the game will provide, by my estimation, over 100 hours of game play.  This is a card game with loot that carries from session to session and the ability to add and drop players from session to session.  My friends I and are looking forward to the day we finish the game and have a feeling of accomplishment we’ve never had with a cooperative card game before.

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Game Review: Machi Koro

By Drew

Machi Koro

Background
In Machi Koro, 2-4 players roll dice and spend money to buy properties for their city.  The first player to construct four special building completes their city first and wins the game.

Initial Thoughts
Each type of property (wheat field, bakery) have their own effects normally related to income.  Some effects can happen on anyone’s turn and others only happen on the active player’s turn.  Some of the cards are more useful during the early stages of the game and others are more useful during the end of the game.  The variety of card mechanics means there is no one specific way to win.

Review
Pros: The base game is simple and easy to learn with the expansions adding different layers.  Even when teaching new players, games last about 30 minutes.  There is a good mix of strategy (which property do I buy) and luck (you need to roll dice well to win).

Con: Although you can play with 2 players, I suggest at least 3 players.  The problem we ran into when playing with only 2 players is it removes much of the strategy.  While there is no guaranteed “buy properties in this order” method of winning, having only 2 players made it much easier to do the same thing each game and consistently win.  There is only a limited numbers of each properties.  With 4 players, you may not be able to buy the properties you want.  With only 2, you pretty much can buy exactly what you want.  At that point, the game becomes only about dice rolls.

Final Thoughts
This is a fun game that is easy to teach new players, is quick to play, has light strategy, and is expandable with the expansions.  If you like building style games, give Machi Koro a try.

Machi Koro

Game Review: X-Wing Miniature Game

By Drew

Background
In X-Wing Miniatures Game, you control ships in ship-t0-ship space combat from three different Star Wars factions: Imperial, Rebel, and Scum.  All of the miniatures come prepainted.  The game is designed for small battles of only a few ships on either side.  Each ship offers several different pilot choices as well as different upgrades to make the ship more effective.

Initial Thoughts
The game is very easy to learn how to play.  We have players as young as 9 years old playing.  The game has a chess-like strategy element to it that allows more advanced players to continue enjoying it.  Having played many, many miniature games, it’s nice to have one that doesn’t require me to paint the miniatures.  The stock paint jobs are well done.  However, the ships are easy to repaint if you are so inclined.  There is a bit of a collected aspect to the game.  Different upgrade cards are only available in different ship boxes.  While they are not randomize (you know exactly what’s in each box), you will find yourself buying ships you may not want just to get the upgrade cards.  The game is one of the most balanced miniature games I’ve seen.  There is no “automatic winning” list to play.

Review
Pros: Inexpensive compared to most miniature games.  The base game is $40 and extra small ships are $14.  $100 will get you a tournament level amount of models.  Very easy to learn but with enough strategy to keep the game fun and interesting.  All of the ships and pilots are from established Star Wars canon and not created solely for the game.  The models come prepainted with nice paint jobs.

Con: Limited amount of ship choices and factions.  Currently, there are only 3 factions with each having around 12 ship choices.  Ships are only from after Star Wars New Hope.  Upgrade cards are only available in specific ships.  There are no booster packs offering random cards, and you may end up buying ships you don’t want just to get certain cards.  The ships come prepainted.  If you are more heavily on the hobby side of miniature gaming it can be a negative, but the ships are easily repaintable.

Final Thoughts
Play this game.  It’s fun, easy, and cheap.  First time you blow a Tie Fighter up with an X-Wing, you’re going to want to collect all of the models.

Game Review: Infinity the Game

By Drew

Infinity is the first Featured Game of the Month for Anime Kat, and with that, the first game to get a review.

Background
This is a miniature hobby game where players buy 28mm high metal miniature model kits, paint them, and then play the game.  From their website: “Infinity is a tabletop wargame in which sci-fi themed miniatures are used to simulate futuristic skirmishes.

Infinity recreates Direct Action operations, high-stakes missions in the battlefront or behind enemy lines, where victory or death are a trigger pull away.  Players command a small group of elite soldiers, chosen for their adequacy to the mission parameters at hand.  Each battle calls for a different composition, and building an effective team from hand-picked members of different regiments is key to a successful operation.

Infinity is a groundbreaking, dynamic system that allows you to make meaningful, fun choices throughout the entire game sequence, and gives you the tools to implement any number of strategies with realism and flexibility.”

Initial Thoughts
I really enjoy Infinity.  There are currently 8 factions with their own play styles.  The art style is very anime/manga inspired.  Unlike some miniature games, the scale of your force is smaller.  An Infinity player typically has between 5 and 10 units to his or her side.  Aside from being tactically more manageable, it also means players don’t need to purchase as many models to play making the game more affordable.  With the mechanics, there is no waiting for your opponent to finish before you can do anything.  Your units can respond to actions taken by your opponent while it’s your opponent’s turn.  There is really no down time for either player.  You don’t have to wait until it’s your turn to shoot back at your opponent.

Review
You may not agree
Pros: Inexpensive (a good starting army is $55 and the rule book is legally available online for free), Both players are active (you still have options of play when it’s your opponents turn), Interesting mechanics (hackers, camo, mechs, paratroopers, minelayers, and more), Smaller army force, the rules are less complex than many other miniature war games

Con: Metal models (makes kit bashing more difficult), not all named units have a representative model, Smaller army force (there are no real vehicles except for mechs)

Final Thoughts
Regardless of if you are an existing miniature wargaming fan or new to the hobby, Infinity is a good game to try out.  The relatively low cost of the models, free access to the rule book, and the less complex rule set of other miniature games makes Infinity one of my favor miniature games.

Nomad faction Starter Pack